“For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.”
WE are blinded by sin, and cannot believe that God is ready to forgive. We think that we must induce Him to forgive, by tears, promises of amendment, religious observances. There is in every heart such difficulty in understanding the unwearying patience and ever-yearning love of our Heavenly Father. Oh, clasp this word to your heart! Say it over and over again — “Ready to forgive, ready to forgive!” At any moment of the sad history of the prodigal, had he returned, he would have found his old father as ready to forgive as on the day, too long delayed, when he did return.
The only pity was that he had not come long before.
You have fallen a hundred times, and are ashamed to come to God again; it seems too much to expect that He will receive you again. But He will, for He is ready to forgive. You feel that your sin is aggravated, because you knew so much better; but it makes no difference to Him, He is as ready to forgive you now, as when first you came. You are disposed to wait a little, till your sin has become more remote, till passion has subsided, till the inscription has faded from the wall; but you might as well go at once, God is as ready to forgive at this moment as at any future time. You are wounding Him greatly by doubting Him. He is ready, waiting, eager to forgive.
You have only to call upon Him, and you would discover the plenteousness of His mercy. How ready Jesus ever was to forgive sinners, herein revealing God’s heart!
“O Love, Thou deep eternal tide,
How dear are men to Thee!
The Father’s heart in opened wide By Jesus blood to me.”
“As well the singers as the players on instruments shall be there: all my springs are in thee.”
“ALL my fresh springs,” the Prayer-book version has it.
Perennial freshness! This is our portion. We have only to abide in Christ in daily, hourly faith, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, for where that is secured there need be no further effort; naturally, perennially, plentifully, there will arise in us the fountains whose source is God, and the ultimate destination of whose waters are the wildernesses and deserts around.
Do you want freshness in your love? The vintages of other years cannot provide you with the ruddy clusters and the wine of sacrifice required for present day needs. You want new enthusiasm, tenderness, and interest in those around you. Deepen your union with God by faith and prayer. Your fresh springs are in Him; He will Himself be in you a spring of living water, rising up to everlasting life and love.
Do you want freshness in your views of truth? There are such constant demands made on your teaching powers, that you are sometimes fearful of exhaustion. But if you keep your heart open to God, and your soul perpetually nourished by Scripture, you will find that God’s thoughts will come freshly and brightly to you — new as each morning, fresh as spring.
Do you want freshness in your religious life? This, too, is His gift, because the life we live in the flesh is, after all, not our own life, but His. Jesus is in us, the Hope and Fount of the true life. All He wants is to have orifices, channels, openings in the rocky soil, and He will arise in us heavenward and God-ward, as fountains in the sunny air. Rise up in us, Thou Blessed One, who art evermore the resurrection and the life!
“Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry; For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave.”
THE psalmist has found the quickest argument before his God. There is nothing that so quickly makes the bell ring in heaven as the touch of a troubled hand. When a man is full of the interests of life, of prosperity, and self-content; when the voices of applause resound on every side; when his house is full of children, and his barn of sheaves, his prayer halts, and God seems far away. But let trouble come — let the waters, swollen by many confluent streams, begin to rise within his soul, so that lover and friend are far away, and he compassed with terror (Psalm 88:16, 18), then God bends his ear and heart.
O child of sorrow, do not count that you are cast away! It is true that your Lord cried from His Cross, “Why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46) but even Him, though laden with the sins of the world, the Father held near His heart. And He has not left you, neither can He.
“The earth and every vassal star, All space beyond the soar of angel wings, Wait on his word; and yet He stays his ear For every sigh a suppliant sinner brings.”
Try and think of trouble as storing your heart with seeds of joy; as acting upon you as the fire upon the primeval earth, scattering jewels through its crust; or as the glaciers that brought the rich soil into the valleys; or as the husbandman who buries the seeds of spring in the autumn fields. A veiled angel, nothing else!
“But if, impatient, thou let slip thy cross, Thou wilt not find it in this world again, Nor in another; here, and here alone, Is given thee to suffer for God’s sake.”
“Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.”
I WAS asked the other day if I believed, as an increasing number were said to do, that each man bears his own sin, and that there is no such thing as the vicarious imputation of the sins of the world to the Lamb of God. I said at once that this idea, so growingly prevalent, would not avail to help men and women like many of those with whom I come in contact, and are deeply dyed. Tell them that they must bear their own sin, and they turn from you in despair.
This is what conscience has been reading to them hourly from the stony book of the law. The soul dreads to have to bear its sin, and cries out for propitiation and covering. A dying man said recently, “I have been into the valley of death, and where is my covering?”
Men need a covering. It is requisite that help should be laid upon One that is mighty (Psalm 89:19).
We need to distinguish between guilt and secondary consequences of sin. For guilt we must have the transference of the black load of sin to our Savior. But it is also perfectly true that the nervous or physical system of the drunkard will never be what it might have been. The consequences of wrongdoing must be reaped.
God will forgive you, and His lovingkindness will not depart; but He will visit your transgression with the rod, and your iniquity with stripes. But even here His mercy will avail to transform the curse into a blessing, and make myrtles bloom where thistles had flourished. God’s love can so transmute these results of sin, that where sin reigned unto death, grace shall reign unto eternal life. But never forget that, when once God has entered into covenant with a soul, He will stand to it, till the heavens be no more.
