Day By Day

by

Vance Havner

January

January 1.
This Is the Day!

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24.

The psalmist does not mean some special day or holiday nor must we limit this to Sunday or some rare occasion. Any day and every day is the day which the Lord hath made. Therefore any day and every day is the day in which to rejoice and be glad. All days are not alike. Some days are more troublesome than others. But the most troublesome may be the most triumphant.

New Year's Day has a bad reputation because it is the birthday of so many resolutions that die in infancy! It is not the day that is so important but the God who made it. Any day is somebody's birthday, and every day really begins a new year. The God who made them all is the Great I Am and lives in a timeless Now. Any day you can begin a new life in Him. "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (II Cor. 6:2).

And every day you can know Him better, for He is "the same today" (Heb. 13:8).

January 2.
Paul's Calendar

I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. II Timothy 1:12.

Someone has said that Paul's calendar had only two days, "today" and "that day." The man who is ready for that day is ready for any day. But we need to wear our spiritual bifocals and see both days. Some of the saints are near-sighted. Some are far-sighted. Paul may have had trouble with his physical eyes, but he had no spiritual astigmatism. He had good bifocals; he saw the near and the far.

Do not busy yourself today with "wood, hay, stubble," and fail to build with "gold, silver, precious stones" against that day. For "the day shall declare it," and some lives will go up in smoke!

On the other hand, do not so contemplate eternity that you waste today. Some people think they are Mystics when they are only Mistakes!

"Today if ye will hear his voice" (Heb. 4.7).

January 3.
How to Keep Fresh

We preach not ourselves but Christ Jesus the Lord. II Corinthians 4:5.

Make Jesus Christ your theme! I have seen preachers espouse causes and champion movements, and when the cause died and the movement collapsed, the preacher vanished too. But the man who glories in Christ never grows stale. Jesus Christ is perennial and he who makes his boast in Him stays forever fresh. He shall bring forth his fruit in his season, his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

How long it takes us to learn that the issue is simply Jesus! We read books and feel that the magic word is sure to appear on the next page, but it doesn't. We read biography, but we cannot live on secondhand experience. We try to work up visions and ecstasies of our own, but even if we succeed the glory fades. At last we arrive where we should have started, to learn that

Once it was the blessing;

Now it is the Lord.

It is all Jesus. Why not start at center and work out instead of starting on the circumference and working in? "By him all things consist." Stand at the Hub and all the spokes are yours!

January 4.
"Them Twain"

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Matthew 7:21.

We are constantly seeing living examples of "them twain," the two sons in our Saviour's parable (Mt. 21:28- 32). One said, "I will not," but later went. The other said, "I go, Sir," but never went. We have seen some stubborn cases surprise everybody and become obedient servants. Alas, we have seen some walk down church aisles and make a fine show of consecration who never show up in the vineyard. They hear the Word and anon with joy receive it but have no root in themselves and are soon offended.

I am not too elated over your youngster with a chestful of medals and a head full of memory verses. He may volunteer for foreign missions, give a ringing testimony—and never show up in the vineyard. Nor am I too depressed over your headstrong chap who stands adamant while others yield. Young Saul did that for a while.

I am not discrediting the medals, the memory verses and the testimony on the one hand, nor minimizing stubbornness on the other. But the final test of "them twain" in our Saviour's story, as well as in the text for the day, is not saying "Lord, Lord," but doing the Father's will.

January 5.
Do What You Can

She hath done what she could. Mark 14:8.

He had found a little box in the attic. With his crayons he had tried to make it more presentable. Inside he had placed a cut-out Santa Claus and a larger Santa of his own drawing. He had scrawled "Season's Greetings" for a touch of dignity. Then he had wrapped it in a manner all his own, with plenty of seals all over and a big yellow ribbon tied all around.

It wouldn't bring much on sale, but no one could buy it from me, because it was the expression of a little boy's love and, oh, so welcome!

He had done what he could. Which sets me thinking of the woman who anointed Jesus. "She hath done what she could." Do not let not being able to do it better keep you from doing what you can. Bring to the Saviour such as you have, the best you have, all you have. He will receive it. It may seem a poor little thing to others, but if it is the love gift of your heart, it will be precious in His sight.

Do what you can.

January 6.
Christ or Antichrist

He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. Matthew 12:30.

After all is said and done, the real issue today, as always, is Christ or Antichrist. We try to move the focal point elsewhere, but here is where the battle rages. And if Christ is the issue, then for us the supreme matter is (1) to became a Christian; (2) to become a better Christian daily; (3) to help other Christians to be better Christians, and (4) to help those who are not Christians to become Christians. We gather with Him, or we scatter abroad.

This is our real "program," faith in Christ, fellowship with Christ, faithfulness to Christ, fruitfulness for Christ. It simplifies life to one thing, just to be a Christian, a believer in Christ, a follower of Christ, a witness of Christ.

