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December: Streams

★★★★★

December 1

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God. (Hebrews 4:9)

That rest includes victory: “The Lord gave them rest on every side. . . . The Lord handed all their enemies over to them” (Josh. 21:44). “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57).


A prominent believer once told of his mother, who was a very anxious and troubled Christian. He would often talk with her for hours, trying to convince her of the sinfulness of worrying, but to no avail. She was like the elderly woman who once said that she had suffered a great deal, especially from the troubles that never came.


Then one morning his mother came to breakfast with a smile adorning her face. He asked her what had happened, and she began describing a dream she had in the night. In her dream, she was walking along a highway with a large crowd of people, all of whom seemed very tired and burdened. The people were all carrying little black bundles, and she noticed that more bundles were being dropped along the way by numerous repulsive looking creatures that seemed quite demonic in nature. As the bundles were dropped, the people stooped down to pick them up and carry them.


Like everyone else in her dream, she also carried her needless load, being weighted down with the Devil’s bundles. After a while, she looked up and saw a Man whose face was loving and bright as He moved through the crowd, comforting the people. Finally He came to her, and she realized it was her Savior. She looked at Him, telling Him how tired she was, and He smiled sadly and said, “My dear child, these bundles you carry are not from me, and you have no need of them. They are the Devil’s burdens, and they are wearing out your life. You need to drop them and simply refuse to touch them with even one of your fingers. Then you will find your path easy, and you will feel as if ‘I carried you on eagles’ wings’ [Ex. 19:4].”

The Savior touched her hand, and peace and joy quickly filled her soul. As she saw herself in her dream casting her burdens to the ground and ready to throw herself at His feet in joyful thanksgiving, she suddenly awoke, finding that all her worries were gone.

From that day forward to the end of her life, she was the most cheerful and happy member of her family.

And the night will be filled with music,

And the cares that besiege the day,

Will fold their tents like the Arabs,

And will silently steal away.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

★★★★★

December 2

... perfect through suffering.” (Hebrews 2:10)

Steel is the product of iron plus fire. Soil is rock plus heat and the crushing of glaciers. Linen is flax plus the water that cleans it, the comb that separates it, the flail that pounds it, and the shuttle that weaves it. In the same way, the development of human character requires a plus attached to it, for great character is made not through luxurious living but through suffering. And the world does not forget people of great character.


I once heard the story of a mother who brought a crippled boy with a hunched back into her home as a companion for her own son. She warned her son to be very careful not to refer to the other boy’s deformity, since this was a sensitive matter to him. And she encouraged him to play with his new friend as if he were a normal child. But after listening to her son play with him for a few minutes, she heard him ask his companion, “Do you know what that is on your back?” The crippled boy was embarrassed, hesitated a moment, but before he could respond, his friend answered the question for him by saying, “It is the box that holds your wings, and someday God is going to break it open, and you will fly away to be an angel.”


Someday God is going to reveal this fact to every Christian: the very things they now rebel against are the instruments He has used to perfect their character and to mold them into perfection, so they may later be used as polished stones in His heaven yet to come. Cortland Myers


Suffering is a wonderful fertilizer for the roots of character. The great objective of this life is character, for it is the only thing we can carry with us into eternity. And gaining as much of the highest character possible is the purpose of our trials. Austin Phelps

The mountain of vision is won by no other road than the one covered with thorns.

December 3

“Is your husband all right? Is your child all right?” “Everything is alright,” she said. (2 Kings 4:26)

Be strong, my soul!

Your loved ones go

Within the veil. God’s yours, e’en so;

Be strong.

Be strong, my soul!

Death looms in view.

Lo, hear your God! He’ll bear you through;

Be strong.

For sixty-two years and five months I had my beloved wife, and now, in my ninety-second year, I am left alone. But I turn to the ever present Jesus as I walk around my room, and say, “Lord Jesus, I am alone. Yet I am not alone, for You are with me and are my Friend. Now, Lord, please comfort me, strengthen me, and give to Your poor servant everything that You see I need.”


We should never be satisfied until we have come to the place where we know the Lord Jesus in this way—until we have discovered He is our eternal Friend—continually, under all circumstances, and constantly ready to prove Himself as our Friend. George Mueller

Afflictions cannot injure when we blend them with submission.


Ice on trees will bend many a branch to the point of breaking. Similarly, I see a great many people bowed down and crushed by their afflictions. Yet every now and then I meet someone who sings in affliction, and then I thank God for my own circumstance as well as his. There is never a song more beautiful than that which is sung in the night. You may remember the story of a woman who, when her only child died, looked toward heaven as with the face of an angel and said, “I give you joy, my sweet child.” That solitary, simple sentence has stayed with me for many years, often energizing and comforting me. Henry Ward Beecher

E’en for the dead I will not bind my soul to grief;

Death cannot long divide.

For is it not as though the rose that climbed my garden wall

Has blossomed on the other side?

Death does hide,

But not divide;

You are but on Christ’s other side!

You are with Christ, and Christ with me;

In Christ united still are we.

December 4

He went up on a mountainside by himself. (Matthew 14:23)

One of the blessings of the old-time Sabbath day was the calmness, restfulness, and holy peace that came from having a time of quiet solitude away from the world. There is a special strength that is born in solitude. Crows travel in flocks, and wolves in packs, but the lion and the eagle are usually found alone.

Strength is found not in busyness and noise but in quietness. For a lake to reflect the heavens on its surface, it must be calm. Our Lord loved the people who flocked to him, but there are numerous accounts in the Scriptures of His going away from them for a brief period of time. On occasion He would withdraw from the crowd and quite often would spend His evenings alone in the hills. Most of His ministry was performed in the towns and cities by the seashore, but He loved the hills more and at nightfall would frequently seclude Himself in their peaceful heights.

The one thing we need today more than anything else is to spend time alone with our Lord, sitting at His feet in the sacred privacy of His blessed presence. Oh, how we need to reclaim the lost art of meditation! Oh, how we need “the secret place” (Ps. 91:1 KJV) as part of our lifestyle! Oh, how we need the power that comes from waiting upon God! selected.

It is good to live in the valley sweet,

  Where the work of the world is done,

Where the reapers sing in the fields of wheat,

  And work till the setting of the sun.

But beyond the meadows, the hills I see

  Where the noises of traffic cease,

And I follow a Voice who calls out to me

  From the hilltop regions of peace.

Yes, to live is sweet in the valley fair,

  And work till the setting of the sun;

But my spirit yearns for the hilltop’s air

  When the day and its work are done.

For a Presence breathes o’er the silent hills,

  And its sweetness is living yet;

The same deep calm all the hillside fills,

  As breathed over Olivet.

Every life that desires to be strong must have its “Most Holy Place” (Ex. 26:33) into which only God enters.

