Tuesday, March 21, 2017

"Do not be afraid, little worm!" — In these words, God comforts weak, covenant children of all time.

"Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob, little Israel, do not fear, for I myself will help you," declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. "See, I will make you into a threshing sledge, new and sharp, with many teeth. You will thresh the mountains and crush them, and reduce the hills to chaff." — Isa. 41:14

Could any two things be in greater contrast than a worm and an instrument with teeth? The worm is delicate, bruised by a stone, crushed beneath the passing wheel; an instrument with teeth can break and not be broken; it can grave its mark upon the rock. And the mighty God can convert the one into the other. He can take a man or a nation, who has all the impotence of the worm, and by the invigoration of His own Spirit, He can endow with strength by which a noble mark is left upon the history of the time.

And so the “worm” may take heart. The mighty God can make us stronger than our circumstances. He can bend them all to our good. In God’s strength we can make them all pay tribute to our souls. We can even take hold of a black disappointment, break it open, and extract some jewel of grace. When God gives us wills like iron, we can drive through difficulties as the iron share cuts through the toughest soil. “I will make thee,” and shall He not do it?

— Dr. Jowett


"Do not be afraid, little worm!" — In these words, God comforts weak, covenant children of all time. Are you weak? And do you yet love God in your weakness, lowness and desperation? Then these words are for you. "Do not fear, little worm, for I MYSELF will help you," says the LORD. Alleluia!

Selah.


Christ is building His kingdom with earth’s broken things. Men want only the strong, the successful, the victorious, the unbroken, in building their kingdoms; but God is the God of the unsuccessful, of those who have failed. Heaven is filling with earth’s broken lives, and there is no bruised reed that Christ cannot take and restore to glorious blessedness and beauty. He can take the life crushed by pain or sorrow and make it into a harp whose music shall be all praise. He can lift earth’s saddest failure up to heaven’s glory.

— J. R. Miller

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Trust the healing process: Suffer, restore, confirm, strengthen and establish

And, after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. — 1 Pet 5:10

by A.B. Simpson

In taking Christ in any new relationship, we must first have sufficient intellectual light to satisfy our mind that we are entitled to stand in this relationship. The shadow of a question here will wreck our confidence. Then, having seen this, we must make the venture, the committal, the choice, and take the place just as definitely as the tree is planted in the soil, or the bride gives herself away at the marriage altar. It must be once for all, without reserve, without recall.

Then there is a season of establishing, settling and testing, during which we must stay put until the new relationship gets so fixed as to become a permanent habit. It is just the same as when the surgeon sets the broken arm. He puts it in splints to keep it from vibration. So God has His spiritual splints that He wants to put upon His children and keep them quiet and unmoved until they pass the first stage of faith.

It is not always easy work for us, but the God of all grace who hath called you unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus after you have suffered awhile, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

Selah.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed

For this reason I tell you, whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. — Mk. 11:24 NET

by Mrs. Rounds

When my little son was about ten years of age, his grandmother promised him a stamp album for Christmas. Christmas came, but no stamp album, and no word from grandmother. The matter, however, was not mentioned; but when his playmates came to see his Christmas presents, I was astonished, after he had named over this and that as gifts received, to hear him add,

“And a stamp album from grandmother.”

I had heard it several times, when I called him to me, and said, “But, Georgie, you did not get an album from your grandmother. Why do you say so?”

There was a wondering look on his face, as if he thought it strange that I should ask such a question, and he replied, “Well, mamma, grandma said, so it is the same as.” I could not say a word to check his faith.

A month went by, and nothing was heard from the album. Finally, one day, I said, to test his faith, and really wondering in my heart why the album had not been sent,

“Well, Georgie, I think grandma has forgotten her promise.”

“Oh, no, mamma,” he quickly and firmly said, “she hasn’t.”

I watched the dear, trusting face, which, for a while, looked very sober, as if debating the possibilities I had suggested. Finally a bright light passed over it, and he said,

“Mamma, do you think it would do any good if I should write to her thanking her for the album?”

“I do not know,” I said, “but you might try it.”

A rich spiritual truth began to dawn upon me. In a few minutes a letter was prepared and committed to the mail, and he went off whistling his confidence in his grandma. In just a short time a letter came, saying:

“My dear Georgie: I have not forgotten my promise to you, of an album. I tried to get such a book as you desired, but could not get the sort you wanted; so I sent on to New York. It did not get here till after Christmas, and it was still not right, so I sent for another, and as it has not come as yet, I send you three dollars to get one in Chicago. Your loving grandma.”

