We are not told to rejoice in our circumstances or in our prospects. These things vary; sometimes they are favorable, and sometimes they are not. Rather, we are told to “rejoice in the Lord always.” We are calmly to delight ourselves in Him, irrespective of our circumstances. We are to cheer our hearts by our contemplation of the Lord and His grace, to “worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” Many are the blessings that are ours because we know Him as Savior, “but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” As our Lord prayed for His own on the night before the cross, so now He prays for us in heaven, “that they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves.” That joy must be nurtured and maintained by feeding on His Word, for He said, “These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” “Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart.” Thus “with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.” Never forget, dear Christian, that “the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
He fills the trusting heart with joy, Though gloomy may be our days; The soul that leans upon His grace Will find calm in all his ways.
How often it has been among God’s redeemed people that we allow ourselves to be “choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life,” forgetting that “the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word.” So, when God permits earthly prosperity to come to His children, often it has to be said that “they were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten Me.” And this is in spite of our Lord’s words that “a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” Earthly possessions in themselves do not give joy, but fellowship with the Lord does. Therefore, we have the admonition to “charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.” Nothing on earth can bring joy and pleasure comparable to the joy and pleasure of obedience to and communion with our Lord. “How excellent is Thy loving-kindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings. They shall be abundantly satisfied … and Thou shalt make them drink of the river of Thy pleasures.”
Filled with the trinkets of this life? Or filled with His joys supreme? Living now for eternity? Or for this life’s transient dream?
Are there not times in the life of every believer when we, like Hezekiah in our text verse, find ourselves so filled with anguish and distress, and so unable to handle our situations, that we can only cry to the Lord that “I am oppressed; undertake for me”? Times of great trouble, times of perplexity, times of uncertainty, times when “my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted. … I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed.” There come to all of us times when we realize our utter helplessness and our need of dependence on the Lord, when, as Hezekiah, “like a crane or a swallow, so did I chatter: I did mourn as a dove: mine eyes fail with looking upward: O Lord, I am oppressed; undertake for me.” When you come to such circumstances, “pour out your heart before Him: God is a refuge for us.” “The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know Thy name will put their trust in Thee: for Thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek Thee. … He forgetteth not the cry of the humble.” “And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of My people … and have heard their cry … for I know their sorrows.” “My hope is in Thee.”
When we are oppressed and weary, With none to whom we may turn, He knows our distress and anguish; Our cry for help He’ll not spurn.
God is “bringing many sons unto glory” through “the captain of their salvation,” that blessed One “who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree,” and thus was made “perfect through sufferings” to be our Savior. In His Person, He was never anything but perfect, for He was and is “God … manifest in the flesh.” But in order to be our Savior, “Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God,” and His vicarious sufferings made Him our Savior. He is “the captain” of our salvation, the leader, the originator. “Salvation is of the Lord.” He originated it, “even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many,” “for,” He said while here on earth, “the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Then, “what shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.”
“The captain of their salvation,” He leads His own safely home, Guarding, shielding and protecting From what would cause us to roam.
The right answer to the above question is not only a matter of correct doctrine, but a matter that determines one’s eternal destiny. If we only believe Him to be “the Son of David,” as did the Pharisees to whom the Lord addressed the question above, “how then doth David in spirit call Him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool?” To make our Lord a man only, albeit a good man, is to make God a liar, for He said of our Lord that “this is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Then “who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: [but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.” Our salvation depends upon His Deity and our acknowledgment of it, for “if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” With Thomas, every true believer confesses Him as “my Lord and my God.” We humbly and thankfully acknowledge Him as God’s “dear Son: in whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins,” even “God … manifest in the flesh.”
The Son of God has come to earth To die for all men; What have you done with Him, dear friend? Make ready ere He comes again.
Our Lord Jesus Christ has “for us entered” “into that within the veil,” “for Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” But He has entered “into that within the veil” as “the forerunner.” A “forerunner” is one who goes ahead, cutting a pioneer path, like a scout, that others may follow. None could ever follow the Old Testament high priest “within the veil,” for “into the second [the holy of holies] went the high priest alone once every year.” But we who know the Lord Jesus now have “boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.” Moreover, our Lord has entered heaven in a body of flesh and bones, as our forerunner, and one day He will take all His glorified saints “within the veil,” fulfilling His promise that “I go to prepare a place for you. And 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,” “and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
He has entered heaven for us; As a Man He sits in glory; He’ll come to take us to Himself, Completing redemption’s story.
How often Christians are guilty of answering a matter before they hear it. We hear only one side about a problem or controversy, and we form an opinion or come to a conclusion without knowing the facts. Many times we reach conclusions from hearsay, when God says that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established,” and we do well to obey God’s word to “be swift to hear, slow to speak,” until we know the facts. “Why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at naught thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another anymore: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling-block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.” So “it is folly and shame unto him” who “answereth a matter before he heareth it.” Rather “shalt thou inquire, and make search, and ask diligently,” and “judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” So be not one “that answereth a matter before he heareth it,” all sides of it. And even then, remember that “love covereth all sins.”
“Be swift to hear [and] slow to speak” Whatever comes to your ear; A faithful friend conceals the faults Of those who to us are dear.
Have we not all had times, when overwhelmed by situations and circumstances that oppress and discourage, we have wished that we could leave all the hard things behind “and be at rest”? David wrote these words at a time when he could say that “my heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me. … Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah. I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.” But we cannot run away from our griefs and troubles and problems. We cannot “hasten [our] escape from the windy storm and tempest.” There are times, to be sure, when the Lord is pleased to change things, so that the things that hurt us are removed. But most of the time He says to us, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” “A man [the God-Man, our Lord Jesus] shall be as a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.”
The storms of life come upon us; They lash with fury and force; His grace holds us steady in them, So our ship is kept on course.
How gracious is our God! Psalm 36 tells us about His mercy, His faithfulness, His righteousness, His judgments, and His loving-kindness. “Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens,” and we read twenty-six times in Psalm 136 that “His mercy endureth forever.” “Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful,” and we who know Him are invited to “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” He is also the faithful One, whose name is “called Faithful and True,” and “faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.” And, “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Truly, “Thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.” Moreover, “Thy righteousness is like the great mountains,” for “the Lord is righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works.” “Thy judgments are a great deep: O Lord, Thou preservest man and beast.” “Thy way is in the sea, and Thy path in the great waters, and Thy footsteps are not known.” And what shall we say of His loving-kindness toward us? “How excellent is Thy loving-kindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings.”
The grace of God in Christ Jesus Attends our daily steps, Blessing, keeping, encouraging, And bringing needed help.
We are not told to make or create “the unity of the Spirit,” but rather to “keep” it. “The unity of the Spirit” is not an organizational unity, but an organic unity created when we were “by one Spirit … baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” “As we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” So we are to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” remembering that “there is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” We are to remember this in our dealings with all who have trusted Christ. Even in the matter of Scriptural separation, while we are to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them,” we are also to “follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” So “let brotherly love continue,” for “how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”
Christ has made His people one, Each one a member of Him, Each one to help the other grow, So to be a shining gem.