THEY COULDN’T FORGET HIM

“Jesus is the One whom God raised from the dead. And we are all witnesses to this.” ACTS 2:32

We don’t know where the disciples went when they fled the garden, but we do know what they took: a memory. They took a heart-stopping memory of a man who called himself no less than God in the flesh. And they couldn’t get him out of their minds. Try as they might to lose him in the crowd, they couldn’t forget him.

If they saw a leper, they thought of his compassion.

If they heard a storm, they would remember the day he silenced one.

If they saw a child, they would think of the day he held one.

And if they saw a lamb being carried to the temple, they would remember his face streaked with blood and his eyes flooded with love.

No, they couldn’t forget him. As a result, they came back. And, as a result, the church of our Lord began with a group of frightened men in an upper room.

from SIX HOURS ONE FRIDAY

No Risk

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. —Ephesians 2:8

A colleague recently shared an experience I don’t intend to try personally—bungee jumping. I found his description of the event both fascinating and terrifying. To think of jumping headfirst from a bridge hundreds of feet in the air suspended only by a giant rubber band is not my idea of a good time. But his leap was not without support. He described not one, but two heavy-duty harnesses that secured him to his lifeline—and to safety. The careful design and proven testing of those harnesses gave him great confidence as he jumped into the air.

As I listened, it occurred to me that for the follower of Christ, living in a sinful world is not a blind “leap of faith.” We too have a pair of protections that can secure us in even the darkest times of life. In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul wrote these words, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

It’s in these twin harnesses—God’s grace and faith in the finished work of Jesus—that our relationship with God safely rests. In the strength of these provisions, salvation is not a risky leap into the void. It’s an exercise of confidence in God’s Word and His unfailing love and protection. by Bill Crowder

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed! —Newton

We can expect God’s peace when we accept God’s grace.

The Proof of Obedience

“And hereby do we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” (1 John 2:3)

Jesus once said, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). Poignant question. A familiar complaint of those who despise Christian teaching is that “Christians” don’t act like Christians! It is a sad commentary on the condition of the Lord’s family when the ungodly are more aware of the expected behavior of God’s people than the Christians are.

Of course, the issue is not unique to the New Testament times. Israel’s historical saga is replete with seasons of rebellion and repentance—so much so that the psalmist prayed:

That the generation to come. . . .might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: and might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God. (Psalm 78:6-8)

The emphasis by John in his first epistle, however, is not on the reasons for willful disobedience, but on the results of willing obedience.

-Walking in the “light” ensures fellowship (1 John 1:7).
-Constant and willing obedience produces an effective prayer life (1 John 3:22).
-A lifestyle of obedience brings an awareness of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling (1 John 3:24).
-Loving God produces obedience, which in turn brings joy in that obedience (1 John 5:3).

Our deeds show whom we serve (1 John 3:7). Our righteous deeds prove whom we serve (Matthew 7:16-20). HMM III

They stood and let down their wings

“And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings.” (Ezek. 1:25.)

THAT is the letting down of the wings? People so often say, “How do you get the voice of the Lord?” Here is the secret. They heard the voice when they stood and let down their wings.

We have seen a bird with fluttering wings; though standing still, its wings are fluttering. But here we are told they heard the voice when they stood and had let down their wings.

Do we not sometimes kneel or sit before the Lord and yet feel conscious of a fluttering of our spirits? Not a real stillness in His presence.

A dear one told me several days ago of a certain thing she prayed about, “But,” said she, “I did not wait until the answer came.”

She did not get still enough to hear Him speak, but went away and followed her own thought in the matter. And the result proved disastrous and she had to retrace her steps.

Oh, how much energy is wasted! How much time is lost by not letting down the wings of our spirit and getting very quiet before Him! Oh, the calm, the rest, the peace which come as we wait in His presence until we hear from Him!

Then, ah then, we can go like lightning, and turn not as we go but go straight forward whithersoever the Spirit goes. (Ezek. 1:1, 20.)

