Today With God

These are the things which defile a man.

~ Matt 15:20

It is right to have clean hands, but it is more important to have a clean heart. Some people are most punctilious about minute ceremonies, while they pay small heed to the moralities of their lives. It is the inner life that makes character. A bad heart defiles everything; it is a nest of unholy things.

A lady took a dead child’s photograph and touched it with her brush until the little one seemed to live in the picture. But in a day or two the face was covered with blotches. There was something on the paper on which the picture had been taken which worked up through the colors and spoiled it. So in many a life there are bad qualities which work up through all outside manners and refinements, and spoil the beauty.

The Syrophenician woman knew she was in the presence of One who could heal her child, and she simply would not go away till she got her plea; her importunity prevailed upon Him. We give up too easily when the answer is slow in coming.

Today With God

Bring him hither to Me.

~  Matt 17:17

Visions are given to prepare for tasks. At the foot of the Transfiguration Mount a father was waiting with his distressed boy to have him healed. While we are sitting in rapture at the Lord’s Supper somebody is outside with a great need. We do not know how often we fail to help those in need or trouble because we have not enough faith. Jesus is the strong Son of God, and there is nothing He cannot do.

We ought to make the most we can of our life and do all the good we can. It is wrong for any of us, with our splendid abilities, to stay in “contented insignificance.” The Master wants us to be great and to do great things. But there are mistaken opinions about what it is to be great. Jesus’ disciples thought if they held high positions in the world they would be great. Jesus told them that childlikeness was the highest greatness. We are greatest when we are not aware of being great at all. Simplicity, trust, the absence of ambition, contentment – these are marks of greatness.

Daily Word of God

Accepting Christ

As many as received him, accept Christ to them gave he power to become the sons of God.

~ John 1:12

The people who shut their doors on Christ always shut out great blessings; those who open to Him let all heaven’s love and joy into their lives. Some say it does not matter whether they receive Christ or not. They believe in God’s mercy and love, and do not see why they need to accept Christ. Here it is made very plain that the only way to receive God’s love and mercy is by receiving Christ. Only those who accept Him become God’s children. Christ is the only way to God, the only door into the Father’s house. To refuse Christ is to refuse adoption into the family of God.

Then we also learn another thing from this morning’s text . Some people are puzzled to know how to become Christians. Here the way is surely made as plain as a pathway of light. Christ comes to us as the one Mediator, the Son of God, the divine Saviour; and we have only to receive Him, to accept Him with our hearts, and commit ourselves to Him. “But there is that mystery of the new birth. I can’t understand that,” says someone. You have nothing whatever to do with that; for does not this verse say that if we receive Christ we become the children of God?

The same sentence goes on to say that those who thus receive Christ are born again; but it says expressly that this change is not their own act, not the act of any man, but is divinely wrought, they are born of God. All that belongs to us is simply to receive Christ. We have nothing whatever to do with the mystery of the new birth. That is God’s work, and He is able to effect it. Our part is the acceptance of Christ; God will change our hearts. If we accept God’s Son as our Saviour, the new life will at once flow into our heart, and we shall become children of God, not by any fiction of name, but by the communication of divine life.

Daily Comfort

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever!”

~ Heb 13:8

We leave many things behind us, as we go on. We can never go back again over the closing year. We never go over any life-path a second time. We never pass a second time through any experience. We have infancy once, childhood once, youth once, manhood and womanhood once, old age once, and we die once. We are forever leaving things, places, conditions, and experiences behind us. But through all these, we have the same Christ, unchanged, unchanging.

The Christ of childhood and of youth remains the Christ of manhood and of old age. Whatever changes the years bring to us–we must ever keep our eyes on the living Christ. He will always be all we need. There will never be a path which he cannot find for us and show us. There will never be a dark valley which he cannot light up for us. There will never be a battle which he cannot fight for us. There will never be an experience through which he cannot safely take us. We are leaving the old year behind, but we are not leaving Christ in the dead year. We need not be afraid, therefore, to go forward, if we go with him. We have not passed this new way before, and it is all strange to our inexperience; but Christ knows and he will guide us, and all will be well–if we put our hand in his.

Daily Comfort

“And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.”

