THE GOD WHO FEEDS HIS CHILDREN ALL THEIR LIVES

THE GOD WHO FEEDS HIS CHILDREN ALL THEIR LIVES

C.H. Spurgeon

The old man’s voice faltered as he said, “The God which fed me all my life long.” The translation would be better if it ran, “The God which shepherded me all my life long.”

He spoke of the Lord as his Shepherd. Jacob had been a shepherd and, therefore, he knew what shepherding included—the figure is full of meaning. There had been a good deal of Jacob about Jacob and he had tried to shepherd himself. Poor sheep that he was, while under his own guidance he had been caught in many thorns and had wandered in many wildernesses. Because he would be so much a shepherd to himself, he had been hard put to it. But over all, despite his wilfulness, the shepherding of the Covenant God had been exercised towards him and he acknowledged it.

O dear saints of God, you to whom years are being multiplied, give praise to your God for having been your Shepherd! You delight in the 23rd Psalm—sing it sometimes with variations by using the past tense—”The Lord has been my Shepherd and I have known no need. He has made me to lie down in green pastures; He has led me beside the still waters. Yes, though I have walked through the valley of the shadow of death in times of great darkness, yet I have feared no evil: for He has been with me, His rod and His staff have comforted me.” Bear your witness to the shepherding of God, for this may lead others to become the sheep of His pasture.

This shepherding had been perfect. Our version rightly says that the Lord had fed Jacob all his life long. Take that sense of it and you who have a daily struggle for subsistence will see much beauty in it. Jacob had a large family and yet they were fed. Some of you say, “It is all very well of you to talk of Providence when you have few to provide for.” I answer, it is better, still, to talk of Providence where a large household requires large provision! Remember Jacob had 13 children, yet his God provided them bread to eat and clothes to put on. None of that large company were left to starve.

You think, perhaps, that Jacob was a man of large estate. He was not so when he began life. He was only a working man—a shepherd. When he left his father’s house he had no attendants with camels and tents. I suppose he carried his little bit of provision in a handkerchief and when he laid down that night to sleep, with a stone for his pillow, the hedges for curtains, the heavens for his canopy, and the earth for his bed, he had no fear of being robbed.

God was with him, but apart from that, he had nothing to begin life with but his own hands. Whatever he received from his father Isaac afterwards, he had at first to fight his own way—but he knew no lack either at the beginning or at the end, for he could speak of the great Elohim as, “the God which fed me all my life long.” Hundreds of us can say the same! I remember one who came to be wealthy who used to show me with great pleasure the tree axle of the truck in which he used to wheel his goods through the streets when he began in business—I liked to see him mindful of his original.

Mind you do not go and say, “See how I have got on by my own talents and industry!” Talk not so proudly, but say, “GOD HAS FED ME.” Mercies are all the sweeter when seen to come from the hand of God.
But besides being FED, Jacob had been LED, even as sheep are guided by the shepherd who goes before them. His journeys, for that period, had been unusually long, perilous and frequent. He had fled from home to Padanaram. After long years he had come back to Canaan and had met his brother, Esau. And after that, in his old age he had journeyed into Egypt. To go to California or New Zealand in these times is nothing at all compared to those journeys in Jacob’s day! But he says, “God has shepherded me all my life long” and he means that the great changes of his life had been wisely ordered. At home and in exile, in Canaan and in Goshen, God had been a shepherd to him. He sees the good hand of God upon him in all his wanderings, until he now finds himself sitting up on his bed and blessing Joseph through his sons.

Oh that the Holy Spirit may make you feel that you need God with you with wealth as much as your fathers needed God without wealth! You may yet come to beggary with all your inheritance if you cast off the fear of the Lord and fall into sin. You who begin life with nothing but your own brains and hands, trusting in your father’s God, shall yet have to sing as your fathers sang, “the God which fed me all my life long.”

Young men and young women beginning life, I charge you seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness! It is not life to live without God—you miss the kernel, the cream, the crown of life if you miss the Presence of God! Life is but a bubble blown up of toil and trouble without God! Life ends in blighted hope if you have not hope in God. But with God you are as a sheep with a Shepherd—cared for, guided, guarded, fed, led—and your end shall be peace without end!

GEORGE MUELLER THE CALVINIST

GEORGE MUELLER THE CALVINIST

Most people only know George Mueller as someone who cared for Orphans and educated them and had great testimonies of God’s miraculous supply for his ministry. But few know that what influenced Mueller to be the man he was and do the ministry he did was his conversion to the Doctrines of Grace which goes by the nickname ‘Calvinism’.

For the benefit of those who are new to the Faith and may not have heard of George Mueller, we must start with some introduction –

George Mueller was a native German (a Prussian). He was born in Kroppenstaedt on September 27, 1805 and lived almost the entire nineteenth century. He died March 10, 1898 at the age of 92. He saw the great awakening of 1859 which he said “led to the conversion of hundreds of thousands.” He did follow up work for D. L. Moody, preached for Charles Spurgeon, and inspired the missionary faith of Hudson Taylor.

He had read his Bible from end to end almost 200 times. He had prayed in millions of dollars (in today’s currency) for the Orphans and never asked anyone directly for money. He never took a salary in the last 68 years of his ministry, but trusted God to put in people’s hearts to send him what he needed. He never took out a loan or went into debt. And neither he nor the orphans were ever hungry.

GEORGE MULLER’S REGENERATION

His father was an unbeliever and George grew up a liar and a thief, by his own testimony. His mother died when he was 14, and he records no impact that this loss had on him except that while she was dying he was roving the streets with his friends “half intoxicated.” He went on living a bawdy life, and then found himself in prison for stealing when he was 16 years old. His father paid to get him out, beat him, and took him to live in another town (Schoenbeck). Mueller used his academic skills to make money by tutoring in Latin, French, and mathematics. Finally his father sent him to the University of Halle to study divinity and prepare for the ministry because that would be a good living. Neither he nor George had any spiritual aspirations. Of the 900 divinity students in Halle, Mueller later estimated that maybe nine feared the Lord.

Then on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of November, 1825, when Mueller was 20 years old, he was invited to a Bible study and, by the grace of God, felt the desire to go. “It was to me as if I had found something after which I had been seeking all my life long. I immediately wished to go.” “They read the Bible, sang, prayed, and read a printed sermon.” To his amazement Mueller said, “The whole made a deep impression on me. I was happy; though, if I had been asked, why I was happy I could not have clearly explained it. “I have not the least doubt, that on that evening, [God] began a work of grace in me. . . . That evening was the turning point in my life.”

That’s true. But there was another turning point four years later that the biographies do not open for the reader, but which for Mueller was absolutely decisive in shaping the way he viewed God and the way he did ministry.

