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Morning, November 12         

 

"The trial of your faith."

-1 Peter 1:7

 

Faith untried may be true faith, but it is sure to be little faith, and it is likely to remain dwarfish so long as it is without trials. Faith never prospers so well as when all things are against her: tempests are her trainers, and lightnings are her illuminators. When a calm reigns on the sea, spread the sails as you will, the ship moves not to its harbour; for on a slumbering ocean the keel sleeps too. Let the winds rush howling forth, and let the waters lift up themselves, then, though the vessel may rock, and her deck may be washed with waves, and her mast may creak under the pressure of the full and swelling sail, it is then that she makes headway towards her desired haven. No flowers wear so lovely a blue as those which grow at the foot of the frozen glacier; no stars gleam so brightly as those which glisten in the polar sky; no water tastes so sweet as that which springs amid the desert sand; and no faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs in adversity. Tried faith brings experience. You could not have believed your own weakness had you not been compelled to pass through the rivers; and you would never have known God's strength had you not been supported amid the water-floods. Faith increases in solidity, assurance, and intensity, the more it is exercised with tribulation. Faith is precious, and its trial is precious too.

 

Let not this, however, discourage those who are young in faith. You will have trials enough without seeking them: the full portion will be measured out to you in due season. Meanwhile, if you cannot yet claim the result of long experience, thank God for what grace you have; praise him for that degree of holy confidence whereunto you have attained: walk according to that rule, and you shall yet have more and more of the blessing of God, till your faith shall remove mountains and conquer impossibilities.[1]

 

Evening, November 12

 

"And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God."

-Luke 6:12

 

If ever one of woman born might have lived without prayer, it was our spotless, perfect a Lord, and yet none was ever so much in supplication as he! Such was his love to his Father, that he loved much to be in communion with him: such his love for his people, that he desired to be much in intercession for them. The fact of this eminent prayerfulness of Jesus is a lesson for us-he hath given us an example that we may follow in his steps. The time he chose was admirable, it was the hour of silence, when the crowd would not disturb him; the time of inaction, when all but himself had ceased to labour; and the season when slumber made men forget their woes, and cease their applications to him for relief. While others found rest in sleep, he refreshed himself with prayer. The place was also well selected. He was alone where none would intrude, where none could observe: thus was he free from Pharisaic ostentation and vulgar interruption. Those dark and silent hills were a fit oratory for the Son of God. Heaven and earth in midnight stillness heard the groans and sighs of the mysterious Being in whom both worlds were blended. The continuance of his pleadings is remarkable; the long watches were not too long; the cold wind did not chill his devotions; the grim darkness did not darken his faith, or loneliness check his importunity. We cannot watch with him one hour, but he watched for us whole nights. The occasion for this prayer is notable; it was after his enemies had been enraged-prayer was his refuge and solace; it was before he sent forth the twelve apostles-prayer was the gate of his enterprise, the herald of his new work. Should we not learn from Jesus to resort to special prayer when we are under peculiar trial, or contemplate fresh endeavours for the Master's glory? Lord Jesus, teach us to pray.[2]

 

November 12th

The transfigured life

If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Cor. 5:17.

What idea have you of the salvation of your soul? The experience of salvation means that in your actual life things are really altered, you no longer look at things as you used to; your desires are new, old things have lost their power. One of the touchstones of experience is-Has God altered the thing that matters? If you still hanker after the old things, it is absurd to talk about being born from above, you are juggling with yourself. If you are born again, the Spirit of God makes the alteration manifest in your actual life and reasoning, and when the crisis comes you are the most amazed person on earth at the wonderful difference there is in you. There is no possibility of imagining that you did it. It is this complete and amazing alteration that is the evidence that you are a saved soul.

What difference has my salvation and sanctification made? For instance, can I stand in the light of 1 Corinthians 13, or do I have to shuffle? The salvation that is worked out in me by the Holy Ghost emancipates me entirely, and as long as I walk in the light as God is in the light, He sees nothing to censure, because His life is working out in every particular, not to my consciousness, but deeper than my consciousness.[3]

 

November 12

Examine yourselves

      2 Cor. 13:5

If your state be good, searching into it will give you that comfort of it. If your state be bad, searching into it cannot make it worse; nay, it is the only way to make it better, for conversion begins with conviction.

Bishop Hopkins[4]

 

November 12

" Unlovingness "

The greatest thing of all-in time and in eternity-is love. That is why there is no greater guilt than the sin against love. We were created in the image of God, who is Love, and after the fall we were redeemed to love through our Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing pierces God's heart more deeply than our not reflecting His image of love. Yes, the Apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians 13 that we are nothing and that our supposedly loving deeds like "giving away all we have" or "delivering our bodies to be burned" are also nothing. All our words and actions, our whole being, have to be filled with love; otherwise, no matter what we do, we will constantly become guilty towards others.

What does unlovingness include? It is passing by one's neighbour's needs and gentle requests; it is the beginning of unmercifulness. We are not really interested in others; we are not merciful to them; we do not sympathize with them. We cannot rejoice with our neighbours and we cannot cry with them. We do not spoil them with our love, we are not kind to them when they are overlooked or humiliated. Sometimes our forgetfulness, which we try to excuse by saying that we had so much to do, is nothing but our great unwillingness to love others. But even when we seem to be working for others and busily helping them, we may actually only be trying to satisfy our own egos. Then we do not hear the Holy Spirit, when He quietly admonishes us; and when it is really important, when others really need our help, we can be very unloving.

There are not enough words to express all the damage unlovingness can do. Without realizing it, we can drive sad and discouraged people into despair, we can crush their souls by taking away their last hope. And yet we think that we have not done anything wicked, we were "just a bit unloving". But if we try to make this sin of unlovingness seem harmless, we are deceiving ourselves. We have not seen our behaviour in Jesus' light and heard what He has to say about it. That is the only thing that matters and we will be judged accordingly one day. One of the most amazing words of judgment that Jesus spoke, that hits us to the core, was directed at the unloving, who pass by the needs of others, "Depart from me, you cursed!" Mat_25:41. Only if we have been "shaken up" by these words, will we no longer be able to persevere blindly in the sin of unlovingness.



[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1896). Morning and evening: Daily readings. London: Passmore & Alabaster.

[2] Spurgeon, C. H. (1896). Morning and evening: Daily readings. London: Passmore & Alabaster.

[3] Chambers, O. (1986). My utmost for his highest: Selections for the year. Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering.

[4] Hardman, S. G., & Moody, D. L. (1997). Thoughts for the quiet hour. Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing.