My Utmost for His Highest

May 12th

Make a habit of having no habits

For if these things are yours and abound, they make you to be not idle nor unfruitful. 2 Peter 1:8 (R.V.).

When we begin to form a habit we are conscious of it. There are times when we are conscious of becoming virtuous and patient and godly, but it is only a stage; if we stop there we shall get the strut of the spiritual prig. The right thing to do with habits is to lose them in the life of the Lord, until every habit is so practised that there is no conscious habit at all. Our spiritual life continually resolves into introspection because there are some qualities we have not added as yet. Ultimately the relationship is to be a completely simple one.
Your god may be your little Christian habit, the habit of prayer at stated times, or the habit of Bible reading. Watch how your Father will upset those times if you begin to worship your habit instead of what the habit symbolizes—‘I can’t do that just now, I am praying; it is my hour with God.’ No, it is your hour with your habit. There is a quality that is lacking in you. Recognize the defect, and then look for the opportunity of exercising yourself along the line of the quality to be added.
Love means that there is no habit visible, you have come to the place where the habit is lost, and by practice you do the thing unconsciously. If you are consciously holy, there are certain things you imagine you cannot do, certain relationships in which you are far from simple; that means there is something to be added. The only supernatural life is the life the Lord Jesus lived, and He was at home with God anywhere. Is there anywhere where you are not at home with God? Let God press through in that particular circumstance until you gain Him, and life becomes the simple life of a child.

Streams in the Desert

May 12

“All things are possible to him that believeth.”
(Mark 9:23)

THE “all things” do not always come simply for the asking, for the reason that God is ever seeking to teach us the way of faith, and in our training in the faith life there must be room for the trial of faith, the discipline of faith, the patience of faith, the courage of faith, and often many stages are passed before we really realize what is the end of faith, namely, the victory of faith.
Real moral fibre is developed through discipline of faith. You have made your request of God, but the answer does not come. What are you to do?
Keep on believing God’s Word; never be moved away from it by what you see or feel, and thus as you stand steady, enlarged power and experience is being developed. The fact of looking at the apparent contradiction as to God’s Word and being unmoved from your position of faith make you stronger on every other line.
Often God delays purposely, and the delay is just as much an answer to your prayer as is the fulfillment when it comes.
In the lives of all the great Bible characters, God worked thus. Abraham, Moses and Elijah were not great in the beginning, but were made great through the discipline of their faith, and only thus were they fitted for the positions to which God had called them.
For example, in the case of Joseph whom the Lord was training for the throne of Egypt, we read in the Psalms:
“The word of the Lord tried him.” It was not the prison life with its hard beds or poor food that tried him, but it was the word God had spoken into his heart in the early years concerning elevation and honor which were greater than his brethren were to receive; it was this which was ever before him, when every step in his career made it seem more and more impossible of fulfillment, until he was there imprisoned, and all in innocency, while others who were perhaps justly incarcerated, were released, and he was left to languish alone.
These were hours that tried his soul, but hours of spiritual growth and development, that, “when his word came” (the word of release), found him fitted for the delicate task of dealing with his wayward brethren, with a love and patience only surpassed by God Himself.
No amount of persecution tries like such experiences as these. When God has spoken of His purpose to do, and yet the days go on and He does not do it, that is truly hard; but it is a discipline of faith that will bring us into a knowledge of God which would otherwise be impossible.


365 days with Newton

12 MAY

Stand fast in the battle

‘And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.… And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.’ Genesis 3:15, 20–21
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Exodus 14:10–31

