Prologue: Upon returning from Mile 91 during the dry season evangelism circuit, Stephen had a unique gift from the pastor of that church. In gratitude for all that GTF Bible Mission had done and provided for the church Brother Suaray gave Stephen the gift of several books which were languishing on his very dusty bookshelf. One of those was the incredible gem Kept for the Master’s Use by Frances Ridley Havergal. Even more incredible is that this is an original 1879 edition of the popular devotional which is still in print today! In remarkable condition, the book is now safely on my shelf in the States and I do read it on occasion, though very tenderly. Some thoughts recorded in my journal around the same time nicely compliment the concept of being Kept for the Master’s Use.
Date of original journal entry: March 7, 2016
“Who are kept by the power of God through faith …” I Peter 1:5
This morning I’m given a twofold lesson; what beautiful concepts are wrapped up in that little word, kept.
Kept by the power of God — in this view the keeping belongs to God and is accomplished through his power.
Kept…through faith — in this view it’s up to me to respond by faith to God’s keeping; in other words, God isn’t going to force me to be kept by his power. So although God’s power is well able to keep me, I may forfeit that keeping by not responding in faith.
Kept in a general sense is that God keeps us safe, brings us along the way, and we eventually come to the end of the journey — kept by his power through our faith and brought to heaven as defined by Jesus’ use of the word in John 17:12 “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost …” Here the word kept is used in the sense of preservation from danger, to be protected, guarded, or sustained from falling. God’s flock is kept from danger or loss. This is, of course, an appropriate application though it’s somewhat of a surface or more common understanding of this remarkably rich word.
Let’s take the idea a bit further. The word kept also implies, among its many definitions, to be maintained in proper condition. Yes, I’m going to arrive in heaven because God promised I would, but I don’t want to get to the Glory Land in poor condition, all beat up, and barely hanging on. My journey might be rough and full of hard trials, it might have many sorrows and disappointments but I can be kept in good condition inwardly rather than broken in spirit, joyless, bitter, and miserable. Here God’s flock is kept for the purpose of bringing glory to himself so the lost world can see what a loving master we have. I am kept by his power unto his glory but I must yield myself through faith to his keeping of my heart condition proper.
In Sierra Leone people keep sheep and goats but they don’t KEEP them. Oh sure, they possess them but they don’t care for them; they refuse to keep them in good condition and they utterly neglect to protect or provide for them. When I try to instruct the people about how to truly keep their sheep they’ll say, “Oh yes, we know all about that but we’re not interested in doing that.” I have had that very conversation several times to my complete astonishment. I explain that if they were to care for their animals they’d have a better investment but to no avail; the sheep suffer dreadfully and unnecessarily all because their masters don’t want to put in the effort. This testifies to what kind of master these poor animals have.
I am part of God’s flock; I’m his purchased possession. He is more than interested in keeping me in proper condition because he’s invested the blood of his own Son to purchase me. Yet he can’t keep me if I’m not willing.
Time for a heart examination; am I yielded or resisting? Am I, by faith, taking fullest advantage of God’s power for my keeping in good heart condition? Am I truly Kept for the Master’s Use? God is doing his part — am I doing mine?