Tuesday, May 19, 2015

TAKE, TAKE, TAKE!

Chapter 6: TAKE! TAKE! TAKE! God waits to bless us, and to give us the very game power today as they had in the upper room on the day of Pentecost, but we must learn now to take that power. I want to speak, therefore, from the word you shall find in Isaiah 33, beginning with Isa 33:20: “Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken. But there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby. For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; He will save US. “Thy tacklings are loosed; they could not well strengthen their mast, they could not spread the sail: then is the prey of a great spoil divided: the lame take the prey.” “The lame take the prey.” If lame people can take it, anybody can. What a remarkable expression! It first struck me in Charles Wesley’s noble hymn, perhaps the finest hymn in our mother-tongue, which begins: “Come, O, thou traveller unknown, Whom still I hold, but cannot see! My company before is gone, And I am left alone with thee. With thee all night I mean to stay, And wrestle till the break of day. In vain thou strugglest to get free; I never will unloose my hold. Art Thou the man that died for me? The secret of Thy love unfold. Wrestling, I will not let thee go Till I Thy name, Thy nature know.” The last stanza is as follows: “Lame as I am, I take the prey; Sin, fear and death with ease o’ercome; I shout for joy, pursue my way, And like a bounding hart fly home, Through all eternity to prove Thy nature and Thy name is love.” “Lame as I am, I take the prey.” Now it is not like that in ordinary life. Usually when people are lame they miss, they do not take. If a man is lame in arithmetic, and cannot add up a column of figures correctly; if he is lame in his memory, and cannot recall names and faces; if he cannot distinguish between two sorts of fabrics; if he be lame in body or mind, he gets pushed aside in the rush of other men as they press past him and take what is to be had, while he comes in second or third best. But God says lame people come off best with Him. There is therefore GOOD HOPE FOR YOU AND ME.

“Lame as I am, I take the prey.” Now it is not like that in ordinary life. Usually when people are lame they miss, they do not take. If a man is lame in arithmetic, and cannot add up a column of figures correctly; if he is lame in his memory, and cannot recall names and faces; if he cannot distinguish between two sorts of fabrics; if he be lame in body or mind, he gets pushed aside in the rush of other men as they press past him and take what is to be had, while he comes in second or third best. But God says lame people come off best with Him. There is therefore GOOD HOPE FOR YOU AND ME. I saw something like this once in a farm-house. A basket of apples came in. The large family of children began to help themselves to its contents as soon as it appeared, all but one little lad with a pale face, Jimmy, who stood against the wall, leaning on his crutch. The mother, a bustling woman, came in, saw what the children were doing, and said; “Now, children, put all those apples back, every one of them.” The children obeyed. Then she said: “Now, Jimmy, you go and take your pick, my boy.” And Jimmy came on his crutches into the midst of his brothers and sisters, and helped himself to the juiciest of all those apples. I saw then that under the protecting care of the mother’s love, as well as under God’s love, the lame take the prey. I remember also how poor Thomas was lame in his faith, and lingered just a week behind the other disciples; but Jesus came all the way from heaven on purpose to show him His hands and His side. Lame Thomas took the prey that day. There are people who have always been lame. Whenever there was a blessing to be had, they missed it. Whenever the pool of Bethesda was stirred, they got there only in time to see another go forth healed. Whenever there was a revival, some friend of theirs got the blessing, but they lost it. I want to show you now that those who have been the lamest of the lame may take God’s best. We often labor under the impression that God’s best gifts are placed so high on the shelf that only those who have become mature and good can reach them, when the fact is that He puts His best gifts on the lowest shelf against the ground, so that we have to bend our stiff backs to get down to them. Today God’s very best gifts are waiting to be taken. My heart beats high within me because we may appropriate things which kings and prophets heard but did not see, but which are within the reach of the lamest today. How Isaiah came to say such a thing, But perhaps I ought to explain how Isaiah came to say such a thing, because we never should take the Word of God out of its connection to suit our purpose. When it was being written, Sennacherib, with two hundred thousand of the fiercest soldiers that ever drew sword, was crossing the frontier of Palestine and making his way to the doomed city of Jerusalem. To use his own words, he thought he would be able to rifle its treasures as easily as a boy might steal eggs from a nest in spring.