December 5

I know, O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps. (Jeremiah 10:23)

Lead me in a straight path. (Psalm 27:11)

Many people want to direct God instead of surrendering themselves to be directed by Him. They want to show Him the way instead of submissively following where He leads. Madame Guyon

I said, “Let me walk in the field”;

  God said, “No, walk in the town”;

I said, “There are no flowers there”;

  He said, “No flowers, but a crown. ”

I said, “But the sky is black,

  There is nothing but noise and din”;

But He wept as He sent me back,

  “There is more,” He said, “there is sin. ”

I said, “But the air is thick,

  And smog is veiling the sun”;

He answered, “Yet souls are sick,

  And your work is yet undone. ”

I said, “I will miss the light,

  And friends will miss me, they say”;

He answered me, “Choose tonight,

  If I am to miss you, or they. ”

I pleaded for time to be given;

  He said, “Is it hard to decide?

It will not seem hard in Heaven

  To have followed the steps of your Guide. ”

I cast one look at the field,

  Then set my face to the town;

He said, “My child, do you yield?

  Will you leave the flowers for the crown?”

Then into His hand went mine,

  And into my heart came He;

And I walk in a light Divine,

  The path I had feared to see.

                          George MacDonald                                                                                                                                          

December 6

I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. (Revelation 3:11)

George Mueller, a leader among the Plymouth Brethren, once shared this testimony: “In July 1829 it pleased God to reveal to my heart the truth regarding the return of the Lord Jesus and to show me that I had made a great mistake by sitting back and watching for the complete conversion of the world. It produced the following effect on me: Deep within my soul, I was moved to feel compassion for perishing sinners and for a world lulled to sleep by the wicked Enemy. And I began to think, ‘Should I not do whatever I can for the Lord Jesus and try to awake His slumbering church before He returns?’”

There may still be many difficult years of hard work ahead of us before the fulfillment of His prophetic return, but the signs of His coming today are very encouraging. In fact, I would not be at all surprised if I saw the apocalyptic angel spread its wings for its last triumphal flight before today’s sunset. Nor would I be surprised if tomorrow morning’s news thrilled us with the proclamation that Christ the Lord had arrived atop the Mount of Olives or Mount Calvary to declare His worldwide dominion.

O dead churches, wake up! O Christ, descend! Scarred head, take Your crown! Bruised hands, take Your scepter! Wounded feet, take Your throne! “For thine is the kingdom” (Matt. 6:13 KJV). Thomas DeWitt Talmage

It may be in the evening,

When the work of the day is done,

And you have time to sit in the twilight,

And watch the sinking sun,

While the long bright day dies slowly

Over the sea,

And the hours grow quiet and holy

With thoughts of Me;

While you hear the village children

Running along the street—

Among those passing footsteps

May come the sound of My Feet.

Therefore I tell you, Watch!

By the Light of the evening star

When the room is growing darker

As the clouds afar,

Let your door be closed and latched

In your home,

For it may be in the evening

I will come.

★★★★★

December 7

You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink. This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord; he will also hand Moab over to you. (2 Kings 3:17–18)

To human reason, what God was promising seemed simply impossible, but nothing is too difficult for Him. Without any sound or sign and from sources invisible and seemingly impossible, the water flowed the entire night, and “the next morning. . . there it was . . . ! And the land was filled with water. . . . The sun was shining on the water. . . . [And it] looked red—like blood” (vv. 20, 22).

Our unbelief is always desiring some outward sign, and the faith of many people is largely based on sensationalism. They are not convinced of the genuineness of God’s promises without some visible manifestation. But the greatest triumph of a person's faith is to “be still, and know that [He is] God” (Ps. 46:10).

The greatest victory of faith is to stand at the shore of the impassable Red Sea and to hear the Master say, “Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today” (Ex. 14:13), and “Move on” (Ex. 14:15). As we step out in faith, without any sign or sound, taking our first steps into the water, we will see the water divide. Continuing to march ahead, we will see a pathway open through the very midst of the sea.

Whenever I have seen God’s wondrous work in the case of some miraculous healing or some extraordinary deliverance by His providence, the thing that has always impressed me most was the absolute quietness in which it was done. I have also been impressed by the absence of anything sensational and dramatic, and the utter sense of my own uselessness as I stood in the presence of this mighty God, realizing how easy all this was for Him to do without even the faintest effort on His part, or the slightest help from me.

It is the role of faith not to question but to simply obey. In the above story from Scripture, the people were asked to “make this valley full of ditches” (2 Kings 3:16). The people obeyed, and then water came pouring in from some supernatural source to fill them. What a lesson for our faith!

Are you desiring some spiritual blessing? Then dig the ditches and God will fill them. But He will do this in the most unexpected places and in the most unexpected ways. May the Lord grant us the kind of faith that acts “by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7), and may we expect Him to work although we see no wind or rain. A. B. Simpson

★★★★★

December 8

As God’s chosen people . . . clothe yourselves with . . . kindness. (Colossians 3:12)

There is an old story of an elderly man who always carried a little can of oil with him everywhere he went, and when he would go through a door that squeaked, he would squirt a little oil on the hinges. If he encountered a gate that was hard to open, he would oil the latch. And so he went through life, lubricating all the difficult places, making it easier for all those who came after him. People called the man eccentric, strange, and crazy, but he went steadily on, often refilling his can of oil when it was nearly empty, and oiling all the difficult places he found.

In this world, there are many lives that painfully creak and grate as they go about their daily work. Often it seems that nothing goes right with them and that they need lubricating with “the oil of joy” (Ps. 45:7), gentleness, or thoughtfulness.

Do you carry your own can of oil with you? Are you ready with your oil of helpfulness each morning? If you offer your oil to the person nearest you, it may just lubricate the entire day for him. Your oil of cheerfulness will mean more than you know to someone who is downhearted. Or the oil may be a word of encouragement to a person who is full of despair. Never fail to speak it, for our lives may touch others only once on the road of life, and then our paths may diverge, never to meet again.

The oil of kindness has worn the sharp, hard edges off many a sin-hardened life and left it soft and pliable, ready to receive the redeeming grace of the Savior. A pleasant word is a bright ray of sunshine on a saddened heart. Therefore give others the sunshine and tell Jesus the rest.

We cannot know the grief

That men may borrow;

We cannot see the souls

Storm-swept by sorrow;

But love can shine upon the way

Today, tomorrow;

Let us be kind.

Upon the wheel of pain so many weary lives are broken,

So may our love with tender words be spoken.

Let us be kind.

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Romans 12:10



December 9

Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (2 Corinthians 4:17)

The question is often asked, “Why is human life drenched in so much blood and soaked with so many tears?” The answer is found in the word “achieving,” for these “momentary troubles are achieving for us” something very precious. They are teaching us not only the way to victory but, better still, the law of victory—there is a reward for every sorrow, and the sorrow itself produces the reward. It is the very truth expressed in this dear old hymn, written by Sarah Adams in 1840:

Nearer my God to Thee, nearer to Thee,

E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me.

