Devotional Sermons

February 13
The Searching of God
“O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.” Psa_139:1
We are prone to associate the searching work of God with events of a striking or memorable kind. It is in great calamities and overwhelming sorrow that we feel with particular vividness God’s presence. When Job was in the enjoyment of prosperity, he was an eminently reverent man; but it was in the hour of his black and bitter midnight that he cried out, “The hand of God hath touched me.” And that same spirit dwells in every breast so that God’s searching comes to be associated with hours when life is shaken to its depths. Now the point to be noted is that in this psalm the writer is not thinking of such hours. There is no trace that he has suffered terribly or been plunged into irreparable loss. “Thou knowest my downsitting and my uprising”—my usual, ordinary, daily life—it was there that the psalmist recognized the searching; it was there that he awoke to see that he was known. And as the psalmist’s, so our effort must be to try to discover how in our usual round, in the downsitting and uprising of our days, God searches us and shows us to ourselves.
The Passing of Time
In the first place, we are searched and known by the slow and steady passing of the years. There is a revealing power in the flight of time just because time is the minister of God. In heaven there will be no more time; there will be no more need of any searching ministry. There we shall know even as we are known, in the burning and shining of the light of God. But here, where the light of God is dimmed and broken, we are urged forward through the course of years, and the light of passing time achieves on earth what the light of the Presence will achieve in glory.
He is a wise father who knows his child, but he is a wiser child who knows himself. Untested by actual contact with the world, as children we dream our dreams in the sunshine of the morning. And then comes life with all its harsh reality and the changes of the years, and we turn around on the swift flight of time and say, “O Lord, thou hast searched me and known me.” We may not have suffered anything profound, we may not have achieved anything splendid. Our life may have moved along in quiet routine, not outwardly different from the lives of thousands. Yet however dull and uneventful, God has so ordered the flight of time for us that we know far more about ourselves now than we knew in the dawn of our morning. Brought into touch with duty and fellowmen, we have begun to see our limitations. We know in a measure what we cannot do, and thank God, we know in a measure what we can do. And underneath it all we have discerned the side of our nature which leans towards heaven, and the other side on which there is the door that opens to the filthiness of hell. It doesn’t take any terrible experience to learn our power and weaknesses. Each single day which makes up the passing years, slowly and inevitably shows it. So by the pressure of evolving time—and it is not we, but God, who so evolves it—for better or for worse we come to say “O Lord, thou hast searched me and hast known me.”
Our Responsibilities Test Us
Then also, God searches us by the responsibilities He lays upon us, for it is in our duties that the true self is searched and known. Think of those servants in the parable who got the talents. Could you have gauged their character before they got the talents? Were they not all respectable and honest and seemingly worthy of their master’s confidence? But to one of the servants the master gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, and what distinguished and revealed each one was the use they made of that responsibility. They were not searched by what they had to suffer; the servants were searched by what they had to do. They were revealed by what their master gave and by the use they made of what they got.
And so, I take it, it is with all of us to whom God has given a task, a job, a talent—it is not only a gift to bless our neighbor; it is a gift to reveal us to ourselves. It is not always the greatest jobs that make the greatest demands on a man. It is sometimes harder to be second than first, and sometimes harder to be third than second. In the important jobs there is a certain glow, and generally a cloud of witnesses to cheer us on; but in the humbler jobs there is nothing of that. Great services reveal our possibilities; small services reveal our consecration, calling for patience and rigorous fidelity and the power that can endure through dreary days. So by the daily work we have to do and the task that is given us of God, we are tested in the whole range of manhood. There are no temptations more subtle or insistent than those that meet a man within his calling. There are no victories so quietly rewarding as those that are won within one’s daily work.
Details
God also has a way of searching us by lifting our eyes from the detail to the whole. He sets the detail in its true perspective, and seeing it thus, we come to see ourselves. You know how the writer of this psalm proceeds: “Thou knowest my downsitting and my uprising,” he says. These are details, little particular actions, the unconsidered events of every day. But the writer does not stop with these details—he passes on to the survey of his life: “Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.”
