Precious Jesus

"Afresh, precious, precious Jesus, I resign this body to You, for doing or suffering, for living or dying. Will You accept it? Will You use me for Your glory more than heretofore, that You may have some little return for all the benefits You have done to me? Oh, do grant this request; my heart longs for it, my spirit pleads for it; and "if You will, You can." You know the hot temptation of which I am the subject. Bring Your glory out of it, and keep me from the evil, and it shall be well." - Ruth Bryan

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Daily Walking

George Everard, 1866

Most men have their daily walk. With the merchant or the clerk, it may he to the place of business in the crowded city. With the village pastor, it may be in visiting his flock. With those who have leisure, it may be for their own recreation. The child of God, whatever his position in life, has also his daily walk. It is named in Scripture more than once, "Enoch walked with God." "Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God."
The idea comprehended in these words is a very marvelous one. In the present state of society, it is not common to see a man of rank walking in friendly fellowship with the laborer, as he goes to his daily work in the morning, or returns from it in the evening. Still more surprised should we be, to see a member of the Royal family conversing along the road with some ragged beggar.
But what is the idea presented to us in the expression "walking with God"? It is the Creator of Heaven and earth — in company with one of the creatures that His hand has formed. It is the King of kings and Lord of lords — in close fellowship with a fallen child of Adam. It is the thrice Holy Jehovah — walking with one "shaped in iniquity," and stained by countless transgressions. "Lord, what is man, that You take knowledge of him, or the son of man that You make account of him?"
Consider more particularly the thought here expressed.
 
In walking with God, there must be close intimate friendshipBetween two people who would happily walk together, there must exist a thorough oneness. A cold indifference on the one side, or the least ill-feeling on the other — would destroy all its enjoyment. Should there be any cause of strife between them it must be removed — there must be a genuine, hearty reconciliation. "Can two walk together — unless they be agreed?" Learn, then, the first step in the daily walk of the Christian. It has been stated before, in a previous chapter, but it needs constant repetition — you must be reconciled to God — you must be at peace with your Maker.
Sin has raised a great barrier between earth and Heaven. A just God threatens the sin that man has wrought with righteous judgment. Man shrinks from the Judge, whose wrath he fears. Jesus, however, stands forth as the Daysman — the great Peacemaker. He receives in His own person the desert of our transgressions, that we may go free. As the lightning rod receives the current of fire, and thus it passes over the building harmlessly to the ground — so does Jesus receive in our stead the fiery wrath which would have fallen upon us, and we are saved.
Thus He brings the sinner near to God. In His name may be found immediate reconciliation. Five long years was David before he would again see the face of Absalom, after the offence which he had committed. Far otherwise is it with our Father in Heaven. Not a year, not a month, not a day, not a moment would he bid us wait — before we again return to Him, and rejoice in His Fatherly love. Though you are far away, separated from Him as the Poles one from the other — yet, renouncing your sins, through Jesus, you are welcome this very day to a place in His heart.
Only Remember your Peacemaker. The men of Tyre and Sidon, we are told, having made a friend of Blastus, the "King's chamberlain, desired peace from King Herod, because their prosperity wholly depended upon his favor. (Acts 12.20.) Shall they not teach us a lesson? Having made a friend of Jesus, the well-beloved of the Father, let us, above all things, desire peace with the Great King; knowing that all our comfort in life, and our hope beyond, depends upon our acceptance before Him.
 
In walking with God, there must be some degree of similarity in mind and disposition. In true companionship there must necessarily be this. In the friendship of David and Jonathan, there was doubtless some strong affinity of disposition, which so closely drew them together. What sympathy has the enthusiastic lover of art — with one who can discern no beauty in the choicest sculpture, or the most exquisite painting? What sympathy has the well-read student — with the man who scorns all books except the ledger? What is there in common between the earnest-hearted follower of the Lamb — and the mirthful trifler who lives but for the pleasures of the day?
As an illustration of this, is it not often found that there is more true fellow-feeling between friends than relations? What is the cause of this? In many instances, is it not because in the one case there is the binding link of love to the Savior, which there is not in the other? Or consider what wretched lives are often passed through an uncongenial marriage. For years a Christian woman had no comfort in religion, no peace of mind, no happiness at her own fireside — and she traced it all to her having married, against her conscience, one who walked not in the way of godliness.
To maintain happy fellowship with God there must, in the same way, be likeness to Him. Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, His image must afresh be stamped upon the soul. Our God is holy, of purer eyes than to behold iniquity — then, if you are His child, you must follow after holiness and abhor the thing which is evil. Our God is a fountain of love — then you also must dwell in love, and put on affections of mercies, kindness, and tender charity. Our God delights in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression — then you likewise must forgive your enemies, and do good to those who hate you. It is written, "Be holy, for I am holy." "Be followers (or imitators) of God, as dear children." "Be therefore perfect, even as your Father who is in Heaven is perfect."
 