Joy sometimes needs pain to give it birth. Fanny Crosby was a wonderful American hymn writer who lived from 1820 to 1915 and who wrote more than two thousand hymns. Yet she could never have written the beautiful words “I shall see Him face to face” if not for the fact that she had never gazed upon green fields, evening sunsets, nor even the twinkle in her mother's eye. It was the loss of her own vision that helped her to gain her remarkable spiritual discernment and insight.

It is comforting to know that sorrow stays only for the night and then takes its leave in the morning. And a thunderstorm is very brief when compared to a long summer day. Remember, “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Ps. 30:5). from Songs in the Night

There is a peace that springs soon after sorrow,

Of hope surrendered, not of hope fulfilled;

A peace that does not look upon tomorrow,

But calmly on the storm that it has stilled.

A peace that lives not now in joy’s excesses,

Nor in the happy life of love secure;

But in the unerring strength the heart possesses,

Of conflicts won while learning to endure.

A peace there is, in sacrifice secluded,

A life subdued, from will and passion free;

It’s not the peace that over Eden brooded,

But that which triumphed in Gethsemane.





December 10

If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:6–7)

Are there some people in your circle of friends to whom you naturally go in times of trials and sorrow—people who always seem to say just the right words and who give you the very counsel you so desire? If so, you may not realize the high cost they have paid to become so skilled at binding up your gaping wounds and drying your tears. Yet if you were to investigate their past, you would find they have suffered more than most other people.

They have watched the silver cord on which the lamp of life hung slowly unravel. They have seen the golden bowl of joy smashed at their feet, and its contents spilled. They have experienced raging tides, withering crops, and darkness at high noon, but all this has been necessary to make them into the nurses, physicians, and ministers of others.

Cartons containing spices from the Orient may be cumbersome to ship and slow in coming, but once they arrive the beautiful fragrances fill the air. In the same way, suffering is trying and difficult to bear, but hiding just below its surface is discipline, knowledge, and limitless possibilities. Each of these not only strengthens and matures us but also equips us to help others. So do not worry or clench your teeth, simply waiting with stubborn determination for the suffering to pass. Instead, be determined to get everything you can from it, both for yourself and for the sake of those around you, according to the will of God. selected

Once I heard a song of sweetness,

As it filled the morning air,

Sounding in its blest completeness,

Like a tender, pleading prayer;

And I sought to find the singer,

Where the wondrous song was borne;

And I found a bird, quite wounded,

Pinned down by a cruel thorn.

I have seen a soul in sadness,

While its wings with pain were furled,

Giving hope, and cheer and gladness

That should bless a weeping world

And I knew that life of sweetness,

Was of pain and sorrow borne,

And a stricken soul was singing,

With its heart against a thorn.

You are told of One who loved you,

Of a Savior crucified,

You are told of nails that held Him,

And a spear that pierced His side;

You are told of cruel scourging,

Of a Savior bearing scorn,

And He died for your salvation,

With His brow against a thorn.

You “are not above the Master. ”

Will you breathe a sweet refrain?

And His grace will be sufficient,

When your heart is pierced with pain.

Will you live to bless His loved ones,

Though your life be bruised and torn,

Like the bird that sang so sweetly,

With its heart against a thorn?

selected

December 11

Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who minister by night in the house of the Lord. . . . May the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion. (Psalm 134:1, 3)

You may see this as a strange time to worship—“minister[ing] by night in the house of the Lord. ” Indeed, worshiping at night, during the depth of our sorrows, is a difficult thing. Yet therein lies the blessing, for it is the test of perfect faith. If I desire to know the true depth of my friend’s love, I must see how he responds during the winter seasons of my life. And it is the same with divine love.

It is easy for me to worship in the summer sunshine, when the beautiful melodies of life seem to fill the air, and the lush fruit of life is still on the trees. But when the songbirds cease and the fruit falls from the trees, will my heart continue to sing? Will I remain in God’s house at night? Will I love Him simply for who He is? Am I willing to “keep watch for one hour” (Mark 14:37) with Him in His Gethsemane? Will I help Him carry His cross up the road of suffering to Calvary? Will I stand beside Him in His dying moments, with Mary, His mother, and John, the beloved disciple? Would I be able, with Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, to take the dead Christ from His cross?

If I can do these things, then my worship is complete and my blessing glorious. Then I have indeed shown Him love during the time of His humiliation. My faith has seen Him in His lowest state, and yet my heart has recognized His majesty through His humble disguise. And at last I truly know that I desire not the gift but the Giver. Yes, when I can remain in His house through the darkness of night and worship Him, I have accepted Him for Himself alone. George Matheson

My goal is God Himself, not joy, nor peace,

Nor even blessing, but Himself, my God;

It’s His to lead me there, not mine, but His—

“At any cost, dear Lord, by any road!”

So faith bounds forward to its goal in God,

And love can trust her Lord to lead her there;

Upheld by Him, my soul is following hard

Till the Lord has fulfilled my deepest prayer.

No matter if the way is sometimes dark,

No matter though the cost is often great,

He knows the way for me to reach the mark,

The road that leads to Him is sure and straight.

One thing is sure, I cannot tell Him no;

One thing I do, I press towards my Lord;

Giving God my glory here, as I go,

Knowing in heaven waits my Great Reward.

December 12

I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:6–7)

Just as old soldiers compare their battle scars and stories of war when they get together, when we arrive at our heavenly home, we will tell of the goodness and faithfulness of God, who brought us through every trial along the way. I would not like to stand with the multitude clothed in robes made “white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:14) and hear these words: “‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation’—all except you.

How would you like to stand there and be pointed out as the only saint who never experienced sorrow? Never! You would feel like a stranger in the midst of a sacred fellowship. Therefore may we be content to share in the battle, for we will soon wear a crown of reward and wave a palm branch of praise. Charles H. Spurgeon

During the American Civil War, at the battle of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, a surgeon asked a soldier where he was hurt. The wounded soldier answered, “Right near the top of the mountain.” He was not thinking of his gaping wound but was only remembering that he had won the ground near the top of the mountain.

May we also go forth to higher endeavors for Christ, never resting until we can shout from the mountaintop, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Finish your work, then rest,

Till then rest never;

Since rest for you with God

Is rest forever.

God will examine your life not for medals, diplomas, or

degrees but for battle scars.

A medieval singer once sang of his hero:

With his trusty sword for aid;

Ornament it carried none,

But the notches on the blade.

What nobler medal of honor could any godly person seek than the scars of service, personal loss for the crown of reward, disgrace for the sake of Christ, and being worn out in the Master's service!

December 13

I will give you the treasures of darkness. (Isaiah 45:3)

In the famous lace shops of Brussels, there are special rooms devoted to the spinning of the world’s finest lace, all with the most delicate patterns. The rooms are kept completely dark, except for the light that falls directly on the developing pattern, from one very small window. Only one person sits in each small room, where the narrow rays of light fall upon the threads he is weaving, for lace is always more beautifully and delicately woven when the weaver himself is in the dark, with only his work in the light.

