LEANING ON THE ARM OF THE BELOVED
To come up out of the wilderness leaning upon the arm of the Beloved, Jesus, is the desire and prayer of every sincere Christian. To lean upon the arm of a beloved implies affection, attachment, dependence, support, guidance, protection, and fellowship. Let Jesus be to you the Beloved — “my Beloved.” Believe in Him, come to Him, and set your affection upon Him as such. Let Him be the fairest among ten thousand and the altogether lovely. Form an attachment to Him which can be illustrated only by the marriage bond. Depend upon Him for all spiritual things as a child upon its parent for temporal things. Look to Him for support in every trial, duty, and sorrow. Submit to His guidance every night of darkness and day of trouble, in every place of danger and way of difficulty. When the enemy comes to assault, look to Him to embrace you with His arm and defend you with His shield. Carry on a constant fellowship with Him in the Spirit. Open your heart before Him, telling Him all your experience. Suppose you lean upon your Beloved in the wilderness of life. You will come up from it in peace, safety, purity, and triumph. And when the wilderness, with all its wants, dangers, dreariness, and difficulties, has been traveled, the Paradise of eternity will open itself to your vision, and your “Beloved” will give you an abundant entrance into His endless joys. O, what a comfort to have such a Friend in the wilderness and to have such a Paradise and Friend after the wilderness is past!
DOING EVIL THAT GOOD MAY COME
It is a snare that Satan and the heart often place before the Christian that the end justifies the means. Therefore, under some circumstances, he may do evil so that good may come. This, however, is expressly contrary to the teaching of Scripture. The Apostle Paul asks, “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace?” His answer is solemn and emphatic — “God forbid.” Job inquires of his friends, “Are you defending God with lies? Do you make your dishonest arguments for his sake?” (Job 13:7). God does not require this of anyone. His honor, truth, and kingdom can be sustained without resorting to immoral means. Whatever good object we must accomplish, either for ourselves or others, there is an abundance of good means which may be used for the end. Need a man speak falsehood to obtain the truth? Need a man to be mean and subservient to reach what he may deem honorable? Need a parent to deceive a child into quieting and hushing its crying? Need a Christian to indulge in the spirit of the world to secure the attendance of non-believers at the house of God?
In all these and similar instances, more would be lost than gained. Besides, good means may be used to equal or more advantage. But it often occurs that the end aimed at using questionable means is not realized. The insincerity and inconsistency of such means in the persons who use them are discovered and frustrate their designs. Intending to conquer the Philistines, Saul enacted that none of his soldiers should eat anything until the evening. His end was good, but his means evil. Did he attain his purpose? No. He weakened his men by the same means and left them unprepared for battle. And so with us, when we seek to do good by any unlawful means. The adoption and use of such debilitate our spiritual powers so that the end upon which we had fixed our minds fails to be realized. “Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace. Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not!” (Romans 6:14-15, NLT)
AN ISRAELITE INDEED
The Savior pronounced Nathanael “an Israelite indeed.” That is, one in reality, who not only carried the name but the thing itself. He lived as an Israelite ought to live, according to the privileges given unto him in the law of the Lord. Jesus Christ, as the Omniscient One, knew all this of Nathanael. He had been an eyewitness to his sincere and spiritual devotions before God. More than this, Jesus declared that there was “no deceit in Nathanael.” All he did, as a true Israelite, he did in all honesty, purity, and faith. Jesus, after a thorough inspection of him with His eye flaming, searching into the innermost recesses of his nature, pronounced that he was candidly pure. What a character of a man to be given by the Holy One!
Now, you wish to be an Israelite indeed or to change the phrase, to suit our faith, a Christian indeed, in whom there will be found no deceit! You want to be of true circumcision, not merely to have the name, sign, and badge, but the spirit, the life, and the power of Christianity. You want to live by the Savior’s rules in your business, family, closet, thoughts, words, and affections to secure the commendation of Christ. You want to do everything from motives with feelings and for purposes so pure that your Divine Master will pronounce you free from all deceit in the inspection of you. This is the character at which you aim. You have a noble, high, glorious point before you. Is it attainable? It is attainable before God, while before men, you may fail because He does not judge as man judges. Perhaps no one viewed Nathanael as Jesus did. So, you may reach a similar character in misjudgment. At the same time, there may be a different opinion on the partial, imperfect judgment of men.
Nevertheless, let it be your aim to be free from deceit in his sight. Let your judgment rest with Him. Thank God you may reach the utmost object of your desires. If the law could make Nathanael so perfect, I am sure you need not doubt whether the blood of Jesus Christ can make you equally perfect in the system of the Gospel.