GEORGE MULLER’S CONVERSION TO THE DOCTRINES OF GRACE

He came to England in the hope of being a missionary with the London Missionary Society. Soon he found his theology and ministry convictions turning away from the LMS, until there was a break. In the meantime, a momentous encounter happened.

Mueller became sick (thank God for providential sickness!) and in the summer of 1829 he went for recovery to a town called Teignmouth. There in a little chapel called Ebenezer at least two crucial discoveries were made: the preciousness of reading and meditating on the word of God, and the truth of the doctrines of grace. For ten days Mueller lived with a nameless man who changed his life forever. Mueller said, “Through the instrumentality of this brother the Lord bestowed a great blessing upon me, for which I shall have cause to thank Him throughout eternity.

Before this period I had been much opposed to the doctrines of election, particular redemption, and final persevering grace; so much so that, a few days after my arrival at Teignmouth, I called election a devilish doctrine. . . I knew nothing about the choice of God’s people, and did not believe that the child of God, when once made so, was safe for ever. . . . But now I was brought to examine these precious truths by the word of God.”

He was led to embrace the doctrines of grace—the robust, mission-minded, soul-winning, orphan-loving Calvinism that marked William Carey, who died in 1834, and that would mark Charles Spurgeon, who was born in 1834. About forty years later, in 1870, Mueller spoke to some young believers about the importance of what had happened to him at Teignmouth. He said that his preaching had been fruitless for four years from 1825 to 1829 in Germany, but then he came to England and was taught the doctrines of grace.

“In the course of time I came to this country, and it pleased God then to show to me the doctrines of grace in a way in which I had not seen them before. At first I hated them, “If this were true I could do nothing at all in the conversion of sinners, as all would depend upon God and the working of His Spirit.” But when it pleased God to reveal these truths to me, and my heart was brought to such a state that I could say, “I am not only content simply to be a hammer, an axe, or a saw, in God’s hands; but I shall count it an honor to be taken up and used by Him in any way; and if sinners are converted through my instrumentality, from my inmost soul I will give Him all the glory; the Lord gave me to see fruit; the Lord gave me to see fruit in abundance; sinners were converted by scores; and ever since God has used me in one way or other in His service.”

This discovery of the all-encompassing sovereignty of God became the foundation of Mueller’s confidence in God to answer his prayers for money. He gave up his regular salary. He refused to ask people directly for money. He prayed and published his reports about the goodness of God and the answers to his prayer. These yearly reports were circulated around the world, and they clearly had a huge effect in motivating people to give to the orphan work. Mueller knew that God used means. In fact, he loved to say, “Work with all your might; but trust not in the least in your work.” But he also insisted that his hope was in God alone, not his exertions and not the published reports. These means could not account for the remarkable answers that he received.

Mueller’s faith that his prayers for money would be answered was rooted in the sovereignty of God. When faced with a crisis in having the means to pay a bill he would say, “How the means are to come, I know not; but I know that God is almighty, that the hearts of all are in His hands, and that, if He pleaseth to influence persons, they will send help.” That is the root of his confidence: God is almighty, the hearts of all men are in his hands, and when God chooses to influence their hearts they will give.

He had come to know and love this absolute sovereignty of God in the context of the doctrines of grace, and therefore he cherished it mainly as sovereign goodness. This gave him a way to maintain a personal peace beyond human understanding in the midst of tremendous stress and occasional tragedy. “The Lord never lays more on us,” he said, “in the way of chastisement, than our state of heart makes needful; so that whilst He smites with the one hand, He supports with the other.” In the face of painful circumstances he says, “I bow, I am satisfied with the will of my Heavenly Father, I seek by perfect submission to His holy will to glorify Him, I kiss continually the hand that has thus afflicted me.”

And when he is about to lose a piece of property that he wants for the next orphan house, he says, “If the Lord were to take this piece of land from me, it would be only for the purpose of giving me a still better one; for our Heavenly Father never takes any earthly thing from His children except He means to give them something better instead.” This is what I mean by confidence in God’s sovereign goodness. This is the root of Mueller’s faith and ministry.

When he was 71 years old, Mueller spoke to younger believers:

“I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the word of God, and to meditation on it. . . . What is the food of the inner man? Not prayer, but the word of God; and . . . not the simple reading of the word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it, and applying it to our hearts.”

Which brings us back now the satisfaction of Mueller’s soul at the death of his wife, Mary. He said, “My heart was at rest. I was satisfied with God. And all this springs, as I have often said before, from taking God at his word, believing what he says.”

The aim of George Mueller’s life was to glorify God by helping people take God at his word. To that end he saturated his soul with the word of God. At one point he said that he reads the Bible five or ten times more than he reads any other books. His aim was to see God in Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead in order that he might maintain the happiness of his soul in God. By this deep satisfaction in God George Mueller was set free from the fears and lusts of the world. And in this freedom of love he chose a strategy of ministry and style of life that put the reality and trustworthiness and beauty of God on display. To use his own words, his life became a “visible proof to the unchangeable faithfulness of the Lord.

He was sustained in this extraordinary life by his deep convictions that God is sovereign over the human heart and can turn it where he wills in answer to prayer; and that God is sovereign over life and death; and that God is good in his sovereignty and withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly.

George Mueller wrote –
“I had not before seen from the Scriptures that the Father chose us before the foundation of the world; that in Him that wonderful plan of our redemption originated, and that He also appointed all the means by which it was to be brought about…

Before this period I had been much opposed to the doctrines of election, particular redemption, and final persevering grace: so much so that, a few days after my arrival at Teignmouth I called election a devilish doctrine. I did not believe that I had brought myself to the Lord, for that was too manifestly false; but yet I held, that I might have resisted finally. And further, I knew nothing about the choice of God’s people, and did not believe that the child of God, when once made so; was safe for ever. In my fleshly mind I had repeatedly said, “If once I could prove that I am a child of God for ever, I might go back into the world for a year or two, and then return to the Lord, and at last be saved”.

But now I was brought to examine these precious truths by the word of God. Being made willing to have no glory of my own in the conversion of sinners, but to consider myself merely as an instrument; and being made willing to receive what the Scriptures said; I went to the Word, reading the New Testament from the beginning, with a particular reference to these truths. To my great astonishment I found that the passages which speak decidedly for election and persevering grace were about four times as many as those which speak apparently against these truths; and even those few, shortly after, when I had examined and understood them, served to confirm me in the above doctrines. As to the effect which my belief in these doctrines had on me, I am constrained to state, for God’s glory, that though I am still exceedingly weak, and by no means so dead to the lusts of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, as I might and as I ought to be, yet, by the grace of God, I have walked more closely with Him since that period.

