Day By Day BY Grace

May 20
The Power within Redeemed Earthen Vessels
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. (2Co_4:7)
In our previous meditation on this same verse, we saw that God has placed extraordinary heavenly treasure in ordinary earthen vessels. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels.” This is true of every person who has been redeemed by the blood of Christ. The Lord has arranged it this way so that the vessels (you and me) must rely upon the treasure (Jesus Christ), not upon ourselves: “that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” Also, this arrangement is to bring attention and glory to the Lord, not to the vessels.
The Lord is the treasure in the “clay pot” of our redeemed humanity. He is to be the “excellent power” in our lives. He is the one we are to trust in as our strength for daily living. When the battles grow fierce, trust in the Lord. “You have armed me with strength for the battle” (Psa_18:39). When we need patience or endurance, trust in the Lord: “Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering” (Col_1:11). When we need strength for our latter years, trust in the Lord. “The LORD has kept me alive . . . here I am this day, eighty-five years old . . . yet I am as strong this day as I was on the day that Moses sent me” (Jos_14:10-11). Even in times of extreme personal weakness, His strength can be especially apparent. “I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me . . . For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2Co_12:9-10).
The temptation is to trust in our “sturdy structure” (or in those who claim to be able to strengthen or reinforce weak vessels). Our personal resources will fail, but the Lord who dwells in our hearts will not fail. “My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psa_73:26). The world system with all of its impressive riches calls us to place our confidence in their resources. The Lord warns us that such misplaced trust becomes our downfall. “Woe to the rebellious children . . who . . . go down to Egypt . . . to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh . . . the strength of Pharaoh shall be your shame” (Isa_30:1-3).
We are to trust the Lord to be our strength. “The LORD is my strength and my shield” (Psa_28:7). Then, we are to give the Lord glory for the strength He supplies. “My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him” (Psa_28:7).
O Lord, the strength of my life, forgive me for relying upon myself and for looking to worldly resources. I want to place all of my trust in Jesus, the treasure who lives within me. May all glory be unto Him, in His mighty name, Amen.

May 20
“For a day in Thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the House of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” — Psa_84:10.
THIS PSALM has been a favourite with God’s people in all ages. When Carlyle was leaving, in doubt and despondency, his quiet mountain home at Craigenputtock for the untried tumult of London, he quoted this Psalm for comfort to his brother and himself, saying: “I turn my thoughts heavenwards, for it is in heaven only that I find any basis for our poor pilgrimage on earth. As surely as the blue dome of heaven encircles us all, so does the providence of the Lord of Heaven. ‘He will withhold no good thing from those that love Him.’ This, as it was the ancient Psalmist’s faith, let it likewise be ours. It is the Alpha and Omega, I reckon, of all the possessions that can belong to man.”
In absence and distance, the heart of the true believer turns to God. He believes that he has direct access to Him, and that his prayer will be accepted (Psa_84:8). David, as the anointed King, had the right to ask that God, who was his Shield, should look upon his face; but we have even a better plea, for we may ask that God would look upon the face of His own glorious and beloved Son, and accept us in Him (Psa_84:9).
Let us imitate the humility of this man, and be willing to take the lowest place (Luk_14:10-11); but we must be on our guard against being proud of our humility. Some people take the back seats that they may be asked to come to the front. They mistake the Lord’s words. It is said that there is always room at the top; it is equally true that there is plenty of room at the bottom; and if men and women will really gird themselves with a towel and wash the feet of the disciples, if they are prepared in the literal sense to be doorkeepers and to give themselves in service, they will be allowed to do their work with little praise save that of the King Himself.
To all such lowly souls God gives grace and glory (Psa_84:11). With both hands He will give and give again. Only we must practise the habit of taking. Grace is the bud of which Glory is the flower. If God has given the one, He will not withhold the other from. Psa_84:12). If anything is withheld from us, we may be sure that it is not absolutely for our good. No good thing will the Father withhold; but He will not give us scorpions, however beautiful their appearance; nor stones, though painted to resemble bread.
Teach us to abide with Thee in our daily calling, and to realise that each sphere may be a temple for priestly service. AMEN.

