Harold J Klassen
Psalm 119: 67
It is interesting that this verse says, “Before I was afflicted I went astray”. The Lord had His eye on the psalmist; and he says, “now I keep thy word”. I have wondered - and I wonder if you have ever done so - to see in Scripture how the Lord takes up souls that have failed. We have just had Rahab before us; you think of David, of Abraham, of Solomon, or of Paul. You might ask yourself, why is it that the Lord takes up with those that fail? The answer is that that is all He has got to work with; that is it - everyone has failed. That is all He has to work with.
Some of the things that have been before us lately are before me. How do you feel about yourself? Do you feel that you have failed? That is good. Do you feel that you are unfit? That is good. Now, you are a vessel that God can use; He can work with you; He can bring you into something. Think of Job: it is said he was an upright man, Job 1: 1. Was he absolutely? We have all failed, either in deed, or in word; even in our thoughts. We have all failed. As I say, that is what God has had to work with. I used to wonder about that, but now what it does is to amplify the grace of God.
So, when something comes our way, some affliction, some difficulty, what do we do about it? The Lord uses it to bring us to Himself. The psalmist says, “Before I was afflicted” - so he was afflicted - “I went astray, but now I keep thy word”. So, when things come our way - difficulties, trials, experiences - I believe that the thing God would have us do is learn by them. We had that before us on Lord’s day.
You can learn not only by your own experiences and failures, but you can learn by those of others too. I think that is why we have so many instances in Scripture. We can learn by them. I just had that little thought about how we feel. We live in a day when we are taught to feel good about ourselves, and think highly of ourselves, to look in the mirror, and think of yourself and how wonderful you are - all these things; but, you know, that man that you are looking at is a man of failure.
But you can look at yourself as in Christ, as God sees you. Now you can see why God can take you up. He wants to take up each of us and use us for His glory, for His blessing. Think of the privilege of being able to gather together to break bread and enter into the service of God. God would use you and me in His service in that way. What a wonderful privilege that is, that God could use us in that way. That is why it says, “let a man prove himself, and thus eat”, 1 Cor 11: 28. It is really sad that there are those who stay away from the breaking of bread, because they do not think they are worthy. That is doing despite to the death and sufferings of Christ, because that is saying that He cannot make me worthy. Who sinned worse than the apostle Paul? He says he was “the first” of sinners, 1 Tim 1: 15.
So think of this side of things now. It is to learn the grace of God - even if you look at your own failures, which is a poor occupation, it will take a lot of your time: “but now I keep thy word”. May these experiences that we go through in life work to this end, that they might bring us to Himself: “but now I keep thy word”. We would keep the Lord’s word, think of what He has done and be occupied with Him. What a blessed occupation that is, how wonderful that is! All these things are easy to say: Satan does not want any one of us to be in the enjoyment of what we have just said. He would rather we were in self-occupation, which makes us miserable, but let it only be the vehicle that brings you to the feet of Jesus, to be partakers of His grace.
May we be encouraged to go on in these things. We do not live in a day of great things, but think of what we had, that “The latter glory of the house shall be greater than the former”, Hag 2: 9. Think of the glory that God would get today from those who would just be occupied with Him and what He has done, and answer to Him.
I just say these things for our own encouragement, because I know each one of us can get discouraged and cast down. We look around us and we see the failure on every hand. We look at the outward form of things and how it has fallen apart; but not the reality - God had something to say about what is internal; He said it is greater.
May we be helped in these closing days of the history of the assembly in this scene, to be occupied with these things and to be encouraged day by day; and to encourage one another that we might keep His word. For His Name’s sake.
29th July 2015