January 3, 2011

We Obtain Salvation By Our Lord Jesus Christ
(1 Thessalonians 5:9)

Man in his mind often takes credit for his own salvation;
This is vanity and vexation of spirit.

Lead me in Thy truth, and teach me: for Thou art the God of my salvation; on Thee do I wait all the day. (Psalms 25:5)

"For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10)

"While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Thy name: those that Thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled." (John 17:12)

"Of them which Thou gavest me have I lost none." (John 18:9)

The Parable of the Lost Sheep
By Doyle D. Dewberry, Retired Pastor and Author of Sovereign Grace Baptist Proclaimer
Then drew near unto Him all the publicans and sinners for to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, 'This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.' And He spake this parable unto them, saying, “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, 'Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.' I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.” (Luke 15:1-7)
This is one in a trilogy of parables (the shepherd and the lost sheep, the father and the prodigal son, and the woman and the lost coin) with very much in common. In all three parables, there is the effectual and persistent searching for the lost, which represents one of God’s people, and the finding or return of the object. In heaven there is rejoicing and celebration on the return of the object—the repentance and return of one of God’s elect, or every one of God’s people.

When I look for lost sheep, I am looking for any sheep. When the Lord looks for a lost sheep, He is looking for His own sheep, one of His fold. The sheep that I may find is the one He has been seeking to save, every one of whom He knows by name (John 10:3).

One of our problems in understanding this parable has to do with the “when” of our salvation. We generally think of it as the time when we first believe, but God’s people are those given to Him before the foundation of the world. God sees us as His people before we were ever born, yea, before the world began.

When we believe, it is just our Lord finding us, as this lost sheep, and we are returned to the fold. It is a matter of our status before Adam and before the fall, and after Adam and after the fall. While all men fell with Adam, so also did God’s people, whom He chose before time began:
“Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18).

God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. (2 Thessalonians 2:13)

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men. (Titus 2:11)

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)

Thou art my Father, my God, and the rock of my salvation. (Psalms 89:26)

What is the occasion for this parable? The religious people of the day were complaining because the Lord was receiving and eating with sinners (v. 1-3). The same is true today. We have the religious but lost (even those who appear to be divinely drawn unto the Lord and salvation), who look down upon the poor sinner because they consider themselves not to be sinners. But unless a man sees himself a sinner, and lost, he cannot be saved, for the Lord came to seek and to save the lost sinner.

Who is the shepherd? The Lord Jesus is the Good Shepherd who has come to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21) and, yea, even to give His life for the sheep (John 10).

What sheep does Christ look for? The sheep He seeks are they whose names were written in the Lamb’s book of life before the world began and, as a result of the fall by Adam, are His lost sheep. Christ’s sheep will or do believe, and are designated as His Sheep. There are many other sheep in the world, but they are not His sheep. Jesus said of them,
“Ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep... My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:26-27).
Who are the 99 that He has left in the wilderness? They are the found sheep. In Luke’s account of this parable, he only tells us that the 99 were those He left behind while He sought this one lost sheep; in Matthew’s account of the parable, we learn more of the 99—the 99 are they that did not go astray. We do not assume that they are just persons that need no repentance (v. 7), but that they, like all of God’s people, need on-going repentance—it is the self-righteous that think they do not need to repent.

Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from Him cometh my salvation. (Psalms 62:1)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. (Romans 1:16)

So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation. (Hebrews 9:28)
For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.” (Matthew 18:11-13)

Here are five important points of this parable, which reveal to us the Lord’s saving of all His sheep:
  1. Our Lord was not seeking just any sheep, but one of His sheep, which was lost. If He had seen 99 other sheep, it would not have deterred Him in His search for the one sheep, which was His, but lost. There were many sheep in the world, but He sought His own.
  2. The Lord seeks that lost sheep, for He goes after that which is lost (v. 4). Remember the words of our Savior who said that He “came to seek and save that which was lost.” Evangelism is no more than our finding those whom the Lord seeks, and while we know them not before, He knows them, has purposed their salvation, and thus He foreknew them and predestined them (Romans 8:28-29).

    Notice also the occasion of His sending His disciples out to gather in His sheep, showing us that salvation was to the Jew first (Romans 1:16), but includes only His lost sheep:
    These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:5-6)
    The importance of this verse is in what He did not say. He did not say “Go ye to the house of Israel, the lost sheep,” but that they were to go to the lost sheep “of” the house of Israel. They did not go to every Israelite in the land. Paul taught: all of Israel is not of Israel (Romans 9), indicating there is an Israel according to the flesh and one according to the Spirit. A true Jew is not one outwardly, but one inwardly—and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God (Romans 2:28-29).
  3. The Lord will seek His sheep until He finds it; He is an effectual Shepherd. A good example of this is when the Lord went to Zacchaeus—it was Jesus’ main purpose in going through Jericho. While Zacchaeus was up in the tree where he could see the passing Savior, the Savior came to him, telling him to come down, for he is told, “Today… I must abide at thy house.” This man was a publican (who are cited along with sinners in Luke 15). Publicans were Jews working with the Romans collecting taxes from the people, and hated in Israel, but the Lord loved him.
    And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who He was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him: for He was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, “Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.” And he made haste, and came down, and received Him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, that he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord: 'Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.' And Jesus said unto him, “This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:1-10)
    The sheep was a helpless sheep (v. 5) and therefore lost in the wilderness. He could not come to the fold as other sheep, so the Lord carried him there on His shoulders, as we are told:
    “When He hath found it, He layeth it on His shoulders, rejoicing” (Luke 15:5).
    You will never find sinners coming to Christ before He first comes to them, and no one will enter heaven, as this sheep in the fold, except on the shoulders of the Savior Himself. Salvation is not something that man does for God, but that which God does for man. God is the God of salvation.

    Consider repentance, which is not first of man, but first of God:
  4. Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. (Romans 2:1-9)
  5. The shepherd rejoiced over finding the sheep and sought his friends and neighbors to rejoice with him (v. 6). It is typical of that which takes place in heaven over one sinner that repenteth more than over 99 of the self-righteous that think they need no repentance.

    Keep in mind all three related parables, including the woman who lost the coin (drachma) and the father who lost a son: they represent the triune-Godhead in the salvation of sinners. We have the Father, the Son, and the Spirit represented. The latter may be a little difficult to understand, but the Holy Spirit is like a mother to the Church, even though He is spoken of as in the masculine, He broods over the Church much as He did in creation (Genesis 1:2).

Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by Him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the Stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the Head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:10-12)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. (Proverbs 3:5-7)

Consider also the following, which can be said did not lead to the saving of this sheep!
  1. It was not saved by any law or good works. We are told, “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight, and that our salvation is by grace—not of works. Works are for those who are already saved, for we are the workmanship of God, created unto good works.” (Ephesians 2)
  2. It was not saved by seeking the Lord. As it is written, “There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10-12)
  3. It was not saved by praying. Praying is for those already saved. It is so set forth in the Scriptures. When Paul was writing to the Church in Rome, he said, “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27)
  4. It was not saved through a witness other than the Shepherd, the Lord Jesus. This is not to say that God’s people are not saved through another witnessing, but it does demonstrate that man is not necessary in the salvation of anyone. Peter brought the message of salvation to the Gentiles (all through the leading of the Lord for him to do so), but the apostle Paul was saved on the road to Damascus by the personal encounter with the Lord Jesus Himself, which was after the Lord’s ascension into heaven!

    We sometimes get the opinion that no one can be saved unless man speaks to him: it is one way, but not the only way. Missionaries sometimes feel that unless they go to a certain country, no one could be saved there, but God has not put the fate of man in man’s hands, but in His own! Many have been saved from reading the Scriptures only (the testimony of this writer), others from reading messages in papers and books. Preaching the gospel is accomplished by publishing as well as proclaiming!
In conclusion, we can say this: that we can learn much of man’s salvation in our Lord’s parable of the lost sheep. The sheep was saved through the efforts of the Good Shepherd who sought the sheep, and sought it until He found it, and carried it home on His shoulders. So it is with the Lord Jesus and the salvation of His people given to Him before the foundation of the world!

