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CHRIST'S PROVING GROUND, #539

"Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went," JOH 6:21.

That verse begins with the word, Then. There is a time of proving. There is a time of sanctifying. There is a time for the Lord working His grace in our souls. They were out in the midst of a sea and there was a strong wind, a great wind that blew. The wind was contrary unto them. They saw Jesus walking on those contrary waves. They saw that those trials, those circumstances were at His bidding. "But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid. Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went," JOH 6:20-21.

The chain of events where the Lord is proving His people as we see recorded in this chapter, very well establishes what we read in DEU 8:2. There we read, "And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no."

The Lord brings us through a lifetime of trials and of proving. As we grow in grace and as we go on walking in the footsteps of Christ, we find there is always another new place where He is going to bring us for the preparation of being able to spend eternity with Him. Even though we may believe that our heart has been renewed and our desires are to do His precious will, yet so often we find that old character, that old nature becomes a stumbling block to our peace. The Lord brings us into circumstances, He brings us into places to try us. Those circumstances are for the purification of our souls.

There were a variety of trials. In verse 5, He proved Philip to show what was in his heart, so that he would see how he was using human rationale. In verse 10, Jesus said, "Make the men sit down." Just like the Lord told Noah to build an ark, because there would come a flood. Would they believe in His commandment? Would they have faith in His commandment against all human reason, or would they reason with human reason?

In verse 21 we see them again in another completely different set of circumstances. "Then they willingly received him." After the Lord had given them to see Him walking on the waves, after they had learned to see that it was Christ who had sent the trial, they were able to give it all over and receive Him into their ship. When they were able to let Him take the helm of the ship and able to turn over into His hands all these circumstances, then they willingly received Him.

"When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little." (JOH 6:5-7)

First, Jesus asked Philip a question in verse 5 to prove what was in his heart that Philip might come to realize the emptiness of human rationale. After the human reasoning of Andrew’s and Philip’s hearts were revealed, Jesus proved their obedience of faith commanding them, "Make the men to sit down," when there was no apparent reason connected with His command. There was nothing before their eyes that would give them any reason to ask all these men to sit down because they were going to feed them, when there was nothing there to feed them with.

The Lord wants you and I to come in unconditional surrender of our will. As they obeyed the miracle was performed! As long as there was a single hungry soul the supply never failed, "...and likewise of the fishes as much as they would," JOH 6:12. They had as much as they would of the bread and of the fishes. They were filled to the full and of the fishes also "as much as they would." What a contrast between, "...as much as they would," and Philip’s calculation (in verse 7), "that every one of them may take a little." What a contrast!

See our Saviour’s words in JOH 6:35, "And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger [We will be filled to the full.]; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." As you and I graduate from these trials, as we start to feed upon that Bread of Life, we find that He is sufficient for our every need. We find that we have as much as we need.

JOH 6:12 says, "When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost." It’s important that we see the principles that are taught by our Saviour in these verses. Do we know what it is to be filled from His blessed hand? He says, "When they were filled…" They have all been filled: they had "as much as they would." Do we know what it is to have nothing lacking, to be filled with peace, filled with joy, and filled with the Holy Spirit?

If we have a true hunger and thirst for the Holy Spirit, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" (LUK 11:13) those that ask, those that are seeking, those that are truly hungering after the Spirit of Christ. Will not "your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" Do we know what that is to be filled with the Holy Spirit?

JOH 6:12, "Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost." It’s so important that we understand that nothing be lost. After all were filled there was more than there was to begin with. There is never any insufficiency in the supply. What a blessed principle is taught here! "Gather up the fragments." What fragments do you and I have to gather up? We have to gather up the fragments of lost time. How many years lay behind us that were unfruitful and unproductive? How many years lay behind that we now have to redeem the time?

We have to now go forth after we have been filled; we have to be God’s instruments in taking that Bread of Life and giving it to our fellow man. How about our coldness and/or lack of affection? How about gathering up all the things that we have lost, all the time that has gone by, our cold affections, and all our neglected duties, and using them for His glory? How much of our time has been wasted?

