l Solid Ground Christian Books
Copyright © 2002 Solid Ground Christian Books, Vestavia Hills, Alabama 35266

Come Ye Apart
Daily Readings In The Life of Christ
J.R. Miller
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Solid Ground Christian Books

Daily Devotions will be added as time permits

Feb. 4. GUARDIAN ANGELS.
Feb. 5. HEAVENLY GUIDANCE.
Feb. 8. THE ROCK OF SALVATION.
Feb. 9. REPENTANCE.
Feb. 10 THE COMING OF THE LORD.
Feb. 11. THE WRATH TO COME.
Feb. 12. EVIDENCE OF REPENTANCE.
Feb. 18. THE DIVINE PATIENCE.
 
 

Feb. 4. GUARDIAN ANGELS.

" When they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth."  MATT. ii. 1 3.

WE have a glimpse here of the closeness of Heaven's watch over this imperiled Babe. A wicked king was plotting for the life of the child, and his earthly friends could not protect him. But in the hour of human weakness Heaven came quickly to shelter and save him. The destinies of the human race were in that Child's life, and all God's power would have been used to deliver him. It is a precious truth, too, that over every child Heaven keeps a like close and sure watch. A poet says: " Heaven lies about us in our infancy;" and it is very true of every child. Jesus himself said, speaking of the children, " Their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven." This means that heaven's strongest, holiest, and most favoured angels are set to guard children in this world.

Fathers and mothers should never forget that their children are very dear to God, and are under his unsleeping protection. This should give them great comfort and confidence, as their little ones go out into the midst of the world's dangers. No human eye can be always upon them. No human hand can ward off the evils that lurk in every shadow. But there are unseen guardians that never leave them for a moment. Heaven is interested in the keeping of every tender child life in this world. Christian parents may commit their little ones to God with implicit confidence. If they are only faithful as parents, God will not disappoint their hopes.

Children also should know that they are being cared for by celestial guardians whom they cannot see. Angels may not appear to men in these days, but they are continually around us, encamping about our homes, and watching over us by day and by night. Though their bright faces are not seen by our dull eyes, their loving ministry never cease
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Feb. 5.  HEAVENLY GUIDANCE.

"Be thou there until I bring thee word." MATT. ii. 13.

ALL our movements should be under the direction of God. In very olden times God guided his people by a pillar of fire and cloud, which lifted and moved when they were to move, showing them the way, and which rested and settled down when they were to halt. In these days of so much fuller revelation there is no need for any such visible token of guidance, yet the guidance is no less real and no less unmistakable.

It was an angel that brought to Joseph the bidding to flee into Egypt. Angels do not now appear to our eyes; but who will say that they do not whisper in our ears many a suggestion which we suppose to come from our own hearts? At least we know that in some way God will always tell us what to do; and if only we have ears to hear we shall never fail of guidance. We should always wait for God's bidding before taking any step. Especially in times of danger, when we are moving under his guidance should we wait and not move until he brings us word.

It ought to give us great comfort and a wonderful sense of safety to know that God is caring for us so faithfully. Some people laugh at the simple faith of child like believers in God, and say that it is all fancy that there is no one in heaven taking care of us. But we need not be worried by such skeptical ones. There is a God in heaven, and he is our Father. He never sleeps. He has charge of all the affairs of this universe, and is always " at the helm." This should give us all confidence. Our whole duty is to be ready always to obey. Whenever the voice comes bidding us arise and depart, there is some reason for it, and we should not hesitate to obey. Wherever we are sent we should quietly stay till again God sends to call us away. The place of duty is always the place of safety, and we should never move until God brings us word.
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Feb. 8. THE ROCK OF SALVATION.

"Jesus Christ, the Son of God." MARK i.1.

MARK does not intend that there shall be room for mistake concerning the person of our Lord. Each of the names he here uses represents one particular phase of his character.

Jesus means Saviour. " Thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins." None of his names can be sweeter than this. It is enshrined in every Christian heart. This is the name that brings hope into our souls. The first thing we all need is to be saved, and he is the only Saviour.

Christ means the Anointed One. He is the one whom the Father has anointed to be prophet, priest, and king. He is our prophet, our teacher; he is our priest inter ceding for us, having already made himself an offering for our sins; he is our king, and we ought to obey him.