My life has not been so variable, and I may say that I have lived much more for God than before. And for this have I been strengthened by the Lord, in a great measure, through the instrumentality of these truths. For in the time of temptation, I have been repeatedly led to say: “Should I thus sin? I should only bring misery into my soul for a time, and dishonour God; for, being a son of God for ever, I should have to be brought back again, though it might be in the way of severe chastisement”.

Thus, I say, the electing love of God in Christ (when I have been able to realize it) has often been, the means of producing holiness, instead of leading me into sin. It is only the notional apprehension of such truths, the want of having them in the heart, whilst they are in the head, which is dangerous.”

[Quoted from the Biography of George Mueller by John Piper and a few others]

SOMETIMES THERE IS JUST NOTHING TO SAY

SOMETIMES THERE IS JUST NOTHING TO SAY

Gina Kemp

Sometimes there is just nothing to say. There are some things that happen in life that words won’t heal.

There are some things that take our breath away that only silence can breathe life back into our lungs.

They are the things of life that are beyond someone giving a kind word, a positive hopeful thought, a story of so and so who went through this and that and made it through, a good sermon, an uplifting song. I mean don’t get me wrong, these things help especially when they are blanketed by the truth of God’s word but somewhere a midst the things of life that exceed the realm of platitudes there are just some things that happen that can’t be healed by us and our feeble human attempts.

I think of Job, I think of all he suffered, loss of family, loss of things, loss of identity, loss of hope. I think of how his body betrayed him and words fell flat. Have you been here? Have you been in this place? The place where your bones ache? The place where your mind craves hope against hope and there seems to be none? Have you been here?

Job was here. He was tired. He was weak. He was emptied out. We are familiar with the story and of how his friends abused his soul by contributing nothing but awful platitudes and assumptions of his deserving this, crushing him further into his pain. Job’s friends made some poor choices. While perhaps they intended to help they inflicted more pain, they would have done him well to continue in the manner they started with when they first came to offer their condolences:

Silence.

In silence they sat with him. In silence they listened to his pain. In silence they nodded to his pangs of sour grapes and allowed him to borrow their comfort without words being spoken.

“So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.” [Job 2:13]

They didn’t offer great explanations for why this happened. They didn’t say “God has a plan for your life”
They didn’t say “Well maybe if you prayed more”
They didn’t say “Well maybe it was to teach you a lesson”
They didn’t say “God has a great testimony for you out of this pain”

All of those things are quite possibly true in some of our stories. God does use our pain. God does have plans. After all…He is God. But there are some circumstances in which saying these things doesn’t mend our severed hope.

Maybe it makes us feel like we are helping…
Maybe it’s our way of hoping…
Maybe we feel like it’s the right thing to say because it’s the only thing we know to say…

But sometimes the offering of just being there is enough and sometimes it is better.

I can think of times in my life when my heart was so sad I just couldn’t cry. I just sat and let myself be what I was. I think of the friends in my life who didn’t have words but sat with me and let me be and were just with me.

Sometimes when someone suffers we say nothing and skip over it, changing the subject. This is not the kind of silence I’m referring to. If you have ever opened your heart to someone about your pain and they said nothing as though you said nothing you know the damage this creates. Saying nothing while being with the person in this place of needing to be silent is the kind of saying nothing I’m referring to. The kind that says “I can’t fix this but I’m here”, “I don’t know what tomorrow will bring but I’m here”, “I am here.”

Henri Nouwen has one of the best quotes regarding silence, friendship, and comfort:
“The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing… not healing, not curing… that is a friend who cares.”

Perhaps it’s just being there that speaks louder than words in times like these. When there is nothing to say, sometimes saying nothing and just being is saying more than you could ever imagine.

I need to remember this, sometimes being a person of many words and wanting to fix, help, cure, it might be in my own silence that God can speak even louder to those who need comfort. I can think of a few people in my life right now who are going through circumstances that my words can’t fix, but maybe my just being there is part of healing.

If you are in a place of needing comfort, I pray that God will speak to you in your silence. Where words fail, I pray that His perfect word would speak into places that no human ever could.

“Thy Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”. [Psalm 119:105]

“Thou, which hast showed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth. Thou shalt increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side”. [Psalm 71:20-21]

THE LORD SAVES MEN THAT DO NOT SEEK HIM

THE LORD SAVES MEN THAT DO NOT SEEK HIM

C.H. Spurgeon

If any man be saved, he is saved by Divine grace, and BY DIVINE GRACE ALONE; and the reason of his salvation is NOT TO BE FOUND IN HIM, BUT IN GOD. 

We are not saved as the result of anything that WE DO or that we will; but we will and do as the result of God’s good pleasure, and the work of His grace in our hearts. No sinner can prevent God; that is, he cannot go before Him, cannot anticipate Him; GOD IS ALWAYS FIRST IN THE MATTER OF SALVATION. He is before our convictions, before our desires, before our fears, before our hopes. All that is good or ever will be good in us, is preceded by the grace of God, and is the effect of a Divine cause within.

Now in speaking of God’s gracious acts of salvation, this morning, I notice first, that they are entirely UNMERITED. You will see that the people here mentioned certainly did not merit God’s grace. They found him, BUT THEY NEVER SOUGHT FOR HIM; he was made manifest to them, but THEY NEVER ASKED FOR HIM.

THERE NEVER WAS A MAN SAVED YET WHO MERITED IT.

Ask all the saints of God, and they will tell you that their former life was spent in the lusts of the flesh; that in the days of their ignorance, they revolted against God and turned back from his ways, that when they were invited to come to Him THEY DESPISED THE INVITATION, AND, WHEN WARNED, CAST THE WARNING BEHIND THEIR BACK. They will tell you that their being drawn by God, was not the result of any merit before conversion; for some of them, so far from having any merit, WERE THE VERY VILEST OF THE VILE: they plunged into the very kennel of sin; they were not ashamed of all the things of which it would be a shame for us to speak; they were RINGLEADERS IN CRIME, very princes in the ranks of the enemy; and YET sovereign grace came to them, and they were brought to know the Lord.

