THE UNVEILED DEALINGS
"Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said,"
"You do not realize now what I am doing — but later you will understand." — John 13:7
O blessed day, when the long sealed book of mystery shall be unfolded, when the "fountains of the great deep shall be broken up," "the channels of the waters seen," and all discovered to be one vast revelation of unerring wisdom and ineffable love! Here we are often baffled at the Lord's dispensations; we cannot fathom His ways — like the well of Sychar — they are deep, and we have nothing to draw with. But soon the "mystery of God will be finished;" the enigmatical "seals," with all their inner meanings, opened. When that "morning without clouds" shall break, each soul will be like the angel standing in the sun — there will be no shadow; all will be perfect day!
Believer, be still! The dealings of your Heavenly Father may seem dark to you; there may seem now to be no golden fringe, no "bright light in the clouds;" but a day of disclosures is at hand. "Take it on trust a little while." An earthly child takes on trust what his father tells him: when he reaches maturity, much that was baffling to his infant comprehension is then explained. You are in this world in the childhood of your being — Eternity is the soul's immortal manhood. There, every dealing will be vindicated. It will lose all its "darkness" when bathed in floods "of the excellent glory!"
Ah! instead of thus being as weaned children, how apt are we to exercise ourselves in matters too high for us! not content with knowing that our Father wills it — but presumptuously seeking to know how it is, and why it is. If it is unfair to pronounce on the unfinished and incomplete works of man; if the painter, or sculptor, or artificer, would shrink from having his labors judged of when in a rough, unpolished, immature state — how much more so with the works of God! How we should honor Him by a simple, confiding, unreserved submission to His will — contented patiently to wait the fulfillment of this "later" promise, when all the lights and shadows in the now half-finished picture will be blended and melted into one harmonious whole — when all the now disjointed stones in the temple will be seen to fit into their appointed place — giving unity, and symmetry, and compactness to all the building.
And who is it that speaks these living "words," "What I am doing?" It is He who died for us! who now lives for us! Blessed Jesus! You may do much that our blind hearts would like undone — "terrible things in righteousness which we looked not for." The heaviest (what we may be tempted to call the severest) cross You can lay upon us we shall regard as only the apparent severity of unutterable and unalterable love. Eternity will unfold how all — all was needed; that nothing else, nothing less, could have done! If not now, at least then — the verdict on a calm retrospect of life will be this, "The Word of the Lord is right, and all His works are done in truth."
THE POWER OF PRAYER
"Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said,"
"Whatever you shall ask in my name, that will I do — that the Father may be glorified in the Son." — John 14:13
Blessed Jesus! it is You who has unlocked to Your people the gates of prayer. Without You, they must have been shut forever. It was Your atoning merit on earth that first opened them; it is Your intercessory work in Heaven that keeps them open still.
How unlimited the promise — "Whatever you shall ask!" It is the pledge of all that the needy sinner requires — all that an Omnipotent Savior can bestow! As the great Steward of the mysteries of grace, He seems to say to His faithful servants, "Take your request, and under this, My superscription, write what you please." And then, when the blank is filled up, He further endorses each petition with the words, "I WILL do it!"
He further encourages us to ask "in His name." In the case of an earthly petitioner there are some pleas more influential in obtaining a benefit than others. Jesus speaks of this as forming the key to the heart of God. As David loved the helpless cripple of Saul's house "for Jonathan's sake," so will the Father, by virtue of our covenant relationship to the true Jonathan (lit., "the gift of God"), delight in giving us even "exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think."
Reader, do you know the blessedness of confiding your every need and every care — your every sorrow and every cross — into the ear of the Savior? He is the "Wonderful Counselor." With an exquisitely tender sympathy, He can enter into the innermost depths of your need. That need may be great — but the everlasting arms are underneath it all. Think of Him now, at this moment — the great Angel of the Covenant, with the censer full of much incense, in which are placed your feeblest aspirations, your most burdened sighs — the odor-breathing cloud ascending with acceptance before the Father's throne. The answer may tarry — these your supplications may seem to be kept long on the wing, hovering around the mercy-seat. A gracious God sometimes sees it fitting thus to test the faith and patience of His people. He delights to hear the music of their importunate pleadings — to see them undeterred by difficulties — unrepelled by apparent forgetfulness and neglect. But He will come at last — the pent-up fountain of love and mercy will at length burst out — the soothing accents will in His own good time be heard, "Be it unto you according to your word!"
Soldier of Christ! with all your other armor, do not forget the weapon, "All-prayer." It is that which keeps bright and shining "the whole armor of God." While yet out in the night of a dark world — while still camping in an enemy's country — kindle your watch-fires at the altar of incense. You must be Moses — pleading on the Mount; if you would be Joshua — victorious in the world's daily battle. Confide your cause to this waiting Redeemer. You cannot weary Him with your importunity. He delights in hearing. He is glorified in giving. The memorable Bethany-utterance remains unaltered and unrepealed, "I know that You hear Me always." He is still the "Prince that has power with God and prevails" — He still promises and pleads — he still He lives and loves!
