We Must Begin With God

“We readily acknowledge that life is a profound problem, and that we are surrounded by mystery on every side; but we are not like the beasts of the field—ignorant of their origin, and unconscious of what is before them. No! ‘We have also a more sure Word of Prophecy’, of which it is said you do well that you “take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns, and the day star arises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19). And it is to this Word of Prophecy, we indeed do well to ‘take heed,’ to that Word which had not its origin in the mind of man—but in the Mind of God, for, ‘no prophecy came not at any time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke moved by the Holy Spirit’ (2 Peter 1:21). We say again, it is to this ‘Word’ we do well to take heed. As we turn to this Word and are instructed there, we discover a fundamental principle which must be applied to every problem: Instead of beginning with man and his world—and working back to God; we must begin with God—and work down to man. “In the beginning God’ (Genesis 1:1)! Apply this principle to the present situation. Begin with the world as it is today, and try and work back to God, and everything will seem to show that God has no connection with the world at all. But begin with God and work down to the world—and light, much light, is cast on the problem. Because God is holy—His anger burns against sin. Because God is righteous—His judgments fall upon those who rebel against Him. Because God is faithful—the solemn threatenings of His Word are fulfilled. Because God is omnipotent—none can successfully resist Him, still less overthrow His counsel. Because God is omniscient—no problem can master Him and no difficulty baffle His wisdom. It is just because God is who He is, and what He is—that we are now beholding on earth, the beginning of His out-poured judgments! In view of His inflexible justice and immaculate holiness—we could not expect anything other than what is now spread before our eyes.”

– Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God, p.9-10

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The Lord My Restorer

“The Lord is my Shepherd…He restores my soul.”  (Psalm 23:1, 3).

It is not the least important duty of the Shepherd–under which similitude our meditation yesterday viewed our blessed Lord–to go in quest of the stray ones of the flock. It would be an extraordinary exception indeed, were there none such–no silly lamb, no fickle sheep wandering from the fold. The religious history of the believer is a history of declension and revival, of departure and return, of his backsliding and of the Savior’s restoring. The regenerate soul is bent upon backsliding from the Lord. The sun does not more naturally decline, nor the planets start off from their center, than does the believing heart wander from God.

“O Lord, how many and hidden are my soul’s departures from You, You only know! How often my love chills, my faith droops, my zeal flags, and I grow weary, and am ready to halt in Your service. Mine is a sinful, roving heart, fickle to You as the changing wind; false to my vows as a broken bow. But You, O Lord, are my Shepherd, and You restore my soul; pitying my infirmity, knowing my wanderings, and tracking all my steps, You recover, heal, and pardon Your poor, silly sheep, prone to leave Your wounded, sheltering side in quest of that which can be found in Yourself alone.”

He restores us gently. When He might justly commission some harsh messenger to awaken us from our reverie, and bring our sin to our remembrance, He sends a gentle Nathan to say to us, “You are the man”–some kind and loving messenger, filled with the ‘meekness and gentleness of Christ,’ to remind us of our backsliding, to deal with our sin, and to win and lead us back to the Savior, towards whom our love had chilled, and from whom our feet had strayed. Recall His own gentle dealing. Behold Him traversing mountain and valley in search of the one sheep that had wandered; nor resting until He had found it–then, laying it upon His shoulder, with soft and gentle step, He bears it back to the fold, amid the welcomings of the flock, the music of its own restored joy and the songs of angels.

The faithfulness of Jesus in our restorings is not less conspicuous. Though we prove faithless and unbelieving–and oh, what words can describe our unfaithfulness to Christ!–yet He is faithful and cannot deny Himself. It is a sweet truth, O my soul, which you should never forget, that the love and constancy and promises of Jesus are never negated or affected by your conduct towards Him. When our love to Jesus chills, or our spiritual frames and feelings fluctuate, we are prone to infer a similar change in the Lord; whereas, to awaken us from our drowsiness, to bring us to reflection and prayer, He may suspend the sensible manifestations of His presence and the especial communications of His grace; and, ceasing to stand and knock, may withdraw Himself a while, leaving us to exclaim, “I opened to my beloved, and He had withdrawn Himself.” Nevertheless, His loving-kindness He will not take from us, nor allow His faithfulness to fail.

