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Jesus Himself by Andrew Murray

II |Lo, I am with you alway.|

When I think of all the struggles and difficulties and failures of which many complain, and know that many are trying to make a new effort to begin a holy life, their hearts fearing all the time that they would fail again, owing to so many difficulties and temptations and the natural weakness of their character, my heart longs to be able to tell them in words so simple that a little child could understand,

What the secret is of the Christian life.

And then the thought comes to me, Can I venture to hope that it will be given to me to take that glorious, heavenly, divine Lord Jesus and to show Him to these souls, so that they can see Him in His glory? And can it be given to me to open their eyes to see that there is a Divine, Almighty Christ, who does actually come into the heart and who faithfully promises, |I will come and dwell with you, and I will never leave you?| No; my words cannot do that. But then I thought, my Lord Jesus can use me as a simple servant to take such feeble ones by the hand and encourage and help them; to say, Oh, come, come, come, into the presence of Jesus and wait on Him, and He will reveal Himself to thee. I pray God that He may use His precious Word. It is simply

The presence of the Lord Jesus.

That is the secret of the Christian's strength and joy. You know that when He was upon earth, He was present in bodily form with his disciples. They walked about together all day, and at night they went into the same house, and sometimes slept together and ate and drank together. They were continually together. It was the presence of Jesus that was the training school of His disciples. They were bound to Him by that wonderful intercourse of love during three long years, and in that intercourse they learned to know Christ, and Christ instructed and corrected them, and prepared them for what they were afterward to receive. And now when He is going away, He says to them: |Lo, behold, I am with you always -- all the days -- even unto the end of the world.|

What a promise! And just as really as Christ was with Peter in the boat, just as Christ sat with John at the table, as really can I have Christ with me. And more really, for they had their Christ in the body and He was to them a man, an individual separate from them, but I may have glorified Christ in the power of the throne of God, the omnipotent Christ, the omnipresent Christ.

What a promise! You ask me, How can that be? And my answer is, Because Christ is God, and because Christ after having been made man, went up into the throne and the Life of God. And now that blessed Christ Jesus, with His loving, pierced heart; that blessed Jesus Christ, who lived upon earth; that same Christ glorified into the glory of God, can be in me and

Can be with me all the days.

You say, Is it really possible for a man in business, for a woman in the midst of a large and difficult household, for a poor man full of care; is it possible? Can I always be thinking of Jesus? Thank God, you need not always be thinking of Him. You may be the manager of a bank, and your whole attention may be required to carry out the business that you have to do. But thank God, while I have to think of my business, Jesus will think of me, and He will come in and will take charge of me. That little child, three months old, as it sleeps in its mother's arms, lies helplessly there; it hardly knows its mother, it does not think of her, but the mother thinks of the child. And this is the blessed mystery of love, that Jesus the God-man waits to come in to me in the greatness of His love; and as He gets possession of my heart, He embraces me in those divine arms and tells me, |My child, I the Faithful One, I the Mighty One will abide with thee, will watch over thee and keep thee all the days.| He tells me He will come into my heart, so that I can be a happy Christian, a holy Christian, and a useful Christian. You say, Oh! if I could only believe that, if I could think that it is possible to have Christ always, every hour, every moment with me,

Taking and keeping charge of me!

My brother, my sister, it is just literally this that is my message to you. When Jesus said to His disciples, |Lo, I am with you always,| He meant it in the fullness of the divine Omnipresence, in the fullness of the divine love, and he longs to-night to reveal Himself to you and to me as we have never seen Him before.

And now just think a moment what a blessed life that must be -- the presence of Jesus always abiding. Is not that the secret of peace and happiness? If I could just attain (that is what each heart says) to that blessed state in which every day and all the day I felt Jesus to be watching and ever keeping me, oh, what peace I would have in the thought, |I have no care if He cares for me, and I have no fear if He provides for me.| Your heart says that this is too good to be true, and that it is too glorious to be for you. Still you acknowledge it must be most blessed. Fearful one, erring one, anxious one, I bring you God's promise, it is for me and for you. Jesus will do it; as God, He is able, and Jesus is willing and longing as the Crucified One to keep you in perfect peace. This is a wonderful fact, and it is the secret of joy unspeakable.

And this is also

The secret of Holiness.

Instead of indwelling sin, an indwelling Christ conquering it; instead of indwelling sin, the indwelling life and light and love of the blessed Son of God. He is the secret of holiness. |Christ is made unto us sanctification.| Remember that it is Christ Himself who is made unto us sanctification. Christ coming into me, taking charge of my whole being; my nature and my thoughts and my affections and my will; ruling all things. It is this that will make me holy. We talk about holiness, but do you know what holiness is? You have as much holiness as you have of Christ, for it is written, |Both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one;| and Christ sanctifies by bringing God's life into me.