“Be still! Just now be still!
Something thy soul hath never heard,
Something unknown to any song of bird,
Something unknown to any wind, or wave, or star,
A message from the Fatherland afar,
That with sweet joy the homesick soul shall thrill,
Cometh to thee if thou canst but be still.

“Be still! Just now be still!
There comes a presence very mild and sweet;
White are the sandals of His noiseless feet.
It is the Comforter whom Jesus sent
To teach thee what the words He uttered meant.
The willing, waiting spirit, He doth fill.
If thou would’st hear His message,
Dear soul, be still!”

Then Israel sang this song, Spring up, O well

“Then Israel sang this song, Spring up, O well; sing ye unto it.” Numbers 21:17

Famous was the well of Beer in the wilderness, because it was the subject of a promise: “That is the well whereof the Lord spake unto Moses, Gather the people together, and I will give them water.” The people needed water, and it was promised by their gracious God. We need fresh supplies of heavenly grace, and in the covenant the Lord has pledged Himself to give all we require.

The well next became the cause of a song. Before the water gushed forth, cheerful faith prompted the people to sing; and as they saw the crystal fount bubbling up, the music grew yet more joyous. In like manner, we who believe the promise of God should rejoice in the prospect of divine revivals in our souls, and as we experience them our holy joy should overflow. Are we thirsting? Let us not murmur, but sing. Spiritual thirst is bitter to bear, but we need not bear it—the promise indicates a well; let us be of good heart, and look for it. Moreover, the well was the centre of prayer. “Spring up, O well.” What God has engaged to give, we must enquire after, or we manifest that we have neither desire nor faith.

This evening let us ask that the Scripture we have read, and our devotional exercises, may not be an empty formality, but a channel of grace to our souls. O that God the Holy Spirit would work in us with all His mighty power, filling us with all the fulness of God. Lastly, the well was the object of effort. “The nobles of the people digged it with their staves.” The Lord would have us active in obtaining grace. Our staves are ill adapted for digging in the sand, but we must use them to the utmost of our ability. Prayer must not be neglected; the assembling of ourselves together must not be forsaken; ordinances must not be slighted. The Lord will give us His peace most plenteously, but not in a way of idleness. Let us, then, bestir ourselves to seek Him in whom are all our fresh springs.

“Help, Lord”

“Help, Lord.” Psalm 12:1

The prayer itself is remarkable, for it is short, but seasonable, sententious, and suggestive. David mourned the fewness of faithful men, and therefore lifted up his heart in supplication—when the creature failed, he flew to the Creator. He evidently felt his own weakness, or he would not have cried for help; but at the same time he intended honestly to exert himself for the cause of truth, for the word “help” is inapplicable where we ourselves do nothing.

There is much of directness, clearness of perception, and distinctness of utterance in this petition of two words; much more, indeed, than in the long rambling outpourings of certain professors. The Psalmist runs straightforward to his God, with a well-considered prayer; he knows what he is seeking, and where to seek it. Lord, teach us to pray in the same blessed manner. The occasions for the use of this prayer are frequent. In providential afflictions how suitable it is for tried believers who find all helpers failing them. Students, in doctrinal difficulties, may often obtain aid by lifting up this cry of “Help, Lord,” to the Holy Spirit, the great Teacher. Spiritual warriors in inward conflicts may send to the throne for reinforcements, and this will be a model for their request. Workers in heavenly labour may thus obtain grace in time of need.

Seeking sinners, in doubts and alarms, may offer up the same weighty supplication; in fact, in all these cases, times, and places, this will serve the turn of needy souls. “Help, Lord,” will suit us living and dying, suffering or labouring, rejoicing or sorrowing. In Him our help is found, let us not be slack to cry to Him. The answer to the prayer is certain, if it be sincerely offered through Jesus. The Lord’s character assures us that He will not leave His people; His relationship as Father and Husband guarantee us His aid; His gift of Jesus is a pledge of every good thing; and His sure promise stands, “Fear not, I WILL HELP THEE.”