Oh, the love of Jesus in curbing our waywardness, checking our wanderings, arresting, healing, and restoring our souls. Truly He forsakes not His people, though they forsake Him times without number. How can He turn His back upon one bought with His sufferings, groans, and tears? How can He forsake the work of grace wrought in the soul by His Spirit? He may withdraw Himself for a time, gently to awaken us from our slothfulness and slumber, yet He returns again, and our lips gratefully sing, “He restores my soul.”

And for what intent are all the Lord’s loving corrections and faithful rebukes–His measured, though often painful, and even crushing afflictions–but to bring back our wandering hearts to Himself? O blossoming rod, O sweet bitter, O bright cloud, O loving, gentle chastening, that arrests my wanderings, hedges my path so that I cannot find my lovers, and turns my feet back to His ways of pleasantness and to His paths of peace. “He restores my soul, He leads me in the paths of righteousness, for His name’s sake.”

– Octavius Winslow, Daily Need Divinely Supplied

Closer Than a Brother

“…there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother!” (Proverbs 18:24)

Does any reader of this tract need a friend?

In such a world as this, how many hearts there are which ought to respond to that appeal! How many there are who feel “I stand alone.” How many have found one idol broken after another, one staff failing after another, one fountain dried after another–as they have traveled through the wilderness of this world.

We need much comfort and consolation in a world like this. It is no easy matter for a man to carry the cross and reach Heaven. There are many enemies to be encountered and overcome. We have often to stand alone. We have at the best times, few with us, and many against us. We need cordials and strong consolation to sustain and cheer us, and to preserve us from fainting on the way as we travel from Egypt into Canaan.

If there is one who needs a friend, let that one behold an unfailing friend at the right hand of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let that one repose his aching head and weary heart upon the bosom of that unfailing friend, Jesus Christ the Lord.

There is one living at God’s right hand of matchless tenderness. There is one who  never dies, never fails, never disappoints, never forsakes, never changes His mind, never breaks off friendship. That One, the Lord Jesus, I commend to all who need a friend.

No one in a world like this, a fallen world, a world which we find more and more barren, it may be, every year we live; no one ever need be friendless, while the Lord Jesus Christ lives.

Christian, you have a Friend who never slumbers and never sleeps–a Friend who cares for you morning, noon, and night.”

– J.C. Ryle

To Them That Love God

‘”To them that love God’ (Romans 8:28). This is the grand distinguishing feature of every true Christian. The reverse marks all the unregenerate. But the saints are those who love God. Their creeds may differ in minor details; their ecclesiastical relations may vary in outward form; their gifts and graces may be very unequal; yet, in this particular there is an essential unity. They all believe in Christ, they all love God. They love Him for the gift of the Saviour: they love Him as a Father in whom they may confide: they love Him for His personal excellencies – His holiness, wisdom, faithfulness. They love Him for His conduct: for what He withholds an for what He grants: for what He rebukes and for what He approves. They love Him even for the rod that disciplines, knowing that He doth all things well. There is nothing in God, and there is nothing from God, for which the saints do not love Him. And of this they are all assured, ‘We love Him because He first loved us’ (1 John 4:10).

‘To them that love God’ (Romans 8:28). But, alas, how little I love God! I so frequently mourn my lack of love, and chide myself for the coldness of my heart. Yes, there is so much love of self and love of the world, that sometimes I seriously question if I have any real love for God at all, but is not my very desire to love God a good symptom? Is not my very grief that I love Him so little a sure evidence that I do not hate Him? The presence of a hard and ungrateful heart has been mourned over by the saints of all ages.”

– Arthur W. Pink, Comfort for Christians, p.13