JOH 6:13 says, "Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten." They gathered up more than what there was when they started. What a blessed principle this teaches about what we give unto others. Have you ever thought about the principle? They had given to five thousand and there was more left when they got done than when they started. What about this blessed principle applied to what we give to our fellow man? We cannot out-give the Lord.

The loaves were multiplied by subtraction: the more that was taken from them, the more there was. This is how the Lord deals with you and me. The Lord wants our hearts to be generous. He wants our hearts to be in a right spirit, in a giving spirit. The more we give, the more we’ll find we cannot out-give the Lord. They multiplied by subtraction. We are never impoverished but only enriched by helping others.

PRO 11:25 says, "The liberal soul [the soul that is bountiful to our fellow man] shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself." We must be bountiful not only in natural things, but also in spiritual things. "The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself," literally as well as spiritually.

It is a blessed principle to see this is how we look at our fellow man. MAT 7:1-3 says, "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye…" Notice what the Lord is saying: with the measure we mete to our fellow man we shall be measured. When we are generous (not only in material things, but toward them in spiritual things), when we are not so quick to see the mote in our brother’s eye, when we are not so critical of our brother, we are more generous.

We are commanded to be generous. We must be able to see if we can find something good in the man. Is there some virtue? Is there some love? Is there something for which we can praise him? PHI 4:8-9 says, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you."

 We may never become concerned that there will not be enough left for our needs. God never allows a generous giver to be a loser. MAT 25:34-35 says, "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: [He’s talking about those who were givers, those who were generous. See if we are able to out-give the Lord. ‘The liberal soul shall be made fat.’] For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in."

Now we are invited to the King’s table where we will feast with the King of kings for all eternity. Are we able to out-give the Lord? A generous soul, a "liberal soul shall be made fat." "For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink. [You were liberal. You were able to give.] I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me," MAT 25:35-36.

The Lord is showing how you had a self-sacrificing spirit. You had a spirit of generosity. See how those loaves multiplied and how the baskets full are twelve – it is a full number. It is only the penny-pincher who becomes impoverished. The disciples had more left over than they had before the five thousand were fed.

What is the most important area in which God’s dear children are proved, which comes through in our text? JOH 6:21 says, "Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went." They willingly, unconditionally surrendered to have the Lord Jesus come in as the Master of the ship to take the helm, to steer the course, to have the sense of direction where to go. Are we able to give it all into His hands? When we come into trials and circumstances that the Lord brings us into, we must learn to see that it is Jesus that is walking upon these waves. We must learn to understand and we must be able to give it over so that He is in control. They "willingly received Him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went."

The multitude had followed Jesus, but why? Why had they followed Him? JOH 6:2 says, "And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased." They were following Him for the gifts. They were following Him for the benefits. Now this same multitude had seen the miracle of the loaves. "Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world," JOH 6:14.

When they saw His miracles they owned Him as the Messiah, but what kind of a Messiah were they looking for? Verse 15 says, "When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king…" They wanted a temporal king; they wanted an earthly king; they wanted a king that, by just a word, could give all the food they needed and could take care of all their diseases so that they could have a heaven on earth. They were not looking to enter His kingdom; they were not looking to come into submission and unto subjection to the will of God. They were looking for an earthly kingdom. They did not understand the person of Christ.

The Lord is teaching you and me by these illustrations that we may not end in the miracles; we may not end in the temporal things, but we are coming through these trials to learn to know the person of Christ. See what Jesus told this same multitude in JOH 6:26-27, Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed."

Their entire esteem for Jesus was still centered in His miracles. They had no understanding of His true offices as Prophet, Priest, and King of kings. They had no conception of the priestly office of Christ. They had no knowledge that He came to make atonement for sin. They were looking for an earthly kingdom. JOH 6:15 says, "When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone."

In Mark’s counterpart to this chapter, it was the Lord Jesus who sent them out to sea to prove them. JOH 6:16-17 says, "And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea, And entered into a ship, and went over the sea." MAR 6:45-46 says, "And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people. And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray."