Son of God tells of his divine nature and his eternal sonship. This is the name that gives security to all our hopes and trusts. If he were only a man, he might be very tender, loving, and kind, but could he do for us everything we need? Could a man make atonement for our sins? Could a man put his own life into our dead souls? Could a man fight our battles for us, and rescue us out of the hands of Satan? Could a man be with us in all the ways of toil, sorrow, need, and struggle ? Could a man save us in death and bear us through the dark mystery to glory ? Could a man stand for us in the judgment? The divinity of Christ is the rock of our hope and our salvation. Our Saviour and anointed King is the Son of God. We can lean upon his breast and know that we are folded about with divinity, that our refuge is the eternal God, and that the arms which are clasped about us are everlasting. In all danger we may rest secure, for the power that would pluck us out of our resting place must be mightier than God's.
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Feb. 9. REPENTANCE.

" Repent ye." MATT. iii. 2.

THIS was John's gospel. At first it seems very unlike the story of love which Jesus preached, and yet it is part of the same story. Repentance must always come before forgiveness and peace. Perhaps we need to be re minded of this in these days. We are in danger of making salvation too easy a matter and of being altogether too tolerant with ourselves. We forget, some of us, that sin is such a terrible thing, and we are too careless about getting rid of our sins. We misunderstand God's forgiveness if we think of it merely as an easy forgetting that we have done the wrong thing. Jesus did not come to save us merely front sin's penalties; he came to save us from the sins themselves, by leading us to forsake them for ever. Unless we repent of our sins we never can have forgiveness.

We must make sure, too, that we do thorough work in our repenting. Repentance is not merely a little twinge of remorse over some wrong thing. It is not simply a gush of tears at the recollection of some wickedness. It is not mere shame at being found out in some meanness or uncleanness or dishonesty. It is the revolution of the whole life. Sins wept over must be forsaken for ever. Repentance is a change of heart, a turning of the face just the other way. It is well for us to make diligent quest to be sure that we always abandon the wrong doing which we deplore, that we quit the evil course which we regret, that we turn away from the sin which we confess.

A good many people get only half the gospel. They talk a great deal about believing, but very little about repenting. It needs to be remembered that a faith which does not lead to genuine repentance is not a faith that saves. He who bewails a sin and confesses it, secretly in tending to return to it again, has no good ground to hope that he is forgiven.
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Feb. 10 THE COMING OF THE LORD.

" Prepare ye the way of the Lord." MATT. iii. 3.

THE Lord is always coming to us, or is always ready to come to us, if the way is open for him. Yet no doubt we are continually losing heavenly visitations because the road is blocked up. If we would receive the visitations we must keep the way always open. Sins clung to, unconfessed, unrepented of, unforsaken, block up the path, and Christ cannot come to us until we get them out of the way,. Then there is another sense in which we need to prepare the way of the Lord. He may come any moment in death to call us away from all our busy work. Is there no preparation needed now in our hearts for this coming of the Lord? Are we ready for him any moment? Are our lamps trimmed and burning? Are our loins girded, and have we our shoes on our feet and our staves in our hands? If he came this hour how would he find us? Peter gives us good counsel when, speaking of Christ's coming again, he says," Be diligent, that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless." Would he find us thus if he came to day ? Are we in peace in peace with God, in peace with ourselves, in peace with all the world ? Would he find us without spot? Have we kept our hands clean and our hearts pure, and ourselves unspotted from the world ? Would he find us living blameless lives, so sincere, so true, so  without blemish that the world can find no cause of reproach in us, and that he himself will approve us?

It will be well for us to think of these things, and if the way for his coming is not prepared, to hasten to have it ready, for he may come any moment. The Jews were taught to prepare a way for the coming of the Lord by repenting of their sins and turning their hearts to God. That is just what every one must do who desires Christ to come to him with blessing, every sin must be swept out.
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 Feb. 11. THE WRATH TO COME.

" Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come ?" Luke iii. 7.