The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation. (Psalms 118:14)

"I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment." (Ezekiel 34:16)

For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:9)

Account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation. (2 Peter 3:15)

The Father Sent the Son to be the Savior of the World

To keep God's Words in your heart, read Charles Haddon Spurgeon's Daily Meditations

There is salvation only in the blood of Christ.

As a shepherd, Abel sanctified his work to the glory of God and offered a sacrifice of blood upon his altar. The Lord had respect unto Abel and his offering. This early type of our Lord is exceedingly clear and distinct: it clearly manifests the great fact that the Son is coming.

Abel was hated by his brother, hated without a cause. And even so was the Savior: the natural and carnal man hated the accepted Man in whom the Spirit of grace was found and rested not until His blood had been shed.

Abel fell and sprinkled his altar and sacrifice with his own blood, and therein sets forth the Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God, slain by the enmity of man while serving as a priest before the Lord. "The good Shepherd layeth down His life for the sheep." Let us weep over Him as we view Him slain by the hatred of mankind, staining the horns of His altar with His own blood.

The blood of Jesus has a mighty tongue and the importance of its prevailing cry is not vengeance but mercy.

It is precious beyond all preciousness to stand at the altar of our good Shepherd! We see Him bleeding there as the slaughtered priest and we hear His blood speaking peace to all His flock, peace between man and his offended Maker, peace in our conscience, peace between Jew and Gentile, peace all down the ages of eternity for blood-washed men.

Abel is the first shepherd in order of time, but our hearts shall ever place Jesus first in order of excellence. Great Keeper of the sheep, we the people of your pasture bless you with our whole hearts when we see you slain for us.

"His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground." --Luke 22:44

The mental pressure arising from our Lord's struggle with temptation so forced His frame to an unnatural excitement that His pores sent forth great drops of blood which fell down to the ground.

This proves how tremendous must have been the weight of sin when it was able to crush the Savior so that He distilled great drops of blood! This demonstrates the mighty power of His love. This sets forth the voluntariness of Christ's sufferings since, without a lance, the blood flowed freely. No need to put on the leech or apply the knife; it flows spontaneously. No need for the rulers to cry, "Spring up, O well;" of itself it flows in crimson torrents.

If men suffer great pain of mind, apparently the blood rushes to the heart. The cheeks are pale, a fainting fit comes on, and the blood has gone inward as if to nourish the inner man while passing through its trial. But see our Savior in His agony; He is so utterly oblivious of self that, instead of His agony driving His blood to the heart to nourish Himself, it drives it outward to bedew the earth. The agony of Christ, inasmuch as it pours Him out upon the ground, pictures the fullness of the offering which He made for men.

Do we not perceive how intense must have been the wrestling through which He passed, and will we not hear its voice to us? "You have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin." Behold the great Apostle and High Priest of our profession, who sweat even to blood rather than yield to the great tempter of our souls.

Newsboys - You Are My King (Amazing Love)

"Without the shedding of blood is no remission." --Hebrews 9:22

In none of the Jewish ceremonies were sins, even typically, removed without blood shedding. In no case, by no means, can sin be pardoned without atonement. It is clear, then, that there is no hope for us outside of Christ since there is no other blood shedding that is worth a thought as an atonement for sin.

Sin will yield to nothing less potent than the blood of Him whom God has set forth as a propitiation. What a blessing that there is the one way of pardon! Why should we seek another? Persons of merely formal religion cannot understand how we can rejoice that all our sins are forgiven us for Christ's sake. Their works and prayers and ceremonies give them very poor comfort; and well may they be uneasy since they are neglecting the one great salvation, endeavoring to get remission without blood.

Jefferson Bethke - Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus

My soul, sit down and behold the justice of God as bound to punish sin; see that punishment all executed upon the Lord Jesus, and fall down in humble joy, and kiss the dear feet of Him whose blood has made atonement for you.

It is in vain when conscience is aroused to fly to feelings and evidences for comfort: this is a habit that we learned in the Egypt of our legal bondage. The only restorative for a guilty conscience is a sight of Jesus suffering on the cross. "The blood is the life thereof," says the Levitical law, and let us rest assured that it is the life of faith and joy and every other holy grace.

Oh! how sweet to view the flowing
Of my Savior’s precious blood;
With divine assurance knowing
He has made my peace with God.

Jesus loved us and gave Himself for us.

He had been all night in agony; He had spent the early morning at the hall of Caiaphas; He had been hurried from Caiaphas to Pilate, from Pilate to Herod, and from Herod back again to Pilate. He had, therefore, but little strength left, and yet neither refreshment nor rest were permitted Him. They were eager for His blood and, therefore, led Him out to die, loaded with the cross.

Pilate delivered our Lord to the lictors to be scourged. The Roman scourge was a most dreadful instrument of torture. It was made of the sinews of oxen and sharp bones were inter-twisted every here and there among the sinews: every time the lash came down these pieces of bone inflicted fearful laceration and tore off the flesh from the bone. The Savior was, no doubt, bound to the column, and thus beaten. He had been beaten before, but this of the Roman lictors was probably the most severe. My soul, stand here and weep over His poor stricken body.

Now we see Jesus brought before the priests and rulers who pronounce Him guilty, and we see the great Scapegoat led away by the appointed officers of justice.

  • God Himself imputes our sins to Him.
  • The Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
  • He was made sin for us.
  • He, the substitute for our guilt, bore our sin, represented by the cross, upon His shoulders.
As we look at the cross upon His shoulders, does it represent our sins? There is one way by which we can tell whether He carried our sins or not. Have we laid our hand upon His head, confessed our sins, and trusted in Him? Then our sin lies not on us; they have all been transferred by blessed imputation to Christ, and He bears them on His shoulder as a load heavier than the cross.

Believers in Jesus, can we gaze upon Him without tears as He stands before us, the mirror of agonizing love?

He is at once fair as the lily for innocence and red as the rose with the crimson of His own blood. As we feel the sure and blessed healing which His stripes have wrought in us, does not our heart melt at once with love and grief? If ever we have loved our Lord Jesus, surely we must feel that affection glowing now within our bosoms.

See how the patient Jesus stands,
Insulted in His lowest case!
Sinners have bound the Almighty's hands,
And spit in their Creator's face.

With thorns His temples gor'd and gash'd
Send streams of blood from every part;
His back's with knotted scourges lash'd.
But sharper scourges tear His heart.

"My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" --Psalms 22:1, Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34

We here behold the Savior in the depth of His sorrows. No other place so well shows the griefs of Christ as Calvary, and no other moment at Calvary is so full of agony, as that in which His cry rends the air, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?"

At this moment physical weakness was united with acute mental torture from the shame and ignominy through which He had to pass; and to make His grief culminate with emphasis, He suffered spiritual agony surpassing all expression, resulting from the departure of His Father's presence. This was the black midnight of His horror; then it was that He descended the abyss of suffering. No man can enter into the full meaning of these words.

Some of us think at times that we could cry, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" There are seasons when the brightness of our Father's smile is eclipsed by clouds and darkness, but let us remember that God never does really forsake us; it is only a seeming forsaking with us, but in Christ's case it was a real forsaking.

We grieve at a little withdrawal of our Father's love, but the real turning away of God's face from His Son, who shall calculate how deep the agony which it caused Him?

In our case, our cry is often dictated by unbelief; in His case, it was the utterance of a dreadful fact, for God had really turned away from Him for a season.