Anything less is not enough. Anything more is too much. "With me"—there is our position; "gathering"—there is our practice. "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men." Following and fishing!

Are you Christian or Antichristian?

January 7.
Come for Yourself

Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out. John 6:37.

Various "rules" and "steps" have been proposed for seekers after salvation, the filling of the Spirit, guidance and other experiences of the Christian life. Sometimes they confuse more than they clarify. No two experiences are alike. We tend to make a norm of our own and force it upon others. Coming to Jesus is a personal matter, not a dry business procedure. Nobody ever fell in love by reading books on how to fall in love. We meet someone, associate with someone, and either fall in love or not fall in love. There are, indeed, certain conditions that must be met in a personal knowledge of Christ, but it is more like falling in love than a cold business deal. There is a sense of need, a drawing near, a fellowship that ripens with the years. The expressions and manifestations vary with different types and temperaments. Do not try to imitate a made-to-order experience handed down from someone else. He invites you to come as you are and know Him for yourself.

January 8.
Report or Reality?

But him they saw not. Luke 24:24.

The Emmaus disciples had the testimony of the women, the angels and other disciples, but, like these other disciples, they had not seen the risen Lord Himself to know Him. Something had happened. Jesus was not in the grave. But they had not seen Him.

There is a lot of talk about the ressurection that gets no farther than that. Something happened. The grave is empty. But there is lacking the vibrant witness, "We have seen the Lord!"

Much is said about the return of Christ that lacks the warmth of His person. We discuss the program of events, what is going to happen, "but him we see not."

That goes for all the great truths about Him. We tell what others have said. We discuss the matter. But Him we see not. Our eyes are holden. A few minutes later these Emmaus disciples were not like the same persons. They had a glowing testimony, and as they related it He appeared again! His resurrection was no longer a Report but a Reality!

January 9.
That All May Know

The Lord knoweth them that are his. II Timothy 2:19.

We know that we are of God. I John 5:19.

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13:35.

God knows his own. It is well that He does, for sometimes it would be difficult for us to determine who are His! Heaven will surprise us both ways.

We can know that we are His. The little book of First John is full of "know-so" evidence, to say nothing of plenty more elsewhere.

And others know by the badge of love. Not tongues nor faith nor prophecy nor knowledge nor martyrdom nor philanthropy, but love is the Christian's mark of distinction. How we cultivate all the others and fail here!

All may know that we are His. God knows, we know others may know. It is a "Know-so" faith.

January 10.
His Place for You

But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. I Corinthians 12:11.

When a famous preacher arises, swaying the crowds, one by-product is that some of his contemporaries begin to imagine that they must be out of God's will or not filled with the Spirit because they are not achieving similar results. But God is sovereign. He chooses men for special tasks, and if one hits the headlines, that is no reflection on the host of unknowns. The Spirit divideth severally as He will. A country preacher ministering to two hundred people may be as Spirit-filled to his capacity as was Moody.

Moody had around him many lesser lights who helped him in his work, who filled their orbits as well as he filled his. And what would the "big" preacher do without the help of the "small fry"?

Seek neither more nor less than God's will for you. Do not compare yourself with men above or below you in station, lest you be depressed or exalted.

Simply find His place for you and happily serve Him there. Anywhere He puts you is a "large place"!

January 11.
Sand Ob Seed

Faith as a grain of mustard seed. Matthew 17:20.

If you would develop a living faith, not like a grain of sand but like a grain of seed, do not read too many books on faith. One dear brother will tell you that you must agonize and strive to enter, while another would have you "take it by faith." Both are right: you must mean business and be in dead earnest, but beyond that you must, like Hudson Taylor, quit working at your faith and rest in the Faithful One.

Books on faith are colored by the author's temperament, theology, experience, style of expression. You can become more concerned about the quantity and quality of your faith than about its object. You never will get your experience to suit you. You will never pray just as you want to, or feel or preach or live just as you want to. Perfection if. found only in Him.

Real faith stops studying itself and is occupied with Him. Quit digging in the ashes of your poor heart for satisfaction. Consider Him—not your faith—"lest ye be weary and faint in your minds."

January 12.
"The Good Old Days"

Where is the Lord God of Elijah? II Kings 2:14.

Elisha did not ask for the return of Elijah or sigh for the good old days of Elijah. Some of us are like Saul trying to call up departed Samuels. "What would Moody do today? Oh, for the times we used to have!"

A subscriber wrote to a magazine editor, "Your magazine is not as good as it used to be." The editor replied, "It never has been." The times have never been as good as they used to be! The Early Church, fresh from Pentecost, had barely started, when "there arose a murmuring." Look at Corinth! Don't forget Ananias and Sapphira, the Galatians and Colossians, Euodia and Syntyche, the plight of Ephesus, Sardis, Laodicea. It has always been so, yet God has carried on.