There He entered into His high priestly office. He was there interceding for His people.

He was there in the mountain alone, where He went to pray. As with Hezekiah, our Saviour withdrew Himself to prove His disciples. The Lord withdrew Himself from Hezekiah, "God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart," 2CH 32:31. He also withdrew Himself from His disciples so that they might know what was in their hearts.

That word constrained means that He "moved upon them irresistibly," by His Spirit He moved them to go onto that ship. The Lord brings us into a set of circumstances where we find ourselves in a tumultuous situation. If contentious and we become frustrated we don’t see that it was the Lord who put us in that situation. When we learn to see that it is He that is walking on these waves, it takes our eye off from the instrument and we start to see the hand that brought the trial. We understand that it was Jesus who "constrained" us. In His Providence, He brought about this set of circumstances to prove you and me: to prove us whether or not we would obey His Word. This is to prove and to test us to see if we would willingly bring Him into our ship, and to see if we would set Him at the helm of these circumstances.

MAR 6:46 says, "And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray." (John doesn’t mention that He went there to pray, but Mark does.)

He sends us into these circumstances and then He, as our Intercessor, goes into the mountain to pray, to lay us before the Father. He goes there to intercede for us. What a blessed relationship we have with the Messiah if we learn to understand His person. We need to learn to understand His kingly office: that He is the King of kings, that He is the One who sends the trials. He is the one who governs the trials, and He is the one who uses these trials to bring us to where we are willing to put Him in control.

See how Jesus proved what was in their hearts. JOH 6:18, "And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew." It was the Lord Jesus who sent that wind. Both the words wind and Spirit in JOH 3:8 come from the same root word pneo (pneh'-o), in the Greek, as the word blew in JOH 6:18 ("a great wind that blew"). JOH 3:8 says, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."

This is a direct reference to the wind of the Holy Spirit, in other words, the Holy Spirit is moving in these trials. In Mark’s counterpart to our chapter we read, "And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them…" MAR 6:48. This principle we may not overlook. Christ had constrained them to go on this voyage. He saw them "toiling in rowing," striving and struggling in their own strength while the Holy Spirit was contrary unto them.

GAL 5:17 says, "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." The Lord is teaching us in this Scripture that they were toiling in rowing, i.e., they were struggling in their own strength trying to bring about their own purpose. They were still dealing with carnal reasoning, but the Holy Spirit was contrary unto them and they were going through a struggle in circumstances that brought them to their wit’s end.

At just such a time, when the Lord brings us into circumstances where we come to our wit’s end so that we start taking our eyes off of the circumstances and get our eyes fixed on the Lord Jesus Christ, then we see Him walking on the waves. We see that He was the One who sent them. We see that He was the One who put us into those circumstances. We see that He has put us in a proving ground.

It was the wind that blew, it was the wind that "bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth." You don’t understand what brought on these circumstances, and what it is all about, but it is the Holy Spirit that is contrary to your life. He saw them toiling in rowing. He saw them working in their human strength. The Spirit was contrary to them and it was blowing them backwards: they were losing ground.

The winds are contrary to us because even though we may think we are in submission to His will, there is still so much human reasoning in our old character that needs to be crucified. The Lord is crucifying that old character of ours: He is going to take a lion and transform it into a lamb. He is going to take a man that was like Peter, that was big in himself and able to do all these things on his own, and He is going to make him become like a little child. This is the pruning knife. This is the cutting off of the flesh. This is the cutting off of everything of nature. That old character needs to be crucified. We should be so thankful that the Lord is doing this to us.

COL 1:12, "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet [or fit in character] to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." He is making us fit in character in His pruning process. He is taking that old, stubborn, rebellious nature of ours, that old, ugly monster of self, and He is cutting it off and crucifying it and making us meet or fit in character "to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: [verse 13] Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son."

