December 30. This morning I came, in the course of my reading, to the book of Ezra. I was particularly refreshed by the two following points in the first chapter, and I applied them to the building of the Orphan House.
Cyrus, an idolatrous king, was used by God to provide the means for building the temple at Jerusalem. How easy it would be for God to provide ten thousand pounds for the Orphan House or even twenty or thirty thousand pounds if needed.
The people were stirred up by God to help those who went up to Jerusalem. It is a small matter for Him to put it into the hearts of His children to help me.
December 29. This evening I received fifty pounds. This donation is exceedingly precious to me not only because it was cheerfully given; nor even because of its size, but because it is another precious proof that God will provide for the building. My assurance has been increasing that God will build for Himself a large Orphan House in this city to show what a blessed thing it is to trust in Him. I can only say, "Lord, here is Your servant, if You want to use me."
"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:7).
THE CERTAIN EFFECT OF ALL THIS
In the next verse we have the precious result of all this, “The peace of God,” what a precious result of such a way of acting is this; our hearts are at peace, instead of hurrying hither and thither, as men beside themselves. and instead of great excitement. Instead of all this, the result of prayer and praise will be our hearts will be at peace.
We shall have the peace which passeth all understanding. And that peaceful calm which is so precious, and which no words can describe, and which is called “the peace of God” shall be in our hearts. “The peace of God, which passeth understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
“KEEP YOUR HEARTS”
The idea of a garrison, is in that word “keep.” And the meaning is that our hearts shall be kept by the peace of God, as by an occupying garrison.
There is much in these verses; and whilst the men of this world, and even some children of God who know not these truths, and do not ask thus, are wretched, and anxious, and hurrying about like people beside themselves, when trouble or excitement come; we, the children of God, who know these precious truths, are able calmly to wait on the Lord, and to leave ourselves quietly in the hands of God. Thus the peace which passeth understanding will rule in our hearts and minds, and we shall not merely find help, but we shall be kept from false ways, and bring honour to God before the world, and shall thus comfort greatly the children of God, to the praise and honour and glory of His name.
Again, we have specially to notice that prayer and supplication is coupled with thanksgiving. That is, if I may say so, that we should lay the foundation in the way of thanksgiving, and upon that, place the superstructure of prayer and supplication. We should praise the Lord for what He has given us already; while asking Him for more blessing.
We are frequently very remiss in this; we forget to render pause for the mercies already received from our heavenly Father. This should not be so.
Therefore it is so deeply important “in everything, by prayer, and supplication, to let your requests be made known to God.” With prayer; and not only with prayer, but with supplication; that is, with earnestness and with entreaty, just as the beggars sometimes act. They ask for alms; well, you seem not to listen and pass on, but they go after you; perhaps twenty steps, and sometimes even a hundred yards or more. They follow you, still asking, until they obtain the alms they desire.
Now this is what we have to do; not simply to mention our request before God, but to go on asking again and again, with earnest prayer and supplication, until we receive. Just ask as a beggar would do; and will not our heavenly Father give it to us, seeing that He hath bestowed His greatest gift, even His Son upon us?
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God" (Phil. 4:6).
But, while the commandment is not to be anxious about anything at the same time, we are exhorted to bring everything before God. It is not to make us careless, but to teach its to
TO LEAN UPON HIM ALONE.
We are here exhorted to bring the matter before God. “In everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known, unto God.”
Notice especially the word “everything.” It is not simply great matters we are to bring before God, not simply small things, but “everything.” Therefore, all our affairs—temporal or spiritual—let us bring them before God. And this for the simple reason, that life is made up of little things. If we attempt to stand in our own strength under little trials, we shall find them too heavy for us, and we shall fall, which is dishonouring to God.
THE FOLLY OF NEGLECTING THIS INJUNCTION.
Let me see a Christian man who attempts to carry the little burdens in his own strength, and I know that he will soon dishonour God. For we have not a particle of strength to carry any burdens, little or great; and, therefore, we must bring them all to God. And if we attempt to carry them, we shall find that they will increase in weight.
To speak after the manner of men, God puts a pound weight of trial upon us, and if we take it up and lay it on the shoulders of our heavenly Father, it is gone; but if, on the other hand, we attempt to carry it ourselves, what is the result? Soon it will increase to ten pounds, and if we still try to carry it, it will increase to a hundred-weight, and if we try still to stagger under it in our own strength, it will increase still more, in order to lead us to cast it upon God.