We read in Judges, |The Spirit of the Lord clothed Gideon.| But you know that there is in the New Testament an equally wonderful text, where we read, |Put on the Lord Jesus Christ,| that is, clothe yourself with Christ Jesus. And what does that mean? It does not only mean, by imputation of righteousness outside of me, but to clothe myself with the living character of the living Christ, with the living love of the living Christ.

Put on the Lord Jesus.

Oh! what a work. I cannot do it unless I believe and understand that He whom I have to put on is as a garment covering my whole being. I have to put on a living Christ who has said, |Lo, I am with you all the days.| Just draw the folds closer round you, of that robe of light with which Christ would array you. Just come and acknowledge that Christ is with you, on you, in you. Oh, put Him on! And when you look at one characteristic of His after another; and you hear God's word, |Let this mind be in you which was also in Jesus Christ,| and it tells you He was obedient unto the death; and then you answer, Christ the obedient one, Christ whose whole life was obedience, it is that Christ whom I have received and put on. He becomes my life and His obedience rests upon me, until I learn to whisper as Jesus did, |My Father, Thy will be done; lo, I come to do Thy will.|

This, too, is the secret of influence in witness and work. How comes it that it is so

Difficult to be obedient,

and how comes it that I so often sin? People sing, |Oh, to be wholly Thine,| and sing it from their hearts. How comes it then that they are disobedient again? Where does the disobedience come from? And the answer comes, It is because I am trying to obey a distant Christ, and thus His commands do not come with power. Look what I find in God's Word. When God wanted to send any man upon His service, He first met him and talked with him and cheered him time after time. God appeared to Abraham seven or eight times, and gave to him one command after another; and so Abraham learned to obey Him perfectly. God appeared to Joshua and to Gideon, and they obeyed. And why are we not obedient? Because we have so little of this near intercourse with Jesus. But, oh, if we knew

This blessed, heavenly secret

of having the presence of Christ with us every day, every hour, every minute, what a joy it would be to obey! We could not walk in this consciousness, -- My Lord Jesus is with me and around me, -- and not obey Him! Oh, do you not begin to long and say, This is what I must have, the ever-abiding presence of Jesus! There are some Christians who try not to be disobedient, who come to their Sunday and week-day duties most faithfully, and pray for grace and a blessing, and they complain of so little blessing and power, so little power! And why? Because there is not enough of the living Jesus in their hearts. I sometimes think of this as a most solemn truth. There is a great diversity of gifts amongst ministers and others who speak; but I am sure of this, that a man's gifts are not the measure of his real power. I am sure of this, that God can see what neither you nor I can see. Sometimes people feel something of it; but in proportion as a man has in reality, not as a sentiment or an aspiration, or a thought, but in reality, the very spirit and presence of Jesus upon him, there comes out from him an unseen silent influence. That secret influence is the

Holy presence of Jesus.

|Lo, I am with you always.| And now, if what I have said has sufficed just to indicate what a desirable thing it is, what a blessed thing it is to live for, then let me now give you an answer to the question that arises in more than one heart. I can hear some one say, |Tell me how I can get this blessed abiding presence of Jesus; and when I have got it, how I can ever keep it. I think if I have this, I have all. The Lord Jesus has come very near to me. I have tried to turn away from everything that can hinder, and have had my Lord very near. But how can I know that He will be with me always?| If you were to ask the Lord, |Oh, my blessed Lord Christ, what must I do, how can I enjoy Thy never-failing presence?| His first answer would be, |Only believe. I have said it often, and you only partly understood it, but I will say it again --

My child, only believe.|

It is by faith. We sometimes speak of faith as trust, and it is a very helpful thing to tell men that faith is trust: but when people say, as they sometimes do, that it is nothing else but trust, that is not the case. It is a far wider word than trust. It is by faith that I learn to know the invisible One, the invisible God, and that I see Him. Faith is my spiritual eye-sight for the unseen and heavenly. You often try hard to trust God, and you fail. Why? Because you have not taken time first to see God. How can you trust God fully until you have met Him and known Him? You ask, |Where ought I to begin?| You ought to begin with first believing; with presenting yourself before this God in the attitude of silent worship, and asking Him to let a sense of His greatness and His presence come upon you. You must ask Him to let your heart be covered over with his holy presence. You must seek to realize in your heart the presence of an Almighty and all-loving God, an unspeakably loving God. Take time to worship Him as the omnipotent God, to feel that the very power that created the world, the very power that raised Jesus from the dead, is at this moment working in your heart. We do not experience it because we do not believe. We must take time to believe. Jesus says, |Oh, my child, shut your eyes to the world, and shut out of your heart all these thoughts about religion, and begin to believe in God Himself.| That is the first article of the Creed -- |I believe in God.|