They will tell you that it was not the result of ANYTHING GOOD IN THEIR DISPOSITION, for although they trust that there is now something excellent implanted in them, yet in the days of their flesh they could see no one quality which was not perverted to the service of Satan. Ask them whether they think they were chosen of God because of their courage; they will tell you, no; if they had courage it was defaced, for they were COURAGEOUS TO DO EVIL. Question them whether they were chosen of God because of their talent; they will tell you, no; they had that talent, but THEY PROSTITUTED IT TO THE SERVICE OF SATAN. Question them whether they were chosen because of the openness and generosity of their disposition; they will tell you that that very openness of temper, and that very generosity of disposition, led them to plunge deeper into the depths of sin, than they otherwise would have done, for they were “hail fellow, well met,” with every evil man, and ready to drink and join every jovial party which should come in their way. There was in them NO REASON WHATEVER why God should have mercy upon them, and THE WONDER TO THEM IS THAT HE DID NOT CUT THEM DOWN IN THE MIDST OF THEIR SINS, BLOT OUT THEIR NAMES FROM THE BOOK OF LIFE, AND SWEEP THEM INTO THE GULF WHERE THE FIRE BURNETH. THAT SHALL DEVOUR THE WICKED.

But some have said that God chooses His people because He foresees that after he chooses them, they will do this, that, and the other, which shall be meritorious and excellent. Refer again to the people of God, and they will tell you that since their conversion they have had much to weep over. Although they can rejoice that God has begun the good work in them, THEY OFTEN TREMBLE LEST IT SHOULD NOT BE GOD’S WORK AT ALL. They will tell you that if they are abundant in faith yet THERE ARE TIMES WHEN THEY ARE SUPERABUNDANT IN UNBELIEF; that if sometimes they are full of works of holiness, yet there are times when they weep many tears to think that those very acts of holiness were stained with sin. The Christian will tell you that he weeps over his very tears; he feels that THERE IS FILTH EVEN IN THE BEST OF DESIRES; THAT HE HAS TO PRAY TO GOD TO FORGIVE HIS PRAYERS, FOR THERE IS SIN IN THE MIDST OF HIS SUPPLICATIONS, and that he has to sprinkle even his best offerings with the atoning blood, for he never else can bring an offering without spot or blemish.

You shall appeal to the brightest saint, to the man whose presence in the midst of society is like the presence of an angel, and he will tell you that he is still ashamed of himself. “Ah!” he will say, “you may praise me, but I cannot praise myself, you speak well of me, you applaud me, but if you knew my heart you would see abundant reason to think of me as a poor sinner saved by grace, who hath nothing whereof to glory, and must bow his head and confess his iniquities in the sight of God.”

GRACE, THEN IS ENTIRELY UNMERITED.

Again, the grace of God is SOVEREIGN. By that word we mean that God has an absolute right to GIVE THAT GRACE WHERE HE CHOOSES, and to WITHHOLD IT WHEN HE PLEASES. HE IS NOT BOUND TO GIVE IT TO ANY MAN, MUCH LESS TO ALL MEN; and if He chooses to give it to one man and not to another, His answer is, “Is thine eye evil because mine eye is good? Can I not do as I will with mine own? I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” Now, I want you to notice the sovereignty of Divine grace as illustrated in the text: “I was found of them that sought Me not, I was made manifest to them that asked not after Me.” You would imagine that if God gave His grace to any He would wait until he found them earnestly seeking Him. You would imagine that God in the highest heavens would say, “I have mercies, but I will leave men alone, and when they feel their need of these mercies and seek Me diligently with their whole heart, day and night, with tears, and vows, and supplications, then will I bless them, but not before.”

But, beloved, God saith no such thing. It is true He doth bless them that cry unto Him, but He blesses them before they cry, for their cries are not their OWN CRIES, BUT CRIES WHICH HE HAS PUT INTO THEIR LIPS; their desires are not of their own growth, but desires which He has cast like good seed into the soil of their hearts.

GOD SAVES THE MEN THAT DO NOT SEEK HIM.

Oh, wonder of wonders! It is mercy indeed when God saves a seeker; but how much greater mercy when He seeks the lost himself! Mark the parable of Jesus Christ concerning the lost sheep; it does not run thus: “A certain man had a hundred sheep, and one of them did go astray. And he tarried at home, and lo, the sheep came back, and he received it joyfully and said to his friends, rejoice, for the sheep that I have lost is come back.” NO; he WENT AFTER the sheep: it never would have come after Him; it would have wandered farther and farther away. He went after it; over hills of difficulty, down valleys of despondency He pursued its wandering feet, and at last He laid hold of it; He did not drive it before him, He did not lead it, but He carried it himself all the way, and when He brought it home He did not say, THE SHEEP IS COME BACK,” BUT, “I HAVE FOUND THE SHEEP WHICH WAS LOST.

MEN DO NOT SEEK GOD FIRST; GOD SEEKS THEM FIRST; AND IF ANY OF YOU ARE SEEKING HIM TO-DAY IT IS BECAUSE HE HAS FIRST SOUGHT YOU.

If you are desiring him He desired you first, and your good desires and earnest seeking will not be the CAUSE of your salvation, but the EFFECTS of previous grace given to you. “Well,” says another, “I should have thought that although the Saviour might not require an earnest seeking and sighing and groaning, and a continuous searching, after Him, yet certainly He would have desired and demanded that every man, before he had grace, should ask for it.” That, indeed, beloved, seems natural, and God will give grace to them that ask for it; but mark, the text says that he was manifested “to them that asked not for Him.” That is to say, BEFORE we ask, God gives us grace.

THE ONLY REASON WHY ANY MAN EVER BEGINS TO PRAY IS BECAUSE GOD HAS PUT PREVIOUS GRACE IN HIS HEART WHICH LEADS HIM TO PRAY.

I remember, when I was converted to God, I WAS AN ARMINIAN THOROUGHLY. I thought I had begun the good work myself, and I used sometimes to sit down and think, “Well, I sought the Lord four years before I found him,” and I think I began to compliment myself upon the fact that I had perseveringly entreated of Him in the midst of much discouragement. But one day the thought struck me, “How was it you came to seek God?” and in an instant the answer came from my soul, “Why, because He led me to do it; He must first have shown me my need of Him, or else I should never have sought Him; He must have shown me His preciousness, or I never should have thought Him worth seeking;” and AT ONCE I SAW THE DOCTRINES OF GRACE AS CLEAR AS POSSIBLE.

GOD MUST BEGIN. Nature can never rise above itself. You put water into a reservoir, and it will rise as high as that, but no higher if let alone. Now, IT IS NOT IN HUMAN NATURE TO SEEK THE LORD. HUMAN NATURE IS DEPRAVED, and therefore, there must be the extraordinary pressure of the Holy Spirit put upon the heart to lead us first to ask for mercy. But mark, we do not know any thing about that, while the Spirit is operating; we find that out AFTERWARDS. We ask as much as if we were asking all of ourselves. Our business is to seek the Lord as if there were no Holy Spirit at all. But although we do not know it, there must always be a previous motion of the Spirit in our heart, before there will be a motion of our heart towards Him.