Sometimes the darkness in our lives is worse, because we cannot even see the web we are weaving or understand what we are doing. Therefore we are unable to see any beauty or any possible good arising from our experience. Yet if we are faithful to forge ahead and “if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9), someday we will know that the most exquisite work of our lives was done during those days when it was the darkest.

If you seem to be living in deep darkness because God is working in strange and mysterious ways, do not be afraid. Simply go forward in faith and in love, never doubting Him. He is watching and will bring goodness and beauty from all of your pain and tears. J. R. Miller

The shuttles of His purpose move

To carry out His own design;

Seek not too soon to disapprove

His work, nor yet assign

Dark motives, when, with silent tread,

You view some somber fold;

For lo, within each darker thread

There twines a thread of gold.

Spin cheerfully,

Not tearfully,

He knows the way you plod;

Spin carefully,

Spin prayerfully,

But leave the thread with God.

from the Canadian Home Journal

December 14

One of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray. . . . ” He said to them, “When you pray, say: “. . . Your kingdom come. ” (Luke 11:1–2)

When one of the disciples said, “Teach us to pray,” the Lord raised His eyes to the far horizon of His Father’s world. He brought the ultimate goal of eternal life together with everything God desires to do in the life of humankind and packed it all into a powerful prayer that followed these words: “This, then, is how you should pray” (Matt. 6:9). And what a contrast between His prayer and what we often hear today!

How do we pray when we follow the desires of our own hearts? We say, “Lord, bless me, then my family, my church, my city, and my country. ” We start with those closest to us and gradually move outward, ultimately praying for the expansion of God’s kingdom throughout the world.

Our Master’s prayer, however, begins where we end. He taught us to pray for the world first and our personal needs second. Only after our prayer has covered every continent, every remote island of the sea, every person in the last hidden tribe, and every desire and purpose of God for the world are we taught to ask for a piece of bread for ourselves.

Jesus gave Himself for us and to us, paying a holy and precious price on the cross. After giving His all, is it too much for Him to ask us to do the same thing? No man or woman will ever amount to anything in God’s kingdom or ever experience any of His power, until this lesson of prayer is learned—that Christ’s business is the supreme concern of life and that all of our personal considerations, no matter how important or precious to us, are secondary. Dr. Francis

When Robert Moffat, the nineteenth-century Scottish explorer and missionary to South Africa, was once asked to write in a young lady’s personal album, he wrote these words:

My album is a savage chest,

Where fierce storms brood and shadows rest,

Without one ray of light;

To write the name of Jesus there,

And see the savage bow in prayer,

And point to worlds more bright and fair,

This is my soul’s delight.

“His kingdom will never end” (Luke 1:33), or as an old Moravian version says, “His Kingdom shall have no frontier.”

Missionary work should never be an afterthought of the church, because it is Christ’s forethought. Henry Jackson Van Dyke

★★★★★

December 15

Trust in Him. (Psalm 37:5)

The word “trust” is the heart of faith and is the Old Testament word given to the infant, or early, stages of faith. The word “faith” conveys more an act of the will, while the word “belief ” conveys an act of the mind or intellect, but trust is the language of the heart. The words “faith” and “belief ” refer more to a truth believed or to something expected to happen.

Trust implies more than this, for it sees and feels and it leans on those who have a great, living, and genuine heart of love. Therefore let us “trust also in Him” (Ps. 37:5 KJV), through all the delays, in spite of all the difficulties, and in the face of all the rejection we encounter in life. And in spite of our feelings and evidence to the contrary, and even when we cannot understand our way or our situation, may we still “trust also in Him; [for] He shall bring it to pass.” The way will open, our situation will be changed, and the end result will be peace. The cloud will finally be lifted, and the light of eternal noonday will shine at last.

Trust and rest when all around you

Puts your faith to stringent test;

Let no fear or foe confound you,

Wait for God and trust and rest.

Trust and rest with heart abiding,

Like a birdling in its nest,

Underneath His feathers hiding,

Fold your wings and trust and rest.

December 16

There was also a prophetess, Anna. . . . She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. (Luke 2:36–37)

There is no doubt that it is by praying that we learn to pray, and that the more we pray, the better our prayers will be. People who pray in spurts are never likely to attain to the kind of prayer described in the Scriptures as “powerful and effective” (James 5:16).

Great power in prayer is within our reach, but we must work to obtain it. We should never even imagine that Abraham could have interceded so successfully for Sodom if he had not communed with God throughout the previous years of his life. Jacob’s entire night of wrestling at Peniel was certainly not the first encounter he had with his God. And we can even look at our Lord’s most beautiful and wonderful prayer in John 17, before His suffering and death, as the fruit of His many nights of devotion, and of His rising often before daybreak to pray.

If a person believes he can become powerful in prayer without making a commitment to it, he is living under a great delusion. The prayer of Elijah, which stopped the rain from heaven and later opened heaven’s floodgates, was only one example of a long series of his mighty pleadings with God. Oh, if only we Christians would remember that perseverance in prayer is necessary for it to be effective and victorious!

The great intercessors, who are seldom mentioned in connection with the heroes and martyrs of the faith, were nevertheless the greatest benefactors of the church. Yet their becoming the channels of the blessings of mercy to others was only made possible by their abiding at the mercy seat of God.

Remember, we must pray to pray, and continue in prayer so our prayers may continue. Charles H. Spurgeon






December 17

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23–24)

Many years after I first read that “without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14), I began following this truth and encouraging everyone with whom I spoke to do the same. Ten years later God gave me a clearer view than I had ever seen before of the way to obtain holiness—namely, by faith in the Son of God. Immediately I began sharing with everyone, “We are saved from sin and made holy by faith.” I testified to this in private, in public, and in print, and God confirmed it through a thousand other witnesses. I have now declared this truth continuously for more than thirty years, and God has continued to confirm my work. John Wesley in 1771

I knew Jesus, and He was very precious to me, but I found something deep within me that would not stay pleasant, patient, and kind. I did what I could to keep those traits suppressed, but they were still there. Finally I sought Jesus for help, and when I gave Him my will, He came to my heart and removed everything that would not stay pleasant, patient, and kind. And then He shut the door. George Fox

At this very moment, my entire heart does not have even a hint of thirst after my acceptance by God. I am alone with Him and He fills every void. I do not have one wish, one will, or one desire, except in Him. He has set my feet in His large room. And I am in awe, standing amazed that He has conquered everything within me, through His love. Lady Huntington

Suddenly I felt as if a hand—not weak but omnipotent, and not of wrath but of love—were laid on my forehead. Yet I did not feel it as much outwardly as inwardly. It seemed to be pressing in on my entire being and sending a holy, sin-consuming energy throughout me. As it moved downward, my heart as well as my head was aware of the presence of this soul-cleansing energy. Under its power I fell to the floor, and in the joyful wonder of the moment, I cried out in a loud voice. This hand of power continued to work without and within me, and wherever it moved, it seemed to leave the glorious influence of the Savior’s image. And for several minutes, the deep ocean of God’s love swallowed me, as all its waves and billows rolled over me. Bishop Hamline

Some of my views on holiness, as I once wrote them, are as follows: Holiness appears to me to have a sweet, calm, pleasant, charming, and serene nature, all of which brings an inexpressible purity, radiance, peacefulness, and overwhelming joy to the soul. In other words, holiness makes the soul like a field or garden of God, with every kind of pleasant fruit and flower, and each one delightful and undisturbed, enjoying a sweet calm and the gentle and refreshing rays of the sun. Jonathan Edwards

Love’s resistless current sweeping

All the regions deep within;

Thought and wish and senses keeping

Now, and every instant clean:

Full salvation! Full salvation!

