Day By Day By Grace

October 1
Scorn for the Scornful, Grace for the Humble
Surely He scorns the scornful, but gives grace to the humble. (Pro_3:34)
The scriptures emphasize the Lord’s commitment to pour out grace upon those who walk in humility, while opposing the path of those who walk in pride. “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’ . . . Be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’ . . . Though the LORD is on high, Yet He regards the lowly; But the proud He knows from afar” (Jas_4:6; 1Pe_5:5; and Psa_138:6). In our present verse we have another pointed example. “Surely He scorns the scornful, but gives grace to the humble.”
It is an absolute certainty that the Lord will scorn the scornful. “Surely He scorns the scornful.” The scornful person shows arrogant disregard for the Lord and His righteous ways. He is a mocker of godliness and a boaster in wickedness. The Lord will assuredly scorn such people. He will treat them with a holy disdain. He will reject their path with holy contempt.
For so many of us who have a heart for the Lord, walking scornfully before the Lord is not a likely threat. However, somewhat related attitudes may become a part of our walk (even inadvertently). Pride and haughtiness are two of the most common, and most deadly. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Pro_16:18). These companion evils could both be summarized as self-exaltation. Such an approach to life always results in devastating downfalls. These attitudes and their consequences are most fully illustrated by the history of the devil himself. Before he became the ultimate rebel against God, he was a magnificent, privileged angelic being. “You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God . . . You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you.” (Eze_28:14-15). This iniquity that developed was self-exaltation. “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! . . . For you have said in your heart: . . . I will be like the Most High” (Isa_14:12-14). This haughty exalting of self brought a disastrous fall, which will end up forever in hell itself.
May we daily chose to walk with God’s humble saints, refusing to join the ranks of the proud, with their self-advancing schemes. “Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud” (Pro_16:19).
Lord God Most High, I repent of the times that I have exalted myself in word or deed or attitude. I renounce the prideful path of self-advancing humanity. I want to identify with Your humble saints, looking to You to shape and use our lives through Your abounding grace, Amen.

Our Daily Walk

October 1
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.” — Eph_3:17-19.
THE DIMENSIONS of the Love of Christ! It is broad as humanity, “for God so loved the world”; the length God’s love had no date of origin, and shall have none of conclusion. God is Love, it continueth ever, indissoluble, unchangeable, a perpetual present tense. Its height—as the Flood out-topped the highest mountains, so that Love covers our highest sins. It is as high as the heaven above the earth. Its depth—Christ our Lord descended into the lowest before He rose to the highest. He has touched the bottomless pit of our sin and misery, sorrow and need. However low your fall, or lowly your lot, the everlasting arms of His love are always underneath.
The Apostle talks by hyperbole, when he prays that we may attain to a knowledge of the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ. We cannot gauge Christ’s love, but we can enjoy it. Probably the only way to know the love of Christ is to begin to show it. The emotionalist, who is easily affected by appeals to the senses, does not know it; the theorist or rhapsodist does not know it, but the soul that endeavours to show the love of Christ, knows it. As Christ’s love through you broadens, lengthens, deepens, heightens, you will know the love of Christ, not intellectually, but experimentally (1Jn_4:11, 1Jn_4:12; 1Jn_4:20-21).
But you say, “there are people in my life whom I cannot love.” Granted, but you must distinguish between love and the emotion or feeling of love. You may not be able to feel love at the outset, but you can be willing to be the channel of Christ’s love. I cannot love, but Christ is in me, and He can. Is it too much to ask that all this should be realized in ourselves and in others? No, because God is already at work within us by His Holy Spirit, and He is able to do infinitely beyond all our highest requests or thoughts. Ask your furthest, think your highest, and the Divine Love is always infinitely in advance.
We thank Thee, O God, for the infinite love which Thou hast given us in Jesus Christ. We have no measure for its heights and depths, its breadths and lengths. Teach us with all saints to know more because we love more. AMEN.