[Read the full sermon – http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0207.htm ]

GOD’S FAITHFULNESS TO HIS PEOPLE

GOD’S FAITHFULNESS TO HIS PEOPLE

C.H. Spurgeon

“Great is Thy faithfulness!” [Lam 3:23]

“What a consolation it is that our God never changes! What he was yesterday he is today. What we find him today we shall find him for ever. Are you struggling against sin? Don’t struggle in your own strength: it is God who performeth all things for you…In the hand of Jesus all his people are, and in that hand they shall be for ever and ever. ‘None shall pluck them out of my hand,’ saith He. Their preservation shall be perfected. So, too, their sanctification.

Every child of God is set apart by Christ, and in Christ, and the work of the Spirit has commenced which shall subdue sin, and extirpate the very roots of corruption; and this work shall be perfected; nay, is being perfected at this very moment… He is perfecting us in all things for himself. He has promised to bring us to glory. We have the earnest of that great glory in us now. The new life is there; all the elements of heaven are within us. Now He will perfect all these. He will not suffer one good thing that He has planted within us to die. It is a living and incorruptible seed, which liveth and abideth for ever. He will perfect all things for us. There is nothing that makes the saints complete but what God will give to us. There shall be lacking us no one trait of loveliness that is needful for the courtiers of the skies; no one virtue that is necessary in us.

What a marvellous thing is a Christian! How mean; how noble! How abject;how august! How near to hell; how close to heaven! How fallen, yet lifted up! Able to do nothing; yet doing all things! Doing nothing; yet accomplishing all things; because herein it is that, in the man, and with the man, there is God, and He performeth all things for us. God, give us grace to look away entirely, evermore, from ourselves, and to depend entirely upon Him.”

GOD INSTRUCTS HIS CHOSEN ONES

GOD INSTRUCTS HIS CHOSEN ONES

A.W. Pink

Right views of God’s truth are not an intellectual attainment, but a blessing bestowed on us by God. It is written, “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven” (John 3:27). No matter how legibly a letter may be written, if the recipient is blind he cannot read it. So we are told, “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). And spiritual discernment is imparted only by the Holy Spirit.

“He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; He led him about. He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye” – [Deuteronomy 32:10]

“He instructed him.” So He does us. It was to instruct us that God, in His great mercy, gave us THE SCRIPTURES. He has not left us to grope our way in darkness, but has provided us with a lamp for our feet and a light for our path. Nor are we left to our own unaided powers in the study of the Word. We are supplied with an infallible Instructor. The Holy Spirit is our teacher, “Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things … the anointing ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you” (1 John 2:20, 27).

“He instructed him.” How patiently God bears with our dullness! How graciously He repeats “line upon line and precept upon precept” (Is. 28:10)! Yet slow as we are, He perseveres with us, for He has promised to perfect that which concerns us (Ps. 138:8). Has He “instructed” you, my reader? Has He taught you the total depravity of man and the utter inability of the sinner to deliver himself? Has He taught you the humbling truth “Ye must be born again”, and that regeneration is SOLELY THE WORK OF GOD, MAN HAVING NO PART OR HAND IN IT (Jn. 1:13)? Has He revealed to YOU the infinite value and sufficiency of the atoning sacrifice of Christ whose blood cleanses “FROM ALL SIN“? Then what cause you have to be thankful for such Divine instruction.

THE LONGER YOU SERVE JESUS, THE SWEETER HE GROWS

THE LONGER YOU SERVE JESUS, THE SWEETER HE GROWS

Since I started for the Kingdom,
Since my life He controls,
Since I gave my heart to Jesus,
The longer I serve Him,
The sweeter He grows.

Chorus
The longer I serve Him, the sweeter He grows,
The more that I love Him, more love He bestows;
Each day is like heaven, my heart overflows,
The longer I serve Him, the sweeter He grows.

Ev’ry need He is supplying,
Plenteous grace He bestows;
Ev’ry day my way gets brighter,
The longer I serve Him,
The sweeter He grows.

(The Gaither vocal band)

 

A MEDITATION ON GOD’S FAITHFULNESS

Michael Jeshurun

The Patriarch Jacob (Israel) while blessing his grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh testified – “God, before whom my father’s Abraham and Isaac did walk, THE GOD WHICH FED ME ALL MY LIFE LONG UNTO THIS DAY, The Angel which redeemed me from ALL EVIL, bless the lads!” [Gen 48:15]

This was the testimony of a man who had seen much evil in his life. In fact he once testified before Pharaoh – “few and evil have the days of the years of my life been!” [Gen 47:9] And yet just prior to his death he testifies of God’s great faithfulness!

As did the man after God’s own heart, when he testified – “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” [Psalm 37:25] In spite of David’s great sins and backslidings the Lord remained faithful to him to the very end; so that on his deathbed he could testify –

“Now these be the LAST WORDS OF DAVID. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet Psalmist of Israel, said . . . .

The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and His word was in my tongue.
The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.
And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain!”

Now THAT is God’s standard for the King of Israel! But David had miserable fallen short here! And so he adds . . . .

“Although MY HOUSE BE NOT SO with God; yet He hath made with me AN EVERLASTING COVENANT, ORDERED IN ALL THINGS, AND SURE: for THIS IS ALL MY SALVATION, and all my desire, although He make it not to grow!” [2Sam 23:1-5]

Oh what a Word is that – “If we believe not, yet HE ABIDETH FAITHFUL: HE CANNOT DENY HIMSELF!” [2Tim 2:13]

And I for one can testify with my hand on my heart that all through these 29 years of knowing the Lord, HE HAS REMAINED THE SAME as when I first came to know Him! My sins, my failures, my murmurings, my backslidings and my shortcomings none of them have altered His love or faithfulness to me! He has remained the same just as His Word promises – “Jesus Christ the SAME yesterday, and today, and FOREVER!” [Heb 13:8]

Beloved, the only reason some of us have not been consumed in spite of all our provocations is because of Jehovah’s Immutability!

“We blossom and flourish, like leaves on the tree,
then wither and perish; but NOUGHT CHANGETH THEE!”

Commenting on God’s Immutability A.W. Pink writes –

“As fallen creatures we are not only mutable, but everything in us is opposed to God. As such we are “wandering stars” (Jude 13), out of our proper orbit. The wicked are “like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest” (Isa. 57:20). Fallen man is inconstant. The words of Jacob concerning Reuben apply with full force to all of Adam’s descendants: “unstable as water” (Gen. 49:4). Thus it is not only a mark of piety, but also the part of wisdom to heed that injunction, “cease ye from man” (Isa. 2:22).

