Morning & Evening e-Sword Study Bible

February 18
“Shew me wherefore thou contendest with me.” — Job_10:2
Perhaps, O tried soul, the Lord is doing this to develop thy graces. There are some of thy graces which would never be discovered if it were not for thy trials. Dost thou not know that thy faith never looks so grand in summer weather as it does in winter? Love is too often like a glow-worm, showing but little light except it be in the midst of surrounding darkness. Hope itself is like a star-not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity. Afflictions are often the black foils in which God doth set the jewels of his children’s graces, to make them shine the better. It was but a little while ago that on thy knees thou wast saying, “Lord, I fear I have no faith: let me know that I have faith.” Was not this really, though perhaps unconsciously, praying for trials?-for how canst thou know that thou hast faith until thy faith is exercised? Depend upon it, God often sends us trials that our graces may be discovered, and that we may be certified of their existence. Besides, it is not merely discovery, real growth in grace is the result of sanctified trials. God often takes away our comforts and our privileges in order to make us better Christians. He trains his soldiers, not in tents of ease and luxury, but by turning them out and using them to forced marches and hard service. He makes them ford through streams, and swim through rivers, and climb mountains, and walk many a long mile with heavy knapsacks of sorrow on their backs. Well, Christian, may not this account for the troubles through which thou art passing? Is not the Lord bringing out your graces, and making them grow? Is not this the reason why he is contending with you?
“Trials make the promise sweet;
Trials give new life to prayer;
Trials bring me to his feet,
Lay me low, and keep me there.”
“Father, I have sinned.” — Luk_15:18
It is quite certain that those whom Christ has washed in his precious blood need not make a confession of sin, as culprits or criminals, before God the Judge, for Christ has for ever taken away all their sins in a legal sense, so that they no longer stand where they can be condemned, but are once for all accepted in the Beloved; but having become children, and offending as children, ought they not every day to go before their heavenly Father and confess their sin, and acknowledge their iniquity in that character? Nature teaches that it is the duty of erring children to make a confession to their earthly father, and the grace of God in the heart teaches us that we, as Christians, owe the same duty to our heavenly Father. We daily offend, and ought not to rest without daily pardon. For, supposing that my trespasses against my Father are not at once taken to him to be washed away by the cleansing power of the Lord Jesus, what will be the consequence? If I have not sought forgiveness and been washed from these offences against my Father, I shall feel at a distance from him; I shall doubt his love to me; I shall tremble at him; I shall be afraid to pray to him: I shall grow like the prodigal, who, although still a child, was yet far off from his father. But if, with a child’s sorrow at offending so gracious and loving a Parent, I go to him and tell him all, and rest not till I realize that I am forgiven, then I shall feel a holy love to my Father, and shall go through my Christian career, not only as saved, but as one enjoying present peace in God through Jesus Christ my Lord. There is a wide distinction between confessing sin as a culprit, and confessing sin as a child. The Father’s bosom is the place for penitent confessions. We have been cleansed once for all, but our feet still need to be washed from the defilement of our daily walk as children of God.


February 18
The Good News of God’s Empowering Presence
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” (Isa_52:7)
Thank you, Paul.
And thank you all for you enthusiastic applause. We always open with Brother James, because if you can endure his message then you are ready for anything else the Lord will have the rest of us say!”
The crowd roared with self-depreciating laughter. And James himself gave a smile backstage.
“Indeed, Paul has been a father to me,” Timothy began. “He has taught me both in word and in example that the grace of God is sufficient for us in all things, at all times. One of my favorite lines from his letters reads, ‘That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.’ (Eph_2:7)
I pray that my feet may be beautiful and swift in the bringing of good news today, for I will speak of the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power when He raised our Lord Jesus from the grave. (Eph_1:19)
God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, love, and a sound mind. These are the fruit of His grace at work in our lives. Power that is greater than sin and death; Love that is greater than darkness and hatred; and soundness of mind that is greater than deception and confusion.
Our God reigns! Go tell it on the mountain, over the hill, and everywhere!
He reigns over us in His mercy and goodness; He reigns in us by His grace and righteousness; He reigns through us by His love and kindness.
Therefore, my dear friends, stay the course. God is at work in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him. For your part, let this salvation work its way out in your attitudes and actions toward others.
everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life! (Php_2:12-16)
“And know this — God is able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need; you will abound to every good work. Yes, God is able to supply you with the full measure of His empowering presence, thereby securing your ability to be who He created you to be and to do what He has called you to do – wherever you go.
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us; unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” (Eph_3:20-21).
“May the power of God’s Grace work in you in such measure every day that your life and service to our Lord brings Him great honor throughout all ages!”
“And now it is my great honor to introduce our final speaker. He is one of the most celebrated evangelists of the New Testament. Loved far and wide, and renowned as an eloquent man, and one mighty in the Scriptures – please join me in welcoming to the stage, Apollos of Alexandria!”
We did so with great enthusiasm, and when all was said and done we discovered that the glowing accolades given to Apollos were well deserved.