O poor, distressed soul who once lived in the sunshine of God's face but are now in darkness, remember that He has not really forsaken you. God in the clouds is as much our God as when He shines forth in all the luster of His grace. But since even the thought that He has forsaken us gives us agony, what must the woe of the Savior have been when He exclaimed, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?"

Mac Powell - By His Wounds

When Jesus died, the sacrifices were all finished because all was fulfilled in Him and, therefore, the place of their presentation was marked with an evident token of decay.

The old law of ordinances was put away and, like a worn-out vesture, rent and laid aside when Jesus died on the cross. That rent also revealed all the hidden things of the old dispensation: the mercy seat could now be seen and the glory of God gleamed forth above it.

By the death of our Lord Jesus we have a clear revelation of God, for He was "not as Moses, who put a veil over His face." Life and immortality are now brought to light, and things that have been hidden since the foundation of the world are manifest in Him. The annual ceremony of atonement was thus abolished. The atoning blood, which was once every year sprinkled within the veil, was now offered once for all by the great High Priest and, therefore, the place of the symbolical rite was broken up. No blood of bullocks or of lambs is needed now because Jesus has entered within the veil with His own blood. Hence access to God is now permitted and is the privilege of every believer in Christ Jesus.

"I have a Brother in heaven; I may be poor, but I have a Brother who is rich and is a King; and will He suffer me to want while He is on His throne? Oh, no! He loves me; He is my Brother."

Christ knows our wants and sympathizes with us. He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. In all our sorrows we have His sympathy. Temptation, pain, disappointment, weakness, weariness, poverty—He knows them all, for He has felt all.

Before we can have any right idea of the love of Jesus, we must understand His previous glory in its height of majesty and His incarnation upon the earth in all its depths of shame.

Who can tell us the majesty of Christ? When He was enthroned in the highest heavens He was very God of very God; by Him were the heavens made, and all the hosts thereof. His own almighty arm upheld the spheres; the praises of cherubim and seraphim perpetually surrounded Him; the full chorus of the hallelujahs of the universe unceasingly flowed to the foot of His throne. He reigned supreme above all His creatures; God over all, blessed forever.

Who can tell His height of glory then? And who, on the other hand, can tell how low He descended?

  • To be a man was something.

  • To be a man of sorrows was far more.

  • To bleed and die and suffer, these were much for Him who was the Son of God.

  • But to suffer such unparalleled agony: to endure a death of shame and desertion by His Father, this is a depth of condescending love, which the most inspired mind must utterly fail to fathom.

  • Herein is love! And truly it is love that "passeth knowledge."

We too frequently ascribe the honor of our salvation, or at least the depths of its benevolence, more to Jesus Christ than we do the Father. This is a very great mistake.

What if Jesus came? Did not His Father send Him? If He spoke wondrously, did not His Father pour grace into His lips that He might be an able minister of the new covenant? He who knows the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost as he should know them never sets one before another in his love.

Are you united with Him? Then believe that you are united unto the God of heaven. Since to the Man Christ Jesus you are brother and hold close fellowship, you are linked thereby with God the Eternal, and "the Ancient of days" is your Father and your friend.

The Father sent Him! Contemplate that subject; think how Jesus works what the Father wills.

“Sanctified by God the Father.” --Jude 1:1
“Sanctified in Christ Jesus.” --1 Corinthians 1:2
“Through sanctification of the Spirit.” --1 Peter 1:2

Mark the union of the three Divine Persons in all their gracious acts. How unwisely do believers talk who make preferences in the Persons of the Trinity, who think of Jesus as if He were the embodiment of everything lovely and gracious, while the Father they regard as severely just but destitute of kindness.

Equally wrong are those who magnify the decree of the Father and the atonement of the Son so as to depreciate the work of the Spirit. In deeds of grace, none of the Persons of the Trinity act apart from the rest. They are as united in their deeds as in their essence. In their love towards the chosen they are one, and in the actions which flow from that great central source they are still undivided. Specially notice this in the matter of sanctification. While we may without mistake speak of sanctification as the work of the Spirit, yet we must take heed that we do not view it as if the Father and the Son had no part therein.

It is correct to speak of sanctification as the work of the Father, of the Son, and of the Spirit. Still does Jehovah say, "Let us make man in our own image after our likeness," and thus we are "His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them." See the value that God sets upon real holiness since the three Persons in the Trinity are represented as co-working to produce a Church without "spot or wrinkle or any such thing."

And we, believers, as the followers of Christ, must also set a high value on holiness and upon purity of life and godliness of conversation. We must value the blood of Christ as the foundation of our hope, but never speak disparagingly of the work of the Spirit, which is our meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light. This day let us so live as to manifest the work of the Triune God in us.

Jesus had constant fellowship with His Father, and God spoke into His heart so often, so continually, that it was not a circumstance singular enough to be recorded.

It was the habit and life of Jesus to talk with God. Even as Jesus was, is this world, so are we; therefore, let us learn the lesson which this simple statement concerning Him teaches us. May we likewise have silent fellowship with the Father so that often we may answer Him. And though the world knows not to whom we speak, may we be responding to that secret voice unheard of by any other ear, which our own ear, opened by the Spirit of God, recognizes with joy.

God has spoken to us, let us speak to God, either to:
  • Set our seal that God is true and faithful to His promise, or

  • Confess the sin of which the Spirit of God has convinced us, or

  • Acknowledge the mercy which God's providence has given, or

  • Express assent to the great truths that God the Holy Ghost has opened to our understanding.
If we would hear the whispers of God's love, our ear must be purged and fitted to listen to His voice. This very evening may our hearts be in such a state that when God speaks to us, we, like Jesus, may be prepared at once to answer Him.

"Therefore, brethren, we are debtors." --Romans 8:12

As God's creatures, we are all debtors to Him: to obey Him with all our body and soul and strength. Having broken His commandments, as we all have, we are debtors to His justice, and we owe to Him a vast amount, which we are not able to pay.

But of the Christian it can be said that he does not owe God's justice anything since Christ paid the debt that His people owed; for this reason the believer owes the more to love.

I am a debtor to God's grace and forgiving mercy, but I am no debtor to His justice, for He will never accuse me of a debt already paid. Christ said, "It is finished!," and by that He meant that the punishment of death that His people owed for their sins was wiped away forever from the book of remembrance. Christ, to the uttermost, has satisfied divine justice; the account is settled, the handwriting is nailed to the cross, the receipt is given, and we are debtors to God's justice no longer.

But then, because we are not debtors to our Lord's justice, we become ten times more debtors to God than we should have been otherwise.

Christians, pause and ponder for a moment: what debtors we are to divine sovereignty! How much we owe to His immeasurable love, for He gave His own Son that He might die for us. Consider how much we owe to His forgiving grace: after ten thousand affronts He loves us as infinitely as ever.

Consider what we owe to His power, how:
  • He has raised us from our deaths in sin,

  • He has preserved our spiritual lives,

  • He has kept us from falling, and

  • Though a thousand enemies have beset our paths, we have been able to hold on our way.
Natalie Grant - Held

The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms:
And He shall thrust out the enemy from before thee;
And shall say, "Destroy them." --Deuteronomy 33:27

But the Lord said unto him, "Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me,
Too bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake." --Acts 9:15-16

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We Are Pilgrims in a Sinful World –
We Must Through Much Tribulation
Enter into the Kingdom of God

To keep God's Words in your heart, read Charles Haddon Spurgeon's Daily Meditations

I walk through this sinful world as a pilgrim in a foreign country; Lord, I would not be a citizen where Jesus was an alien.

We are strangers in this world. When Jesus came unto His own, His own received Him not. He was in the world; the world was made by Him; the world knew Him not. It is no marvel then if we, who live the life of Jesus, should be unknown and strangers here below.

