This is one of the most intriguing books I’ve read. Jeremy Strang has delivered a book written in a most engaging fashion: a first person devotional that reveals the heart of humble man looking to walk obediently. It is full of phrases that ring with God’s truth, as the man in the book talks to his Creator, asking for help in various areas of life. This book has three sections with twelve chapters that each delve into the depths of God’s redemptive work for His own, plus a bonus (Bits of Gold) at the end.
Chapter 1 is How shall I come to you?, which begins with: “Oh Lord my God, for how shall I come to You? You are O holy, righteous, just and good; apart from You I am not. And yet for your namesake, the love of the world, and for my life and eternal spirit, You have reckoned and accounted to me through Christ alone, His righteousness – giving unto me new life and joy unspeakable.” This sets the tone for the entire book: a man raised up to new life in Christ should never lose the awe of being reconciled to Holy God. The reason for God saving sinners is not primarily for the redemption of His chosen ones; it is that He would be glorified by His creation. What a privilege and joy to be a trophy of His saving grace! “Oh what amazing and unfathomable grace You have powerfully worked and effectually given me. This new heart is feeling and pliable, regenerated and justified, nothing short of miraculous, and this without any works of my own. Oh Your grace! How great is Your love that I should be called Your child?” Do you get a sense of how the author approaches this work – Scripture drenched words that reveal a heart that beats with gratitude for the Lamb Who gave His life for wretched sinners.
The second chapter describes our greatest need, recognizing man’s desperate condition. “Prior to having You as my treasured joy and everlasting prince of peace, I was ignorant and dead, grasping firm the lies of Satan and steeped in my own narcissistic and deceptive heart. I believed, as all fallen men are born to think, that my nature was not that bad and that in some way, in some strength, or by some religious duties, I could be found favorable to attain some form of grand abyss when I die – what damnable foolishness was this prison of thought.” So marvelous is the work of God in redemption, yet so easily allowed to become accustomed to our new state. To guard against this deplorable condition, we read, “Lord, I pray that I will never forget how You have powerfully redeemed my soul and have patiently worked in me these last years. Oh that I would show patience towards those who have yet to experience and understand such freeing grace and freedom found in absolutely knowing that salvation is a work completely of You. Hallelujah, for You have shown me the foothills of such wonderful glory – oh, for what could I ever bring to You as a gift that you would exchange in pardon for my depraved nature, or what can I add to the unsearchable riches of Christ? Absolutely, ten thousand times over, nothing! Lord, I also ask of You, never let me become lax or lazy, or sleepy and dull regarding the faith You have given me.” This last sentence needs to be our daily prayer, recognizing our need of His mercy.
Each chapter is like this, examining an aspect of the life of the saint, using Scripture as the only foundation for what is right, seeing the child of God gloriously new in Christ, yet fragile and weak in this age.
Section 3 is entitled, When in Fear – Look to Jesus. This is the answer to all the Christian’s dilemmas, for there is not one single trial we encounter where the answer lies elsewhere. “When I think of Your truth given to me, I cannot help but wonder why I allow fear to creep in and arise in my heart. When I really start to investigate my situation, the answer seems always to come back the same – my vision is gazing somewhere else. And how often I find that the majority of the time the fear is not due to some close line of death nor due to severe persecution chasing me down, but rather it is my eyes have wandered onto secondary things.”
When Jesus was crucified, all of His disciples were afraid and discouraged. When the women went to the tomb to perform their religious rituals, they found it empty and an angel of God told them He was not there. He told them to remember His words, for He had told them what would take place. His words – remember them, think on the One Who spoke them. He is trustworthy and His promises are sure. When your world is crumbling, look to Jesus. When everything is going your way, look to Jesus. Poverty and riches, illness and health; all and each can distract us from the One Who has to prepare a place for us.
“Praise You God that You are faithful and powerful to redirect my paths, grant me repentance yet again, and daily give me new mercies; You get sweeter and sweeter as You rekindle my desires to walk earnestly, humbly, and powerfully with a contrite heart, oh how wonderful Your salvation and how amazing Your grace! Yet, Lord, if I say that I love Your grace and long for Jesus, then shall I not also be changed in my thinking, in my response, in my private life and my inner and outer strivings? – Oh, my yes!”