From the guilt and power of sin.

December 18

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)

The gospel and the gift of God are structured so wonderfully that the very enemies and forces that are marshaled to fight against us actually help pave our way to the very gates of heaven and into the presence of God. Those forces can be used in the same way an eagle uses the fierce winds of a storm to soar to the sky. At first he sits perfectly still, high on a cliff, watching the sky as it fills with darkness and as the lightning strikes all around him. Yet he never moves until he feels the burst of the storm, and then with a screech he dives toward the winds, using them to carry him ever higher.

This is also what God desires of each of His children. He wants us to be “more than conquerors,” turning storm clouds into chariots of victory. It is obvious when an army becomes “more than conquerors,” for it drives its enemies from the battlefield and confiscates their food and supplies. This is exactly what this Scripture passage means. There are spoils to be taken!

Dear believer, after experiencing the terrible valley of suffering, did you depart with the spoils? When you were struck with an injury and you thought you had lost everything, did you trust in God to the point that you came out richer than you were before? Being “more than [a] conqueror” means taking the spoils from the enemy and appropriating them for yourself. What your enemy had planned to use for your defeat, you can confiscate for your own use.

When Dr. Moon, of Brighton, England, was suddenly struck with blindness, he said, “Lord, I accept this ‘talent’ of blindness from You. Help me to use it for Your glory so that when You return, you may receive it ‘back with interest’ [Matt. 25:27]. ” Then God enabled him to invent the Moon Alphabet for the blind, through which thousands of blind people were enabled to read the Word of God and thereby come to the glorious saving knowledge of Christ. selected

God did not remove Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”(2 Cor. 12:7 KJV). The Lord did something much better—He conquered it and made it Paul’s servant. The ministry of thorns has often been a greater ministry to humankind than the ministry of thrones. selected

December 19

This will result in your being witnesses to them. (Luke 21:13)

Life is a steep climb, and it is always encouraging to have those ahead of us “call back” and cheerfully summon us to higher ground. We all climb together, so we should help one another. The mountain climbing of life is serious, but glorious, business; it takes strength and steadiness to reach the summit. And as our view becomes better as we gain altitude, and as we discover things of importance, we should “call back” our encouragement to others.

If you have gone a little way ahead of me, call back—

It will cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track;

And if, perhaps, Faith’s light is dim, because the oil is low,

Your call will guide my lagging course as wearily I go.

Call back, and tell me that He went with you into the storm;

Call back, and say He kept you when the forest’s roots were torn;

That, when the heavens thunder and the earthquake shook

the hill,

He bore you up and held you where the lofty air was still.

O friend, call back, and tell me for I cannot see your face;

They say it glows with triumph, and your feet sprint in the race;

But there are mists between us and my spirit eyes are dim,

And I cannot see the glory, though I long for word of Him.

But if you’ll say He heard you when your prayer was but a cry,

And if you’ll say He saw you through the night’s

sin-darkened sky—

If you have gone a little way ahead, O friend, call back—

It will cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track.

selected

December 20

I am not alone, for my Father is with me. (John 16:32)

It is certainly unnecessary to say that turning conviction into action requires great sacrifice. It may mean renouncing or separating ourselves from specific people or things, leaving us with a strange sense of deprivation and loneliness. Therefore the person who will ultimately soar like an eagle to the heights of the cloudless day and live in the sunshine of God must be content to live a relatively lonely life.

There are no birds that live in as much solitude as eagles, for they never fly in flocks. Rarely can even two eagles be seen together. And a life that is dedicated to God knows divine fellowship, no matter how many human friendships have had to be forfeited along the way.

God seeks “eagle people,” for no one ever comes into the full realization of the best things of God in his spiritual life without learning to walk alone with Him. We see Abraham alone “in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities . . . near Sodom” (Gen. 13:12). Moses, although educated in all the wisdom of Egypt, had to spend forty years alone with God in the desert. And Paul, who was filled with all the knowledge of the Greeks and who sat “at the feet of Gamaliel” (Acts 22:3 KJV), was required, after meeting Jesus, to go “immediately into Arabia” (Gal. 1:17) to learn of the desert life with God.

May we allow God to isolate us, but I do not mean the isolation of a monastery. It is in the experience of isolation that the Lord develops an independence of life and of faith so that the soul no longer depends on the continual help, prayers, faith, and care of others. The assistance and inspiration from others are necessary, and they have a place in a Christian’s development, but at times they can actually become a hindrance to a person's faith and welfare.

God knows how to change our circumstances in order to isolate us. And once we yield to Him and He takes us through an experience of isolation, we are no longer dependent upon those around us, although we still love them as much as before. Then we realize that He has done a new work within us and that the wings of our soul have learned to soar in loftier air.

We must dare to be alone, in the way that Jacob had to be alone for the Angel of God to whisper in his ear, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel” (Gen. 32:28); in the way that Daniel had to be left alone to see heavenly visions; and in the way that John had to be banished to the Isle of Patmos to receive and record “the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him” (Rev. 1:1).

He has “trodden the winepress alone” (Isa. 63:3) for us. Therefore, are we prepared for a time of “glorious isolation” rather than to fail Him?

December 21

I will give him . . . the land he set his feet on, because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly. (Deuteronomy 1:36)

Every difficult task that comes across your path—every one that you would rather not do, that will take the most effort, cause the most pain, and be the greatest struggle—brings a blessing with it. And refusing to do it regardless of the personal cost is to miss the blessing.

Every difficult stretch of road on which you see the Master’s footprints and along which He calls you to follow Him leads unquestionably to blessings. And they are blessings you will never receive unless you travel the steep and thorny path.

Every battlefield you encounter, where you are required to draw your sword and fight the enemy, has the possibility of victory that will prove to be a rich blessing to your life. And every heavy burden you are called upon to lift hides within itself a miraculous secret of strength. J. R. Miller

I cannot do it alone;

The waves surge fast and high,

And the fogs close all around,

The light goes out in the sky;

But I know that we two

Will win in the end,

Jesus and I.

