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Morning, August 5    

 

"We know that all things work together for good to them that love God."

-Romans 8:28

 

Upon some points a believer is absolutely sure. He knows, for instance, that God sits in the stern-sheets of the vessel when it rocks most. He believes that an invisible hand is always on the world's tiller, and that wherever providence may drift, Jehovah steers it. That re-assuring knowledge prepares him for everything. He looks over the raging waters and sees the spirit of Jesus treading the billows, and he hears a voice saying, "It is I, be not afraid." He knows too that God is always wise, and, knowing this, he is confident that there can be no accidents, no mistakes; that nothing can occur which ought not to arise. He can say, "If I should lose all I have, it is better that I should lose than have, if God so wills: the worst calamity is the wisest and the kindest thing that could befall to me if God ordains it." "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God." The Christian does not merely hold this as a theory, but he knows it as a matter of fact. Everything has worked for good as yet; the poisonous drugs mixed in fit proportions have worked the cure; the sharp cuts of the lancet have cleansed out the proud flesh and facilitated the healing. Every event as yet has worked out the most divinely blessed results; and so, believing that God rules all, that he governs wisely, that he brings good out of evil, the believer's heart is assured, and he is enabled calmly to meet each trial as it comes. The believer can in the spirit of true resignation pray, "Send me what thou wilt, my God, so long as it comes from thee; never came there an ill portion from thy table to any of thy children."

 

"Say not my soul, ‘From whence can God relieve my care?'

Remember that Omnipotence has servants everywhere.

His method is sublime, his heart profoundly kind,

God never is before his time, and never is behind."[1]

 

Evening, August 5

 

"Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here?"

-Numbers 32:6

 

Kindred has its obligations. The Reubenites and Gadites would have been unbrotherly if they had claimed the land which had been conquered, and had left the rest of the people to fight for their portions alone. We have received much by means of the efforts and sufferings of the saints in years gone by, and if we do not make some return to the church of Christ by giving her our best energies, we are unworthy to be enrolled in her ranks. Others are combating the errors of the age manfully, or excavating perishing ones from amid the ruins of the fall, and if we fold our hands in idleness we had need be warned, lest the curse of Meroz fall upon us. The Master of the vineyard saith, "Why stand ye here all the day idle?" What is the idler's excuse? Personal service of Jesus becomes all the more the duty of all because it is cheerfully and abundantly rendered by some. The toils of devoted missionaries and fervent ministers shame us if we sit still in indolence. Shrinking from trial is the temptation of those who are at ease in Zion: they would fain escape the cross and yet wear the crown; to them the question for this evening's meditation is very applicable. If the most precious are tried in the fire, are we to escape the crucible? If the diamond must be vexed upon the wheel, are we to be made perfect without suffering? Who hath commanded the wind to cease from blowing because our bark is on the deep? Why and wherefore should we be treated better than our Lord? The firstborn felt the rod, and why not the younger brethren? It is a cowardly pride which would choose a downy pillow and a silken couch for a soldier of the cross. Wiser far is he who, being first resigned to the divine will, groweth by the energy of grace to be pleased with it, and so learns to gather lilies at the cross foot, and, like Samson, to find honey in the lion.[2]

 

August 5th

The baffling call of God

And all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.... And they understood none of these things. Luke 18:31, 34.

God called Jesus Christ to what seemed unmitigated disaster. Jesus Christ called His disciples to see Him put to death; He led every one of them to the place where their hearts were broken. Jesus Christ's life was an absolute failure from every standpoint but God's. But what seemed failure from man's standpoint was a tremendous triumph from God's, because God's purpose is never man's purpose.

There comes the baffling call of God in our lives also. The call of God can never be stated explicitly; it is implicit. The call of God is like the call of the sea, no one hears it but the one who has the nature of the sea in him. It cannot be stated definitely what the call of God is to, because His call is to be in comradeship with Himself for His own purpose, and the test is to believe that God knows what He is after. The things that happen do not happen by chance, they happen entirely in the decree of God. God is working out His purposes.

