God with Us
God shall be with ye. (Genesis 48:21)Good old Jacob could no more be with Joseph, for his hour had come to die: but he left his son without anxiety, for he said with confidence, "God shall be with you." When our dearest relations or our most helpful friends are called home by death, we must console ourselves with the reflection that the Lord is not departed from us but lives for us and abides with us forever.
If God be with us, we are in ennobling company, even though we are poor and despised. If God be with us, we have all-sufficient strength, for nothing can be too hard for the Lord. If God be with us, we are always safe, for none can harm those who walk under His shadow. Oh, what a joy we have here! Not only is God with us, but He will be with us. With us as individuals; with us as families; with us as churches. Is not the very name of Jesus, Immanuel -- God with us? Is not this the best of all, that God is with us? Let us be bravely diligent and joyously hopeful. Our cause must prosper, the truth must win, for the Lord is with those who are with Him. All this day may this sweet word be enjoyed by every believer who turns to "faith's checkbook." No greater happiness is possible.
So he giveth his beloved sleep. (Psalm 127:2)Ours is not a life of anxious care but of happy faith. Our heavenly Father will supply the wants of His own children, and He knoweth what we have need of before we ask Him. We may therefore go to our beds at the proper hour and not wear ourselves out by sitting up late to plot, and plan, and contrive. If we have learned to rely upon our God, we shall not lie awake with fear gnawing at our hearts; but we shall leave our care with the Lord, our meditation of Him shall be sweet, and He will give us refreshing sleep.
To be the Lord's beloved is the highest possible honor, and he who has it may feel that ambition itself could desire no more, and therefore every selfish wish may go to sleep. What more is there even in heaven than the love of God? Rest, then, O soul, for thou hast all things. Yet we toss to and fro unless the Lord Himself gives us not only the reasons for rest but rest itself. Yea, He doth this. Jesus Himself is our peace, our rest, our all, On His bosom we sleep in perfect security, both in life and in death.
Sprinkled afresh with pardoning blood,
I lay me down to rest
As in the embraces of my God,
Or on my Saviour's breast.
A Guide All the Way
He will be my guide even unto death. (Psalm 48:14)We need a guide. Sometimes we would give all that we have to be told exactly what to do and where to turn. We are willing to do right, but we do not know which one of two roads we are to follow. Oh, for a guide!
The Lord our God condescends to serve us as guide. He knows the way and will pilot us along it till we reach our journey's end in peace. Surely we do not desire more infallible direction. Let us place ourselves absolutely under His guidance, and we shall never miss our way. Let us make Him our God, and we shall find Him our guide. If we follow His law we shall not miss the right road of life, provided we first learn to lean upon Him in every step that we take.
Our comfort is that as He is our God forever and ever, He will never cease to be with us as our guide. "Even unto death" will He lead us, and then we shall dwell with Him eternally and go no more out forever. This promise of divine guidance involves lifelong security: salvation at once, guidance unto our last hour, and then endless blessedness. Should not each one seek this in youth, rejoice in it in middle life, and repose in it in old age? This day let us look up for guidance before we trust ourselves out-of-doors.
The Word, Necessary Food
Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4)If God so willed it we could live without bread, even as Jesus did for forty days; but we could not live without His Word. By that Word we were created, and by it alone can we be kept in being, for he sustaineth all things by the Word of His power. Bread is a second cause; the Lord Himself is the first source of our sustenance. He can work without the second cause as well as with it; and we must not tie Him down to one mode of operation. Let us not be too eager after the visible, but let us look to the invisible God. We have heard believers say that in deep poverty, when bread ran short, their appetites became short, too; and to others, when common supplies failed, the Lord has sent in unexpected help.
But we must have the Word of the Lord. With this alone we can withstand the devil. Take this from us, and our enemy will have us in his power, for we shall soon faint. Our souls need food, and there is none for them outside of the Word of the Lord. All the books and all the preachers in the world cannot furnish us a single meal: it is only the Word from the mouth of God that can fill the mouth of a believer. Lord, evermore give us this bread. We prize it above royal dainties.
