O Lord, who by the example of Your apostle, has taught us to forget those things which are behind, and to reach forth unto those things which are ahead — give us grace to leave all that is past, and to press toward the mark for the prize of our high calling. Help us to lay aside every weight, and the sins which do so easily beset us — and to run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
This world draws upon us and holds us back from heavenward aspirings. May we have grace to resist these earthward drawings, and may the heavenly life win us ever toward its blessedness. May we be enabled to live more and more for the things that are unseen and eternal. Earthly things, sweet and beautiful as they are, are but for a little while. They are like the flowers which are so fragrant and lovely today — and tomorrow are faded and worthless. May these earthly blessings, which pass away, ever reveal You to us, and turn our thoughts to You. As these earthly blessings are but for a day, let us not rest in them, nor build our hopes on them — but teach us rather to rest in You and to build our hopes on the enduring rock of Your eternity. Then, come what may of earthly disaster or loss — we shall be safe and secure in You, our changeless God.
Fill our hearts with thoughts of Your love and grace, as we go forth into the world. Go before us and lead us, and help us to follow You wherever You may lead. Give us wisdom to answer all questions in the right way. Give us courage to meet difficulties and to overcome hindrances and obstacles. Give us gentle hearts that we may be a blessing to other lives. We ask all in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Streams in the Desert
Specialize in the Impossible
The hill country shall be thine – Josh 17:18
There is always room higher up. When the valleys are full of Canaanites, whose iron chariots withstand your progress, get up into the hills, occupy the upper spaces. If you can no longer work for God, pray for those who can. If you cannot move earth by your speech, you may move Heaven. If the development of life on the lower slopes is impossible, through limitations of service, the necessity of maintaining others, and such-like restrictions, let it break out toward the unseen, the eternal, the Divine.
Faith can fell forests. Even if the tribes had realized what treasures lay above them, they would hardly have dared to suppose it possible to rid the hills of their dense forest-growth. But as God indicated their task, He reminded them that they had power enough. The visions of things that seem impossible are presented to us, like these forest-covered steeps, not to mock us, but to incite us to spiritual exploits which would be impossible unless God had stored within us the great strength of His own indwelling.
Difficulty is sent to reveal to us what God can do in answer to the faith that prays and works. Are you straitened in the valleys? Get away to the hills, live there; get honey out of the rock, and wealth out of the terraced slopes now hidden by forest. —Daily Devotional Commentary
Got any rivers they say are uncrossable,
Got any mountains they say ’can’t tunnel through’?
We specialize in the wholly impossible,
Doing the things they say you can’t do.
—Song of the Panama builders
Streams in the Desert
Trust Amid the Silence
He answered her not a word. – Matt 15:23
He will be silent in his love. – Zeph 3:17
It may be a child of God is reading these words who has had some great crushing sorrow, some bitter disappointment, some heart-breaking blow from a totally unexpected quarter. You are longing for your Master’s voice bidding you “Be of good cheer,” but only silence and a sense of mystery and misery meet you —“He answered her not a word.”
God’s tender heart must often ache listening to all the sad, complaining cries which arise from our weak, impatient hearts, because we do not see that for our own sakes He answers not at all or otherwise than seems best to our tear-blinded, short-sighted eyes.
The silences of Jesus are as eloquent as His speech and may be a sign, not of His disapproval, but of His approval and of a deep purpose of blessing for you.
“Why art thou cast down, O…soul?” Thou shalt yet praise Him, yes, even for His silence. Listen to an old and beautiful story of how one Christian dreamed that she saw three others at prayer. As they knelt the Master drew near to them.
As He approached the first of the three, He bent over her in tenderness and grace, with smiles full of radiant love and spoke to her in accents of purest, sweetest music.
Leaving her, He came to the next, but only placed His hand upon her bowed bead, and gave her one look of loving approval.
The third woman He passed almost abruptly without stopping for a word or glance. The woman in her dream said to herself, “How greatly He must love the first one, to the second He gave His approval, but none of the special demonstrations of love He gave the first; and the third must have grieved Him deeply, for He gave her no word at all and not even a passing look.
“I wonder what she has done, and why He made so much difference between them?” As she tried to account for the action of her Lord, He Himself stood by her and said: “O woman! how wrongly hast thou interpreted Me. The first kneeling woman needs all the weight of My tenderness and care to keep her feet in My narrow way. She needs My love, thought and help every moment of the day. Without it she would fail and fall.
“The second has stronger faith and deeper love, and I can trust her to trust Me however things may go and whatever people do.
“The third, whom I seemed not to notice, and even to neglect, has faith and love of the finest quality, and her I am training by quick and drastic processes for the highest and holiest service.
“She knows Me so intimately, and trusts Me so utterly, that she is independent of words or looks or any outward intimation of My approval. She is not dismayed nor discouraged by any circumstances through which I arrange that she shall pass; she trusts Me when sense and reason and every finer instinct of the natural heart would rebel;—because she knows that I am working in her for eternity, and that what I do, though she knows not the explanation now, she will understand hereafter.
“I am silent in My love because I love beyond the power of words to express, or of human hearts to understand, and also for your sakes that you may learn to love and trust Me in Spirit-taught, spontaneous response to My love, without the spur of anything outward to call it forth.”
He “will do marvels” if you will learn the mystery of His silence, and praise Him, for every time He withdraws His gifts that you may better know and love the Giver. —Selected
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” – Luke 14:11
HUMILITY is an excellent grace. It is the empty hand which God fills. Self-conceit is weakness. We are strongest, when we distrust ourselves, and are thus led to lean upon God. Emptiness is the cup into which God puts blessing. Pride leaves no room for the divine strength. But there is a danger also in self-distrust. It sometimes makes a person shrink from duty. It almost wrecked the mission of Moses. A little more excusing of himself, and God probably would have left him with his sheep in the wilderness, seeking some other man to bring Israel out of Egypt. No doubt many people have failed altogether of the mission for which they were sent into this world, through a like feeling of unfitness for the work. When God clearly calls us to undertake any task, we should never raise the question of ability. He would not call us to it–if He did not equip us for the task.
“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out!” – Rom 11:33
Our knowledge is limited. We see only little fragments of truth. We are like children on the shore of the sea, gathering a few pebbles and shells–while the ocean’s depths are hidden from us. Says Zophar: “Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens–what can you do? They are deeper than the depths of the grave–what can you know?” Job 11:7-8
Job himself, speaking of God’s works in nature and in providence, adds: “And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power?” Job 26:14
We ought to learn the lesson. God is not a man–not one of ourselves. If we could understand him, he would not be God. His greatness puts him beyond our comprehension. We cannot hope to know the reasons for his acts. Some of his ways with us are mysterious. We are perplexed; we say, “God cannot love me–or he would not do these things.” We should learn to trust God even in the deepest mysteries, not expecting to understand–but sure of his love and goodness—even when it is darkest and when his face is veiled in most impenetrable mists. We should be silent unto God, when we cannot fathom Him. That is the truest faith.