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Mornings and Evenings with Jesus
Devotional: November 30th
If any man serve me, let him follow me. - John 12:26.
THAT is, let him be in reality what he professes to be. Let him not serve me in word and in tongue only, but also in deed and in truth. Let him “follow me,” that as my servant he shall be distinguished by coming after me, by which he will promote my glory, advance my cause, and “adorn the doctrine of God his Saviour in all things.” A servant is always to be within his master’s call, and in a state of readiness to attend upon his orders; he is chiefly distinguished by devotedness to his master’s pleasure. “His servants ye are to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness.”
Now, to “follow Christ” is to observe his precepts, imbibe his spirit, and to imitate his example. These are indispensable. It is said of the Saviour that “he began both to do and to teach:” he went before his disciples in all that he enforced upon them. Does he command us to be holy in all manner of conversation? “He was holy, harmless, separate from sinners.” Does he command us to be humble? “He was meek and lowly in heart;” he washed his disciples’ feet; he said, “I am among you as one that serveth.” Does he command us “to do good and to communicate”? “He went about doing good.” He it was that said, “Give alms of such things as ye possess.” It was he “who loved us and gave himself for us.” Who requires us to be fervent in spirit? It is he who said, “The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.” Who orders us to be patient and forgiving? It is he “who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; who, when he suffered, murmured not, but committed himself to him who judgeth righteously;” he who prayed for his persecutors, saying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
His example, therefore, was the law and the gospel in a living and an embodied form. It is a body of theology and morality itself, and is recorded for this very purpose; “and he that saith he abideth in the truth ought himself also so to walk even as he walked;” for “as is the heavenly, so are they also that are heavenly,” and, “beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. - Psalms 92:12.
HERE we may observe how the righteous shall flourish. The image by which this is set forth is sometimes taken from human life. We read in the family of God of little children, young men, and fathers. We read of our coming to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. Sometimes it is taken from animal life; it is said that those “upon whom the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings shall go forth like calves of the stall.” Sometimes the image is taken from vegetable life. “They shall grow as the vine; they shall revive as the corn;” “they shall spring up as willows by the water-courses;” and as it is here, they “shall flourish like the palm-tree”; they shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.”
It is unnecessary to inquire why the palm-tree and the cedar are selected. It is sufficient to know that these trees are beautiful in their growth and form, and very fruitful, and both of them are evergreens: the cedar gives strong and sweetly scented timber; and in addition to this the palm-tree yields an abundance of fruit (dates); sometimes as much as a hundred-weight is found upon one tree. Let us just notice this in contrast with a preceding verse of the Psalm, “When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish, it is that they shall be destroyed for ever.” They flourish as “the grass which to-day is and to-morrow is cast into the fire.” But the righteous flourish as “cedars and palm trees.”
We have the same contrast in another Psalm, and in reference to another image: “The man,” says David, “whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and in whose law he doth meditate day and night, is like a tree planted by rivers of water. The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand.” But the grand thing to be derived from this image is this, that there is a real and active progressiveness in religion; that though the Christian’s principles and faculties at present are all imperfect, yet they are growing and shall advance to maturity.
This progressiveness is to be considered as a Christian’s duty, desire, and privilege. It is his duty; therefore it is often enjoined upon him, “Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, etc. It is his desire, therefore, “forgetting the things that are behind, he is reaching forth to the things that are before.” Therefore his prayer, “Strengthen that which thou hast wrought for us;” “perfect the work which concerneth us;” “forsake not the work of thy hands.” It is his privilege, and therefore it is provided for him. For “it hath pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell, and from this fulness we have received, and grace for grace.”
Therefore it is said, “The righteous shall hold on his way.” “The Lord will give grace and glory, and no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”
the First Week of Advent
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