Friday, April 15, 2016

A Word To You Who Would Be Useful

A Word To You Who Would Be Useful
By Samuel Logan Brengle

Does the devil ever tempt you to feel that you are of no use and can do nothing? Every genuine Christian wants to be useful, fruit-bearing, and a soul-winner. This desire is characteristic of the new nature, received at conversion. When Paul was converted, he wanted to go back to Jerusalem and tell all his old friends about it, that they, too, might be saved. When you were converted your heart went out to God for the salvation of your friends, and you tried to so live your life before them that they would be brought to Jesus, and it is largely this desire for usefulness and the salvation of others that has led you to become a soldier or an officer. But now that you are fairly in the Army and in its work, do you ever feel that you are useless; that you can do nothing; that your words are powerless to lead people to Jesus?

I find a great many such people, and maybe you are such an one, and if so, it is for you I write. I have often felt as you do myself; and therefore can sympathize with you, and maybe can write something to encourage you. And first I would say, do what you can. 'Angels can do no more.' Your talents may not be great, but use what talents you have and God will surely increase them. It is a law of God, that what is used shall be increased. Everything that has life begins small. The largest oak was once enfolded in an acorn. The most skillful musician in the world at one time did not know one note from another. The most learned man now living once did not know A from Z. Moses was once a helpless babe in a floating ark of bulrushes. The General was once a young convert. But they grew and increased. If there is spiritual life in you, you will grow, if you will do with your might what your hands find to do.

Cultivate your talents. There are many thousands of bandsmen in the Army today who at one time could not play an instrument, and who did not know a cornet from a concertina. But they began to practice. It was slow work at first. But they kept at it. Probably, the first day they could not see that they had made any progress at all, nor the second day; but in a week or a month they could see. They began, kept patiently at it, and at last succeeded. That is the way to cultivate any talent we have. That is the way to become mighty in prayer, to become acquainted with the Bible, to learn to speak or sing or fish for souls. Begin and keep at it.

Do not get discouraged because you cannot do as well as someone else. God has a work for you to do, and no one else can do it; not even the General can do it. God meant that work for you and you for that work, and if you do not do it, it will never be done. The thing then for you to do is to go to God and thank Him for what gifts you have and for giving you some work to do, and then ask Him for wisdom to do it bravely, faithfully and wisely, and He will surely be with you.

Do not sit down in the discouragement of unbelief and think because you have not the talents of some gifted person you know that therefore you can do nothing. That is wicked. It is dishonoring to God, pleasing to the devil, and will surely result in a great loss to your soul, if not in the final loss of your soul. Jesus tells us that the man with five talents put his money out at use and gained five talents more, and likewise the man with two talents. But He says the man with one talent went and wrapped it in a napkin and hid it, and so lost it, and was himself cast out as a slothful and wicked servant into outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

"Rooted and grounded in love" (Eph. iii. 17).


Days of Heaven Upon Earth

"Rooted and grounded in love" (Eph. iii. 17).

There is a very singular shrub, which grows abundantly in the west, and is to be found in all parts of Texas. It is no less than the "mosquito tree." It is a very slim, and willowy looking shrub, and would seem to be of little use for any industrial purposes; but is has extraordinary roots growing like great timbers underground, and possessing such qualities of endurance in all situations that it is used and very highly valued for good pavements. The city of San Antonio is said to be paved with these roots. It reminds one of those Christians who make little show externally, but their growth is chiefly underground--out of sight, in the depth of God. These are the men and women that God uses for the foundation of things, and for the pavements of that city of God which will stand when all earthly things have crumbled into ruin and dissolved into oblivion.

Deeper, deeper let the living waters flow;
Blessed Holy Spirit! River of Salvation!
All Thy fulness let me know.

The Enriching Savior!

"The same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him!" Romans 10:12

The Gospel is not confined to any nation or people. It is proclaimed and offered to the world. Mark 16:15. Once the Divine favor rested principally upon Israel, Romans 9:4, 6, but it is now extended to the Gentiles. "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek," verse 12. The middle wall of partition is broken down, and believers of every nation may approach the mercy-seat.
I. The Character of Christ, the Great Enricher. "The same Lord over all."

This verse is full of precious consolation. It implies his Divinity, without which he could not be the enriching Savior.

He is called:

1. "The same Lord," the same Divine Savior as described, verse 4. He is the end of the law, and the procurer of righteousness for rebellious man. He lived in conformity to that law, and he endured its penalty on the cross, Romans 3:20-26.

