"And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith
in God."—Mark xi. 22.
The Lord here teaches His people the true secret of
spiritual strength, that strength which removes mountains. How strong we
might be if we had more faith ! how steadily and joyfully would we run
our Christian race! how calmly would we look on the storms which shake
to its very centre the heart which has no such sustaining principle!
Faith in God sees the hand of Omnipotence ruling all, and ruling for the
good of His own people, and for the good of His own cause in their
hearts, even when things seem most against them. Faith in God rests
peacefully on that revelation of His glorious character given to us in
His Son, relying with implicit trust upon His love as well as upon His
power; and while others see nothing but darkness, faith beholds a light
behind the clouds, by which she can read the promises of His Word, and
note that they are all sealed by the greatest of all evidences, the
blood shed upon Calvary.
"Teach me to live by faith,
Conform my will to Thine;
Let me victorious be in death,
And then in glory shine.
"If Thou these blessings give,
And wilt my Portion be,
Cheerful the world's poor toys I leave
To those who know not Thee."
"Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not
yet ascended to my Father."—John xx. 17.
"Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy
finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust
it into my side : and be not faithless, but believing."—John xx. 27.
How differently the Lord deals with these two
disciples! Mary's faith did not require to be confirmed by an actual
touch. She had said "Rabboni," and put her whole soul into the word. No
shadow of doubt crossed her mind when she had once heard that
voice say unto her, "Mary!" There was an instant rush of faith, and
love, and gladness in her heart—He was risen. But she needed to
be reminded that it was not now with Him as formerly, when
she might draw near and minister to Him, and wash from His feet
with her tears the dust of the wilderness, and wipe them with her hair,
and anoint them with the costly ointment, and think it her greatest
honour to be permitted to bestow on Him the most precious thing she
possessed of worldly property. It was not so now. She might not thus
minister to her Lord, but something she still might do—"Go to my
brethren," tell them of their risen Saviour;—she who had first seen Him
was first honoured to tell of Him. How different is Thomas's case, and
how tenderly the Lord deals with him! Not a word of reproach, except the
gentle admonition, "Be not faithless, but believing." And see how the
Lord condescends to his weakness—he is invited to touch those blessed
hands and that pierced side; and the faith that had been long of coming
was a steadfast faith at last, for there was no trace of unbelief in
Thomas's mind when he burst forth with his glad confession, "My Lord and
my God ! "
"And they took of the fruit of the land in
their hands, and brought it down unto us, and brought us word again,
and said, It is a good land which the Lord our God doth give us."
—Deut. i- 25.
Well may the believer say of the inheritance reserved
for him, It is a good land, there is none like it, and better far than
the grapes of Eshcol are its glorious fruits! We know that it is good,
because it is God's gift—He will not give His children a stone for
bread. We know that it is good, because of the price paid for it—not
corruptible things, but the precious blood of Christ. And we know by His
own sure word of promise-that it is good, and that Jesus has gone to
prepare a place there for His own, among the many mansions of His
Father's house above. These thoughts may well cheer the pilgrim's heart
in his journey. It lies, indeed, full often through a wilderness, and
there are enemies more formidable than the Anakims in the way,
but ' stronger is He that is with us than all they that be against us."
Lord, when Thou hast finished all Thy plan and purpose with me here
below, and prepared me-for that holy place by Thy good Spirit's working,
oh, give me safe entrance into that land, that I may know by experience
how good it is!
"Eye hath not seen it, my gentle boy,
Ear hath not heard its-deep songs of joy,
Dreams cannot picture a world so fair;
Sorrow and death may not enter there;
Time may not breathe on its changeless bloom.
For beyond the grave, and beyond the tomb,
It is there, it is there, my child!"
"My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord;
in the morning will I direct my prayer unto-thee, and will look
up."—Ps. v. 3.
Let me not forget the resolution of the Psalmist, nor
fail to look up when I direct my prayers unto God in the morning.
Let me look up to Him as my reconciled Father in Christ, more
willing to give than I am to ask;. let me look up expecting to receive,
waiting for His blessing. Let me look up to give thanks, for oh, how
much have I to thank Him for! The morning hour seems especially to
remind me of this, when I awake refreshed and strengthened, and remember
that it is His hand that has preserved me, and His goodness that has
restored me to new life and strength. Let me look up hopefully; hitherto
He has helped me, He will not now forsake me; whatever may
be the. difficulties I anticipate this day, I have His promise,
"As thy day thy strength shall be." Let me look
up, and drink in the blessing of heaven, sweeter than the
fragrance of morning. There are times to look down, and times to look
within—times to look back on the past, and times to look forward to the
future; the morning hour, when I direct my prayer to God, is the time to
"Teach me Thy love to know;
That this light which now I see
May both the work and workman show;
Then by a sunbeam I will climb to Thee!"
"Let your moderation be known unto all men. The
Lord is at hand."—Phil. iv. 5.
