“Take courage! It is I–do not be afraid!” Mark 6:50
Jesus lives! His people may dispel their misgivings–for Omnipotence treads the waves! To sense it may seem at times to be otherwise–accident and chance may appear to regulate human allotments; but not so! “The Lord’s voice is upon the waters!” He sits at the helm, guiding the tempest-tossed bark–and guiding it well.
How often does He come to us as He did to the disciples in that midnight hour, when all seems lost, “in the fourth watch of the night”–when we least looked for Him; or when, like the shipwrecked apostle, “When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved!” How often just at that moment, is the word of Jesus heard floating over the billows, “Take courage! It is I–do not be afraid!”
Believer, are you in trouble? Listen to the voice in the storm, “It is I–do not be afraid!” He seems to say: “It was I who roused the storm! It is I who when it has done its work, will calm it, and say, ‘Peace, be still.’ Every wave rolls at My bidding–every trial is My appointment–all have some gracious end; they are not sent to dash you against the sunken rocks–but to waft you nearer to Heaven!”
Is it sickness? “I am He who ordained your sicknesses! The weary wasted frame, and the nights of languishing–were sent by Me!”
Is it bereavement? “I am the Brother born for adversity! Your loved and lost were plucked away by Me!”
Is it death? “I am the ‘Abolisher of death,’ seated by your side to calm the waves of ebbing life! It is I–about to fetch My pilgrim home. It is My voice that speaks: The Master has come–and calls for you!”
Reader, you will have reason yet to praise your God for every such storm! This is the history of every heavenly voyager, “SO He brings them to their desired haven.”
And what, then, should your attitude be? “Looking unto Jesus!” Looking away from self, and sin, and human props, and earthly refuges and confidences–and fixing the eye of unwavering and unflinching faith on a reigning Savior! Ah, how a real quickening sight of Christ–dispels all guilty fears! “Take courage! It is I–do not be afraid!”
John MacDuff, The Words of Jesus
“He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” John 8:12
How easy it is to read these words, but how difficult it is to put them truly into practice! It is much, very much, to be thankful for if the Holy Spirit has wrought a real desire in the heart of the reader to “follow” Christ — for such a desire surely cannot be within multitudes of those who bear His name and with their lips sing His praises. Daily does the Christian need to beseech God to strengthen this desire, until it actually becomes the uppermost longing of his soul and the dominant purpose of his life.
It is much, very much, to be thankful for when the Holy Spirit makes us to realize that, of ourselves, we are unable to carry out that desire and “follow” Christ. As He Himself tells us, “Without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). This fact ought deeply to humble us as we are made to feel our inability to do that which is right, and should forever remove all pride and boasting from us. We are apt to think that this inability is merely a “weakness” or lack of strength. But in reality, it is sin within us, the “flesh,” that awful and depraved nature with which we were born into this world. “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom 8:7).
While that “enmity” receives its death-blow at regeneration, it is not altogether dead in the Christian. At times, the remainder of this “enmity” slumbers, and Satan seeks to delude us into thinking it is completely slain, thus taking us off our guard. No, the “flesh” remains in us to the end of our earthly course, and its unchanging tendency is to draw us away from “following” Christ. How this should make us “abhor” ourselves (Job 42:6) — that there is that in us, that which is part and parcel of our very being, which is opposed to Christ!
Now, to “follow” Christ is to take His “yoke” upon us (Mat 11:29). It is to enlist under the banner of the “Captain” of our salvation. It is to yield completely to His lordship. It is to obey His commandments, and thus truly serve Him. It is to seek and do only those things which are pleasing in His sight.
For this, divine strength is needed. “Draw me” (Song 1:4) must be our daily prayer. Only as we “receive” from His fullness (John 1:16) are we enabled to follow “the example” which He has left us. As we are thus enabled to “follow” Him, we shall “not walk in darkness”(1 John 1:6). No, we shall be in fellowship with Him who is “the true light.”
Nor must we be dismayed because we do not fully enter into this blessed experience all at once, “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shines more and more unto the perfect day” (Pro 4:18). The way to get more strength and light is to use what has already been given us. To “follow” Christ is to tread the path of divine blessing. True, it is a narrow path, and oftentimes a lonesome one, for “few” (Mat 7:14) there are who tread it. It is sometimes a rough and thorny path — yet God has provided shoes for our feet (Luke 15:22; Eph 6:15). Yet it is also a most blessed path. It is there we enjoy the Lord’s accompanying presence. It is there we are favored with the rich compensations given to those who turn their backs on self-pleasing and the world.
an article by A. W. Pink
God knoweth the need of my life
For shelter and raiment and food;
In each trifling care of the day
The word of His promise is good;
He knoweth my thought from afar,
The wish that I never have told,
And every unspoken desire
His wisdom doth grant or withhold.
He knoweth the way that I take;
Each step of that way He hath planned;
And, walking through sunshine or storm,
I walk in the shade of His hand.
In deserts untrodden and drear,
Where foes in the darkness may hide,
He leaveth me never alone;
He sendeth me light and a guide.
God knoweth the need of my soul,
The trial that calls for His grace,
The weakness that leans on His strength,
The fear that looks up to His face.
He knoweth what sifting is best
To scatter the chaff from the wheat
And lay all my self-righteous pride
Low down in the dust at His feet.
He knoweth me—yet He can love,
Can wait with love’s patience divine,
My stubborn and arrogant heart
Its will to His own to resign;
He knoweth my frame is but dust;
He knoweth how much it can bear;
I rest in that knowledge supreme;
I trust in His power and care.
A hymnal by Annie Johnson Flint
Lord God Almighty, Father of mercies, screened from all evil by Your gracious providence–we come to encircle You with grateful praise.
We bless You that at every moment the throne of grace has been open, and that the scepter of Your love has been extended to us. Pardon us that our prayers have been so few, so poor, so feeble. While You are always ready to hear, and inviting us to close communion, our souls abide amid trifles, and dally with vain follies. We grovel on earth, when we might ascend through prayer, to Heaven and You. Pity us, good Lord. You know of what we are made. You remember that we are dust. O God, make speed to save us. O Lord, make haste to help us.
We come not in our own name, seeking Your compassionate grace. We bring the name of Your dear Son before You in the arms of our faith. In whatever we have robbed You of obedience, we offer His blood to pay the debt. Impute to our account:
His worthiness, for our unworthiness;
His sinlessness, for our sinfulness;
His purity, for our impurity;
His sincerity, for our deceit;
His truth, for our lies;
His meekness, for our pride;
His steadfastness, for our backslidings;
His love, for our enmity;
His fullness, for our emptiness;
His glory, for our shame;
His perfect obedience, for our incessant disobedience;
His beauty, for our deformity;
His devotedness to Your will, for our waywardness;
His holy life, for our unholy ways;
His perfect righteousness, for our manifold unrighteousnesses.
We hide ourselves in Him. We flee unto Him as our sure city of refuge. We know that in Him, we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of all our sins. We rejoice that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Thus we cry, “Abba, Father!” in the name of Jesus, and retire to rest in peace.
Henry Law, Family Prayers
He Giveth More Grace
He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!
a hymn by Annie Johnson Flint