Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Thou, O Christ, Art All I Want

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” (Isaiah 26:3)
The touching stanzas of the old hymn “Jesus, Lover of My Soul” reveal Charles Wesley’s response of love to Christ’s gracious love. Verse three seems to reflect the walk of a believer who desires a full and fruitful oneness with Christ.
Thou, O Christ, art all I want, more than all in Thee I find;
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint, heal the sick, and lead the blind.
Just and holy is Thy name, I am all unrighteousness;
False and full of sin I am; Thou art full of truth and grace.
Paul’s prayer for his growing converts was “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). He stated his own testimony thus: “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8).
Christ lovingly came to “heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils” (Matthew 10:8). He didn’t just do this for those who followed Him but for those who needed it, whether or not they responded in love, and indeed before long those whom He had befriended turned on Him and demanded He die a sinner’s execution. But He was sinless—“The Word was made flesh . . . full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
Even though He had the power to avoid Calvary, His love was so great that He willingly accepted a sacrificial death for those who sent Him there. “Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Truly, He is the lover of the soul.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

In the Shadow of His Wings

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10)
Verse two of “Jesus, Lover of My Soul” deals with life’s trials and tribulations and begins by presenting our Savior as “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, oh, leave me not alone; still support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed, all my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head with the shadow of Thy wing.
We may be helpless on our own, but in love He beckons us to “the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Our soul need not hang in jeopardy. “He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee . . . we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man may do unto me” (Hebrews 13:5-6).
“There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky. The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:26-27). Help from none other is needed. “Thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory and the lifter up of mine head” (Psalm 3:3). As His sacrificial death drew near, Jesus’ heart nearly broke over Israel’s rejection of His love. “How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37). We dare not reject His loving provision. We can pray with David, “Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings” (Psalm 17:8). The one to whom we pray will answer, for He is Jesus, the lover of the soul. 

Monday, 20 February 2017

Jesus, Lover of My Soul

“I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
Charles Wesley wove into his lyrics the very words and thoughts of Scripture. Such it is with the deeply moving hymn “Jesus, Lover of My Soul.”
Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly
While the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high.
Hide me, O my Savior, hide, till the storm of life is past;
Safe into Thy harbor guide, O receive my soul at last.
“Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23). How often do we lean on Jesus’ bosom and partake of that intimate agape love? There we find safety both in this life and the life to come, for Jesus Himself “is in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18), and He asks, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am” (John 17:24).
Safe in His arms of love we find shelter from the flood and tempest, “for in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock” (Psalm 27:5). “For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat” (Isaiah 25:4).
Jesus, the lover of the soul, paid the ultimate sacrifice and is even now preparing an eternal safe haven for you and me, the objects of His love. He promised, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3). 

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Naming Names

“Their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.” (2 Timothy 2:17-18)
Many Christians decry the citing of actual names of those Christian leaders who teach heretical doctrines, saying that such an act is “unloving.” Paul, however, considered it an important evidence of true love to warn against those who would “overthrow the faith of some,” realizing that generalities would be useless.
Not only did Hymenaeus and Philetus make Paul’s list, but so did Demas (2 Timothy 4:10), Alexander the coppersmith (2 Timothy 4:14), the Cretians (Titus 1:12), another Alexander (1 Timothy 1:20), and even Peter (Galatians 2:11-14) when he began to teach legalism. Likewise, John warned against Diotrephes (3 John 1:9) and the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:6).
On the other hand, Paul was much more generous with name recognition when he was giving out commendations (e.g., Romans 16:1-15; Colossians 4:7-17). We undoubtedly need to follow his example in appreciating by name those who are faithful in teaching and living the truth.
Likewise, we need to be ready and willing to name those individuals, churches, schools, and other organizations that are denying biblical inerrant authority, compromising the doctrine of special creation, requiring humanistic works for salvation, or bringing in other heretical doctrines. We obviously need to be sure of our facts when we do this and also to bring such charges only if motivated by genuine concern for those apt to be led astray if we don’t speak out. But then we must, indeed, “mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Romans 16:17).

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Him That Cometh to Me

“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37)
In this verse and the verses to follow, we find Christ using a marvelous teaching technique. Several times He makes a general, generic statement but quickly advances from the general and impersonal to the particular and personal.
Note that at the first, Christ tells of an abstract gift to Him from the Father of an entire group, (“all”) of which should come to Him for salvation. This is in itself a wonderful truth, for Christ highly values this gift from His Father: “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father . . . gave them [to] me” (John 10:28-29). The entire group “shall come” to Him.
But Christ switches in mid-sentence from general to specific: “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out,” a concrete statement of the effect of this work on an individual. We are part of a group, without doubt, but also each one of us individually is His precious child.
The passage continues in the same vein. “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day” (6:39). Again, the impersonal passes into the personal, for “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” (v. 40).
From the mass of created mankind, many have come to Christ for salvation. But each one who has believed and been granted everlasting life has great individual worth in the eyes of the Savior. “The good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. . . . I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine” (John 10:11,14). 

Friday, 17 February 2017

Humility

“He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. . . . and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.” (John 13:4-5)
The Greek word usually translated humility occurs seven times in the New Testament, implying self-abasement and suggesting a meekness of spirit. In Greek literature, it was used to describe a slave’s demeaning of himself before his master—an outward prostration, not an inward character trait.
The idea that a master would set aside his status and voluntarily become a slave was probably incomprehensible to the world of Jesus’ day. Yet, we are enjoined to “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who . . . took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8). He defined humility by His actions, as in our text, and now we are to voluntarily take up His attitude and “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith [we] are called, With all lowliness [humility] and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3).
Christian humility surpasses all other virtues. Expressing itself as more than acting in a humble fashion, it consists of an inward habit of self-abasement, showing consideration to all others.
This characteristic in God’s eyes is seen as one of great value. “Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:5-6).

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Praise of the Generations

“That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children.” (Psalm 78:6)
Each generation of people tends to regard its own times as the most significant of all, toward which all past history has been merely a preparation. The fact is, however, that God has “been our dwelling place in all generations” (Psalm 90:1), and He is equally concerned about any generations yet to come.
This is why He stresses repeatedly that the great truths concerning God’s creation, His character, His great work of salvation, and His long-range plans for the ages to come be transmitted faithfully from one generation to another. “One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts” (Psalm 145:4).
Our modern scientific generation almost idolizes new research, new gadgets, new discoveries. The God of eternity, however, is not so concerned that we develop new ideas as that we not lose what He already has given us. “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: Thou hast established the earth, and it abideth” (Psalm 119:89-90).
Christ said: “That which ye have already hold fast till I come.” “Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (Revelation 2:25;3:11).
The great principle of true education is given by Paul in 2 Timothy 2:2: “The things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” The great account of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, especially, is to be taught forever. “They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this” (Psalm 22:31).