But here is the sweetness of our lot: we are strangers with Christ. He is our fellow-sufferer, our fellow-pilgrim. Oh, what joy to wander in such blessed society! Though we are sojourners, we are far more blessed than those who sit on thrones and far more at home than those who dwell in sealed houses.

Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. --Acts 14:22

Christ was “not of the world:” His life and His testimony were a constant protest against conformity with the world.

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. --1 John 2:15-16

Never was such overflowing affection for men as you find in Jesus, but still He was separate from sinners. In like manner, Christ’s people must “go forth unto Him.” They must take their position “without the camp” as witness-bearers for the truth. They must be prepared to tread the straight and narrow path. They must have bold, unflinching, lion-like hearts, loving Christ first, His truth next, and Christ and His truth beyond all the world.

You cannot grow in grace to any high degree while you are conformed to the world.

Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. --James 4:4

The cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches are apt to choke everything good within us, and we grow fretful, despondent, perhaps proud and carnal. We sit too often like chained eagles fastened to the rock, only that, unlike the eagle, we begin to love our chain, and would, perhaps, if it came really to the test, be loath to have it snapped.

“Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” --Revelation 3:17

It is exceedingly beneficial to our souls to mount above this present evil world to something nobler and better. The Christian’s reason for leaving the camp of the world’s sin and religion is not because he loves to be singular, but because Jesus did so, and the disciple must follow his Master.

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. --Colossians 3:1-2

Denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. --Titus 2:12-14

There is no satisfaction to be found in earthly things. It will not matter if we obtain earthly things that others have, because we have God for our Father.

  • No longer will we seek earthly treasures.
  • Pride will give place to humility.
  • We will give priority to others.
  • We will be willing to sacrifice our time, energy and money to God and His needy ones.
  • We will do it cheerfully because God has saved us from material idols.
  • We will regularly give to God for His service and His glory.
”I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.” --Revelation 2:19

Jesus said unto him, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou has, and give to the poor, and thou shall have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto His disciples, “Verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven." And again I say unto you, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” --Matthew 19:21-26

We will lose the world to gain heaven; we will let go of the world and its falseness to enter eternal life.

Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. --1 Timothy 6:17-19

God, in His mercy, has sent His anointed One, Christ, into the world to reveal the truth about God to man. Christ lived a life of poverty and humility. He was despised, though all power and truth belong to Him. He overcame all carnal pride and became a servant to all, despising all riches and honor.

For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. --1 Timothy 6:7-11

"No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (money)." --Matthew 16:13

Chris Tomlin - How Great Is Our God

We that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak. --Romans 15:1

There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, and it is common among men: a man to whom God has given riches, wealth, and honor, so that he want nothing for his soul of all that he desire. Yet God gives him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eats it: this is vanity, and it is an evil disease. --Ecclesiastes 6:1-2

We are naturally more apt to be concerned for our goods, carnal peace, and a temporal life than we are about securing our souls with God, especially as long as peace has lasted and we are not discontented or offended. Let them that suffer according to the will of God have a care of their souls and take heed that the fears of the loss of a little of this world do not make them forget the fear of the losing of their souls.

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" --Mark 8:36

How wonderful is that service which is in fellowship with Christ, for those who deny themselves, gain God. God will satisfy them and they will be contented, spending themselves in the service of others. God becomes their true treasure and their eternal possession.

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him. --Colossians 3:12-17

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. --1 Peter 4:8

“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” --Matthew 5:5

What is weaker than the bruised reed or the smoking flax? A reed that grows in the fen or marsh, let but the wild duck light upon it, and it snaps; let but the foot of man brush against it, and it is bruised and broken; every wind that flits across the river moves it to and fro. We can conceive of nothing more frail or brittle, or whose existence is more in jeopardy, than a bruised reed. Then look at the smoking flax—what is it? It has a spark within it, it is true, but it is almost smothered; an infant’s breath might blow it out; nothing has a more precarious existence than its flame.

Weak things are here described, yet Jesus says of them, “The smoking flax I will not quench; the bruised reed I will not break.” Some of God’s children are made strong to do mighty works for Him; God has His Samsons here and there who can pull up Gaza’s gates and carry them to the top of the hill. He has a few mighties who are lion-like men, but the majority of His people are a timid, trembling race. They are like starlings, frightened at every passerby—a little fearful flock. If temptation comes, they are taken like birds in a snare. If trial threatens, they are ready to faint, their frail skiff is tossed up and down by every wave; they are drifted along like a sea bird on the crest of the billows—weak things, without strength, without wisdom, without foresight. Yet, weak as they are, and because they are so weak, they have this promise made especially to them.

A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench. --Matthew 12:20

Herein is grace and graciousness! Herein is love and lovingkindness! How it opens to us the compassion of Jesus—so gentle, tender, considerate! We need never shrink back from His touch. We need never fear a harsh word from Him, though He might well chide us for our weakness, He does not rebuke us for it. Bruised reeds shall have no blows from Him and the smoking flax no damping frowns.

Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him?... For He shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy. --James 2:5,13

“For he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.” --Luke 9:48

All the names of the children of God are in the same family register. One may have more grace than another, but God our heavenly Father has the same tender heart towards all. One may do more mighty works and may bring more glory to his Father, but he whose name is the least in the kingdom of heaven is as much the child of God as he who stands among the King's mighty men. Let this cheer and comfort us when we draw near to God and say, “Our Father.”

Nothing can happen without God’s direction for even hell is under His control.

When our Lord was upon the earth, He walked the footpath of weariness and service as the Servant of servants. What wonder is it if His followers should also be looked down upon as inferior and contemptible persons?

We expect to walk in sympathy with our Lord along a thorny road: through much tribulation we are forcing our way to the crown. To bear the cross is our office, and to be scorned and counted aliens by the world is our lot; and yet we have a deep well of joy of which none can drink but the children of God.

The world is upside down, and therefore, the first are last and the last first. When the wheel turns, they who are highest sink and the lowest rise. Patience then, believer, eternity will right the wrongs of time.

“For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me… And this is the will of Him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” --John 6:38,49

We live in the world of death and sorrow, but the promise is that the believer shall not be afraid. God our Father is here, and He will be here all through our lonely hours.

Non believers and hypocrites may well be afraid, for they have an angry God above them, a guilty conscience within them, and a yawning hell beneath them. But we who rest in Jesus are saved from all these through rich mercy. We children of light may walk in darkness, but we are not, therefore, cast away; no, we are now enabled to prove our adoption by trusting in our heavenly Father as hypocrites cannot do.

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. --Psalms 23:4

The journey of death may be dark, but we may go forth on it fearlessly, knowing that God is with us as we walk through the gloomy valley and, therefore, we need fear no evil.

It is impossible for any human speech to express the full meaning of this delightful phrase: “God is for me.”

God has been “for us” in many struggles; we have been summoned to encounter hosts of dangers; we have been assailed by temptations from without and within: how could we have remained unharmed to this hour if He had not been “for us?” He is “for us” with all the infinity of His being, with all the omnipotence of His love, with all the infallibility of His wisdom; arrayed in all His divine attributes, He is “for us”—eternally and immutably “for us.”

When I cry unto Thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me. --Psalms 56:9

“When I cry unto Thee, then shall mine enemies turn back.” This is no uncertain hope, but a well-grounded assurance: this we know. “I will direct my prayer unto God and will look up for the answer, assured that it will come and that my enemies shall be defeated, ‘for God is for me.’”

“Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” --Jeremiah 31:3

O believers, how happy we are to have the King of kings on our side! How safe we are with such a Protector, and how sure we are with such an Advocate to plead our cause! If God be for us, who can be against us?

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.--Proverbs 3:5-7

We know that our enemies are attempting impossibilities; they seek to destroy the eternal life, which cannot die while Jesus lives.