To walk with God, is also to live ever as in his presence. To realize His presence, to abide continually under His eye, to recognize our Father as close by our side — is the secret of much peace. We must ever regard Him, not as if He were far away in some inaccessible abode — but nearer to us than our nearest friend. In our chamber, by the wayside, at our work, or in our recreation, when mingling with others, or all alone — we must see One whom the world sees not, we must hear a voice that the world hears not.
A sorrowful woman sits desolate and alone by a fountain in the wilderness. Driven by the harsh treatment of her mistress from the home of years, she knows not where she can turn. In her distress an angel comes to her; he speaks to her words of hope and consolation. Then she learns how near is God; she calls the name of the Lord who spoke to her, "You O God, see me!"
In the life of the sweet Psalmist of Israel, the same truth was ever the joy of his spirit. As he lay down to rest, it was his joy to know that the sleepless Guardian of His people was by him. "I will both lay me down in peace and sleep, for you O Lord only make me to dwell in safety." As he arose, he still rejoiced in the Friend who was near: "When I awake, I am still with you." Surrounded by malicious foes, it is still his confidence. "They draw near that follow after mischief," this was his fear. "You are near, O Lord." (Psalm 119.150, 151.) This was the assurance that dispelled it. Under all the vicissitudes of his eventful life, the nearness of God was the rock on which he reposed. "I have set the Lord always before me, because He is at my right hand; I shall not be moved."
To consciously live in God's presence, will aid us in cultivating thorough genuine piety and godly character. Nathanael in the Church of Christ is beyond all price, and to see Him who is invisible, will do much to make us even as he was, "an Israelite indeed, in whom was no deceit."
In ancient times a sculptor in Greece was at work upon a beautiful statue to be placed within a heathen temple. An inquiry was made of him, why he took such pains in the back part that would be concealed by the wall; "The gods see it!" was the reply. Surely if a Pagan were so careful over his work, believing that the gods he worshiped would mark it — then he who serves the living and the true God should not be less so. Whether beneath the eye of man or not, let all things be done under the eye of Him "to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden."
A few plain rules have been given to assist us in carrying this out in daily practice:
Say nothing you would not like God to hear.
Do nothing you would not like God to see.
Write nothing you would not like God to read.
Go to no place where you would not like God to find you.
Read no book of which you would not like God to say, "Show it to Me."
Never spend your time in such a way that you would not like God to say, "What are You doing?"
To know that our Father is close at hand is also a source of the purest consolation. 

In walking with God, there is also mutual communion and fellowship. The two disciples walking together on the way to Emmaus, talked of all the things that had happened. When Jesus joined himself to them, He held converse with them on the Scriptures, until their hearts burned within them.
There was fellowship one with the other; it relieved, in some measure, the gloom which the disciples felt when they were able to converse of the Master whom they had lost. That gloom was entirely dispelled, when Jesus had revealed himself to them.
On our way to the kingdom, there must be the same happy communion with the unseen Friend, and there will be the same result. Truly has it been said, "that a life spent in communion with God is the most comfortable life a man can live on earth!" Wherever Abraham journeyed, except in Egypt, it is recorded that he built an altar unto the Lord. Along his pilgrimage, from place to place, it was his joy that though "he changed his place, he did not change his company," for God was still with him. The exception that we find, perhaps arose from the fact that distrust of God's providence in leaving Canaan, and his deceit with respect to Sarah, for a time had closed his lips.
It is easy to perceive that such converse, if it is sincere and genuine, must be the inlet of joy, and the outlet of care and sorrow. A load of care is half gone, when we have told our tale of trouble to a sympathizing friend, and have received his counsel in return. In pouring out our hearts before the mercy-seat — far more is this the case. By the teaching of His Word, by the suggestions of His Spirit, does our Father repay our confidence and grant to us fresh peace.
"Do you pray much?" was a question once put to a young laborer. "I cannot pray much," was the answer, "but, as I follow the plough, I talk to God and I think He hears me." Was not this walking with God?
 
