Wednesday, October 15, 2014

When His influence is put forth within us

(James Smith, "The Spirit of Grace" 1864) 

All that the Spirit does for us, and all that He works within us — is of grace. He graciously . . .
  quickens the dead,
  instructs the ignorant,
  liberates the captives,
  restores the wanderers,
  comforts the dejected,
  strengthens the weak,
  and sanctifies the impure. 
His work is His delight — and to see us holy and happy is His pleasure!

The Holy Spirit produces all our graces within us. He is the root — and our graces are His fruits; hence we read, "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." 

When His influence is put forth within us — then we . . .
  believe God's Word, 
  hope in His mercy, 
  rejoice in His goodness, 
  cleave to His cause, 
  walk in His ways, 
  love His truth, His people, and Himself,
  holiness is then happiness,
  duties are then pleasant, and
  even the cross lays light upon our shoulders. 

But if the Spirit hides Himself, withdraws His influences, and leaves us to ourselves — then we . . .
  doubt and fear,
  fret and pine, 
  kick and rebel, 
  rove from thing to thing, and 
  nothing will either please or satisfy us. 
We often then . . .
  question the past, 
  are wretched at present, 
  and dread the future.

But when He puts forth His power in us again . . .
  our graces shoot forth like bulbous roots in the spring, 
  our sighs are exchanged for songs, 
  our fears are exchanged for fortitude, 
  our doubts are exchanged for confidence, and
  our murmurings are exchanged for gratitude and love. 
We then . . .
  sink into the dust of self-abasement, 
  admire the forbearance and patience of God, 
  condemn our own conduct, and 
  wonder that we are out of Hell. 

Then we take down our harps from the willows, and with a melting heart, a weeping eye, and a tremulous voice we sing, "Thewinter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance." Our wilderness is now turned into an Eden — and our desert into the garden of the Lord! 

Come, Holy Spirit, come, and produce a spring season in our souls!

Brethren, we need the Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of grace — to make us gracious and graceful Christians. Without the Spirit of grace . . .
  we cannot live up to our profession; 
  we cannot copy the example of our beloved Master; 
  we cannot keep His commandments;
  we cannot love one another as He has loved us; 
  we cannot sympathize with lost sinners as we should; 
  we cannot keep God's glory in view in all that we do; 
  we cannot walk in high and holy fellowship with God;
  we cannot meet death with peace and joy!

Dealing With Difficulty

We should not expect things to always go as planned, even when we are indeed following the will of God, and especially when we are trying to do what we feel led to do. Sometimes it seems as if everything is rising up against us.
“Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them” (Acts 16:6-10).
“Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us” (I Thessalonians 2:18).

His teaching makes practical Christians!

(James Smith)

"But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name — He will teach you all things!" John 14:26

The Holy Spirit is the Teacher of the church. To Him the promise refers, "All Your children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children."

He taught the apostles all things necessary for their office and work.

He teaches the true ministers of Christ, leading them into the truth as it is in Jesus.

And he teaches every believer — all that is really necessary for him to know!

The Bible is the lesson-book, 
the believer is the scholar, 
the blessed Spirit is the teacher, and
experimental religion is the education! 

No one teaches like Him!
He teaches us . . .
  silently, and
  always effectually!
For only what the Spirit teaches us — do we really know!

He teaches us . . .
what God requires in His Word,
what He has provided in His gospel;
what Christ is to His people,
what His people are to Him.

His teaching makes practical Christians — for He always teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in the present world!

My Shepherd!

(J. R. Miller "Bethlehem to Olivet" 1905)

"The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need!" Psalm 23:1
The shepherd is a favorite Scriptural picture of the divine love and care. In the Old Testament, the twenty-third Psalm gathers the whole wonderful truth in exquisite lines, which are dear to young and old wherever the Bible is known. Then in the New Testament, when our Lord would give His friends the sweetest revealings of His heart toward them, and tell them what they are to Him, and what He would be to them—He says, "I am the Good Shepherd."

