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Morning, February 23          

 

"I will never leave thee."

-Hebrews 13:5

 

No promise is of private interpretation. Whatever God has said to any one saint, he has said to all. When he opens a well for one, it is that all may drink. When he openeth a granary-door to give out food, there may be some one starving man who is the occasion of its being opened, but all hungry saints may come and feed too. Whether he gave the word to Abraham or to Moses, matters not, O believer; he has given it to thee as one of the covenanted seed. There is not a high blessing too lofty for thee, nor a wide mercy too extensive for thee. Lift up now thine eyes to the north and to the south, to the east and to the west, for all this is thine. Climb to Pisgah's top, and view the utmost limit of the divine promise, for the land is all thine own. There is not a brook of living water of which thou mayst not drink. If the land floweth with milk and honey, eat the honey and drink the milk, for both are thine. Be thou bold to believe, for he hath said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." In this promise, God gives to his people everything. "I will never leave thee." Then no attribute of God can cease to be engaged for us. Is he mighty? He will show himself strong on the behalf of them that trust him. Is he love? Then with lovingkindness will he have mercy upon us. Whatever attributes may compose the character of Deity, every one of them to its fullest extent shall be engaged on our side. To put everything in one, there is nothing you can want, there is nothing you can ask for, there is nothing you can need in time or in eternity, there is nothing living, nothing dying, there is nothing in this world, nothing in the next world, there is nothing now, nothing at the resurrection-morning, nothing in heaven which is not contained in this text-"I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."[1]

 

Evening, February 23

 

"Take up the cross, and follow me."

-Mark 10:21

 

You have not the making of your own cross, although unbelief is a master carpenter at cross-making; neither are you permitted to choose your own cross, although self-will would fain be lord and master; but your cross is prepared and appointed for you by divine love, and you are cheerfully to accept it; you are to take up the cross as your chosen badge and burden, and not to stand cavilling at it. This night Jesus bids you submit your shoulder to his easy yoke. Do not kick at it in petulance, or trample on it in vain-glory, or fall under it in despair, or run away from it in fear, but take it up like a true follower of Jesus. Jesus was a cross-bearer; he leads the way in the path of sorrow. Surely you could not desire a better guide! And if he carried a cross, what nobler burden would you desire? The Via Crucis is the way of safety; fear not to tread its thorny paths.

 

Beloved, the cross is not made of feathers, or lined with velvet, it is heavy and galling to disobedient shoulders; but it is not an iron cross, though your fears have painted it with iron colours, it is a wooden cross, and a man can carry it, for the Man of sorrows tried the load. Take up your cross, and by the power of the Spirit of God you will soon be so in love with it, that like Moses, you would not exchange the reproach of Christ for all the treasures of Egypt. Remember that Jesus carried it, and it will smell sweetly; remember that it will soon be followed by the crown, and the thought of the coming weight of glory will greatly lighten the present heaviness of trouble. The Lord help you to bow your spirit in submission to the divine will ere you fall asleep this night, that waking with to-morrow's sun, you may go forth to the day's cross with the holy and submissive spirit which becomes a follower of the Crucified.[2]

 

February 23rd

The determination to serve

The son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister. Matthew 20:28.

Paul's idea of service is the same as our Lord's: "I am among you as He that serveth"; "ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake." We have the idea that a man called to the Ministry is called to be a different kind of being from other men. According to Jesus Christ, he is called to be the ‘door-mat' of other men; their spiritual leader, but never their superior. "I know how to be abased," says Paul. This is Paul's idea of service-‘I will spend myself to the last ebb for you; you may give me praise or give me blame, it will make no difference. So long as there is a human being who does not know Jesus Christ, I am his debtor to serve him until he does.' The mainspring of Paul's service is not love for men, but love for Jesus Christ. If we are devoted to the cause of humanity, we shall soon be crushed and broken-hearted, for we shall often meet with more ingratitude from men than we would from a dog; but if our motive is love to God, no ingratitude can hinder us from serving our fellow men.