By believing I open my heart,

to receive this glorious God, and I bow and worship. And then as I believe this, I look up and I see the Lamb upon the Throne, and I believe that the Almighty power of God is in Jesus for the very purpose of revealing His presence to my heart. Why are there two upon the Throne? Is not God enough? The Lamb of God is upon the Throne in your interest and in mine; the Lamb upon the Throne is Christ Himself, with power as God to take possession of me. Oh, do not think you cannot get that realization. And do not think of it as now only within your reach; but cultivate the habit of faith. |Jesus, I believe in Thy glory; I believe in Thine omnipotence; I believe in Thy power working within me. I believe in Thy living, loving presence with me, revealing itself in Divine power.|

Do not be occupied with feelings or experiences. You will find it far simpler and easier just to trust and say, |I am sure He is all for me.| Get rid of yourself for the time; don't think or speak about yourself; but

Think what Jesus is.

And then remember it is believe always. I sometimes feel that I cannot find words to tell how God wants His people to believe from morning till night. Every breath ought to be just believing. Yes, it is indeed true; the Lord Jesus loves us to be just believing from morning to evening, and you must begin to make that the chief thing in life. In the morning when you wake, let your heart go forth with a large faith in this; and in the watches of the night let this thought be present with you -- my Saviour Jesus is round me and near me, and you can look up and say, |I want to trust Thee always.| You know what trust is. It is so sweet to trust. And now cannot you trust Jesus; this presence, this keeping presence? He lives for you in Heaven. You are marked with His blood, and he loves you; and cannot you say, |My King, my King, He is with me all the days?| Oh, trust Jesus to fulfill His own promises.

There is a second answer that I think Christ would give if we come to Him believing, and say, |Is there anything more, my blessed Master?| I think I can hear His answer:

|My child, always obey.|

Do not fail to understand the lesson contained in this one word. You must distinctly and definitely take that word OBEY and obedience, and learn to say for yourselves: |Now I have to obey, and by the grace of God I am going to obey in everything.| At our recent exhibition at the Cape, Mr. Rhodes, our Prime Minister, went to the gate, thinking he had got the fee in his pocket. When he got to the gate, however, he found he had not enough money, and said to the door-keeper, |I am Mr. Rhodes; let me in and I will take care you do not suffer.| But the man said, |I cannot help that, sir, I have my orders,| and he refused to let Mr. Rhodes in. He had to borrow from a friend, and pay before he could pass the gate. At a dinner afterward Mr. Rhodes spoke about it, and said it was a real joy to see a man stick to his order like that. That is it. The man had his orders, and that was enough to him, and whoever came to the gate had to pay his fee before he could enter. God's children ought to be like soldiers, and be

Ready to say, |I must obey.|

Oh! to have that thought in our hearts -- |Jesus, I love to obey Thee.| There must be personal intercourse with the Saviour, and then comes the joy of personal service and allegiance. Are you ready to obey in all feebleness and weakness and fear? Can you say, |Yes, Lord Jesus, I will obey?| If so, then give yourself up absolutely. Then your feeling will be, |I am not going to speak one word if I think that Jesus would not like to hear it. I am not going to have an opinion of my own, but my whole life is to be covered with the purity of His obedience to the Father and His self-sacrificing love to me. I want Christ to have my whole life, my whole heart, my whole character. I want to be like Christ and to obey.| Give yourself up to this loving obedience.

The third thought is this: If I say, |My Master, blessed Saviour, tell me all, I will believe, I do obey, and I will obey. Is there anything more I need to secure the enjoyment of Thine abiding presence?| And I catch this answer:

|My child, close intercourse with me every day.|

Ah, there is the fault of many who try to obey and try to believe; they do it in their own strength, and they do not know that if the Lord Jesus is to reign in their hearts, they must have close communion with Him every day. You cannot do all He desires, but Jesus will do it for you. There are many Christians who fail here, and on that account do not understand what it is to have fellowship with Jesus. Do let me try and impress this upon you: God has given you a loving, living Saviour, and how can He bless if you do not meet Him? The joy of friendship is found in intercourse; and Jesus asks for this every day, that he may have time to influence me, to tell me of Himself, to teach me, to breathe His Spirit unto me, to give me new life and joy and strength. And remember, intercourse with Jesus