You can almost hear in the earlier verses of the 33rd chapter of Isaiah the scream of the cypress trees and the sigh of the cedars of Lebanon as they were felled to fill crevasses and make a roadway for the troops. The inhabitants left their homesteads, their vineyards, and their olive-yards, and fled for refuge to the larger towns, whilst all who lived in the neighborhood of Jerusalem crowded into that city. I suppose it would ordinarily hold about twenty thousand people, but at this time probably twice that number were crowded within the walls. Asses and camels were stabled in the streets, household goods were piled up in the courts, and all the steep houses were filled from top to bottom with fugitives. Provisions began to run short, and there was not water enough for supplying their needs. Everybody waited with anxiety the moment when Sennacherib with his two hundred thousand soldiers should arrive. Hezekiah tried to stop him coming; he sent a bribe to stay him; but Sennacherib took the gold, ridiculed the king, and still marched on. One day, when the people woke up and looked out over the walls, they saw the brown tents of Sennacherib’s army encompassing them on every side. They could hear the bugle-call, and seethe scarlet coats of the Assyrian soldiers. Then men looked at their wives, and vowed they would take their lives with their own hands, rather than let them fall into the hands of those soldiers; and the women looked upon their little babes, and determined to slay with their own hands rather than to see them tossed from spear-point to spear-point to amuse those barbarous invaders. It was an awful condition. When English soldiers were shut in at Lucknow, with thousands of mutinous Sepoys surrounding them, they knew that England was sending reinforcements by every steamship. But Jerusalem had no such hope. She knew that if she fell, the people, of Egypt and the land of Moab would be only too glad. Her condition seemed hopeless. The one man who kept a level head was Isaiah, and Isaiah said: “The Lord is responsible. The Lord is our judge. The Lord is our lawgiver. The Lord is our King. He will save us. He will save us so effectively that though the people of Jerusalem seem as powerless as a lame man, yet shall they get the spoils of yonder tents, so that what seems to be hopeless in our condition today is the very best thing that ever happened. We shall acquire the riches of Sennacherib’s soldiers. The lame shall take the prey.” Before we can take the prey, however, we must be quite sure that we have RUN UP THE ROYAL STANDARD and taken Jesus Christ to be Savior, King, Judge, and Lawgiver. I press that upon you, because I know that in my own life, God forgive me!, it was many, many years after my conversion, and several years after I had entered the ministry, before I took Christ to be my Judge, Lawgiver, and King. It was a very memorable night in my life when I knelt before Christ and gave myself definitely to Him, and committed the keys of my heart and life to His hands. Then I knew I was His, and that He was mine; and though I had no joy, no emotion, no ecstasy, I had a blessed feeling in my heart that I had but one Lord, one will, one purpose in all my life and for all coming time, that Jesus was my Judge in doubtful things, my Lawgiver for the remainder of my life, my King, my King, my KING, for whom henceforth my life was to be spent. Have you come to that? If you have never done it before, kneel down alone, and say: “Jesus Christ, thou hast been my Savior from hell for many years, but now I yield to Thee everything I have. Thou shalt be King. Thy will shall be supreme. No longer shall I do that which is right in mine own eyes.” God help you to begin now! When you have come to that, you will understand how exquisitely God saved His people, who have no King but Him. THE STORY OF THEIR DELIVERANCE. Let me tell the story of their deliverance dramatically, so that you will be more likely to remember it. We will imagine an occasion when a group of Hezekiah’s chief captains were engaged in discussing matters in the royal palace. One says: “We saw faces of the enemy appear over the wall, and if we had not been there in the nick of time, they would have broken in; but my men hurled them back, with their ladders after them.” “Oh, yes,” says another; “but they had a battering ram where we were, and I thought they would have made a breach through the wall.” “Yes,” says a third man, “and they were sapping and mining the walls where I was; we were only just able to stop them.” Says a fourth, sagely, “Yes, but I tell you where the mistake was. Our city should not have been built up here on these hills, where we can have no river around us. Thebes has got the Nile, Babylon the Euphrates; but Jerusalem is perched on these hills, with no river to intercept the advance of an enemy or supply our crowded population with water. I£ ever we get through this siege, I doubt if we ever shall, I shall advise Hezekiah to pitch the city down by Jericho, where we shall at least have a Jordan between us and the foe.” At that moment Isaiah came on the little group and said to the last speaker: “What was that you Were saying?” “I was expressing my opinion, sir, that it is a great pity that we haven’t a river to separate us from the foe.” “A river! A river! Never let me hear you talk like that again! A river! We want no river. The glorious Lord is a place of broad rivers and streams. Everything that a river can be to a city, the glorious Lord is to us. If you could see what I see, you would have a vision of our glorious Lord all around the walls of our city, between us and the foe. I tell you that Jerusalem is well encompassed, environed with the presence of the eternal God, the glorious Lord. Here is His place of broad rivers and streams, and you shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, safe and still.” That is it, safe and still! Jesus Christ will be as helpful to you and me. Let me show you how. There are so many of us, like Jerusalem, without a river. Let me picture one case. Very likely there is a woman here in middle life. Years ago when she was a girl of eighteen, her mother on her dying bed said: “My daughter, I charge you to take no husband or home until you have seen your younger brothers and sisters settled in life.”