The Hebrew shepherd lives with his sheep. If they are out in the storm—he is with them. If they are exposed to danger—so is he. Just so, Christ lives with His people. He enters into closest relations with them.

The shepherd knows his sheep. He has a name for each one and calls them all by their names. Just so, Christ knows each one of His friends, has intimate personal knowledge of each one. He knows the best in us—and also the worst—our faults, our sins, our wanderings. Yet, knowing us as we are—He loves us still and never wearies of us!

The shepherd is most gentle with his sheep. He does not drive them—but goes before them and leads them. When they need rest on the way—he makes them lie down, and chooses for their resting-place, not the dusty road—but green pastures. He is especially kind to the lambs, gathers them in his arms and carries them in his bosom. 

All this is an exquisite picture of the gentleness of our Good Shepherd in His care of His sheep. He is thoughtful toward the weak. He loves the lambs and makes room for them on His bosom. Whatever the need is, there is something in the heart of Christ which meets its craving and supplies its lack!

The shepherd defends his flock in all danger. Often he had to risk his own safety, even his life, in protecting his sheep. Just so, the Good Shepherd gives His life—for His sheep!

Christ's sheep are absolutely safe in His keeping. "I give unto them eternal life," He said; "and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!" Then at last, He will bring His own all safely home, "and they shall become one flock—with one Shepherd!"

Tender kisses!

"Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth, for Your love is better than wine." Song of Solomon 1:2

Of all the relationships that we as believers share with our blessed Savior, perhaps none is more intimate and comforting than that of marriage. Jesus has betrothed us to Himself in holy matrimony and covenant grace. We are  . . .
  His beloved bride,
  the apple of His eye,
  the darling of His heart;
and He is the gracious Husband of our immortal souls!
We are, by sovereign grace, forever one with Jesus our Husband!

Oh what a glorious privilege it is to be joined to Jesus in the blessed bond of marriage!
He loves me!
He cares for me!
He defends and protects me!
He provides for my every need!
He comforts, supports, and cherishes me!
I have His heart — and He has mine!
"I am my Beloved's — and my Beloved is mine!"
I belong to Him — and He belongs to me!

Oh that my Beloved would "kiss me with the kisses of His mouth," that He would . . .
  embrace my soul,
  draw me to Himself,
  caress my heart ever so gently with His merciful touch,
  and grant me sweet tokens of His love for me.

Oh how I long for Him to express His love and affection to me with the tender kisses of . . .
  sovereign love,
  free grace,
  immutable faithfulness,
  and undying compassion,
"for His love is better than wine!"

Wine makes glad the heart, but His love is better than the finest wine! His love . . .
  causes my broken heart to rejoice,
  renews my strength,
  brightens my vision,
  causes me to walk uprightly in the paths of righteousness, and
  moves my heart to take flight through the heavens with wings as an eagle.

Excess wine intoxicates men, and is forbidden by God. Too much wine will ruin a man. It alters the state of men's minds, seizes control of men, dulls their senses, and destroys their ability to exercise sound judgment and reason.

But Jesus' love is better than wine! It is not possible to overindulge in the intoxicating love of Jesus, nor is it forbidden. Indeed, the gospel encourages love to Jesus.
The wine of His love doesn't ruin men — it transforms them!
His love for us, invigorates our love for Him . . .
  intoxicating our hearts,
  seizing control of them,
  overpowering our wills and our senses,
  giving us sound reason, and spiritual judgment.

Oh blessed Lord, we beg you, give us this wine!
Fill our cups full!
Cause them to overflow!
Pour into our hearts the intoxicating love of Jesus the Lord!

