Be strong and of good courage... fear not, nor be dismayed; for the Lord God, even my God, will be with thee; He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.—1 Chronicles 28:20.
That we should serve in newness of spirit.—Romans 7:6.
Help us, O Lord! Behold we enter
Upon another year today;
In Thee our hopes and thoughts now centre,
Renew our courage for the way,
New life, new strength, new happiness,
We ask of Thee; oh, hear, and bless!
The year begins; and all its pages are as blank as the silent years of the life of Jesus Christ. Let us begin it with high resolution; then let us take all its limitations, all its hindrances, its disappointments, its narrow and common-place conditions, and meet them as the Master did in Nazareth, with patience, with obedience, putting ourselves in cheerful subjection, serving our apprenticeship. Who knows what opportunity may come to us this year? Let us live in a great spirit, then we shall be ready for a great occasion.
Walk cheerfully and freely in God's service.
As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people from henceforth even forever.—Psalm 125:2.
I hope it may be the happiest year of your life, as I think each succeeding year of everybody's life should be, if only everybody were wise enough to see things as they are; for it is certain that there really exists, laid up and ready to hand, for those who will just lay hands upon it, enough for every one and enough forever. I am quite sure that the central mistake of all lives that are mistaken is the not taking this simple unchangeable fact for granted, not seeing that it is so, and cannot but be so, and will remain so "though we believe not" I think I can trace every scrap of sorrow in my own life to this simple unbelief. How could I be anything but quite happy if I believed always that all the past is forgiven, and all the present furnished with power, and all the future bright with hope, because of the same abiding facts, which don't change with my mood, do not crumble, because I totter and stagger at the promise through unbelief, but stand firm and clear with their peaks of pearl cleaving the air of Eternity, and the bases of their hills rooted unfathomably in the Rock of God?
Let all those that seek Thee rejoice and be glad in Thee; let such as love Thy salvation say continually, The Lord be magnified.—Psalm 40:16.
Then will I go unto the altar of God; unto God, my exceeding joy.—Psalm 43:4.
We doubt the word that tells us: Ask,
And ye shall have your prayer;
We turn our thoughts as to a task,
With will constrained and rare,
And yet we have; these scanty prayers
Yield gold without alloy
O God, but he who trusts and dares
Must have a boundless joy!
Tell them that, until religion cease to be a burden, it is nothing,—until prayer cease to be a weariness, it is nothing. However difficult and however imperfect, the spirit must still rejoice in it.
From a weary laborer, worn with slavish and ineffectual toil, I had become as a little child receiving from God the free gift of eternal life and of daily sustenance; and prayer, from a weary spiritual exercise, had become the simple asking from the Heavenly Father of daily bread, and thanking Him.
Elizabeth Rundle Charles.
He will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when He shall hear it, He will answer thee.—Isaiah 30:19.
That was the Shepherd of the flock; He knew
The distant voice of one poor sheep astray;
It had forsaken Him, but He was true,
And listened for its bleating night and day.
And thou, fallen soul, afraid to live or die
In the deep pit that will not set thee free,
Lift up to Him the helpless homeward cry,
For all that tender love is seeking thee.
Anna L. Waring.
Our Divine Shepherd followed after His lost sheep for three and thirty years, in a way so painful and so thorny that He spilt His heart's blood and left His life there. The poor sheep now follows Him through obedience to His commands, or through a desire (though at times but faint) to obey Him, calling upon Him and beseeching Him earnestly for help; is it possible that He should now refuse to turn upon it His life-giving; look? Will He not give ear to it, and lay it upon His divine shoulders, rejoicing over it with all His friends and with the angels of Heaven? For if our Lord ceased not to search most diligently and lovingly for the blind and deaf sinner, the lost drachma of the Gospel, till He found it, how is it possible that He should abandon him who, as a lost sheep, cries and calls upon his Shepherd?
Be ye therefore followers of God as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God.—Ephesians 5:1, 2.
O joy supreme! I know the Voice,
Like none beside on earth or sea;
Yea, more, O soul of mine, rejoice,
By all that He requires of me,
I know what God Himself must be.
John G. Whittier.
Either there is a God supremely good, One whom His children may love and trust to the very uttermost point without the slightest fear of the reality falling short of the heart's desire, or else there is no God, no love, no forgiveness, no redress, God is wholly good, if good at all, and those who hope in Him will be wiser if they hope with all their hearts than if they hope with only half their hearts.
William R. Huntington.
As mighty and as wise as God is to save man, as willing He is. For Christ Himself is the ground of all the laws of Christian men; and He taught us to do good against evil. Here we may see that He is Himself this charity, and doth to us as He teacheth us to do: for He willeth that we be like Him in fulness of endless love.
