THE MAJESTY OF CALMNESS – Day 40

To climb the steep slope to the lofty summit of the majesty of calmness one must wean, quiet, and calm the soul. To rise above this world and to possess an inner peace that is invulnerable to external things is only made possible by the steadfast confidence that stems from a sure hope in the Lord. None of this, however, is humanly obtainable. It is only possible by a divine work of grace miraculously wrought in the souls of those who have come to Christ.

In Matthew 11:28-30, our Lord said, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” To seek rest for your soul apart from Christ is the epitome of impossibility and the height of folly. How can peace be obtained apart from the Prince of Peace and how can the soul ever find serenity apart from the Savior of the soul?

As we stated at the beginning of our study, the path laid out for us in Scripture to the soaring spiritual summit of the majesty of calmness is long, steep, and arduous. It is up to you whether or not you ever step foot on it. If you do, it will also be up to you whether or not you stay on it with God’s help until you eventually reach its lofty spiritual pinnacle. Still, it begins with stepping foot on it, which occurs when you come to Christ, putting your confidence in Him for salvation and committing the rest of your life to Him in service.

 

Hear the blessed Savior calling the oppressed,


“Oh, ye heavy-laden, come to Me and rest;


Come, no longer tarry, I your load will bear,


Bring Me every burden, bring Me every care.”

 

Come unto Me, I will give you rest;


Take My yoke upon you, hear Me and be blest;


I am meek and lowly, come and trust My might;


Come, My yoke is easy, and My burden’s light.[1]

 

The calming of the soul begins with one’s coming to Christ.[2]

 

 

[1] Come Unto Me, written by Charles P. Jones (1865-1949)

[2] For information on how to become a Christian, how to begin your Christian life, and how to be sure you are a Christian, see this author’s booklet: First Steps.

THE MAJESTY OF CALMNESS – Day 39

To come to the place where hope is most prized is to be constrained to share it with others. This is what David did. It is also what we must do.

As Christians, we are constrained by the love of Christ to share “the hope of the gospel” with a lost and dying world (2 Corinthians 5:14; Colossians 1:5, 23). Like the Apostle Paul, you too should say, “Woe is me, if I preach not the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16).

Jonas Salk, the man who discovered the polio vaccine, was advised by a friend to keep it secret for a while. According to Salk’s friend, Salk’s vaccine would be far more valuable if more and more people contracted polio. Salk rejected his friend’s cold-hearted suggestion and explained to his friend that a man who has what the whole world needs is debtor to the whole world.

In Romans 1:14-16, the Apostle Paul explains why he was “not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” and ever-ready to preach it to anyone, anywhere, at any time. According to Paul, he was a “debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.” In other words, having what all men needed, the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Paul felt he was a debtor to all men. He owed the Gospel to everyone everywhere.

As the stewards of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the world today, you and I are indebted to the whole world. We owe our witness to all men everywhere. Like Paul, we too should not be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, since it alone contains the hope needed by the whole world. Furthermore, as the Apostle Peter admonishes in 1 Peter 3:15, we should always be ready to give an answer to every man who asks us about our hope in the Lord. Are you ever-ready to proclaim and explain your hope in the Lord?

The calmed soul is ever-ready to proclaim and explain the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

THE MAJESTY OF CALMNESS – Day 38

To come to the place where hope is most prized is to learn the great lesson of life. It is hope of eternal life alone that makes it possible for us to properly live our present lives. Yet, it is only a calmed soul, calmed by a sure hope in the Lord, that will possess the confidence to overlook material things in the here and now for the “substance of things hoped for” in the hereafter, the unseen “evidence” of which is only visible to the eyes of faith (Hebrews 11:1).

It is hope in the Lord that enables the calmed soul to be strong and courageous (Psalm 31:24).

It is hope in the Lord that delivers the calmed soul from being discouraged and disquieted (Psalm 42:5).

It is hope in the Lord that enables the calmed soul to rejoice all the time, regardless of its circumstances (Psalm 146:5; Philippians 4:4).

It is hope in the Lord that makes a calmed soul a blessed rather than bothered soul (Jeremiah 17:7).

It is hope in the Lord that fills the calmed soul with joy and peace (Romans 15:13).

It is hope in the Lord that the calmed soul can carry with it from time into all eternity, since hope is one of the three abiding (eternal) things (1 Corinthians 13:13).

