Your Crown of Glory

“They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb . . . and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Rev. 12:11).

When James and John came to Christ with their mother, asking Him to give them the best place in the kingdom, He did not refuse their request, but told them it would be given to them if they could do His work, drink His cup, and be baptized with His baptism.

Do we want the competition? The greatest things are always hedged about by the hardest things, and we, too, shall find mountains and forests and chariots of iron. Hardship is the price of coronation. Triumphal arches are not woven out of rose blossoms and silken cords, but of hard blows and bloody scars. The very hardships that you are enduring in your life today are given by the Master for the explicit purpose of enabling you to win your crown.

Do not wait for some ideal situation, some romantic difficulty, some far-away emergency; but rise to meet the actual conditions which the Providence of God has placed around you today. Your crown of glory lies embedded in the very heart of these things–those hardships and trials that are pressing you this very hour, week and month of your life. The hardest things are not those that the world knows of. Down in your secret soul unseen and unknown by any but Jesus, there is a little trial that you would not dare to mention that is harder for you to bear than martyrdom.

There, beloved, lies your crown. God help you to overcome, and sometime wear it. –Selected

“It matters not how the battle goes,
The day how long;
Faint not! Fight on!
Tomorrow comes the song.”

(From Charles E Cowman Devotionals – Streams in the Desert) 

Through Faith

“Pressed out of measure” (2 Cor. 1:8).

“That the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12:9).
God allowed the crisis to close around Jacob on the night when he bowed at Peniel in supplication, to bring him to the place where he could take hold of God as he never would have done; and from that narrow pass of peril, Jacob became enlarged in his faith and knowledge of God, and in the power of a new and victorious life.

God had to compel David, by a long and painful discipline of years, to learn the almighty power and faithfulness of his God, and grow up into the established principles of faith and godliness, which were indispensable for his glorious career as the king of Israel.
Nothing but the extremities in which Paul was constantly placed could ever have taught him, and taught the Church through him, the full meaning of the great promise he so learned to claim, “My grace is sufficient for thee.”

And nothing but our trials and perils would ever have led some of us to know Him as we do, to trust Him as we have, and to draw from Him the measures of grace which our very extremities made indispensable.

Difficulties and obstacles are God’s challenges to faith. When hindrances confront us in the path of duty, we are to recognize them as vessels for faith to fill with the fullness and all-sufficiency of Jesus; and as we go forward, simply and fully trusting Him, we may be tested, we may have to wait and let patience have her perfect work; but we shall surely find at last the stone rolled away, and the Lord waiting to render unto us double for our time of testing. –A. B. Simpson

(From Charles E Cowman Devotionals – Streams in the Desert) 

Only Through Death

“Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it remains a single grain, but if it dies away in the ground, the grain is freed to spring up in a plant bearing many grains” (John 12:24).

Go to the old burying ground of Northampton, Mass., and look upon the early grave of David Brainerd, beside that of the fair Jerusha Edwards, whom he loved but did not live to wed.

What hopes, what expectations for Christ’s cause went down to the grave with the wasted form of that young missionary of whose work nothing now remained but the dear memory, and a few score of swarthy Indian converts! But that majestic old Puritan saint, Jonathan Edwards, who had hoped to call him his son, gathered up the memorials of his life in a little book, and the little book took wings and flew beyond the sea, and alighted on the table of a Cambridge student, Henry Martyn.

Poor Martyn! Why should he throw himself away, with all his scholarship, his genius, his opportunities! What had he accomplished when he turned homeward from “India’s coral strand,” broken in health, and dragged himself northward as far as that dreary khan at Tocat by the Black Sea, where he crouched under the piled-up saddles, to cool his burning fever against the earth, and there died alone?

To what purpose was this waste? Out of that early grave of Brainerd, and the lonely grave of Martyn far away by the splashing of the Euxine Sea, has sprung the noble army of modern missionaries. –Leonard Woolsey Bacon

“Is there some desert, or some boundless sea,
Where Thou, great God of angels, wilt send me?
Some oak for me to rend, Some sod for me to break,
Some handful of Thy corn to take
And scatter far afield,
Till it in turn shall yield
Its hundredfold
Of grains of gold
To feed the happy children of my God?
“Show me the desert, Father, or the sea;
Is it Thine enterprise?
Great God, send me!
And though this body lies where ocean rolls,
Father, count me among all faithful souls.”

He Knows Us

“I know him, that he will command his children” (Gen. 18:19).

God wants people that He can depend upon. He could say of Abraham, “I know him, that he will command his children . . . that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken.” God can be depended upon; He wants us to be just as decided, as reliable, as stable. This is just what faith means.
God is looking for men on whom He can put the weight of all His love and power and faithful promises. God’s engines are strong enough to draw any weight we attach to them. Unfortunately the cable which we fasten to the engine is often too weak to hold the weight of our prayer; therefore God is drilling us, disciplining us to stability and certainty in the life of faith. Let us learn our lessons and stand fast. –A. B. Simpson

God knows that you can stand that trial; He would not give it to you if you could not. It is His trust in you that explains the trials of life, however bitter they may be. God knows our strength, and He measures it to the last inch; and a trial was never given to any man that was greater than that man’s strength, through God, to bear it.