NO HUMAN BEING IS TO BE DEPENDED ON. “Put not your trust in princes, in the son of man, in whom is no help” (Ps. 146:3). If I disobey God, then I deserve to be deceived and disappointed by my fellows. People who like you today, may hate you tomorrow. The multitude who cried “Hosanna to the Son of David,” speedily changed to “Away with Him, Crucify Him.”

HEREIN IS SOLID COMFORT! Human nature cannot be relied upon; but God can! However unstable I may be, however fickle my friends may prove, GOD CHANGES NOT! If He varied as we do, if He willed one thing today and another tomorrow, if He were controlled by caprice, who could confide in Him? But, all praise to His glorious name, He is ever the same. His purpose is fixed, His will stable, His Word is sure!

Here then is a Rock on which we may fix our feet, while the mighty torrent is sweeping away everything around us. The permanence of God’s character guarantees the fulfillment of His promises: “For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but MY KINDNESS SHALL NOT DEPART FROM THEE, NEITHER SHALL THE COVENANT OF MY PEACE BE REMOVED, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee” (Isa. 54:10).

Say “Praise the Lord!”

ALL OF THESE YEARS TILL DATE IT IS THE LORD WHO HATH HELPED US

ALL OF THESE YEARS TILL DATE IT IS THE LORD WHO HATH HELPED US

Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us!”— [1Sam 7:12]

The word “hitherto” seems like a hand pointing in the direction of the past. Twenty years or seventy, and yet “hitherto hath the Lord helped us!” Through poverty, through wealth, through sickness, through health; at home, abroad, on the land, on the sea; in honor, in dishonor, in perplexity, in joy, in trial, in triumph, in prayer, in temptation—“hitherto hath the Lord helped!”

We delight to look down a long avenue of trees. It is delightful to gaze from one end of the long vista, a sort of verdant temple, with its branching pillars and its arches of leaves. Even so look down the long aisles of YOUR years, at the green boughs of mercy overhead, and the strong pillars of lovingkindness and faithfulness which bear up your joys.

Are there no birds in yonder branches singing? Surely, there must be many, and they all sing of mercy received “hitherto.”

But the word also points forward. For when a man gets up to a certain mark, and writes “hitherto,” he is not yet at the end; there are still distances to be traversed. More trials, more joys; more temptations, more triumphs; more prayers, more answers; more toils, more strength; more fights, more victories; and then come sickness, old age, disease, death.

Is it over now? No! there is more yet—awakening in Jesus’ likeness, thrones, harps, songs, psalms, white raiment the face of Jesus, the society of saints, the glory of God, the fullness of eternity, the infinity of bliss. Oh, be of good courage, believer, and with grateful confidence raise thy “Ebenezer,” for,

“He who hath helped thee hitherto
Will help thee all thy journey through.”

When read in Heaven’s light, how glorious and marvelous a prospect will thy “hitherto” unfold to thy grateful eye. — C. H. Spurgeon

The Alpine shepherds have a beautiful custom of ending the day by singing to one another an evening farewell. The air is so crystalline that the song will carry long distances. As the dusk begins to fall, they gather their flocks and begin to lead them down the mountain paths, singing, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us. Let us praise His name!”

And at last with a sweet courtesy, they sing to one another the friendly farewell: “Goodnight! Goodnight!” The words are taken up by the echoes, and from side to side the song goes reverberating sweetly and softly until the music dies away in the distance.

So let us call out to one another through the darkness, till the gloom becomes vocal with many voices, encouraging the pilgrim host. Let the echoes gather till a very storm of Hallelujahs break in thundering waves around the sapphire throne, and then as the morning breaks we shall find ourselves at the margin of the sea of glass, crying, with the redeemed host, “Blessing and honor and glory be unto Him that sitteth on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever!”

“This my song through endless ages,
Jesus led me all the way.”

He leadeth me: O blessed thought!
O words with heavenly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be,
still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

He leadeth me, he leadeth me;
by His own hand He leadeth me:
His faithful follower I would be,
for by His hand He leadeth me.

Praise the LORD!

[Quoted from Streams in the Desert]

 

 

WE OWE EVERYTHING TO GOD’S GRACE

WE OWE EVERYTHING TO GOD’S GRACE

Why is there a need for God to break into the universe and justify the ungodly by grace? What’s the problem? No comment has been made about the problem yet. Everything’s just hanging in the air. What’s this about? What’s wrong? And the biblical answer is EVERY HUMAN BEING IS DEAD — spiritually dead apart from grace — and every human being is under the wrath of God. Apart from grace, we are spiritually dead and legally guilty before God.

If anybody is going to escape hell and have everlasting pleasure at God’s right hand, God himself will have to raise the dead and find a way for the wrath that is just and holy against my sin to be absorbed so that he can be one hundred percent for me and not against me. So, God, in his great mercy, sent Christ to bear our punishment and to become our righteousness. Christ alone is the all-wrath-removing sacrifice and Christ alone is our all-justifying righteousness.

But since we are all dead and can’t believe any of that, don’t want to believe any of that, are strongly resistant to all of that supremacy of God in salvation — since we are all dead — grace alone, with no contribution from any corpse at all, must raise us from the dead.

“Even when we were dead in sins, (He) hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) [Eph 2:5]

Paul breaks into the sentence to make clear what Sovereign Grace is: it’s dead raising power and mercy. God made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God.

The Protestant Reformation was a controversy with the Roman Catholic Church over how HELPLESS WE ARE to raise ourselves from the dead and be justified. If you want to see the biggest dispute, it’s between Erasmus and Luther. Their two books make it crystal clear. Luther thought this was the bottom issue and the most important book he ever wrote — ON THE BONDAGE OF THE WILL — which could be paraphrased, the deadness of the human soul.

That was the bottom issue: Are we really as helpless as the Bible says? Everything else follows if you believe we are. Only grace could raise us from the dead, only Christ could become our punishment and our perfection. Those two miracles — life from the dead and wrath removed — can only be received as a gift. A gift that’s unmerited and unearned, so that the entire transaction would lead ultimately to the glory of God, not me.” (Desiring God)

How can I say thanks
for the things You have done for me?
Things so undeserved,
yet You gave to prove Your love for me;
the voices of a million angels
could not express my gratitude.
All that I am and ever hope to be,
I owe it all to Thee.

To God be the glory,
to God be the glory,
to God be the glory
for the things He has done.

With His blood He has saved me,
with His power He has raised me;
to God be the glory
for the things He has done.
Just let me live my life,
let it pleasing, Lord to Thee,
and if I gain any praise,
let it go to Calvary.

