Listen to his declaration in Philippians 1:21-24: "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body." There's a place, right now, where the redeemed who have gone on are "with Christ," awaiting the glorious day to come.
Today, the promised return is drawing nearer and nearer. Why has it not happened? Why does God allow such evil things to happen in our world? 2 Peter 3:9 tells us, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."
His work is not done...
Yet the day will soon come when it will be...and opportunity will be gone. As it was in Noah's day, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever." Genesis 6:3. All heaven awaits the day when God says, "Enough! Go and bring my children home."
What a day that'll be!
Christ..."In de Mirror"?
"And they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus."
A Christian should be a striking likeness of Jesus Christ. We've read lives of Christ, beautifully and eloquently written, but the best life of Christ...is His living biography, written out in the words and actions of His people. If we were what we profess to be, and what we should be, we should be pictures of Christ; yea, such striking likenesses of Him, that the world would not have to hold us up by the hour together, and say, "Well, it seems somewhat of a likeness;" but they would, when they once beheld us, exclaim, "He's been with Jesus; he's been taught of Him; he's like Him; he has caught the very idea of the holy Man of Nazareth, and he works it out in his life and every-day actions."
A Christian should be like Christ in his boldness. Let's Never blush to own "our religion"; our profession will never disgrace us: let's take care we never disgrace that. Let's be like Jesus, very valiant for our God. Let's Imitate Him in our loving spirit; let's think kindly, speak kindly, and do kindly, that men may say of us, "He's been with Jesus." Let's imitate Jesus in His holiness. Was He zealous for His Master? So be us; let's ever go about doing good. Let not time be wasted: it's too precious. Was He self-denying...never looking to His own interest? Let's be the same. Was He devout? Let us be fervent in our prayers. Had He deference to His Father's will? So...let's submit ourselves to Him. Was He patient? Let's so learn to endure. And best of all, as the highest portraiture of Jesus, let's try to forgive our enemies, as He did; and let those sublime words of our Master, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do," always ring in our ears. Let's forgive, as we hope to be forgiven. Smile...let's heap coals of fire on the head of our foe by our kindness to him. Good for evil, recollect, is godlike. Let's be godlike, then; and in all ways and by all means, so live that all may say of us,
"They've been with Jesus."
"Thou hast left thy first love."
Surely we would remember that best and brightest of hours, when we first saw the Lord, lost our burden, received the roll of promise, rejoiced in full salvation, and went on our way in peace. It was "spring time in the soul"; the winter was past; the mutterings of Sinai's thunders were hushed; the flashings of its lightnings were no more perceived; God was beheld as reconciled; the law threatened no vengeance, justice demanded no punishment. Then the flowers appeared in our heart; hope, love, peace, and patience sprung from the sod; the hyacinth of repentance, the snowdrop of pure holiness, the crocus of golden faith, the daffodil of early love, all decked the garden of the soul. The time of the singing of birds was come, and we rejoiced with thanksgiving; we magnified the holy name of our forgiving God, and our resolve was, "Lord, I am Thine, wholly Thine; all I am, and all I have, I would devote to Thee. Thou hast bought me with Thy blood---let me spend myself and be spent in Thy service. In life and in death, let me be consecrated to Thee."
How have we kept this resolve? Our espousal love burned with a holy flame of devoutedness to Jesus---is it the same now? Might not Jesus well say to us, "I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left they first love"? Alas! it's but little we've done for our Master's glory. Our winter has lasted all too long. We're as cold as ice when we should feel a summer's glow and bloom with sacred flowers. We give to God "pennies"...when He deserveth "dollars", nay, deserveth our heart's blood to be coined in the service of His church and of His truth. But shall we continue thus?
O Lord, after You have so richly blessed us, shall we be ungrateful and become indifferent to Your good cause and work? O quicken us that we may return to our first love, and do our first works! Send us "a genial spring, O Sun of Righteousness".