To overstate the importance of hope is an impossibility. Without hope life is meaningless. Life provides us with but two options. We can either believe in a hopeless end or in an endless hope. We have no other choice. Which will you choose?

The calmed soul believes in an endless hope, not a hopeless end.

THE MAJESTY OF CALMNESS – Day 37

In one of the most vivid illustrations of divine truth found in all of the Bible, the Book of Hebrews presents “hope” as the “anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19). It is an anchor that is “sure and steadfast”; consequently, the Christian can count on it to lead him safely into “the Presence behind the veil.” What is “the Presence behind the veil”? It is an obvious reference to the presence of God, which was located in both the temple and tabernacle behind the veil that separated the holy place from the Holy of Holies.

To properly understand this vivid illustration one needs to know that in biblical times anchors were used to help ships safely navigate through narrow entrances into small harbors. As a ship moved through the tricky and treacherous entrance to an ancient harbor, the ship’s captain had to guard against running his ship onto a reef or sandbar. In order to minimize the risk, the ship’s captain would drop the ship’s anchor into a smaller boat, which would then be rowed ahead of the ship through the narrow entrance into the harbor. Once in the harbor, the anchor was dropped in order to pull the ship past obstacles, through the narrow entrance, and safely into the safety of the harbor.

As “the anchor of the soul,” hope enables us to safely navigate our way through many a narrow and treacherous situation. By pulling us toward the things of God and safely past the things of this world, hope keeps us from making shipwreck of our faith (1 Timothy 1:19). Furthermore, as “the anchor of the soul,” hope enables us to remain steadfast and immovable even in the most violent storms of life. Last, but certainly not least, hope, as “the anchor of the soul,” will finally lead us safely into the everlasting security of God’s eternal presence.

The calm soul is anchored by hope.

THE MAJESTY OF CALMNESS – Day 36

As we learned back on Day 26, hope is essential to the Christian’s piety. According to the Apostle Paul, we will not have the faith in Christ or the love for others that we need if we don’t have a secure hope in the Lord (Colossians 1:4-5). If we don’t have a hope of the hereafter we will neither live for Christ nor care for others as we should in the here and now. We will, as Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 15:32, eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

Just as it is essential to the Christian’s piety, hope in the Lord is equally essential to the Christian’s purity. In 1 John 3:1-3, the Apostle John explains how every possessor of the “blessed hope”; that is, everyone hoping for the soon coming of Christ, as Paul teaches in Titus 2:13, will “purify himself, even as [Christ] is pure.”

How can a genuine hope of Christ’s imminent return not affect one’s living? If you sincerely believe and hope that Jesus will come today, how will you live your life today? Will you not attempt to live a pure life in obedience to Christ so that you will not be found unfaithful at His coming?

Finally, the Bible also teaches us that hope in the Lord is essential to the Christian’s perseverance. According to the Apostle Paul, the reason Christians don’t “lose heart” and persevere through this world’s “light” and momentary “afflictions” is because of our hope of “eternal glory” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Being focused on invisible, heavenly, and eternal things, we are little affected any longer by visible, earthly, and temporal things.

According to Hebrews 12:2, Jesus endured His suffering in this world, even the suffering of the cross, because of “the joy that was set before him.” Likewise, Paul teaches that Christians endure their suffering in this world because of the joy (glory) that is set before us.

Being essential to the Christian’s piety, purity, and perseverance, the importance of our hope in the Lord cannot be overstated. It is a fitting climax, therefore, to this magnificent psalm. It is no mere appendix added by David as an afterthought, but the pinnacle reached when the soul is finally weaned, calmed, and quieted.

That the calmed soul has reached the pinnacle of hope in the Lord will be proven in the life by piety, purity, and perseverance.

THE MAJESTY OF CALMNESS – Day 35

The weaning of a child marks the end of a temporal condition and the beginning of a state in which the child will continue for the rest of his life. Likewise, the weaned soul is taken out of a temporal condition into a state in which it will continue forever. To rise above the world by ceasing to hanker for it is to enter into a heavenly existence in which one will hope in the Lord forever, as David admonishes us to do in Psalm 131:3.

Apart from nostalgia and sentimental reasons, the changing of one’s residence naturally results in the transfer of the heart, as well as the person, from one’s former to one’s present abode. What happens to one’s current home becomes far more consequential than anything happening to the former one. For instance, as sad as it may be to learn that one’s former home has fallen into disrepair or been destroyed by fire, one’s present living accommodations will remain unaltered by the fact. Nothing happening at a former residence has much bearing on one’s present life.

