“NO MORE”

The Lord himself will come down from heaven with a loud command. 1 THESSALONIANS 4:16

Have you ever wondered what that command will be? It will be the inaugural word of heaven. It will be the first audible message most have heard from God. It will be the word that closes one age and opens a new one.

I think I know what the command will be. I could very well be wrong, but I think the command that puts an end to the pains of the earth and initiates the joys of heaven will be two words: “No more.”

The King of kings will raise his pierced hand and proclaim, “No more.”

The angels will stand, and the Father will speak, “No more.”

Every person who lives and who ever lived will turn toward the sky and hear God announce,

“No more.”

No more loneliness.

No more tears.

No more death. No more sadness. No more crying. No more pain.

from AND THE ANGELS WERE SILENT

The Blessings of Inadequacy

2 Corinthians 2:15-17

Most of us assume that feelings of inadequacy are enemies to be subdued rather than friends to be employed. In some cases, though, these feelings can prepare us for great accomplishments. That is what the apostle Paul discovered when he set out to preach the gospel to all creation. In spite of his great learning and varied gifts, Paul acknowledged that he was not sufficient in himself to minister for the Lord. By taking that attitude, he was able to step out beyond his own personal limits and tap into supernatural power.

Many times, we fail to follow suit because we so easily surrender to our inadequacies. We may use our limitations as an excuse for not taking on difficult assignments—all too often we say, “I can’t do this” or “I don’t want that responsibility” when faced with God’s call to serve. But our excuses are unacceptable because the Holy Spirit will empower us for any task the Lord assigns.

Unless we claim God’s supernatural power, we run the risk of multiplied failure. First of all, we miss out on the joy, peace, and contentment derived from stepping out in faith to answer the Lord’s “impossible” call and watching His enablement. In addition, our hesitancy may deprive other people of the benefits of our service.

Perhaps you feel that you don’t have a lot to offer, but if you are a child of God, He has equipped you with all that you need for serving Him. Never underestimate the impact of one person who has learned how to depend upon the adequacy of Almighty God.

The Beauty of Holiness, Part 2

“Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11)

The objective, stunning beauty of holiness (2 Chronicles 20:21) has profound ramifications for theology. Scripture identifies God as supremely holy (Leviticus 11:44-45; 1 Peter 1:16). Therefore, He is gloriously and overwhelmingly beautiful.

He is holy and beautiful in His omniscience, since no one else knows all things. His omnipresence and omnipotence are also utterly unique and, therefore, holy and striking. In His freedom, eternality, self-existence, self-sufficiency, justice, mercy, grace, love, forgiveness—in all of His attributes—He is holy and magnificent, since His attributes are set apart from everyone and everything else! God’s holiness—and, therefore, His beauty—extend to every aspect of His being.

The beauty of God’s holiness intensifies our condemnation as sinners. Our sinfulness is seen first and foremost in our consistent disobedience to the greatest commandment in Scripture, loving God with our entire being (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37). Many wake up in the morning without giving Him a second thought. The wickedness of this act is magnified in light of the extraordinary and dreadful beauty of God’s holiness. Refusing to love God is not just wrong; it is also horrifically ugly.

In the human realm, we recognize how beauty amplifies the evil of an act. What would we think of people who gleefully throw mud at a pure white wedding dress, vandalize classic and precious works of art, or burn copies of Shakespeare’s plays? At best, we label them confused. At worst, we label them perverse.

Our refusal to love the beautiful and majestic God—“glorious in holiness” in today’s verse—is a reprehensible and disgraceful travesty. How low and base an activity is sin! How acute our need for a Savior. NTJ

God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ

“God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” (Gal. 6:14.)

THEY were living to themselves; self with its hopes, and promises and dreams, still had hold of them; but the Lord began to fulfill their prayers. They had asked for contrition, and had surrendered for it to be given them at any cost, and He sent them sorrow; they had asked for purity, and He sent them thrilling anguish; they had asked to be meek, and He had broken their hearts; they had asked to be dead to the world, and He slew all their living hopes; they had asked to be made like unto Him, and He placed them in the furnace, sitting by “as a refiner and purifier of silver,” until they should reflect His image; they had asked to lay hold of His cross, and when He had reached it to them it lacerated their hands.

They had asked they knew not what, nor how, but He had taken them at their word, and granted them all their petitions. They were hardly willing to follow Him so far, or to draw so nigh to Him. They had upon them an awe and fear, as Jacob at Bethel, or Eliphaz in the night visions, or as the apostles when they thought that they had seen a spirit, and knew not that it was Jesus. They could almost pray Him to depart from them, or to hide His awfulness. They found it easier to obey than to suffer, to do than to give up, to bear the cross than to hang upon it. But they cannot go back, for they have come too near the unseen cross, and its virtues have pierced too deeply within them. He is fulfilling to them His promise, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32).