2. "The same Lord," as described, verse 9, "Lord Jesus, whom God raised from the dead." The Divine Savior, who burst the barriers of the tomb, indicating that his death was successful — that his mediation was triumphant. By his resurrection, he was "declared to be the Son of God with power."

3. He is said to be "over all." This expresses his universal dominion and government.

He is "Lord over all" the heavenly world, Ephesians 1:20-22.
He is "Lord over all" the angels, Hebrews 1:4-8.
He is "Lord over all" the earth, and Hell, the abode of the lost, Philippians 2:9-11.

He is "Lord over all" the Church, Ephesians 1:22, 23.
He is "Lord over all" the universe, Colossians 1:15-17. The "government is upon his shoulder."
II. His Enriching Influence.

As "Lord over all" he is able to enrich others. As the Mediator of the new covenant, he possesses an inexhaustible stock of spiritual blessings, by which he can "be rich unto all who call upon him." "For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell."

1. He enriches the guilty one, with the pardon of all his sins, however numerous and flagrant. 1 John 1:7; Acts 13:38.

2. He enriches those condemned by the law, with deliverance and justification. Acts 13:39. Romans 5:1; 8:1.

3. He enriches the unrighteous and defiled, with cleansing grace and regenerating power, to make them "new creatures in Christ Jesus." 2 Corinthians 5:17.

4. He enriches the outcast and abandoned, with adoption into His redeemed family, and all its precious privileges.

5. He is a rich, full, free, and inexhaustible fountain!

What more can be said?

He enriches . . .
  the ignorant with wisdom,
  the weak with strength,
  the fearful with  courage,
  the depressed with consolation

  the soldier of the cross with armor, success, and conquest,
  the tempted and tried with support and a way of escape,
  the afflicted and bereaved with strength according to the day,
  the dying with the hope of immortality, and afterwards with Heaven itself.

He can make all grace to abound to all his people.

"For the LORD God is a sun and shield. The LORD gives grace and glory. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly!" Psalm 84:11
III. The Objects of His Enriching Grace. "Unto all who call upon him."

1. To call upon him implies a deep sense of need. None else will call upon him.

2. To call upon him implies believing prayer. Without faith it is impossible to please God.

3. To such he is rich without distinction. He spiritually enriches without distinction.

(1.) As to rank. He enriches the rich and the poor, the great and the low, the noble and the ignoble, the monarch and the peasant.

(2.) As to mental endowment or literary acquirements. He enriches the learned and the ignorant, the great philosopher and the man of small intellect.

(3.) As to age or gender. He enriches the male and female, the aged and the youth — all are welcome to Christ.

(4.) As to nation. He enriches the Jew and Gentile. This is asserted verse 12, and Colossians 1:11.

(5.) As to enormity of crime and aggravation of guilt — if they only repent.