Once the soul is weaned from this world and the heart transferred to its new home in the world to come, things occurring in this world become less and less consequential to the calmed soul. Granted, the calmed soul may be saddened, even heartbroken, over things occurring in this fallen world, but its affection for the world to come will remain unaltered, being unaffected by the goings on in this world.   

As we learned in our devotion on Day 26, the Bible teaches, contrary to popular opinion, that the only way to be of any earthly good is to be so heavenly minded. You will never live in this world as Christ intends you to live until your affections are transferred from it to the world to come, as the Apostle Paul teaches in Colossians 3:1-2. Only those preoccupied with Heaven, “where Christ sits on the right hand of God,” will be able to keep earthly things in a proper perspective.

According to the Apostle Paul, Christians have been raised and seated with Christ in heavenly places (Ephesians 1:19-21; 2:6). Furthermore, our eternal life, which is both presently hid and preserved for us in Christ, will be at long last revealed and realized when Christ returns (Colossians 3:1-4). Therefore, Paul teaches us to live this life from our throne perspective in Heaven. Only by looking down on the temporal things of this earth from our eternal perspective in Heaven can we keep ourselves from hankering for the things of this world, as well as keep ourselves hoping in the Lord, in whom our eternal inheritance is reserved and by whom it will one day be revealed.

The calmed soul sees earthly things from the perspective of a heavenly throne.

THE MAJESTY OF CALMNESS – Day 34

Notice, David admonishes “Israel” to “hope in the Lord.” We are to hope in the Lord. If our hope is in others or other things we are destined for disillusionment and despair. Only by hoping in the Lord is our hope made secure. In addition, the confidence needed to calm the soul is only made possible by the possession of a secure hope.

When we hope in the Lord, our hope is not only secure, but eternal. In 1 Peter 1:3, the Apostle Peter writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” According to Peter, ours is a “living hope,” since it is in the resurrected Christ. It is a hope that will live and last as long as Christ is alive.

In Revelation 1:18, the resurrected Christ assures John that there is no need to fear. He does so by saying to His frightened apostle, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen.” Christ rose from the dead to live forevermore. As the Apostle Paul put it in Romans 6:9, “Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.”

Now that Christ has risen from the dead and is alive “forevermore,” all who put their hope in Him have a “living hope” that will live and last forever. They have nothing to fear, not even death. What greater calming agent could there possibly be for the human soul than the possession of a secure and eternal hope in the resurrected Christ?

There is nothing you possess in this world that cannot and will not be taken from you. Even your life will eventually be taken if Jesus tarries. However, there is one thing that you can carry with you out of time and into eternity. One thing that nothing or no one can ever take away from you, no demon in hell, no angel in heaven, no man on earth. It is your hope in Christ. It is eternally secure and proven to be so by Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

The calm soul possesses a living and eternal hope in the resurrected Christ.

THE MAJESTY OF CALMNESS – Day 33

At first glance, one may be tempted to consider the final verse of Psalm 131 as an added appendix, a simple admonition to forever hope in the Lord. Yet, a closer look will prove this concluding verse to be an intricate part of the great truth taught in this magnificent psalm.

David’s words, “O Israel, hope in the Lord…” are indicative of a soul weaned from self. Once weaned from self, the calmed and quieted soul can think of others. Until the soul is weaned from self, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to see beyond one’s self and to be sincerely concerned with the welfare of others, even the welfare of one’s own countrymen.

David’s words, “…hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever,” are indicative of a soul weaned from this world. Once weaned from the temporal things of the here and now, one can hope for the eternal things of the hereafter. Until the soul is weaned from this world, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to escape the allure of worldly things and to focus one’s attention on heavenly things.

It is only when one’s soul has been calmed and quieted by being weaned from both self and the world that one’s hope can be expanded to the farthest extent. There is room for the largest hope once hope’s parameters are extended beyond the inhibiting boundaries of self. Likewise, hope springs eternal once it is extended beyond transient things.

The calm soul possesses a hope expanded beyond the inhibiting boundaries of self and transient things.

THE MAJESTY OF CALMNESS – Day 32

Before we leave our consideration of the weaning of the soul, which is so essential to the calming of the soul, let’s pause to look at a biblical portrait of it. Hanging in the gallery of Scripture is the picture of John leaning on Jesus’ breast at the Last Supper (John 13:25; 21:20). Here, we see a divinely inspired masterpiece depicting for us the true essence of a weaned soul.