October 1
The Gospel in Europe
And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; there stood a man of Macedonia, beseeching him, and saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us — Act_16:9
Europe was Reached with the Gospel through the Vision of One Man
It was in the second missionary journey of St. Paul that the passage was made to our own coast of Europe. Kings have made the crossing with great armies; peoples have come pushing westward over the sea; but no irruption of Asiatic hordes, and no army bent on a world-conquest, has made such a change upon the life of Europe as did this traveler of our lesson. I think we all know how Paul found himself at Troas, and how, when there, the vision appeared to him. I think that among all the men mentioned in the Bible, there is none more familiar than this man of Macedonia. And then the voyage and the visit to Neapolis and the preaching at the riverside at Philippi — have we not known all that since we knew anything?— there is no page of history that we love more. What little beginnings the mightiest issues have! How insignificant is the start of mighty movements! It is good to think of Western Christendom today with its long record of saintly men and women, with its vast cathedrals and its countless churches, with its hospitals and infirmaries and asylums, with its innumerable charities, with its homes for the aged and the children, all of which owe their existence to the Gospel— it is good to think of that wonderful and rich life with its thousand activities that we call the Christian life, and then remember that we can trace it back to these few travelers on the quay at Troas. Do not despise the smallness of beginnings. The fate of a continent may be in one little boat. Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth.
Visions Come Only When We Obey
Now three truths arrest me in this story. First, it is only when we obey that visions come. Scholars have disputed about the “region of Galatia” (Act_16:6), whether it is a great territory or a small one. But there is no dispute about a much more important thing, namely, that two wills are seen at work right through these verses. On the one hand there is the will of Paul saying, “I think I should go here; I must go there.” On the other hand there is the will of God closing this door and that before the apostle. Of course there was no physical force exerted. If Paul had been weak enough to be an obstinate man, he could have got to Asia or to Bithynia nicely. But Paul recognized that the say must lie with heaven, and he yielded himself up in freest self-surrender. He was willing that his own plans should be shattered and that his schemes and dreams should vanish if God bade, and it was thus that he was led to Troas, and it was then he had his vision in the night. Now that just means that if we are ever to have visions we must walk along the path of self-surrender. We shall never see the best and brightest things unless (as Jesus says) we are pure in heart. If we are blindly and obstinately set on our own way, the likelihood is that God will let us have it. We shall go away into half-wild Bithynia, and perhaps we shall never be heard of again. But it is when we hold our own plans very lightly and are ready to yield them up to God, if need be— it is then that we reach our Troas and get our vision of a larger service than we had ever dreamed of.
The Vision Must Be Followed by Endeavor Immediately
Next, the vision must be followed by endeavor. There is one great word in the vocabulary of the Bible that would make an excellent study for our leisure. It is the word immediately. There were no laggards among the Bible heroes. Life was a great thing, and time was very precious. When the trumpet sounds and the call from heaven comes— look in the next verse and you will find immediately. So it was here. Paul was asleep when he had his vision at Troas. Self-surrender makes an easy pillow. It was in a dream that the man of Macedonia appeared, crying “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And I think I see Paul leaping from his couch, in the burning certainty that God had spoken, and sending Luke post-haste down to the harbor to see when the next ship was likely to set sail. “Immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia.” The vision must be carried out in action. All effort must be made loyally to fulfil what had come to Paul in the glory of the night. Now what does that mean for us? It just means this. We must interpret our bright gleams in instant duty. All that is highest comes to us in vision, and we must translate it into the common task. When we awaken to God, that is a vision; it is a vision when we first see Jesus as our Savior. It is in a vision that we first see life’s possibilities and the way ahead of us and the cross we shall have to bear. And all life, if we mean to live it well, will be little else than the endeavor to carry out that vision through the dust and dreariness and song and sunshine of the years that are going to be our life.
In Spite of His Obedience, the Task Was Hard
Lastly, the endeavor often seems to contradict the vision. You note that it was a man who appeared to Paul. It was a man’s voice that summoned him to Europe. And in the man’s words there was a great appeal; it was as if Macedonia hungered for the Gospel. Yet there is no trace that Neapolis welcomed Paul. And the first convert was a woman, not a man. The first men whom we read of in the story are the angry masters of the poor neurotic girl. I have often wondered if Paul was disappointed. The work was so utterly different from the dream. He had seen in his vision the hands of Macedonia stretched out, and now they were indeed stretched out, but only to lead him to the inner prison at Philippi (Act_16:24). It was a strange and startling contradiction. A weakling would have been tempted to deny the vision. But Paul was far too faithful to despair, and we see now that God was in it all. So when the vision of Jesus comes to us, and we set out to do some little service for Him, there will not be a task and there will not be a day in which the vision will not be contradicted. Our service may not turn out as we hoped; our prayers may not be answered as we wished; we may get no welcome from those who seemed to call us; we may look for liberty and find a prison house. But God makes no mistake. The work is His. He can transmute our failures into tomorrow’s triumphs. When the dawn of the cloudless morning breaks above us, we shall waken to find He hath done all things well.



October 1
“What Do You Want?”
Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” (Joh_1:38, NIV)
Two men listened attentively to John the Baptist, and one day heard him say, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John was speaking about his cousin, Jesus of Nazareth. The two men immediately left John and started following Jesus along the road.
Imagine how stunned these two must have been when Jesus abruptly turned to them and point blank asked, “What do you want?” It had to take them back a step or two. Jesus has a way of going past the superficial, and getting to the substantial. His question was not casual — “What do you want.” Also, when the Lord asks a question it is not because He does not know the asnwer. rather, He wants us to hear the answer that we ourselves give.
So, what do you want?
How would you reply to such a question if it were put directly to you by the Lord? Many of us are not honest enough with our own souls to even know how to answer such a question. We fumble about for words, and stumble over our secret fears, and end up sputtering in the face of Life’s fleeting and unexpected opportunities. So, what do you want? No, what do you really want?
So many of our wants are trite and frivolous, while others are vainly ambitious. We want a bicycle, a car, and ticket to the show. A better hair-do. We want world peace, and animals living in harmony with man. We want all bad people to be good and behave themselves.
We want our toilets to flush without backing up. We want insect repellant, and a cure for dreaded diseases. We want free stuff. We want liberty. We want money. We want our candidate in the Oval office – not theirs.
We want entertainment, pleasure, fun, and we want it without guilt. We want answers. We want good weather. You see how the list can go on and on? Sooner or later we will actually land upon what it is we really, really want. That’s what Jesus is asking about. “So, what do you really want?” He asks you, “I know all the religious answers, all the ridiculous answers, and all the right answers – but, what I’m looking for is the real answer. What do you want?” How would you answer that question today?
I love poetry. Some time ago I came across a real jewel written by John Quincy Adams. It is simply too good not to pass along to you. Perhaps you will find in his whimsical and probing words the voice of your own deep, unspoken longings. It is too long to post with today’s devotion, so I will post it tomorrow.