But I will deliver thee in that day, saith the Lord; and thou shalt not be given into the hand of the men of whom thou art afraid. (Jeremiah 39:17)When the Lord's faithful ones are suffering for Him, they shall have sweet messages of love from Himself, and sometimes they shall have glad tidings for those who sympathize with them and help them. Ebed-melech was only a despised Ethiopian, but he was kind to Jeremiah, and so the Lord sent him this special promise by the mouth of His prophet. Let us be ever mindful of God's persecuted servants, and He will reward us.
Ebed-melech was to be delivered from the men whose vengeance he feared. He was a humble... man, but Jehovah would take care of him. Thousands were slain by the Chaldeans, but [he] could not be hurt. We, too, may be fearful of some great ones who are bitter against us; but if we have been faithful to the Lord's cause in the hour of persecution, He will be faithful to us. After all, what can a man do without the Lord's permission? He puts a bit into the mouth of rage and a bridle upon the head of power. Let us fear the Lord, and we shall have no one else to fear. No cup of cold water given to a despised prophet of God shall be without its reward; and if we stand up for Jesus, Jesus will stand up for us.
His Love; His Gift; His Son
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)Of all the stars in the sky, the polestar is the most useful to the mariner. This text is a polestar, for it has guided more souls to salvation than any other Scripture. It is among promises what the Great Bear is among constellations.
Several words in it shine with peculiar brilliance. Here we have God's love with a "so" to it, which marks its measureless greatness. Then we have God's gift in all its freeness and greatness. This also is God's Son, that unique and priceless gift of a love which could never fully show itself till heaven's Only-begotten had been sent to live and die for men. These three points are full of light.
Then there is the simple requirement of believing, which graciously points to a way of salvation suitable for guilty men. This is backed by a wide description -- "whosoever believeth in him." Many have found room in "whosoever" who would have felt themselves shut out by a narrower word. Then comes the great promise, that believers in Jesus shall not perish but have everlasting life. This is cheering to every man who feels that he is ready to perish and that he cannot save himself. We believe in the Lord Jesus, and we have eternal life.
A Mountain Choir
Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted. (Isaiah 49:13)So sweet are the comforts of the Lord, that not only the saints themselves may sing of them, but even the heavens and the earth may take up the song. It takes something to make a mountain sing; and yet the prophet summons quite a choir of them. Lebanon, and Sirion, and the high hills of Bashan and Moab, He would set them all singing because of Jehovah's grace to His own Zion. May we not also make mountains of difficulty, and trial, and mystery, and labor become occasions for praise unto our God? "Break forth into singing, O mountains!"
This word of promise, that our God will have mercy upon His afflicted, has a whole peal of bells connected with it. Hear their music -- "Sing!" "Be joyful!" "Break forth into singing." The Lord would have His people happy because of His unfailing love. He would not have us sad and doubtful; He claims horn us the worship of believing hearts. He cannot fail us: why should we sigh or sulk as if He would do so? Oh, for a well-tuned harp! Oh, for voices like those of the cherubim before the throne!
An Angel Encampment
The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. (Psalm 34:7)We cannot see the angels, but it is enough that they can see us. There is one great Angel of the Covenant, whom not having seen we love, and His eye is always upon us both day and night. He has a host of holy ones under Him, and He causes these to be watchers over His saints and to guard them from all ill. If devils do us mischief, shining ones do us service.
Note that the Lord of angels does not come and go and pay us transient visits, but He and His armies encamp around us. The headquarters of the army of salvation is where those live whose trust is in the living God. This camp surrounds the faithful so that they cannot be attacked from any quarter unless the adversary can break through the entrenchments of the Lord of angels. We have a fixed protection, a permanent watch. Sentineled by the messengers of God, we shall not be surprised by sudden assaults nor swallowed up by overwhelming forces. Deliverance is promised in this verse -- deliverance by the great Captain of our salvation, and that deliverance we shall obtain again and again until our warfare is accomplished and we exchange the field of conflict for the home of rest.