Cowardly, wayward, and weak,

I change with the changing sky;

Today so eager and bright,

Tomorrow too weak to try;

But He never gives in,

So we two will win,

Jesus and I.

I could not guide it myself,

My boat on life’s wild sea;

There’s One who sits by my side,

Who pulls and steers with me.

And I know that we two

Will safe enter port,

Jesus and I.

December 22

A thick and dreadful darkness came over him. (Genesis 15:12)

In this Scripture passage, the sun had finally gone down, and the eastern night had swiftly cast its heavy veil over the entire scene. Worn out by the mental conflict, and the exertion and the cares of the day, Abraham “fell into a deep sleep” (v. 12). During his sleep, his soul was oppressed with “a thick and dreadful darkness,” which seemed to smother him and felt like a nightmare in his heart.

Do you have an understanding of the horror of that kind of darkness? Have you ever experienced a terrible sorrow that seems difficult to reconcile with God’s perfect love—a sorrow that comes crashing down upon you, wrings from your soul its peaceful rest in the grace of God, and casts it into a sea of darkness that is unlit by even one ray of hope? Have you experienced a sorrow caused by unkindness, when others cruelly mistreat your trusting heart, and you even begin to wonder if there is really a God above who sees what is happening yet continues to allow it? If you know this kind of sorrow, then you know something of this “thick and dreadful darkness. ”

Human life is made of brightness and gloom, shadows and sunshine, and dark clouds followed by brilliant rays of light. Yet through it all, God’s divine justice is accomplishing His plan, affecting and disciplining each individual soul.

Dear friend, if you are filled with fear of the “thick and dreadful darkness” because of God’s dealings with humankind, learn to trust His infallible wisdom, for it is equal to His unchanging justice. And know that He who endured the “dreadful darkness” of Calvary and the feeling of having been forsaken on the cross is ready to accompany you “through the valley of the shadow of death” (Ps. 23:4) until you can see the sun shining on the other side.

May we realize that “we have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” and that “it enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain” (Heb. 6:19). And may we know that although it is unseen within His sanctuary, our anchor will be grounded and will never yield. It will hold firm until the day He returns, and then we too will follow it into the safe haven guaranteed to us in God’s unchangeable Word. F. B. Meyer

The disciples thought that the angry sea separated them from Jesus. In fact, some of them thought something even worse—they thought that the trouble they were facing was a sign that He had forgotten them and did not care about them.

O dear friend, that is when your troubles can cause that most harm. The Devil comes and whispers to you, “God has forgotten you” or “God has forsaken you,” and your unbelieving

heart cries out, as Gideon once did, “If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?” (Judg. 6:13). God has allowed the difficulty to come upon you, in order to bring you closer to Himself. It has come not to separate you from Jesus but to cause you to cling to Him more faithfully, more firmly, and more simply. F. S. Webster

We should abandon ourselves to God more fully at those times when He seems to have abandoned us. Let us enjoy His light and comfort when it is His pleasure to give it to us, but may we not attach ourselves to His gifts. May we instead attach ourselves to Him, and when He plunges us into the night, where pure faith is required, may we still press on through the agonizing darkness.

Oh, for faith that brings the triumph

When defeat seems very near!

Oh, for faith that brings the triumph

Into victory’s ringing cheer—

Faith triumphant; knowing not defeat or fear.

Herbert Booth

December 23

The journey is too much for you. (1 Kings 19:7)

What did God do with Elijah, His tired servant? He allowed him to sleep and then gave him something good to eat. Elijah had done tremendous work and in his excitement had run “ahead of Ahab's chariot] all the way to Jezreel” (1 Kings 18:46). But the run had been too much for him and had sapped his physical strength, ultimately causing him to become depressed. Just as others in this condition need sleep and want their ailments treated, Elijah’s physical requirements needed to be met.

There are many wonderful people who end up where Elijah did—“under a juniper tree” (1 Kings 19:4 KJV)! When this happens, the words of the Master are very soothing: “Get up

and eat, for the journey is too much for you. ” In other words, “I am going to refresh you. ”

Therefore may we never confuse physical weariness with spiritual weakness.

I’m too tired to trust and too tired to pray,

Said I, as my overtaxed strength gave way.

The one conscious thought that my mind possessed,

Is, oh, could I just drop it all and rest.

Will God forgive me, do you suppose,

If I go right to sleep as a baby goes,

Without questioning if I may,

Without even trying to trust and pray?

Will God forgive you? Think back, dear heart,

When language to you was an unknown art,

Did your mother deny you needed rest,

Or refuse to pillow your head on her breast?

Did she let you want when you could not ask?

Did she give her child an unequal task?

Or did she cradle you in her arms,

And then guard your slumber against alarms?

Oh, how quickly a mother’s love can see,

The unconscious yearnings of infancy.

When you’ve grown too tired to trust and pray,

When overworked nature has quite given way:

Then just drop it all, and give up to rest,

As you used to do on mother’s breast,

He knows all about it—the dear Lord knows,

So just go to sleep as a baby goes;

Without even asking if you may,

God knows when His child is too tired to pray.

He judges not solely by uttered prayer,

He knows when the yearnings of love are there.

He knows you do pray, He knows you do trust,

And He knows, too, the limits of poor, weak dust.

Oh, the wonderful sympathy of Christ,

For His chosen ones in that midnight tryst,

When He told them, “Sleep and take your rest,”

While on Him the guilt of the whole world pressed—

You have trusted your life to Him to keep,

Then don’t be afraid to go right to sleep.

Ella Conrad Cowherd

December 24

He went out to the field one evening to meditate. (Genesis 24:63)

We would be better Christians if we spent more time alone, and we would actually accomplish more if we attempted less and spent more time in isolation and quiet waiting upon God. The world has become too much a part of us, and we are afflicted with the idea that we are not accomplishing anything unless we are always busily running back and forth. We no longer believe in the importance of a calm retreat where we sit silently in the shade. As the people of God, we have become entirely too practical. We believe in having “all our irons in the fire” and that all the time we spend away from the anvil or fire is wasted time. Yet our time is never more profitably spent than when we set aside time for quiet meditation, talking with God, and looking up to heaven. We can never have too many of these open spaces in life—hours set aside when our soul is completely open and accessible to any heavenly thought or influence that God may be pleased to send our way.

Someone once said, “Meditation is the Sunday of the mind. ” In these hectic days, we should often give our mind a “Sunday,” a time in which it will do no work but instead will simply be still, look heavenward, and spread itself before the Lord like Gideon’s fleece, allowing itself to be soaked with the moisture of the dew of heaven. We should have intervals of time when we do nothing, think nothing, and plan nothing but simply lie on the green lap of nature and “rest a while” (Mark 6:31 KJV).

