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Morning, April 5       


"On him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus."

-Luke 23:26


We see in Simon's carrying the cross a picture of the work of the Church throughout all generations; she is the cross-bearer after Jesus. Mark then, Christian, Jesus does not suffer so as to exclude your suffering. He bears a cross, not that you may escape it, but that you may endure it. Christ exempts you from sin, but not from sorrow. Remember that, and expect to suffer.


But let us comfort ourselves with this thought, that in our case, as in Simon's, it is not our cross, but Christ's cross which we carry. When you are molested for your piety; when your religion brings the trial of cruel mockings upon you, then remember it is not your cross, it is Christ's cross; and how delightful is it to carry the cross of our Lord Jesus!


You carry the cross after him. You have blessed company; your path is marked with the footprints of your Lord. The mark of his blood-red shoulder is upon that heavy burden. 'Tis his cross, and he goes before you as a shepherd goes before his sheep. Take up your cross daily, and follow him.


Do not forget, also, that you bear this cross in partnership. It is the opinion of some that Simon only carried one end of the cross, and not the whole of it. That is very possible; Christ may have carried the heavier part, against the transverse beam, and Simon may have borne the lighter end. Certainly it is so with you; you do but carry the light end of the cross, Christ bore the heavier end.


And remember, though Simon had to bear the cross for a very little while, it gave him lasting honour. Even so the cross we carry is only for a little while at most, and then we shall receive the crown, the glory. Surely we should love the cross, and, instead of shrinking from it, count it very dear, when it works out for us "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."[1]


Evening, April 5


"Before honour is humility."

-Proverbs 15:33


Humiliation of soul always brings a positive blessing with it. If we empty our hearts of self God will fill them with his love. He who desires close communion with Christ should remember the word of the Lord, "To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word." Stoop if you would climb to heaven. Do we not say of Jesus, "He descended that he might ascend?" so must you. You must grow downwards, that you may grow upwards; for the sweetest fellowship with heaven is to be had by humble souls, and by them alone. God will deny no blessing to a thoroughly humbled spirit. "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," with all its riches and treasures. The whole exchequer of God shall be made over by deed of gift to the soul which is humble enough to be able to receive it without growing proud because of it. God blesses us all up to the full measure and extremity of what it is safe for him to do. If you do not get a blessing, it is because it is not safe for you to have one. If our heavenly Father were to let your unhumbled spirit win a victory in his holy war, you would pilfer the crown for yourself, and meeting with a fresh enemy you would fall a victim; so that you are kept low for your own safety. When a man is sincerely humble, and never ventures to touch so much as a grain of the praise, there is scarcely any limit to what God will do for him. Humility makes us ready to be blessed by the God of all grace, and fits us to deal efficiently with our fellow men. True humility is a flower which will adorn any garden. This is a sauce with which you may season every dish of life, and you will find an improvement in every case. Whether it be prayer or praise, whether it be work or suffering, the genuine salt of humility cannot be used in excess.[2]


April 5th

His agony and our fellowship

Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, ... tarry ye here, and watch with Me. Matthew 26:36, 38.

We can never fathom the agony in Gethsemane, but at least we need not misunderstand it. It is the agony of God and Man in one, face to face with sin. We know nothing about Gethsemane in personal experience. Gethsemane and Calvary stand for something unique; they are the gateway into Life for us.

It was not the death on the cross that Jesus feared in Gethsemane; He stated most emphatically that He came on purpose to die. In Gethsemane He feared lest He might not get through as Son of Man. He would get through as Son of God-Satan could not touch Him there; but Satan's onslaught was that He would get through as an isolated Figure only; and that would mean that He could be no Saviour. Read the record of the agony in the light of the temptation: "Then the devil leaveth Him for a season." In Gethsemane Satan came back and was again overthrown. Satan's final onslaught against Our Lord as son of Man is in Gethsemane.

The agony in Gethsemane is the agony of the Son of God in fulfilling His destiny as the Saviour of the world. The veil is drawn aside to reveal all it cost Him to make it possible for us to become sons of God. His agony is the basis of the simplicity of our salvation. The Cross of Christ is a triumph for the son of Man. It was not only a sign that Our Lord had triumphed, but that He had triumphed to save the human race. Every human being can get through into the presence of God now because of what the Son of Man went through.[3]


April 5

That night they caught nothing

      John 21:3

God may let the sinful world succeed in their forbidden schemes, but, blessed be His name, He does not allow His chosen ones to prosper in the path which leads them out of His holy will! He has a storm to send after every Jonah, and an empty net for every unbelieving and inconsistent Simon.

