Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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by George C. Clark, Sr.
“The Lord is my shepherd. . .”
“His mouth is most sweet, and he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend.”
Song of Solomon 5:16
The dearest friend we have here in this world may turn against us and become our enemy. Often our own children, whom we have reared with tenderness and care, prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name, often become traitors to our faith. The little money we have, we may lose; it flies from us, perhaps when we need it most. Our reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. Those who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us may be the first to cast the stone when misfortune settles its cloud upon our heads. The one absolutely unselfish Friend that we have in this world, the one who never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is the Friend who has promised never to leave us nor forsake us, but to stick closer than a brother. Have you met him? I am talking about God’s only begotten Son, Jesus, our Redeemer.
Yes, this Friend of whom I speak will stand by us in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. When all other friends forsake us, he remains. When riches take wing and reputation is ruined, he is as constant in his love as is the sun in its journey through the heavens.
Though parents and children forsake us,
we know this friend of the soul never will.
He follows our footsteps wherever we go.
He remains our dearest friend still.
If one is driven forth, an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, this faithful Friend asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying one, to guard against danger, to fight against one’s enemies. And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes us into its embrace, and our body begins to turn cold, no matter if all other friends pursue their own way, there by our side, this Friend and Savior of ours will be found, his ear open to our prayers, his heart, to our pleadings, faithful and true even to death.
Praise the Lord! We have “a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” He has said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” So, we may boldly say, “The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid of what man will do to me.” When we think of our friendship with Jesus, this sacred song runs through our mind:
What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O! What peace we often forfeit,
O! What needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer!
It is Jesus’ desire that our lives be free of trouble! He endured the disgrace of the whipping post that we might be healed (Isa. 53:5), and he endured the torture of the cross that we might be washed from all sin. He has also prepared a new earth for those who love him, a world “where righteousness dwells” (2Pet. 3:13), where there is no death, fear, pain, or sorrow (Rev. 21:4). Faith understands that even if misfortune comes our way, it comes only for a while and that it comes only “for our benefit, that we might partake of His holiness” (Heb. 12:10).
Many precious children of God are suffering physical or spiritual weakness, but they seem unable to make a connection with God for their healing. Yet, James was speaking to all of the saints when he wrote: “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the congregation, and let them pray for him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will heal the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up; moreover, if he have committed sins, they will be forgiven him” (5:14–15).
God freely offers to His children faith for healing and deliverance; yet, because of spiritual weaknesses, some have not learned altogether to trust Him. Still, our Friend, Jesus, patiently walks beside us, guiding our faltering steps, encouraging us to trust God to be our strength, as he did. We know that God was the strength of Israel, and as Samuel told Saul, “The strength of Israel will not lie”; therefore, we must believe Him when He says, “I am the Lord your healer” (Ex. 15:26). We may receive faith for our healing by becoming conscious of the fact that God is our strength. To have the spiritual strength to believe God for healing is a great blessing indeed.
In order to possess this needed strength, one must first possess the Author of strength; he must know Strength Himself. King David declared, “I love you, O Lord, my strength” (Ps. 18:1). Likewise, Jeremiah cried, “O Lord, my strength” (16:19). In Exodus 15:2, Moses and the children of Israel sang, “The Lord is my strength.” Amen! After failing God and sinning with Uriah’s wife, David cried aloud to God, “My strength has failed because of my sin” (Ps. 31:10). What a picture of many today! Think of the thousands of whom it can truthfully be said, “You have a reputation that you are alive, but you are dead” (Rev. 3:1). May that phrase never apply to you, my dear Reader. May you never hear the Lord speak of you as He once lamented concerning His efforts for Israel, “I have labored for nothing. I have spent my strength in vain” (Isa. 49:4).
No doubt, in the hearts of many believers today lies this statement and question of the Psalmist (43:2), “You are the God of my strength. Why have you rejected me? Why must I walk about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” Sometimes we fail to understand that trials are heaven-sent opportunities to build strength, and it is God’s will to give us strength to believe Him for our healing. He wills weakness upon none. He is our Friend. Isaiah tells us why we are oppressed of the enemy: “Because you have not remembered the Rock of your strength” (Isa. 17:10). Let us not get our minds off God and lose confidence in God’s doing for us what He has faithfully promised to do.
My dear Friend, it is God’s will to give strength to all believers for both body and soul, and He will do this for all His faithful children, those who keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. And as we look to God from day to day for His saving strength, let us ever be conscious of the fact that it is His strength we receive, and not ours, for without Him, we are less than weak; we are helpless.
The wise man tells us that “the way of the Lord is strength to the upright” (Prov. 10:29). You recall the time, my fellow believer, when you first found the Way – the day Christ came into your life and set you free from sin. How well you remember that experience! You felt well and strong in body and soul at that time. Yes, you had strength then. That same strength can be yours again, even now. Don’t let doubts hold you down! Loose your faith, and be healed. How precious to live in the strength of the Lord! Doing this will keep you well and happy.
Remember, God has said, “My strength is perfected in weakness” (2Cor. 12:9). Beloved, kneel right where you are and ask God to renew your strength, so that you may travel again in the greatness of His power. This is what you want. This is the step one must take when one finds his strength gone, and he is spiritually crippled. Oh, to learn the precious lesson of renewing our strength in the Lord! Arise from your knees now and say with our friend, David, “The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Ps. 27:1). And again David prayed, “The Lord is my strength and my shield. My heart trusted in Him, and I was helped, and my heart exults, and with my song, I give Him thanks” (Ps. 28:7).
Now, we pray for the other weak members among us, those especially who are sick and weak in faith, as the Psalmist has said, “The Lord is their strength, even the saving strength of His anointed” (28:8). Once more, let us pray with David as he labored in prayer with a burden for others after being renewed himself in the strength of the Lord, “Save your people, and bless your inheritance, and feed them, and lift them up forever!” (Ps. 28:9). Amen! May God bless you and keep you healthy and happy.
by John David Clark, Sr.
Though men mingle, yet they’re single.
In this world we age alone,
or we have the ageless Master
making of our hearts a home.
‘Til I see him light the heavens,
‘til I stand with him at length,
in the promises of Jesus
will I ever find my strength.
‘Til “the roll is called up yonder”,
‘til “the saints go marchin’ in”,
in his strength I’ll lose my weakness.
In his love I’ll lose my sin.
‘Til I live, I’ll die in Jesus.
‘Til I die, he’ll live in me.
O! How strong his loving kindness!
O! How rich his mystery!
‘Til we see the holy city,
‘til these trials we endure,
let the strength of Jesus, brothers,
keep your hearts and spirits pure.