Faithful and Useful
Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me. (Psalm 101:6)If David spoke thus, we may be sure that the Son of David will be of the same mind. Jesus looks out for faithful men, and He fixes His eyes upon them, to observe them, to bring them forward, to encourage them, and to reward them. Let no true-hearted man think that he is overlooked; the King Himself has His eye upon him.
There are two results of this royal notice. First we read, "That they may dwell with me." Jesus brings the faithful into His house, He sets them in His palace, He makes them His companions, He delights in their society. We must be true to our Lord, and He will then manifest Himself to us. When our faithfulness costs us most, it will be best rewarded; the more furiously men reject, the more joyfully will our Lord receive us.
Next, he says of the sincere man, "He shall serve me." Jesus will use for His own glory those who scorn the tricks of policy and are faithful to Himself, His Word, and His cross. These shall be in His royal retinue, the honored servants of His Majesty. Communion and usefulness are the wages of faithfulness. Lord make me faithful that I may dwell with Thee and serve Thee.
Love the Church
Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favor her, yea, the set time, is come. For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favor the dust thereof. (Psalm 102:13-14)Yes, our prayers for the church will be heard. The set time is come. We love the prayer meetings, and the Sunday school, and all the services of the Lord's house. We are bound in heart to all the people of God and can truly say,
There's not a lamb in all thy flock
I would disdain to feed
There's not a foe before whose face
I'd fear thy cause to plead.
If this is the general feeling, we shall soon enjoy times of refreshing horn the presence of the Lord. Our assemblies will be filled, saints will be revived, and sinners will be converted. This can only come of the Lord's mercy; but it will come, and we are called upon to expect it. The time, the set time, is come. Let us bestir ourselves. Let us love every stone of our Zion, even though it may be fallen down. Let us treasure up the least truth, the least ordinance, the least believer, even though some may despise them as only so much dust. When we favor Zion, God is about to favor her. When we take pleasure in the Lord's work, the Lord Himself will take pleasure in it.
Never Separated from God
And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believeth thou this? (John 11:26)Yes, Lord, we believe it; we shall never die. Our soul may be separated from our body, and this is death of a kind; but our soul shall never be separated from God, which is the true death -- the death which was threatened to sin -- the death penalty which is the worst that can happen. We believe this most assuredly, for who shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord? We are members of the Body of Christ; will Christ lose parts of His Body? We are married to Jesus; will He be bereaved and widowed? It is not possible. There is a life within us which is not capable of being divided from God: yea, and the Holy Spirit dwells within us, and how then can we die? Jesus, Himself, is our life, and therefore there is no dying for us, for He cannot die again, In Him we died unto sin once, and the capital sentence cannot a second time be executed. Now we live, and live forever. The reward of righteousness is life everlasting, and we have nothingless than the righteousness of God, and therefore can claim the very highest reward.
Living and believing, we believe that we shall live and enjoy. Wherefore we press forward with full assurance that our life is secure in our living Head.
Whom, When, How to Deliver
The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished. (2 Peter 2:9)The godly are tempted and tried. That is not true faith which is never put to the test. But the godly are delivered out of their trials, and that not by chance, nor by secondary agencies, but by the Lord Himself. He personally undertakes the office of delivering those who trust Him. God loves the godly or godlike, and He makes a point of knowing where they are and how they fare.
Sometimes their way seems to be a labyrinth, and they cannot imagine how they are to escape from threatening danger. What they do not know, their Lord knows. He knows whom to deliver, and when to deliver, and how to deliver. He delivers in the way which is most beneficial to the godly, most crushing to the tempter, and most glorifying to Himself. We may leave the "how" with the Lord and be content to rejoice in the fact that He will, in some way or other, bring His own people through all the dangers, trials, and temptations for this mortal life to His own right hand in glory.
