Three Exhortations

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 4
"Rejoice in the Lord alway." Who was a fit person to say that? The man who had been in the third heaven? No. The man a prisoner at Rome. That was rejoicing always; as we have in the Psalms, "I will bless the Lord at all times." When I get the Lord as the object of my heart, there is more of heaven in the prison than out of it. It is not the green pastures and waters of quietness that made him glad. "The Lord is my Shepherd," not the green pastures, though green pastures are very nice. And even if I wander from them, it is, "He restoreth my soul." And if death is in the way, I am not afraid; for "Thou art with me." And though there are dreadful enemies, there is a table spread in their presence. Now he says, "My cup runneth over." He carries him through all the difficulties and trials of his own feebleness. Ah I he says, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
The man who trusted in the Lord, the more trouble he was in, the more he proved that all was right. Paul says, " I know Him free, and I know Him in prison." He was sufficient when he was in want, and sufficient when he abounded. So he says, " Rejoice in the Lord alway."
What could they do with such a man? If they kill him, they only send him to heaven; if they let him live, he is all devoted to lead people to the Christ they would destroy.
It is more difficult to rejoice in the Lord in prosperity than in trials; for trials cast us on the Lord. There is more danger for us when there are no trials. But delight in the Lord delivers us altogether from the power of present things. We are not aware, until they are taken away, how much the most spiritual of us lean on props. I mean, we lean on things around us. But if we are rejoicing in the Lord alway, that strength can never be taken away, nor can we lose the joy of it.
"Let your moderation be known unto all men." Do you think people will think your conversation is in heaven if you are eager about things of earth? They will only think us so if there is the testimony that the heart does not stick up for itself. "The Lord is at hand." All will be set right soon. If you pass on in meekness, and subduedness, and unresistingness, how it acts in keeping the heart and affections right and the world can see when the mind and spirit are not set on it. So he says, " Let it be known unto all men."
" Be careful for nothing." I have found that word so often a thorough comfort. Even if it be a great trial, still " be careful for nothing." " Oh," you say, " it is not my petty circumstances; it is a question of saints going wrong." Well, " be careful for nothing." It is not that you are careless, but you are trying to carry the burden, and so you are racking your heart with it. How often a burden possesses a person's mind, and when he tries in vain to cast it off, it comes back and worries him. But " be careful for nothing " is a command; and it is blessed to have such a command.
What shall I do then? Go to God. " In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." Then in the midst of all the care you can give thanks; and we see the exceeding grace of God in tins. It is not that you are to wait till you find out if what you want is the will of God. No. " Let your requests be made known." Have you a burden on your heart? Now go with your request to God. He does not say that you will get it. Paul, when he prayed, had for answer, " My grace is sufficient for thee." But peace will keep your heart and mind, not you will keep this peace. Is He ever troubled by the little things that trouble us? Do they shake His throne? He thinks of us we know, but He is not troubled; and the peace that is in God's heart is to keep ours. I go and carry it all to Him, and I find Him all quiet about it. It is all settled. He knows quite well what He is going to do. I have laid the burden on the throne that never shakes, with the perfect certainty that God takes an interest in me, and the peace He is in keeps my heart, and I can thank Him even before the trouble has passed. I can say, Thank God, He takes an interest in me. It is a pleasant thing that I can have this peace, and thus go and make my request-perhaps a very foolish one; and, instead of brooding over trials, that I can be with God about them.
It is sweet to me to see that, while He carries us up to heaven, He comes down and occupies Himself with everything of ours here. While our affections are occupied with heavenly things, we can trust God for earthly things. He comes down to everything. As Paul says, " Without were fightings, within were fears. Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us." It was worth being cast down to get that kind of comfort. Is He a God afar off, and not a God nigh at hand? He does not give us to see before us, for then the heart would not be exercised; but though we see not Him, He sees us, and comes down to give us all kind of comfort in the trouble.
J. N. D.