(From Charles E Cowman Devotionals – Streams in the Desert) 

Unadorned Life

“These were the potters, and those that dwelt among plants and hedges: there they dwelt with the king for his work” (1 Chron. 4:23).

Anywhere and everywhere we may dwell “with the king for his work.” We may be in a very unlikely and unfavorable place for this; it may be in a literal country life, with little enough to be seen of the “goings” of the King around us; it may be among the hedges of all sorts, hindrances in all directions; it may be furthermore, with our hands full of all manner of pottery for our daily task.

No matter! The King who placed us “there” will come and dwell there with us; the hedges are right, or He would soon do away with them. And it does not follow that what seems to hinder our way may not be for its very protection; and as for the pottery, why, that is just exactly what He has seen fit to put into our hands, and therefore it is, for the present, “His work.” –Frances Ridley Havergal

“Go back to thy garden-plot, sweetheart!
Go back till the evening falls,
And bind thy lilies and train thy vines,
Till for thee the Master calls.

“Go make thy garden fair as thou canst,
Thou workest never alone;
Perhaps he whose plot is next to thine
Will see it and mend his own.”

The colored sunsets and starry heavens, the beautiful mountains and the shining seas, the fragrant woods and painted flowers, are not half so beautiful as a soul that is serving Jesus out of love, in the wear and tear of common, unpoetic life. –Faber

The most saintly spirits are often existing in those who have never distinguished themselves as authors, or left any memorial of themselves to be the theme of the world’s talk; but who have led an interior angelic life, having borne their sweet blossoms unseen like the young lily in a sequestered vale on the bank of a limpid stream. –Kenelm Digby

(From Charles E Cowman Devotionals – Streams in the Desert) 

Lawn Care

“He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass” (Ps. 72:6).

Amos speaks of the king’s mowings. Our King has many scythes, and is perpetually mowing His lawns. The musical tinkle of the whetstone on the scythe portends the cutting down of myriads of green blades, daisies and other flowers. Beautiful as they were in the morning, within an hour or two they lie in long, faded rows.

Thus in human life we make a brave show, before the scythe of pain, the shears of disappointment, the sickle of death.

There is no method of obtaining a velvety lawn but by repeated mowings; and there is no way of developing tenderness, evenness, sympathy, but by the passing of God’s scythes. How constantly the Word of God compares man to grass, and His glory to its flower! But when grass is mown, and all the tender shoots are bleeding, and desolation reigns where flowers were bursting, it is the most acceptable time for showers of rain falling soft and warm.

O soul, thou hast been mown! Time after time the
King has come to thee with His sharp scythe. Do
not dread the scythe–it is sure to be followed
by the shower. –F. B. Meyer

“When across the heart deep waves of sorrow
Break, as on a dry and barren shore;
When hope glistens with no bright tomorrow,
And the storm seems sweeping evermore;

“When the cup of every earthly gladness
Bears no taste of the life-giving stream;
And high hopes, as though to mock our sadness,
Fade and die as in some fitful dream,

“Who shall hush the weary spirit’s chiding?
Who the aching void within shall fill?
Who shall whisper of a peace abiding,
And each surging billow calmly still?

“Only He whose wounded heart was broken
With the bitter cross and thorny crown;
Whose dear love glad words of Joy had spoken,
Who His life for us laid meekly down.

“Blessed Healer, all our burdens lighten;
Give us peace, Thine own sweet peace, we pray!
Keep us near Thee till the morn shall brighten,
And all the mists and shadows flee away!”

(From Charles E Cowman Devotionals – Streams in the Desert)

Faith Triumphs

“Under hopeless circumstances he hopefully believed” (Rom. 4:18). (Weymouth)

Abraham’s faith seemed to be in a thorough correspondence with the power and constant faithfulness of Jehovah. In the outward circumstances in which he was placed, he had not the greatest cause to expect the fulfillment of the promise. Yet he believed the Word of the Lord, and looked forward to the time when his seed should be as the stars of heaven for multitude.

O my soul, thou hast not one single promise only, like Abraham, but a thousand promises, and many patterns of faithful believers before thee: it behooves thee, therefore, to rely with confidence upon the Word of God. And though He delayeth His help, and the evil seemeth to grow worse and worse, be not weak, but rather strong, and rejoice, since the most glorious promises of God are generally fulfilled in such a wondrous manner that He steps forth to save us at a time when there is the least appearance of it.

