Streams in the Desert

May 9

“Abraham stood yet before the Lord.” (Gen. 18:22)

THE friend of God can plead with Him for others. Perhaps Abraham’s height of faith and friendship seems beyond our little possibilities. Do not be discouraged, Abraham grew; so may we. He went step by step, not by great leaps.
The man whose faith has been deeply tested and who has come off victorious, is the man to whom supreme tests must come.
The finest jewels are most carefully cut and polished; the hottest fires try the most precious metal. Abraham would never have been called the Father of the Faithful if he had not been proved to the uttermost. Read Genesis, twenty-second chapter:
“Take thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest.” See him going with a chastened, wistful, yet humbly obedient heart up Moriah’s height, with the idol of his heart beside him about to be sacrificed at the command of God whom he had faithfully loved and served!
What a rebuke to our questionings of God’s dealings with us! Away with all doubting explanations of this stupendous scene! It was an object lesson for the ages. Angels were looking.
Shall this man’s faith stand forever for the strength and help of all God’s people? Shall it be known through him that unfaltering faith will always prove the faithfulness of God?
Yes; and when faith has borne victoriously its uttermost test, the angel of the Lord—who? The Lord Jesus, Jehovah, He in whom “all the promises of God are yea and amen”—spoke to him, saying, “Now I know that thou fearest God.” Thou hast trusted me to the uttermost. I will also trust thee; thou shalt ever be My friend, and I will bless thee, and make thee a blessing.
It is always so, and always will be. “They that are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.”—Selected.
It is no small thing to be on terms of friendship with God.

365 days with Newton

9 MAY

A way of escape

‘And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.’ Genesis 3:15
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Psalm 68:1–20

If I was to dwell upon every circumstance and expression in this chapter, it would confine me too long. I shall therefore chiefly insist upon this memorable verse in which the first and great promise of mercy and salvation to fallen man is contained. The curse of God fell heavily and absolutely upon Satan whose doom is couched in figurative expressions suitable to the figure of the serpent he assumed. Our first parents likewise received a sentence implying much misery, pain and labour in the present life, to terminate only with death. But in this verse, a way of escape is provided from the eternal death which their sin had justly deserved. In the words [we have] a promise of the Redeemer, a brief intimation of his sufferings and success, and these so expressed as to be applicable to all his people
We have a promise—the seed of the woman. The Redeemer [is] thus spoken of to intimate that he should be truly a man made of a woman and partaker of our very nature (Galatians 4:4; Hebrews 2:14), and that his incarnation should be miraculous and extraordinary—made of a woman, but without a human father, by the agency of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35).
FOR MEDITATION:
Prepare a thankful song
Upon the cross he died,
To the Redeemer’s name!
Our debt of sin to pay;
His praises should employ each tongue
The blood and water from his side
And every heart inflame!
Wash guilt and filth away.

He laid his glory by,
And now he pleading stands
And dreadful pains endured;
For us, before the throne;
That rebels, such as you and I,
And answers all the Law’s demands,
From wrath might be secured.
With what himself hath done.

Though pressed, we will not yield, But shall prevail at length,
For JESUS is our sun and shield, Our righteousness and strength.

SERMON SERIES: GENESIS, NO. 10 [1/4], GENESIS 3:15

My Utmost for His Highest

May 8th

The patience of faith

Because thou hast kept the word of My patience. Rev. 3:10.

Patience is more than endurance. A saint’s life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, and He stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint says—‘I cannot stand any more.’ God does not heed, He goes on stretching till His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly. Trust yourself in God’s hands. For what have you need of patience just now? Maintain your relationship to Jesus Christ by the patience of faith. “Though He slay me, yet will I wait for Him.”
Faith is not a pathetic sentiment, but robust vigorous confidence built on the fact that God is holy love. You cannot see Him just now, you cannot understand what He is doing, but you know Him. Shipwreck occurs where there is not that mental poise which comes from being established on the eternal truth that God is holy love. Faith is the heroic effort of your life, you fling yourself in reckless confidence on God.
God has ventured all in Jesus Christ to save us, now He wants us to venture our all in abandoned confidence in Him. There are spots where that faith has not worked in us as yet, places untouched by the life of God. There were none of those spots in Jesus Christ’s life, and there are to be none in ours. “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee.” The real meaning of eternal life is a life that can face anything it has to face without wavering. If we take this view, life becomes one great romance, a glorious opportunity for seeing marvellous things all the time. God is disciplining us to get us into this central place of power.

Streams in the Desert

May 8

“Walking in the midst of the fire.” (Daniel 3:25)

THE fire did not arrest their motion; they walked in the midst of it. It was one of the streets through which they moved to their destiny. The comfort of Christ’s revelation is not that it teaches emancipation from sorrow, but emancipation through sorrow.

O my God, teach me, when the shadows have gathered, that I am only in a tunnel. It is enough for me to know that it will be all right some day.
They tell me that I shall stand upon the peaks of Olivet, the heights of resurrection glory. But I want more, O my Father; I want Calvary to lead up to it. I want to know that the shadows of this world are the shades of an avenue—the avenue to the house of my Father. Tell me I am only forced to climb because Thy house is on the hill! I shall receive no hurt from sorrow if I shall walk in the midst of the fire.—George Matheson.

“ ‘The road is too rough,’ I said;
  ‘It is uphill all the way;
No flowers, but thorns instead;
  And the skies over head are grey.’
But One took my hand at the entrance dim,
And sweet is the road that I walk with Him.

“ ‘The cross is too great,’ I cried—
  ‘More than the back can bear,
So rough and heavy and wide,
  And nobody by to care.’
And One stooped softly and touched my hand:
‘I know. I care. And I understand.’

“Then why do we fret and sigh;
  Cross-bearers all we go:
But the road ends by-and-by
  In the dearest place we know,
And every step in the journey we
May take in the Lord’s own company.”

365 days with Newton

8 MAY (PREACHED 7 MAY 1775)

All my salvation, all my desire

‘Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.’ 2 Samuel 23:5.
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Revelation 21:1–7

Can you adopt David’s words, this is all my salvation, and all my desire?
Is it all your salvation? Do you understand this way? Do you approve it? The whole of it? Is Christ precious to you? In all his offices? If so, the covenant is yours. If not, you are yet in covenant with death, under the covenant of the law, bound down with a curse.
Is it all your desire? Then you are waiting upon the Lord, you are weary of sin, you love his ordinances, you account all things loss and dung compared with the blessings of the covenant. Such shall not be disappointed. Although your house be not as you could wish, although you are not made to grow so fast as you are taught to pray for, yet here is comfort: the Lord has made an everlasting covenant. He has made it known to you, drawn your heart to approve and desire it This is a sign you are surely interested in it. Can you, with respect to disappointment, see sufficient compensation if you could be able to say upon good grounds, he hath made with me an everlasting covenant …? Without his grace you could not have made this choice.
Fear not. You are in a good care. You have committed yourself to the Lord and none can snatch you out of his hands. Press on, read, pray, attend diligently on his means, and you shall know more and more of this covenant while you live, and ere long shall be put in possession of all its blessings in a better world. Amen.

FOR MEDITATION: Most gracious Lord, my all is in thy hands, my heart open to thee, my desires before thee. There is a liberty, a freedom, to which thou invitest thy people! O admit me to it and let me apply to thee as my best friend, counsellor and benefactor, and pour into thy gracious ear the incidents of the day and the reflections of my heart.
Diary, 16 October, 1775

SERMON SERIES: 2 SAMUEL 23:5, NO. 3 [3/3]

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