Divine Provision.

Notes of an Address.

In Luke's Gospel the blessed Lord is brought before us as "The Man, Christ Jesus," manifesting in this world the wonderful grace of God. He came freighted with blessing for men; to take upon Himself the discharging of all their liabilities; to take away their sins, and remove the distance in which the sinner stood in relation to a righteous and holy God. Something of this comes out beautifully in the parable of Luke 10, where we see a man on the way from Jerusalem, the place of blessing, to Jericho the city of the curse. What a picture of the poor sinner in all his ruin and wretchedness is here! Falling among thieves, he is stripped of his raiment, wounded and left half-dead. Such was our condition, morally, when the Lord saw us: stripped of our innocency, wounded in sin, and with the sentence of death upon us. It was to help us in such a state that the Lord, the Good Samaritan, left the glories of Godhead and came into Manhood. He came to where we were, to minister His heavenly grace; to bind up our wounds, to pour in the oil and wine, to set us on His own beast, and take us to the inn. What a rich provision for our need! Divine comfort reaching down to our misery, divine joy reaching the heart with the gift of the Holy Spirit; the support of Christ's own strength made ours, and His own loving provision assured until He comes for us.

Christ has not only rescued us from the place of degradation and distance from God, but He is conducting us, in His own power, through this defiled and defiling world. He has taken us in hand completely, supplying every need for today, and if He tarry, every need for the morrow as well. What comfort for the heart it is to know that He knows every part of the journey, every circumstance of the way, and that He has undertaken every responsibility in relation to the journey. As entering into the meaning of this, can we not say with the Apostle Paul, "But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus?" (Phil. 4:19).

But we are not left down here without responsibilities and exercises, while waiting for the Lord to come and take us to be for ever with Himself. We are to be for His pleasure and glory the little while that remains before His coming. To this end He has given to us His word: and in Mary, brought before us from verse 39 of our chapter, we have one availing herself of the divine provision so needful for us in this world. She sits at Jesus' feet as a learner, hearing His word. It is only in communion with Him that we can really know His mind, and receive the grace to carry out His will. The next time we read of Mary is in John 11, where again she is at the feet of Jesus, but as a mourner, receiving His sympathy and consolation. Yet again we find her at Jesus' feet, in John 12: this time as a worshipper. May we each one know the blessedness of sitting at the feet of Jesus

With the hearing the word of the Lord Jesus there is also to be prayer; and in the first verse of chapter 11 the disciples desire Jesus to teach them to pray. We shall be kept fresh in our spirits, and be enabled to do the will of God, if there is the desire for divine teaching regarding the word and prayer. Every effort of the enemy is put forth to divert us from prayer; and how often we allow ourselves to be hindered from prayer and to be otherwise engaged when secluded for prayer. The Lord spent whole nights in prayer and communion with His God and Father. Faithful men have long since called attention to this, that declension of soul begins so often with neglect of private prayer, and this is followed with the giving up of attendance at the public prayer meeting. It is not a matter of saying prayers, but of being before the Lord in the spirit of dependence and pouring out our hearts to Him in all kinds of prayer; and seeking too the blessedness of true and deep communion with the Father and the Son. So many know what it is to approach God regarding their own interests, yet are little conscious of the joy of being occupied in communion with the interests of God in this world, or with the counsels of divine grace that centre in the Son.

Passing down to verses 33-36 we learn that the saints of God are light-bearers in the world. On the same line, Paul, in Philippians 2:15, speaks of the children of God appearing as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverted generation. This will surely result from our sitting at the feet of Jesus to hear His word, and from learning of Him how to pray. To shine as lights in this world is a wondrous privilege. It is not a question of preaching or engaging in some special sphere of service for the Lord, blessed as these may be: but of manifesting the heavenly traits of the Man out of heaven. Only as we take character from Christ can we truly represent what He is to this world. When the eye is single, Christ is before the heart: and then it is we are in the state to express aright what He is. So often our motives are mixed: there are the desires to please Christ, and to set Him forth: but along with this there is self-seeking and self-gratification.

Another aspect of our life is found in the next chapter. We are left down here to seek the Father's kingdom, not to be full of anxious care about our needs. So often the children of God forget that their Father loves them, and knows their every need far better than they do themselves. He takes care of the birds, clothes the flowers and even the grass; so that we need never have an anxiety regarding food, drink or clothing. Moreover, it is the good pleasure of the Father to give us the kingdom; and if this knowledge enters into the hearts of the "little flock," their anxious care will disappear.

In chapter 14 we have God's great supper spread, and the invitation sent out to those bidden to come for all things were now ready. But all began to excuse themselves front accepting the divine invitation. Yet God's house shall be filled: and even now the Glad Tidings are going forth, inviting men to come to the feast that God has made in the riches of His grace. We may not all be evangelists, but we can tell needy sinners of the goodness of God in preparing such a feast for the blessing of men. Timothy may not have been an evangelist, yet he was exhorted by Paul to do the work of an evangelist. The work of God's grace still goes on, spite of the growing indifference around us; and it is our privilege to have fellowship with the Gospel in these last days. There are those gifted for public preaching; but a great deal of God's work in the Gospel is carried out in individual contact with men: and in this we can all have our part. Moreover, apart from speaking, we can testify to God's grace by living for Christ in the world; like Paul, who said, "I live by the faith of the Son of God." At this great supper that God has spread, it is our blessed privilege and joy to celebrate with Him His wonderful grace.

Luke 15 shows us the deep love and compassion of the heart of the Father. As we sometimes sing:
The Father's house, the Father's heart,
All that the Son is given
Made ours — the objects of His love,
And He, our joy in heaven.

The recollection of the Father's goodness brings the erring son to repentance; and coming back he is reconciled and clothed with the garment of salvation, with the best robe, the righteousness of God. Inside the house, graced with the dignity and liberty of sonship, the erstwhile prodigal feeds on Christ, the fatted calf; feeding and delighting his heart in communion with his Father. Such is the blessedness of the portion that God has given to us in His wonderful grace and love.

We began in Luke 10 with a man on the wrong road, wounded and nearly dead; but Christ took him up and has taken us up, and will care for us until He returns to take us to His Father's house. Meanwhile He teaches us His word and teaches us to pray; brings us to the feast that God has spread puts the best robe on us, and gives us to know the deep joys of the presence of God. May we know increasingly the blessedness of such divine goodness towards us.
J. Muckle.

In Christ's Hand.

No one can pluck us out of Christ's hand; but why say this if there were not real danger and keeping of us in it? The wolf "catcheth" (same word as pluck) the sheep and scattereth them, but cannot catch them out of Christ's hand, but here our responsibility comes in, our dependence on Him, our leaving ourselves to His infallible care; and one as precious as the other is necessary.
J. N. Darby.