Time spent in this way is not lost time. A fisherman does not say he is losing time when he is mending his nets, nor does a gardener feel he has wasted his time by taking a few minutes to sharpen the blades on his mower. And people living in cities today would do well to follow the example of Isaac and as often as possible visit the fields of the countryside, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. After having grown weary from the heat and noise of the city, communion with nature is very refreshing and will bring a calming, healing influence. A walk through a field, a stroll by a seashore, or a hike across a meadow sprinkled with daisies will purge you of the impurities of life and will cause your heart to beat with new joy and hope.

The little cares that worried me,

I lost them yesterday,

Out in the fields with God.

A poem for Christmas Eve:

Bells across the Snow

O Christmas, merry Christmas,

Has it really come again,

With its memories and greetings,

With its joy and with its pain!

Minor chords are in the carol

And a shadow in the light,

And a spray of cypress twining

With the holly wreath tonight.

And the hush is never broken

By laughter light and low,

As we listen in the starlight

To the “bells across the snow. ”

O Christmas, merry Christmas,

It’s not so very long

Since other voices blended

With the carol and the song!

If we could but hear them singing,

As they are singing now,

If we could but see the radiance

Of the crown on each dear brow,

There would be no cry to cover,

No hidden tear to flow,

As we listen in the starlight

To the “bells across the snow. ”

O Christmas, merry Christmas,

This nevermore can be;

We cannot bring again the days

Of our unshadowed glee,

But Christmas, happy Christmas,

Sweet herald of goodwill,

With holy songs of glory

Brings holy gladness still.

For peace and hope may brighten,

And patient love may glow,

As we listen in the starlight

To the “bells across the snow. ”

Frances Ridley Havergal

December 25

“They will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us. ” (Matthew 1:23)

Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

There’s a song in the air!

There’s a star in the sky!

There’s a mother’s deep prayer,

And a baby’s low cry!

And the star rains its fire

While the beautiful sing,

For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King.

A number of years ago a remarkable Christmas card was published by the title “If Christ Had Not Come. ” It was based on our Savior’s own words, “If I had not come,” in John 15:22. The card pictured a minister falling asleep in his study on Christmas morning and then dreaming of a world into which Jesus had never come.

In his dream, he saw himself walking through his house, but as he looked, he saw no stockings hung on the chimney, no Christmas tree, no wreaths of holly, and no Christ to comfort and gladden hearts or to save us. He then walked onto the street outside, but there was no church with its spire pointing toward heaven. And when he came back and sat down in his library, he realized that every book about our Savior had disappeared.

The minister dreamed that the doorbell rang and that a messenger asked him to visit a friend’s poor dying mother. He reached her home, and as his friend sat and wept, he said, “I have something here that will comfort you.” He opened his Bible to look for a familiar promise, but it ended with Malachi. There was no gospel and no promise of hope and salvation, and all he could do was bow his head and weep with his friend and his mother in bitter despair.

Two days later he stood beside her coffin and conducted her funeral service, but there was no message of comfort, no words of a glorious resurrection, and no thought of a mansion awaiting her in heaven. There was only “dust to dust, and ashes to ashes,” and one long, eternal farewell. Finally he realized that Christ had not come, and burst into tears, weeping bitterly in his sorrowful dream.

Then suddenly he awoke with a start, and a great shout of joy and praise burst from his lips as he heard his choir singing these words in his church nearby:

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,

O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem!

Come and behold Him, born the King of angels,

O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!

Let us be glad and rejoice today, because He has come. And let us remember the proclamation of the angel: “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10–11).

He comes to make His blessing flow,

Far as the curse does go.

May our hearts go out to the unconverted people of foreign lands who have no blessed Christmas day. “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and SEND SOME THOSE WHO HAVE NOTHING PREPARED. This day is sacred to our Lord” (Neh. 8:10).

December 26

Sit here while I go over there and pray. (Matthew 26:36)

It is a very difficult thing to be kept in the background during a time of crisis. In the Garden of Gethsemane, eight of the eleven remaining disciples were left behind to do nothing. When Jesus went ahead to pray, Peter, James, and John went with Him to watch, but the rest sat down to wait. I believe that the ones left behind must have complained. They were in the garden, but that was all, for they had no part in the cultivation of its flowers. It was a stormy time of crisis and great stress, yet they were not allowed to participate.

You and I have certainly had that experience and felt the same disappointment. Perhaps you have seen a great opportunity for Christian service arise, and some people are sent immediately to the work, while still others are being trained to go. Yet you are forced to do nothing but sit and wait. Or perhaps sickness and poverty has come your way, or you have had to endure some terrible disgrace. Whatever your situation, you have been kept from service, and now you feel angry and do not understand why you should be excluded from this part of the Christian life. It seems unjust that you have been allowed to enter the garden but have found no path assigned to you once inside.

Be still, dear soul—things are not what they seem! You are not excluded from any part of the Christian life. Do you believe that the garden of the Lord only has places for those who walk or those who stand? No! It also has a place set apart for those who are compelled to sit. Just as there are three voices in a verb—active, passive, and neuter—there are three voices in Christ’s verb “live.” There are active people, who go straight to the battle, and struggle till the setting of the sun. There are passive people, who stand in the middle and simply report the progress of the fight. Yet there are also neuter people—those who can neither fight nor be spectators of the fight but must simply lie down and wait.

When this experience comes, do not think that you have been turned aside. Remember, it is Christ himself who says to you, “Sit here.” Your place in the garden has also been set apart. God has selected it especially for you, and it is not simply a place of waiting. There are some lives He brings into this world neither to do great work nor to bear great burdens. Their job is simply to be—they are the neuter verbs, or the flowers in the garden that have no active mission. They have won no major victories and have never been honored with the best seats at a banquet—they have simply escaped the sight of people like Peter, James, and John.

However, Jesus is delighted by the sight of them, for through their mere fragrance and beauty, they have brought Him joy. And just their existence and the preservation of their loveliness in the valley has lifted the Master’s heart. So you need not complain if you are one of these flowers! selected

December 27

His neck was put in irons. (Psalm 105:18)

The irons of sorrow and loss, the burdens carried as a youth, and the soul’s struggle against sin all contribute to developing an iron tenacity and strength of purpose, as well as endurance and fortitude. And these traits make up the indispensable foundation and framework of noble character.

Never run from suffering, but bear it silently, patiently, and submissively, with the assurance that it is God’s way of instilling iron into your spiritual life. The world is looking for iron leaders, iron armies, iron tendons, and muscles of steel. But God is looking for iron saints, and since there is no way to impart iron into His people’s moral nature except by letting them suffer, He allows them to suffer.

