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.

Word of God

Faithfulness

And the king said to him, ‘Well done, good slave! Because you have been faithful in a very small matter, you will have authority over ten cities.’

[Luke 19:17 NET]

It is remarkable how much the Word of God makes of faithfulness — simple faithfulness. It is not great things that God requires of us unless our mission is to do great things; He asks only that we be faithful in the duties that come to our hand in our commonplace days. That means that we do all our work as well as we can; that we serve well in the varied relationships of life in which from time to time we find ourselves; that we stand heroically in our lot, resisting temptation and continuing true and loyal to God; and that we fulfil our mission in all ways according to the grace given unto us, using every gift and talent for the glory of God and the good of the world. The world crowns “success;” God crowns “faithfulness.”

Jesus tells us that faithfulness in this life lifts us to places of authority hereafter. So, then, life here is only a trial to see what we are capable of doing. It is after all a real probation to find out who may be set over large trusts. And the real life is to be begun in the other world. Those who prove faithful here will have places of responsibility in the kingdom of glory.

This ought to give a new and mighty motive to our living in this world. Our eternal honour and employment will depend upon the degree of our faithfulness here. good men and women often say at the close of their lives, “If I could only begin now, with all my experience, I could live my life much better.” Well, if they have been faithful, that is the very thing they will be permitted to do in the next world. A mother who had brought up a large family said: “I have just learned now how to train children. I could do it well if I could begin it again.” If she has learned this, that is just what Christ wanted her to learn. Now she is ready for full service in His kingdom.

Word of God

Go Forward

Now when the days drew near for him to be taken up, Jesus set out resolutely to go to Jerusalem.

[Luke 9:51 NET]

We do not know what lies before us in life. Some great sorrow or anguish may be awaiting us on the morrow, but it casts no gloom over our spirits today, because we are ignorant of it. This is a merciful provision in our lives. If some of us knew all that we must pass through in the future, it would make our lives very bitter, even while our joys are unbroken. It is a great deal better that we should not know until God leads us to the edge of the experience.

But there was no such kindly veiling of the future from Christ’s eyes. He saw every step of the sorrowful way to the close of His life. Yet this makes the scene before us all the more grand. Knowing all, see how eager He is to press on in His path. He could not be held back. He steadfastly set His face to go, and bent His steps with intense haste to His journey, which He knew would lead Him to Gethsemane, Gabbatha, and Golgotha. In this, as in all things, He left us an example: That we should follow His steps. It is thus that we should ever go forward in the path of duty, no matter what the dangers, the sufferings, the sacrifices, that lie in our path. We are too apt to hesitate and count the cost, when hard tasks are assigned to us, instead of eagerly pressing on in duty’s path.

That walk to Jerusalem, every step a step toward the cross always in plain view, is one of the finest heroisms of all history. Let us not forget why the walk was taken. That cross meant salvation and eternal blessedness for millions of lost souls. Love was the heart of that heroism. Jesus pressed on with intense earnestness, because the accomplishment of His mission would be life for the world and glory for the Father. We ought to bare our heads in reverence as we see Jesus thus hastening to His cross; it was for our sakes He set His face steadfastly to go to Jerusalem.

Word of God

Duty After Privilege

So Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you want, I will make three shelters – one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

[Matt 17:4 NET]

We should know that it was Peter who said this, even if his name were not given; it is just like Peter. He wanted to hold the heavenly vision on the mountain top, and not go back any more to the cold, struggling life of earth. It seemed such a heavenly place that he did not want to leave it. It certainly was good to be there; but they could not stay there long and yet be faithful to their duty and their mission. There was work waiting in the sad world below which they must hasten to do. There was a poor demoniac at the foot of the mountain whom the disciples could not cure; the Master was sorely needed there. Then farther off were Gethsemane, Gabbatha, and Golgotha for Jesus; He must make an atonement for the world. Then for Peter there was Pentecost, with many years of earnest service, and martyrdom in the end.

Devotion is good. It is very sweet to commune with God in the Closet, in the church, at the sacramental table; but we must not spend all our time in these holy exercises. While the raptures thrill our souls we must not forget that outside there are human wants crying for help and sympathy; and we must tear ourselves away from our warmest devotions and most exalted experiences to go down to answer these cries. Religion is not for enjoyment only; God gives us spiritual enjoyment that we may be strong for all loving service.

Hark, hark! a voice amid the quiet intense!

It is thy duty waiting thee without.

Open thy door straightway, and get thee hence;

Go forth into the tumult and the shout;

Work, love, with workers, lovers all about;

Then, weary, go thou back with failing breath,

And in thy chamber make thy prayer and moan.

One day upon his bosom, all thine own,

Thou shalt lie still, embraced in holy death.

Word of God

Not Dead, but Sleeping

When he entered he said to them, “Why are you distressed and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.”

[Mark 5:39 NET]

The Christian should not sorrow as others do. Christ has brought the truth of immortality out into clear light. We ought to familiarize our minds with the Christian conception of death. Christ wrote no whiter lines anywhere than He wrote over the gateway of the believer’s grave. We ought to learn to look at death in the light of Christ’s teachings. Too many Christians, however, never seem to have entered into the blessedness of the Saviour’s victory over the grave. Here, in the account of this miracle of the raising of the ruler’s daughter, we have a beautiful illustration of the way our Lord would have us look at death.

When we lament over our dead he says, “They are not dead, but sleeping. Why do you make all this bitter lamentation?” Our Christian friends who have died have only passed away out of our sight. They have not ceased to be. Even their bodies only sleep. And as a mother in the morning calls her children and awakes them, so Christ will some day call up from their graves all who sleep in him.

Sleep is not a terrible experience; it renews and strengthens the weary body. So the sleep and death is a time of rest and renewal. The calling of this child back from death, and her restoration to her friends, represented what Christ will do for all his people at the end. He will restore friend to friend, and bind up again the broken fragments of households.

There is one point, however, in which the raising of this young girl does not illustrate the final resurrection of believers. She was brought back to resume the old life of toil, struggle, temptation, and sorrow, and to die again. But in the final resurrection believers shall rise to a new, glorious, and immortal life, without sorrow or sin, in the fullness of life, joy, and blessedness.