That the Apostle John had a unique relationship with our Lord is undeniable. Within the circle of Christ’s twelve original disciples there was an inner circle of three, comprised of Peter, James, and John. These three accompanied our Lord on certain occasions when the other disciples were left behind. For instance, they accompanied our Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration and into the inner garden on the night of our Lord’s agony in Gethsemane. What’s more, there was within this inner circle another inner circle, comprised of John alone.

The Apostle John is called the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7; 21:20). Granted, it is John alone who gives himself such a distinction, which may simply indicate how overwhelmed he was at Christ’s love for him. Truly, knowing our unloveliness, as John certainly knew his, we should all be overwhelmed by the fact that we are loved, despite our unloveliness, by Him who is “altogether lovely” (Song of Solomon 5:16). Like Philip Bliss, we too should sing: “Wonderful things in the Bible I see, but this is the dearest, that Jesus loves me. I am so glad that Jesus loves me, Jesus loves even me.”

We should be careful not to misinterpret John’s distinguishing of himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved” as an indication that he was loved more than the other disciples. What it may indicate, however, is that he loved the Savior more than the other disciples. One thing for sure, among the disciples, John’s relationship with Christ was unique and the most intimate. Whereas Peter may have been first in primacy, John was first in intimacy.

Along with being known as the disciple whom Jesus loved and knowing something of the heartbeat of the Savior, as a result of his leaning upon Jesus’ breast at the Last Supper, John is also the only disciple seen at the cross. Although it appears the other disciples may have witnessed Christ’s crucifixion from a distance, John was standing there front and center. In fact, from the cross, Christ committed the care of His own mother, Mary, to John (John 19:26-27).

The secret to John’s unique and most intimate relationship with Christ may be seen in the scriptural portrait of him leaning on the Savior’s breast at the Last Supper. Here, we have a beautiful portrait of the weaned soul. Someone who is satisfied being with Jesus and just leaning upon Him, not seeking or looking for anything from Him.

In his most beloved psalm, David, who claims here in Psalm 131:2 to have a weaned soul, wrote these famous words, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1). In other words, David said the Lord was all that he needed. Like the Apostle John, the great King David was satisfied with the Good Shepherd. How about you?

The calmed and weaned soul is satisfied leaning upon the Savior.

THE MAJESTY OF CALMNESS – Day 31

Although we have turned it into a pretty picture, a piece of jewelry, and a steeple topper, the cross is and always has been a symbol of death. Crucifixion is the cruelest means of execution ever dreamed up in the demented mind of a depraved world.

To Christ, the cross meant more than indescribable suffering and physical death. It also meant, as we saw in our devotion on Day 29, dying to His will in order to submit Himself to the will of His Father. As Hebrews 5:7-9 teaches, Christ’s supreme act of obedience has resulted in Him becoming “the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.” In other words, only those like Christ—willing to take up the cross, deny themselves, and do the will of God—will be saved by Christ (Matthew 7:21).

This explains Jesus’ words in Mark 8:34, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Contrary to popular opinion, there is no such thing as cheap or costless Christianity (Luke 14:26-33). Neither is there such a thing as a “crossless” follower of Christ, as Amy Carmichael once poignantly pointed out in a poem:

No wound? No scar?

Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,

And pierced are the feet that follow me;

But thine are whole; can he have followed far

Who has no wound nor scar?

There is no easy road to Calvary, but there is no other way to Heaven. Like our Lord, we too may sweat blood as we contemplate the cross and stumble beneath it as we bear its heavy load (Luke 22:44; John 19:17; Mark 15:21). Still, bear it we must if we hope to live forever, for “whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for [Christ’s] sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25).

Whereas this initial taking up of the cross is mandatory for our salvation, our continual taking up of the cross is essential to the calming of the soul. Our Lord taught that the cross had to be taken up “daily,” not just initially, and the Apostle Paul taught that the Christian life necessitated a daily dying to self in order to live for Christ (Luke 9:23; 1 Corinthians 15:31). Only when we are bearing our cross moment by moment; that is, dying to our will in order to fulfill Christ’s will in our lives, will we ever know true spiritual serenity and the calmness of the soul.

The daily calming of the soul requires a daily taking up of the cross.