A. B. Simpson[4]


April 5

" So We Are Not A New Creation After All? "

"If any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come" 2Co_5:17. Is that really true? Is the "new man", whom the Apostle Paul talks about so much, a reality or not? Jesus has actually promised this newness to everyone. But are we not usually disappointed when we look at ourselves and see just the opposite? How are we to understand this contrast? The Word of God tells us the "new creation" is a fact, but the reality which we daily experience tells us something quite different.

The solution to this problem was revealed to me after several disappointments in myself, after times of despondency and discouragement, through a deeper understanding of Scripture. For Scripture takes this contrast into account, and it also shows us the way to overcome. When the wonder of wonders has happened to us-born anew by the Holy Spirit Joh_3:3; Joh_3:5-we should sing songs of praise. For then indeed a "new man" has been born by the Holy Spirit, a spiritual man, like a new-born child. And this new man, this wonderful creation of God, proves to be alive. He has a heart that feels with God, that rejoices over the redemption of Jesus, while the natural man is indifferent and self-centred. The spiritual man in us has new eyes, new ears. He sees and perceives what he has never before noticed. He recognizes God's plan of salvation and His love in his own personal life and in the events of the times. He recognizes sin as sin and responds to Jesus with sacrificial love. He has a new mouth which pours forth words of praise.

But the birth of the spiritual man in us is not the end. When we are born anew, the spiritual man is like a small, new-born baby. And above all, the old man, the natural man, has not yet died. He has been condemned to death; he has been dethroned. And he senses this, just as Herod sensed intuitively that the Child was a threat to him and that his power would reach an end. That is why he hated the Child and sought to kill Him. And with the new birth a battle begins within us also-between spirit and flesh, between the new and the old man. "The desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other" Gal_5:17. We must be prepared for this battle. The Holy Scriptures take this to be a reality in the life of believers.

So after we are born anew, a bitter battle begins and everything depends upon who grows and who decreases. Whose side are we on? Whom do we like? Whom do we dislike? Who will be victorious? We cannot serve two masters. We have to love one and hate the other. But how can the new spiritual man reach maturity, the "stature of the fullness of Christ" Eph_4:13 and be victorious? And how will the old man be starved to death?

I would like to testify to three "musts" which help bring the spiritual man in us to growth and victory. The first "must" is to do everything possible to put the natural man to death. The Apostle Paul says, "If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, (of the natural man) you will live" Rom_8:13. This will let the spiritual man live and grow. That means taking measures against yourself, against the old man, as it is written in the Letter to the Galatians, "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires" Gal_5:24. Therefore we have to undertake something ourselves. As Scripture says, we have to put to death the strong desires of the old man within us.

For example, the spiritual man needs a prayer life for growth. But if the natural man is ruled by an exceedingly strong need for sleep or talkativeness and does not want to give these things up, the spiritual man cannot grow. Then we cannot find time to be with Jesus, to listen to Him and to speak with Him. And if food plays too great a role, the growth of the spiritual man will also be hindered. Of course, everyone who panders to his lusts will put the spiritual man to death. But the growth of the spiritual man will also be hindered, indeed our spiritual life will finally die away, if we let the natural man live in bitterness, irreconciliation or even hatred.

If we earnestly desire the growth of the "new man" we have to be resolute in putting "to death the deeds of the body". We have to give the death blow to our lusts and other cravings by radically renouncing them. That means that we have to make an "about face", if, for example, we continually read a great deal of unnecessary things or even indecent things that awaken our lusts and strengthen them. Or if we are tempted to sit in front of the television set, we have to say, No. It means getting rid of things that steal our time and interest, that we should be devoting to Jesus. Here is where we should begin to obey the Holy Scriptures and "crucify" whatever is favourable to our old man.

But everyone who has begun to take such measures will have found that he cannot free himself. Rather, after we have entered the fight and have declared war on the old man, we are most likely to experience how often we fall down and are defeated. But in spite of all the defeats, we have given God a sign that we are willing, that we are serious when we pray for release. And then, just when we begin to moan over our inability like the Apostle Paul Rom_7:24, when we begin to suffer deeply for our weakness under chastening and under seemingly useless measures taken against our ego, we are prepared for the second "must" that will help us become victorious in this fight. We often take this second "must" for granted, knowing that it is part of the battle of faith against sin, yet many of us do not understand how to practise it in depth. It is laying hold of the sacrificial redemption of Jesus. We have to grasp in faith what His death on the cross means for us. "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life" Joh_3:14.

[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.