This day it is not for me to pry into my Lord's secrets but patiently to wait His time, knowing this, that though I know nothing, my heavenly Father knows.
For I will surely deliver thee, and thou shalt not fall by the sword, but thy life shall be for a prey unto thee: because thou hast put thy trust in me, saith the Lord. (Jeremiah 39:18)Behold the protecting power of trust in God. The great men of Jerusalem fell by the sword, but poor Ebed-melech was secure, for his confidence was in Jehovah. Where else should a man trust but in his Maker? We are foolish when we prefer the creature to the Creator. Oh, that we could in all things live by faith, then should we be delivered in all time of danger! No one ever did trust in the Lord in vain, and no one ever shall.
The Lord saith, "I will surely deliver thee," Mark the divine "surely." Whatever else may be uncertain, God's care of believers is sure. God Himself is the guardian of the gracious, Under His sacred wing there is safety even when every danger is abroad. Can we accept this promise as sure? Then in our present emergency we shall find that it stands fast. We hope to be delivered because we have friends, or because we are prudent, or because we can see hopeful signs; but none of these things are one-half so good as God's simple "because thou hast put thy trust in me." Dear reader, try this way, and, trying it, you will keep to it all your life. It is as sweet as it is sure.
Burdens Cast on Him
Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee; he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. (Psalm 55:22)It is a heavy burden; roll it on Omnipotence. It is thy burden now, and it crushes thee; but when the Lord takes it, He will make nothing of it. If thou art called still to bear, "he will sustain thee." It will be on Him and not on thee. Thou wilt be so upheld under it that the burden will be a blessing. Bring the Lord into the matter, and thou wilt stand upright under that which in itself would bow thee down.
Our worst fear is lest our trial should drive us from the path of duty; but this the Lord will never suffer. If we are righteous before Him, He will not endure that our affliction should move us from our standing. In Jesus He accepts us as righteous, and in Jesus He will keep us so.
What about the present moment? Art thou going forth to this day's trial alone? Are thy poor shoulders again to be galled with the oppressive load? Be not so foolish. Tell the Lord all about thy grief and leave it with Him. Don't cast your burden down and then take it up again; but roll it on the Lord and leave it there. Then shalt thou walk at large, a joyful and unburdened believer, singing the praises of thy great Burden-bearer.
The Mourner Comforted
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)By the valley of weeping we come to Zion. One would have thought mourning and being blessed were in opposition, but the infinitely wise Savior puts them together in this Beatitude. What He has joined together let no man put asunder. Mourning for sin -- our own sins, and the sins of others -- is the Lord's seal set upon His faithful ones. When the Spirit of grace is poured upon the house of David, or any other house, they shall mourn. By holy mourning we receive the best of our blessings, even as the rarest commodities come to us by water. Not only shall the mourner be blessed at some future day, but Christ pronounces him blessed even now.
The Holy Spirit will surely comfort those hearts which mourn for sin. They shall be comforted by the application of the blood of Jesus and by the cleansing power of the Holy Ghost. They shall be comforted as to the abounding sin of their city and of their age by the assurance that God will glorify Himself, however much men may rebel against Him. They shall be comforted with the expectation that they shall be wholly freed from sin before long and shall soon be taken up to dwell forever in the glorious presence of their Lord.
Word to Him Who Halts
I will save her that halteth. (Zephaniah 3:19)There are plenty of these lame ones, both male and female. You may meet "her that halteth" twenty times in an hour. They are in the right road and exceedingly anxious to run in it with diligence, but they are lame and make a sorry walk of it. On the heavenly road there are many cripples. It may be that they say in their hearts -- What will become of us? Sin will overtake us; Satan will throw us down. Ready-to-halt is our name and our nature; the Lord can never make good soldiers of us, nor even nimble messengers to go on His errands. Well, well! He will save us, and that is no small thing. He says, "I will save her that halteth." In saving us He will greatly glorify Himself. Everybody will ask -- How came this lame woman to run the race and win the crown? And then the praise will all be given to almighty grace.