The Fact of Faithfulness

George H. Morrison - Devotional Sermons

      The Fact of Faithfulness
      Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of the lord--Mat 25:21
      Faithfulness, a Test of Character
      One might dwell for a long time upon this parable without exhausting its message or its meaning. It is like a sea in which men fish for pearls, and in which every diver has some new reward. These parables are terribly practical, yet in their suggestion they are boundless. Again and again do we return to them, only to be amazed with their significance.
      I want to center your thoughts upon one theme--upon the fact of faithfulness, and to speak to you for a little while on that; and my prayer is that as I dwell upon that subject and show you one or two of the bearings of it, we may all be moved to cry, "Please God, I shall be more faithful in the days ahead."
      What is our Lord's doctrine of fidelity as we find it in this parable before us? Let me endeavour to present it to you. In the first place what impresses me is this, that our Lord makes faithfulness a test of character.
      These men in the parable are sifted out, and the cause that separates them is faithfulness. It is not a case of having great abilities or of being dowered with the gift of genius. It is not along such lines there is a cleavage, with the one servant here and the other there. The touchstone of character is faithfulness; by that they stand, through lack of that they fall; the men go to their blessing or their curse, and the basis of it is fidelity.
      To show you that this is a leading thought with Jesus, I might ask you to recall His praise of John the Baptist. For what was the distinguishing feature of John's character? It was his fidelity to God and duty. "What went you out into the wilderness to see: A reed shaken by the wind"--a man swayed to this side and that with every breath that blew upon his soul? True poet that he was, Christ saw the contrast between that reed bowing to every gale and the figure of the Baptist by the river standing four-square to every wind that blew. That is the glory and the strength of John. Nothing could ever move him from his duty. In desert and dungeon the Baptist was magnificently true. I want you to note that it was such a character, conspicuous above all else in faithfulness, that won from our Lord that so majestic praise when He called John the greatest born of women.
      According to the measurements of Jesus, then, we are face to face here with a test of character. It is in faithfulness that men are great; it is in unfaithfulness that they are weak. When the morning breaks and we get our welcome, it will never be, "Well done, thou brilliant servant." The highest praise even for all the talents will be, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
      But, after all, when we think of the world's great men, when we get to know them intimately in their lives, there is perhaps nothing so arresting as the fidelity which we discover there. When we are young we are ready to imagine that the great man must be free from common burdens; we think he has no need to plod as we do and face the weary drudgery daily; we picture him lighthearted and inspired, moving with ease where our poor feet are bleeding. Ah! in such terms we dream about the great in the days when we know little of them, but as knowledge widens we see how false that is.
      We see that at the back of everything is will. We come to see how every gift is squandered if it be not clinched with quiet fidelity, until at last we dimly recognise that the very keystone of the arch of genius is something different from all the gifts, and that something is called fidelity.
      Examples of Faithfulness
      One of the critics of Shakespeare, Professor Bradley, insists upon the faithfulness of Shakespeare. It is the fidelity of Shakespeare, in a mind of extraordinary power, he says, that has really made Shakespeare what he is. I turn to Sir Walter Scott, and the same thing meets me there. It is written on every page of his journal. If there ever was a man who was faithful unto death, faithful to honour, to duty, to work, and I shall say, to God, it was that hero who so loved his country, and died beside the murmur of the Tweed.
      My point is that one mark of all the greatest is a fidelity which is sublime. No gifts, no brilliance, no genius can release a man from being faithful. Not in the things we do but how we do them, not in fame but in fidelity, is the true test of a man's work, according to the teaching of our Lord.
      Faithfulness--a Result of Courage
      In the second place our Lord recognises that faithfulness calls for courage. It is significant that the man who hid his talent said to his lord, "I was afraid." In trading there was a certain risk, as in all commerce, I suppose there is a certain risk, and the man with the one talent was unfaithful because he had not the courage for that venture. It was far easier to wrap his talent up than to give it out to the traffic of the market. I dare say he slept a deal more comfortably than the others, who tossed with their anxieties; but God has not sent us into this stirring world just to sleep comfortably and wake at ease. He has sent us to work, and to carry to the market every power that He has dowered us with. It is only in doing that that we are faithful; it is only in taking the risk which that involves. And when our Lord makes the servant say, "I was afraid," and bury his talent without using it, He indicates in His own exquisite way that in faithfulness there is the element of courage.
      As our life advances we come to see clearly that our Lord is right. To be faithful in one's duty, whether for layman or for minister, may come to be the finest of heroisms. In youth we are hardly awakened to that fact. When we are young it seems easy to be faithful, for youth is a time of generous enthusiasm and a heavenly disregard for the world's judgment. But the outlook alters when we get a little older; we grow more cautious, more prudent, more worldly wise, until to be quietly and gladly faithful is only possible when the heart is brave.
      When Thomas Carlyle, with no prospect of a settled income, received the offer of the editorship of a London magazine, it was an honourable offer; it required competence. A man less sure of a mission would have jumped at it; but Carlyle, faithful to his trust, refused it, and only a brave man would have done that.
      It is a brave thing when morning after morning a man goes cheerfully to his unpleasant duty, and it is a brave thing when a daughter year after year nurses an aged mother, or toils for a motherless family. It is a brave thing when a wife is faithful to a husband when he has ceased to be a man and plays the brute. Yes, there is nothing spectacular in that long fortitude: the world will never hear it and applaud; but I think that Jesus understands its courage and will not forget the reward when He returns.
      The Rewards of Faithfulness
      In the third place, observe that our Lord makes faithfulness the road to power. "Because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee a ruler over many things." Now, we must remember God's rewards are never arbitrary like the prizes boys get for running races. God's rewards grow out of the struggle that we wage, as the fruit of the autumn grows from the flower of spring. All the rewards that we shall ever gain are with us in their rudiments, just as the doom that waits some in eternity is germinating in their heart this very hour.
      You see, then, in the light of that, why Christ associates faithfulness and rule, "Because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things." It is because one is the outflow of the other, as is the brook among the heather in the spring. It is because, as the flower blossoms from the bud, influence blossoms from fidelity.
      There are many pathways to power in this world, some of which may lie far away from us. There is wealth, there is social influence, there is charming manner; all these make a man powerful enough, but the power that an earnest heart will covet most is not an authority that is external; it is the influence that radiates from the heart to hearten those who struggle by our side. That is the rule, I take it, of which Jesus speaks here. That is the power which is so much worth possessing, and having it makes a man's life worth living. Now our Lord here shows that the road to it is not to be feverishly anxious to do good, but rather to be faithful in the least.
      Do you think Abraham had an eye for power when he obeyed God's call to leave his home? Do you think that Moses dreamed of majesty when he loyally accepted his great task? Moses and Abraham were sublimely faithful, passionately bent on being loyal, and all the power in the lives of men has sprung from their fidelity to God.
      Now if you believe in Christ at all, I want you to believe in that. I want you to believe that your life is bound to show if you are day by day faithful in the least. Seekest thou great things for yourself? Seek them not; study to be quiet and to do your work within your own path, and follow it to the end. Men will be helped toward the feet of God by you, and there is not one of us who does not have an audience.
      The Joy of Faithfulness and the Sorrow of Unfaithfulness
      Then I want you to observe, Christ associates faithfulness with joy. To the faithful servant came this benediction: "Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." It is not success and joy, it is not fame and joy; it is not these that are joined in our Lord's teaching, but faithfulness and joy. These are the bride and bridegroom and the mystical marriage of our Lord.
      Then look at the doom of the unfaithful servant; it is outer darkness and wailing and gnashing of teeth. I trust none will take these words of parable as a correct description of a material hell. A man who is unfaithful is always moving nightwards. He has been false to the light God gave him for his journey; and the man who has been unfaithful, when the day is done, what can he look for but remorse and tears?
      Here are two men engaged in the same work, both of them intelligent and skillful craftsmen. One is careless and scamps his work, while the other does it with his heart and soul. Is the work easier for the man who does it negligently? Is he happier when the bell rings in the evening? I tell you that every nightfall, had he but eyes to see it, he might detect the shadow of the outer darkness. It is only the faithful workman who has joy, no matter how hard and laborious his work be; he understands, when he lays down his tools, why Christ associates faithfulness with gladness.
      Or here are two young men starting in life with bright ideals and dreams of a great future. And one holds fast his ideals through failure and toil; the other is overcome and barters them. He may be very prosperous indeed and an honourable citizen, but all his prosperity will never compensate him for having ceased to walk in the direction of his dreams. He has gained much, but he has lost himself, and the bitter note is that he knows it. He sees things in their proper values now, and would give half the world to begin again. He understands the meaning of those words, perhaps the most solemn that were ever spoken, "What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" Lord, keep our young men from that successful tragedy. We wish to live no less than well, therefore to be faithful, whatever our trust be, no matter how hard and wearisome the toil along that road is, if the words of Christ mean anything, the song of triumph will echo by and by.

