“I have set the Lord always before me because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” “Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.” “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.”
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We are living in an age of peril, when ungodliness is common. Even professed Christians do not believe their Bibles. The truth of the word of God is too plain and pointed for them, and they say to their teachers, “Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: get ye out of the way, turn aside out of the gate, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.” They do not wish to retain the thoughts of God in their knowledge. We are now at the ebb-tide of faith in the world. Antichristian ideas, customs, and practices prevail, and they are even construed to be Christian; but that which is of most value, that which God esteems most highly, is treated with contempt. Well may the God-fearing inquire, What shall the end of these things be? Love for Christ and love for one another is fast dying out of the hearts of men.
It is true that there are some steadfast souls like Abraham, David, and Daniel, who can say, “I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” Amid the perplexities that will press upon the soul, there is only one who can help us out of all our difficulties, and relieve all our disquietude. We are to cast all our care upon Jesus, and bear in mind that he is present, and is directing us to commune with him. We are to keep our minds staid upon God; and in our weakness, he will be our strength; in our ignorance, he will be our wisdom; in our frailty, he will be our enduring might.
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We may be assured that we need not go into the heavens to bring Jesus down to us, neither into the deep to bring him up; for he is at our right hand, and his eye is ever upon us. We should ever seek to realize that the Lord is very near us, to be our counselor and guide. This is the only way in which we may have confidence toward God.
Staying Connected to Jesus
We need to educate and train the mind so that we shall have an intelligent faith, and have an understanding friendship with Jesus. Unless we continually cherish friendship between God and our souls, we shall separate from him, and walk apart from him. We shall make friends of those around us, and place our trust in humanity, and our affections will be diverted from the true object of worship. We must not allow coldness to chill our love for our Redeemer. If we have fellowship with him, we must ever set the Lord before us, and treat him as an honored Friend, giving him the first place in our affections. We should speak of his matchless charms, and constantly cultivate the desire to have a better knowledge of Jesus Christ. Then his Spirit will have a controlling power upon life and character. But how often is the Lord neglected for the society of others, and for things of no value!
Jesus says, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” “The water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water springing up unto everlasting life.” Never let amusements, or the companionship of others, come between you and Jesus, your best friend. Set the Lord always before you. When natural inclination draws you in the direction of fulfilling some selfish desire, set the Lord before you as your counselor, and ask, Will this please Jesus? Will this increase my love for my best Friend? Will this course grieve my dear Saviour? Will it separate me from his company? Will Jesus accompany me to the pleasure party, where all will be lightness and gaiety, where there will be nothing of a religious nature, nothing serious, no thought of the things of God? If Jesus sends me there as a missionary to warn some soul of his danger, then I am sure Jesus will not separate from me; but if I go simply to please myself, I cannot be sure of my Saviour’s presence. If I choose to go where Jesus cannot enter, where he cannot make his abode, where the hearts of those present are saying, “Cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us,” I choose another counselor than Jesus.
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The great aim and purpose of this life is to form characters so that we shall be accounted worthy of eternal life. We shall act as rational beings, and make religion a practical matter. We need to keep our Saviour ever before us, and educate ourselves in such a way that our desires shall continually flow out toward him, that we shall meditate upon his promises, and address him in confiding faith. Before you engage in any important work, remember that Jesus is your counselor, and that it is your privilege to cast all your care upon him; for he invites you to do so, and is at your right hand, that you shall not be moved. Each day be determined that you will keep nigh to God, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. Do not neglect and slight Jesus; for this you would not do to any of your cherished friends. Do not keep Jesus in the background and never mention his name, never call the attention of your friends to him who is at your side to be your counselor. Would not your friends look upon you as disrespectful were they at your side, and you never spoke to them or of them? “A son honoreth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honor? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts.”
Staying Close to Jesus
Many complain that Jesus seems a long way off. Who has placed him a long way off? Has it not been your own course of action that has separated you from Jesus? He has not forsaken you, but you have forsaken him for other lovers. But the Lord says, “Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the Lord our God.” “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
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Pray in faith, and trust your Saviour. Make every effort necessary to keep the channel of communication open between Christ and your soul. Seek every opportunity to be present where prayer is wont to be made, rather than to go to places where the tendency is of a character to make you forget God. We want Bible religion, practical godliness, free from all pretension and sophistry. Unless you maintain Bible religion, you will find yourself separated from Jesus Christ. By unbelief and carelessness, you break up your tender fellowship with Jesus. Why trifle so much with your heavenly Friend? Why feel at liberty to serve God at will, and to neglect his worship at pleasure? It is when you wander from his side, and are charmed with the voice of the seducer, and fasten your affections upon some trifling thing, that you are in danger of losing your peace and trust and confidence in God. Then it is that you seem to have lost your wisdom as to how to find Jesus. Then it is that Satan presents to you the thought that Jesus has forsaken you; but is it not that you have forsaken Jesus? Satan will seek still more to alienate your mind from your best Friend by his lying devices; for he wants you to deny Christ.
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You have forsaken the fountain of living waters, and have hewed you out broken cisterns that can hold no water. We dare not let his name languish on our lips, and his love and memory die out of our hearts. “Well,” says the cold, formal professor, “this is making Christ too much like a human being;” but the word of God warrants us to have these very ideas. It is the want of these practical, definite views of Christ, that hinders so many from having a genuine experience in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This is the reason that many are fearing and doubting and mourning. Their ideas of Christ and the plan of salvation are vague, dreary, and confused. If they had, like David, set the Lord ever before them, keeping him at their right hand that they should not be moved, their feet would be upon solid rock. Behold Jesus crucified for you. Behold him grieved with your sins; and when you pray, repent, and earnestly desire to see him as your sin-pardoning Redeemer, ready to bless you, and to hear your acknowledgment of him. Keep close to his side; for you need his presence with you.
The Need for Jesus
Wickedness prevails on every hand; for Satan has come down having great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time. He is a persevering, diligent, untiring worker, and if ever there was a time when men needed the presence of Christ at their right hand, it is now, so that when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. We need the Captain of our salvation continually by our side. There is, and will continue to be, agitation all around us; for the kingdoms of the world will not be at rest. Never was there a time when the temptation to deny Christ in spirit and in deportment, was stronger, and this temptation will increase in power as we near the end. Strong and overpowering temptations will come upon men. False doctrines and fables will be presented as Bible truth, for men’s acceptance; and if it were possible, they will deceive the very elect. But is it a time for our love to grow cold, when iniquity abounds? Is this a time to be at ease? Is this the time to separate from God, our Counselor?
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The end of all things is at hand. The day of God is hastening on apace. The world is full of crime and anguish and sorrow. There are calamities by land and by sea. Storm and tempest make it unsafe for us to be separated from God for one single moment. Only those who live by faith in this probationary life, will be able to stand in the day of test, when everything that can be shaken will be shaken; but they shall dwell in safety and be unmoved. The children of God must place themselves trustingly and quietly in the hands of God, and commit the keeping of their souls unto him as unto a faithful Creator. As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the Son of man. In the days of Noah, the wickedness of men reached unto heaven, and God sent Noah with a warning that he would destroy the world with a flood of water; but they had so long given themselves up to selfish and demoralizing practices, glorifying themselves, that they had put God and his claims and his honor out of sight and mind. They lived without God and without hope in the world. They mocked at Noah’s message, but their unbelief did not prevent him from proclaiming God’s words to them. They cared for none of these things; but their indifference and unbelief did not hinder the event that had been foretold. The rain descended in floods, and swept the earth clean of their moral pollution. “Even thus shall it be in the day when the son of man is revealed.”