Lord, How Can We Know The Way?
(J.R. Miller, “Evening Thoughts” 1907)
Thomas said to Him, “Lord, how can we know the way?“ Jesus said to him, “I am the way” John 14:5-6
This is the first day of a new year. We are setting out on a journey of which we can have no knowledge in advance. The road is one on which we never have gone hitherto. We know not what any day will have for us . . .
what our duties will be,
what burdens shall be laid upon us,
what sorrows we shall have to endure,
what battles we shall have to fight.
We cannot see one step before us! How can we know the way?
As we sit in the quiet, this first evening, and ask the question, we hear an answer which is full of comfort. Jesus says to us, “I am the way!”
All we shall have to do, therefore, will be to follow Jesus. He has made a way through this dark world for us. He has gone over all the journey and opened a road for us at great cost. He went over the way Himself–we shall find His shoe-prints at every step.
He has a definite way for each one of us. Every mile of the journey He has chosen and every place where I pitch my tent He has selected for me!
“Leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps!” 1 Peter 2:21
The Minimum Christian!:
(C.H. Spurgeon, “Sword and the Trowel” 1876)
The minimum Christian! And who is he? The Christian who is going to heaven at the cheapest rate possible. The Christian who intends to get all of the world he can and not meet the worldling’s doom. The Christian who aims to have as little religion as he may without lacking it altogether.
The minimum Christian goes to worship in the morning; and in the evening also unless it rains, or is too warm, or too cold, or he is sleepy, or has the headache from eating too much at dinner. He listens most respectfully to the preacher, and joins in prayer and praise. He applies the truth very judiciously sometimes to himself, oftener to his neighbors.
The minimum Christian is very friendly to all good works. He wishes them well, but it is not in his power to do much for them. The Sunday-school he looks upon as an admirable institution especially for the neglected and ignorant. It is not convenient, however, for him to take a class his business engagements are so pressing during the week that he needs the Sabbath as a day of rest; nor does he think himself qualified to act as a teacher. There are so many persons better prepared for this important duty that he must beg to be excused. He is very friendly to home and foreign missions, and colportage, and gives his mite, but he is quite unable to aid in the management, for his own concerns are so excessively important. He thinks there are “too many appeals;” but he gives, if not enough to save his reputation, pretty near it at all events he aims at it, and never overshoots the mark.
The minimum Christian is not clear on a number of points. The opera and dancing, the theater and card-playing, and large fashionable parties give him much trouble. He cannot see the harm in this, or that, or the other popular amusement. There is nothing in the Bible against it. He does not see why a Christian may not dance or go to the opera. He knows several excellent persons who do so at least, so he says. Why should not he? He stands so close to the dividing-line between the people of God and the people of the world that it is hard to say on which side of it he is actually to be found.
Ah, my brother, are you making this attempt? Beware, lest you find at last that in trying to get to Heaven with a little religion you miss it altogether; lest without gaining the whole world you lose your own soul. True godliness demands self-denial and cross-bearing and if you have none of these, you are making a false profession!
Few and Fleeting and Uncertain!
(“Every Day!” Author unknown, 1872)
“Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before You. Each man’s life is but a breath!” Psalm 39:4-5
“So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom!” Psalm 90:12
You alone, O Lord, can teach to profit help me to number my days aright!
Surely my days are few and fleeting and uncertain! Days past are gone beyond recall and my future days I cannot number. Let me then this day, and day by day, confide in You and look to You for the very help and grace I need.
Surely it is the highest wisdom to renounce self, to cleave to Christ, and to keep the great end of my being in view “to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” This is an object worth living for, and which may well engage all the powers of my mind.
Nor let me suppose that it is needful to turn aside from the occupations of my daily life to honor the God of my salvation; for He teaches me that whether I eat or drink, or whatever I do I may do all to His glory. To this then may I apply my heart, with all diligence and constancy constrained by the love of Him who gave Himself for me!
