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Morning, July 7        

 

"Brethren, pray for us."

-1 Thessalonians 5:25

 

This one morning in the year we reserved to refresh the reader's memory upon the subject of prayer for ministers, and we do most earnestly implore every Christian household to grant the fervent request of the text first uttered by an apostle and now repeated by us. Brethren, our work is solemnly momentous, involving weal or woe to thousands; we treat with souls for God on eternal business, and our word is either a savour of life unto life, or of death unto death. A very heavy responsibility rests upon us, and it will be no small mercy if at the last we be found clear of the blood of all men. As officers in Christ's army, we are the especial mark of the enmity of men and devils; they watch for our halting, and labour to take us by the heels. Our sacred calling involves us in temptations from which you are exempt, above all it too often draws us away from our personal enjoyment of truth into a ministerial and official consideration of it. We meet with many knotty cases, and our wits are at a non plus; we observe very sad backslidings, and our hearts are wounded; we see millions perishing, and our spirits sink. We wish to profit you by our preaching; we desire to be blest to your children; we long to be useful both to saints and sinners; therefore, dear friends, intercede for us with our God. Miserable men are we if we miss the aid of your prayers, but happy are we if we live in your supplications. You do not look to us but to our Master for spiritual blessings, and yet how many times has He given those blessings through His ministers; ask then, again and again, that we may be the earthen vessels into which the Lord may put the treasure of the gospel. We, the whole company of missionaries, ministers, city missionaries, and students, do in the name of Jesus beseech you

 

"Brethren, pray for us."[1]

 

Evening, July 7

 

"When I passed by thee, I said unto thee, Live."

-Ezekiel 16:6

 

Saved one, consider gratefully this mandate of mercy. Note that this fiat of God is majestic. In our text, we perceive a sinner with nothing in him but sin, expecting nothing but wrath; but the eternal Lord passes by in his glory; he looks, he pauses, and he pronounces the solitary but royal word, "Live." There speaks a God. Who but he could venture thus to deal with life and dispense it with a single syllable? Again, this fiat is manifold. When he saith "Live," it includes many things. Here is judicial life. The sinner is ready to be condemned, but the mighty One saith, "Live," and he rises pardoned and absolved. It is spiritual life. We knew not Jesus-our eyes could not see Christ, our ears could not hear his voice-Jehovah said "Live," and we were quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins. Moreover, it includes glory-life, which is the perfection of spiritual life. "I said unto thee, Live:" and that word rolls on through all the years of time till death comes, and in the midst of the shadows of death, the Lord's voice is still heard, "Live!" In the morning of the resurrection it is that self-same voice which is echoed by the arch-angel, "Live," and as holy spirits rise to heaven to be blest for ever in the glory of their God, it is in the power of this same word, "Live." Note again, that it is an irresistible mandate. Saul of Tarsus is on the road to Damascus to arrest the saints of the living God. A voice is heard from heaven and a light is seen above the brightness of the sun, and Saul is crying out, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" This mandate is a mandate of free grace. When sinners are saved, it is only and solely because God will do it to magnify his free, unpurchased, unsought grace. Christians, see your position, debtors to grace; show your gratitude by earnest, Christlike lives, and as God has bidden you live, see to it that you live in earnest.[2]

 

July 7th

All noble things are difficult

Enter ye in at the strait gate ... because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way ... Matthew 7:13-14 .

If we are going to live as disciples of Jesus, we have to remember that all noble things are difficult. The Christian life is gloriously difficult, but the difficulty of it does not make us faint and cave in, it rouses us up to overcome. Do we so appreciate the marvellous salvation of Jesus Christ that we are our utmost for His highest?

God saves men by His sovereign grace through the Atonement of Jesus; He works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure; but we have to work out that salvation in practical living. If once we start on the basis of His Redemption to do what He commands, we find that we can do it. If we fail, it is because we have not practised. The crisis will reveal whether we have been practising or not. If we obey the Spirit of God and practise in our physical life what God has put in us by His Spirit, then when the crisis comes, we shall find that our own nature as well as the grace of God will stand by us.

Thank God He does give us difficult things to do! His salvation is a glad thing, but it is also a heroic, holy thing. It tests us for all we are worth. Jesus is bringing many "sons unto glory," and God will not shield us from the requirements of a son. God's grace turns out men and women with a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ, not milksops. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline to live the noble life of a disciple of Jesus in actual things. It is always necessary to make an effort to be noble.[3]

 

July 7

Let every man take heed how he buildeth

      1 Cor. 3:10

Our business is not to build quickly, but to build upon a right foundation, and in a right spirit. Life is more than a mere competition as between man and man; it is not who can be done first, but who can work best; it is not who can rise highest in the shortest time, but who is working most patiently and lovingly in accordance with the designs of God.

Joseph Parker[4]

 

July 7

" Criticizing: Judging "

Instead of sitting on the judgment throne above the others we must sit where we deserve to sit: in the defendant's box, where we can be judged and hear God's judgment on our sins. When we are willing to do this, God will no longer be against us and we will no longer be in the hand of the accuser. On the contrary, we will belong to our Lord Jesus, who had to let Himself be accused in five trials. He did this, although He was innocent. Shouldn't we, who are guilty, be able to take this place? If we earnestly begin to judge ourselves, we will ask people at home and at work to tell us the straight truth about ourselves. Humbled beneath this, we will be able to accept the reproaches of others, even when they are unjust. Then our lips and hearts will be silent and we will not be able to criticize others so quickly and judge them so harshly.

Jesus went the way of humble love. He humbled Himself in the dust and let Himself be judged. Now He has redeemed the members of His body to live this love, which covers up others' mistakes instead of criticizing, which forgives and tolerates instead of making reproaches, which bestows kindness instead of criticism.

This does not mean tolerating sin. But if we should ever have to pronounce judgment, we will do it quite clearly but with a humble and loving heart.

But whoever wages a war of life and death against his spirit of criticism will find that nothing sits so deeply in our Adam's nature as the spirit of criticism. It will not disappear overnight by making one commitment. "I want to let myself be judged and place my mouth in the dust." No, our blood is infected with it. There is only one Person who is stronger than our old Adam. It is Jesus Christ. His blood has greater power than the blood that we have inherited from our fathers. This blood of Jesus has complete power to free us, if we call upon it ever anew; in it there is really power to cleanse us from our sins, from the great sin of judging others, from hypocrisy, which makes us guilty and brings us into Satan's hands. In faith we must appropriate the redeeming power of this blood. This will only happen in an intensive fight against this sin, in a daily battle of faith and prayer. This includes speaking the "nevertheless" of faith in spite of the defeats we experience: "I am redeemed to love and to forgive!" Whoever is willing to endure in this battle in spite of his short-comings, believing in Jesus' redemption, will be freed from his great sin of judging others.



[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.