February 18: The Lesson Of Submission

I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, because you did it. Psalm 39:9.

THERE are few lessons taught in God’s school more difficult to learn, and yet, when really learned, more blessed and holy, than the lesson of filial submission to God’s will. There are some beautiful examples of this in God’s word. “And Aaron held his peace.” Since God was ” sanctified and gloried,” terrible as was the judgment, the holy priest mourned not at the way, nor complained of its severity, patient and resigned to the will of God. Thus, too, was it with Eli, when passing under the heavy hand of God: “It is the Lord, let Him do what seems Him good.” He bowed in deep submission to the will of his God. Job could exclaim, as the last sad tidings brimmed his cup of woe, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” And David was “dumb and opened not his mouth, because God did it.” But how do all these instances of filial and holy submission to the Divine will—beautiful and touching as they are—fade before the illustrious example of our adorable and blessed Lord: “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, your will be done.” Oh, how did Jesus, in the deepest depth of His unutterable sorrow, “behave and quiet himself as a child that is weaned of his mother: his soul was even as a weaned child.” Such, beloved, be the posture of your soul at this moment. “Be still!” Rest in your Father’s hands, calm and tranquil, quiet and submissive, weaned from all but Himself. Oh, the blessedness of so reposing!

“Sweet to lie passive in His hands,
And know no will but His.”

“God’s love!” It is written upon your dark cloud—it breathes from the lips of your bleeding wound—it is reflected in every fragment of your ruined treasure—it is penciled upon every withered leaf of your blighted flower—”God is love.” Adversity may have impoverished you—bereavement may have saddened you—calamity may have crushed you—sickness may have laid you low—but “God is love.” Gently falls the rod in its heaviest stroke—tenderly pierces the sword in its deepest thrust—smilingly bends the cloud in its darkest hues—for “God is love.”

June 7: Submitted Unto God

How few there are, among the many “Submit yourselves therefore to God.” James 4:7

Submission to the Divine will is a great advance in holiness; and this is mainly and effectually attained through sanctified chastisement. In prosperity, how full are we of self-sufficiency! When the Lord asks our obedience, we give Him our counsel. But when He sends the rod, and by the accompanying grace of His Spirit sanctifies its stroke, we learn in what true obedience consists.

It was in this school our blessed Lord Himself was taught. “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered.” He learned to obey in suffering- to bring His will in suffering into complete submission to His Father’s will. God has not in His family such obedient children as those who, “passing under the rod,” are “brought into the bond of the covenant.” Oh, what a high Christian attainment is submission to the will of God!

The noblest grace attainable upon earth is it. When our Lord taught His disciples to pray to the Father for the spread of holiness, He embodied the petition, in these words, “Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” The universal and complete holiness of heaven springs from the universal and complete perfection in which the will of God is done by angels and glorified spirits.

In proportion as the Divine will prevails upon earth, holiness will reign. And, oh, what a beauteous earth and what a blissful world would this be, were the will of God done by every creature! In the new earth, in which will dwell righteousness, it will be so. The original harmony of this fallen universe will then be restored, its pristine beauty recovered, and God, in the person of His Son, will once more reign over, and walk in the midst of, a people whose will shall be but the reflection of His own.

Thus to approximate to the Divine will is to assimilate with the Divine holiness. What God will, how God will, and when God will, defines the rule which should govern all the conduct and limit all the desires of the child of God. The instant the overwhelmed heart is brought into this state, the afflicted believer has planted his feet upon the Rock that is higher than he. All is peace, all is composure, because all is submission to the will of God.

“The Lord reigns” is the truth whose all-commanding yet gentle whisper has stilled the tempest and calmed the waves. In its intense anxiety that the Divine will might be done, the chastened soul is but breathing after deeper holiness; and every fervent desire for the attainment of holiness is holiness already attained. Blessed chastening of love, that produces in this world, so distant and uncongenial, the buds and blossoms and fruits of heaven! A richer fruit grows not within the Paradise of God than Holiness.

And yet, in the experience of a chastened believer, bleeding under the rod of his heavenly Father, there may be obtained such victories over sin, such purification of heart, such meekness of spirit, such Christ-like conformity, and such a discipline of the will, as to make him a rich “partaker of the Divine holiness.”

August 27

“And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” 1 John 5:15

Believing prayer is prevailing, successful prayer. It assails the kingdom of heaven with holy violence, and carries it as by storm. It believes that God has both the heart and the arm; both the love that moves Him, and the power that enables Him; to do all and to grant all that His pleading child requests of Him. We may mention a few of the attributes of believing prayer.

It is real prayer, because it is the expression of need. It springs from a felt necessity of the mercy which it craves. It is sincere prayer, welling up from a soul schooled in the knowledge of its deep poverty and need. Oh, how much passes for real prayer which is not prayer; which is not the breathing of the soul, nor the language of the heart, nor the expression of need. There is in it no true approach to God, no thirsting for Christ, no desire for holiness. Were God to bestow the things which had been so thoughtlessly and heartlessly asked, the individual would be taken by surprise.

The prayer of faith is importunate and persevering. It will not take a refusal. It will not be put off with a denial. Thus Jacob wrestled with the Angel of the covenant until he prevailed; “I will not let you go until you bless me.” Thus the woman of Canaan would not release the Savior from her hold until He had granted her suit; “If I am a dog, satisfy me with the crumbs.” And thus, too, the man who besieged the house of his friend at midnight for bread, and did not go away until he obtained it; and the oppressed widow, who sought justice at the hands of the unrighteous and reluctant judge until he righted her; illustrate the nature of that prayer; even earnest, persevering prayer, which prevails with God, and obtains the blessing.

Believing prayer is humble. How low in the dust the truly importunate suppliant lies before God! There is nothing of bold ruffianism, of unholy freedom, in the cases of earnest prayer which we have cited. There is no irreverence of manner, nor brashness of speech, nor rushing into God’s holy presence as if He were an equal. But rather that awful consciousness of the Divine presence, that profound spirit of self-abasement which seems to say, “How dreadful is this place!” “Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer you? I will lay my hand upon my mouth.” Oh, how lowly is the heart from where arises the incense of believing prayer! How utterly unworthy it feels of the least of all the Lord’s mercies; how unfit to be a channel of grace to others; and with what trembling it lies prostrate upon the spot where God, the Triune God, is passing by! “Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart be hasty to utter anything before God; for God is in heaven, and you upon earth; therefore let your words be few.”

Submission is another attribute of the prayer of faith. Its utmost range of request is bounded, and its deepest fervor of spirit is chastened, by submission to the Divine will. It presumes neither to dictate to God, nor to counsel Him. It leaves the mode of answering its petitions; the time, the place, the way; with God. Trained, perhaps, in the school of bitter disappointment, it has learned to see as much love in God’s heart in withholding as in granting its requests; as much wisdom in delaying as in promptly bestowing the blessing. And, seeing that delays in prayer are not denials of prayer, he who believes will not make haste to anticipate the Divine mind, or to antedate the Divine blessing. “Your will, not mine, be done,” ever breathes from the praying lip of faith.

Yet another and the crowning attribute of believing prayer is; that it is presented in the name of Jesus. As it is life from God through Christ, so through Christ it is life breathed back again to God. It approaches the Divine Majesty by the “new and living way”; its mighty argument, and its one prevailing plea, is the atoning blood of Jesus. This is the ground of its boldness, this the reason of its nearness, and this the secret of its power and success. “Whatever you shall ask in my name,” observes Christ, “that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”