How thankful we should be when we learn to understand the ways of the Lord. We must learn to understand that blowing of the Holy Spirit, that blows where it listeth and we hear the sound, but we don’t know where it’s come from: so is everyone that’s born of the Spirit. When we see that the Spirit is contrary unto us and we’re "toiling in rowing" in our own strength, then the Lord opens our eyes and we see that it is Jesus walking upon those waves. Jesus said in , MAT 10:34, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword."

Our blessed Saviour sees us when, we are "toiling in rowing" in our own strength against the restraint of the Spirit which is contrary unto us. It was about the fourth watch of the night, i.e., in what we find to be the darkest times in our lives, "he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea," MAR 6:48. It may seem as if the Lord has withdrawn Himself: He’s sent us out to sea in this particular set of circumstances and He has remained behind. He stayed in the mountain, but He’s praying for us as He said to Peter in LUK 22:32, "But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."

It is in that darkest time of the night, the darkest time of our life, the fourth watch of the night, just before daybreak, that "he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea." Right in such a time He opens our eyes to see that He is the One who is the Author of this struggle and this trial, and that He is the One that is walking upon the waves.

"So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid. Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went," JOH 6:19-21.

Now in such a time, they see Him walking on these waves, and they are willing to take Him into the ship. Our Saviour’s proving ground is His people’s willingness. His first proving ground with Philip was to make him aware of his human rationale. He brought the disciples into a proving ground of obedience of faith. It is possible for us to obey grudgingly. That’s a terrific lesson to learn. Sometimes we come to a point where we are able to give it over, but it is still grudgingly. We are still not able to give it over from the heart. Our Saviour’s proving ground is, are you willing to surrender your whole will to His will? Is it our chief delight to do His will?

Our blessed Lord tries our obedience of faith to see not only if we will obey, but also if it is grudgingly or willingly. Are we willing to know what is in our heart? Are we willing to have our heart laid naked before the Lord and for the Lord to examine our hearts and put His finger on our secret sins? Are we willing to have the pruning knife of God the Father cut off our old character, cut off our old nature, and cut down that old ugly monster of self? Are we willing "to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments or no," DEU 8:2? That’s the test that Christ put them through this time: He was putting their willingness on trial.

PSA 110:3 says "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth." The Lord makes us willing in these trying circumstances, which the Lord leads us through, that we learn obedience through the things that we suffer. PHI 2:13 says, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."

We not only do His good pleasure, but we will to do His good pleasure and this is the reason for the trial that the Lord is leading us through. The context of PHI 2:13 speaks (in verse 8) about Christ humbling Himself and becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Then we see (in verses 9-11) the blessed reward the Father gives Him because the Father was so pleased with such unconditional surrender of His will: Not what I will, but what thou will. It was the will of Christ to do His Father’s will.

If Christ had suffered the same things grudgingly, His blood would not have atoned for our sins. If Christ had only been overpowered by those Roman soldiers and by the chief priests and the scribes and the Pharisees, but had been resisting the will of God, His blood would not have been accepted as a sacrifice. It was the fact that He was willing, Jesus prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done," LUK 22:42.

PHI 2:12-13 points out that we are to look unto that perfect obedience of Christ as an example of how the Father is so pleased when you and I obey. Working out our "own salvation with fear and trembling. "For it is God which worketh in you…to will…" If that will is not in place, if it is not our chief desire to know and do His will, then all our best works are an abomination in His sight.

Our Lord proves His people by the most trying circumstances to test their will. In EXO 15:21 we find the mouths of Israel filled with songs of praise. The children of Israel were singing the songs of Moses. What happened to all their praise when the Lord proved their faith? They were so filled with faith. Read the song of Moses and see how they made such big promises, and their faith was so strong, until three days later, when the Lord had tried their faith. EXO 15:24-25 says, "And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them."

That song of Moses that they could sing with such faith is going to be proved. This is the way the Lord deals with His people. He leads us through one deliverance and then another and another and another. Between each of these deliverance’s comes another thorny trial, another time when we are out at sea toiling and rowing in our own strength and the Spirit is contrary to us. The lesson we have to learn is that when we feel that we have learned, and we have learned it well, we don’t come against the resistance of the Spirit anymore, because we have asked, "Lord, what is it? What stands in the road?"