Lord, though I halt in faith, in prayer, in praise, in service, and in patience, save me, I beseech Thee! Only Thou canst save such a cripple as I am. Lord, let me not perish because I am among the hindmost, but gather up by Thy grace the slowest of Thy pilgrims -- even me. Behold He hath said it shall be so, and therefore, like Jacob, prevailing in prayer, I go forward though my sinew be shrunk.
Valiant for Truth
The people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. (Daniel 11:32)"The Lord is a man of war, Jehovah is his name." Those who enlist under His banner shall have a Commander who will train them for the conflict and give them both vigor and valor. The times of which Daniel wrote were of the very worst kind, and then it was promised that the people of God would come out in their best colors: they would be strong and stout to confront the powerful adversary.
Oh, that we may know our God: His power, His faithfulness, His immutable love, and so may be ready to risk everything in His behalf. He is One whose character excites our enthusiasm and makes us willing to live and to die for Him. Oh, that we may know our God by familiar fellowship with Him; for then we shall become like Him and shall be prepared to stand up for truth and righteousness. He who comes forth fresh from beholding the face of God will never fear the face of man. If we dwell with Him, we shall catch the heroic spirit, and to us a world of enemies will be but as the drop of a bucket. A countless array of men, or even of devils, will seem as little to us as the nations are to God, and He counts them only as grasshoppers. Oh, to be valiant for truth in this day of falsehood.
I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. (Hosea 2:14)The goodness of God sees us allured by sin, and it resolves to try upon us the more powerful allurements of love. Do we not remember when the Lover of our souls first cast a spell upon us and charmed us away from the fascinations of the world! He will do this again and again whenever He sees us likely to be ensnared by evil.
He promises to draw us apart, for there He can best deal with us, and this separated place is not to be a paradise, but a wilderness, since in such a place there will be nothing to take of our attention from our God. In the deserts of affliction the presence of the Lord becomes everything to us, and we prize His company beyond any value which we set upon it when we sat under our own vine and fig tree in the society of our fellows. Solitude and affliction bring more to themselves and to their heavenly Father than any other means.
When thus allured and secluded the Lord has choice things to say to us for our comfort. He "speaks to our heart," as the original has it. Oh, that at this we may have this promise explained in our experience! Allured by love, separated by trial, and comforted by the Spirit of truth, may we know the Lord and sing for joy!
Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be. (Deuteronomy 33:25)Here are two things provided for the pilgrim: shoes and strength.
As for the shoes: they are very needful for traveling along rough ways and for trampling upon deadly foes. We shall not go barefoot -- this would not be suitable for princes of the blood royal. Our shoes shall not be at all of the common sort, for they shall have soles of durable metal, which will not wear out even if the journey be long and difficult. We shall have protection proportionate to the necessities of the road and the battle. Wherefore let us march boldly on, fearing no harm even though we tread on serpents or set our foot upon the dragon himself.
As for the strength: it shall be continued as long as our days shall continue, and it shall be proportioned to the stress and burden of those days. The words are few, "as thy days thy strength," but the meaning is full. This day we may look for trial, and for work which will require energy, but we may just as confidently look for equal strength. This word given to Asher is given to us also who have faith wherewith to appropriate it. Let us rise to the holy boldness which it is calculated to create within the believing heart.
Looking for Him
Unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. (Hebrews 9:28)This is our hope. He to whom we have already looked as coming once to bear the sins of many will have another manifestation to the sons of men; this is a happy prospect in itself. But that second appearing has certain peculiar marks which glorify it exceedingly.
Our Lord will have ended the business of sin. He has so taken it away from His people and so effectually borne its penalty that He will have nothing to do with it at His second coming. He will present no sin offering, for He will have utterly put sin away.