Notice two things that follow in the chapter:
(i) an intimation of Adam’s faith in this promise, in the name he gave his wife (verse 20). He called her Eve, which is derived from a word signifying life. The reason is given: because, in her seed, the true life, the dead in sin should live to God and thus she was to be the mother of all living.
(ii) the seal of this promise on the Lord’s part—clothing them with skins—the skins, without doubt, of beasts slain for sacrifice and thus I doubt not the imputation of the righteousness of the great sacrifice was typically set forth to their faith.
We may preach the gospel to poor sinners. Jesus is here revealed as set apart of God from the beginning to destroy the works of the devil. Believe in him and you shall be saved. We may remind believers of the nature of their calling—think not of stable peace and rest here—the serpent and his seed are in close conspiracy against you; pray therefore for the whole armour of God that you may stand fast in the evil day.
FOR MEDITATION:
Begone unbelief,
Why should I complain
My Saviour is near,
Of want or distress,
And for my relief
Temptation or pain?
Will surely appear:
He told me no less:
By prayer let me wrestle,
By prayer let me wrestle,
By prayer let me wrestle,
The heirs of salvation,
And he will perform,
I know from his Word,
With CHRIST in the vessel,
Through much tribulation
I smile at the storm.
Must follow their LORD.

SERMON SERIES: GENESIS, NO. 10 [4/4], GENESIS 3:15

My Utmost for His Highest

May 11th

You won’t reach it on tiptoe

Add to your brotherliness … love. 2 Peter 1:7.

Love is indefinite to most of us, we do not know what we mean when we talk about love. Love is the sovereign preference of one person for another, and spiritually Jesus demands that that preference be for Himself (cf. Luke 14:26). When the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, Jesus Christ is easily first; then we must practise the working out of these things mentioned by Peter.
The first thing God does is to knock pretence and the pious pose right out of me. The Holy Spirit reveals that God loved me not because I was lovable, but because it was His nature to do so. ‘Now,’ He says to me, ‘show the same love to others’—“Love as I have loved you.” ‘I will bring any number of people about you whom you cannot respect, and you must exhibit My love to them as I have exhibited it to you.’ You won’t reach it on tiptoe. Some of us have tried to, but we were soon tired.
“The Lord suffereth long …” Let me look within and see His dealings with me. The knowledge that God has loved me to the uttermost, to the end of all my sin and meanness and selfishness and wrong, will send me forth into the world to love in the same way. God’s love to me is inexhaustible, and I must love others from the bedrock of God’s love to me. Growth in grace stops the moment I get huffed. I get huffed because I have a peculiar person to live with. Just think how disagreeable I have been to God! Am I prepared to be so identified with the Lord Jesus that His life and His sweetness are being poured out all the time? Neither natural love nor Divine love will remain unless it is cultivated. Love is spontaneous, but it has to be maintained by discipline.

Streams in the Desert

May 11

“We went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.” (Psa. 66:12)

PARADOXICAL though it be, only that man is at rest who attains it through conflict. This peace, born of conflict, is not like the deadly hush preceding the tempest, but the serene and pure-aired quiet that follows it.
It is not generally the prosperous one, who has never sorrowed, who is strong and at rest. His quality has never been tried, and he knows not how he can stand even a gentle shock. He is not the safest sailor who never saw a tempest; he will do for fair-weather service, but when the storm is rising, place at the important post the man who has fought out a gale, who has tested the ship, who knows her hulk sound, her rigging strong, and her anchor-flukes able to grasp and hold by the ribs of the world.

When first affliction comes upon us, how everything gives way! Our clinging, tendril hopes are snapped; and our heart lies prostrate like a vine that the storm has torn from its trellis; but when the first shock is past, and we are able to look up, and say, “It is the Lord,” faith lifts the shattered hopes once more, and binds them fast to the feet of God. Thus the end is confidence, safety, and peace.—Selected.

The adverse winds blew against my life;
  My little ship with grief was tossed;
My plans were gone—heart full of strife,
  And all my hope seemed to be lost—
“Then He arose”—one word of peace.
“There was a calm”—a sweet release.

A tempest great of doubt and fear
  Possessed my mind; no light was there
To guide, or make my vision clear.
  Dark night! ’twas more than I could bear—
“Then He arose,” I saw His face—
“There was a calm” filled with His grace.

My heart was sinking ’neath the wave
  Of deepening test and raging grief;
All seemed as lost, and none could save,
  And nothing could bring me relief—
“Then He arose”—and spoke one word,
“There was a calm!” IT IS THE LORD.

—L. S. P.

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