THE COMFORTING ASSURANCE
Acts 20:35, "Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said,"
"Your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things." — Matthew 6:32
Though spoken originally by Jesus regarding temporal things, this may be taken as a motto for the child of God amid all the changing vicissitudes of his changing history. How it should lull all misgivings; silence all murmurings; lead to lowly, unquestioning submissiveness, "My Heavenly Father knows that I have need of all these things!"
Where can a child be safer or better — than in a father's hand? Where can the believer be better — than in the hands of his God? We are poor judges of what is best for us. We are under safe guidance with infallible wisdom. If we are tempted in a moment of rash presumption to say, "All these things are against me!" let this "word" rebuke the hasty and unworthy surmise. Unerring wisdom and Fatherly love, have pronounced all to be "needful."
My soul, is there anything that is disturbing your peace? Are providences dark, or crosses heavy? Are spiritual props removed, creature comforts curtailed, gourds smitten and withered like grass? Write on each, "Your Father knows that you have need of all these things!" It was He who increased your burden. Why? "It was needed." It was He who crossed your worldly schemes, marred your cherished hopes. Why? "It was needed." A pleasant flower in the coveted path — it was supplanting Himself — He had to remove it! There was some higher spiritual blessing in communion with God.
Seek to cherish a spirit of more childlike confidence in your Heavenly Father's will. You are not left unfriended and alone to buffet the storms of the wilderness. Your Marahs as well as your Elims are appointed by Him. A gracious pillar-cloud is before you. Follow it through sunshine and storm. He may "lead you about," but He will not lead you wrong. Unutterable tenderness is the characteristic of all His dealings. "Blessed be His name," says a tried believer, "He makes my feet like hinds' feet" (literally, "equals" them), "He equals them for every precipice, every ascent, every leap."
And who is it that speaks this quieting word? It is He who Himself felt the preciousness of the assurance during His own awful sufferings, that all were needed, and all appointed; that from Bethlehem's cradle to Calvary's Cross — there was not an unnecessary thorn in the crown of sorrow which He, the Man of Sorrows, bore. Every drop in His bitter cup was mingled by His Father: "This cup which You give Me to drink, shall I not drink it?" Oh, if He could extract comfort in this hour of inconceivable agony, in the thought that a Father's hand lighted the fearful furnace-fires — what strong consolation is there is the same truth to all His suffering people!
What! one superfluous drop! one unessential pang! one unneeded cross! Hush the secret atheism! He gave His Son for you! He calls Himself "your Father!" Whatever be the trial under which you are now smarting, let the word of a gracious Savior be "like oil thrown on the fretful sea;" let it dry every rebellious tear-drop. "He, your unerring Parent, knows that you have need of this as well as all these things."
THE GRACIOUS INVITATION
"Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said,"
"Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." — Matthew 11:28
Gracious "word" of a gracious Savior, on which the soul may confidingly repose, and be at peace forever! It is a present rest — the rest of grace as well as the rest of glory. Not only are there signals of peace hung out from the walls of Heaven — the lights of Home glimmering in the distance to cheer our footsteps; but we have the "shadow" of this "great Rock!" in a present "weary land." Before the Throne above is there "the sea of glass," without one rippling wave; but there is a haven even on earth for the tempest-tossed, "We who have believed DO enter into rest."
Reader, have you found this blessed repose in the blood and work of Immanuel? Long going about "seeking rest and finding none," does this "word" sound like music in your ears — "Come unto Me"? All other peace is counterfeit, shadowy, unreal. The eagle spurns the gilded cage as a poor exchange for his free-born soarings. The soul's immortal aspirations cannot be satisfied, short of the possession of God's favor and love in Jesus.
How complete is the invitation! If there had been one condition in entering this covenant Ark, we must have been through eternity at the mercy of the storm! But all are alike warranted and welcome, and none more warranted than welcome. For the weak, the weary, the sin-burdened and sorrow-burdened, there is an open door of grace.
Return, then, unto your rest, O my soul! Let the sweet cadence of this "word of Jesus" move quietly upon you amid the disquietudes of earth. Sheltered in Him, you are safe for time — safe for eternity! There may be, and will be, temporary tossings, fears, and misgivings; manifestations of inward corruption; but these will only be like the surface-heavings of the ocean, while underneath there is a deep, settled calm. "You will keep him in perfect peace" (lit. peace, peace) "whose mind is stayed on You." In the world — it is care on care, trouble on trouble, sin on sin — but every wave that breaks on the believer's soul seems sweetly to murmur, "Peace, peace!"
And if the foretaste of this rest is precious, what must be the glorious consummation? Awaking in the morning of immortality, with the unquiet dream of earth over — faith lost in sight, and hope in fruition — no more any bias to sin — no more latent principles of evil — nothing to disturb the spirit's deep, everlasting tranquility — the trembling magnet of the heart reposing, where alone it can confidingly and permanently rest — in the enjoyment of the Infinite God. "These things have I spoken unto you, that in Me you might have peace."
John MacDuff (1818-1895)