In walking with God, there must also be perseverance in well-doing. To walk with God, is not the walking with a friend for a few hours, and then bidding him "good bye." But it is the calm, quiet, steadfast purpose to spend the whole life in the secret of His presence. It is abiding with Him the whole journey through, until its cares and sorrows are over, until the Jordan is crossed, and Canaan won.
Too many are found to be like Orpah, on her way from Moab to Judea. A few steps she was willing to take with her mother-in-law Naomi, but then with a Judas-kiss she bade her farewell, and went back to her people and her gods. But Ruth was of a very different mind. She clung to Naomi, and would not leave her. "But Ruth replied: Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me." Ruth 1:16-17
The Christian needs the same fixed, determined spirit. The mind must be made up never to turn back. The character of such as shall inherit the blessing is described by the Apostle: "To those who by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, and honor, and immortality — God will render eternal life."
"Patient continuance in well-doing" is the surest mark of grace in the soul. Through good report and ill report — through cloud and sunshine, going straight forward on our course — not turning aside, because the Hill Difficulty may lie before us — not turning out of the path, because it may lead through the den of lions or the fiery furnace — this is religion that approves itself to be of God.
In this, the life of Enoch affords a noble example. Noah was faithful during one hundred and twenty years. Abraham walked before God more than a hundred years.Moses, at least eighty. But of Enoch we are expressly told that he walked with God three hundred years! So long did this righteous man hold on his way — not for a few months or years, but for three full centuries did he persevere. There was no turning back, no standing still; but still did he plod along his heavenward path. His children would mark his faithfulness. His grandchildren would grow up and witness the holiness of his life. To three or four generations at least, would he be a standing monument of the power of Divine grace.
Oh, for the same grace to keep us faithful even to the end! Oh, for the spirit of the aged martyr Polycarp, "Eighty-six years have I served Christ, and He has done me nothing but good — how can I then blaspheme my Lord and Master?" He closes a long life of faithful toil by welcoming the martyr's crown. There is a sure reward, for it is written, "Be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life."
Reader, fix it in your heart, as a matter beyond all controversy, that the blessedness of such a life as I have endeavored to set before you, is great indeed.
If you walk with God, the converse will be true — God will walk with you. As your Guardian and your Guide, your Friend and Counselor — He will be near to you at all seasons. As a nursing father was accustomed to carry in his arms the helpless infant — so will He bear you through the rough places of your pilgrimage, and uphold you with His own right hand. When you have erred — He will be ready to forgive. When you have fallen — He will tenderly restore you and sprinkle afresh your soiled garments with the all-cleansing blood. At times of peculiar danger, when your foot slips — His mercy shall sustain you.
Once, climbing a mountain in Switzerland, I reached a spot so steep that I dared scarcely proceed. My guide stretched out his strong brawny arm, he grasped my hand, and I knew that I was safe. A precious promise was brought to my recollection. "I the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying unto you, Fear not, I will help you."
This life of walking with God also brings with it a calm and holy peace. Away from God — this cannot be. Conscience will be at times uneasy. While unpacified through faith in the atonement, it will often be as a gnawing, aching tooth, which gives no rest until it be gone. Earth's losses and disappointments will also be doubly felt, where there is nothing higher to fill the void which they make. Of the votaries of earth it has been truly said:
"Too surely, every setting sun
Some lost delight we mourn;
The flowers all die along our path,
Until we too die, forlorn!"
A homely comparison has often been suggested to my mind, as I have thought of those who live only for the present poor world. You may have seen an old horse, after dragging all day long the van of some traveling pedlar, turned off at night, to gather, where it can, a few mouthfuls of grass by the roadside. What is this but a picture of the votaries of this world? All their life long they toil hard in its service; then, at length, when the dark night is coming on, starving and wretched in heart, they are left where they may, to gather a little transitory comfort.
All the while, those who walk with God are being fed in the green pastures of the Good Shepherd; and even in the dark valley, they need fear no evil, for His rod and staff comfort them.
This life is also one of usefulness. What the life of Enoch may have effected — how much evil it may have checked — how much good it may have called forth, it is impossible to say. But this we may know assuredly — that the holy walk of a consistent Christian can never pass away without leaving a mark, a stamp behind it. He may be a minister of the everlasting Gospel, or he may be one of the humblest of the flock — yet, in either case, his example will be sure to tell upon those among whom he has mingled. Perhaps long after his death, thousands may through him be receiving spiritual benefit.