“As he read the letter, his face was the face of a victor. ”Now, mamma, didn’t I tell you?“ came from the depths of a heart that never doubted, that, ”against hope, believed in hope" that the stamp album would come. While he was trusting, grandma was working, and in due season faith became sight.

It is so human to want sight when we step out on the promises of God, but our Savior said to Thomas, and to the long roll of doubters who have ever since followed him: “Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed.”

Alleluia!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

God gets His greatest victories out of apparent defeats

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. — 2 Cor. 2:14

God gets His greatest victories out of apparent defeats. Very often the enemy seems to triumph for a little, and God lets it be so; but then He comes in and upsets all the work of the enemy, overthrows the apparent victory, and as the Bible says, “turns the way of the wicked upside down.” Thus He gives a great deal larger victory than we would have known if He had not allowed the enemy, seemingly, to triumph in the first place.

The story of the three Hebrew children being cast into the fiery furnace is a familiar one. Here was an apparent victory for the enemy. It looked as if the servants of the living God were going to have a terrible defeat. We have all been in places where it seemed as though we were defeated, and the enemy rejoiced. We can imagine what a complete defeat this looked to be. They fell down into the flames, and their enemies watched them to see them burn up in that awful fire, but were greatly astonished to see them walking around in the fire enjoying themselves. Nebuchadnezzar told them to “come forth out of the midst of the fire.” Not even a hair was singed, nor was the smell of fire on their garments, “because there is no other god that can deliver after this sort.”

This apparent defeat resulted in a marvelous victory.

Suppose that these three men had lost their faith and courage, and had complained, saying, “Why did not God keep us out of the furnace!” They would have been burned, and God would not have been glorified. If there is a great trial in your life today, do not own it as a defeat, but continue, by faith, to claim the victory through Him who is able to make you more than conqueror, and a glorious victory will soon be apparent. Let us learn that in all the hard places God brings us into, He is making opportunities for us to exercise such faith in Him as will bring about blessed results and greatly glorify His name.

Selah.

— Life of Praise

Defeat may serve as well as victory
To shake the soul and let the glory out.
When the great oak is straining in the wind,
The boughs drink in new beauty, and the trunk
Sends down a deeper root on the windward side.
Only the soul that knows the mighty grief
Can know the mighty rapture. Sorrows come
To stretch out spaces in the heart for joy.

— Edwin Markham

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing (all verses, full theology)

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

Selah.

Words: Robert Robinson, 1758
Music: Nettleton

Friday, December 30, 2016

Lord, make me as true as the holly that stays red through the snow -- remembering you.



You must remember the Lord your God, for he is the one who gives ability to get wealth; if you do this he will confirm his covenant that he made by oath to your ancestors, even as he has to this day. — Deut. 8:18

God of our fathers, known of old,
Lord of our far-flung battle line,
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine:
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard;
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding calls not thee to guard:
For frantic boast and foolish word,
Thy mercy on thy people, Lord! Amen.

— Rudyard Kipling

Prayer

Almighty God, as I come to thee wilt thou forgive me for the errors I have made, and for the promises that I have broken. Help me to be as true as the holly that keeps itself red through the snow. Remind me of my opportunities as I breathe in thy blessings, "Lest I forget!" Amen.

Selah.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A bar of steel has its price in the fires of the forge and hammer

Look, I am making you like a sharp threshing sledge, new and double-edged. You will thresh the mountains and crush them; you will make the hills like straw. — Isa. 41:15

A bar of steel worth five dollars, when wrought into horseshoes, is worth ten dollars. If made into needles, it is worth three hundred and fifty dollars; if into penknife blades, it is worth thirty-two thousand dollars; if into springs for watches it is worth two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. What a drilling the poor bar must undergo to be worth this! But the more it is manipulated, the more it is hammered and passed through the fire, and beaten and pounded and polished, the greater the value.

May this parable help us to be silent, still, and longsuffering. Those who suffer most are capable of yielding most; and it is through pain that God is getting the most out of us, for His glory and the blessing of others.

Selah

— Selected, Streams in the Desert.

Life is very mysterious. Indeed it is inexplicable unless we believe that God is preparing us for scenes and ministries that lie beyond the veil of sense in the eternal world, where highly-tempered spirits will be required for special service.

Selah.

Friday, October 21, 2016

God takes nothing and makes it everything. God takes one or two and makes many. Be one!