Our Lord will then complete the salvation of His people. They will be finally and perfectly saved and will in every respect enjoy the fullness of that salvation. He comes not to bear the result of our transgressions but to bring the result of His obedience; not to remove our condemnation but to perfect our salvation.
Our Lord thus appears only to those who look for Him. He will not be seen in this character by men whose eyes are blinded with self and sin. To them He will be a terrible Judge and nothing more. We must first look to Him and then look for Him; and in both cases our look shall be life.
Shine as Many Stars
And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. (Daniel 12:3)Here is something to wake me up. This is worth living for. To be wise is a noble thing in itself: in this place it refers to a divine wisdom which only the Lord Himself can bestow. Oh, to know myself, my God, my Savior! May I be so divinely taught that l may carry into practice heavenly truth and live in the light of it! Is my life a wise one? Am I seeking that which I ought to seek? Am I living as I shall wish I had lived when I come to die? Only such wisdom can secure for me eternal brightness as of yonder sunlit skies.
To be a winner of souls is a glorious attainment. I had need to be wise if I am to turn even one to righteousness; much more if I am to turn many, Oh, for the knowledge of God, of men, of the Word, and of Christ, which will enable me to convert my fellowmen and to convert large numbers of them! I would give myself to this, and never rest till I accomplish it. This will be better than winning stars at court. This will make me a star, a shining star, a star shining forever and ever; yea, more, it will make roe shine as many stars. My soul, arouse thyself. Lord, quicken me!
An Eternal Pledge
And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving kindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness; and thou shalt know the Lord. (Hosea 2:19-20)Betrothment unto the Lord! What an honor and a joy! My soul, is Jesus indeed thine by His own condescending betrothal? Then, mark it is forever. He will never break His engagement, much less sue out a divorce against a soul joined to Himself in marriage bonds.
Three times the Lord says, "I will betroth thee." What words He heaps together to set forth the betrothal! Righteousness comes in to make the covenant legal; none can forbid these lawful bans. Judgment sanctions the alliance with its decree: none can see folly or error in the match. Lovingkindness warrants that this is a love union, for without love betrothal is bondage and not blessedness. Meanwhile, mercy smiles and even sings; yea, she multiplies herself into "mercies" because of the abounding grace of this holy union.
Faithfulness is the registrar and records the marriage, and the Holy Spirit says "Amen" to it as He promises to teach the betrothal heart all the sacred knowledge needful for its high destiny, What a promise!
Absolutely No Remembrance
And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. (Hebrews 10:17)According to this gracious covenant the Lord treats His people as if they had never sinned. Practically, He forgets all their trespasses. Sins of all kinds He treats as if they had never been, as if they were quite erased from His memory. O miracle of grace! God here doth that which in certain aspects is impossible to Him. His mercy worketh miracles which far transcend all other miracles.
Our God ignores our sin now that the sacrifice of Jesus has ratified the covenant. We may rejoice in Him without fear that He will be provoked to anger against us because of our iniquities. See! He puts us among the children; He accepts us as righteous; He takes delight in us as if we were perfectly holy. He even puts us into places of trust; makes us guardians of His honor, trustees of the crown jewels, stewards of the gospel. He counts us worthy and gives us a ministry; this is the highest and most special proof that He does not remember our sins. Even when we forgive an enemy, we are very slow to trust him; we judge it to be imprudent so to do. But the Lord forgets our sins and treats us as if we had never erred. O my soul, what a promise is this! Believe it and be happy.
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment. (Revelation 3:5)Warrior of the cross, fight on! Never rest till thy victory is complete, for thine eternal reward will prove worthy of a life of warfare.
See, here is perfect purity for thee! A few in Sardis kept their garments undefiled, and their recompense is to be spotless. Perfect holiness is the prize of our high calling; let us not miss it.
