Defford

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The Lord helps us in our weakness

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There are times when all of us are particularly aware of the weakness that marks us in our Christian pathway: weakness in our faith, weakness in our understanding, weakness in our localities, and in many other ways. There are many ways in which that is brought home to us, and that is what led me to these three Scriptures.

John the Baptist was marked by weakness of faith; suddenly his faith wobbled. Sometimes that happens to us. Then in John 6 we have Philip overwhelmed by the need that he was faced with. Finally, we see the apostle Paul at his first defence, finding that all his companions left him, and in that situation he could only rely upon the Lord. I trust, as we consider these three passages, we may be encouraged ourselves, as seeing how the Lord strengthens people and brings in help and blessing.

In Matthew 11 we see that John the Baptist is in prison. He had spoken against Herod’s improper marriage, and as a result he was imprisoned, and in the prison, reports were reaching him of what the Lord was doing, blessing and healing, and so on. Perhaps John was beginning to think, ‘Well, if this is what is happening, why is not some of this power devoted to getting me released

The wilderness journey

suggested these passages because they all speak of the journey of the children of Israel in the wilderness. It is striking how many times the journey through the wilderness is spoken of in the Scriptures. It comes into several of the Psalms and several of the prophets, and Paul draws on it in his teaching to those in Corinth when he says all “these things happened as types of us” (1 Cor 10:6), which makes the subject important in our own day for what it can teach us.

Just so that we can be clear about what the wilderness is for us – I think it is what the world becomes to the believer when the light of Christ really lays hold of our hearts and souls, so that the world is shown up for what it truly is: “Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified” (Rev 11:8). As a result, just as the children of Israel were enabled to move out of Egypt, so you and I are to be enabled to move out, in that sense, of this world. God has called us out of this world, to be a people for His possession (see Deut 7:6; 1 Pet 2:9).

We the Learners

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The Lord Jesus is the Teacher; we are the learners, and these passages have something to do with our own place as learners.

It is an interesting word, ‘learning.’ We all know from school or work that lessons that need to be learned are not all learned in a moment. Learning, as I understand it, is not quite like coming to the Lord Jesus for the first time as Saviour. We are either saved or we are not, and thank God for every one who is saved – one lasting transaction with the Lord Jesus.

But learning is something that takes time, and it also takes some application. And in a sense, as in natural things, so it is in spiritual things. We have to limit that, of course, because making progress in Christianity is not a matter of being clever or anything of that kind. But still, the need for application is there, and giving heed to what is said, and also, as we shall see, to Who it is that is saying it.

The Lord Jesus our Teacher

I have been concerned that we might get further gain from considering the Lord Jesus as our Teacher. At the beginning of the Acts this same servant, Luke, said that he put this Gospel together “concerning all things which Jesus began both to do and to teach.” There was clearly a great emphasis in his mind, led of the Holy Spirit, to set out the teaching the Lord Jesus gave when He was here.