“Every day I will bless You and I will praise Your name forever and ever!” Psalm 145:2
In That Time Before All Time!
(Charles Spurgeon, 1864)
Meditate, dear friends, upon the whole range of God’s works in Creation and Providence. There was a period when God dwelt alone and creatures were not. In that time before all time, when there was no day but “The Ancient of Days,” when matter and created mind were alike unborn, and even space was not – God, the great I AM, was as perfect, glorious, and as blessed as He is now.
There was no sun – and yet Jehovah dwelt in ineffable light.
There was no earth – and yet His throne stood fast and firm.
There were no heavens – and yet His glory was unbounded.
God inhabited eternity in the infinite majesty and happiness of His self-contained greatness. If the Lord, thus abiding in solemn solitude, should choose to create anything the first thought and idea must come from Him, for there was no other to think or suggest. All things must be of Him in design. With whom can He take counsel? Who shall instruct Him? There existed no other to come into His council-chamber, even if such an assistance could be supposable with the Most High.
In the beginning of His way, before His works of old, eternal wisdom brought forth from its own mind the perfect plan of future creations, and every line and mark therein must clearly have been of the Lord alone.
He ordained the pathway of every planet and fixed the abode of every star. He poured forth the sweet influences of the Pleiades, and girt Orion with its bands. He appointed the bounds of the sea, and settled the course of the winds. As to the earth, the Lord alone planned its foundations, and stretched His line upon it.
He formed in His own mind, the mold of all His creatures, and found for them a dwelling and a service. He appointed the degree of strength with which He would endow each creature, settled its months of life, its hour of death, its coming and its going.
Divine wisdom mapped this earth – its flowing rivers and foaming seas, the towering mountains, and the laughing valleys. The divine Architect fixed the gates of the morning and the doors of the shadow of death.
Nothing could have been suggested by any other, for there was no other to suggest. It was in His power to have made a universe very different from this if He had so pleased. That He has made it what it is, must have been merely because in His wisdom and prudence, He saw fit to do so.
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being!” Revelation 4:11
Oh, Do Not Waste Life!;
(George Everard, 1884)
“Making the very most of the time!” Ephesians 5:16
Be careful to make the very best use of your time. Make the most of each passing day. Instead of trying to kill time–strive to make it so fruitful of good to yourself and others. Hours and moments are golden–yes, more valuable than pearls and diamonds–and to squander and waste them is folly beyond description! Until we reach eternity, we shall never know how much good has been obtained or wrought . . .
by a moment’s earnest prayer,
by a passing opportunity seized,
by five minutes given to read a helpful book,
by a quarter of an hour given to visit some suffering saint.
How much Christ accomplished in the three years of His public ministry! He was always intent on the work He had to do, so that tens of thousands were taught and benefitted. And though we are so sinful, and our power so feeble in comparison–is not His life to be a pattern for ours?
Oh, do not waste life! Map it out prudently, and think well of the work to which you yourself are called.
No lost hours through late rising in the morning!
No mornings or evenings worse than lost, in drinking in the poison or the vanity of a worthless novel!
No moments thrown away in idle gossip and foolish talking!
No, no–our was life given to us for this! Use it far better and more wisely. Remember that . . .
the time is short,
the work is great, and
the outcome is for eternity!
Soon will the great bell toll, which will usher you into a future state. Brother, sister, make haste to do all the work allotted to you–to do it well, that the Master may be glorified, and your crown the brighter.
“So teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12
As We Grow Older:
(J.R. Miller, “The Glory of the Commonplace”)
“Even to your old age and gray hair I am He; I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you!” Isaiah 46:4
As we grow older, there should be a constant gaining, never a losing in our spiritual life. Every year should find us living on a higher plane than the year before. Old age should always be the best of life, not marked by spiritual emptiness and decay, but by nobler fruitfulness and more gracious beauty. Paul was growing old, when he spoke of forgetting things which are behind, and reaching forth to things ahead. His best was yet to be attained. So it should always be with Christian old age. We must ever be turning heavenward, toward nobler life and holier beauty!