“I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” --Revelation 1:18

We know our enemies' weaknesses. What are they but men? When the Lord shall appear, they shall fly as chaff before the wind and be consumed as crackling thorns. Their utter powerlessness to do damage to the cause of God and His truth may make the weakest soldiers in Zion’s ranks laugh them to scorn.

We know that the Most High is with us, and when He dresses Himself in arms, where are His enemies? His rod of iron shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel and their very remembrance shall perish from the earth.

“I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” --Matthew 28:20

Away, then, all fears, the kingdom is safe in the King’s hands. Let us shout for joy, for the Lord reigneth, and His foes shall be as straw for the dunghill.

DecembeRadio - Drifter

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world. --1 John 4:4

Jesus (He that is in you) overcame Satan (Death) when He was resurrected and exalted to His heavenly throne where He sits on the right hand of God. Through Christ's victory on the cross, Satan was bound and restrained from preventing the spreading of the gospel, the testimony of Jesus, throughout the nations. Christ paid the penalty for our sins through His death, thereby freeing the children of God from Satan’s captivity and the second death in the lake of fire, which is the death of the spiritual body.

For the wages (penalty) of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. --Romans 6:23

But now is Christ risen from the dead,
And become the firstfruits of them that slept.
For since by man came death, by Man came also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits;
Afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming.
Then cometh the end,
When He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father;
When He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet.
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
For He hath put all things under His feet.
But when He saith all things are put under Him,
It is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under Him.
And when all things shall be subdued unto Him,
Then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him,
That God may be all in all.
--1 Corinthians 15:20-28.

I was strengthened as the hand of the Lord my God was upon me. --Ezra 7:28

To some selected spirits it is given (for the good of others and to strengthen them for future, special, and tremendous conflict) to enter the inner circle and hear the pleadings of the suffering High Priest. They have fellowship with Christ in His sufferings and are made conformable unto His death. Yet even they cannot know the secret places of the Savior’s woe.

“Thine unknown sufferings” is the remarkable expression of the Greek liturgy—there was an inner chamber in our Master’s grief shut out from human knowledge and fellowship—there Jesus is left alone. “All the unknown joys He gives were bought with agonies unknown.”

The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. --1 Corinthians 15:56-57

Christ exempts us from the consequence of sin but not from suffering; remember that and expect to suffer.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. --Romans 8:1

Jesus did not suffer to exclude our suffering. He bears the cross not that we may escape it, but that we may endure it. It is not our cross, but Christ’s cross that we carry, and how delightful it is to carry the cross of our Lord. We carry the cross in partnership with Him, yet we carry the light end, for Christ bore the heavier end.

Good men must never expect to escape troubles.

We told you before that we should suffer tribulation. --1 Thessalonians 3:4

It was never in God’s design that His people be an untried people. As God’s people, we were chosen in the furnace of affliction. We were never chosen to worldly peace or earthly joy. Freedom from sickness and the pains of mortality was never promised us. And when our Lord drew up the charter of privileges, He included chastisements among the things to which we should inevitably be heirs.

“So that your trust may be in the Lord, I teach you today, even you.” --Proverbs 22:19

We require much refinement in the furnace of affliction.

"And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God." --Zechariah 13:9

We learn obedience by the things that we suffer. Suffering is necessary, and the true-born child of God must not, would not, escape it if he might.

But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. --Job 23:10

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. --1 Peter 1:7

O, think not, believers, that our sorrows are out of God’s plan; they are necessary parts of it.

Trials are part of our lot. God has ordained their season and their place, their intensity and the effect they shall have upon us. And our troubles have been the means of delivering us from far greater evil; many have been thus saved from ruin by their sorrows and their crosses—these have frightened the birds from the net.

God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart. --2 Chronicles 32:31

Tribulation is the path of God’s children.

All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. --2 Timothy 3:12

Trials were predestinated for us in Christ's last legacy. And although tribulation is thus the path of God’s children, we have the comfort of knowing that our Master has traversed it before us.

We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. --Acts 14:22

When we reach the kingdom, it will more than make amends for the “much tribulation” through which we passed to enter it.

Trials are for the testing and strengthening of our faith; they are the winds that waft our ships more swiftly toward the desired haven.

And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever… And this is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life. --1 John 2:17, 25

Learn to count it all as joy when we fall into many straits and difficulties. Meditate much on heaven to help us press on and to forget the toil of the way. This vale of tears is but the pathway to the better country: this world of woe is but the stepping stone to a world of bliss.

“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” --Revelation 2:7

A vein of good is to be found in every mine of evil.

All things work together for good to them that love God, who are the called according to His purpose. --Romans 8:28

Sad hearts have peculiar skill in discovering the most disadvantageous point of view from which to gaze upon a trial, and we are apt, at times, to cry, “All these things are against me.” Remember, though, that God never allows the tests we face to be greater than the grace He gives us to handle them.

God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. --1 Corinthians 10:13

“Tribulation worketh patience:” we must be willing to bear the cross and to suffer with Christ patiently; patience is the spiritual virtue and power to endure suffering and tribulation for Christ's sake.

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. --James 1:2-3

Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. --James 5:10-11

Josh Wilson - Before the Morning

He whose life is one even and smooth path will see but little of the glory of the Lord, for he has few occasions of self-emptying and, hence, but little fitness for being filled with the revelation of God.

They who navigate little streams and shallow creeks know but little of the God of tempests, but they who “do business in great waters,” these see His “wonders in the deep.” Among the huge Atlantic waves of bereavement, poverty, temptation and reproach, we learn the power of Jehovah because we feel the littleness of man.

Thank God, then, if we have been led by a rough road: it is this which has given us our experience of God’s greatness and lovingkindness. Our troubles have enriched us with a wealth of knowledge to be gained by no other means: our trials have been the cleft of the rock in which Jehovah has set us, as He did His servant Moses, that we might behold His glory as it passed by.

No prayer is half as hearty as that which comes from the depths of the soul, through deep trials and afflictions.

And when he was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. --2 Chronicles 33:12

God breaks down our comforts to make room for grace. When we are most cast down, the light of Christ is the more brightly revealed to us. The humbler a man lies, the more comfort he will always have. Trials and afflictions bring us to God and we are happier, for nearness to God is happiness.

Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. --2 Corinthians 1:4

Praise God that we have not been left to the darkness and ignorance that continued prosperity might have involved but that, in the great fight of affliction, we have been capacitated for the outshinings of His glory in His wonderful dealings with us.

God’s great design in all His works is the manifestation of His own glory: any aim less than this is unworthy of Him. But how shall the glory of God be manifested to such fallen creatures as we are? Man’s eye is not single; he has ever a side glance toward his own honor; he has too high an estimate of his own powers, and so he is not qualified to behold the glory of the Lord.

It is clear, then, that self must stand out of the way so that there may be room for God to be exalted. This is the reason why God brings His people often times into straits and difficulties: being made conscious of their own folly and weakness, they may be fitted to behold the majesty of God when He comes forth to work their deliverance.

The Lord our God hath shewed us His glory. --Deuteronomy 5:24

Chris Sligh - Empty Me

Humiliation of soul always brings a positive blessing with it.

If we empty our hearts of self, God will fill them with His love. “He descended that He might ascend,” and so must we. We must grow downwards so that we may grow upwards, for the sweetest fellowship with heaven is to be had by humble souls and by them alone.

He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way. -- Psalms 25:9

Great hearts can only be made by great troubles.

Trials make room for consolation. When we are most troubled, we have the closest dealings with God. When the purse is bursting with gold, we try to do without so much prayer, but once our gold is taken away, we want our God.

The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom; and before honor is humility. --Proverbs 15:33

If we approach God pleading the name of Jesus, we shall see His finger working marvels.