When I was moving to Conrad, I had bought a place that had sixty acres and it had a lot of different things that were attractive to my flesh, but a small obstacle came in the way of the purchase. I had it bought; I had earnest money down; I had the deal together. This small obstacle came in the road and I instantly asked, "Lord, what is it?" and He answered me just that quick. "Ye cannot serve God and mammon." I said, "Thank you, Lord." I was not striving against this. Humanly speaking, I could have overcome the obstacle. The Lord would have probably brought a bigger obstacle. That is what was going to please my flesh, but in His providence the Lord said, "No."

We learn from trials and deliverance’s that when the Lord puts up an obstacle, we don’t go contrary to the Spirit; we don’t try to overcome all these obstacles in our own strength anymore. He proved the disciples on the stormy sea. What was it that the Lord was proving? EXO 15:26 says, "If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee."

What’s the Lord proving? It says He came there to prove them in verse 25. He was proving their will. "If thou wilt…[then] I will…" The Lord is healing. He has told Moses to put a tree in the waters and the waters were healed, symbolizing the Lord Jesus Christ. These bitter waters are healed when we learn to see Christ walking over those tumultuous waters.

When you learn to see that it is Christ walking upon these waves, and learn to see that Christ is in the middle of the tumult, the waters become sweet if you will diligently hearken. Do you know what is most often the trouble with men? When we are in a situation that is contending against the Spirit, most often there is a place in God’s Word that forbids what we are trying to do. We have to learn to see that.

He says, "If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD," in other words, did you search the Word to see wherein the hand of the Lord hath wrought this? Wherein are you violating the Word of God? Then we don’t agonize over the other person that the Lord is using as His instrument to bring this trial. Then we don’t agonize over the circumstances. Then we can come before the Lord and ask, "What is it? Wherein am I wrong?" Then we’ll find that He says He will appear for you, "If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes."

Do you think the Lord has changed? No. Do you think the manner in which He tries and proves His people has changed? No. The children of Israel had just been delivered from the king of Egypt and they had just made it across the Red Sea and seen the Egyptians strung upon the seashore – a great deliverance. They sang the song of Moses, which will be sung in eternity. That was a great song, but three days later the Lord was still testing their will. That is what our text is saying, "Then they willingly received him into the ship."

Satan loves overreaction. Either he will attempt to get you to plead your inability as an excuse to walk in your own self-will, or he will plead that you are not able to keep the law of God to justify walking according to your own will. Satan’s object is to attempt to make you walk in pride and self-righteousness, keeping the law to merit salvation, or to be fatalistic blaming God for our refusal to obey.

ROM 7:12 says, "Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good." The precepts are holy, just, and good. They are the laws of the gospel of grace and they reveal what the Lord would have us to be. That is what the law is for. He is going to prove us: whether we will hearken diligently unto His voice.

When this law is applied with power, the effect is a humbling of conscience in light of our shortcomings. When that holy law of God is instilled in our hearts, it brings us in a repentant spirit before God, because our conscience tells us that we are so filled with shortcomings. ROM 7:23-24 says, "But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, [His mind was willing, but he saw that old nature still warring against his desire to do what was right.] and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"

That is the result of the law: it brings us to the point that we see our need for the Lord Jesus Christ. We see how short we come. When we have learned this, as our text says, then we "willingly received him into the ship." "[W]ho shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Paul said in ROM 7:25, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind [with my will, my understanding, my heart’s desire] I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin."

I still see how much rebellion there is in that old nature of mine and I see that I have to constantly war against it. Our text teaches how Jesus tries our willingness to obey the spirit of the law. This is the proving ground. This is what He sent His disciples into a set of circumstances to prove them. It is amazing when you and I truly understand in the midst of our greatest trials that God sits above it all, that Christ is walking upon all these tumultuous things to prove us. Then are we able to willingly give it over and unconditionally surrender all the circumstances into His hand so that He comes in at the helm of our ship. He is testing our willingness to obey the spirit of the law.