See, here is joy! Thou shalt wear holiday robes, such as men put on at wedding feasts; thou shalt be clothed with gladness and be made bright with rejoicing. Painful struggles shall end in peace of conscience and joy in the Lord.
See, here is victory! Thou shalt have thy triumph. Palm, and crown, and white robe shall be thy guerdon; thou shalt be treated as a conqueror and owned as such by the Lord Himself.
See, here is priestly array! Thou shalt stand before the Lord in such raiment as the sons of Aaron wore; thou shalt offer the sacrifices of thanksgiving and draw near unto the Lord with the incense of praise.
Who would not fight for a Lord who gives such large honors to the very least of His faithful servants? Who would not be clothed in a fool's coat for Christ's sake, seeing He will robe us with glory?
Nothing to Alarm Us
But go thou thy quay till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days. (Daniel 12:13)We cannot understand all the prophecies, but yet we regard them with pleasure and not with dismay. There can be nothing in the Father's decree which should justly alarm His child. Though the abomination of desolation be set up, yet the true believer shall not be defiled; rather shall he be purified, and made white, and tried. Though the earth be burned up, no smell of fire shall come upon the chosen. Amid the crash of matter and the wreck of worlds, the Lord Jehovah will preserve His own.
Calmly resolute in duty, brave in conflict, patient in suffering, let us go our way, keeping to our road, and neither swerving from it nor loitering in it. The end will come; let us go our way till it does.
Rest will be ours, All other things swing to and fro, but our foundation standeth sure. God rests in His love, and, therefore, we rest in it. Our peace is, and ever shall be, like a river. A lot in the heavenly Canaan is ours, and we shall stand in it, come what may. The God of Daniel will give a worthy portion to all who dare to be decided for truth and holiness as Daniel was. No den of lions shall deprive us of our sure inheritance.
A Change of Name
And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali; for I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name. (Hosea 2:16-17)That day has come. We view our God no more as Baal, our tyrant lord and mighty master, for we are not under law but under grace. We now think of Jehovah, our God, as our Ishi, our beloved husband, our lord in love, our next-of-kin in bonds of sacred relationship. We do not serve Him less obediently, but we serve Him for a higher and more endearing reason. We no longer tremble under His lash but rejoice in His love. The slave is changed into a child and the task into a pleasure.
Is it so with thee, dear reader? Has grace cast out slavish fear and implanted filial love? How happy are we in such an experience! Now we call the Lord's day a delight, and worship is never a weariness. Prayer is now a privilege, and praise is a holiday. To obey is heaven; to give to the cause of God is a banquet. Thus have all things become new. Our mouth is filled with singing and our heart with music. Blessed be our heavenly Ishi forever and ever.
More than Mere Words
I wilt give you the sure mercies of David. (Acts 13:34)Nothing of man is sure; but everything of God is so. Especially are covenant mercies sure mercies, even as David said "an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure."
We are sure that the Loci meant His mercy. He did not speak mere wards: there is substance and truth in every one of His promises. His mercies are mercies indeed. Even if a promise seems as if it must drop through by reason of death, yet it never shall, for the good Lord will make good His word.
We are sure that the Lord will bestow promised mercies on all His covenanted ones. They shall come in due course to all the chosen of the Lord. They are sure to all the seed, from the least of them unto the greatest of them. We are sure that the Lord will continue His mercies to His own people. He does not give and take. What He has granted us is the token of much more. That which we have not yet received is as sure as that which has already come; therefore, let us wait before the Lord and be still. There is no justifiable reason for the least doubt. God's love, and word, and faithfulness are sure. Many things are questionable, but of the Lord we sing --
For his mercies shall endure
Ever faithful, ever sure.