God will deny no blessing to a thoroughly humbled spirit. “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” with all its riches and treasures. The whole exchequer of God shall be made over by deed of gift to the soul, which is humble enough to be able to receive it without growing proud because of it.

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud. --Proverbs 16:18-19

To suffer is an honorable thing; to suffer for Christ is glory.

One of the early martyrs said, “I can bear it all, for Jesus suffered, and He suffers in me now; He sympathizes with me, and this makes me strong.” Believers, lay hold of this thought in all times of agony, and let the thought of Jesus strengthen us as we follow in His steps. Just so far as the Lord shall give us grace to suffer for Christ, to suffer with Christ, just so far does He honor us.

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. --1 Peter 4:12-13

Accept the temporary drawback of suffering with Christ as an honor.

“He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” --Revelation 21:7

We are the sons of God: Jesus was heard in His deepest woe and we shall be heard also. We are now able to prove our adoption as sons of God by trusting in our heavenly Father. The cross we carry is for a little while at most, and then we receive the crown, the glory, eternal life. Remember that we are far more blessed than those who sit on earthly thrones having purses bursting with gold.

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” --John 16:33

Must Christ pass through seas of His own blood to win the crown and are we to walk to heaven dryshod in silver slippers? No, our Master’s experience teaches us that suffering is necessary.

The jewels of a Christian are his afflictions. The regalia of the kings whom God has anointed are their troubles, their sorrows, and their griefs. Let us not, therefore, shun being honored; let us not turn aside from being exalted. Griefs exalt us and troubles lift us up.

Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted. But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. --James 1:9-10

Christ was made perfect through suffering.

For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. --Hebrews 2:10

We can bear it all, for Jesus suffered and He suffers in us now. In all our sorrows we have His sympathy, for He knows them all and He has felt them all.

Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered. --Hebrews 5:8

If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him. --2 Timothy 2:12

The eclipse of faith, the darkness of mind, the fainting of hope, the many fears, the loss of joy, the much distress—all these things are parts of God’s method of making us ripe for the great inheritance upon which we shall soon enter.

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him. --James 1:12

There are none who are without sin except Christ.

Wherefore, as by one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. --Romans 5:12-13

There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. --Romans 3:10-11

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. --1 John 1:8-10

We are told that the Captain of our salvation was made perfect through suffering; therefore, we who are sinful, and who are far from being perfect, must not wonder if we are called to pass through suffering too.

Persecution so hotly follows God’s people as to leave them nothing to care for but the soul.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. --1 Peter 5:8

We may have no houses, no land, no money, no goods, no life, and no liberty left to care for. All may be gone but the soul. The devil may rob us of worldly things but not the soul, for the soul is not in his power to touch without the leave of God, of Him whose soul it is.

The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding. --Job 28:28

Hath God said? --Genesis 3:1

The seed of rationalization, which is the spirit of disobedience, has been man’s downfall from the very beginning. It starts with the same question that the serpent asked Eve in the garden: “Hath God said?”

Whenever man wants to do something forbidden, he begins to question whether God really “meant” what He said:
  • The faithful Christian reviews God’s Word faithfully and answers the question “Hath God said?” honestly.

  • The unfaithful Christian either ignores it, denies it, or looks for avenues where he can rationalize it away, while making it appear as though he is not really in disobedience.
That’s the difference between guarding God’s Word from loss (keeping it) and the unfaithfulness of the (so-called) carnal Christian who will not “receive” that which God says. This is the self deception manifest in the lack of reverential “fear of God.” But the Lord is not mocked.

He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him. --1 John 2:4-5

If God doesn’t say it, then you have no reason to have confidence that it is true. However, if it is written in the Word of God, then it is true, and we are bound faithfully to keep the testimony of the Word. The Holy Spirit is the teacher, and He teaches through God’s Words, not man’s. The Holy Spirit of truth will guide God’s servants into what is true and steer them away from what is not.

Casting Crowns - East to West

Satan is desirous to have us because we were once his servants, and no king will willingly lose his subjects.

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man: but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. --James 1:13-15

Satan will never leave us alone; he will always be there, seeking to devour. So expect trouble, for foes are everywhere. But do not enter the thicket with the lion, for he that meets with him, even though he wins the day, will find it a stern struggle. Walk guardedly in the path of obedience so that we may never tempt the devil to tempt us. Pray first that we not be tempted and, next, that if temptation be permitted, that we may be delivered from the evil one.

God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. --James 4:6-7

Yet, even with no devil to tempt us, we will still find in ourselves evil enough to trouble us, “for the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” Expect trouble then but despond not, because God will never leave us or forsake us; He is always there to help us and strengthen us.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? --Romans 8:35

“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” -- Psalms 32:8

This is God’s promise to His people. Let us, then, take all our perplexities to Him and say, “Lord, what will you have me to do?” And let our prayers not be all concerning our own sins, our own wants, our own imperfections, or our own trials, but let them climb the starry ladder and get up to Christ Himself. And then as we draw near to the blood-sprinkled mercy seat, offer this prayer continually, "Lord, extend the kingdom of your dear Son."

“Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” --Matthew 6:9-10

Let our prayers cease and our eye of faith will grow dim.

Pray alone in private with God. Hold up the token of the promise before the Lord. Pray in Jesus’ name for special strength and assurance. Pray, “Lord, I have sinned, I deserve not your smile; I scarcely dare to ask it; but O Lord, say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation.’”

And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. --James 5:15-16

God knows your case as thoroughly as if you were the only creature He ever made.

We must be careful not to take delays in prayers for denials. God keeps a file for our prayers: they are not blown away by the wind; they are treasured in His archives. Be content to wait a little, for the Lord’s time is better than our own.

"Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent." --Revelation 3:3

We must not fret over our lot in life.

I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. --Philippians 4:11
We are not to expect that God will give us everything we choose to ask for, because sometimes when we pray, we ask amiss. If we ask amiss, we must not expect that we shall receive.

And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us. --1 John 5:14

We ask amiss when:
  • We ask for that which is not promised.
  • We run counter to the spirit that the Lord would have us cultivate.
  • We ask contrary to His will or to the decrees of His providence.
  • We ask merely for the gratification of our own ease and without an eye to His glory.
Yet, when we ask in faith, nothing doubting, although we may not receive the precise thing asked for, we shall receive an equivalent and more than an equivalent for it. If the Lord does not give us precisely what we ask for, He will give us that which is tantamount to it and that which we will greatly rejoice to receive in lieu thereof. Remember that God does not always answer prayer in kind, though He always does in effect.

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. --James 1:5-7

God blesses us all up to the full measure and extremity of what is safe for Him to do.

“What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” --Mark 11:24

These wonderful words from our Savior assure us that faith is the secret of prevailing prayer, which moves the heart of God.

Be anxious for nothing, but in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. --Philippians 4:6-7

If we do not get a blessing, it is because it is not safe for us to have one. If our heavenly Father were to let our unhumbled spirits win a victory in His holy war, we would pilfer the crown for ourselves and, meeting a fresh enemy, would fall victim; so we are kept low for our own safety.

"But that which ye have already hold fast till I come." --Revelation 2:25

How blessed is it to wait upon the Lord by faith! Christ Jesus is the way of life, and He is a plain way, a pleasant way, a way suitable for the tottering feet and feeble knees of trembling sinners.

I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the Lord my God, and said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to Thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens. --Ezra 9:5-6

Have we been delivered from proud reason like Ezra and been brought as little children to rest in Jesus’ love and blood? If so, by God’s grace we shall outrun the strongest runner who chooses any other path. This truth we may remember to our profit in our daily cares and needs.

Do not run so hastily to friends and family for assistance, but remember that the Lord is magnified by our implicit reliance upon His solitary arm. My soul, wait 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.