She promised she would not. She waited until her lover could wait no more, and saw the boys and girls grow up and secure homes for themselves. Presently the father died. But she has neither husband nor child. Often when she sits in the church and looks around, she sees women who were girls at school with her, who played with her in girlish sports, sitting with their husbands and children. Her heart sinks, and turns sick. All! she has no river of human love and comfort and blessedness. But I tell her: “The glorious Lord will be to you, my sister, a place of broad rivers and streams. Everything that human love can be to a lonely woman’s soul, the glorious Lord will be to you.” Or take the case of some young man whose father died when he was young. He has had no advantages. He has had to work for his widowed mother and the family, and misses sadly the education which is within the reach of so many American youths. He feels, oh! so unfit for much of the world’s work. What can he do? Well, he has not got the river, but he must learn that he has God, the glorious Lord.” The same holds true of the church. Some ministers may say: “My church is a very poor one. The neighborhood is only half settled. It is hard for me to maintain my home life without beggary, and my preaching without books.” Ah, friends, if you would only learn what I am talking about, that it is almost a good thing to be without the advantages that others have, because you can obtain from God a hundred-fold more! It is the weak whose strength God increases. It {s those that have no might or wisdom to whom God gives wisdom and righteousness and strength. It is in men like Paul, the weakest of the weak, that He perfects His grace. Neither men nor women nor circumstances are enough for the soul. Without all these, if you have God, you may be satisfied. Is not the wild flower satisfied when its roots can reach the Mississippi? Is not the humming-bird satisfied when it has all the myriad rays of the sun? Is not the little child satisfied when it has all the mother’s love and mind and soul? Was it not a quiet habitation? Is it not safe? Yes, my friend, in the absence of all else, the glorious Lord is enough. Many people put their circumstances always in the innermost circle, next their heart, and they put God outside, and look at Him through their wants and circumstances. It is like looking at the sun THROUGH A LONDON FOG. There are other people who put God next them, and their circumstances on the hills with Sennacherib. To those who have learned to live trusting in God, their habitations are quiet and safe. Put God between you and everything. Weary, storm-tossed heart, put Jesus between you and the crest of the wave. The envelope is useful to protect the letter it contains from being soiled or damaged. So when a man lives inside God he is protected, because enveloped. God is his environment, his wall of fire, his river and stream. They tell me that the regalia of a certain city in Europe are kept, not like that in the Tower of London, with iron bars all around, but on what appears to be an unprotected table. Yet I pity the man who should try to take one jewel from that crown, because a stream of electricity is always being poured around the table, so strong that if a man dared to touch it with his hand he would draw it back benumbed. That is the way to live. God is in you and around you. Live in a constant consciousness of the presence of God. Thus it befell Jerusalem. The glorious Lord was all around, above, within and without; and the result was that one day, “The Angel of Death laid his wings on the blast, And breathed on the face of the foe as he passed.” and the tents of the Assyrians were filled with the dead. Then they threw open the gates, and the people of Jerusalem streamed out, crossed the Kedron valley to the other side, and helped themselves to the spoils. Poor, lame Jerusalem was enriched by the prey. If there were any lame men inside the city, I think I hear them say: “We may as well have our share.” And on their crutches I see them limping down the valley, slowly climbing the further slope going from tent to tent, taking what they would. Do you know what it is to get spoil out of temptation, to gain out of sorrow, to be enriched by Sennacherib? Do” you dread sorrow, temptation, trouble? Oh that you knew what it is to be more than conquerors; not simply to be safe from Sennacherib, but TO GET SPOIL OUT OF HIS ATTACKS! I will show you how to do this. When Satan comes to you to tempt you to impurity, turn to Jesus and take anew of His purity. When he tempts you to irritability of temper, turn to Jesus and take a new armful of His patience. When he tempts you to be cowardly and weak, turn to Jesus and take a new heartful of His courage. As your weakness throws you more upon the help of Jesus Christ and you lean harder upon Him, you turn what the devil meant to be a stumbling-block into a stepping-stone. Oh! life is glorious when you live like that. The loneliness is gone, solitude is gone, the fear of failure is gone, the constant dread of being overcome by temptation is gone; and you have the sense of everything being beneath your feet because you are in the glorious Lord, and realize that Jesus Christ Himself is offering you wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Oh glorious riverlessness, that I may know His protection! Oh blessed poverty, that reveals to me His wealth! Oh desirable loneliness, that teaches me the friendship of the Brother Christ! Oh infirmity, and want, and sorrow, we hail you all! Had it not been for sin abounding, we never should have known that His grace abounds over all. The glorious Lord is a place of broad rivers and streams. If that be so, we are all come to the position in which we can learn to take. I suppose almost the most important distinction a man can learn to make is that between praying for a thing and taking it. The lame take the spoil. It is not said that they pray for it. Some one may perhaps say: “Well I am glad I dropped in to hear you. I hope I shall get some good from your brief stay in our city. I got some help tonight.”