Does not mean half-an-hour

or an hour in your closet. A man may study his Bible or his commentary carefully; he may look up all the parallel passages in the chapter; when he comes out of his closet he may be able to tell you all about it, and yet he has never met Jesus that morning at all. You have prayed for five or ten minutes, and you have never met Jesus. And so we must remember that though the Bible is most precious, and the reading of it most blessed and needful; yet prayer and Bible reading are not fellowship with Jesus. What we need every morning is to meet Jesus, and to say, |Lord, here is the day again, and I am just as weak in myself as ever I was; do Thou come and feed me this morning with Thyself and speak to my soul.| Oh, friends, it is not your faith that will keep you standing, but it is a living Jesus, met

Every day in fellowship

and worship and love. Wait in His presence, however cold and faithless you feel. Wait before Him and say: |Lord, helpless as I am, I believe and rest in the blessed assurance that what Thou hast promised Thou wilt do for me.|

I ask my Master once again, |Lord Jesus, is that all?| And his answer is: |No, my child; I have one thing more.| |And what is that? Thou hast told me to believe, and to obey, and to abide near to Thee: what wouldst Thou have more?|

|Work for me my child.

Remember, I have redeemed thee for My service; I have redeemed thee to have a witness to go out into the world confessing Me before men.| Oh, do not hide your treasure, or think that if Jesus is with you, you can hide it. One of two things will happen -- either you must give all up, or it must come out. You have perhaps heard of the little girl, who, after one of Mr. Moody's meetings, was found to be singing some of the hymns we all know. The child's parents were in a good position in society, and while singing those hymns in the drawing-room her mother forbade her. One day she was singing the hymn |Oh, I'm so glad that Jesus loves me,| when her mother said, |My child, how is it that you sing this when I have forbidden it?| She replied, |Oh, mother, I cannot help it; it comes out of itself.| If Jesus Christ be in the heart, He must come out. Remember, it is not only our duty to confess Him; it is that, but it is something more. If you do not do it, it is just an indication that you have not given yourself up to Jesus; your character, your reputation, your all. You are holding back from Him. You must confess Jesus in the world, in your home; and in fact everywhere. You know the Lord's command, |Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature;| |and, lo, I am with you,| meaning, |Any one may work for Me, and I will be with him.| It is true of the minister, the missionary, and every believer who works for Jesus. The presence of Jesus is intimately connected with work for Him. You say, |I have never thought of that before. I have my Sunday work, but during the week I am not doing work for Him.| You cannot have the presence of Jesus, and let this continue to be the case. I do not believe you could have the presence of Jesus all the week and yet do nothing for Him; therefore my advice is, work for Him who is worthy, His blessing and His presence will be found in the work. It is

A blessed privilege to work for Christ

in this perishing world. Oh, why is it that our hearts often feel so cold and closed up, and so many of us say, |I do not feel called to Christ's work|? Be willing to yield yourself for the Lord's service, and He will reveal Himself to you.

Christ comes with His wondrous promise, and what He says, He says to all believers: |Lo, I am with you always; that is My promise; this is what I in My power can do; this is what I faithfully engage to perform; will you have it?

I give Myself to thee, O soul.|

To each of those who have come to Him, Christ says, |I give Myself to thee, to be absolutely and wholly thine every hour of every day; to be with thee and in thee every moment, to bless thee and sustain thee, and to give thee each moment the consciousness of My presence; I will be wholly, wholly, wholly thine.|

And now, what is the other side? He wants me to be wholly His. Are you ready to take this as your motto now,

|Wholly for God|?

O God, breathe Thou Thy presence in my heart that Thou mayest shine forth from my life. |Wholly for God,| let this be our motto. Come let us cast ourselves on our faces before His feet. Our missionary from Nyassaland says he has often been touched by seeing how the native Christians, when they are brought to Jesus, do not stand in prayer; they do not kneel; but they cast themselves upon the earth with their foreheads to the ground, and there they lie, and with loud voices cry unto God. I sometimes feel that I wish we could do that ourselves; but we need not do it literally. Let us do it in spirit, for the everlasting Son of God has come into our hearts. Are you going to take Him and to keep Him there, to give Him glory and let Him have His way? Come now and say, |I will seek Thee with my whole heart; I am wholly Thine.| Yield yourself entirely to Him to have complete possession. He will take and keep possession. Come now. Jesus delights in the worship of His Saints. Our whole life can become one continuous act of worship and work of love and joy, if we only remember and value this, that Jesus has said, |Lo, I am with you all the days, even unto the end of the world.|

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