The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and He shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, 'Destroy them.' --Deuteronomy 33:27
“Straightforward makes the best runner:” it will be our wisest course to go at once to our God and not to wander in a roundabout manner to this friend and that. God knows our wants and can relieve them; to whom should we repair but to the Lord by the direct appeal of prayer and the plain argument of the promise. It is God’s nature to keep His promises; therefore, go at once to the throne and plead “Lord, here is the promise, do as you have said.” Think not that God will be troubled by our reminding Him of His promises; He loves to hear the loud outcries of needy souls; it is His delight to bestow favors; He is more ready to hear than we are to ask.

Lead me in Thy truth, and teach me. --Psalms 25:5

Experimental teaching is the burden of this prayer. David knew much, but he felt his ignorance and desired to be still in the Lord’s school: four times over in two verses he applies for a scholarship in the college of grace.

It would be wise for professors to inquire for the good old ways of God's own truth and beseech the Holy Ghost to give them sanctified understandings and teachable spirits instead of following their own devices and cutting out new paths of thought for themselves.

When the believer has begun with trembling feet to walk in the way of the Lord, he asks to be still led onward like a little child upheld by its parent’s helping hand, and he craves to be further instructed in the alphabet of truth.

For Thou art the God of my salvation. --Psalms 25:5

The Three One Jehovah is the Author and Perfecter of salvation to His people. He is the God of our salvation. Do we find in the Father’s election, in the Son’s atonement, and in the Spirit’s quickening all the grounds of our eternal hopes? If so, we may use this as an argument for obtaining further blessings. If the Lord has ordained to save us, surely He will not refuse to instruct us in His ways.

On Thee do I wait all the day. --Psalms 25:5

It is a happy thing when we can address the Lord with the confidence like David manifests; it gives us great power in prayer and comfort in trial.

Patience is the fair handmaid and daughter of faith; we cheerfully wait when we are certain that we shall not wait in vain. It is our duty and our privilege to wait upon the Lord in service, in worship, in expectancy, and in trust all the days of our lives.

Our faith will be tried faith, and if it be of the true kind, it will bear continued trial without yielding. We shall not grow weary of waiting upon God if we remember how long and how graciously He once waited for us.

The Christian is made strong and firmly rooted by all the trials and storms of life.

After that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. --1 Peter 5:10

Notice how this blessing of being “stablished in the faith” is gained: the apostle’s words point us to suffering as the means employed: “After that ye have suffered awhile.” It is of no use to hope that we shall be well rooted if no rough winds pass over us. Those old gnarlings on the root of the oak tree, and those strange twistings of the branches, all tell of the many storms that have swept over it, and they are also indicators of the depth into which the roots have forced their way. Shrink not then from the tempestuous winds of trial, but take comfort, believing that by their rough discipline God is fulfilling this benediction to us: “After that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”

The graces of the Christian character must not resemble a rainbow in its transitory beauty but, on the contrary, must be stable, settled and abiding.

Seek, O believer, that every good thing you have may be an abiding thing:
  • May your character not be a writing upon the sand, but an inscription upon the rock.

  • May your faith be no “baseless fabric of a vision,” but may it be built of material able to endure that awful fire, which shall consume the wood, hay and stubble of the hypocrite.

  • May you be rooted and grounded in love.

  • May your convictions be deep, your love real, and your desires earnest.

  • May your whole life be so settled and stable that all the blasts of hell and all the storms of earth shall never be able to remove you.

How happy are tried Christians, afterward.

Afterward. --Hebrews 12:11

It is peace, sweet, deep peace, which follows the horrible turmoil that once reigned in our tormented, guilty souls. See, then, the happy estate of a Christian! He has his best things last, and he, therefore, in this world receives his worst things first. But even his worst things are afterwards good things, harsh plowings yielding joyful harvests.

Even now he grows rich by his losses, he rises by his falls, he lives by dying, and becomes full by being emptied. If, then, his grievous afflictions yield him so much peaceable fruit in this life, what shall be the full vintage of joy “afterward” in heaven?
  • If his dark nights are as bright as the world’s days, what shall his days be?

  • If even his starlight is more splendid than the sun, what must his sunlight be?

  • If he can sing in a dungeon, how sweetly will he sing in heaven!

  • If he can praise the Lord in the fires, how will he extol Him before the eternal throne!

  • If evil be good to him now, what will the overflowing goodness of God be to him then?

Wait, O soul, and let patience have her perfect work.

O, blessed “afterward!” Who would not be a Christian? Who would not bear the present cross for the crown that comes afterward? But herein is work for patience, for the rest is not for today, nor the triumph for the present, but “afterward.”

Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth. --Judges 16:6

Where lies the secret strength of faith? It lies in the food it feeds on, for faith studies what the promise is: an emanation of divine grace, an overflowing of the great heart of God. And faith says, “My God could not have given this promise except from love and grace; therefore, it is quite certain His word will be fulfilled.”

Then faith thinks, “Who gave this promise?” It considers not so much its greatness as, “Who is the author of it?” She remembers that it is God, who cannot lie: God omnipotent, God immutable. Therefore, she concludes that the promise must be fulfilled and forward she advances in this firm conviction. She remembers why the promise was given: namely for God’s glory, and she feels perfectly sure that God’s glory is safe, that He will never stain the surface of His own coat of arms nor mar the luster of His own crown. Therefore, the promise must and will stand.

Then faith also considers the amazing work of Christ as being a clear proof of the Father’s intention to fulfill His word. “He that spared not His own Son but freely delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

Moreover faith looks back upon the past, for her battles have strengthened her and her victories have given her courage. She remembers that God never has failed her; nay, that He never did once fail any of His children. She recollects times of great peril when deliverance came; hours of awful need, when, as her day, her strength was found, and she cries, “No, I never will be led to think that He can change and leave His servant now. Hitherto the Lord has helped me, and He will help me still.”

And God divided the light from the darkness. --Genesis 1:4

Darkness by itself is quiet and undisturbed, but when the Lord sends in light, there is a conflict, for the one is in opposition to the other: a conflict that will never cease till the believer is altogether light in the Lord. If there be a division within the individual Christian, there is certain to be a division without.

When the Lord gives to any man light, he proceeds to separate himself from the darkness around; he secedes from a mere worldly religion of outward ceremonial, for nothing short of the gospel of Christ will satisfy him now. And he withdraws himself from the worldly society and frivolous amusements and seeks the company of the saints, for “we know we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.”

The light gathers to itself and the darkness to itself. What God has divided let us never try to unite, but as Christ went without the camp, bearing His reproach, so let us come out from the ungodly and be a peculiar people. Jesus was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners; and, as He was, so we are to be nonconformists to the world, dissenting from all sin, and distinguished from the rest of mankind by our likeness to our Master.

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light: which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. --1 Peter 2:9-10

When we become saved, God makes His abode within us and becomes ruler of our lives, continually restraining us from evil.

For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” --2 Corinthians 6:16

God is the one responsible for all the working of good or integrity in us. He softens our hearts so that we finally live for Christ and do His will. He takes full responsibility for this, lest any man should boast.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. -- Ephesians 2:8-9

Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for His own sins, and then for the people’s: for this He did once, when He offered up Himself. --Hebrews 7:25-27

Christians live by faith, not by sight: not by blind faith, but by the faith that only God can give, which is the faith of Christ, who was perfect, without sin, obedient always to our Father.

We were chosen by God from the foundation of the world, born of God, justified in Christ. We need not worry, for God knows who are His, and He will bring to faith all for whom Christ died.