Looking back to the good old days is not the way out. Looking up to the God of All the Days is.

Elijah goes, but "thou, O Lord, remainest."

January 13.
Stopping Short of God

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is. Psalm 63:1.

Any spiritual exercise that stops short of God Himself stops far too short. We can become taken up with the means and forget the end. Our Bible reading may bring us profit and we may lay down the Book with a comfortable sense of duty well performed, but does the heart say, "Beyond the sacred page, I seek Thee, Lord"? Prayer is but a means to an end: we may get a secret satisfaction out of praying that makes prayer only an end in itself. "Early will I seek thee"—that is true prayer. "Now thee alone I seek, give what is best." Faith has no value save as it links us with God. Yet we often become taken up with our faith and miss God entirely.

Feelings, experiences, meditation, reading, church attendance, with all these we may stop short of God, finding some satisfaction but letting the good rob us of the best—Himself. The Psalmist said, "My soul thirsteth... my flesh longeth for thee." Only God can meet the need of the whole man.

January 14.
"Come and Drink"

My soul thirsteth. Psalm 63:1.

If any man thirst... John 7:37.

"But how can my thirsting soul find God? He is too abstract, I can form no mental picture of Him. How can I drink of the Living Water?"

That is why Jesus came. In Him the Word became flesh. No man comes to the Father but by Him, and whosoever comes to Him will in no wise be cast out.

"If any man thirst, let Him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, from within him shall flow rivers of living water." Thirsting, coming, drinking, believing, overflowing—the thirsting soul comes and receives and believes that it has received (Mk. 11:24). The overflowing is a natural—a supernatural—consequence—"shall flow."

A little tenement child in a hospital, presented with a large glass of cool, rich milk, asked hesitantly, "How deep may I drink?" Drink deeply of the Living Water!

"Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters."

January 15.
Fruit of the Land

How long are ye slack to possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers giveth you? Joshua 18:3.

We ought not stand on Jordan's stormy banks casting a wishful eye to Canaan's fair and happy land, where our possessions lie. "Dwelling in Beulah Land" is possible here and now. Living in Canaan may be a fact today.

It is also a fight, the fight of faith, as we follow our Joshua, the Captain of our salvation and "possess our possessions."

And there will be fruit. "This is the fruit of it," said the spies (Num. 13:27). "The fruit of the Spirit" it is today (Gal. 5:22, 23). Alas, so many are still in the wilderness, longing for garlic instead of grace, melons instead of manna!

The best advertisement of the land is the fruit of it. Where are your milk and honey? Men will believe the fact when from the fight you bring the fruit.

January 16.
Revival—or Else

Thou hast left thy first love. Revelation 2:4.

In the course of history, Christianity periodically clutters up with its own projects and paraphernalia. Then God raises up a new fellowship of fresh Christians somewhere, all aglow in simple faith and obedience. Sometimes this happens in a local church, either when the old crowd has a revival or there is a blood transfusion of new converts.

In individual experience we tend to get away from our first love, not always into false doctrine or worldly living, but, like the saints at Ephesus, while still orthodox and busy at church work.

Happy is the man who can go deeply into profound doctrine or multiplied activities and yet not lose the warmth of simple faith and love. How to maintain the glow of our early love for Christ amidst all the complexities of today and not lose the best amongst the good is a major matter. How to delve deeply into the mysteries of God and still be just a simple Christian; how to work hard in involved labors of the church and yet be just a humble believer is a supreme concern.

If you have left your first love, the way back is Remember, Repent, Repeat. Our Lord offers a grievous alternative... Removal. It is Revival—or else.

January 17.
Are You "in Love"?

Neither cold nor hot. Revelation 3:16.

Let us pursue further our thought of yesterday. While we cry out against liberalism and loose living, are we not blind to the peril of lukewarmness? What was once a boiling passion for Christ becomes tepid and mild. We sing the same songs, recite the same Scriptures, perchance preach the same sermons as before, but we are like the fountains sometimes seen in public parks with water gushing from mouths that never taste it. We are salt without savour. We traffic in unfelt truth.


In vain we sing our formal songs,

In vain we strive to rise;

Hosannas languish on our tongues

And our devotion dies.


The church has no greater need today than to fall in love with Jesus all over again. Call it what you will, we need a heart-warming. There is a world of difference between studying books on love and falling in love. We are going through the motions without the motive.

A few Christians desperately in love with Christ mean more than a host of indifferent church members whose Christianity has become just another "big business" of committees and budgets and programs.

January 18.
God has No Grandchildren

To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin. James 4:17.