Devotional Sermons

February 18
When the Spirit Is Overwhelmed
“My spirit is overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate.” Psa_143:4
There are some natures more prone than others to this overwhelming of the spirit, but it wouldn’t be true to say that the peril is limited to temperament. Some of the last persons one would ever dream of are prone to this hopeless sinking of the heart. I would expect it in Jeremiah, that most tremulous of all the prophets; but in Elijah—that man of iron will—I would scarcely anticipate finding it. Yet in the life of Elijah came an hour when, plunged into the deeps, his prayer was that God would let him die. There are few things that men hide so well as this inner desolation.
Sometimes such an overwhelming feeling comes for reasons that are purely physical. This is the body of our humiliation, and we are fearfully and wonderfully made. I asked a friend only the other evening if she ever experienced an overwhelmed spirit, and she answered, “When I am very, very tired.” Nothing is more delicate and subtle than the interaction of the body and the soul. Lack of faith is sometimes related to lack of health which should make us very tenderhearted and forbearing in judgment towards those who are never really well.
Sometimes we become overwhelmed through simple failure to do our duty. To shirk our God-appointed task is to court the presence of despair. When Christian and Hopeful were on the King’s Highway, Giant Despair was never encountered. But when they got into By-path Meadow, then they fell into the giant’s clutches. And whenever anybody leaves the King’s Highway, sooner or later, but inexorably, “melancholy marks him for her own.” To omit the task we know we ought to do, to shirk the duty of the hour and shun the cross, to refuse to lift the burden and put selfishness in place of service—all this, in this strange life of ours, is to head straight for the overwhelmed spirit.
Times of Darkness Are Not Times for Judgment
I should like, too, to add here that we should never pass judgment in overwhelming hours. Let a man accept the verdict of his Lord, but never the verdict of his melancholy. Hours come when everything seems wrong and when all the lights of heaven are blotted out, and how often, in such desolate hours, do we fall to judging the universe and God! It is part of the conduct of the instructed soul to resist that as a temptation of the devil. Such hours are always unreliable. The things that frighten us in the night are the things we smile at in the morning. We are like that traveler who in the fog thought he saw a ghost; when it came nearer, he found it was a man; and when it came up to him, it was his brother. Overwhelming times are times for leaning; God does not mean them to be times for judging. They are given to us for trusting; they are not given to us for summing up. Leave that till the darkness has departed and the dawn is on the hills, and in His light we see light again.
Indeed, the great need in overwhelming hours is the old, old need of trust in God. It is to feel, as the hymn has it, that we are “safe in the arms of Jesus.” To be assured that God is love and that He will never leave us nor forsake us; to be assured that He knows the way we take and that His wings are folded over us all the time, that is the way to keeping a brave heart when everything is dark and desolate. Plunged into such depths, there is something even deeper. There is the love of God commended in the cross. Underneath are the everlasting arms. So we endure as seeing the invisible, and then (and often sooner than we expect) the day breaks and the shadows flee away.

Our Daily Walk e-Sword Study Bible

February 18
“O Lord, I am oppressed, undertake for me.” — Isa_38:14.
THIS PRAYER is so indefinite that it will suit any emergency, and yet brimful of faith that God will undertake all responsibility. Are you oppressed with the sense of failure, with temptation, with the consciousness of sin? Or oppressed with poverty, or debt, or the fear of unemployment, or with inability to find work? Or cast down with bitter persecution within or without your home? Or sorely beset and hindered by ill-health, the hopelessness of recovery? All these eases of oppression are included in this petition, and may be handed over to your faithful Creator, with the certainty that He is as willing as He is able to undertake for you. He is never weary of hearing your cry; the Everlasting Arms are never tired; and our God neither slumbers nor sleeps.
What may we expect from a prayer so simple, yet so comprehensive? We shall know God. “What shall I say, He hath both spoken unto me, and Himself hath done it” (Isa_38:15). Hezekiah had been a religious man, had maintained the Temple Services, had enjoyed the close friendship of Isaiah, yet it was in none of these things that he had met God face to face. But when he turned his face to the wall, and poured out his soul-anguish, He touched God, knew Him after a fresh fashion, heard Him speak, saw Him work. Only through sickness, loneliness, and the pressure of overwhelming sorrow, do some men rightly learn to live, and discover that unseen and most real world, where the life of the spirit unfolds to God as a flower in spring.
At the pit we learn God’s Love (Isa_38:17). How can we measure God’s love? They say that a man’s fist is the measure of his heart. Come and stand beneath the stars! There is God’s hand! Now judge His heart! It is illimitable! By that love He has put our sins behind His back into the ocean depths! With that love He has drawn us out of the pit of our sins! By that love He bears with our cold response and languid petitions! Through that love He will bring us to glory! His is a love that will never let us go!
Take the hand of Jesus to steady you; look down into the hole of the pit from which you have been redeemed, and then look up to the Throne of God to which He passed at His Ascension, and recall His own words: “where I am, there shall ye be also.” Trust Him to undertake for your little life!
I pray Thee, O my Father, to shut me up to a simpler and more confiding faith. May I trust more than I know, and believe more than I see; and when my heart is overwhelmed within me, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. AMEN.