Devotional Sermons

May 20
Behold the Place: an Easter Message
Behold the place where they laid him — Mar_16:6
The Angel Kindly Compelled Them to Come and See
It was a kindly compulsion of the angel that bade the women come and see that place. They would bless him for it in the after-days. The story shows us that they were affrighted, a great dread fell upon their hearts. In hours when the unseen draws very near, such dread is natural to men and women. And these women, when they descried the angel, would be tempted to turn away and flee, in a kind of panic we can understand. It was to such affrighted souls the angel cried, “Come, behold the place where the Lord lay.” They must know for a certainty the place was empty. They must see with their own eyes He was not there. And we can well imagine how in the after-days, when they had to stand the brunt of cross-examination, they would be grateful for that compulsion of the angel. He was not gratifying their curiosity. He was giving them solid ground to rest on. He was giving them something definite and positive wherewith to face the questionings of others. Had they fled affrighted they could have borne no testimony save that the stone was rolled away. Now they could proclaim that He was risen. That was the import of the command for them. Has it any significance for us? Let us meditate a little upon that.
The Message of the Empty Grave: God Had Not Forsaken Jesus
When we behold the place where the Lord lay we realize that God had not forsaken Him. We recognize the faithfulness of God in the mysterious darkness of the tomb. On the Cross our blessed Lord had cried, “My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” There was a darkness on His Father’s face as He endured the agonies of Calvary. And then the shadows deepened, and the night encompassed Him, and they removed His body from the Cross, and laid it in the house appointed for all living. Was this the end of all that perfect fellowship? Had God forgotten to be gracious? Was He suffering His Holy One to see corruption, even though the grave was in a garden? Come, says the angel to our questioning hearts, behold the place where they laid Him. Had it been tenanted we might have cried, “It was a beautiful dream, but it is over now.” All that He lived for, all that He came to do, has been flouted by the irony of death. But if the place be empty, when men have done their worst, and carried Him from Calvary to the tomb, then God is present even in the darkness. He has not forsaken His beloved Son. He has justified His claims and sealed His testimony. He has crowned with His divine approval that life of beauty and that death of sacrifice. We hear God saying in that empty grave, as clearly as at the hour of baptism, “This is my beloved Son.”
Death Is Conquered
Again, when we behold the place where the Lord lay we realize that death is conquered. The last great enemy is overcome, and the power of the grave is broken. Still death has a dark and awful shadow. Sooner or later it knocks at every door. It touches the fairest flowers and they wither. It robs us of dear ones who made life like music. But the empire of death is now a broken empire, one day to be finally destroyed, because Christ our representative is risen. He is the second Adam. He is the Son of Man. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. He wore a crown of thorns as we all do. He passed into the silence of the grave. And if death was powerless to hold Him, and had to give Him up and let Him go, there steals on the ear the distant triumph song. What a victory it would have been for death if he could have held in his grip that second Adam! How he must have summoned all his powers to keep watch and ward over that peerless Prisoner. And then the angel, sitting in calm confidence, says to our shadowed human hearts, “Come, behold the place where the Lord lay.” He is not here; He is risen. The tyranny of death is broken. The Son of Man has proved too mighty for him, because the Son of Man is Son of God. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
We Have a Living Friend
Lastly, when we behold the place where the Lord lay we realize that we have a living friend. He meets us as He met Mary in the garden, and as He joined the two on the Emmaus road. Memories are exquisitely precious. They enrich and deepen every life. They touch with beauty the commonest of scenes and set their hallowing on homeliest places. But for the battle of life and for our daily guidance we need more than the most sacred memories: we need the presence of a living friend. We need somebody who understands us, who has been tempted in all points like as we are, who has traveled the rough road our feet must take, who is ready to sympathize and to forgive. And it is then that the angel shines on us, as he shone on the women in the garden, saying, “Come, behold the place where the Lord lay.” Look at it. It is empty. Life is going to have more than memories. He who lay in the grave has left the grave, to be the very same Jesus to the end. Closer than breathing, nearer than hands or feet; with us, living, to share our very life. “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”