Desperate Situations

Streams in the Desert

      Desperate Situations
      "The angel of the Lord came upon him (Peter) and a light shined in the prison; and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off" (Acts 12:7).
      "And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God. . . . And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and every one's bands were loosed" (Acts 16:25, 26).
      This is God's way. In the darkest hours of the night, His tread draws near across the billows. As the day of execution is breaking, the angel comes to Peter's cell. When the scaffold for Mordecai is complete, the royal sleeplessness leads to a reaction in favor of the favored race.
      Ah, soul, it may have to come to the worst with thee ere thou art delivered; but thou wilt be delivered! God may keep thee waiting, but he will ever be mindful of His covenant, and will appear to fulfill His inviolable Word. --F. B. Meyer
      There's a simplicity about God in working out His plans, yet a resourcefulness equal to any difficulty, and an unswerving faithfulness to His trusting child, and an unforgetting steadiness in holding to His purpose. Through a fellow-prisoner, then a dream, He lifts Joseph from a prison to a premiership. And the length of stay in the prison prevents dizziness in the premier. It's safe to trust God's methods and to go by His clock. --S. D. Gordon
      Providence hath a thousand keys to open a thousand sundry doors for the deliverance of His own, when it is even come to a desperate case. Let us be faithful; and care for our own part which is to suffer for Him, and lay Christ's part on Himself, and leave it there.--George MacDonald
      Difficulty is the very atmosphere of miracle--it is miracle in its first stage. If it is to be a great miracle, the condition is not difficulty but impossibility.
      The clinging hand of His child makes a desperate situation a delight to Him.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Famous Prayers