If we are in communion with God and recognize that He is taking us into His purposes, we shall no longer try to find out what His purposes are. As we go on in the Christian life it gets simpler, because we are less inclined to say-‘Now why did God allow this and that?' Behind the whole thing lies the compelling of God. "There's a divinity that shapes our ends." A Christian is one who trusts the wits and the wisdom of God, and not his own wits. If we have a purpose of our own, it destroys the simplicity and the leisureliness which ought to characterize the children of God.[3]

 

August 5

Go in this thy might ... have not I sent thee

      Judges 6:14

God never leaves His child to fail when in the path of obedience.

Theodore Cuyler[4]

 

August 5

" Pleasing People: Conformity "

"If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ" Gal_1:10. With this statement, the Apostle Paul has touched upon a cancerous growth in life, especially among Christians. Because our human hearts are infected with sin, we seek the favour of our fellow men and not the favour of God. That is why it hurts us so much to lose the favour, love and recognition of men, especially of those whose favour is important to us. So we make every effort to please others. But then we are in danger of losing God's favour and Jesus will no longer look upon us as His servants and disciples.

This is an "either/or" situation. And it is especially important during this time of apostasy. If we are now seeking to please men, how quickly we could go over to the side of those who deny Jesus! In past years we have seen shocking examples of this among us Christians, and we have already seen something of the judgment such people reaped, who conformed because they were afraid.

In the face of all this the Lord is asking us, "What is the motive behind your talking, your behaviour?" Perhaps we are friendly towards strangers, but within our own family we are annoyed and grumpy. Our ulterior motive, although we may not be aware of it, is that we want the good opinion of strangers, their respect, their love and recognition, while we take this for granted in our own family. But if we were interested in God's favour and pleasure, we would be especially friendly at home, for God's sake. Another danger is that "when in Rome, we do as the Romans do". At work and elsewhere we conform to the people around us and do whatever they do, whether it involves gossiping with them, telling dirty jokes, accepting their opinions, conforming to their way of dress. All this because, as we say, we do not want to be "different".

Perhaps we even have other pretences: we do not want to offend people. If so we will not be able to tell them anything about our faith. But in reality we simply do not want to lose their favour. No matter what it costs, we want to avoid having any opponents. So we cater to men and do things we cannot justify. If we wanted to give a testimony of Jesus under these conditions, no one would believe us.

We are not at peace, but are tormented by our fear of others. We are afraid of what they may think of us. But how foolish this is! We are afraid of men and not afraid of God, who is really to be feared. Jesus says, "Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell" Mat_10:28. Yes, we should be afraid of losing God's favour, by trying to gain the favour of man. For if God is no longer for us, we are lost, that is, God no longer uses His power for us and contends on our behalf. Yes, we are lost, if God's judgment is upon us. If we wish to please men, we cannot be His servants, neither here nor in eternity. He has power to deliver us up to Satan's kingdom. What good will recognition and favour from men do us, if we are separated from the Source of life, God Himself, and one day have to hear Him say, "You do not belong to Me!"?

No matter what it costs, our goal must be that we stand on God's side and that we have His good pleasure, Therefore, we must make a decision. We must denounce seeking to please people, so that we may obtain God's pleasure. Our fate for eternity depends upon this. Let us picture the baptism of Jesus and His transfiguration and listen to the Father's tender words of love, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased" Mat_3:17; Mat_17:5. Then we will sense that it is worth everything to receive God's commendation and will seek to please Him alone. Then we will partake fully of the love of God, which is actually our deepest longing. Moreover people cannot give us this much love and we will never be fully satisfied by them alone.

If we please God, He will love us and honour us, and one day this will be manifested to all mankind. This is quite certain, whereas we can never be sure of getting love from people when we seek to please them. Tomorrow it may bring about our downfall. Human love is like dew, like a cloud that passes away. Perhaps the situation will change and tomorrow they will no longer be interested in taking care of us and being ready to help us. There is only one Person we can rely on; we can count on His love and all the gifts He has to give us. That is our LORD and GOD. What should we do, if God no longer counts us among His servants, if He is not for us? We cannot allow that to happen-in time or in eternity.

Jesus is exhorting us; "Choose Me; choose My way". In everything that we do and say we ought to please God. Let us make this commitment. It is a commitment to the cross, for it is painful when people withdraw their favour and we are no longer loved and respected by them. They may even reject us and be hostile to us. But then we will receive love from God and from those who are close to Him. That is always the case. The closer we are to the Lord and the more we seek to please Him, the more at one we are with those who are close to Him. Isn't that worth suffering for?



[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.