But now at last their turn has come. Before, they had only heard of the mystery, but now they feel it. He has fastened on them His look of love, as He did on Mary and Peter, and they can but choose to follow.

Little by little, from time to time, by flitting gleams, the mystery of His cross shines out upon them. They behold Him lifted up, they gaze on the glory which rays from the wounds of His holy passion; and as they gaze they advance, and are changed into His likeness, and His name shines out through them, for He dwells in them. They live alone with Him above, in unspeakable fellowship; willing to lack what others own (and what they might have had), and to be unlike all, so that they are only like Him.

Such, are they in all ages, “who follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.”

Had they chosen for themselves, or their friends chosen for them, they would have chosen otherwise. They would have been brighter here, but less glorious in His Kingdom. They would have had Lot’s portion, not Abraham’s. If they had halted anywhere—if God had taken off His hand and let them stray back—what would they not have lost? What forfeits in the resurrection?

But He stayed them up, even against themselves. Many a time their foot had well nigh slipped; but He in mercy held them up. Now, even in this life, they know that all He did was done well. It was good to suffer here, that they might reign hereafter; to bear the cross below, for they shall wear the crown above; and that not their will but His was done on them and in them.— Anonymous.

He shall gather the lambs with His arm

“He shall gather the lambs with His arm.” Isaiah 40:11

Our good Shepherd has in His flock a variety of experiences, some are strong in the Lord, and others are weak in faith, but He is impartial in His care for all His sheep, and the weakest lamb is as dear to Him as the most advanced of the flock. Lambs are wont to lag behind, prone to wander, and apt to grow weary, but from all the danger of these infirmities the Shepherd protects them with His arm of power. He finds new-born souls, like young lambs, ready to perish—He nourishes them till life becomes vigorous; He finds weak minds ready to faint and die—He consoles them and renews their strength. All the little ones He gathers, for it is not the will of our heavenly Father that one of them should perish.

What a quick eye He must have to see them all! What a tender heart to care for them all! What a far- reaching and potent arm, to gather them all! In His lifetime on earth He was a great gatherer of the weaker sort, and now that He dwells in heaven, His loving heart yearns towards the meek and contrite, the timid and feeble, the fearful and fainting here below. How gently did He gather me to Himself, to His truth, to His blood, to His love, to His church! With what effectual grace did He compel me to come to Himself! Since my first conversion, how frequently has He restored me from my wanderings, and once again folded me within the circle of His everlasting arm!

The best of all is, that He does it all Himself personally, not delegating the task of love, but condescending Himself to rescue and preserve His most unworthy servant. How shall I love Him enough or serve Him worthily? I would fain make His name great unto the ends of the earth, but what can my feebleness do for Him? Great Shepherd, add to Thy mercies this one other, a heart to love Thee more truly as I ought.

David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul

And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul. 1 Samuel 27:1

The thought of David’s heart at this time was a false thought, because he certainly had no ground for thinking that God’s anointing him by Samuel was intended to be left as an empty unmeaning act. On no one occasion had the Lord deserted His servant; he had been placed in perilous positions very often, but not one instance had occurred in which divine interposition had not delivered him. The trials to which he had been exposed had been varied; they had not assumed one form only, but many—yet in every case He who sent the trial had also graciously ordained a way of escape.

David could not put his finger upon any entry in his diary, and say of it, “Here is evidence that the Lord will forsake me,” for the entire tenor of his past life proved the very reverse. He should have argued from what God had done for him, that God would be his defender still. But is it not just in the same way that we doubt God’s help? Is it not mistrust without a cause? Have we ever had the shadow of a reason to doubt our Father’s goodness? Have not His lovingkindnesses been marvellous? Has He once failed to justify our trust? Ah, no! our God has not left us at any time. We have had dark nights, but the star of love has shone forth amid the blackness; we have been in stern conflicts, but over our head He has held aloft the shield of our defence.

We have gone through many trials, but never to our detriment, always to our advantage; and the conclusion from our past experience is, that He who has been with us in six troubles, will not forsake us in the seventh. What we have known of our faithful God, proves that He will keep us to the end. Let us not, then, reason contrary to evidence. How can we ever be so ungenerous as to doubt our God? Lord, throw down the Jezebel of our unbelief, and let the dogs devour it.