These words contain God's command to the believer...when he's reduced to great straits and brought into extraordinary difficulties. He can't retreat; he can't go forward; he's shut up on the right hand and on the left; what's he now to do? The Master's word to him is, "Stand still." It'll be well for him if at such times he listens only to his Master's word, for other and evil advisers come with their suggestions.
Despair whispers, "Lie down and die; give it all up." But God would have us put on a cheerful courage, and even in our worst times, rejoice in His love and faithfulness.
Cowardice says, "Retreat; go back to the worldling's way of action; you can't play the Christian's part, it's too difficult. Relinquish your principles." But, however much Satan may urge this course upon us, we can't follow it if we're a child of God. His divine fiat has bid us go from strength to strength, and so thou shalt, and neither death nor hell shall turn thee from thy course.!
What, if for a while we're called to stand still, yet this is but to renew our strength for some greater advance in due time.
Precipitancy cries, "do something. Stir yourself; to stand still and wait, is sheer idleness." We must be doing something at once---we must do it so we think---instead of looking to the Lord, who'll not only do something but will do everything.
Presumption boasts, "If the sea be before you, march into it and expect a miracle." But Faith listens neither to Presumption, nor to Despair, nor to Cowardice, nor to Precipitancy, but it hears God say, "Stand still," and immovable as a rock it stands. "Stand still";---keep the posture of an upright man, ready for action, expecting further orders, cheerfully and patiently awaiting the directing voice; and it won't be long ere God shall say to us, as distinctly as Moses said it to the people of Israel, "Go forward."
"He left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out."
In contending with certain sins, there remains no mode of victory but by flight. The ancient naturalists wrote much of basilisks, whose eyes fascinated their victims and rendered them easy victims; so the mere "gaze of wickedness" puts us in solemn danger. He who would be safe from acts of evil must haste away from occasions of it. A covenant must be made with our eyes not even to look upon the cause of temptation, for such sins only need a spark to begin with and a blaze follows in an instant. Who would wantonly enter the leper's prison and sleep amid its horrible corruption? He only who desires to be leprous himself would thus court contagion. If the mariner knew how to avoid a storm, he'd do anything rather than run the risk of weathering it. Cautious pilots have no desire to try how near the quicksand they can sail, or how often they may touch a rock without springing a leak; their aim is to keep as nearly as possible in the midst of a safe channel.
This day, we may be exposed to great peril, let's have the serpent's wisdom to keep out of it and avoid it. The wings of a dove may be of more use to us today than the jaws of a lion.
It's true we may be an apparent loser by declining evil company, but we'd better leave our cloak than lose our character; it's not needful that we should be rich, but it's imperative upon us to be pure. No ties of friendship, no chains of beauty, no flashings of talent, no shafts of ridicule must turn us from the wise resolve to flee from sin. The devil, I'm to resist and he'll flee from me, but the lusts of the flesh, we must flee, or they'll surely overcome us. O God of holiness, preserve thy Josephs, that "Madam Bubble" bewitch them not with her vile suggestions.
May the horrible trinity of the world, the flesh, and the devil, never overcome us!
The Means of the Great Shepherd
"In their affliction they will seek Me early."
Losses and adversities are frequently the means which the great Shepherd uses to fetch home His wandering sheep; like fierce dogs they worry the wanderers back to the fold. There's no making lions tame if they're too well fed; they must be brought down from their great strength, and their stomachs must be lowered, and then they'll submit to the tamer's hand; and often have we seen the Christian rendered obedient to the Lord's will by straitness of bread and hard labor. When rich and increased in goods many professors carry their heads much too loftily, and speak exceeding boastfully. Like David, they flatter themselves, "My mountain standeth fast; I shall never be moved." When the Christian groweth wealthy, is in good repute, hath good health, and a happy family, he too often admits "Mr. Carnal Security" to feast at his table, and then, if he's a true child of God there's a rod preparing for him. Wait awhile, and it may be you'll see his substance melt away as a dream.!
There goes a portion of his estate---how soon the acres change hands. That debt, that dishonored bill---how fast his losses roll in, where will they end? It's a blessed sign of divine life if when these embarrassments occur one after another, he begins to be distressed about his backslidings, and betakes himself to his God. Blessed are the waves that wash the mariner upon the rock of salvation! Losses in business are often sanctified to our soul's enriching. If the chosen soul won't come to the Lord full-handed, it'll come empty. If God, in His grace, findeth no other means of making us honor Him among men, He'll cast us into the deep; if we fail to honor Him on "the pinnacle of riches", He'll bring us into the valley of poverty. Yet let's faint not, when an heir of sorrow, when we're thus rebuked, rather let's recognize the loving hand which chastens, and say, "I will arise, and go unto my Father."