June 14: Walking In The Midst Of Trouble

“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you will revive me.” Psalm 138:7

Contemplate the Psalmist’s circumstances “Walking in the midst of trouble.” It was no new and untrodden path along which he was pursuing his way to God. The foot-print, sometimes stained with blood, always moistened with tears- of many a suffering pilgrim might be portrayed in that way, from the time that Abel, the primeval martyr, laid the first bleeding brow that ever reposed upon the bosom of Jesus.

And yet how often does trial overtake the believer, as “though some strange thing had happened to him”! That at the peculiar nature of an affliction a Christian man should be startled and alarmed, would create no surprise; but that he should be startled at the trial itself, as if he alone- the only one of the family- were exempted from the discipline of the covenant, and had no interest in the Savior’s declaration, “In the world you shall have tribulation,” might well astonish us.

But David’s experience is that of many of the spiritual seed of David. His words seem to imply, continuous trial: “I walk in the midst of trouble.” With how many travelers to the celestial city it is thus! They seem never to be without trial. They know no cessation, they obtain no repose, they experience no rest. The foam of one mountain billow has scarcely broken and died upon the shore, before another follows in its wake- “Deep calls unto deep.”

Is it the trial of sickness? the darkened chamber, scarcely ever illumined with one cheering ray of light, the bed of suffering, seldom offering one moment’s real repose, the couch of weariness, rarely left, are vivid pictures of trial, drawn from real life, needing no coloring of the fancy to heighten or exaggerate.

Is it domestic trial? What scenes of incessant chafings and anxieties, turmoils and sources of bitterness, do some families present; trouble seems never to absent itself from the little circle. Yes, it is through a series of trials that many of Christ’s followers are called to travel.

The loss of earthly substance may be followed by the decay of health, and this succeeded perhaps by that which, of all afflictions, the most deeply pierces and lacerates the heart, and for a season covers every scene with the dark pall of woe- the desolation of death. Thus the believer ever journeys along a path paved with sorrow, and hemmed in by trial. Well, be it so!

We do not speak of it complainingly; God forbid! We do not arraign the wisdom, nor doubt the mercy, nor impeach the truth of Him who has drawn every line of that path, who has paved every step of that way, and who knows its history from the end to the beginning. Why should our heart fret against the Lord? Why should we weary at the way? It is the ordained way- it is the right way- it is the Lord’s way; and it is the way to a city of habitation, where the soul and body- the companions of the weary pilgrimage- will together sweetly and eternally rest.

Then all trouble ceases; then all conflict terminates. Emerging from the gloom and labyrinth of the wilderness, the released spirit finds itself at home, the inhabitant of a world of which it is said, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.”

Strangers & Pilgrims

Let us keep our eye and our hearts upon our blessed home. Earth is but a stage erected as our passage to the place Jesus has gone to prepare for us. What a place must that be which infinite power and love has engaged to provide! Oh, let us not lose sight of heaven for a moment. How prone are we to allow our minds and hearts (treacherous hearts!) to become entangled with the baubles of a dying world. No wonder Christ exhorted us to watch and pray. Heaven is our home; our happy home. We are but strangers and pilgrims here. Try and realize it. Let us keep ourselves ready to enter with Him to the marriage supper of the Lamb. In a little while, and we shall see Him, not as the ‘Man of sorrows,’ but the ‘King in His beauty.’ Then let us fight against earth and all its false attractions, for it passes away.

 

January 2

“He knows the way that I take.”  Job 23:10.

Untried, untrodden, and unknown as your future path may be, it is, each step, mapped, arranged, and provided for in the everlasting and unchangeable covenant of God. To Him who leads us, who accepts us in the Son of His love, who knows the end from the beginning, it is no new, or uncertain, or hidden way. We thank Him that while He wisely and kindly veils all the future from our reach, all that future- its minutest event- is as transparent and visible to Him as the past. Our Shepherd knows the windings along which He skillfully, gently, and safely leads His flock. He has traveled that way Himself, and has left the traces of His presence on the road. And as each follower advances- the new path unfolding at each step- he can exultingly exclaim, “I see the footprint of my Lord; here went my Master, my Leader, my Captain, leaving me an example that I should follow His steps.” Oh, it is a thought replete with strong consolation, and well calculated to gird us for the coming year- the Lord knows and has ordained each step of the untrodden path upon which I am about to enter.

Another reflection. The infinite forethought, wisdom, and goodness which have marked each line of our new path, have also provided for its every necessity. Each exigency in the history of the new year has been anticipated. Each need will bring its appropriate and adequate supply- each perplexity will have its guidance- each sorrow its comfort- each temptation its shield- each cloud its light. Each affliction will suggest its lesson- each correction will impart its teaching- each mercy will convey its message of love. The promise will be fulfilled to the letter, “As your day, so shall your strength be.”

