Daily Word of God

Magnificat

And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,

~Luke 1:46

No wonder that Mary sang that day. At the shut gate of the garden of Eden there was a promise given of a Saviour, a Saviour — who should be “the seed of the woman.” Ever after that, all along the line of the covenant, each woman hoped that she might be the mother of this Saviour. Centuries passed, and generations of disappointed hearts saw their hopes fade. At length one day a heavenly messenger came to this lowly Nazarite maiden, and announced to her that she should be the mother of this long-expected Messiah. What a glorious honour! No wonder she rejoiced. One strain of her song was, “My soul doth magnify the Lord.” We cannot make God any greater; He needs nothing from us. Can the candle add to the glory of the sun’s noon-day splendour? Yet we can so tell others of God that He will seem greater to them. It was said in praise of a distinguished preacher that in his sermons he made God appear very great. We can declare God’s goodness and grace. Then we can so live ourselves as to honour Him, and thus magnify His name.

Retzsch, a German sculptor, made a wonderful statue of the Redeemer. For eight years it was his dream by night, his thought by day. He first made a clay model, and set it before a child five or six years old. There were none of the usual emblematical marks about the figure, no cross, no crown, nothing by which to identify it. Yet, when the child saw it he said, “The Redeemer! the Redeemer!” This was a wonderful triumph of art. We should exhibit in our life and character such a reproduction of the nobleness and beauty of Christ that everyone who looks upon us may instinctively recognize the features, and say, “Behold the image of our Redeemer!” There is no other way of magnifying the Lord that so impresses the world.

Daily Word of God

Rejecting Christ

He came unto his own, Christ and his own received him not.

~ John 1:11

The picture represents Christ coming with infinite grace to those He loved, and to His own people, only to be rejected by them and turned away from their doors. This was one of the saddest things about the Savior’s mission to this world. He was the God of glory and of life. He came to bring heaven to earth, but when He stood at men’s doors and knocked, the doors were kept closed upon Him, and He had to turn and go away again, bearing back in His hands the precious gifts and blessings He had brought and wished to leave.

We say the Jews, “his own,” were very ungrateful to treat their Messiah in this way; and also that their rejection was a terrible wrong to themselves for they thrust away in Christ the most glorious things of heaven and eternity. But how is it with ourselves? Christ comes to us. He is continually coming. His hands are full of blessings. He has eternal life to bestow. Do we receive Him? Is it not true of us that He comes unto His own, and His own receive Him not?

Do we really take from the hand of Christ all that He offers to us? Do we not daily grieve Him and rob ourselves of blessings by declining what He brings? Especially do we reject Christ often when He comes to us in the garb of pain or sorrow. Many times the blessings He brings to us then are the very richest and the most precious in all His store. But how many of us receive Christ as gladly, and take the gifts from His hand as cheerfully and gratefully, when He comes in grief or suffering, as when He comes in the garb of joy or worldly prosperity? Why should we not do so? Can we not trust His love and wisdom? He never sends pain unless pain is best. He never chastens unless there is a blessing in chastening.

Daily Word of God

Prize Present Blessings

Their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.

~ Luke 24:31

All along the way Jesus had walked with these disciples, pouring the warmth of His spirit upon them; but they did not recognize Him until the moment of His vanishing out of their sight. It is the same with us and many of our best blessings. We do not recognize them till they are taking their flight. We do not prize health till it is broken. Our common privileges we do not value till something deprives us of them. Our homes appear old-fashioned till we are thrown upon the world homeless.

It is the same with our friends. We do not see the beauties of their character, not perceive their real worth, until in some way we have lost them. This is specially true of the friends who are nearest to us in our own households. They seem to us commonplace, because they are always moving before us. Their help is so perpetual, and their ministry is so unbroken, that we do not learn their value to us. But some day one of these friends vanishes out of our sight. The familiar form is seen no more. The voice of tender love is heard no more. The quiet, gentle ministry ceases. To-morrow we miss the friend; then in the vanishing we learn what he was to us. Very sadly one has sung,

And she is gone, sweet human love is gone!  
‘Tis only when they spring to heaven that angels  
Reveal themselves to you; they sit all day  
Beside you, and lie down at night by you,  
Who care not for their presence: muse or sleep,  
And all at once they leave you. Then you know them!  
We are so fooled, so cheated.

Should we not get a lesson here in these closing days of the year? Shall we not try to prize our blessing while we have them? The vacant chair should not be the first revealer of a loving friend.

Daily Word of God

Go and Tell Peter

Go your way, tell his disciples and Peter.

