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21 June, 2014

Christ Our Shield!

Octavius Winslow, 1863

"Surely, I am with you always — even unto the end of the world!" Matthew 28:20
Christ is ever with His people — as a shield and deliverer. Our estimation of this truth, will be proportioned to our intelligent apprehension of the number and potency of our enemies — and the costliness and preciousness of the treasure thus divinely protected.

With what unslumbering vigilance,
with what divine power,
with what changeless love
does the Lord Jesus shield the work of grace in the soul of His people!
Who keeps that spark alive — in the midst of the ocean?
Who guards this vineyard night and day — lest any hurt it?
Who preserves . . .
faith from faltering,
love from chilling,
hope from dying?

Who . . .
strengthens the 'work of grace' when it is feeble,
raises it when it droops,
restores it when it relapses,
keeps it in the cold of winter and the drought of summer;
and, when the frosts and winds of autumn would nip and scatter its foliage — clothes it with the freshness and bloom of spring?

Oh, it is Jesus, encircling with His all-protecting shield — the work of grace which His death has accomplished, and which His Spirit wrought!

"The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge! He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold!" Psalm 18:2

Trembling believer! The work of grace in your heart shall never die! The kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in your soul — is indestructible! "They shall never perish!" is the declaration of the Shepherd who bought you with His blood! You are watched over by Christ — and kept by the power of God. And although the tide of spiritual affection may ebb, and the shadows of twilight fall thickly upon your soul, and you are ready to regard your conversion a mistake, your religion a delusion, and your hope a fallacy — thus casting away your confidence; yet there is One who knows His own work, recognizes His own image, reads His Spirit's writing in the soul, and must Himself cease to be — before He allows those living embers of love He has enkindled upon the altar of your renewed heart, to die. The rain may descend, the winds may blow, the flood may surge — "But the inextinguishable flame burns on, and shall forever burn!"

There are assaults from which alone Christ can shield us!
Innumerable and invisible,
sleepless and restless,
working with an almost almighty power,
everywhere with an almost omnipresent existence,
ever plotting our ruin
are the spiritual enemies of our soul, and the sworn foes of our faith!
The world and its fascinations,
Satan and his devices,
the flesh and its tendencies,
error and its disguises
are all confederate against the child of God, opposing his every advance in holiness!
But Christ is our ever-present shield, near at the moment of assault, and skillful to deflect and disarm it! "Fear not, Abram, I am your shield!" are words addressed to all who have like precious faith with him.

Listen to Paul when defending Christianity before Nero: "At my first answer no man stood with me — but all men forsook me. . . . Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me and strengthened me." Severed from the protection and sympathy of man — he was all the more conscious of the presence and love of God. This is the manner of the Lord with us. The stage shall be swept of the human — to give place to the Divine. When the last human prop bends, and the last spark of creature-hope expires — hail it as the harbinger of Christ's nearness, that the more signal may appear His loving deliverance, and the more complete and undivided His glory.

Oh yes! the Lord encompasses you! Encircled by danger — you are also encircled by Christ! When you embark in His cause on foreign service, enter the carriage of a railway, launch upon the treacherous sea, bend your steps of mercy to the bedside of the sick, travel the lone and dreary road — be your experience what it may, let your mind be kept in perfect peace, trusting in this truth: the ever-present protection of Jesus

The unhealthy climate shall be harmless, the sickening malaria shall be innocuous, the perilous transit shall be safe — curtained within the pavilion of your Savior's love. Swelling above the tempest, louder than the voice of many waters, or whispered in the still solitude — shall be heard the words of Jesus, ""So do not fear — for I am with you! Do not be dismayed — for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand!" Isaiah 41:10. Lord, it is enough! My heart trusts in You, and I am helped!

Christ is with His people as the Head and Depository of all their spiritual supplies. The resources of the believer, although not from himself, and often, like Hagar's well, veiled from the eye — are yet, like that well-spring of water, flowing at the very side of the needy saint.

Destitution may reign far and wide, and the plaintive cry ascend from many a famished lip, "Who will show us any good?" Yet the Christian's soul, fed with the hidden manna and quenched from the river, the streams of which make glad the city of God — is kept alive in famine and in draught, and is like "a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters fail not."

And what explains this mystery? The nearness at his side of a full Christ, overflowing with a redundancy of grace, love, and sympathy — suiting every circumstance, answering every call, supplying every demand.

New exigencies may occur in his daily history,
new demands made upon his mental and physical powers, 
of a new form may transpire,
new infirmities may strike, 
hitherto untasted, 
before unknown
all marking a new epoch in his history, a new phase of Christian experience — and all clamorous for the grace that is to sustain, the sympathy that is to soothe, the wisdom that is to guide. And shall they ask in vain? Never! Christ is with us — furnished, given, and pledged to supply amply and fully — all the necessities of His people.

"And of His fullness — we have all we received grace upon grace!" John 1:16. That is, grace following grace; grace answering every call for grace; more grace, grace out-measuring all past supply, all present need, "exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think." O blessed truth!

In the world's insolvency — the believer has a safe bank!

In the world's famine — he has a full granary!

In the world's drought — he has springs of water!

In the world's heat — he has his pleasant and grateful shade!

And all this is concentrated in Christ; for Christ is all. O favored saint! to have a full, overflowing, excess supply, so near; exiled from all other resources, other supports failing, other springs drying, other shadows vanishing as in a night — and he, perchance, sitting him down to die in hopeless grief, lo! words fall upon his ear softer, sweeter than angels' chimes, "I am with you always; with you in this lonely place and at this trying moment — to unseal your eye to the boundless fullness, that it pleased the Father would dwell in Me for you, the Father's child."

"Hold me up — and I shall be safe!"