Are the best years of your life slipping away while you suffer enforced monotony? Are you afflicted with opposition, misunderstandings, and the scorn of others? Do your afflictions seem as thick as the undergrowth confronting someone hiking through a jungle? Then take heart! Your time is not wasted, for God is simply putting you through His iron regimen. Your iron crown of suffering precedes your golden crown of glory, and iron is entering your soul to make it strong and brave. F. B. Meyer

But you will not mind the roughness, nor the steepness of the way,

Nor the cold, unrested morning, nor the heat of the noonday;

And you will not take a turning to the left or the right,

But go straight ahead, nor tremble at the coming of the night,

For the road leads home.

December 28

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)

Sing a little song of trust,

O my heart!

Sing it just because you must,

As leaves start;

As flowers push their way through dust;

Sing, my heart, because you must.

Wait not for an eager throng—

Bird on bird;

It’s the solitary song

That is heard.

Every voice at dawn will start,

Be a nightingale, my heart!

Sing across the winter snow,

Pierce the cloud;

Sing when mists are drooping low—

Clear and loud;

But sing sweetest in the dark;

He who slumbers not will hark.

And when He hears you sing, He will bend down with a smile on His kind face. As He cheerfully listens, He will say, “Sing on, dear child. I hear you and I am coming to deliver you. I will carry that load for you. So just lean hard on Me, and the road will get smoother by and by. ”

December 29

Come on . . . ! We have seen that the land is very good. Aren’t you going to do something? Don’t hesitate to go there and take it over. . . . God has put into your hands, a land that lacks nothing whatever. (Judges 18:9–10)

“Come on!” This command indicates that there is something definite for us to do and that nothing is ours unless we take it. “The children of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, took their inheritance” (Josh. 16:4 KJV). “The house of Jacob will possess its inheritance” (Obad. 17). “The upright shall have good things in possession” (Prov. 28:10 KJV).

We need to have appropriating faith when it comes to God’s promises and should make His Word our own personal possession. A child was once asked what appropriating faith was, and he answered, “It is taking a pencil and underlining every ‘me,’ ‘my,’ and ‘mine’ in the Bible.”

Pick any word you want that He has spoken and say, “That word is my word.” Put your finger on a promise and say, “It is mine.” How much of God’s Word have you received and endorsed, and of how much have you been able to say, “This has been done in my life”? By how many of His promises have you signed your name and said, “This has been fulfilled to me”?

“My son, . . . you are always with me, and everything I have is yours” (Luke 15:31). Do not miss your inheritance through your own neglect.

When faith goes to the market, it always takes a basket.

December 30

So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. (Acts 12:5)

Peter was in prison awaiting his execution, and the church had no human power or influence that could save him. There was no earthly help available, but help could be obtained by way of heaven. So the church gave themselves to fervent and persistent prayer. And God sent an angel, who “struck Peter on the side and woke him up” (v. 7). Then the angel led him past “the first and second guards and [they] came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself ” (v. 10), and Peter was free.

Perhaps there is some “iron gate” in your life, blocking your way. Like a caged bird, you have often beaten against the bars, but instead of helping your situation, you have become even more tired and exhausted and caused yourself more heartache. There is a secret for you to learn—the secret of believing prayer. Then when you come to the iron gate, it will open as it did for Peter: “by itself.”

How much wasted energy and painful disappointment will be saved once you learn to pray as the early church did in the “upper room” (Acts 1:13 KJV)! Insurmountable difficulties will disappear and adverse circumstances will turn favorable once you learn to pray—not with your own faith but with the faith of God. Many of your loved ones have been bound by Satan and imprisoned by him for years, and they are simply waiting for the gates to be opened. They will be set free in Christ when you pray fervently and persistently in faith to God. C. H. P.

Emergencies call for intense prayer. When the person himself becomes the prayer nothing can resist its touch. Elijah bowed to the ground on Mount Carmel with his face between his knees, and he became the prayer.

Spoken prayer is not always needed, for prayer can often be too intense for words. In the case of Elijah, his entire being was in touch with God and was aligned with Him against the powers of evil. And Elijah’s evil enemies could not withstand this kind of prayer in human form—something that is greatly needed today. from The Bent-knee Time

“Groans that words cannot express” (Rom. 8:26) are often prayers that God cannot refuse. Charles H. Spurgeon

December 31

Thus far has the Lord helped us. (1 Samuel 7:12)

The words “thus far” are like a hand pointing in the direction of the past. It had been “a long time, twenty years in all” (v. 2), but even if it had been seventy years, “Thus far has the Lord helped”! Whether through poverty, wealth, sickness, or health, whether at home or abroad, or on land, sea, or air, and whether in honor, dishonor, difficulties, joy, trials, triumph, prayer, or temptation—“Thus far has the Lord helped”!

We always enjoy looking down a long road lined with beautiful trees. The trees are a delightful sight and seem to be forming a temple of plants, with strong wooden pillars and arches of leaves. In the same way you look down a beautiful road like this, why not look back on the road of the years of your life? Look at the large green limbs of God’s mercy overhead and the strong pillars of His loving-kindness and faithfulness that have brought you much joy. Do you see any birds singing in the branches? If you look closely, surely you will see many, for they are singing of God’s mercy received “thus far. ”

These words also point forward. Someone who comes to a certain point and writes the words “thus far” realizes he has not yet come to the end of the road and that he still has some distance to travel. There are still more trials, joys, temptations, battles, defeats, victories, prayers, answers, toils, and strength yet to come. These are then followed by sickness, old age, disease, and death.

Then is life over after death? No! These are still yet to come: arising in the likeness of Jesus; thrones, harps, and the singing of psalms; being “clothed in white garments” (Rev. 3:5 NASB), seeing the face of Jesus, and sharing fellowship with the saints; and experiencing the glory of God, the fullness of eternity, and infinite joy. So dear believer, “be strong and take heart” (Ps. 27:14), and with thanksgiving and confidence lift your voice in praise, for:

The Lord who “thus far” has helped you

Will help you all your journey through.

When the words “thus far” are read in heaven’s light, what glorious and miraculous prospects they reveal to our grateful eyes! Charles H. Spurgeon

The shepherds of the Alps have a beautiful custom of ending the day by singing an evening farewell to one another. The air is so pure that the songs can be heard for very long distances. As the sun begins to set, they gather their flocks and begin to lead them down the mountain paths while they sing, “‘Thus far has the Lord helped us. Let us praise His name!”

Finally, as is their beautiful custom, they sing to one another the courteous and friendly farewell “Goodnight! Goodnight!” The words then begin to echo from mountainside to mountainside, reverberating sweetly and softly until the music fades into the distance.

Let us also call out to one another through the darkness until the night becomes alive with the sound of many voices, encouraging God’s weary travelers. And may the echoes grow into a storm of hallelujahs that will break in thundering waves around His sapphire throne. Then as the morning dawns, we will find ourselves on the shore of the “sea of glass” (Rev. 4:6), crying out with the redeemed hosts of heaven, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” (Rev. 5:13).

This my song through endless ages,

Jesus led me all the way.

AND AGAIN THEY SHOUTED: “HALLELUJAH!” Revelation 19:3