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Morning, April 20     

 

"That through death he might destroy him that had the power of death."

-Hebrews 2:14

 

O child of God, death hath lost its sting, because the devil's power over it is destroyed. Then cease to fear dying. Ask grace from God the Holy Ghost, that by an intimate knowledge and a firm belief of thy Redeemer's death, thou mayst be strengthened for that dread hour. Living near the cross of Calvary thou mayst think of death with pleasure, and welcome it when it comes with intense delight. It is sweet to die in the Lord: it is a covenant-blessing to sleep in Jesus. Death is no longer banishment, it is a return from exile, a going home to the many mansions where the loved ones already dwell. The distance between glorified spirits in heaven and militant saints on earth seems great; but it is not so. We are not far from home-a moment will bring us there. The sail is spread; the soul is launched upon the deep. How long will be its voyage? How many wearying winds must beat upon the sail ere it shall be reefed in the port of peace? How long shall that soul be tossed upon the waves before it comes to that sea which knows no storm? Listen to the answer, "Absent from the body, present with the Lord." Yon ship has just departed, but it is already at its haven. It did but spread its sail and it was there. Like that ship of old, upon the Lake of Galilee, a storm had tossed it, but Jesus said, "Peace, be still," and immediately it came to land. Think not that a long period intervenes between the instant of death and the eternity of glory. When the eyes close on earth they open in heaven. The horses of fire are not an instant on the road. Then, O child of God, what is there for thee to fear in death, seeing that through the death of thy Lord its curse and sting are destroyed? and now it is but a Jacob's ladder whose foot is in the dark grave, but its top reaches to glory everlasting.[1]

 

Evening, April 20

 

"Fight the Lord's battles."

-1 Samuel 18:17

 

The sacramental host of God's elect is warring still on earth, Jesus Christ being the Captain of their salvation. He has said, "Lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Hark to the shouts of war! Now let the people of God stand fast in their ranks, and let no man's heart fail him. It is true that just now in England the battle is turned against us, and unless the Lord Jesus shall lift his sword, we know not what may become of the church of God in this land; but let us be of good courage, and play the man. There never was a day when Protestantism seemed to tremble more in the scales than now that a fierce effort is making to restore the Romish antichrist to his ancient seat. We greatly want a bold voice and a strong hand to preach and publish the old gospel for which martyrs bled and confessors died. The Saviour is, by his Spirit, still on earth; let this cheer us. He is ever in the midst of the fight, and therefore the battle is not doubtful. And as the conflict rages, what a sweet satisfaction it is to know that the Lord Jesus, in his office as our great Intercessor, is prevalently pleading for his people! O anxious gazer, look not so much at the battle below, for there thou shalt be enshrouded in smoke, and amazed with garments rolled in blood; but lift thine eyes yonder where the Saviour lives and pleads, for while he intercedes, the cause of God is safe. Let us fight as if it all depended upon us, but let us look up and know that all depends upon him.

 

Now, by the lilies of Christian purity, and by the roses of the Saviour's atonement, by the roes and by the hinds of the field, we charge you who are lovers of Jesus, to do valiantly in the Holy War, for truth and righteousness, for the kingdom and crown jewels of your Master. Onward! "for the battle is not yours but God's."[2]

 

April 20th

Can a saint slander God?

For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him Amen. 2 Cor. 1:20.

Jesus told the parable of the talents recorded in Matthew 25 as a warning that it is possible for us to misjudge our capacity. This parable has not to do with natural gifts, but with the Pentecostal gift of the Holy Ghost. We must not measure our spiritual capacity by education or by intellect; our capacity in spiritual things is measured by the promises of God. If we get less than God wants us to have, before long we will slander Him as the servant slandered his master: ‘You expect more than You give me power to do; You demand too much of me, I cannot stand true to You where I am placed.' When it is a question of God's Almighty Spirit, never say ‘I can't.' Never let the limitation of natural ability come in. If we have received the Holy Spirit, God expects the work of the Holy Spirit to be manifested in us.

The servant justified himself in everything he did and condemned his lord on every point-‘Your demand is out of all proportion to what you give.' Have we been slandering God by daring to worry when He has said: "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you"? Worrying means exactly what this servant implied-‘I know You mean to leave me in the lurch.' The person who is lazy naturally is always captious-‘I haven't had a decent chance,' and the one who is lazy spiritually is captious with God. Lazy people always strike out on an independent line.

Never forget that our capacity in spiritual matters is measured by the promises of God. Is God able to fulfil His promises? Our answer depends on whether we have received the Holy Spirit.[3]

 

April 20

There stood by me this night the angel of God ... saying, Fear not, Paul.... God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Wherefore ... be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me

      Acts 27:23, 24, 25

An active faith can give thanks for a promise, though it be not yet performed; knowing that God's bonds are as good as ready money.

Matthew Henry[4]

 

April 20

" Disbelief: Discouragement "

"But the fearful, and unbelieving . . . shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone" Rev_21:8 A.V. That is the verdict God pronounces over this sin.

Why are the unbelievers struck by such a severe judgement? Why is disbelief, discouragement such a serious sin? Because, through their behaviour, they mistrust God. If a father loves his child and sacrifices everything to take care of him, can the child hurt him more than by being mistrustful and thinking, "My father doesn't intend to do anything good for me"? Jesus condemns such mistrust in the parable of the talents by replying to the servant who said, "Master, I knew you to be a hard man" Mat_25:24: "Cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth" Mat_25:30.

So it is not a harmless sin to be discouraged and to open the door to disbelief and then to persist in it. It will have terrible consequences. The kingdom of heaven will be closed for us and the door to the kingdom of darkness will open to take us in.

Then it will be of no use to try to excuse our disbelief, as we perhaps try to do now, by saying that it is hard for us to believe or even pitying ourselves for "not being able to". No, as surely as Jesus exhorts us to believe, "Have faith in God" Mar_11:22, we can believe. If we do not believe, it is sin. It is our pride. Pride and arrogance cause us to criticize God, by saying, "Jesus cannot help me after all. Jesus cannot forgive me! No one, not even God Himself can help me out of my need, my hopeless situation, my temptations and sins. They are too strong." When we say such things, we think we know better than God's Word which says, "Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you" Psa_50:15, "I will never fail you nor forsake you" Heb_13:5, "I, I am He who blots out your transgressions" Isa_43:25. It is really a symptom of great pride when we place ourselves above the Word of God with our own estimations, thoughts and judgements and think that they alone are right, arrogantly rejecting God's promises as invalid. That is why the servant, who said "Master, I knew you to be a hard man," is struck by Jesus' relentless words, which tell him that his place will be in hell, in the kingdom of Satan, who personifies hatred and mistrust.

And this judgement will strike us also, if we persist in our disbelief. We usually say so piously, "I am discouraged," instead of admitting that we are rebelling and thinking we know better than God. But if, in our pride, we act as though He cannot help us, we are insulting God, who made such a great sacrifice, delivering His Son to death on the cross to show us His love. How can we still refuse to trust His love? Because we are too proud to admit the fact that we are sinners before God and man and that we make mistakes again and again. We are also too proud to let ourselves be chastened for our sins by the fatherly love of God--just as earthly fathers chasten and discipline their children. We rebel against such discipline, although God is actually for us exactly at that moment to help us, to free us from what is causing us so much trouble: our sin. He acts in love like a Father, who chastens us so that He can give us more good things later.



[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.