“The year before our eyes may hold in its bosom events, which may deeply concern and affect us. We do not know what is to come. What personal trials, what family trials, what providential trials may await us — we do not know. Sickness may attack our bodies, death enter our families, difficulties beset our circumstances, trials and temptations exercise our minds, snares entangle our feet, and many dark and gloomy clouds, make our path one of heaviness and sorrow. Every year hitherto has brought its trials in its train; and how can we expect the coming year to be exempt? Knowing what we are and have been when left to ourselves — the slips that we have made, the snares that we have been entangled in, the shame and sorrow that we have procured to ourselves — well may we dread to go forth in the coming year alone. Well may we say, “If Your Presence does not go with us — do not send us up from here (Ex. 33:15).”” ~ J.C. Philpot
If last Saturday taught us anything, it taught us that we live in a world of uncertainty. Sorrow seems to follow us everywhere we go, and tragedy can strike at any moment. Who or what are you trusting in for 2011? Where does your heart abide?The Psalmist said, "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty" (Ps. 91:1).It is human nature, it seems to run to the wrong comforters. We think drugs and alcohol or sex will deaden the pain. We judge and critique others to elevate ourselves. We find sufficiency in our own strength and wisdom. Our hearts are “desperately wicked”; we are self-righteous in all we do.The great Puritan, Thomas Brooks, once said, "Every thing that a man leans upon but God, will be a dart that will certainly pierce his heart through and through. He who leans only upon Christ lives the highest, choicest, safest, and sweetest life."We are commanded to abide in Christ. Jesus said, "Abide in Me, and I in you" (Jn. 15:4).There are serious consequences for failing to abide. Jesus again said, "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned" (Jn. 15:6).Why would we not want to abide? Why do we wish to dry up spiritually, lose our assurance and shipwreck our faith (Jn. 15:6; 1 Jn. 2:24-25)? Why do we think it a burden to surrender to the One who loves us so much? Why are we content to live in sin when we have been set free? Why do we want our own hopes and our own dreams and not the perfection of God’s? Why do we continue life in the grip of Satan and thereby allow bitterness, emptiness and discontent to rule in our hearts?The answer is deception.
Instead of believing absolute surrender will bring us joy, we think absolute surrender will steal our joy. We reason to ourselves, "If I give God all of my heart, He might call me to give more money. He might send me to the mission field in Africa. He might even have the audacity to reveal unchecked sin in my life. I know the Word says He will provide ‘joy inexpressible’ (1 Pet. 1:8), but I think following my ways are better." Translation: "I don’t trust you, God!"Partial surrender is no surrender at all. God is too glorious to settle for half of your heart. Grace does not desire your comfort; it demands your heart! But...the good news about grace is that God desires our sanctification more than we do. The cross is a reminder that we constantly blow it. The Word is our reminder that God is eager to extend mercy and bring restoration. He is our strength. “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” Stop trying and start abiding.Love in the Truth.