Chapter 10 warns about Satan’s deceptive ways; chapter 11 reminds us our hope is in Christ when we walk in darkness, which begins, “Father, You have been so very good and patient towards me, so much more than anyone could ever know or imagine. You know my struggles, my battles, and my weaknesses, and yet You have such patience and such tender care. Oh, how great is Your love and faithfulness! You hear me Lord, for truly You are a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
He goes on, “I must seek You and know You more so that I would always, especially in times of trials and fears, make You my sure trust. My lack, oh Lord, is always and only because of me and not You; for You do not change but I am the one prone to wander, prone to leave the God I love. And when I feel a lack of sorts, a coldness or dryness of heart, or even a sort of deadness in my desires and emotions to set my face towards You – but You oh God! You again revive me demonstrating Your perfect love, divine grace and unfailing mercies. You answer my cry when I pray: “Help me and give me a desire, a clean desire, a desire to know You, to read Your word, to be godly and sanctified, to continue and to stand with You.” You are so very wonderful!”
The tender mercies of God towards His own sheep are new and never ending! As Strang reminds us, He is so very wonderful! How thankful I am that God stirred up this brother to write this book, full of truth about us and God, calling us to be faithful even as we recognize that faith as a gift from Him! And written in a style that ought to stir your soul as you consider how faithful Jesus is even when you and I are faithless.
“Lord, I never want to be tired of Your word; I never want to be too quick to pass by and move on; let me dwell here forever and ever as You know and see fit for me. There are just so many truths, so much help, so much victory and so much depth in Your word above. So when all ‘hell’ seems to be breaking out around me, help me Lord to remember, this is not the final hell that awaits the wicked, those who refuse to bow the knee, refuse to acknowledge You now and turn to You.”
Chapter 12 reminds us, “Lord please, I ask of You a thousand times over, and thus praise Your holy name, may I be marked by grace, bruised by love and matured in devotion, prayer and obedience. Lord grant this poor man that I might press in and on, and when Jesus comes, He will find in me a resolve in prayer and a faith persevering for Your glory. I am reminded today, and I cannot help but to agree, with what one preacher recently past often used to say: “The greatest miracle that God can do today is to take an unholy man out of an unholy world and make him holy, then put him back into that unholy world and keep him holy in it.” Oh Lord, what an amazing miracle it is that Jesus Christ would shed His own blood for me.”
Saints – do you still see it as a miracle that Jesus reconciled you to God? Do you see a daily need to Him, by His Spirit, to continue to work in your soul while you travel about as a pilgrim seeking his homeland?
“Oh Lord, how true it is that I need You far above all else. You call me to obedience and to work out my salvation with fear and trembling, and although the duty, this being the responsibility to read, heed and obey Your word is mine, I know that all the power to do so is Yours. I know Lord, that should I become boastful in myself and sin, there is absolutely no way I could ever repent and truly obey apart from Jesus. So, I ask that you increase my singleness of eye, my knowledge and my desire to be attentive to my duties, and at the same time, increase Your conviction, Your strength and Your faith in me.” We are to be faithful stewards of what He’s given us, but even our faith is His – it’s alien to our nature to believe in the supernatural Creator and Lord of all.
Our brother finishes up with this: “Oh, that the secondaries and insignificant areas of my life would be put in their correct places, with all self-control and wisdom, so that You would be seen correctly as most magnificent above all else. Lord, to You be the glory, the power and the praise. Lord, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth? In me and all who read, may the answer be an astounding – YES!”
“’Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.”
This is an easy to read and easy to understand book. It is not an easy book to accept and see the truth of our own lazy, sinful, ways. But the One Who called us is faithful – He will do it!
1 Thessalonians 5:23-28 (HCSB) Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. Brothers, pray for us also. Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. I charge you by the Lord that this letter be read to all the brothers. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.