He is the Lord our Peace! How reassuring to know and experience the presence of His peace. A few weeks ago, we posted a small message on "patience," and the working of it in our lives. After the festivities of this season have passed, the analysis of this great virtue operating smoothly in my own life has proven to come up a bit short. Isn't this like all other areas of Christian character, a venue in which we must rely upon the grace of the Redeemer to work the necessary improvements designed by Him for His purpose?
The account of the past few days has once again proven true to the Word of the Lord. We certainly devise our plans, but it is the Lord Who directs our path. (ref. Prov. 16:9) You may feel that you've formulated all the best plans, being careful to dot all the "i"s and cross all the "t"s. However, your plans may, in fact, become laced at any moment with the uncalculated circumstances of life. It is often in these moments that the extent of the development of His character in the life of the believer will reveal itself most.
It may be Christmas Eve in the wee hours of the morning. Your crock pots may be full with early morning plans for preparing a feast for 20 people. Your eight granddaughters may be preparing to spend a few days with you after this feast. But, your husband may writhe in pain in these wee hours of this morning with an acute attack of diverticulitis. (a flare up he hasn't had for 2 years now). What are the odds that this would occur at such a time? Likely, a part of providence. Surely there is an enemy among us wreaking all the havoc he can muster. Yet, regardless of authorship, there's no denying, we have an issue. It didn't go away all at once either. Do we go to the ER, or do we wait?
We waited and prayed. Full morning daylight did shine after a very sleepless night for us. My husband improved and ate lightly. He is much improved now and even better in some sense than before the attack came. However, patience and anxiety were at odds during this time. But, Jehovah Shalom, our peace was always the same. Peace is there, and faithful. We must rest in the provision of this peace.
Praise belongs to the Lord our deliverer! It is He Who never leaves nor forsakes us. When the well made plans fail to come to fruition, trust the all sufficient One with the direction of your steps. Though we often may falter, He is always faithful.
Glory to the God of our Peace, Jehovah Shalom,
"A precious Friend"
Who is a precious friend? Do you have any? Are you one? As defined by Mr. Webster in 1828 a friend is:
FRIEND, n. frend.
1. One who is attached to another by affection; one who entertains for another sentiments of esteem, respect and affection, which lead him to desire his company, and to seek to promote his happiness and prosperity; opposed to foe or enemy.
Facebook has to some extent redefined what it means to be a friend. A friend as Mr. Webster defined it is truly precious, and rare. The Apostle Paul had such a person in Saint Luke. We read in II Timothy 4:10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.
2Ti 4:11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.
Yet, in the Providence of God, He has chosen to preserve a record of certain lives in History that we may see His work of Grace in the lives of men, both to His Glory, and that we may believe and trust His Grace in our own lives and recognize it in the lives of others that we may Praise Him for the Wonder He is.
McCheyne's life was a very short one, but a powerful yet ordinary life and a friend captured it in writing that we may now rejoice in. He was a local pastor in Dundee, Scotland, who died in 1843 at the age of 29. He was a local pastor who served his church for six years and then died of Typhus fever and was buried in his own church yard. In Php 3:17 we are instructed "Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample." In God's Providence, McCheyne has been marked for us as such an example to follow. A long and fruitful life is truly a glorious thing, yet McCheyne demonstrates for us that God's Grace in doing great things are not limited to the length of our lives. If we have come to Christ in our later years, O how marvelous is the working of the Grace of God to us. If God has chosen in His Providence to give us Grace in the end of our lives and we have but a few years left, O the wonder, it is the Lords work and it is marvelous in our eyes.
Quoting from John Piper in his article (He touched the Rose and Felt the Thorn), McCheyne stated, "I indulged in all the amusing and beautiful pleasures of the world, and didn't give a thought to sickness and suffering and death." That's what he meant when he said, "I kissed the Rose nor thought about the thorn." But after his conversion, he spoke often of Jesus as his Rose of Sharon, and he lived in almost constant awareness of the thorn of his sickness and that his time might be short. He said in one of his sermons, "Set not your heart on the flowers of this world; for they have all a canker in them. Prize the Rose of Sharon . . . more than all; for he changeth not. Live nearer to Christ than to the saints, so that when they are taken from you, you may have him to lean on still."
Piper continues saying of McCheyne, "The point of the subtitle ("Living and Dying in the Morning of Life") is to underline the second part of this title. He lived only the morning of his life. Most of us live a morning, a noon, and an evening of life. But McCheyne died before he was 30. My argument is that his effectiveness was not frustrated by this fact but empowered by it. Because of his tuberculosis, he lived with the strong sense that he would die early. This was a huge factor in his powerful usefulness."
I see the point Bro. Piper is making, but another view is available, McCheyne life could be viewed as a long and fruitful life condensed down into less than 30 short years for us to observe. God's Providence is such an amazing thing, how and when it touches our lives. We all come to these moments that turn us one way or the other. The death of a love one, though so tragic, yet in the Providence of God a glorious thing. After losing a beloved brother, McCheyne would write, "On this morning last year came the first overwhelming blow to my worldliness; how blessed to me, Thou O God, only knowest, who hast made it so." Eleven years later on the anniversary, he wrote, "This day, eleven years ago, I lost my loved and loving brother, and began to seek a Brother who cannot die." Though an emotionally heart-wrenching death a glorious work of the soul begins.
So let us not detest the difficult things of our lives, they are but a story told of you and me, and the precious Hand of Providence that guides us were we must be. We must look for His Grace, it is our only hope, with it we are brought to life, without it we sink in destruction and Hell. So here is the story of his conversion as he told it in a poem. The poem holds true in his life and in his death. Perhaps he did not know how his life would go, yet in the mind of God it was written from all eternity, and from his heart comes forth words prophetic to his life, a reflection of his heart so sure.
Jehovah Tsidkenu, by Robert Murray McCheyne
"The Lord Our Righteousness" The watchword of the Reformers
I once was a stranger to grace and to God,
I knew not my danger, and felt not my load;
Though friends spoke in rapture of Christ on the tree,
Jehovah Tsidkenu was nothing to me.
I oft read with pleasure, to soothe or engage,
Isaiah's wild measure and John's simple page;
But e'en when they pictured the blood-sprinkled tree
Jehovah Tsidkenu seemed nothing to me.
Like tears from the daughters of Zion that roll,
I wept when the waters went over His soul;
Yet thought not that my sins had nailed to the tree
Jehovah Tsidkenu—'twas nothing to me.
When free grace awoke me, by light from on high,
Then legal fears shook me, I trembled to die;
No refuge, no safety in self could I see—
Jehovah Tsidkenu my Savior must be.
My terrors all vanished before the sweet name;
My guilty fears banished, with boldness I came
To drink at the fountain, life-giving and free—
Jehovah Tsidkenu is all things to me.
Jehovah Tsidkenu! my treasure and boast,
Jehovah Tsidkenu! I ne'er can be lost;
In thee I shall conquer by flood and by field—
My cable, my anchor, my breastplate and shield!
Even treading the valley, the shadow of death,
This "watchword" shall rally my faltering breath;
For while from life's fever my God sets me free,
Jehovah Tsidkenu my death-song shall be.
May the Grace of God be upon each of you,