Paul's realization of how Jesus Christ had dealt with him is the secret of his determination to serve others. "I was before a perjurer, a blasphemer, an injurious person"-no matter how men may treat me, they will never treat me with the spite and hatred with which I treated Jesus Christ. When we realize that Jesus Christ has served us to the end of our meanness, our selfishness, and sin, nothing that we meet with from others can exhaust our determination to serve men for His sake.[3]

 

February 23

Philip findeth Nathanael and saith unto him, We have found him of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write.... Come and see

      John 1:45, 46

The next thing to knowing that "we have found him" is to find someone else, and say, "Come and see."

Frances Ridley Havergal[4]

 

February 23

" Lust "

We all know the power of lust, which is in our flesh. Eve lusted for the fruit. David lusted for the wife of Uriah. Is there anyone among us who does not know how lust can suddenly arise in our hearts? We think, for example, that we cannot live, if we cannot satisfy our desire for the other sex, for a certain person. This lust arises from time to time in our blood. It has an overpowering force which is unwilling to be confined within the limits of the commandments of God, and through it sin upon sin is born. "Desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin" Jam_1:15 a: adultery, theft, murder.

The power of sensual desires, when people give in to them, can make them so blind that they completely disregard the commandments of God. The consequence is unbridled sexual indulgence, premarital and extramarital intercourse or sexual relations with members of the same sex. Such behaviour is almost taken for granted today. But the judgment of God is upon it, for Scripture says: "God will judge the immoral and the adulterous" Heb_13:4 b. "No immoral or impure man ... has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for it is because of these things that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience" Eph_5:5-6. They will weep and lament in Satan's kingdom, the kingdom of torment.

The enemy knows how to cover up the curse that lies in indulging in our lust, by trying to justify the lust in our flesh: "God, the Creator, has laid this desire in our blood; we have to satisfy it, otherwise we will not have a well-rounded personality." In reality, however, to indulge in unbridled lust leads to ruin. Certainly our sexuality belongs to the creation of God and when we practise it in the sight of His holiness, with discipline according to His commandments, we will experience His blessing. But there is scarcely any other gift of God which is so terribly misused as this one. Here the devil has found an open door. We think indulging in our desires will bring us the happiness for which we long. But apart from the Creator, and in disobedience towards Him, lust will lead us into ruin, because it brings us under Satan's dominion.

The consequences of seeking to satisfy our desires by drinking, taking drugs or indulging in sex are dreadful. If we do so, we could literally experience our bodies' decay. Many drug addicts die from overdoses, or they end up in mental institutions. People want to "enjoy" life; so they drink the cup of poison that the enemy offers them. Body and soul become poisoned; they have to suffer dreadfully and are finally destroyed-here in earthly life and then in the next world in dreadful torment.

This is a law, for sin always gives birth to death. We think we can get more out of life when we satisfy our lust, but actually we just get death. This will be revealed in a horrible way in eternity. There everyone will be able to see on our bodies just how much we have given in to our desires, and some shall awake "to shame and everlasting contempt" Dan_12:2. In hell the members of our bodies that indulged in sin (for instance, the tongue of the rich man, Luk_16:19-24 will burn, without ever being totally burned up. The desires will continue to burn in our bodies but instead of satisfaction we will experience dreadful torment.

No matter how high the price, the sinful factor in our urges, that leads us into indulgence and fornication, has to be put to death here on earth. We have to turn away from it immediately and begin to fight the battle of faith today, for we never know whether tomorrow will still come. If we are suddenly called away from this life, we may find ourselves today suffering heartache, torture and torment in the kingdom of darkness. The Word of God warns us many times about extramarital sexual relationships and sharply condemns every sexual relationship with members of the same sex. "Immorality, impurity,

licentiousness ... those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" Gal_5:19-20. "Neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals . . . will inherit the kingdom of God" 1Co_6:9-10. "Shun immorality ... the immoral man sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not on your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body" 1Co_6:18-20.



[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.