In the Arms of God

Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. JOHN 11:26

We don’t like to say good-bye to those whom we love. Whether it be at a school or a cemetery, separation is tough. It is right for us to weep, but there is no need for us to despair. They had pain here. They have no pain there. They struggled here. They have no struggles there. You and I might wonder why God took them home. But they don’t. They understand. They are, at this very moment, at peace in the presence of God.…

When it is cold on earth, we can take comfort in knowing that our loved ones are in the warm arms of God. And when Christ comes, we will hold them, too.

When Christ Comes

The Lord’s Rescue Plan

Romans 3:10-26

The Creator placed two people with clean souls in the Garden of Eden, but when Adam and Eve chose to disobey, their hearts became sinful. God had told them that the penalty for their sin was death (Gen. 2: 17). Mankind’s first parents bequeathed their sin nature to the entire human race. So we are all born with hearts rebelling against God. Like a toddler who defies his parents by touching a forbidden item, we disobey our heavenly Father because we prefer to follow our own desires.

It is not our wrong conduct that condemns us, but rather the fact that our nature is corrupt. Whether good or bad, our deeds don’t determine where we will spend eternity. Apart from the Lord, no one is righteous—not a single person has done enough good to earn a place in heaven. But the Father loves us and wants us to live with Him eternally. So, before the creation of the world, He planned a solution.

The rescue plan was simple—a perfect sacrifice had to be made for mankind’s sin so that everyone could be blameless before a holy God. By accepting this sacrifice on his or her own behalf, any individual would receive a new nature to replace the corrupted one. In addition, the Holy Spirit would indwell that person to provide truth and guidance.

The sacrifice was Jesus Christ, who died on the cross, bearing all our sin. When we trust Him as Savior, our “flesh” nature dies with Him. The Holy Spirit comes to make our hearts new so we can find joy in obeying God. We are rescued and set free!

My Hands and Feet

“Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” (Romans 6:13)

Yesterday we considered our total consecration to God using the first verse of the sweet hymn “Take My Life and Let It Be.” Today we look at verse two.

Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

This verse considers the use of our hands and feet, and by implication our entire bodies. They can be used in ways that grieve God, but He created them and their proper function is to glorify Him. God desires that we employ our physical abilities to worship Him and serve others, not to please ourselves or engage in sin. He declares, “I will that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (1 Timothy 2:8). “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15).

Conversely, “these six things doth the LORD hate . . . A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief” (Proverbs 6:16-18). A fruitful follower of Christ will avoid these things.

He has promised not to let us wander aimlessly. He gives us protection as we go, for “he maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon my high places” (Psalm 18:33). We also have His “roadmap”: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). How can we fail? JDM

These men were going to do Christ’s work, and the door was shut against them by Christ’s Spirit

“After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.” (Acts 16:7.)

WHAT a strange prohibition! These men were going into Bithynia just to do Christ’s work, and the door is shut against them by Christ’s own Spirit. I, too, have experienced this in certain moments. I have sometimes found myself interrupted in what seemed to me a career of usefulness. Opposition came and forced me to go back, or sickness came and compelled me to retire into a desert apart.

It was hard at such times to leave my work undone when I believed that work to be the service of the Spirit. But I came to remember that the Spirit has not only a service of work, but a service of waiting. I came to see that in the Kingdom of Christ there are not only times for action, but times in which to forbear acting. I came to learn that the desert place apart is often the most useful spot in the varied life of man—more rich in harvest than the seasons in which the corn and wine abounded. I have been taught to thank the blessed Spirit that many a darling Bithynia had to be left unvisited by me.

And so, Thou Divine Spirit, would I still be led by Thee. Still there come to me disappointed prospects of usefulness. Today the door seems to open into life and work for Thee; tomorrow it closes before me just as I am about to enter.

Teach me to see another door in the very inaction of the hour. Help me to find in the very prohibition thus to serve Thee, a new opening into Thy service. Inspire me with the knowledge that a man may at times be called to do his duty by doing nothing, to work by keeping still, to serve by waiting. When I remember the power of the “still small voice,” I shall not murmur that sometimes the Spirit suffers me not to go. —George Matheson.

“When I cannot understand my Father’s leading,
And it seems to be but hard and cruel fate,
Still I hear that gentle whisper ever pleading,
God is working, God is faithful, ONLY WAIT.”

I sleep, but my heart is awake

“I sleep, but my heart waketh.” Song 5:2

Paradoxes abound in Christian experience, and here is one—the spouse was asleep, and yet she was awake. He only can read the believer’s riddle who has ploughed with the heifer of his experience. The two points in this evening’s text are—a mournful sleepiness and a hopeful wakefulness. I sleep. Through sin that dwelleth in us we may become lax in holy duties, slothful in religious exercises, dull in spiritual joys, and altogether supine and careless.

This is a shameful state for one in whom the quickening Spirit dwells; and it is dangerous to the highest degree. Even wise virgins sometimes slumber, but it is high time for all to shake off the bands of sloth. It is to be feared that many believers lose their strength as Samson lost his locks, while sleeping on the lap of carnal security. With a perishing world around us, to sleep is cruel; with eternity so near at hand, it is madness. Yet we are none of us so much awake as we should be; a few thunder-claps would do us all good, and it may be, unless we soon bestir ourselves, we shall have them in the form of war, or pestilence, or personal bereavements and losses. O that we may leave for ever the couch of fleshly ease, and go forth with flaming torches to meet the coming Bridegroom!

My heart waketh. This is a happy sign. Life is not extinct, though sadly smothered. When our renewed heart struggles against our natural heaviness, we should be grateful to sovereign grace for keeping a little vitality within the body of this death. Jesus will hear our hearts, will help our hearts, will visit our hearts; for the voice of the wakeful heart is really the voice of our Beloved, saying, “Open to me.” Holy zeal will surely unbar the door.

“Oh lovely attitude! He stands
With melting heart and laden hands;
My soul forsakes her every sin;
And lets the heavenly stranger in.”

Band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way

“For I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way: because we had spoken unto the king, saying, The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek Him; but His power and His wrath is against all them that forsake Him.” Ezra 8:22

A convoy on many accounts would have been desirable for the pilgrim band, but a holy shamefacedness would not allow Ezra to seek one. He feared lest the heathen king should think his professions of faith in God to be mere hypocrisy, or imagine that the God of Israel was not able to preserve His own worshippers. He could not bring his mind to lean on an arm of flesh in a matter so evidently of the Lord, and therefore the caravan set out with no visible protection, guarded by Him who is the sword and shield of His people.

It is to be feared that few believers feel this holy jealousy for God; even those who in a measure walk by faith, occasionally mar the lustre of their life by craving aid from man. It is a most blessed thing to have no props and no buttresses, but to stand upright on the Rock of Ages, upheld by the Lord alone.

Would any believers seek state endowments for their Church, if they remembered that the Lord is dishonoured by their asking Caesar’s aid? as if the Lord could not supply the needs of His own cause! Should we run so hastily to friends and relations for assistance, if we remembered that the Lord is magnified by our implicit reliance upon His solitary arm? My soul, wait thou only upon God. “But,” says one, “are not means to be used?” Assuredly they are; but our fault seldom lies in their neglect: far more frequently it springs out of foolishly believing in them instead of believing in God. Few run too far in neglecting the creature’s arm; but very many sin greatly in making too much of it. Learn, dear reader, to glorify the Lord by leaving means untried, if by using them thou wouldst dishonour the name of the Lord.