You will remember that it was through details that Christ revealed the Samaritan woman to herself. She had been hiding her guilt from her own eyes by busying herself in the details of the day. And then came Jesus with His enlarged vision in which the days are all parts of the one life, and in the eyes of Christ she saw herself because she saw the details as a whole. “Come, see a man,” she went and cried, “who told me all things that ever I did.” Actually, it was an exaggeration, for Christ had not spoken to her very long. But when you get down to the spirit of the words, you never think of their exaggeration for they reveal the way that Jesus took in searching her and showing her to herself. He would not let her hide in the detail; He wanted her to have a vision of the whole. He wanted to show her what her life was like when looked at closely. And so this woman was searched and self-revealed through detail in its true perspective, and her conscience, which had long been slumbering, awoke.
I think that is often the way the Lord deals with you and me. We are all prone to be blinded by details so that we scarcely realize what we are doing. There are lines of behavior which we would never take, if we only realized all that they meant. There are habits and certain sins to which we would never yield if we only saw them in their vile completeness. But the present is so tyrannical and sweet and the action of the hour is so absorbing, that we cannot see the forest for the trees, nor see ahead the path that we are taking.
We often say when looking back upon our sufferings, “We wonder how we ever could have borne it.” One secret of our bearing it was that we only suffered one moment at a time. And in looking back upon our foolish past, we sometimes say, “How could we have ever done it!”; and one secret of our doing it was that we only acted one moment at a time. When a man is dimly conscious that he is wrong, he has a strange ability to forget yesterday. When a man is hurrying to fulfill his passion, he shuts his ears to the call of tomorrow. And the work of God is to revive that yesterday and tear the curtain from the sad tomorrow and show a man his action of today set in the general story of his life. Sometimes He does it through sickness; sometimes in a quiet hour such as this. Sometimes He does it in a mysterious way by the immediate working of the Holy Ghost. But when He does it, then we know ourselves and see things as they are, and we are ashamed. Only then we can cry with David, “O Lord, thou hast searched me and known me.”
Seeing Ourselves in Another’s Life
We may never know ourselves until we see ourselves divested of all the trappings of self-love. It was thus, you remember, that He dealt with David when David had sinned so terribly. For all the depth and the grandeur of his character, David was strangely blind to his own guilt. But then came Nathan with his touching story of the man who had been robbed of his ewe lamb, and all that was best in David was afire at the abhorrent action of that robber.
Has God ever shown you your own heart like that, in drawing the curtain from some other heart? That, you know, is your story, your temptation, your sin in all its strength and sweetness. But ah, how very different it looks now when there is no self-love to plead for it and shield it, when there is no hand to weave excuses for it such as we make so quickly for ourselves. You thought that in yourself it was romance; but in another you see it as being disgraceful. You thought that in you it might be easily understood, yet in another it appears despicable. So in the mirror of another life God shows us what we do and what we are, and, seeing it, what can we do but cry, “O Lord, thou hast searched me and known me.”
New Influences
Someone may enter the circuit of our being, and the light they bring illuminates ourselves. We are all prone ordinarily to settle down into a dull routine. The vision of the highest fades away from us, and we go forward without any worthwhile ambition. Our feelings lose their freshness and zest, and we are no longer eager and strenuous as we once were. We become content with far lower levels of achievement now than would have contented us in earlier days. All this may come upon a man, and come so gradually, that he hardly notices all that he has lost. His spiritual life has grown so dull and dead that prayer is a mockery and joy is flown. Then we meet someone whom we have not seen for years, one who has wrestled heavenward against storm and tide—and in that moment we realize it all. Nothing is said to blame or rebuke us. The influence lies deeper than speech. Nothing is done to make us feel ashamed. We may be welcomed with the old warmth of friendship, but there is something in that nobler life suddenly brought into contact with our own that touches the conscience and shows us to ourselves and quickens us to a shame that is medicinal. It is often so when the friend is a human friend. It is always so when the friend is Jesus Christ. “Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man”—the very coming of Christ searches and sifts. But the joy is that if He comes to search, He also comes in all His love to save; and He will never leave us nor forsake us, till the need of searching is gone forever.