The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His. --2 Timothy 2:19

For whom he did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified. --Romans 8:29-30

Faith is the gift of God. It is by God’s persuasion in us of the truth of things which we cannot physically see that we may have hope.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. --Ephesians 2:8

We are persuaded, or have faith, because of the substantive “working” of Christ in us. And because of Christ’s spirit within us, we have assurance (faith) that we are indeed true children of God. We would never have faith by our own efforts. It is Christ’s Spirit within us that brings us to believe: He gives us faith. This is why we say it is the faith of Christ, and not our own faith (or faith in Christ), which saves us.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: the life, which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me. --Galatians 2:20

Every day is a battle, yet each day, although it brings its troubles, shall bring its help.

With faith we view each promise in its connection with the promise giver, our heavenly Father, and we can say with assurance, "God’s grace and mercy will last through all our necessities and we shall never know a real lack. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives!" So cast all cares upon the Lord and anticipate good results from the worst calamities.

“And the Lord shall guide thee continually.” --Isaiah 58:11

“For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens;
God Himself that formed the earth and made it;
He hath established it, He created it not in vain,
He formed it to be inhabited:
I am the Lord; and there is none else.
I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth:
I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain:
I the Lord speak righteousness,
I declare things that are right.
Assemble yourselves and come;
Draw near together,

Ye that are escaped of the nations:
They have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image,
And pray unto a god that cannot save.
Tell ye, and bring them near;
Yea, let them take counsel together:

Who hath declared this from ancient time?
Who hath told it from that time?
Have not I the Lord?

And there is no God else beside me;
A just God and a Saviour;

There is none beside me.
Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth:
For I am God, and there is none else.”
--Isaiah 45:18-22

The crown of glory will follow the cross of separation.

The life of separation may be a path of sorrow, but it is the highway of safety; and though the separated life may cost us many pangs and make every day a battle, yet it is a happy life after all. No joy can excel that of the soldier of Christ: Jesus reveals Himself so graciously, and gives such sweet refreshment, that the warrior feels more calm and peace in his daily strife than others in their hours of rest.

We love Him, because He first loved us. --1 John 4:19

We hope to win the crown if we are enabled by divine grace faithfully to follow Christ “without the camp.” A moment’s shame will be well recompensed by eternal honor. A little while of witness-bearing will seem like nothing when we are forever with the Lord.

After death, what cometh?

Upon death, what wonder-world will open upon our astonished sight? What scene of glory will be unfolded to our view?

For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither has the eye seen, O God, beside Thee, what He has prepared for him that waits for Him. --Isaiah 64:4

What God has in store for us is truly beyond our ability to imagine. Even in this life, the love of God is beyond our ability to understand.

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. --Ephesians 3:17-19

Although no traveler has ever returned to tell, we know enough of the heavenly land to make us welcome our summons thither with joy and gladness. We have many ungratified desires at present, but soon every wish shall be satisfied and all our powers shall find the sweetest employment in that eternal world of joy.

O Christian, within a very little time we shall be rid of all our trials and our troubles. Our eyes now suffused with tears shall weep no longer. We shall gaze in ineffable rapture upon the splendor of Him who sits upon the throne. Nay, more, upon His throne shall we sit. The triumph of His glory shall be shared by us. His crown, His joy, His paradise, these shall be ours, and we shall be co-heirs with Him, who is the Heir of all things.

There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. --Hebrews 4:9

How different will be the state of the believer in heaven from what it is here! Here we are born to toil and suffer weariness, but in the land of the immortal, fatigue is never known. Anxious to serve our Master, we find our strength unequal to our zeal: our constant cry is, "Help us to serve you, O Lord, our God."

And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? And whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple: and He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. --Revelation 7:13-17

Here, our best joys bear "mortal" on our brows; our sweetest birds fall before Death’s arrows; our most pleasant days are shadowed into nights; and the flood-tides of our bliss subside into ebbs of sorrow.

Here, Christians are always unsettled; we feel that we have not yet attained. There, all are at rest; they have attained the summit of the mountain; they have ascended to the bosom of their God—higher they cannot go.

Ah! Christians, the hot day of weariness lasts not forever; the sun is nearing the horizon; it shall rise again with a brighter day than we have ever seen upon a land where all serve God day and night and yet rest from their labors. Ah, toil-worn laborers, only think when we shall rest forever! It is a rest eternal; a rest that “remaineth.”

Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. --1 Corinthians 2:9

Here, rest is, but there, it is perfect.

In heaven, everything is immortal; the harp abides unrusted, the crown unwithered, the eye undimmed, the voice unfaltering, the heart unwavering, and the immortal being is wholly absorbed in infinite delight. O happy day it will be when mortality shall be swallowed up of life and the Eternal Sabbath shall begin.

And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and His servants shall serve Him; and they shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God gives them light: and they shall reign forever and ever. --Revelation 22:1-5

We shall be departing from all we have known and loved here, but we shall be going to our Father’s house—to our Father’s home, where Jesus is—to that royal city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

This shall be our last removal, to dwell forever with Him we love, in the midst of His people, in the presence of God.

“My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” -- Ezekiel 37:27

We shall be made perfect in Christ when we go home to heaven.

In this present dispensation, we are by no means perfect. Our minds are still darkened by the influence of sin; our consciousness is still beclouded by the effects of sin. The lust of the flesh often still dominates and controls us to a certain extent, and we do not live the fullness of our spiritual life.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. --1 Corinthians 13:12

Jeremey Camp - There Will Be a Day

As the apostle Paul has it, "We behold a dim image, as in a dark glass; but we do not as yet see face to face;" we do not fully understand the truth of God. Sometimes the darkness seems to break and there are moments when we behold more clearly the beauty of God's plan and the work of salvation. However, even at those best moments of our present life upon earth, the darkness of sin has not been fully dispersed and we do not see face to face. And as it is with our knowledge, so also it is with our will, with our feelings, and with our desires: our will is still under the influence of sinful perversion. But when the Lord Jesus Christ shall appear, we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. --1 John 3:1-2

There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness. --2 Timothy 4:8

“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne.” --Revelation 3:21

Doubting ones! We have often said, “I fear I shall never enter heaven.” Fear not! All the people of God shall enter there.

“There is one throne in heaven that Paul the apostle could not fill; it was made for me, and I shall have it. 'But can I forfeit it?' No, it is entailed. If I be a child of God I shall not lose it; it is mine as securely as if I were there.”

Poor doubting ones, see the fair inheritance; it is ours. If we believe in the Lord Jesus, if we have repented of our sins, if we have been renewed in heart, we are God’s people and there is a place reserved, a crown laid up, a harp specially provided for each one of us.

No one else shall have your portion; it is reserved in heaven for you, and you shall have it before too long, for there shall be no vacant thrones in glory when all the chosen are gathered in.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” -- John 10:27-30

“Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no one take thy crown.” --Revelation 3:11

Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims,
Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles:
That, whereas they speak against you as evildoers,
They may by your good works, which they shall behold,
Glorify God in the day of visitation.
Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake:
Whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors,
As unto them that are sent by Him for the punishment of evildoers,
And for the praise of them that do well.
For so is the will of God,
That with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness,
But as the servants of God.
--1 Peter 2:11-16

“He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before His angels.” --Revelation 3:5

We must patiently endure with hope as an anchor of the soul, and we will obtain the promise at the end, the power of an endless life.

According as His divine power hath given unto us
All things that pertain unto life and godliness,
Through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises:
That by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature,
Having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
And beside this, giving all diligence,
Add to your faith virtue;
And to virtue knowledge;
And to knowledge temperance;
And to temperance patience;
And to patience godliness;
And to godliness brotherly kindness;
And to brotherly kindness charity.
For if these things be in you and abound,
They make you that ye shall neither be barren
Nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But he that lacketh these things is blind and cannot see afar off,
And hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure:
For if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly
Into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
--2 Peter 1:3-11

"Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name." --Revelation 3:12

“Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” --Revelation 22:14

Mercy Me - I Can Only Imagine

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