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this day; that of a soldier, a wrestler, and a husbandman. The soldier endures hardness, and has no entanglement to hinder him from any duty. The wrestler has to contend lawfully, and the husbandman must work before he can have any returns. These are the qualifications for one contending for the faith.
May we all be eager to contend for it, but may we have a deeper sense of the condition of soul we must be in to contend for it properly.
THOUGHTS FOR THIS DAY:
WHAT IS POWER ?
THE apostle writes, “I will not know the speech of them that are puffed up, but the power.” Power was thus the virtue which would determine their proper value. Power, divine power in helpless men, must easily be seen. The power of God in the earthen vessel must make a very distinct mark. The nature of that power is our present inquiry.
With reference to the apostles it was spoken of when our Lord said, “tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high.” That was the power of the Holy Ghost, We read of Stephen, “a man full of faith, and of the Holy Ghost." And a little further on it is said, Stephen was “full of grace and power." The power was literally that of the Holy Spirit. It was the power of God ; not something that a man could do. Everything done by the Spirit of God is power. Thus power is in advance of faith. Faith counts on God and reckons on His intervention, but power enables me to be something that otherwise I should not be ; an act divine in its character and not merely human. Divine power is known by the way in which it enables a man to be divinely above his own immediate circumstances. Like Elisha, who when he received power from Elijah as he went up, immediately took hold of his own clothes (typically his
natural surroundings) and rent them in two pieces. This is the first mark of the power of God, at least in the eyes of others. A soul can have gleams of peace through faith in the death and resurrection of Christ, but when there is power through walking in the Spirit, there is a distinct practical freedom “ from the law of sin and death." It is a wonderful day when I am able to put Christ before me instead of myself. It is not only that Christ suffered for me, and that I have faith in God to interfere for me, but “I am crucified with Christ, and no longer live, I, but Christ lives in me.”
Unless I am at liberty from myself, I cannot be in power.
Here the Christian differs from all who went before him. The men of God aforetime continually so counted on God in their acts, that He interfered for them. Samson slew a thousand men with the jawbone of an ass. David killed Goliath with a smooth stone from the brook. When faith counts on God, He manifests Himself on behalf of His servant;
but power sets me in practical superiority to the circumstances in which I am. It is not deliverance out of them, but I have superiority to them.
When David indited Psalm xxxiv. he was in the sense of power, because he was with God above the circumstances, though he did nothing. Samuel was in power when he retired to Ramah. Power must begin with that which is nearest to me, or there would be no virtue in it. In faith I am supported by God, and things are granted to me, but when I am in His power I am solely dependent on Him, and conscious of His sustainment, though nothing be done on my behalf. Our blessed Lord slept in the storm because He was in power ;
He rebuked the storm in faith. When I am in the Spirit's power I have liberty from myself, and I can devote to Christ the things I would have ministered to myself; like the woman in the Pharisee's house (Luke vii.) who expended the alabaster box of ointment on Him. This is only an illustration, but power is marked by a delight to make much of Christ at my own expense. I gladly put Him in the place of myself, and where this power is, it is apparent to every Pharisee. But power advances.
There was still greater power in Mary's act. She anoints the Lord's body for His burial. I mean that the power to surrender one's personal honours for Christ, grows into a greater and a deeper thingeven to bury them with Him—as there is an advance from reckoning oneself dead to sin, and being dead to the world, which order of power is known in the Romans and in Colossians respectively; and, though it is not the highest order, still if you were to meet a man of this order you could not fail to perceive his power. Christ would not only be thought of instead of himself, but he would be markedly weaned from this scene where Christ had died. The one in this power, while in no way monastic, would give no uncertain sound; however great in mind or means he would carry his bed” in the circle of daily life. A practical pilgrim, this