Streams in the Desert

January 8

“I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing.” (Ezek. 34:26.)

WHAT is thy season this morning? Is it a season of drought? Then that is the season for showers. Is it a season of great heaviness and black clouds? Then that is the season for showers. “As thy day so shall thy strength be.” “I will give thee showers of blessing.” The word is in the plural. All kinds of blessings God will send. All God’s blessings go together, like links in a golden chain. If He gives converting grace, He will also give comforting grace. He will send “showers of blessings.” Look up today, O parched plant, and open thy leaves and flowers for a heavenly watering.—Spurgeon.

“Let but thy heart become a valley low,
And God will rain on it till it will overflow”

Thou, O Lord, canst transform my thorn into a flower. And I want my thorn transformed into a flower. Job got the sunshine after the rain, but has the rain been all waste? Job wants to know, I want to know, if the shower had nothing to do with the shining. And Thou canst tell me—Thy Cross can tell me. Thou hast crowned Thy sorrow. Be this my crown, O Lord. I only triumph in Thee when I have learned the radiance of the rain.—George Matheson.
The fruitful life seeks showers as well as sunshine.

“The landscape, brown and sere beneath the sun,
Needs but the cloud to lift it into life;
The dews may damp the leaves of tree and flower,
But it requires the cloud-distilled shower
To bring rich verdure to the lifeless life.

“Ah, how like this, the landscape of a life:
Dews of trial fall like incense, rich and sweet;
But bearing little in the crystal tray—
Like nymphs of night, dews lift at break of day
And transient impress leave, like lips that meet.

“But clouds of trials, bearing burdens rare,
Leave in the soul, a moisture settled deep:
Life kindles by the magic law of God;
And where before the thirsty camel trod,
There richest beauties to life’s landscape leap.

“Then read thou in each cloud that comes to thee
The words of Paul, in letters large and clear:
So shall those clouds thy soul with blessing feed,
And with a constant trust as thou dost read,
All things together work for good. Fret not, nor fear!”

Streams in the Desert

January 7

“I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Phil. 4:11.)

PAUL, denied of every comfort, wrote the above words in his dungeon. A story is told of a king who went into his garden one morning, and found everything withered and dying. He asked the oak that stood near the gate what the trouble was. He found it was sick of life and determined to die because it was not tall and beautiful like the pine. The pine was all out of heart because it could not bear grapes, like the vine. The vine was going to throw its life away because it could not stand erect and have as fine fruit as the peach tree. The geranium was fretting because it was not tall and fragrant like the lilac; and so on all through the garden. Coming to a heart’s-ease, he found its bright face lifted as cheery as ever. “Well, heart’s-ease, I’m glad, amidst all this discouragement, to find one brave little flower. You do not seem to be the least disheartened” “No, I am not of much account, but I thought that if you wanted an oak, or a pine, or a peach tree, or a lilac, you would have planted one; but as I knew you wanted a heart’s-ease, I am determined to be the best little heart’s-ease that I can.”

“Others may do a greater work,
  But you have your part to do;
And no one in all God’s heritage
  Can do it so well as you.”

They who are God’s without reserve, are in every state content; for they will only what He wills, and desire to do for Him whatever He desires them to do; they strip themselves of everything, and in this nakedness find all things restored an hundredfold.

Streams in the Desert

January 6

“When thou passest through the waters … they shall not overflow thee.” (Isa. 43:2.)

GOD does not open paths for us in advance of our coming. He does not promise help before help is needed. He does not remove obstacles out of our way before we reach them. Yet when we are on the edge of our need, God’s hand is stretched out.
Many people forget this, and are forever worrying about difficulties which they foresee in the future. They expect that God is going to make the way plain and open before them, miles and miles ahead; whereas He has promised to do it only step by step as they may need. You must get to the waters and into their floods before you can claim the promise. Many people dread death, and lament that they have not “dying grace.” Of course, they will not have dying grace when they are in good health, in the midst of life’s duties, with death far in advance. Why should they have it then? Grace for duty is what they need then, living grace; then dying grace when they come to die.—J. R. M.

“When thou passest through the waters”
  Deep the waves may be and cold,
But Jehovah is our refuge,
  And His promise is our hold;
For the Lord Himself hath said it,
  He, the faithful God and true:
“When thou comest to the waters
  Thou shalt not go down, BUT THROUGH.”

Seas of sorrow, seas of trial,
  Bitterest anguish, fiercest pain,
Rolling surges of temptation
  Sweeping over heart and brain—
They shall never overflow us
  For we know His word is true;
All His waves and all His billows
  He will lead us safely through.

Threatening breakers of destruction,
  Doubt’s insidious undertow,
Shall not sink us, shall not drag us
  Out to ocean depths of woe;
For His promise shall sustain us,
  Praise the Lord, whose Word is true!
We shall not go down, or under,
  For He saith, “Thou passest THROUGH.”

—Annie Johnson Flint.

My Utmost for His Highest

January 8th

Does my sacrifice live?

And Abraham built an altar … and bound Isaac his son. Genesis 22:9.

This incident is a picture of the blunder we make in thinking that the final thing God wants of us is the sacrifice of death. What God wants is the sacrifice through death which enables us to do what Jesus did, viz., sacrifice our lives. Not ‘I am willing to go to death with Thee,’ but, ‘I am willing to be identified with Thy death so that I may sacrifice my life to God.’ We seem to think that God wants us to give up things! God purified Abraham from this blunder, and the same discipline goes on in our lives. God nowhere tells us to give up things for the sake of giving them up. He tells us to give them up for the sake of the only thing worth having, viz., life with Himself. It is a question of loosening the bands that hinder the life, and immediately those bands are loosened by identification with the death of Jesus, we enter into a relationship with God whereby we can sacrifice our lives to Him.
It is of no value to God to give Him your life for death. He wants you to be a “living sacrifice,” to let Him have all your powers that have been saved and sanctified through Jesus. This is the thing that is acceptable to God.

My Utmost for His Highest

January 7th

Intimate with Jesus

Have I been so long with you, and yet hast thou not known Me? John 14:9.

These words are not spoken as a rebuke, nor even with surprise; Jesus is leading Philip on. The last One with whom we get intimate is Jesus. Before Pentecost the disciples knew Jesus as the One Who gave them power to conquer demons and to bring about a revival (see Luke 10:18–20 ). It was a wonderful intimacy, but there was a much closer intimacy to come—“I have called you friends.” Friendship is rare on earth. It means identity in thought and heart and spirit. The whole discipline of life is to enable us to enter into this closest relationship with Jesus Christ. We receive His blessings and know His word, but do we know Him?
Jesus said—“It is expedient for you that I go away”—in that relationship, so that He might lead them on. It is a joy to Jesus when a disciple takes time to step more intimately with Him. Fruitbearing is always mentioned as the manifestation of an intimate union with Jesus Christ (John 15:1–4 ).
When once we get intimate with Jesus we are never lonely, we never need sympathy, we can pour out all the time without being pathetic. The saint who is intimate with Jesus will never leave impressions of himself, but only the impression that Jesus is having unhindered way, because the last abyss of his nature has been satisfied by Him. The only impression left by such a life is that of the strong calm sanity that Our Lord gives to those who are intimate with Him.

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