THE CHRISTIAN ARMOR
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:10-11)
The enemies with whom we fight: “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the Gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:13-18)
THE CHRISTIAN REWARD
“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life.” (1 Timothy 6:12). “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life.” “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8) “The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.” (Revelation 3:5) “To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.” (Revelation 2:17 “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” (Revelation 3:21)
PRIVILEGES OF THE CHRISTIAN
Your privileges as a Christian are very numerous and significant. As an encouragement to your faith and hope and a way of seeing your distinguished state and character, it will be good to remember those privileges given to you in the covenant of grace. You are united to Christ, and Christ is united to you (John 15:4). You are a partaker of the Divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). You have access to God in reconciliation and prayer, &c, by Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:12). You are a member of the household of God (Ephesians 2:19). You belong to the church of the firstborn (Hebrews 12:23). You have Christ for your Savior, Intercessor, King, Teacher, Example, Friend, Captain of Salvation, &c. The promises of God are yours in all their preciousness and exceeding greatness (2 Peter 1:4). All things are yours in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:21-22). Your name is written in heaven. All things work together for your good.
The Spirit is your Witnesser of the pardon of sin and heirship with God, your Sanctifier, your Helper, your Guide, your Comforter. You have God for your Father, King, Glory, Salvation, Redeemer, Keeper, Deliverer, Strength, Refuge, Shield, Tower, Light, Lawgiver, Habitation, and Portion. You have angels for your ministering spirits. Nothing beautiful, excellent, holy, nothing that is the Lord’s in the Gospel on earth or in the glory of heaven, but what is given to you as your privilege. You are highly honored and exceptionally distinguished. You are among the “chosen generation, the royal priesthood, the holy nation, the peculiar people,” those who are His delight, the apple of His eye, and whose names are written on the palm of His hands. Do not be thrilled with spiritual pride as you think of these honors. Instead, ask, “What am I or my father’s house, that thou shouldest bestow such mercies upon me? “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness.” (Ephesians 4:1-2). Enjoy them to the utmost of your ability as sources of unfailing strength and consolation.
THE LORD FORSAKING US
You say, “You hope the Lord will not forsake you, and you sometimes feel as though He had forsaken you.” As to the Lord forsaking you, it is a point upon which you need entertain no fear. When did He forsake His people? Where has He said He will forsake them? Is it a thing which in any way accords with His character and relations to His people that He should ever do so? You may as well fear that He will change His names and His nature so that He will forsake those He loves. “A woman may forget her nursing child,” He says, “but I will not forget thee.” “I have engraved you on the palms of my hands,” He declares. Is it probable that He will forsake His jewels, His children, His saints, and those who are His delight and joy? No. You have His own words: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
This, then, is the fact concerning God. Need you to be afraid that He will forsake you? If you examine the matter in another light, the real ground of fear may be in yourself. You are the one in danger of forsaking the Lord. We are like children walking with their father on a journey. With his thoughtfulness and wisdom, the father keeps on his way toward his destination, but the children are easily diverted in their attention. A butterfly springs up from the grass, and one runs after it. There, a bunch of flowers is growing, and another goes to pick them. Over there, a group of children is playing, and a third goes and joins in the sports. Therefore, they leave the right way and leave their father. We are traveling to heaven in the company of our God. As we continue the journey, we may be tempted to turn aside and follow this world’s butterflies, flowers, and companies. We may forsake Him running after these things, but He will never leave us in the right way and hide from us, and we will be thrown upon our wisdom and strength to pursue the journey alone. HE NEVER DEPARTS FROM THE GOOD AND RIGHT WAY. While we keep ourselves in His company, walking with Him as Enoch did, walking before Him as David did, we will enjoy the blessed assurance of an ever-present God.
"As far from danger as from fear. While love, almighty love, is near."
You wish to be content with your lot so as not to murmur or complain. This is certainly your privilege as a Christian. You are called to it by the Scripture in its teachings. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5). “Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8)
You are called to this by example. St. Paul, during his shortages, learned and practiced this grace. “I have learned,” he says, “in WHATEVER situation I am to be content.” (Philippians 4:11). Jesus Christ, our Great Master, and Example exhibits this grace in perfection. Although He had nowhere to lay His head, was the poorest of the poor and was the subject of insult and rebuke, but who ever heard Him complain? You are called to it by its own excellence, “Contentment,” says one, “is a pearl of great price; and whoever procures it at the expense of ten thousand desires makes a wise and a happy purchase.” It is a great embellishment to the soul. It is a feast for the soul. It is satisfaction for the soul when associated with godliness.