A wealthy tradesman in the metropolis was unwearied in doing good. As a benefactor of young men, few have equaled him. Seldom did he lose an opportunity of giving a tract, or speaking a word for Christ. In any great strait, the Committee of the London City Mission, a Society very dear to him, never appealed to him in vain. It has been estimated that he bestowed in various Christian and benevolent objects, considerably more than £100,000. Only within two or three years has George Hitchcockbeen called to rest from his abundant labors. What was one of the first steps in his Christian course? The consistent life and conduct of a banker's cleric in Exeter. When on the very brink of infidelity, it was this which persuaded him that Christianity was true.
Another similar instance may be added. A young man was speaking of his conversion. "I lived with a master for ten years," he said, "and I never knew him, but once, speak an untruth, and for this he deeply grieved. The sight of his thorough integrity was the great means to which I trace any religion I possess." So useful is the life of a godly man to others.
This life ends in everlasting glory. If we walk with God now on earth — then we shall also walk with Him in His glorious kingdom. Of Enoch it is written, "Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away." Genesis 5:24
"He was no more" here, in a world where sin stains the fairest abode, where the tear of sorrow is ever falling, where the scythe of death is never laid by, "for God took him away" to the land of rest, to the heavenly Paradise, where is found fullness of joy, and pleasures for evermore. Follow in the footsteps of this holy man, and so shall it be with you. Unless the Lord comes before your death, you may not expect to avoid the gloomy chamber of the tomb; but meanwhile, your spirit shall be with Christ. Your life now may be saddened by many an hour of bitter sorrow, but the end shall be unclouded glory!
Upon a tomb in a Scotch cemetery, a few touching lines describe the blessedness of sleeping in Jesus.
IN MEMORY OF E. P., AGE SEVENTEEN.
"Oh, lay me there!" the maiden said,
In that sweet quiet spot;
And strew with flowers my grassy bed,
To prove I'm not forgot.
"Life's brightest home is not so fair
As death's dark, dull abode;
For while my flesh is slumbering here,
My soul shall be with God!
"Oh, prize the love of Christ," she cried,
Implore the Spirit's power;
These, these alone have satisfied,
And cheered my dying hour.
"I know that grief your hearts will touch,
While you my loss deplore;
Still, farewell! Though I love you much,
I love my Savior more!"
Does the thought arise within the heart of any reader, "For me to walk with God would be impossible. Had I those around me who were so walking, I might do so — but, in my case, it would bring upon me only ridicule and opposition."
But among whom did Enoch live? He lived in one of the most ungodly periods of the world's history — and among men becoming more and more so terribly corrupt and depraved, that at length the Most High God was provoked to sweep the earth with a broom of destruction, and cut off man, whom He had created. Yet even then, possibly without a single soul as a sharer of his hopes and trials, Enoch stands forth as a devout worshiper of the living God.
If there were grace sufficient for him — then why not also for you?
It may be, however, that the cares of domestic life are your stumbling-block. Could you separate yourself from the anxieties which beset your position — could you gain more time for retirement — then you imagine that to walk with God would be less difficult.
Again would I point you to Enoch. He was no monk. He lived no solitary life. Even in that ungodly generation, he did not think it needful to shut himself up within some gloomy cavern. He did not go out of the world; but while in it, he was not of it. He was a family man. Doubtless, like yourself, he had a thousand petty cares connected with his household, weighing upon him.
"And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters." Genesis 5:22
Who shall say how much domestic anxiety, how many wearing trials, may have been wrapped up in this short epitome of his course below? Yet, for all this, he went on. He walked with God. Why may not you? The Spirit of God can effectually counteract the distracting influence of things around you. "Earthly care" may become "heavenly discipline."
Let the Christian reader strive daily to draw nearer to Him he loves, and more and more to walk with Him.
"Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:15-16. Avoid the least occasion of offence. Wherever the line of duty is doubtful, keep on the safest side, rather than on that which suits your own inclination.
"Walk humbly with your God." Take the lowest place. Covet the place of Mary. Sit down at the feet of Christ.
"Walk in love, as Christ also has loved us." Let holy charity evermore dwell in your heart. The sunshine of sincere love is the atmosphere of Heaven.
"Walk in the Spirit." Through the Spirit pray without ceasing. It was a New Year's resolve of Hannah More, "never to pass an hour without lifting up her heart to God through Christ."
Be led by the Spirit to meditate very frequently on the things of God. 
Very profitable would it be for all Christians to follow the counsel once given by Dr. Marsh to a boatman:
"Make a journey every day to three mountains:
 Go to Sinai, and see your sins.
 Go to Calvary, and behold the Lamb of God.
 Go to Zion, and view the Heavenly City."

Above all, lean your whole weight on Jesus. Depend wholly upon Him for the strength that is requisite. So shall "He keep you from falling, and present you faultless before the presence of His glory, with exceeding joy."

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