The least of you will multiply into a thousand; the smallest of you will become a large nation. When the right time comes, I the Lord will quickly do this! — Isa 60:22 NET

by C.H. Spurgeon

Works for the Lord often begin on a small scale, and they are none the worse for this. Feebleness educates faith, brings God near, and wins glory for His name. Prize promises of increase! Mustard seed is the smallest among seeds, and yet it becomes a treelike plant, with branches which lodge the birds of heaven. We may begin with one, and that “a little one,” and yet it will “become a thousand.” The Lord is great at the multiplication table. How often did He say to His lone servant, “I will multiply thee!” Trust in the Lord, ye ones and twos; for He will be in the midst of you if you are gathered in His name.

“A small one.” What can be more despicable in the eyes of those who count heads and weigh forces! Yet this is the nucleus of a great nation. Only one star shines out at first in the evening, but soon the sky is crowded with countless lights.

Nor need we think the prospect of increase to be remote, for the promise is, “I, Yahweh, will hasten it in his time.” There will be no premature haste, like that which we see at excited meetings; it will be all in due time, but yet there will be no delay. When the Lord hastens, His speed is glorious.

Alleluia!

Selah

Truth in the inward parts — not propositional or confessional: Willing to do His will, just because He says so.



TRUTH IN THE INWARD PARTS IS NOT PROPOSITIONAL. NOR IS IT CONFESSIONAL.

"Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life." This saying of Jesus mingled itself with his brooding, and by and by, though yet he was brooding rather than meditating, the form of Jesus had gathered, in the stillness of his mental quiescence, so much of reality that at length he found himself thinking of him as of a true-hearted man, mightily in earnest to help his fellows, who could not get them to mind what he told them. "Ah!" said the curate to himself, "if I had but seen him, would not I have minded him!—would I not have haunted his steps, with question upon question, until I got at the truth!"

TRUTH IN THE INWARD PARTS IS ACTIONAL: WILLING TO DO HIS WILL—DOING A THING JUST BECAUSE HE SAYS.

"Yet here have I, all these years, been calling myself a Christian, ministering, forsooth, in the temple of Christ, as if he were a heathen divinity, who cared for songs and prayers and sacrifices, and cannot honestly say I ever once in my life did a thing because he said so, although the record is full of his earnest, even pleading words! I have NOT been an honest man, and how should a dishonest man be a judge over that man who said he was the Christ of God? Would it be any wonder if the things he uttered should be too high and noble to be by such a man recognized as truth?"

With this, yet another saying dawned upon, him: IF ANY MAN WILL DO HIS WILL, HE SHALL KNOW OF THE DOCTRINE, WHETHER IT BE OF GOD, OR WHETHER I SPEAK OF MYSELF. He went into a place of prayer and shut to the door—came out again, and went straight to visit a certain grievous old woman.

Selah.
 

George MacDonald, The Curate’s Awakening, “Chapter XXXI: The Curate Makes a Discovery.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Lord, make me honest

LORD, MAKE ME HONEST

“I am sure Mr. Faber is honest,” said Helen. “That is much to say for any man,” returned the curate. “If any man is, then,” adjusted Juliet. “That is a great IF,” rejoined Wingfold. “—Are you honest, Helen?” he added, turning to his wife. “No,” she answered, “But I am honester than I was a year ago.” “So am I,” said her husband. “And I hope to be honester yet before another is over. It's a big thing to say, ‘I am honest.’”




Selah.

George MacDonald, The Lady’s Confession, "Chapter XVIII: The Park at Nestley."

Friday, October 14, 2016

A Scotsman's commentary on a Sunday sermon

"What the man said was this--'at the sea 'at Peter gaed oot upo' wasna first an' foremost to be luikit upon as a teep [type] o' the inward an' spiritual troubles o' the believer, still less o' the troubles o' the church o' Christ. The Lord deals wi' fac's nane the less 'at they canna help bein' teeps.

Here was terrible fac's to Peter. Here was angry watter an' roarin' win'; here was danger an' fear: the man had to trust or gang doon.
  • Gien the hoose be on fire we maun trust; 
  • gien the watter gang ower oor heids we maun trust; 
  • gien the horse rin awa', we maun trust. 
Him 'at canna trust in siclike conditions, I wadna gie a plack for ony ither kin' o' faith he may hae. God 's nae a mere thoucht i' the warl' o' thoucht, but a leevin' pooer [living power] in a' warl's alike [all worlds alike].

Him 'at gangs to God wi' a sair heid 'ill the suner gang til 'im wi' a sair hert; an' them 'at thinksna he cares for the pains o' their bodies 'ill ill believe he cares for the doobts an' perplexities o' their inquirin' speerits.

[Him that goes to God with a sore head will the sooner go to Him with a sore heart. And them that think not He cares for the pains of their bodies will less believe He cares for the doubts and perplexities of their searching spirits.]