“O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”
IT was towards the close of the desert wandering that Moses wrote this sublime psalm, all the imagery of which is borrowed from the wilderness. The watch around the camp-fire at night; the rush of the mountain flood; the grass that sprouts so quickly after the rain, and is as quickly scorched; the sigh of the wearied pilgrim (Psalm 90:9). As the old man looks back on life, he gives it as his experience that the heart which is satisfied with mercy in the morning, never fails to rejoice and be glad all its days.
There is no hour like that of morning prime for fellowship with God. If we would dare to wait before Him for satisfaction then, the filling of that hour would overflow into all other hours. A bright Christian lad, giving his brief testimony for Jesus recently, told his secret when he said that at his conversion he trusted the Lord with his morning hour; and the way he spoke of it indicated the radiancy of the light that shone for him then.
Perhaps the morning of life was rather in Moses’ thought. If so, the old man has prepared a prayer in which successive generations of bright children may join. Young ones, do you want a glad and rejoicing life? Do you want to live by the well that will never dry up or freeze? Seek God’s mercy in Jesus Christ our Lord, and the day will never dawn when you will regret having made that choice: nay every day will be full of rejoicing gladness. I like that record of the holy Columba, at the end of his saintly life, “Angelic in appearance, graceful in speech, holy in work, beloved by all — for a holy joy ever beaming on his face revealed the joy and gladness with which the Holy Spirit filled his inmost soul.”
“Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;”
THE structure of this psalm is often obscured. It begins with the announcement on the part of the chorus of the general truth that to dwell in the inner place of fellowship is to abide under the protection of Divine Power.
Twice the psalmist speaks. In the second verse we hear him saying:— “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: My God; in him will I trust.”
In the ninth verse he breaks in again:— “Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge.”
And each profession on his part is followed by the outburst of the chorus with an enunciation of all the blessings which most certainly will accrue.
In the last three verses (Psalm 91:14–16) God Himself is introduced, assuring His child of all that He is prepared to do and be. Have you ever said definitely, “O Lord, Thou art my refuge”?
Fleeing from all other, have you sheltered in Him from the windy storm and tempest, from the harrow by day, and pestilence by night, from man and devil? You must avow it. Do not only think it, but say it. Keep saying it because it is true, rather than because you feel it to be true. Not only in the midst of sympathizing friends, but in hours of loneliness, desertion, and opposition.
In a farm, in which I am interested, we have an incubator, the artificial heat of which hatches hundreds of little chickens; but there always seems a great lack in their lives — no mother’s call or wing.
They invariably remind me of those who have not sheltered under the wing of God.
“But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.”
THERE is perennial freshness in God — in the works of nature, in His love, and in the renewal of the soul. Does the eye ever tire of the changeful beauty of the clouds? Though we look out from childhood to old age on the same landscape, there is always something fresh to captivate the roving eye. Think of the unfailing freshness in love — love of woman to man, of mother to child. Think of the freshness of each returning day, of earth in her springtime robe, with the myriads of sweet children, whose laughter is as ringing and their eyes as bright as if the earth were young, instead of being old and weary. And if God can do this for the works of His hands, is there any limit in the freshness which He will communicate to His children?
Each morning bend your heads, ye priests of the Most High, for the fresh anointing for the new ministries that await you. The former grace and strength will not suffice; old texts must be rejuvenated and reminted; old vows must be respoken; the infilling of the Holy Spirit must be as vivid, and may be as definite, as at the first. See to it that you do not rise from your knees till you can say, “I have been, and am, anointed with the fresh oil.” And the anointing that ye receive from Him shall abide on you, teaching you how to abide in Him. So you shall bring forth fruit in old age, and in life’s winter be full of sap and fervor.
Pastor Harms used to say: Pray diligently. I do not mean your common prayer alone; but pray diligently in your room daily for the Holy Spirit. How their faces shine, who receive this daily unguent!
“The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves.”
HOW often a man says these words over to himself as he the deck of the steamer in mid-Atlantic! There is no commentary to this psalm like that supplied by the break of the waves. Sometimes the voice of the floods is deafening; you cannot hear yourself speak; at other times all night, through the port-hole, you hear their musical break beneath. The lifted up voice of the sea gives many notes in the great organ of nature, sometimes the deep bass, at other times the silvery treble. One says to one’s self— “What are the wild waves saying?”
They may be inciting one another to a work of destruction and devastation, roaring in their rage, fretting for supremacy. Why should they endure the presence of man in their wild waste? He is an intruder. The sea-gulls are welcome; they are at home as in their native element, but man has no right.
So do the waves of trouble roar wildly around the bark of our life. There are times when billowing surge rolls in upon the soul, and breaks with boom and roar; but always there floats upon the soul the refrain of this sublime canticle, “The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.” (Psalm 93:4) He sits as King, higher than the spray is tossed, deeper than the fathomless depths, mightier than the strongest billow. Let Him but say, “Peace, be still”! (Mark 4:39) and the greatest storm that ever swept the waves with wild fury sinks into the tranquil sleep of childhood. Or, if we sink beneath the wave, we shall but fall into the hollow of God’s hand, where the oceans are cradled.