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.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Waiting ON God and waiting FOR God.

For this reason the Lord is ready to show you mercy; he sits on his throne, ready to have compassion on you. Indeed, the Lord is a just God; all who wait for him in faith will be blessed .— Isa. 30:18

We hear a great deal about waiting on God. There is, however, another side. When we wait on God, He is waiting till we are ready; when we wait for God, we are waiting till He is ready.

There are some people who say, and many more who believe, that as soon as we meet all the conditions, God will answer our prayers. They say that God lives in an eternal now; with Him there is no past nor future; and that if we could fulfill all that He requires in the way of obedience to His will, immediately our needs would be supplied, our desires fulfilled, our prayers answered.

There is much truth in this belief, and yet it expresses only one side of the truth. While God lives in an eternal now, yet He works out His purposes in time. A petition presented before God is like a seed dropped in the ground. Forces above and beyond our control must work upon it, till the true fruition of the answer is given.

Selah.

— G.P. Pardington, "The Still Small Voice," quoted in Streams in the Desert.


Note: Pardington goes on to talk about the ways of God in delay. Suffice to say this: Delay is not inconsequential or "almost providential," as one has put it; delay is part of the miracle-answer of prayer, in the great heart of our Abba Father-God, a God of Holy Love who MUST give us the best, and so will make us the best, conformed to the image of the Son, in the delay, as well as in the answer. He is making eternal children, fit for forever, as well as highly shaped and tuned for eternal life in the now: the kingdom of God in our midst, in abundant, life-giving life.


Selah.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Oh, for fathers to speak to their sons and daughters like this, once again!



"You remember your mother, Cosmo?"

This question the father was scarcely ever alone with the boy without asking – not from forgetfulness, but from the desire to keep the boy's remembrance of her fresh, and for the pure pleasure of talking of her to the only one with whom it did not seem profane to converse concerning his worshiped wife. "Yes, papa, I do."

The laird always spoke Scotch to his mother, and to Grizzie also, who would have thought him seriously offended had he addressed her in book-English; but to his Marion's son he always spoke in the best English he had, and Cosmo did his best in the same way in return. "Tell me what you remember about her," said the old man. He had heard the same thing again and again from the boy, yet every time it was as if he hoped and watched for some fresh revelation from the lips of the lad – as if, truth being one, memory might go on recalling, as imagination goes on foreseeing.

"I remember," said the boy, "a tall beautiful woman, with long hair, which she brushed before a big, big looking-glass." The love of the son, kept alive by the love of the husband, glorifying through the mists of his memory the earthly appearance of the mother, gave to her the form in which he would see her again, rather than that in which he had actually beheld her. And indeed the father saw her after the same fashion in the memory of his love. Tall to the boy of five, she was little above the middle height, yet the husband saw her stately in his dreams; there was nothing remarkable in her face except the expression, which after her marriage had continually gathered tenderness and grace, but the husband as well as the children called her absolutely beautiful. "What color were her eyes, Cosmo?" "I don't know; I never saw the color of them; but I remember they looked at me as if I should run into them."

"She would have died for you, my boy. We must be very good that we may see her again some day." "I will try. I do try, papa." "You see, Cosmo, when a woman like that condescends to be wife to one of us and mother to the other, the least we can do, when she is taken from us, is to give her the same love and the same obedience after she is gone as when she was with us. She is with her own kind up in heaven now, but she may be looking down and watching us. It may be God lets her do that, that she may see of the travail of her soul and be satisfied – who can tell? She can't be very anxious about me now, for I am getting old, and my warfare is nearly over; but she may be getting things ready to rest me a bit. She knows I have for a long time now been trying to keep the straight path, as far as I could see it, though sometimes the grass and heather has got the better of it, so that it was hard to find. But YOU must remember, Cosmo, that it is not enough to be a good boy, as I shall tell her you have always been: you've got to be a good man, and that is a rather different and sometimes a harder thing. For, as soon as a man has to do with other men, he finds they expect him to do things they ought to be ashamed of doing themselves; and then he has got to stand on his own honest legs, and not move an inch for all their pushing and pulling; and especially where a man loves his fellow man and likes to be on good terms with him, that is not easy.”


The thing is just this, Cosmo – when you are a full-grown man, you must be a good boy still – that's the difficulty. For a man to be a boy, and a good boy still, he must be a thorough man.


“The thing is just this, Cosmo – when you are a full-grown man, you must be a good boy still – that's the difficulty. For a man to be a boy, and a good boy still, he must be a thorough man. The man that's not manly can never be a good boy to his mother. And you can't keep true to your mother, except you remember Him who is father and mother both to all of us. I wish my Marion were here to teach you as she taught me. She taught me to pray, Cosmo, as I have tried to teach you – when I was in any trouble, just to go into my closet, and shut to the door, and pray to my Father who is in secret – the same Father who loved you so much as to give you my Marion for a mother. But I am getting old and tired, and shall soon go where I hope to learn faster. Oh, my boy! hear your father who loves you, and never do the thing you would be ashamed for your mother or me to know. Remember, nothing drops out; everything hid shall be revealed. But of all things, if ever you should fail or fall, don't lie still because you are down: get up again – for God's sake, for your mother's sake, for my sake – get up and try again.

Selah.

George MacDonald, The Laird's Inheritance.

We were made for these times

by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most...

You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.

We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn't you say you were a believer? Didn't you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn't you ask for grace? Don't you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these -- to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.

The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt.

But that is not what great ships are built for!