1. Protection of Grace.
(Job 1:10 [KJV]) Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
God protects His people
- That the protection God gives to His people and servants is the vexation of Satan, and of all his instruments.
- That Satan, the father of lies, sometimes speaks truth for his own advantage.
- That the people and servants of God dwell in the midst of enemies, in the midst of dangers.
- That God Himself doth undertake the guarding and protecting of His people.
- You see how far the hedge goeth, not only about his person and household, but about all that he hath. His meanest thing was hedged about.
2. Pathway of Grace.
Exodus 13:18 (KJV) But God led the people about, [through] the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt.
- God does not order salvation to His as it pleaseth man, but as it pleaseth Himself.
- God in wisdom sometimes translates His Church from the house of bondage to a wilderness.
- Wilderness and Red Sea paths, are the way of God’s people here below.
- God makes the way to rest not always straight, but to be about.
- Israel, or God’s people, go the round that God doth lead them.
- Orderly and well instructed are the Church’s motions under God in wilderness-ways.
3. Discipline of Grace.
Deuteronomy 32:10 (KJV) He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.
The goodness of God to Israel
I. The state in which God finds His servants. “In a desert land, in the waste howling wilderness.”
- Their condition, therefore, if viewed as a picture of the original condition of man, teaches us that the people of God were by nature at a great distance from Him. The enemies of God by Wicked works; the willing slaves of Satan; tied and bound with the chain of a thousand lusts; with all their affections fixed on sin, and all their desires turned from God–how shall they find Him, how approach Him?
- A desolate condition. Let us look back to the days that are past. We imagined that we had need of nothing, but what was our real condition? We were wretched and miserable, poor and naked, ready to perish. The world appeared fair before us; it promised us much, and we were willing to credit it. Fools that we were, we tried it; but what could it do for us? It gave us, among its briars and thorns, a few flowers to amuse us, but it left us starving for want. It brought us no pardon for our guilt, no peace for an accusing conscience, no deliverance from the grave, no refuge from hell. It left us destitute, forlorn, and wretched.
- A state of danger. The territory of an enemy.
II. In what manner the Lord acts towards His people amid their wretchedness and dangers. “As an eagle,” etc. This beautiful similitude strikingly illustrates the tenderness with which the Almighty led Israel from Egypt to Canaan, and the loving kindness which He still manifests towards all who seek Him in the wilderness of this world. It shows us what He does for them, and how He does it.
- It shows us what God does for His people. It tells us that He afflicts them, guides them, and preserves them.
- But in what manner does the Lord thus afflict, guide, and defend His servants? He exercises His mercy towards them constantly, patiently, with delight.
4. Diligence of Grace.
Luke 2:49 (KJV) And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?
Christ about His Father’s business
I. NOTE THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST,
It was a spirit of undivided consecration to the will of God His Father. It was a spirit urged onward by an absolute necessity to serve God. “Wist yet not that I must?” There is a something in Me which prevents Me from doing other work. I feel an all-controlling, overwhelming influence which constrains Me at all times and in every place to be about My Father’s business; the spirit of high, holy, entire, sincere, determined consecration in heart to God.
1. What was the impelling power which made Christ say this?
- The spirit of obedience which thoroughly possessed itself of His bosom.
- A sacred will to the work which He had undertaken.
- He had a vow upon Him–the vow to do the work from all eternity.
2. What was His Father’s business?
- To send into the world a perfect example for our imitation.
- The establishment of a new dispensation.
- The great work of expiation.
II. IMITATE THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST.
Be about your Father’s business with all earnestness, because that is the way of usefulness. You cannot do your own business and God’s too. You cannot serve God and self any more than you can serve God and mammon. If you make your own business God’s business, you will do your business well, and you will be useful in your day and generation. Again, would you be happy? Be about your Father’s business. Oh, it is a sweet employment to serve your Father.
5. Direction of Grace.
Luke 12:35 (KJV) Let your loins be girded about, and [your] lights burning;
The girdle: The girdle seems to have been intended for three purposes.
- To bind the garments, which were of a loose and flowing description, and which would have hindered the warrior.
- To give support to the loins, amid the fatigues of war or toil.
- To defend the heart, etc. Toe military girdle was especially designed for this.
I. The nature and importance of the girdle.
Now observe, it is “truth” which is recommended.
- There must be doctrinal truth in the understanding and judgment, in opposition to error.
- There is the experimental truth of the gospel, in opposition to mere formality in religion.