Andrae Crouch

OUR TIMES ARE IN THY HAND O GOD

OUR TIMES ARE IN THY HAND O GOD

Octavius Winslow (1808-1878)

edited and rearranged by Michael Jeshurun 

“My Times are in Thy Hand.” [Psalm 31:15]

What confirmation would the precious truth contained in these words derive from the personal experience of the man of God who penned them? Reviewing the past of his eventful history, he would trace the guiding and overshadowing hand of his heavenly Father in all the circumstances of the checkered and diversified scene; and as memory thus recalled the strange and momentous events of his life, with what overpowering solemnity would the conviction force itself upon his mind, that for the form and complexion of that life how little was it indebted to himself!

Circumstances which chance could not originate, events which human sagacity could, not foresee, and results which finite experience could not determine, would at once lift his grateful and adoring thoughts to that God of infinite foreknowledge and love, whose overruling providence had guarded with a sleepless eye each circumstance, and whose infinite goodness had guided with a skillful hand each step. With this retrospect before him, with what intensity of feeling would the aged king exclaim: “My Times Are in Thy Hand.”

But if David felt this truth- that all his interests were in God’s keeping, and under His supreme direction- so consolatory, as life drew near its close, how much more cheering may it be to US just entering upon a new year of life, all whose history is, to our view, wisely and beneficently enshrouded in obscurity, and all whose events, from the least to the greatest, are happily beyond our control. “My times are in Thy hand.” Who can give us the heartfelt, soothing influence of this precious truth but the Holy Spirit by whose divine inspiration it was uttered? May He now unfold and apply with His sanctifying, comforting power this portion of his own Holy Word to the reader’s heart!

The declaration that “our times are in the Lord’s hand,” implies that the future of our history is impenetrably and mysteriously veiled from our sight. We live in a world of mysteries. They meet our eye, awaken our inquiry, and baffle our investigation at every step. Nature is a vast arcade of mysteries. Science is a mystery, truth is a mystery, religion is a mystery, our existence is a mystery, the future of our being is a mystery. And God, who alone can explain all mysteries, is the greatest mystery of all. How little do we understand of the inexplicable wonders of a wonder-working God, “whose thoughts are a great deep,” (Psa 36:6) and “whose ways are past finding out!” [Rom 11:33]

To God NOTHING is mysterious! In purpose, nothing is unfixed; in forethought, nothing is unknown; in providence, nothing is contingent. His glance pierces the future as vividly as it beholds the past. “He knows the end, from the beginning.” (Isa 46:10) All His doings are parts of a divine, eternal, and harmonious plan. He may make ”darkness His secret place; His pavilion round about Him dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies, and to human vision His dispensations may appear gloomy, discrepant, and confused; yet is He, “working all things after the counsel of His own will,” and “at the brightness that is before Him, His thick clouds pass.” and all is transparent and harmonious to His eye.

And WHY this obscurity thus investing all our future? Would it not make for our present well-being; would it not be a satisfaction and a blessing, could we pull back the mystic veil, and gaze with a farseeing and undimmed eye upon “our times,” yet awaiting us this side the grave? Remembering the past, you are, perhaps, ready to say: “Could I but have foreseen, I would have fore-arranged. Had I anticipated the result of such a step, or have known the issue of such a movement, or have safely calculated the consequences of such a measure, I might have pursued an opposite course, and have averted the evil I now deplore, and have spared me the misery I now feel.” But hush this vain reasoning! God, your God, O believer has in wisdom, faithfulness, and love, hidden all the future from your view!

“You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you these forty years.” How has He guided, counseled, and upheld you! He has led you by a right way. In perplexity He has directed you- in sorrow He has comforted you- in slippery paths His mercy has held you up, and when fallen He has raised you again. From seeming evil He has educed (brought out) positive good. The mistakes you have made and the follies you have committed in the blindness of your path, and in the sinfulness of your heart, have but led you to a closer acquaintance with, and to a stronger confidence in God. They have opened up to you new and more glorious views of His character and His government; while in leading you closer to the feet of Jesus in self-knowledge and self abhorrence, they have unlocked to you spring of spiritual blessings, fresh, sanctifying, and, unspeakable.

Beloved, God has placed us in a school in which He is teaching us to lay our blind reason at His feet, to cease from our own wisdom and guidance, and lean upon and confide in Him as children with a parent. The goodness of God to us, combined with a jealous regard to His own glory, constrains Him to conceal the path along which He conducts us. His promise is, “And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them” (Isa 42:16)…Dear child of God, your afflictions, your trials, your crosses, your losses, your sorrows – all – ALL are in your heavenly Father’s hand. They cannot come until sent by Him. Bow that stricken heart, yield that tempest-tossed soul to His sovereign disposal, to His calm, righteous sway, in the submissive spirit and language of your suffering Savior, “Not my will, but Thine, be done (Luk 22:42)!

My times of sadness and of grief are in Thy hand.”

TIMES OF SOUL-DISTRESS, SPIRITUAL DARKNESS, AND CONFLICT ARE IN HIS HAND. Many such are there in the experience of the true saints of God. Many the hard-fought battle, the fiery dart, the desperate wound, the momentary defeat in the Christian’s life…But it is in the Lord’s hand. No spiritual cloud shades, no mental distress depresses, no fiery dart is launched that is not by Him permitted, and for which there is not a provision by Him arranged. There is nothing that the Lord has taken more entirely and exclusively into His keeping than the redeemed, sanctified souls of His people. All their interests for eternity are exclusively in His hand. In the infinite fullness of Jesus, in the inexhaustible supply of the covenant, in the exceeding great and precious promises of His Word, He has anticipated every spiritual exigency of the believer.

How precious is your soul to Him Who bore all its sins, Who exhausted all its curse, Who travailed for it in ignominy and suffering, and Who ransomed it with His own most precious blood. Guarded, also, by His indwelling Spirit is His kingdom of righteousness, joy, and peace within you. Oh, endeavor to realize that, whatever be your mental exercises, spiritual conflicts, doubts and fears, your “times” of soul despondency are in the Lord’s hand.

Lodged there, safe are your spiritual interests. “All His saints are in His hand” (cf. Deu 33:3). And He to Whose care you have confided your redeemed soul has pledged Himself for its eternal security. Of His own sheep He says, “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than all: and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (John10:28-29). With like precious faith and humble assurance, you are privileged to exclaim with Paul, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that Day!” (2Ti 1:12).

Ah! As soon shall Christ Himself perish, as one bought with His blood. No member of His body, insignificant though it may be, shall be dissevered. No temple of the Holy Spirit, frail and imperfect though it is, shall be destroyed. Not a soul to whom the divine image has been restored and the divine nature has been imparted, upon whose heart the name of Jesus has been carved, shall be involved in the final and eternal destruction of the wicked. Nothing shall perish but the earthly and the sensual. Not one grain of precious faith shall be lost, not one spark of divine light shall be extinguished, not one pulsation of spiritual life shall die!