When we have learned to see that it is Jesus who is walking on the waves of that storm-tossed sea, and can willingly receive Him into the ship, then we will learn the meaning of: "and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went." When our heart comes in unconditional surrender, the trial’s over. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the circumstances change. We change and are unconditionally surrendered to the Lord’s will in those circumstances. ISA 26:3-4 says, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength."

When we unconditionally surrender to the will of God, our mind is in perfect peace. We have perfect peace under the identical circumstances, which just before were tearing us to shreds, because now we see Christ at the helm.

When our rebellion is broken and our will is molded into His will, we will no longer find the winds to be so contrary unto us. Not that the winds have changed, but now we are going with the wind. Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to go with the wind? "And…a great wind that blew…" The Lord comes with such force and constraint that we are not able to come against it. Then all of a sudden it’s not the Lord that turned around, but it’s you and me. We start going with the wind and immediately we are at the place where we went. Our rebellion is broken. Our will is molded into His will and we no longer are striving against the wind. Immediately the trial is over.

Notice the blessed conclusion of EXO 15:26 is that if we will, then the Lord says, "I will." Our will must be molded in His will. "And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee."

The trial that has been so grievous loses all its bitterness when the tree of life is put into those bitter waters. Those bitter waters of Marah were not only healed, but they were made sweet. Not only was the pain taken out, but also they were made sweet when the tree of life was cast into those bitter waters. PRO 27:7 says, "The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet."

EXO 15:25 says, "And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them."

See the harmony in this. Our text says, "Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went." "Every bitter thing is sweet" and the trial itself becomes sweet. The very circumstances themselves become sweet when the tree of life is cast into those bitter waters. Then we see that there was honey at the end of the rod. Then we see that the very struggle that the Lord brought us through was for the blessing of our soul. Our soul now can be united and brought close to the Lord Jesus Christ. Now He and the Father come and take up their abode with us. There is such sweetness in the trial when we learn to see Christ in the trial.

When the bitter waters were made sweet, what was Israel’s next stop? See the chronology and what their next stop was after the bitter waters were made sweet. After the tree of life was put in, after Christ had come into their ship: "And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters," EXO 15:27.

There was not only a well, but there were twelve wells: one for every tribe of Israel. The Lord watered their souls. The Lord gave them threescore and ten palm trees: they had a place to rest in the shade. They could stand clean.

The terrible thing about being short of water is that not only do you get thirsty, but have you ever pictured walking in the dust and the dirt in the wilderness for three days without even a drop of water to quench your thirst or to cleanse your body? Imagine nothing for cleansing, nothing for food, hungering and thirsting after righteousness. They are now where there are twelve wells of water. There was cleansing, there was quenching of their thirst, there was shade under the tree of life. Christ had sweetened those bitter waters.

When we can willingly receive Him into the ship we will find that immediately the ship is at the land whither we are going; then our ship becomes as a Bethel. Jacob was fleeing. Jacob was a vagabond. See him at Bethel in GEN 28:16-19 say, "And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven…And he called the name of that place Bethel."

Did you know that this place, when Christ comes in and our will is broken and the tree of life is placed in those bitter waters, becomes a Bethel? It becomes the gate of heaven. It becomes such a blessed assurance for our soul that we now have Christ in us as our hope of glory. We become a completely new man. Now we will no longer gaze upon His miracles, gifts, and benefits, we will gaze upon the beauties that are in His Person.

This is what Christ was teaching His disciples: that we are not to follow Him for the miracles and not to follow Him for the gifts and not to follow Him for the things that are tangible, but we are to follow Him for the blessed person of Christ. We are to follow Him for that blessed satisfaction that He made for our sins. We are to follow Him as King of kings and Lord of lords, that we are to delight to do His will and that our will becomes unconditionally molded into His will. Amen.


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