Gibbon describes the degeneration of Christianity under the Greek scholars of the 10th century, who handled the literature and spoke the language of the spiritual but knew not the life: "They held in their lifeless hands the riches of their fathers without inheriting the spirit which had created and imparted that sacred patrimony. They read; they praised; they compiled; but their languid souls seemed alike incapable of thought and action."

The Pharisees of Jesus' day handled the things of God, read the Scriptures, faithfully kept the letter of the law, were painstakingly separated from sinners. But the publicans and harlots went into the Kingdom before them.

To have grown up in a Christian home and in a church, early fluent in the speech of the Kingdom, familiar with its subjects and observing its practices, yet never a citizen, produces a type of sinner often harder to awaken than the most ignorant heathen. Truth long heard and not acted upon means awful self-deception (James 1:22).

Second generations do not inherit salvation. God has no grandchildren.

January 19.
Included in the Ticket

He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Romans 8:32.

It is an old story of the ship passenger who lived on crackers and cheese all the way across the ocean only to learn that his meals were included in his ticket.

Our salvation includes more than pardon from sin, deliverance from hell and a ticket to heaven. It includes all that we shall need on our journey. Sin has been dealt with in the Son, but Jesus is not only our Saviour, He is our Sustenance and Supply. We are not to subsist on our own crackers and cheese. "All things are yours." Indeed, the supreme thing is that God spared not His own Son but delivered Him up for us all. That is the message of Calvary. But God has also freely given us all things in the gift of His Son. Our assurance, sanctification, peace, joy, wisdom, all that we need for body, mind and spirit to do God's will, a new body at the resurrection, eternal life in heaven, all this is "included in the ticket."

What a "ticket," bought at the purchase price of God's own Son! Throw away your crackers and cheese! You have a right to eat in the Main Dining Room!

January 20.
"Yes" and "No"

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. James 4:7.

A well-known writer says that this verse means, "Say, 'Yes,' to God and, 'No,' to the devil. It is useless to try to resist the devil without first submitting to God. The devil is too strong for us. Victory begins with surrender—to God, But, on the other hand, we are to follow submission to God with resisting the devil. "The battle is the Lord's," but we are not machines, we must put our wills on God's side and say, "No," to the enemy. We fight with spiritual weapons, but we still fight, and there is not only passive submission but active resistance.

Some make the mistake of mere submission without a positive stand against the tempter. Others resist without submission, and the devil does not flee. It is a double-barreled admonition. It is a clear-cut call to "Yes" and "No."

"Let your speech be Yea, yea; Nay, nay."

January 21.
What Kind of Faith?

According to your faith be it unto you. Matthew 9:29.

"Do I have the right kind of faith?" Dr. Biederwolf used to say, "If you have any faith at all, you may be sure it is the right kind." Do not waste time taking your faith apart and putting it back together. Do not expect saving faith to be some strange, different kind. You believe in Christ with faith like the faith you use when you trust someone or something else. It is the object that makes the difference.

If you have any uncertainty about the matter, come to a definite decision. Trust Christ now. It may help you to put down the time and place. You must have confidence in the decision and consider it settled. But do not confuse faith in your faith with faith in the Saviour. Faith has no value of its own, it has value only as it connects us with Him.

It is a trick of Satan to get us occupied with examining our faith instead of resting in the Faithful One. Go to Him just as you are as best you know. Him that cometh He will not cast out.

January 22.
Wine or Vinegar?

Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart. Jeremiah 15:16.

McLaren speaks of the "perverse ingenuity... of that state of mind in which some manage to distil for themselves a bitter vinegar of self-accusation out of grand words in the Bible that were meant to afford them but the wine of gladness and of consolation."

The Spirit does indeed use the Word to convict the guilty and uneasy conscience, but, on the other hand, the Accuser may so beset us that Scriptures meant to give us assurance may but make us miserable. The devil is the author of a false confidence but he also generates a false diffidence, so that we get vinegar out of what should be wine to our souls.

If you have definitely committed all you are and have to God, do not be afraid to enjoy the wine of the Word. Do not cultivate a perverted taste that distils vinegar instead.

January 23.
Second Adam

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. I Corinthians 15:22.

We are all children of the first Adam. He fell and to this day we suffer the consequences. Sin, disease, death, all the corruptions and frailties of the body, mind and spirit, we inherit from our father, the first man of the earth, earthy.

But God started a new race with His Son from heaven. To as many as receive Him to them gives He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name. Read Romans 5 for a glorious picture of the two Adams.

Here is the true superrace of sons of God whose citizenship is in heaven. We still carry the marks of Adam's fall, and our bifocals and bridges and baldness and all our frailties bear witness that we are his offspring. But from the day we believe, we begin a new life which shall discard this shell for a new body at the resurrection. Our New Adam is perfect, and all we need here and hereafter is found in Him. We can reign in life now by Christ Jesus.