He commonly brings His help in our greatest extremity, that His finger may plainly appear in our deliverance. And this method He chooses that we may not trust upon anything that we see or feel, as we are always apt to do, but only upon His bare Word, which we may depend upon in every state. –C. H. Von Bogatzky

Remember it is the very time for faith to work when sight ceases. The greater the difficulties, the easier for faith; as long as there remain certain natural prospects, faith does not get on even as easily as where natural prospects fail. –George Mueller

 
(From Charles E Cowman Devotionals – Streams in the Desert) 

Seek Communion

“They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn and grow as the vine” (Hosea 14:7).

The day closed with heavy showers. The plants in my garden were beaten down before the pelting storm, and I saw one flower that I had admired for its beauty and loved for its fragrance exposed to the pitiless storm. The flower fell, shut up its petals, dropped its head; and I saw that all its glory was gone. “I must wait till next year,” I said, “before I see that beautiful thing again.”
 
That night passed, and morning came; the sun shone again, and the morning brought strength to the flower. The light looked at it, and the flower looked at the light. There was contact and communion, and power passed into the flower. It held up its head, opened its petals, regained its glory, and seemed fairer than before. I wonder how it took place–this feeble thing coming into contact with the strong thing, and gaining strength!

I cannot tell how it is that I should be able to receive into my being a power to do and to bear by communion with God, but I know It is a fact.

Are you in peril through some crushing, heavy trial? Seek this communion with Christ, and you will receive strength and be able to conquer. “I will strengthen thee.”

Yesterday’s Grief

The rain that fell a-yesterday is ruby on the roses,
Silver on the poplar leaf, and gold on willow stem;
The grief that chanced a-yesterday is silence that incloses
Holy loves when time and change shall never trouble them.

The rain that fell a-yesterday makes all the hillsides glisten,
Coral on the laurel and beryl on the grass;
The grief that chanced a-yesterday has taught the soul to listen
For whispers of eternity in all the winds that pass.

O faint-of-heart, storm-beaten, this rain will gleam tomorrow,
Flame within the columbine and jewels on the thorn,
Heaven in the forget-me-not; though sorrow now be sorrow,
Yet sorrow shall be, beauty in the magic of the morn.
–Katherine Lee Bates

(From Charles E Cowman Devotionals – Streams in the Desert) 

Come Close to Him

“He took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray, and as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering . . . they saw his glory” (Luke 9:29, 32).

“If I have found grace in thy sight, show me thy glory” (Exod. 33:13).
 
When Jesus took these three disciples up into that high mountain apart, He brought them into close communion with Himself. They saw no man but Jesus only; and it was good to be there. Heaven is not far from those who tarry on the mount with their Lord.

Who has not in moments of meditation and prayer caught a glimpse of opening gates? Who has not in the secret place of holy communion felt the rush of some white surging wave of emotion–a foretaste of the joy of the blessed?

The Master had times and places for quiet converse with His disciples, once on the peak of Hermon, but oftener on the sacred slopes of Olivet. Every Christian should have his Olivet. Most of us, especially in the cities and towns, live at high pressure. From early morning until bedtime we are exposed to the whirl. Amid all this maelstrom how little chance for quiet thought, for God’s Word, for prayer and heart fellowship!

Daniel needed to have an Olivet in his chamber amid Babylon’s roar and idolatries. Peter found his on a housetop in Joppa; and Martin Luther found his in the “upper room” at Wittenberg, which is still held sacred.

Dr. Joseph Parker once said: “If we do not get back to visions, peeps into heaven, consciousness of the higher glory and the larger life, we shall lose our religion; our altar will become a bare stone, unblessed by visitant from Heaven.” Here is the world’s need today–men who have seen their Lord. –The Lost Art of Meditation

Come close to Him! He may take you today up into the mountain top, for where He took Peter with his blundering, and James and John, those sons of thunder who again and again so utterly misunderstood their Master and His mission, there is no reason why He should not take you. So don’t shut yourself out of it and say, “Ah, these wonderful visions and revelations of the Lord are for choice spirits!” They may be for you! –John McNeill

(From Charles E Cowman Devotionals – Streams in the Desert) 

Heart’s Sacrifice

“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ” (Phil. 3:7).

When they buried the blind preacher, George Matheson, they lined his grave with red roses in memory of his love-life of sacrifice. And it was this man, so beautifully and significantly honored, who wrote,

“O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee,
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

“O Light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee,
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

“O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee,
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shalt tearless be.

“O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee,
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red,
Life that shall endless be.”

There is a legend of an artist who had found the secret of a wonderful red which no other artist could imitate. The secret of his color died with him. But after his death an old wound was discovered over his heart. This revealed the source of the matchless hue in his pictures. The legend teaches that no great achievement can be made, no lofty attainment reached, nothing of much value to the world done, save at the cost of heart’s blood.
 
(From Charles E Cowman Devotionals – Streams in the Desert)