As a means of treasuring it, consider how much better your portion is than millions. How much less would you have if it were given according to moral merit. How short a time will you want anything. How little you will want in the grave, and what an abundance is supplied for you in the grace and glory of God. Learn to sing those lines of Bunyan:
''I am content with what I have. Little be it or much. And, Lord, contentment still I crave, Because Thou saves such Fulness a burden is to such That go on pilgrimage. Here little, and hereafter much, Is best from age to age."
TENDENCY OF AFFLICTIONS
In their rage, the stones Stephen’s persecutors threw at him gave him an early entrance to the presence and glory of Jesus, who he saw standing at the right hand of God. The boisterous winds which blow favorably for the ship tend to make its passage shorter and to drive it more quickly into its quiet harbor. The flood of waters upon the old world raised Noah’s ark closer to heaven and the place where it rested in magnificent security. It is so with all the cares of God’s people. They tend to raise them closer to heaven, bring them closer to Christ, weaken corruptions within them, wean their affections from the earth, and lead them to the glorious rest of eternity.
A decision in faith is as necessary as it is in anything worldly. You should take faith with as many decisions as possible, an undertaking you know would yield a constant supply of material substance. Once you have decided, you should allow nothing in earth or hell to rob you of or entice you from it. The Savior teaches you that “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62). If you imagine it possible to be half a Christian and half a sinner simultaneously, Christ says you cannot. “No one can serve two masters. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24). If you think that you must be firm and enduring on the way to heaven without decision, St. James shows the futility of such a thought. “He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:8). The Lord Himself says of Caleb, “But my servant Caleb… has followed me fully” (Numbers 14:24). God held him in high esteem for this and lifted him up as an example to others. Joshua was a man of decision. “But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15). Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, John the Baptist, and Paul were noble in their decision for God and His cause.
PEACE OF MIND
If you desire to obtain and keep this wonderful blessing, the recipe is given to you in the Scriptures. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3). Gather your thoughts, affections, desires, motives, and aims and concentrate and fix them upon God. In the beauties of His holiness, in the love of His nature, in the wisdom of His counsels, in the goodness of His dealings, in the justice of His requirements, in the atonement of His Son and the work of His Spirit, in the promises of His Word and the provisions of His grace. Then you will trust in Him for all things and, as a result, enjoy peace of mind, deep, constant, pure, and divine. A peace in its nature like the peace which angels have; a peace which, while things all around are agitated and changed, will maintain its power and inability to be disturbed. God is a rock of unchanging and eternal. If you keep your mind on Him, though the storm may rage above you and around you, a sacred peace will reign in your mind. God is a refuge, and though the enemy, in a viciousness, may hurl the fieriest darts at you, a calm from God will possess your heart. Your peace will be a “perfect peace,” without flaw or sin.
A friend once asked Professor Francke, who founded the Orphan House at Halle, how he kept such constant peace of mind. The good man replied, ”By stirring up my mind a hundred times a day. Wherever I am, whatever I do, I say, ‘Blessed Jesus, have I a share in Thy redemption? Are my sins forgiven? Does Thy Spirit guide me? Yours I am, wash me again and again.’ By this constant communication with Jesus, I have enjoyed the calmness of mind and a settled peace in my soul.”
While it is in the body and having to do earthly things, the mind is in danger of wandering from God.
Then its peace is liable to be broken. Therefore we must live as the good man, referred to in the spirit of devotion all day long. Here is our security for peace of mind.
COMFORT IN PRAYER
From every stormy wind that blows, From every swelling tide of woes, There is a calm, a sure retreat; 'Tis found beneath the mercy seat. There is a place where Jesus sheds The oil of gladness on our heads, A place than all besides more sweet; It is the blood-bought mercy seat. There is a scene where spirits blend, Where friend holds fellowship with friend; Though sundered far, by faith, we meet Around one common mercy seat. Ah! whither could we flee for aid When tempted, desolate, dismayed; Or how the hosts of hell defeat. Had suffering saints no mercy seat? There, there on eagle's wings, we soar. And sin and sense molest no more; And heaven comes down our souls to greet. While glory crowns the mercy seat. — Stowell, If pain afflicts or wrongs oppress, If cares distract or fears dismay, If guilt deject if sin distress; In every case, still, watch and pray. 'Tis prayer supports the soul that's weak; Though thought be broken, language lame, Pray, if thou canst or canst not speak; But pray with faith in Jesu's name. Depend on Him; thou canst not fail; Make all thy wants and wishes known; Fear not; His merits must prevail: Ask, but in faith, it will be done. — Hart,
Source: Bate J. (1865). The class leader’s assistant.