Keep Unity

May the Lord lead your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s patience. 2 THESSALONIANS 3:5

“All people will know that you are my followers if you love each other” (John 13:35). Stop and think about this verse for a minute. Could it be that unity is the key to reaching the world for Christ?

If unity is the key to evangelism, shouldn’t it have precedence in our prayers? Should we, as Paul said, “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3 NIV)? If unity matters to God, then shouldn’t unity matter to us? If unity is a priority in heaven, then shouldn’t it be a priority on earth?

Nowhere, by the way, are we told to build unity. We are told simply to keep unity. From God’s perspective there is but “one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:16). Unity does not need to be created; it simply needs to be protected.

How do we do that? … Does that mean we compromise our convictions? No. Does that mean we abandon the truths we cherish? No. But it does mean we look long and hard at the attitudes we carry.

In the Grip of Grace

GOD’S BOTTOMLESS WELL

“If anyone believes in me, rivers of living water will flow out from that person’s heart.” JOHN 7:38

Don’t you need regular sips from God’s reservoir? I do. In countless situations—stressful meetings, dull days, long drives, demanding trips—and many times a day, I step to the underground spring of God. There I receive anew his work for my sin and death, the energy of his Spirit, his lordship, and his love.

Drink with me from his bottomless well. You don’t have to live with a dehydrated heart.

Receive Christ’s work on the Cross,

the energy of his Spirit

his lordship over your life,

his unending, unfailing love.

Drink deeply and often. And out of you will flow rivers of living water.

from COME THIRSTY

The Gospel of Peace

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” (Isaiah 52:7)

Surprisingly, there are more verses containing the word “peace” in the Old Testament book of Isaiah (King James Version) than in any other book of the Bible. The central occurrence (15 before, 15 after) is in our text, speaking of those whose feet travel with the beautiful gospel (that is, “good tidings,” mentioned twice in this verse) of peace. The one proclaiming this gospel is said to be publishing salvation; announcing the imminent reign of God the Savior over all the earth.

The first mention of “peace” in Isaiah speaks of the coming King and His reign, and so does the final occurrence. First, “the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called . . . The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Then, in Isaiah’s last chapter we read, “For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to |Zion| like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream” (Isaiah 66:12).

This wonderful gospel of peace is specifically mentioned just twice in the New Testament. The first is a direct quotation from our text. “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15).

The second is in connection with the Christian’s spiritual armor. The “beautiful feet” that are to carry the good tidings are, most appropriately, to be “shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). It is our high privilege to be among those whose feet travel upon the mountains, and across the plains, and over the seas with the beautiful gospel of peace and salvation. HMM

At their wit’s end, they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out

“At their wit’s end, they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out.” (Psalm 107:27, 28.)

Are you standing at “Wit’s End Corner,”
Christian, with troubled brow?
Are you thinking of what is before you,
And all you are bearing now?
Does all the world seem against you,
And you in the battle alone?
Remember—at “Wit’s End Corner”
Is just where God’s power is shown.

Are you standing at “Wit’s End Corner,”
Blinded with wearying pain,
Feeling you cannot endure it,
You, cannot bear the strain,
Bruised through the constant suffering,
Dizzy, and dazed, and numb?
Remember—at “Wit’s End Corner”
Is where Jesus loves to come.

Are you standing at “Wit’s End Corner”?
Your work before you spread,
All lying begun, unfinished,
And pressing on heart and head,
Longing for strength to do it,
Stretching out trembling hands?
Remember—at “Wit’s End Corner”
The Burden-bearer stands.

Are you standing at “Wit’s End Corner”?
Then you’re just in the very spot
To learn the wondrous resources
Of Him who faileth not;
No doubt to a brighter pathway
Your footsteps will soon be moved,
But only at “Wit’s End Corner”
Is the “God who is able” proved.
—Antoinette Wilson.

Do not get discouraged; it may be the last key in the bunch that opens the door.—Stansifer.

Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money

“Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money.” Isaiah 43:24

Worshippers at the temple were wont to bring presents of sweet perfumes to be burned upon the altar of God: but Israel, in the time of her backsliding, became ungenerous, and made but few votive offerings to her Lord: this was an evidence of coldness of heart towards God and His house. Reader, does this never occur with you? Might not the complaint of the text be occasionally, if not frequently, brought against you?

Those who are poor in pocket, if rich in faith, will be accepted none the less because their gifts are small; but, poor reader, do you give in fair proportion to the Lord, or is the widow’s mite kept back from the sacred treasury? The rich believer should be thankful for the talent entrusted to him, but should not forget his large responsibility, for where much is given much will be required; but, rich reader, are you mindful of your obligations, and rendering to the Lord according to the benefit received? Jesus gave His blood for us, what shall we give to Him? We are His, and all that we have, for He has purchased us unto Himself—can we act as if we were our own? O for more consecration! and to this end, O
for more love!

Blessed Jesus, how good it is of Thee to accept our sweet cane bought with money! nothing is too costly as a tribute to Thine unrivalled love, and yet Thou dost receive with favour the smallest sincere token of affection! Thou dost receive our poor forget-me-nots and lovetokens as though they were intrinsically precious, though indeed they are but as the bunch of wild flowers which the child brings to its mother. Never may we grow niggardly towards Thee, and from this hour never may we hear Thee complain of us again for withholding the gifts of our love. We will give Thee the first fruits of our increase, and pay Thee tithes of all, and then we will confess “of Thine own have we given Thee.”

The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me

“The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me.” Psalm 138:8

Most manifestly the confidence which the Psalmist here expressed was a divine confidence. He did not say, “I have grace enough to perfect that which concerneth me—my faith is so steady that it will not stagger—my love is so warm that it will never grow cold—my resolution is so firm that nothing can move it; no, his dependence was on the Lord alone. If we indulge in any confidence which is not grounded on the Rock of ages, our confidence is worse than a dream, it will fall upon us, and cover us with its ruins, to our sorrow and confusion.

All that Nature spins time will unravel, to the eternal confusion of all who are clothed therein. The Psalmist was wise, he rested upon nothing short of the Lord’s work. It is the Lord who has begun the good work within us; it is He who has carried it on; and if he does not finish it, it never will be complete. If there be one stitch in the celestial garment of our righteousness which we are to insert ourselves, then we are lost; but this is our confidence, the Lord who began will perfect.

He has done it all, must do it all, and will do it all. Our confidence must not be in what we have done, nor in what we have resolved to do, but entirely in what the Lord will do. Unbelief insinuates—”You will never be able to stand. Look at the evil of your heart, you can never conquer sin; remember the sinful pleasures and temptations of the world that beset you, you will be certainly allured by them and led astray.”

Ah! yes, we should indeed perish if left to our own strength. If we had alone to navigate our frail vessels over so rough a sea, we might well give up the voyage in despair; but, thanks be to God, He will perfect that which concerneth us, and bring us to the desired haven. We can never be too confident when we confide in Him alone, and never too much concerned to have such a trust.