Our Daily Walk e- Sword Study Bible

February 13
GOD’S PARTNERSHIP WITH MAN
“Come now, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh And God said, I AM THAT I AM: Thus shall thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” — Exo_3:10-14.
NOTHING IS more needed to-day than God’s Partnership as a realised fact in Christian experience. Many of us may assent to what is written in these lines, and then put it aside, as a dream which is too ethereal to be of practical service. But when the Apostle said that “our fellowship, i.e. our partnership, is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” it is surely meant that we should enter upon our inheritance. “I AM… ” says our great Partner; “fill in your need, and I will meet your demand, according to the riches of My glory in Christ Jesus.” Let us tear out the order-forms from God’s service-register, fill them up, and present them for delivery. Not one of them would be dishonoured. And if it happened that we had wrongly diagnosed our need, He would erase the demand based on our imperfect knowledge, and substitute what we would ask if we knew. There is nothing more certain than that the more we ask of God, the more pleased He is to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think.
Our Lord made use of this incident when He was challenged by the Sadducees to adduce proof of the future life from the Books of Moses. He answered by quoting this paragraph of the burning bush, calling special attention to the fact that Moses referred to God as the “God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob.” He said that the use of the present tense—I AM—proved that God is not the God of the dead but of the living, and that all live unto Him.
What a comfort there is in this thought, that our beloved who have passed from us are in-breathing the same atmosphere as we are. We all eat the same spiritual meat and all drink the same spiritual drink. We see in a mirror darkly, but they face to face; but this identity of fellowship, of partnership with the “I AM,” the ever-present God who fills heaven and earth, is a proof and a pledge that they have not altered essentially. They are drinking of the same stream higher up and nearer its source: “One family we dwell in him.”
PRAYER
Accomplish thy perfect work in our souls, O Father. As yet we are bound with many chains; we tarry among things seen and temporal, we are exposed to the storms of the outer world, and are wrestling with its ills. But we are not dismayed, for we are more than earth and dust, we are akin to Thee, O Spirit of the Lord, and can experience Thy heavenly influence. Fill us with faith and love and hope. AMEN.

Day By Day By Grace e-Sword Study Bible

February 13
Once More on Grace and Spiritual Fruit
He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit . . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering . . . . (Gal_5:22-23 and Php_1:11)
As the Holy Spirit works the grace of God in our hearts, the various aspects of spiritual fruit are manifested through us. “The fruit of the Spirit is . . . kindness.” Kindness is moral goodness and integrity conveyed toward others. It includes showing concern and consideration to people, desiring not to offend them. “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another” (Eph_4:31-32).
“The fruit of the Spirit is . . . goodness.” Goodness is quite similar to the preceding term, kindness. The additional perspectives contained in goodness would be acts of generosity and beneficence. This somewhat repetitious concept indicates the high priority that God places upon our treatment of others.
“The fruit of the Spirit is . . . faithfulness.” Faithfulness embodies responsibility and loyalty. It also comprises reliability and consistency. “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1Co_4:2).
“The fruit of the Spirit is . . . gentleness.” Gentleness is explained by such terms as meekness and lowliness. Such quality of character takes on special significance when we recall these words of Jesus. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Mat_11:29).
“The fruit of the Spirit is . . . self-control.” Self-control is a fascinating subject, because it is not what it seems to be at first. Natural human thinking would assume it refers to self keeping self under control. Such a description would have to be listed under the previous verses pertaining to “the works of the flesh” (Gal_5:19). Here, it describes the Spirit of God maintaining control over our lives.
When we reflect upon the fruit of the Spirit, the character of Christ typically comes to mind. This is appropriate, since godly fruit comes to us through the presence of Jesus in our lives. “Being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” When we depend upon the Holy Spirit, He imparts the life of Jesus, our true vine, into and through our experience. The character of Christ is then seen in us. Consequently, all glory and praise goes to God!
Dear Lord Jesus, how I long to be more like You. I can easily be selfish, inconsistent, or out of control. I see that only Your Holy Spirit working in me can bring the necessary fruit. Lord, I pray, work deeply in me by Your irreplaceable grace, for Your glory and praise, Amen.