We know what God is like because we know the character of Jesus Christ.
And when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.—Matthew 2:11.
Give yourselves anew to God and to God's service, and He will give you the desire and the power to open your treasures; to give to Him, it may be wealth, it may be time, it may be personal service, it may be life itself. In His store there is a place for all, for the tears of the penitent, the barley loaves of the child, the two mites of the widow, the savings of the Philippians' "deep poverty," as well as for Mary's ointment, for the land of Barnabas, for the gold and incense and myrrh of these Eastern sages. And if the vision of Christ be before his eyes, and the love of Christ be in his heart, the man of wealth will give his large offering, the man of learning his dear-bought knowledge, the man of business his hard-earned leisure, for the glory of God, for the benefit of his fellow-men, for the Church or for the poor; to feed the hungry, or to teach the ignorant, to help the struggling, or to guide the erring; and each gift will be welcomed by Him who gave Himself for us all, and who asks in return for ourselves as a living sacrifice to Him.
Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good.—Romans 15:2.
Let us consider one another.—Hebrews 10:24.
Look around you, first in your own family, then among your friends and neighbors, and see whether there be not some one whose little burden you can lighten, whose little cares you may lessen, whose little pleasures you can promote, whose little wants and wishes you can gratify. Giving up cheerfully our own occupations to attend to others is one of the little kindnesses and self-denials. Doing little things that nobody likes to do, but which must be done by some one, is another. It may seem to many, that if they avoid little un-kindnesses, they must necessarily be doing all that is right to their family and friends; but it is not enough to abstain from sharp words, sneering tones, petty contradiction, or daily little selfish cares; we must be active and earnest in kindness, not merely passive and inoffensive.
Little Things, 1852.
The labor of the baking was the hardest part of the sacrifice of her hospitality. To many it is easy to give what they have, but the offering of weariness and pain is never easy. They are indeed a true salt-to-salt sacrifices withal.
He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so He bringeth them unto their desired haven.—Psalm 107:29, 30.
As thou learnest this lesson, to carry all thy sorrows to God, and lie at thy Savior's feet, and spread thy grief before Him, thou wilt find a calm come over thee, thou knowest not whence; thou wilt see through the clouds a bright opening, small perhaps and quickly closed, but telling of eternal rest, and everlasting day, and of the depth of the Love of God. Thy heart will still rise and sink, but it will rise and sink, not restlessly, nor waywardly, not in violent gusts of passion; but resting in stillness on the bosom of the ocean of the Love of God, Then shalt thou learn, not to endure only patiently, but, in everything against thy will, humbly and quickly to see and to love the loving Will of God. Thy faith and thy love and thy hope will grow, the more thou seest the work of God with thee; thou will joy in thy sorrow, and thy sorrow will be turned into joy.
Edward B. Pusey.
In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.—Philippians 4:6, 7 (R. V.).
Just think of having His wonderful peace guarding one's heart and one's thoughts all day long. But it is only on condition that we fulfill the sixth verse, "In nothing be anxious,"—this is a distinct Command, and, if we fail to fulfill it, we shall not get the blessing. Sorrow even is anxiety, and should be laid upon our blessed Lord. Then in prayer and supplication we must not forget that thanksgiving is also distinctly commanded; we must praise God for His dealings with us, even though we cannot make them out at times. Pray God to make you cease from anxiety about yourself and your plans; just be willing to do the work our dear Father gives you at the time.
John Kenneth Mackenzie.
Oh, how great peace and quietness would he possess who should cut off all vain anxiety and place all his confidence in God.
Thomas Á Kempis.
I girded thee, though thou hast not known me.—Isaiah 45:5.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord; thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end.—Jeremiah 29:11.
thou knowest,—oh, the precious truth
That bids my soul be strong!
The care, the never weary care
That cannot lead me wrong!
There is a blessed end for me,
Whereon thine eyes are set;
Thou hast a comfort in Thy love,
Too great to show me yet,
Anna L. Waring.
No room for a discouraged or depressed feeling is left you. If your sphere is outwardly humble, if it even appears to be quite insignificant, God understands it better than you do, and it is a part of His wisdom to bring out great sentiments in humble conditions, great principles in works that are outwardly trivial, great characters under great adversities and heavy loads of encumbrance, Let it fill you with cheerfulness and exalted feeling, however deep in obscurity your lot may be, that God in leading you on, girding you for a work, preparing you for a good that is worthy of His divine magnificence. If God is really preparing us all to become that which is the very highest and best thing possible, there ought never to be a discouraged or uncheerful being in the world.