I might ask: “In what way did you get help tonight?” “In this way: I think that henceforth I shall pray more than I have ever prayed.” I must certainly reply: “My friend, it is not a matter of praying more, it is that you should take more.” There is a whole world of difference between the prayer that supplicates and the faith that receives. There are a great many things in life for which we may claim an answer because they are according to God’s will. You do not need to pray to God to do as He has said, but to take what He offers. “The lame take the prey.” Let us all learn this lesson. Let us know that life is full of God, that there is as much of God here as in the Pentecostal chamber. But it is of no use for us to know this unless we have learned to take. “The lame take the prey.” I left my home in Hampstead, and went to live in a suite of chambers near my church in London. At first I much missed my own house on the breezy Hampstead hill, but finally I came to see how many modern conveniences had been adapted to the suite of chambers, and so became more and more content. There is electric light, gas fire, a supply of hot water, and so on, all very convenient. But I have sometimes thought that if I had taken a servant who had been brought up in one of our country-houses in England, where they light the farm-house fire at four or five o’clock in the morning with chips and wood and match, and trim the oil-lamp for light, if I put her in that flat of mine, and said: “You will find here everything you want; fire, light and hot water; I shall be in again in three or four hours”; I might come in at eleven o’clock and find her sitting there in the middle of the room in total darkness, sobbing out: “This is the most miserable place I was ever in.” “What is the matter? There is light, there is fire, there is water. Can’t you be happy?” “It is dark and cold and wretched.” Immediately I turn that switch, that key, that tap, and the place is full of light and heat, and the hot water is flowing. What is the difference between her and me? It is that I know how to use, how to appropriate, how to take, and she does not. Now that is the whole difference between some of God’s children and others. God is the same today as at Pentecost. Christ is the same here as in heaven. There is the same blessed power for the religious life. Some have learned the blessed art of taking it, but others only pray for it. If I can get you, not to pray for it, but to begin to take it, you will instantly step into a new experience. There- was as much electricity in the days of Alfred as there is today; the only difference is that Edison has taught us how to get the electricity out of cloud and air, sunbeam and earth, and how to yoke it to our chariot. Edison knows how to take, and has taught the lesson to the world. Oh, I wish I could teach you how to take the Divine electricity into your lives today! It is not by praying for it, it is by taking it.

Now consider the daily life. You get up in the morning, and when you are living like this you forecast the day. You say: “I am going to have breakfast with people that I dread, and I am so afraid I may lose my temper. Lord, I take grace for the breakfast hour. At ten o’clock I have to meet two or three men to discuss a very difficult problem. Lord, I claim and take wisdom for ten o’clock. At twelve o’clock I may be thrown into society, and greatly tempted to exaggerate, or to backbite, or to .libel other people’s character. Lord, for twelve o’clock I take the spirit of perfect love.” And so you forecast the whole day, and take things from God; moreover you believe that you have what you take. Then you count on God. You do not keep on praying, but you rise from your knees, saying, “I thank Thee, Father. Give me also what Thou seest I need,” and you go along your way reckoning on God. A man said to me, “If you pray like that, don’t you pray very short?” I replied, “Perhaps it does make one more short and businesslike in the supplication part of prayer, but there is so much to thank for, so many answers received, that it more than makes up for what is lost in direct supplication.” You may be weak, sinful, full of failure. You may be at the end of yourself, but you are very near God. Lame Mephibosheth sat at the King’s table:. And the poor, paralyzed man at the Beautiful Gate of the temple was made perfectly whole. Now, lame soul, take. What do you want from Jesus? Take Him to be that. Take the glorious Lord to be what you want most. Go home, and as you walk along say: “Yes, yes, I do take Jesus, my glorious Lord, to be to me a place of broad rivers for protection, and streams to supply my thirst and irrigate my plot. Then I shall have a habitation quiet from anxiety, quiet from restlessness, quiet from fear. The stakes will never be taken down. Sennacherib wilt . never get inside. My heart will lie on the very heart of God, satisfied and safe.”

Meyer, F. B. (2014-07-01). THE WORKS OF F. B. MEYER, Vol 1 (25 Works): 25 Classic Devotionals, Biographies and Teachings on the Higher Life (Kindle Locations 7348-7363).  . Kindle Edition.

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