Moderation does not mean apathy or indifference,
either real or affected; I think we may find the explanation of the
moderation here spoken of, in the last part of the verse ; for if we
remember that the "Lord is at hand" there will be a true "moderation" in
our feelings about earthly things, which may he "known unto all men," if
they wish to know the reason of it. The expression may refer to the
nearness of our Lord's coming, but I believe that it also may
mean that even now He is at hand, His presence is with us, His eye is
upon us, —"there standeth One among you whom ye know not." This thought
should moderate the ardour of our pursuit of earthly objects, but how
should it stimulate us to press on after the attainment of spiritual
blessings! Lord, grant us such a sense of Thy presence and glory, that
this world may never have power to engross our minds; so shall our
moderation proceed from a right source—be known of all men—and be known
to arise from faith in Thee!
"I ask Thee for Thy daily grace,
To none who ask denied,
And a mind to blend with outward life,
While keeping by Thy side.
Content to fill a little space,
So thou art glorified."
"The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the
Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and
bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto
you."—John xiv. 26.
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise;"— the
disciples proved this when the day of Pentecost was fully come, and the
great presence of the promised Comforter revealed Himself with a sound,
as of a rushing mighty wind, and with the sight of cloven tongues of
fire sitting upon each of those highly-favoured heads! He is not now
thus seen nor heard in the power of His wondrous gifts,—but the
graces of the Holy Spirit are continually present with the Church of
Christ; and the Lord, who at first sent Him, is still saying to each of
us, "Ask, and ye shall receive." Why do we not receive more? it
is because we do not ask more, and because we do not ask in
faith! "Lord, increase our faith," and increase in us a spirit of
grace and supplication; we need the Comforter, we need the
Teacher as much as ever Thy first followers did. O God, make clean
our hearts within us, and "take not thy Holy Spirit from us!"
"Come as the Dove, and spread Thy wings,
The wings of peaceful love;
And let the Church on earth become
Blest as the Church above! "
"Because I live, ye shall live also."—John xiv.
"When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then
shall ye also appear with him in glory."—Col. iii. 4.
How wonderful is this union between the life of
Christ and that of His people! Their life is hid with Christ in
God; it is secret—apart from their natural life—a new thing created in
them by the special operation of the Spirit of life, and subsisting in
them by virtue of their union with Christ, and by the continual supplies
of His grace. It needs sustenance like the bodily life, and He, by His
Word and Spirit, feeds it continually. We would not have dared to say
how close this union with Christ is, unless He had Himself said with
authority, "Because I live, ye shall live also." The destroyer Death
cannot touch this life, because it is bound up in Christ; and
though for a time Death may seem to gain the victory, he is himself but
a conquered foe, for he cannot hold in his prison-house the very least
of Christ's little ones in that day when He shall call them to appear
soul and body with Him in glory. "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable
"Author and Guardian of my life,
Sweet Source of light Divine;
And (all harmonious names in one)
My Saviour, Thou art mine!
"What thanks I owe Thee, and what love,
A boundless, endless store,
Shall echo through the realms above,
When time shall be no more."
"Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain
path."—Ps. xxvii. 11.
"Make thy way straight before my face."—Ps. v. 8.
"Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk;
for I lift up my soul unto thee."—Ps. cxliii. 8.
"In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall
direct thy paths."—Prov. iii. 6.
The heart that knows anything of itself, knows its
need of guidance; we cannot of ourselves either find the way or
walk in it, unless the Lord lead us. Even in the continually returning
changes of our daily lives, we feel, wherever a choice has to be made,
that we want a guide, one who shall point out infallibly the right way;
and what a blessing is it that we are invited to take the Lord for our
Guide! In these petitions of the Psalmist, we have examples of a man
seeking God's direction, which teach us how to seek it. We may not ask
to have our own way—"Teach me Thy way, O Lord!" we may not
ask for a pleasant path, but we may say, "Lead me in a plain
path;" and these are petitions which we may offer in all the
confidence of a childlike faith, for we have a distinct promise that if
we do so acknowledge Him, He will direct our paths. O Lord, may I never
forget that I cannot guide myself, and may I never forget that Thou art
willing to guide me!
"I bless my God, who is my Guide,
I sing in Zion's ways;
When shall I sing on Zion's hill
Thine everlasting praise?"
"O love the Lord, all ye his saints: for the Lord
preserveth the faithful, and plentifully re-wardeth the proud
doer."—Ps. xxxi. 23.
If David could see, even in God's judgments, so much
to make him love the Lord, how much more ought we to do so, who have
seen in Christ mercy and judgment meet together, and salvation offered
to sinners! May the blessed Spirit work more of this love in my heart!
It is the first-fruit of the Spirit, for the "fruits of the Spirit are
love, joy, peace," &c.—love first, all the rest following it. And
truly it is a fruit of the Spirit, for the natural heart of man,
untouched by this Divine Power, can neither love God nor man aright. It
is by contemplating His wondrous love that we get our cold hearts
warmed. " We love Him, because He first loved us ;" and if we do not
love Him, it is because we do not know Him. But it is not our love to
Him that can save us, any more than the infant's hold of its mother can
keep it from falling. It is His love alone that can preserve us—"He
preserveth the faithful;" and may He strengthen our love to Him by
shewing us what His own love is!
"Hark, my soul, it is the Lord,
'Tis thy Saviour, hear His word;
Jesus speaks, and speaks to thee,
Say, poor sinner, lov'st thou me?
"Lord, it is my chief complaint,
That my love is weak and faint;
Yet I love Thee, and adore:
Oh for grace to love Thee more!"