“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green!” Psalm 92:12-14
Do you love to be “Awed”? Of course you do; we all do naturally! Here is why…
A New Year’s Resolution:
“My times are in Your hand!” Psalm 31:15
Firmly believing that my times are in God’s hand, I here submit myself and all my affairs for the ensuing year, to the wise and gracious disposal of God’s divine providence. Whether God appoints for me . . . .
health or sickness,
peace or trouble,
comforts or crosses,
life or death – may His holy will be done! All my time, strength, and service, I devote to the honor of the Lord Jesus and even my common actions. It is my earnest expectation, hope, and desire, my constant aim and endeavor that Jesus Christ may be magnified in me.
In everything I have to do my entire dependence is upon Jesus Christ for strength. And whatever I do in word or deed, I desire to do all in His name, to make Him my Alpha and Omega. I have all from Him and I would use all for Him.
If this should prove a year of affliction, a sorrowful year to me I will fetch all my supports and comforts from the Lord Jesus and stay myself upon Him, His everlasting consolations, and the good hope I have in Him through grace.
And if it should be my dying year then my times are in the hand of the Lord Jesus. And with a humble reliance upon His mediation, I would venture into the eternal world looking for the blessed hope. Dying as well as living Jesus Christ will, I trust, be gain and advantage to me.
Oh, that the grace of God may be sufficient for me, to keep me always a humble sense of my own unworthiness, weakness, folly, and infirmity together with a humble dependence upon the Lord Jesus Christ for both righteousness and strength.
Are you not put to shame by every little bird that sits upon the bough and sings, though it has not two grains of barley in all the world?
(Charles Spurgeon, “A Good Start!”)
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life what you will eat or drink; or about your body what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.“ Matthew 6:25-32
Undue anxiety is very common among the unsaved I suppose they cannot help it. Yet Christians must help it; for the Lord’s precept is plain and binding: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus!” Philippians 4:6-7
Fretful anxiety is forbidden to the Christian!
It is needless. “Look at the birds of the air,” said Christ: “they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” If you have a Father in Heaven to care for you are you not put to shame by every little bird that sits upon the bough and sings, though it has not two grains of barley in all the world? God takes charge of the birds of the air, and thus they live exempt from anxious care – why do not we?
Our Lord also taught that such anxiety is useless as well as needless; for, with all our care, we cannot add a single hour to our life!
Can we do anything else by fretful care? What if the farmer deplores that there is no rain? Do his fears unstop the bottles of Heaven? Or if the merchant sighs because the wind detains his ship laden with goods will his complaining turn the gale to another quarter?
We do not better ourselves a bit, by all our fretting and fuming. It would be infinitely wiser to do our best and then casts our care upon our God!
Prudence is wisdom for it adapts means to ends. But anxiety is folly for it groans and worries, and accomplishes nothing!
Besides, according to our Savior, anxiety about worldly things is heathenish: “For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them!” They have no God and no providence and therefore they try to be a providence to themselves. Let the heir of Heaven act a nobler part than the mere man of the world who has his portion in this life, and lives without God and without hope.
Our distrust of our God is both childish and dishonoring. I was driven through the streets one day by a friend in a four-wheeled carriage, and he, being a good driver, must needs drive into narrow places, where it seemed to me that we would be crushed by the vans and omnibuses. I shrank back in my timidity, and expressed my unwise alarms so freely, that with a smile he laid the reins in my hand, and said, “If you cannot trust me would you like to drive yourself?” From that ambition I was wholly free, and I assured him that he might drive as he liked, rather than make me the charioteer!
Surely, the great God might well put the same proposal to those who are complaining of His providence. If we cannot trust Him could we manage better ourselves?
If we are Christians, let us believe in our God, and leave the governance of the great world to the Lord God, our heavenly Father, who will surely cause all things to work together for good to those who love Him!