Selah.

George MacDonald, Donal Grant, "A Sunday."

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Jesus always goes ahead of us: He does not say, "There I will be," but "There I AM!"

But go, tell his disciples, even Peter, that he is going ahead of you into Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you.” — Mk. 16:7

 by C.H. Spurgeon

Where He appointed to meet His disciples, there He would be in due time. Jesus keeps His trust. If He promises to meet us at the mercy seat, or in public worship, or in the ordinances, we may depend upon it that He will be there. We may wickedly stay away from the appointed meeting place, but He never does. He says, “Where two or three are met together in my name, there I am!” He says not, “There will I be,” but, “I am there already.”

Jesus is always first in fellowship: “He goeth before you.” His heart is with His people, His delight is in them, He is never slow to meet them. In all fellowship He goeth before us.

But He reveals Himself to those who come after Him: “There shall ye see him.” Joyful sight! We care not to see the greatest of mere men, but to see Him is to be filled with joy and peace. And we shall see Him, for He promises Himself to them. Rest assured that it will be so, for He does everything according to His word of promise: “As he said unto you. Catch at those last words, and be assured that to the end He will do for you "as he said unto you."

Alleluia!

Selah.

Affliction, when I know it, is but this: a deep alloy, and made more image of His will

Affliction, when I know it, is but this,   
A deep alloy whereby man tougher is   
To bear the hammer; and the deeper still —   
We still arise more image of His will.   

John Fletcher

A Scotsman's prayer at the death of a faithful friend

"O Thou in whase sicht oor deeth is precious, an' no licht maitter; wha through darkness leads to licht, an' through deith to the greater life! we canna believe that thou wouldst gie us ony guid thing, to tak' the same again; for that would be but bairns' play. We believe that thou taks, that thou may gie again the same thing better nor afore mair o't and better nor we could ha' received it itherwise; jist as the Lord took himsel' frae the sicht o' them 'at lo'ed him weel, that instead o' bein' veesible afore their een, he micht hide himsel' in their verra herts.

"Come thou, an' abide in us, an' tak' us to bide in thee; an' syne gin we be a' in thee, we canna be that far frae ane anither, though some sud be in haven, an' some upo' earth. Lord help us to do oor wark like thy men an' maidens doon the stair, remin'in' oursel's, 'at them 'at we miss hae only gane up the stair, as gin 'twar to haud things to thy han' i' thy ain presence-chamber, whaur we houp to be called or lang, an' to see thee an' thy Son, wham we lo'e aboon a'; an' in his name we say, Amen!"




Selah.

George MacDonald

Monday, October 03, 2016

The still, small Voice of God is seldom in line with cultural, personal or family wisdom, and its immediate plan often appears at odds even with its final goal.

After the earthquake, there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire, there was a soft whisper. — 1 Kgs 19:12 NET

A soul, who made rapid progress in her understanding of the Lord, was once asked the secret of her easy advancement. She replied tersely, “Mind the checks.” And the reason that many of us do not know and better understand Him is, we do not give heed to His gentle checks, His delicate restraints and constraints. His is a still, small voice. A still voice can hardly be heard. It must be felt. A steady, gentle pressure upon the heart and mind like the touch of a morning zephyr to your face. A small voice, quietly, almost timidly spoken in your heart, but if heeded growing noiselessly clearer to your inner ear. His voice is for the ear of love, and love is intent upon hearing even faintest whispers. There comes a time also when love ceases to speak if not responded to, or believed in. He is love, and if you would know Him and His voice, give constant ear to His gentle touches. In conversation, when about to utter some word, give heed to that gentle voice, mind the check and refrain from speech. When about to pursue some course that seems all clear and right and there comes quietly to your spirit a suggestion that has in it the force almost of a conviction, give heed, even if changed plans seem highest folly from standpoint of human wisdom. Learn also to wait on God for the unfolding of His will. Let God form your plans about everything in your mind and heart and then let Him execute them. Do not possess any wisdom of your own. For many times His execution will seem so contradictory to the plan He gave. He will seem to work against Himself. Simply listen, obey and trust God even when it seems highest folly so to do. He will in the end make “all things work together,” but so many times in the first appearance of the outworking of His plans,

“In His own world He is content
To play a losing game.”


So if you would know His voice, never consider results or possible effects. Obey even when He asks you to move in the dark. He Himself will be gloriously light in you. And there will spring up rapidly in your heart an acquaintanceship and a fellowship with God which will be overpowering in itself to hold you and Him together, even in severest testings and under most terrible pressures.