Now our wisdom is just this, when we have any little burdens, let us tell our heavenly Father, “I have no strength for this weight, I cannot carry the burden.” Well, our heavenly Father is ready to do this for us; He has commanded us to roll all our cares on Him, and not to attempt to carry them in our own strength. Let it then cast all our cares and burdens upon God, and He will carry them for us.
WE HAVE, HOWEVER, SUCH A FRIEND,
and He is willing and able to help us and to deliver us in His own time and way. This is the very reason we need not be anxious about anything.
But you say, how can I, a wife with a husband given to drinking, not be anxious? No, I say, my sister in Christ, you are to pray for your husband; you are to pray for that husband very earnestly. But remember to look out for an answer to your prayer; and it is the will of our heavenly Father that you are not to be anxious even in such circumstances. You are earnestly seeking that he should be converted, that is right and proper; but still, be not anxious even in such circumstances. If you roll the burden upon God, and cast all your care upon Him, you will be free from anxiety even regarding this.
And thus with every matter; regarding our children, for instance, who are unconverted, we have to be careful to train them in the fear of God, to set a holy, good example before them, to pray much for them, and, at suitable times, to bring the truth before them; but even regarding them, we are not to be anxious. We are to roll the burden—the whole burden upon God, and He will carry the burden for us.
So—literally—this is to be taken, Be anxious about nothing. And thus we shall walk in holy confidence. Trust in your heavenly Father, looking to Him, confiding in Him, knowing that He will help in His own time and way.
The second passage to which I desire to direct your attention you will find in the epistle to the Philippians, the fourth chapter, and in the sixth and seventh verses, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
“Be careful for nothing.” This by no means signifies that we may be careless, thoughtless, or unconcerned about everything. That is not the meaning of it. The meaning is, not to be anxious about anything. This is one of the privileges of the children of God, that they are permitted, and not only permitted but invited, and not only invited, but commanded, to bring all their cares, sorrows, trials, and wants to their heavenly Father. To roll all their burdens upon God; to cast all their cares upon Him.
And because they are permitted, yea, commanded so to do, they have no need to be anxious about anything. However many or varied our difficulties or necessities, we should commit them all in believing prayer to God; but we should not be anxious. And why not? Because it is impossible to be anxious without dishonouring God.
If the men of the world see that we Christians are anxious, like themselves, they will have ground for saying, that our profession of having an Almighty Friend and Helper in heaven is only is profession; and, therefore, we dishonour God by not trusting in Him in the hour of need.
December 26. I had another special time for prayer to seek the will of God. But while I continue to ask the Lord to not allow me to be misled, I have no doubt that I should go forward. This is one of the biggest steps I have ever taken, and I cannot go about it with too much caution, prayerfulness, and deliberation. I am in no hurry. I could wait for years before taking one step toward this thing or speaking to anyone about it. On the other hand, I would set to work tomorrow if the Lord wanted me to. I seek the honor and glorious privilege to be used more by the Lord. I served Satan in my younger years, and I desire now to serve God with all my might during the remaining days of my earthly pilgrimage.
Vast multitudes of orphans need the basic necessities of life. I desire to be used by the Lord as an instrument in providing all the necessary temporal supplies not only for the three hundred now under my care but for seven hundred more. I want to provide scriptural instruction for a thousand orphans. When God provides me with a house for seven hundred orphans and with everything needed to support them, it will be obvious to all that God still hears and answers prayer. I will continue, day by day, to wait on Him in prayer concerning this thing until He commands me to act.
December 23. This is now the fiftieth day since I have come to the conclusion to build. Not even one penny has come in since December 10. This morning I have been particularly encouraged because the Lord sent me the one thousand pounds and the promise from that Christian architect whose name I don't even know yet.
I have begun to be more specific in my prayers. We should have a large piece of ground, at least six or seven acres, in the vicinity of Bristol. This will, of course, be very expensive, but my hope is in God. I have not sought after this thing, nor has it begun with me. God has unexpectedly led me to it. The day before I received my neighbor's letter making me aware of the inconveniences caused by the orphans, I had no thought about building a house for the orphans. My prayer is that God will continue to give me faith and patience. If He helps me to wait on Him, help will surely come.