Bow Down; Be Lifted Up
Humble yourselves therefore order the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. (1 Peter 5:6)This is tantamount to a promise: if we will bow down, the Lord will lift us up. Humility leads to honor; submission is the way to exaltation. That same hand of God which presses us down is waiting to raise us up when we are prepared to bear the blessing. We stoop to conquer. Many cringe before men and yet miss the patronage they crave; but he that humbles himself under the hand of God shall not fail to be enriched, uplifted, sustained, and comforted by the ever-gracious One. It is a habit of Jehovah to cast down the proud and lift up the lowly.
Yet there is a time for the Lord's working. We ought now to humble ourselves, even at this present moment; and we are bound to keep on doing so whether the Lord lays His afflicting hand upon us or not. When the Lord smites, it is our special duty to accept the chastisement with profound submission. But as for the Lord's exaltation of us, that can only come "in due time," and God is the best judge of that day and hour. Do we cry out impatiently for the blessing? Would we wish for untimely honor? What are we at? Surely we are not truly humbled, or we should wait with quiet submission. So let us do.
He Routs Our Enemy
He hath cast out thine enemy. (Zephaniah 3:15)What a casting out was that! Satan has lost his throne in our nature even as he lost his seat in heaven. Our Lord Jesus has destroyed the enemy's reigning power over us. He may worry us, but he cannot claim us as his own. His bonds are no longer upon our spirits: the Son has made us free, and we are free indeed.
Still is the archenemy the accuser of the brethren; but even from this position our Lord has driven him. Our Advocate silences our accuser. The Lord rebukes our enemies and pleads the causes of our soul, so that no harm comes of all the devil's revilings.
As a tempter, the evil spirit still assails us and insinuates himself into our minds; but thence also is he cast out as to his former preeminence. He wriggles about like a serpent, but he cannot rule like a sovereign. He hurls in blasphemous thoughts when he has opportunity; but what a relief it is when he is told to be quiet and is made to slink off like a whipped cur! Lord, do this for any who are at this time worried and wearied by his barkings. Cast out their enemy, and be Thou glorious in their eyes. Thou hast cast him down; Lord, cast him out. Oh, that Thou wouldst banish him from the world!
Promise of Future Meeting
l will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice. (John 16:22)Surely He will come a second time, and then, when He sees us and we see Him, there will be rejoicings indeed. Oh, for that joyous return! But this promise is being dainty fulfilled in another sense. Our gracious Lord has many "agains" in His dealings with us. He gave us pardon, and He sees us again and repeats the absolving word as fresh sins cause us grief. He has revealed to us our acceptance before God, and when our faith in that blessing grows a little dim, He comes to us again and again and says, "Peace be unto you," and our hearts are glad.
Beloved, all our past mercies are tokens of future mercies. If Jesus has been with us, He will see us again. Look upon no former favor as a dead and buried thing, to be mourned over; but regard it as a seed sown, which will grow, and push its head up from the dust, and cry, "I will see you again." Are the times dark because Jesus is not with us as He used to be? Let us pluck up courage; for He will not be long away. His feet are as those of a roe or young hart, and they will soon bring Him to us. Wherefore let us begin to be joyous, since He saith to us even now, "I will see you again."
An Appeal; Deliverance
And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. (Psalm 50:15)This is a promise indeed!
Here is an urgent occasion -- "the day of trouble." It is dark at noon on such a day, and every hour seems blacker than the one which came before it. Then is this promise in season: it is written for the cloudy day.
Here is condescending advice, "Call upon me." We ought not to need the exhortation: it should be our constant habit all the day and every day. What a mercy to have liberty to call upon God! What wisdom to make good use of it! How foolish to go running about to men! The Lord invites us to lay our case before Him, and surely we will not hesitate to do so.
Here is reassuring encouragement: "I will deliver thee." Whatever the trouble may be, the Lord makes no exceptions but promises full, sure, happy deliverance. He will Himself work out our deliverance by His own hand. We believe it, and the Lord honors faith.
Here is an ultimate result: "Thou shalt glorify me." Ah, that we will do most abundantly. When He has delivered us we will loudly praise Him; and as He is sure to do it, let us begin to glorify Him at once.