Selah.






— Way of Faith, quoted in Streams in the Desert

Note: It's fascinating that the plan of God often seems to take a detour -- many times in the opposite of its actual goal -- and makes the "first appearance of the outworking of His plans" look so different from the plan's completion! God know what He's about, though. We simply must trust, and follow His Spirit's light. He will guide us with His eye, if we are not like the horse or mule which needs a bridle and bit. Selah.

Monday, September 12, 2016

To overcome, we must be overcome. Not by a single success or worthy work, lest we should boast!

No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! — Rom. 8:37

by J.C. Philpot

Those who know nothing of their own heart, of their own infirmities, of their own frailties, of their own inward or outward slips and backslidings, know nothing of the secret of super-abounding grace, nothing of the secret of atoning blood, nothing of the secret of the Spirit’s inward testimony. They cannot. Only in proportion as we are emptied of self in all its various forms, are we filled out of the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

Now you, perhaps, (I address myself personally to some poor, tempted child of God, that in touching one, I may touch others,) are a poor, tempted creature; and your daily sorrow, your continual trouble is, that you are so soon overcome; that your temper, your lusts, your pride, your worldliness, your carnal, corrupt heart are perpetually getting the mastery. And from this you sometimes draw bitter conclusions. You say, in the depth of your heart, “Can I be a child of God, and be thus? What mark and testimony have I of being in favor with God when I am so easily, so continually overcome?”


Remember, it is a solemn truth, and one that we learn very slowly—that we must be overcome in order to overcome. There is no setting out with a stock of strength, daily adding to it, weekly increasing it, and then gaining the victory by our own resolutions, our own innate strength. Such sham holiness may come under a gospel garb, may wear a fair appearance; but it only more hides the rottenness of the flesh.

Now I want you to look to the end. What is the issue of these defeats? Remember, it is a solemn truth, and one that we learn very slowly—that we must be overcome in order to overcome. There is no setting out with a stock of strength, daily adding to it, weekly increasing it, and then gaining the victory by our own resolutions, our own innate strength. Such sham holiness may come under a gospel garb, may wear a fair appearance; but it only more hides the rottenness of the flesh. Then, remember this—that in order to gain the victory, we must know our weakness; and we can only know our weakness by its being experimentally opened up in our consciences. We cannot learn it from others; we must learn it in our own souls; and that often in a very painful manner. But these painful sensations in a tender conscience lead a man more humbly, more feelingly, more believingly to the Lord of life and glory, to receive out of his fullness. Thus every defeat only leads to and ensures victory at the last. Says the Apostle, “In all these things we are more than conquerors.” How? Through our resolutions, through our wisdom? No. “Through Him that loved us.” There is no other way, then, to overcome, but by the “strength of Jesus made perfect in our weakness.”

Selah.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Only God can fill the secret urn of life. And He does this as we wait on Him.

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. Psalm 27:14


by C.H. Spurgeon

Wait! Wait! Let your waiting be on the Lord! He is worth waiting for. He never disappoints the waiting soul.

While waiting keep up your spirits. Expect a great deliverance, and be ready to praise God for it.

The promise which should cheer you is in the middle of the verse — “He shall strengthen thine heart.” This goes at once to the place where you need help. If the heart be sound, all the rest of the system will work well. The heart wants calming and cheering, and both of these will come if it be strengthened. A forceful heart rests and rejoices and throbs force into the whole man.

No one else can get at that secret urn of life, the heart, so as to pour strength into it. He alone who made it can make it strong. God is full of strength, and, therefore, He can impart it to those who need it. Oh, be brave; for the Lord will impart His strength to you, and you shall be calm in tempest and glad in sorrow.

He who penned these lines can write as the psalmist did — “Wait, I say, on the Lord.” I do, indeed, say it. I know by long and deep experience that it is good for me to wait upon the Lord.

Selah.

Note: I find this editorial comment by Spurgeon fascinating. He basically says, "I witness from firsthand experience the validity of this promise!" Spurgeon knew of waiting -- in darkness, in depression and despair of any resources of self. And yet, oh the divine strength of God's Word and Spirit that filled him! This is a good word: a trustworthy saying and promise of God: it is fully good, to wait on God. The treasure of strength that He grants is His very self, His divine presence to be our inner light and strength. Against this, everything else must bow and fall, even death itself.

Sing, pray, and keep His ways unswerving;
So do thine own part faithfully,
And trust His word, – though undeserving,
Thou yet shalt find it true for thee:
God never yet forsook at need
The soul that trusted Him indeed. Amen.