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Morning, February 19          

 

"Thus saith the Lord God; I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them."

-Ezekiel 36:37

 

Prayer is the forerunner of mercy. Turn to sacred history, and you will find that scarcely ever did a great mercy come to this world unheralded by supplication. You have found this true in your own personal experience. God has given you many an unsolicited favour, but still great prayer has always been the prelude of great mercy with you. When you first found peace through the blood of the cross, you had been praying much, and earnestly interceding with God that he would remove your doubts, and deliver you from your distresses. Your assurance was the result of prayer. When at any time you have had high and rapturous joys, you have been obliged to look upon them as answers to your prayers. When you have had great deliverances out of sore troubles, and mighty helps in great dangers, you have been able to say, "I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears." Prayer is always the preface to blessing. It goes before the blessing as the blessing's shadow. When the sunlight of God's mercies rises upon our necessities, it casts the shadow of prayer far down upon the plain. Or, to use another illustration, when God piles up a hill of mercies, he himself shines behind them, and he casts on our spirits the shadow of prayer, so that we may rest certain, if we are much in prayer, our pleadings are the shadows of mercy. Prayer is thus connected with the blessing to show us the value of it. If we had the blessings without asking for them, we should think them common things; but prayer makes our mercies more precious than diamonds. The things we ask for are precious, but we do not realize their preciousness until we have sought for them earnestly.

 

"Prayer makes the darken'd cloud withdraw;

Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw;

Gives exercise to faith and love;

Brings every blessing from above."[1]

 

Evening, February 19

 

"He first findeth his own brother Simon."

-John 1:41

 

This case is an excellent pattern of all cases where spiritual life is vigorous. As soon as a man has found Christ, he begins to find others. I will not believe that thou hast tasted of the honey of the gospel if thou canst eat it all thyself. True grace puts an end to all spiritual monopoly. Andrew first found his own brother Simon, and then others. Relationship has a very strong demand upon our first individual efforts. Andrew, thou didst well to begin with Simon. I doubt whether there are not some Christians giving away tracts at other people's houses who would do well to give away a tract at their own-whether there are not some engaged in works of usefulness abroad who are neglecting their special sphere of usefulness at home. Thou mayst or thou mayst not be called to evangelize the people in any particular locality, but certainly thou art called to see after thine own servants, thine own kinsfolk and acquaintance. Let thy religion begin at home. Many tradesmen export their best commodities-the Christian should not. He should have all his conversation everywhere of the best savour; but let him have a care to put forth the sweetest fruit of spiritual life and testimony in his own family. When Andrew went to find his brother, he little imagined how eminent Simon would become. Simon Peter was worth ten Andrews so far as we can gather from sacred history, and yet Andrew was instrumental in bringing him to Jesus. You may be very deficient in talent yourself, and yet you may be the means of drawing to Christ one who shall become eminent in grace and service. Ah! dear friend, you little know the possibilities which are in you. You may but speak a word to a child, and in that child there may be slumbering a noble heart which shall stir the Christian church in years to come. Andrew has only two talents, but he finds Peter. Go thou and do likewise.[2]

 

February 19th

The initiative against drudgery

Arise, shine. Isaiah 60:1.

We have to take the first step as though there were no God. It is no use to wait for God to help us, He will not; but immediately we arise we find He is there. Whenever God inspires, the initiative is a moral one. We must do the thing and not lie like a log. If we will arise and shine, drudgery becomes divinely transfigured.

Drudgery is one of the finest touchstones of character there is. Drudgery is work that is very far removed from anything to do with the ideal-the utterly mean, grubby things; and when we come in contact with them we know instantly whether or not we are spiritually real. Read John 13; we see there the Incarnate God doing the most desperate piece of drudgery, washing fishermen's feet, and He says-"If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet." It requires the inspiration of God to go through drudgery with the light of God upon it. Some people do a certain thing, and the way in which they do it hallows that thing for ever afterwards. It may be the most commonplace thing, but after we have seen them do it, it becomes different. When the Lord does a thing through us, He always transfigures it. Our Lord took on Him our human flesh and transfigured it, and it has become for every saint the temple of the Holy Ghost.[3]

 

February 19

Bring of the fish which ye have now caught

      John 21:10

Why was this? Oh, the Lord wants us to minister to Him as well as to receive from Him, and our service finds its true end when it becomes food for our dear Lord. He was pleased to feed on their fish while they were feeding on His. It was the double banquet of which He speaks in the tender message of revelation, "I will sup with him, and he with me."

A. B. Simpson[4]

 

February 19

" Irreconciliation:  Bitterness "

When people live together in reconciliation, there is peace and joy, a bit of paradise. But in a house where people have bitter thoughts in their hearts about each other, where they quarrel and do not forgive, there is a bit of hell. We know how seldom we find homes that are like a bit of paradise. For irreconciliation and bitterness are widespread sins especially among the pious.

Yet when we look at the Sermon on the Mount, this fact is completely incomprehensible. Jesus said that there would be severe punishment for those who have anything in their hearts against their brothers. He exhorts us to reconcile ourselves with our brothers at all costs, because otherwise there would be terrible consequences Mat_5:23-26. The Lord says they will be put in "prison". Expressed in other words, they will come into the kingdom of darkness where men will weep and gnash their teeth. And the Apostle Paul writes in Rom_1:29; Rom_1:32 that those who are full of strife deserve to die. In another place the implacable are listed among other objectionable types of men who will come under the wrath of God 2Ti_3:3.

Christians, who actually should not come under judgment, are threatened by judgment and punishment, yes even hell, if they refuse to be reconciled. But does anyone believe this? Does anyone hate this sin and want to break away from it? Does anyone believe the words that Jesus spoke? They are true and He will act according to them. We usually do not believe them, because we say that Jesus is merciful. Perhaps we argue like this: Jesus knows our hearts; He knows how difficult it is for us to forgive someone who has hurt our feelings or wronged us unjustly or has said something about us that would ruin our reputation or hurt our family. We imagine that Jesus understands that we cannot deal with such a bitter root in our hearts. We think He understands us when we wake up at night and keep seeing these people before our eyes, and we begin to hurl one accusation after another at them.

Yes, there is probably no one who knows and understands us as well as Jesus does. He knows our sins and bondages; He calls Himself the merciful High Priest. Still He pronounces a sharp verdict over people who do not live in reconciliation, who are filled with bitterness and accusations. He does this precisely because He is our merciful High Priest, who has forgiven all our sins. Because we have received so much mercy through Him, His anger is aroused when we are not merciful to others. We can no longer dodge the issue. This fact is unmistakable in the story of the unmerciful servant. If the Lord forgives us our sins a thousand times, it is a matter of course that He will take back His forgiveness and hold us accountable again for all our sins, if we do not forgive others. Yes, His anger will judge us and throw us into the place of torment Mat_18:34.



[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.