~ Mark 16:7

Why “and Peter”? Why was Peter named, and none of the other disciples? Had Peter been the most loyal and faithful of all the Master’s friends, that he deserved such a mark of distinction as this? Oh no; we remember how Peter had fallen. The last word that had dropped upon the ear of Jesus from His lips was a bitter word of denial. Peter had acted worse than any other of the disciples.

Why, then, did Jesus send this special word to Peter? It was just because he had sinned. That last look of the Saviour broke his heart, and he went out into the night a penitent man, weeping bitterly. Those had been dark days for him since Jesus died. Not only was he overwhelmed with sorrow at the death of his Lord, whom he truly and most dearly loved, but his grief was made bitter beyond endurance by the remembrance of his own base denial at the very last. Deep must this sorrow have been, and all the deeper because he would never be able to ask forgiveness. How he must have longed to have Jesus back, if but for one moment, to confess his sin and crave pardon!

Jesus left this special word for Peter with the angel at the tomb, because He knew of the bitterness of His disciple’s sorrow. Peter might have been saying, when he heard Jesus had risen, “Perhaps He will not own me any more,” and so Jesus sent this message with Peter’s name in it specially, just to let him know that he was forgiven and would not be cast off. What a world of comfort there is in this “and Peter” for any who have sinned and are penitent! Those who have fallen are the very ones who receive the deepest, tenderest compassion from Jesus, because they need it most, and because He would help them to rise again. The gospel always has its special word for the penitent; Christ still comes to call the sinner.

Daily Word of God

Watch Unto Prayer

Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation : the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak

~ Matt 26:41

We must learn both to watch and pray. It is good to watch. There is danger everywhere. An army in an enemy’s country never rests a moment without its encircling line of pickets, keeping watch against danger at every point, and reporting instantly any hostile movement. We are living in the enemy’s country, and cannot safely pass an hour without watching. But watching is not enough; for we are not able to keep ourselves when the danger comes. Hence we need also to pray asking God to keep us. But as watching without praying is not enough, neither is praying without watching. God means us to use our eyes and to keep our wits about us, as well as to cry to Him for help

We must not say that every one who makes a good profession, and then fails, is insincere or a hypocrite. Peter was neither when he made his bold avowal that he would never deny Christ, and that he could die with Him. He loved Christ, and meant to be true to Him. Peter’s spirit was eager and earnest, but he was weak in himself; and because he relied only on himself, he was not able to hold out against the sore temptations which came upon him.

We are all just like Peter. If we are true Christians we mean to be faithful to our Lord. But sincerity is not enough. “The flesh is weak,” and we need to rest continually upon God for help to be true and faithful. If young Christians would learn this lesson they would not fall so easily. If the drunkard who resolves to reform learned it, he would be safer and stronger. No matter how good his intentions are, he is not able of himself to fulfil them. None of us are as good as we want to be and strive to be; and only through the mighty help of Christ can any of us live a true and noble life amid all the world’s temptations and dangers.

Daily Word of God

Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me?

~ John 14:9

Knowledge of Christ

There seems to be pain in the Master’s question. This disciple had been with Him for three years. He had seen His beautiful and gentle life. He had witnessed His works of power. Surely by this time, after such long and close intimacy, the disciple ought to have known Jesus. Yet Jesus tells him here that he did not really know Him.

We get this lesson — that it is possible to be with Christ a long time, and to know very much about Him, without ‘knowing’ Him in the true sense of the word. Philip knew Jesus as a man, as a worker of miracles, as having a very beautiful character; but he seems never to have gone below the surface in understanding Him. He did not know Him as the revealer of the Father. He never saw divine glory in the radiance that streamed from that blessed life. And not to know Christ in this aspect, to know Him only as a man, is not to know Him at all. To leave out the divine in our thought of Christ is not to have any Christ at all.

We may be quite familiar with the facts of our Lord’s life, from His birth in Bethlehem to His ascension from Olivet, and yet may not know anything of Him as a personal Saviour, saving us from our sins, or as a Helper in our times of need. Such knowledge will do us no good unless it leads us to the true knowledge of Christ as Saviour, Lord, and Friend.

There is something very touching in the thought that for so long the Son of God walked with His disciples, all the glory of divinity dwelling in His humanity, and that they did not recognize Him. But is it any better with us? The divine love is close to us perpetually, flowing all about us, with all its infinite tenderness, but how unconscious we are of it! May our prayer be, “Lord, make thyself known to us!”

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.”