Oh, think of this, you who have fled all sinful and trembling to Jesus, you who cling to Him…as the ivy to the oak: NEVER shall you lose that hold of faith you have on Christ, and never will Christ lose that hold of love He has on you. (see Jer 32:40) You and Jesus are one, indivisibly and eternally one. Nothing shall separate you from His love, nor sever you from His care, nor exclude you from His sympathy, nor banish you from His heaven of eternal blessedness. YOU are in Christ, the subject of His grace; and CHRIST is in you, the hope of glory (Col 1:27). All your cares are Christ’s care, all your sorrows are Christ’s sorrow, all your need is Christ’s supply, all your sicknesses are Christ’s cure, all your crosses are Christ’s burden. Your life—temporal, spiritual, eternal—is “hid with Christ in God” (Col 3:3).

Oh, the unutterable blessings that spring from a vital union with the Lord Jesus! The believer can exultingly say, “Christ and I are one! One in nature, one in affection, one in sympathy, one in fellowship, and one through the countless ages of eternity! The life I live is a life of faith in Him (Gal 2:20). I fly to Him in the confidence of a loving friend, in the simplicity of a little child, and I reveal to Him my secret sorrow. I confess to Him my hidden sin. I acknowledge my heart backsliding. I make known to Him my needs, my sufferings, my fears. I tell Him how chilled my affection is, how reserved my obedience is, how imperfect my service is, and yet how I long to love Him more ardently, to follow Him more closely, to serve Him more devotedly, to be more wholly and holily His. And how does He meet me? With a hearkening ear, with a beaming eye, with a gracious word, with an out-stretched hand with benignity and gentleness all like Himself.” Confide, then, dear reader, your spiritual and deathless interests in the Lord’s hand…

To those who, depressed with a painful foreboding at their final dissolution, are all their lifetime subject to bondage, how consolatory is the reflection that the time of the believer’s death is peculiarly in the Lord’s hand. It is solemnly true that there is a “time to die” (Ecc 3:2). Ah! Affecting thought—“a time to die!”—a time when this mortal conflict will be over; when this heart will cease to feel, alike insensible to joy or sorrow; when this head will ache and these eyes will weep no more! [It will be the] best and holiest of all: a time “when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality” (1Co 15:54), and “we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is” (1Jo 3:2)…If this be so, then, O Christian, why this anxious, trembling fear? Your time of death, with all its attendant circumstances, is in the Lord’s hand. All is appointed and arranged by Him Who loves you and Who redeemed you—infinite goodness, wisdom, and faithfulness consulting your highest happiness in each circumstance of your departure. The final sickness cannot come, the “last enemy” cannot strike until He bids it.

All is in His hand. Then calmly, confidingly leave life’s closing scene with Him. YOU CANNOT DIE AWAY FROM JESUS! Whether your spirit wings its flight at home or abroad, amid strangers or friends, by a lingering process or by a sudden stroke, in brightness or in gloom, Jesus will be with you! Upheld by His grace and cheered with His presence, you shall triumphantly exclaim, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me!” (Psa 23:4), bearing your dying testimony to the faithfulness of God and the preciousness of His promises.

“My time to die is in your hand, O Lord, and there I calmly leave it”…In WHOSE hand are the believer’s times? In a Father’s hand. Be those times what they may, times of trial, times of temptation, times of suffering, times of peril, times of sunshine or of gloom, of life or death— THEY ARE IN A PARENT’S HAND. Is your present path lonely and dreary? Has the Lord seen fit to recall some fond blessing, to deny some earnest request, or painfully to discipline your heart? All this springs from a Father’s love as fully as though He had unlocked His treasury and poured its costliest gifts at your feet…

In a Redeemer’s hand, also, are our times. That same Redeemer Who carried our sorrows in His heart, our curse and transgressions on His soul, our cross on His shoulder, Who died, Who rose again, Who lives and intercedes for us, and Who will gather all His ransomed around Him in glory is your Guardian and your Guide. Can you not cheerfully confide all your earthly concerns, all your spiritual interests to His keeping and control? “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you” (1Pe 5:7)? “Oh, yes!” faith replies, “in that hand that still bears in its palm the print of the nail are all my times. ‘I will trust, and not be afraid’! (Isa 12:2)

 Let us, in conclusion, trace the practical influence that this truth should exert upon our minds…Let this precious truth, “My times are in Thy hand,” divest your mind of all needless, anxious care for the present or the future. Exercising simple faith in God…“Be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb 13:5). Learn to be content with your present lot, with God’s dealings with and His disposal of you.

You are just where His providence has, in its [mysterious] but all-wise and righteous decision, placed you. It may be a painful, irksome, trying position, BUT IT IS RIGHT. Oh, yes! It is right! Only aim to glorify Him in it. Wherever you are placed, God has a work for you to do, a purpose through you to be accomplished, in which He blends your happiness with His glory. And when you have learned the lessons of His love, He will transfer you to another and a wider sphere…

 STRIVE, THEN [BY FAITH], TO LIVE A LIFE OF DAILY DEPENDENCE UPON GOD. Oh, it is a sweet and holy life! It saves from many a desponding feeling, from many a corroding care, from many an anxious thought, from many a sleepless night, from many a tearful eye, and from many an imprudent and sinful scheme…Oh, yes! beloved reader, thank God that your times, your interests, your salvation, are all out of your hands, and out of the hands of all creatures, supremely and safely in His. Forward in the path of duty, of labor, and of suffering. Aim to resemble Christ more closely in your disposition, your spirit, your whole life. Soon will it be said, “The Master is come, and calleth for thee” (John 11:28)…Patient in endurance, submissive in suffering, content with God’s allotment, zealous, prayerful, and watchful—be found standing in “thy lot at the end of the days” (Dan 12:13).

TRUST GOD IMPLICITLY FOR THE FUTURE! No sorrow comes but shall open some sweet spring of comfort…No affliction befalls but shall be attended with the Savior’s tenderest sympathy…Let your constant prayer be “Hold Thou me up, and I shall be safe” (Psa 119:17). Let your daily precept be “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you” (1Pe 5:7). And then leave God to fulfill, as most faithfully He will, His own gracious, precious promise, “As thy days, so shall thy strength be” (Deu 33:25). Thus walking with God through this valley of tears until you exchange sorrow for joy, suffering for ease, sin for purity, labor for rest, conflict for victory, and all earth’s checkered, gloomy scenes for the changeless, cloudless happiness and glory of heaven. Amen!

Praise the LORD!