 

October 6

“And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for you. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.” 1 Kings 14:7-8

WE have here an illustration of one of the greatest principles in the divine life—one of the most wonderful, precious, and influential—the principle of faith: “The just shall live by faith.” It is in this way the Lord prepares His people for what He has prepared for them in the future of their history. That history is to them wisely and graciously concealed. The path of the future is to them all unknown, a veil of impenetrable mystery enshrouding it from view. In all this we trace the love of our heavenly Father. There may be, for anything that we know, a long season of abstinence before us; many a weary stage is yet untraveled, many a new path is yet untrodden, many a battle is yet unfought, and many a temptation and trial are yet unmet. But faith, living upon the nourishment received, in the strength and sustaining power of some view of God which the Spirit has presented, of some especial grace which Christ has meted out, of some higher attainment in truth and experience and holiness, of some profounder lesson learned, of some especial mercy experienced, of some bright realizing view of glory caught, the believer may travel many a long a toilsome stage of his journey to the “rest that remains for the people of God.”

Ah! how often has the Lord by His present dealings anticipated the future events of your life! For what circumstances of danger, of trial, and of want has Jesus provided! He well knew—for He had appointed every step and every incident of your journey—the deep and dark waters through which you were to wade, the sands you were to cross, the mountains you were to climb, and the valleys into which you were to descend. That cup of sorrow was not mixed, nor that fiery dart winged, nor that heavy cross sent, before all the necessities it would create, and all the supplies it would demand, had been thought of and provided for by Him who knew the end from the beginning. And when the voice of love gently awoke you as from the stupor of your grief, you marveled at the table spread, and wondered at the supply sent; and you could not define the reason why so much love took possession of your heart, and so much grace flowed into your soul, why so much nerve clothed your spirit, and so much hope and joy bathed you in their heavenly sunlight, and shed their radiance upon your onward way—little thinking that this was the Lord’s mode of providing nourishment for the journey. And when the period and event of your life, thus anticipated, arrived, then the recollection of God’s preparatory dealings rushed upon your memory, and in an instant you saw how for the “forty days and the forty nights” solitary travel, your God and Savior had been graciously and amply providing. But all this mystery the life of faith, by which the justified live, fully explains.

To The Weary

The Lord’s people are emphatically a weary people. It is a “weary land” through which they are passing- it is no marvel that they should be faint, even though pursuing. Here is the cause of the greatest weariness. Not more truly does the “whole creation groan and travail in pain,” than does he who “bears about with him the body of sin and of death, day by day.” It is indeed to him a continual and unrelievable pressure. “Who will deliver me from the body of sin and of death?” is his constant and mournful cry. It is the union of the opposites in him that creates his burden. Life and death- holiness and sin- grace and nature- are in perpetual, and often fierce combat. In this lies the inward conflict. This is the fight of faith. Until life was breathed, and holiness was created, and grace was given, there were no oppressions, and no warfare, and no weariness. Think of this, you burdened and oppressed saints of God! Let this thought fall like a sunbeam upon your gloomy and saddened spirit. Let it cheer you in your cloudy and dark day. Were you dead, or were you still in unrenewed nature, you would be an utter stranger to this weariness; and could never understand the meaning of the apostle, “I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”

Glimpses of the Truth As It Is In Jesus

August 11

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Romans 8:14

It is the office of Jehovah the Spirit in the covenant of redemption, after He has called a people out of the world, to place Himself at their head, and undertake their future guidance. He knows the path to heaven. With all its intricacies and dangers He is acquainted. He is familiar with the sunken rock, the treacherous quicksand, the concealed pit, and the subtle snare. He knows, too, the individual and ordained path of each celestial traveler. All that God has appointed in the everlasting covenant- all the windings, and intricacy, and straitness of the way- He knows. All the future of our history is infinitely more vivid and transparent to His mind than is the past, already trodden, to our eye. It is utterly impossible, then, that He should mislead.

And what is equally as essential to Him as a guide, He knows His own work in the soul. All its light and shade, its depressions and its revivings, its assaults and victories, are vivid to his eye. Dwelling in that heart- His sacred temple- His chosen abode- He reads His own writing inscribed there; understands the meaning of every groan, interprets the language of every sigh, and marks the struggling of every holy desire; He knows where wisely to supply a check, or gently to administer a rebuke, tenderly to whisper a promise, or sympathetically to soothe a sorrow, effectually to aid an incipient resolve, strengthen a wavering purpose, or confirm a fluctuating hope.