The desire of a believer's soul can be summed up in one word, JESUS! "Whom have I in Heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside You!" Psalm 73:25

We desire Him . . .
  His person,
  His love,
  His glory,
  His grace,
  His will,
  His salvation,
  His righteousness,
  His way.
All we want is in Jesus!
All we need is in Jesus!
All we have is in Jesus!
Jesus is all — and Jesus is better!
Better than the treasures of kings!
Better than all earthly possessions!
Better than passing pleasures and prestige!
Indeed, He is better than all earthly delights combined!

If we don't have Jesus, then we have nothing!
If we have Him, then we have everything!

"Thou, O Christ, art all I want; more than all in thee I find!"

For His poor Rachel

("The Marvelous Riches of Savoring Christ,
 The letters of Ruth Bryan" 1805-1860)

Did Jacob serve seven years for his Rachel--by day in
the heat, and by night in the frost--and did they seem
but as a day unto him--for the love he had for her?

Our spiritual Jacob has far exceeded him! He left
the throne of His glory for His poor Rachel, and
took her humble flesh in the form of a servant; and
for her sake served thirty-three years under the Law!
He bore the heat of temptation, weariness, and thirst;
as well as the cold of reproach and scorn, and the
malice of sinners against Himself. This He thought
not too much; for when He had finished the work on
her behalf, for her He cheerfully entered upon the
most bitter part of His sufferings, which made even
His mighty heart to shudder with agony, while His
dear lips prayed--"O my Father, if it is possible,
(with the rescue of my Bride) let this cup of suffering
be taken away from Me; nevertheless, not as I will,
but as You will."

Behold the depth of His unflinching love! The 'cup of
curse' must be drunk, or the captive Bride must perish!
And so He takes the bitter cup, and does not turn away
until every dreg is consumed! And the same sacred lips
which emptied it could say in triumph, "It is finished!"

For the joy that was set before Him (of possessing His
beloved bride) He endured the cross, despising the shame,
and has now sat down at the right hand of God, until the
blissful consummation before assembled worlds, when it
will be joyfully proclaimed, "The marriage of the Lamb
has come, and His wife has made herself ready!"

Then shall the spiritual Jacob and His Rachel meet and
embrace, and part no more forever! She awaking up after
His likeness, shall be satisfied! And He seeing her in glory,
(the very travail of His soul,) shall be satisfied likewise!

"May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so
 great you will never fully understand it!" Ephes. 3:19

That Almighty Friend, Advocate and Physician

(J. C. Ryle, "Do You Believe?")

Christ is that brazen serpent which God has set up
in the world, for the healing of all sin-bitten souls who
desire to be cured. The believer looks to Him by faith
—and receives life, health, and spiritual strength!

Christ is that true city of refuge, to which the man
fleeing from the avenger of blood runs, and in which
he is safe.

Christ is that altar which provided a sanctuary to him
who laid hold on its horns. Christ is that almighty hand
of mercy
, which God holds out from heaven to lost and
drowning sinners. The believer lays hold on this hand
by faith—and is delivered from the pit of hell.

The Lord Jesus says, "My flesh is food indeed. He who
eats of this bread shall live forever" (John 6:55, 58).
Christ is that divine food which God has provided for
starving sinners! He is that divine bread which is at
the same time—life, nourishment and medicine! The
believer feeds on this bread of life by faith. His hunger
is relieved. His soul is delivered from damnation!

The Lord Jesus says, "My blood is drink indeed" (John
6:55). Christ is that fountain of living water which God
has opened for the use of all thirsty and sin-defiled
sinners, proclaiming, "Whoever will, let him take the
water of life freely!" (Rev. 22:17). The believer drinks
of this  living water—and his thirst is quenched.

Christ is the appointed keeper and guardian of His
people. It is His office to preserve from sin, death, hell,
and the devil—any who are committed to His charge.
The believer places his soul in the hands of this Almighty
, and is insured against loss to all eternity.
He trusts himself to Christ—and is safe.

Christ is that Almighty Friend, Advocate and
—to whom all sinners, needing help, are
commanded to apply. The believer comes to Him
by faith—and is relieved.