THERE are a good many people who want to flee from wrath, but are not willing to give up that which draws down the wrath upon them. When a godless man becomes sick, and it seems as though he may die, straightway he begins to look about for some way of flight from the wrath that he feels hangs over him. He sends for a minister or for some good man. He has his long neglected Bible brought from his parlour ,table and laid beside his bed. He will find refuge from his peril, if he can. He wants to have the Bible read to him: perhaps there is some virtue in that which will shield hint. He wants the minister to pray for him: he has heard that a good man's prayers will save a soul. He wants to be baptized and to receive the Lord's Supper: he hopes that these holy ordinances may somehow shelter him from the wrath. All the while he has not really thought of trying to unload the burden which is crushing him. He is carrying his sins unconfessed and unforgiven. He has no true sense of sinfulness, no realization of God's holiness or of his own debt to him; he is simply terrified, and is trying to flee from the impending wrath. If he gets well again, he will very likely return to his old life and live on in sin as before, proving the insincerity and worthlessness of his repentance. If he were asked," Who warned you to flee?" his answer could not be " Love for Christ," or " A sense of my guilt," but " Fear, the terrors of death and eternity."

It was a very proper question, therefore, which John asked the multitudes who came to him desiring to be baptized. The only flight that saves is away from sin, to Christ. No man is saved who carries his sins with him in his flight. The door of the refuge is wide enough to admit the worst penitent sinner, but not wide enough to admit any cherished sin.
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 Feb. 12. EVIDENCE OF REPENTANCE.

" Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance." MATT. iii. 8.

THERE is only one way to prove that we have truly  repented. It will not be enough to tell people that we have; they will wait to see the evidence in our lives. suppose a wicked man joins the Church and then goes back on Monday morning to his old wicked ways, will anybody credit his Sunday's profession? He must go on Monday morning to a new life if his repentance is to pass for any thing. Everybody knows what is right in such a case. None are quicker to cry out against the insincerity and unreality of the man's profession than wicked men themselves, when they see him continue in his old evil ways. Even bad men know what it is to be good; thus they pay high compliment to Christianity. Repentance amounts to nothing whatever if it produces only a few tears, a spasm of regret, a little fright as a flash from eternity reveals to a man his guilt and danger, and then a return to morrow to the same old wicked ways. What are the works that are worthy of repentance ?

A grocer went home from the meeting one night where he had heard a sermon about false weights and measures. and burned the "bushel" he had been using to cheat his customers. A father who had been living carelessly in his home, when awakened to the truth took down the old family Bible and confessed to his household his neglect, and re established the family altar. These are illustrations of work worthy of repentance. In short, we must leave the sins we repent of, and must & them no more, and we must walk in the new clean ways of holiness. The heart is the important matter in all spiritual life, but the heart makes the life; and if the life be yet evil the heart can be no better, whatever external profession of betterment it may have made. The way to prove to men that we have really repented, is really to repent, and the fact will soon speak for itself.
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 Feb. 18. THE DIVINE PATIENCE.

" The axe is laid unto the root of the trees." MATT. iii. 1 0.

THE picture is very suggestive. The axe lying at the  tree's root, or raised in the woodman's hand to strike, shows  that judgment impends, hangs ready to fall. Any moment the tree may be cut down. The axe lying at the tree's root unused tells of patience in the husbandman; he is waiting to see if the fruitless tree will yet bear fruit, The axe leaning quietly against the tree is very suggestive, The meaning is very plain. God waits long for impenitent sinners to return to him; he is slow to punish or to cut off the day of opportunity; he desires all to repent and be saved. Yet we must not trifle with the Divine patience and forbearance. We must remember that while the axe is not lifted to strike, still there is not a moment when it is not lying close, ready to be used; when the summons may not come," Hasten to judgment." The axe of death really lies all the while at the root of every life. There is not a moment when it is not true that there is but a step between us and death.

The lying of the axe at the root suggests that its use is not pruning but cutting down. God has two axes. One he uses in pruning his trees, removing the fruitless branches, and cleansing the fruitful branches that they may bring forth more fruit. The work of this axe is not judgment or destruction, but mercy and blessing. It is the good, the fruitful tree that feels its keen edge. Then God has another axe which he uses only in judgment, in cutting down those trees which after all his culture of them bring forth no fruit. Life is all very critical. There is not a moment in any day on which may not turn all the destinies of eternity. It certainly is an infinitely perilous thing for an immortal soul to rest an hour with the axe of judgment waiting to strike the blow that will end for ever the day of mercy. Only supremest folly can be blind to duty in such a case.
 

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