But, in less general terms, what is it to be led by the Spirit? The existence of spiritual life in those He leads is an essential point assumed. He does not undertake to lead a spiritual corpse, a soul dead in sins. Many are moved by the Spirit, who are not led by the Spirit. Was not Saul, the king of Israel, a solemn instance of this? And when it is said, “the Spirit of God departed from him,” we see how, in an ordinary way, the Spirit may strive with a man’s natural conscience, and powerfully work upon his feelings through the word, and even employ him as an agent in the accomplishment of His will, and yet never lead him one step effectually and savingly to Christ and to heaven.

There is, as in Ezekiel’s vision of the bones, “a voice, and behold a shaking, and the bones come together, bone to his bone; but there is no breath in them.” But there is spiritual life in those whom the Spirit leads. They thus become in a sense voluntary in the movement. They are not forced; it is not by compulsion they follow; they are led- persuasively, gently, willingly led. The leading of the Spirit, then, is His acting upon His own life in the soul.

It supposes, too, entire inability to lead themselves in those who are led by the Spirit: “I will lead the blind by a way they know not.” And such are we. Unable to discern a single step before us, and incapable of taking that step even when discerned, we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit. What can we see of truth- what of providence- what of God’s mind and will, of ourselves? Absolutely nothing. Oh, what unfoldings of ignorance, what exhibitions of weakness, have marked some of the wisest of God’s saints, when left to self-teaching and to self-guidance! Thus there is a strong and absolute necessity that wisdom, and strength, and grace, infinitely transcending our own, should go before us in our homeward journey.

August 11

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Romans 8:14

It is the office of Jehovah the Spirit in the covenant of redemption, after He has called a people out of the world, to place Himself at their head, and undertake their future guidance. He knows the path to heaven. With all its intricacies and dangers He is acquainted. He is familiar with the sunken rock, the treacherous quicksand, the concealed pit, and the subtle snare. He knows, too, the individual and ordained path of each celestial traveler. All that God has appointed in the everlasting covenant- all the windings, and intricacy, and straitness of the way- He knows. All the future of our history is infinitely more vivid and transparent to His mind than is the past, already trodden, to our eye. It is utterly impossible, then, that He should mislead.

And what is equally as essential to Him as a guide, He knows His own work in the soul. All its light and shade, its depressions and its revivings, its assaults and victories, are vivid to his eye. Dwelling in that heart- His sacred temple- His chosen abode- He reads His own writing inscribed there; understands the meaning of every groan, interprets the language of every sigh, and marks the struggling of every holy desire; He knows where wisely to supply a check, or gently to administer a rebuke, tenderly to whisper a promise, or sympathetically to soothe a sorrow, effectually to aid an incipient resolve, strengthen a wavering purpose, or confirm a fluctuating hope.

But, in less general terms, what is it to be led by the Spirit? The existence of spiritual life in those He leads is an essential point assumed. He does not undertake to lead a spiritual corpse, a soul dead in sins. Many are moved by the Spirit, who are not led by the Spirit. Was not Saul, the king of Israel, a solemn instance of this? And when it is said, “the Spirit of God departed from him,” we see how, in an ordinary way, the Spirit may strive with a man’s natural conscience, and powerfully work upon his feelings through the word, and even employ him as an agent in the accomplishment of His will, and yet never lead him one step effectually and savingly to Christ and to heaven.

There is, as in Ezekiel’s vision of the bones, “a voice, and behold a shaking, and the bones come together, bone to his bone; but there is no breath in them.” But there is spiritual life in those whom the Spirit leads. They thus become in a sense voluntary in the movement. They are not forced; it is not by compulsion they follow; they are led- persuasively, gently, willingly led. The leading of the Spirit, then, is His acting upon His own life in the soul.

It supposes, too, entire inability to lead themselves in those who are led by the Spirit: “I will lead the blind by a way they know not.” And such are we. Unable to discern a single step before us, and incapable of taking that step even when discerned, we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit. What can we see of truth- what of providence- what of God’s mind and will, of ourselves? Absolutely nothing. Oh, what unfoldings of ignorance, what exhibitions of weakness, have marked some of the wisest of God’s saints, when left to self-teaching and to self-guidance! Thus there is a strong and absolute necessity that wisdom, and strength, and grace, infinitely transcending our own, should go before us in our homeward journey.

Crossing Jordan

Pharisee! what will you do in the swelling of Jordan? When your self-righteousness fails to support you—when your Babel of good works is crumbling around you—when your foundation of sand is sliding from beneath you—and the religion you have cherished is leaving you without support, without comfort, without peace, without hope—what then will you do? Death is confronting you! You have entered the river! It is dark, cold, and heaving; it deepens, surges, moans; it floats you from the shore of time; it bears you on to the ocean of eternity, and you disappear—a soul lost, LOST forever! Oh, cast from you the garment of your own righteousness, and accept in faith the Savior’s, and then death’s waters will waft you upon their gentle swelling safe to glory, and you shall be a soul saved, SAVED forever!

Continue reading “Crossing Jordan”