- There is the truth of profession in opposition to temporizing neutrality.
- There is the truth of sincerity, in opposition to guile and dissimulation.
II. Let us consider the means necessary to be employed in carrying out the recommendation of the text. If we would have our loins girt, etc.–
- Let us take care to be enriched with the truths of God’s holy Word
- Let us keep prominently before us the Divine model of truth.
- We must pray for the constant aid of the Spirit of truth.
6. Life of Grace.
2 Corinthians 4:10 (KJV) Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
Bearing about the dying of Christ
The first and literal meaning of these words is that Paul and his friends were in daily peril of such a death as Christ’s was, and that their trials left sorrowful trace upon form and feature. It is not so that we are called to be “conformable to the death” of our Redeemer. The days of martyrdom are gone. There are those who think to exemplify the text by bearing about with them the material representation of the Redeemer’s death–the crucifix. Ah! you may do that, and yet be hundreds of miles away from any compliance with the spirit of the text. Our Lord requires of us the devotion of the heart; it is spiritually that we are to bear about our Saviour’s dying.
I. We may bear about the memory of it.
1. Nothing can be more plain than that we ought never to forget our Redeemer’s death. When some one very near to you died, even after the first shock was past, and you could once more with some measure of calmness set yourself to your common duties again, did you not still feel, in the greater sympathy with the sorrows of others, in the quieter mood, that you had not quite got over your trial, that you were still bearing about with you the dying of the dear one that was gone?
2. The remembrance of our Lord’s death should influence all our views and doings. The kind mother who wore out her life in toiling for her child might well think that the child might sometimes come and stand by her grave, and remember her living kindness and her dying words when she was far away. And oh! when we think what our Saviour Christ has done for us by His dying–when we think that every hope, every blessing, was won for us by that great sacrifice–surely we might well determine that we never shall live as if that death had never been! You hear people say–truly enough, perhaps–that this world has never been the same to them since such a loved one died–that their whole life has been changed since then. It is sad to see a Christian living in such a fashion as to show plainly that he has quite forgot how his Redeemer died!
(1) When we think of sin, let us see it in the light of Christ’s death, and hate it because it nailed Him to the tree.
(2) Or is it suffering and sorrow that come to us, and are we ready to repine and to rebel? Then let us call to mind the dying of our Redeemer, and it will not seem so hard that the servant should fare no better than the Master.
(3) Or are we pressed with the sense of our sinfulness and the fear of God’s wrath for sin? Then let us remember how Jesus died for us, the just for the unjust–how His blood can take all sin away.
II. We may show in our daily life its transforming power. Our whole life, changed and affected in its every deed by the fact that Christ died, may be a standing testimony that there is a real power to affect the character in the death of the Saviour; and thus we may, in a very true and solemn sense, be always bearing about with us His death by bearing about with us a soul which is what it is mainly because He died.
1. When in the view of the Cross we see how bitterly and mysteriously evil and ruinous sin is, surely the practical lesson is plain that we should resolutely tread it down, and earnestly seek for deliverance from the curse of that fearful thing which brought such unutterable agony upon our Redeemer, and constantly pray for that blessed Spirit who will breathe new life into every good resolution, and vivify into sunlight clearness every sound and true belief.
2. When sorrow and suffering come, think of them as in the presence of the Redeemer’s death, and you will learn the lesson of practical resignation.
3. And in days of fear and anxiety, when you do not know how it will go with you, look to Jesus on the Cross, and learn the lesson of practical confidence in God’s disposing love and wisdom.
4. And, to sum up all, let us daily bear about His dying by dying to sin and living to holiness. That is the grand conformity which is open to all of us–that is the fashion in which we may be “crucified with Christ.” Conclusion: “Always.” Yes, always bear it; never lay that burden down. Always bear it; not in sourness–not in that hard, severe type of religion which we may see in some mistaken and narrow-hearted believers. Bear it in humility, kindness, charity, hopefulness, and cheerfulness.
7. Aim of Grace.
Acts 10:38 (KJV) How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
The Christian’s encouragement to seek and do good
I. Illustrate the view of Christ’s character given in the text.
- The kind of good which He dispensed.
- The extent of good which He thus dispensed.
- The great diligence which He exercised in doing good.
- The spirit of compassion with which He did all this good.
- The unwearied patience and perseverance with which He continued to do good.
- You are thus instructed and encouraged to seek good from Christ.
- You are thus instructed and engaged to do good as Christ did. The shortest description and the surest mark of every true Christian is this, to be a doer of good.