Famous Prayers

By Russell DeLong

Scripture Reading: Matthew 6:9-14

Animals do not pray. Only man, created in God's own image, reaches out beyond himself

for a Being greater than himself to whom he can commit and upon whom he can rest his own self. Intercourse between man and man is called conversation, between man and God is called prayer, between God and man is called divine revelation.

Prayer is of supreme importance. Heiler says, "Prayer is the center of religion," ". . . is the

central phenomenon of religion, the very hearthstone of all piety." Schleiermacher said, "To be religious and to pray -- that is really one and the same thing." Deissmann declared, "Religion, wherever it is alive in man, is prayer." Tiele made a similar observation when he said, "Where prayer has wholly ceased, it is all over with religion itself." Stolz added, "Prayer is the blood and the circulation of the blood in the religious life." Thomas Aquinas declared, "Prayer is the practical proof of religion."

Gergensohn uttered a mighty truth when he said: "Prayer is a perfectly accurate instrument for grading the religious life of the soul. Did one only know how a man prays, and what he prays about, one would be able to see how much religion that man has. When a man without any witnesses speaks with God, the soul stands unveiled before its Creator."

James Montgomery, the poet, wrote a classic:

"Prayer is the soul's sincere desire,

Unuttered or expressed;

The motion of a hidden fire

That trembles in the breast.

"Prayer is the simplest form of speech

That infant lips can try;

Prayer, the sublimest strains that reach

The Majesty on high.

"Prayer is the Christian's vital breath,

The Christian's native air,

His watchword at the gate of death;

He enters heaven with prayer.

Lord Tennyson asserted correctly, "More things are wrought by prayer than this world

dreams of."

Men in great moments -- in extreme crisis, in depths of sorrow -- have uttered sublime

prayers from the depths of their souls, revealing complete consecration and entire commitment to God's will.

George Whitefield, the famous evangelist, prayed, "O Lord, give me souls, or take my


Henry Martyn, the great apostle to India, cried out, "Here let me burn out for God."

David Brainerd, missionary to the North American Indians, declared: "Lord, to Thee I

dedicate myself. Oh, accept me, and let me be Thine forever. Lord, I desire nothing else; I desire nothing more."

Thomas a Kempis offered one of the classic prayers: "Give what Thou wilt, and how much Thou wilt, and when Thou wilt. Set it where Thou wilt and deal with me in all things as Thou wilt."

Dwight L. Moody, one of America's most famous evangelists, implored God as follows:

"Use me then, my Saviour, for whatever purpose and in whatever way Thou mayest require. Here is my poor heart, an empty vessel; fill it with Thy grace."

Martin Luther, the night before he appeared before the Diet of Worms, prayed: "Do Thou, my God, stand by against all the world's wisdom and reason. Oh, do it! Thou must do it. Stand by me, Thou true, eternal God!"

The greatest of all prayers, the classic utterance of all time, is commonly called "The

Lord's Prayer." It is the prayer Jesus taught His disciples. It is only sixty-five words long and yet it embodies every need the human heart has and every desire man craves from God. It is incomparable, matchless, classic, supreme, sublime.

Wellington said, "The Lord's Prayer contains the sum total of religion and morals."

Notice its comprehensive, universal, ethical, personal, and social scope. Jesus said,

"After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy

name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever. Amen. (Matt. 6: 9-14).

In conclusion permit me to ask these pertinent, personal questions:

1. Do you pray?

2. For what do you pray?

3. Is your life such that God will hear and answer your prayer?

Here are some of the criteria or yardsticks for effective praying.

First, Psalms 66: 18:

If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.

Second, John 15: 7 --- Jesus said,

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be

done unto you.

Third, James 5: 16:

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

The qualifying word for effectual prayer is righteous.

If St. James had said a wealthy man or an educated man or a powerful man, only a minority could have qualified. But he said "a righteous man." Here all can meet the requirement through Christ, who first will "cleanse us from all unrighteousness" and thus enable every man to come before the throne of grace and utter the desire of his innermost being with assurance that God will hear and will respond.