~  Mark 13:27

There is no danger that in the last day, that anyone will be overlooked or forgotten who has been a true follower of Christ. The obscurest Christian, hidden away in the lowliest or most neglected spot, will not be missed by the angels, when they come to gather in Christ’s little ones. On nearly every battle-field where the slain are buried, there are graves marked by the sad word “Unknown.” But if among these, there are those who belonged to Christ, the angels will not fail to find them and bring them.

A ship went down on the British coast, and all on board perished. None of the bodies of those who had been lost were found, except the little body of an infant that was washed ashore among the wreckage. The kindly people of the place who picked it up buried the body, and having no clew to its name, put on the little stone simply, “God knows.” When the angels come they will know whose body it is, and will not overlook it.

There is only one thing about which we need to concern ourselves, that we are indeed of those who have accepted Christ and have been faithful to him in this life. It will not matter in that day whether we have been rich or poor, famous among men or unknown; the determining element will be, whether or not we have belonged to Christ.

Today With God

They were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord.

~ Luke 1:6

It is a beautiful thing that we read of this good, old couple, Zacharias and Elisabeth, that they were righteous before God. Some people appear to men to be righteous, who before God have no such record. Real character is what our hearts are, our hearts make us. We ought not to be satisfied with doing well the things which men can see; we ought to work and live ever for God’s eye. Sometimes we say it is no matter how we do certain things, because nobody will see them. But we should remember that God will see them, and surely we should never do careless, faulty work for His eye.

The word “commandments” suggests that the holiness of these people was of a very practical kind. Some people’s religion is chiefly emotional. They talk about loving God, but they pay little heed to the commandments. God is pleased with ardent devotions, but He wants us to prove our religion by obedience, by doing the things He gives us to do.

Daily Comfort

“Silver or gold I do not have–but what I have I give you.” 

~ Acts 3:6

Someone once said, “It’s very hard to know how to help people–when you can’t send them blankets, or coal, or needed food.” With many people this is very true. They know not how to help others, except in such ways. Yet the needs which these material things satisfy, are the smallest needs of human lives. There are better ways of helping: with sympathy, hope, cheer, courage, inspiration, comfort. These are the blessings which most people need, far more than they need blankets or coal or food.

So far as we know, Jesus gave no money. He did not have it to give. Yet there never was in this world another such dispenser of true charity as he was. He gave encouragement, instruction, love. He told people of higher things.

None of us are too poor to give help in the same way. We may not have silver and gold to bestow, but out of a warm heart we can give coins of love which will mean far more than money! We should always keep a gentle heart–and then we can be a blessing to many.

Daily Comfort

“I had it in my heart to build a house for the Name of the LORD my God. But this word of the LORD came to me: You are not to build a house for my Name.”

~ 1 Chr 22:7-8

God was pleased with David’s desire, but it was not David’s work to build a temple. His part was to conquer the country, and gather materials for the house. Sometimes the things we purpose to do–we are not permitted to accomplish. They belong to some other worker who is to come after us, and are not part of our mission at all.

There are many people called to do preparatory work. A man goes to the West, and clears off a piece of ground, building a crude log hut. His son succeeds him, and in the midst of broad, rich acres erects a palatial home. The father’s work was just as important in its place, though not so conspicuous, as the son’s. One set of men make the excavations for a building, and then put in the foundations. For weeks they toil underground; and then another set of men come, the walls rise up, and the magnificent building attracts all eyes. The foundation work is buried out of sight, but who will say that it is less important than the splendid walls that tower above the street?

But for what David did, Solomon never could have built the temple. It is the same in all life. To each one God allots a place and a part; and if we do that which God gives us to do, he asks nothing more.

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.

Today With God

Peter, James, and John his brother.

~ Matt 17:1

Jesus had His special friendships. All the apostles belonged to His personal family, but there were three who enjoyed closest intimacy with Him. In the Garden of Gethsemane these three were chosen to be nearest to Him, that by their sympathy they might strengthen Him and thus help Him to endure His sore agony.

There must have been something in these three men which fitted them for the place in the inner circle to which they were admitted. It was not mere blind partiality in Jesus that made them His best beloved. We know that the holiest get nearest to Christ. Faith also brings us near, while doubt and unbelief separate. Purity of heart brings us close – The pure in heart shall see God. Likeness to Christ fits for personal friendship.

Jesus said that those who serve most self–forgetfully are first in His kingdom. Selfishness keeps us far off. It is a comfort to find Peter, though very faulty, was admitted to closest friendship with Christ.