Saturday, April 26, 2014

Sacrifice for others brings divine blessing (even if not material or immediate)

And the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all that thou doest. Deuteronomy 15:18

 by C.H. Spurgeon

An Israelitish master was to give his bondservant liberty in due time, and when he left his service he was to start him in life with a liberal portion. This was to be done heartily and cheerfully, and then the LORD promised to bless the generous act. The spirit of this precept, and, indeed, the whole law of Christ, binds us to treat people well. We ought to remember how the LORD has dealt with us, and that this renders it absolutely needful that we should deal graciously with others. It becomes those to be generous who are the children of a gracious God. How can we expect our great Master to bless us in our business if we oppress those who serve us?

What a benediction is here set before the liberal mind! To be blessed in all that we do is to be blessed indeed. The LORD will send us this partly in prosperity, partly in content of mind, and partly in a sense of His favor, which is the best of all blessings. He can make us feel that we are under His special care and are surrounded by His peculiar love. This makes this earthly life a joyous prelude to the life to come. God's blessing is more than a fortune. It maketh rich and addeth no sorrow therewith.



Friday, April 25, 2014

Pray, Commit and Give God Time!

Commit your future to the Lord! Trust in him, and He will act on your behalf. — Ps. 37:5

The story is told of a child who fell from an ocean liner in port. The mother screamed for help, and a man quickly responded. He held the woman back, watching her son struggle in the water. And then, at the last minute, he dove in and rescued the child. The distraught mother couldn’t say thank you. All she could say was this: “Why didn’t you save him sooner? He almost drowned!” The man responded, “Ma’am, if I had tried to save him sooner, he would have drowned both of us. I had to wait until he stopped struggling. Otherwise he would have pulled me under.”

The spiritual application is apt. God tells Israel to “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” And Psalm 37 details several commands related to faith: Trust, commit, delight and rest. Oftentimes we try to help God do the work, only to find that we’re in the way. The key is that we most likely need to get out of the way. And when God has His way in us, we somehow do His work in the world – beyond our natural strength. We aren’t fighting Him, and then miracles happen. One theologian puts it this way:

I once thought that after I prayed that it was my duty to do everything that I could do to bring the answer to pass. He taught me a better way, and showed that my self-effort always hindered His working, and that when I prayed and definitely believed Him for anything, He wanted me to wait in the spirit of praise, and only do what He bade me. It seems so unsafe to just sit still, and do nothing but trust the Lord; and the temptation to take the battle into our own hands is often tremendous.

We all know how impossible it is to rescue a drowning man who tries to help his rescuer, and it is equally impossible for the Lord to fight our battles for us when we insist upon trying to fight them ourselves. It is not that He will not, but He cannot. Our interference hinders His working.


Connected to this is the reality that faith gives God time to work.


God’s timing is impeccable. We may think He’s diving in too late, when drowning is imminent. Or we may say with Mary and Martha, “Lord, you’re days late!” “Why didn’t you come sooner? If you had come sooner, our brother would still be alive!”

Well, God never does anything by half. And He never misses time, even by a millisecond. If He sends Christ “in the fullness of time,” then we have to trust that time-fullness. In human wisdom, it might seem as if the world is already wrecked. Salvation is too late. But in God’s timetable, it’s perfect.

My Dad used to say, “God’s watch keeps perfect time.” Indeed, it does! A theologian comments:

Spiritual forces cannot work while earthly forces are active.

It takes God time to answer prayer. We often fail to give God a chance in this respect. It takes time for God to paint a rose. It takes time for God to grow an oak. It takes time for God to make bread from wheat fields. He takes the earth. He pulverizes. He softens. He enriches. He wets with showers and dews. He warms with life. He gives the blade, the stock, the amber grain, and then at last the bread for the hungry.

All this takes time. Therefore we sow, and till, and wait, and trust, until all God’s purpose has been wrought out. We give God a chance in this matter of time. We need to learn this same lesson in our prayer life. It takes God time to answer prayer.


So, we give God time. Maybe He’s making an oak out of us, when we wanted an overnight flower. Maybe He’s making a nation Israel, waiting for four hundred years, when we’d rather be one of the tribes in the land now. In all cases, God’s way is the best way. An oak feeds generations with quality food, lending beauty and health to life beyond human ken. And Israel endures when all other nations fall. Better to wait in God’s delay than to rush in outside His plan. Better to be a child in the desert than an outcast in the land.

So this means that we rest in His promise. We make His will our will, and dance in it…


One thing is so sure: God NEVER withholds an answer if the answer is best for us at that moment. God will not fulfill a promise until the fulfillment of that promise is a complete good in the life of the child (if the child is praying all in His will, delighting in Him). Sometimes it takes God time to prepare a heart for the answer, so that the answer does not hurt us or others.

Like this, we wait faithfully. And we rest in the promise. Charles Spurgeon says that the highest form of faith is to pray in the promise in the absence of answer, and then to thank Him even in denial – rejoicing in His will, wholesale, allowing holiness and kingdom usefulness to grow in us.

Does the Lord deny us our requests for a time? Let the promise for today encourage us to ask again. Has He denied us altogether? We will thank Him still, for it always was our desire that He should deny us if He judged a denial to be best.

As to some things, we ask very boldly. Our chief desires are for holiness, usefulness, likeness to Christ, preparedness for heaven. These are the desires of grace rather than of nature — the desires of the righteous man rather than of the mere man. God will not stint us in these things but will do for us exceeding abundantly. “Delight thy self also in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” This day, my soul, ask largely.


And so we pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done!” And then we pray boldly, waiting patiently and faithfully.

And this much is sure, based on His character: Good will come! 



Monday, April 21, 2014

Fight on!

Note: A line of truth from Hemingway added to a picture of Joni Eareckson Tada, who lives that truth on a far higher level than Hemingway ever imagined. A diving incident in her late teens made Joni a quadriplegic. The tragedy only spurred Joni to heights of spirit: She's lived the truth and light of Christ, and shared divine love with so many in need, in her own inimitable ways: singing, painting, speaking, and writing. She's a champion of grace! Stronger than ever darkness imagined when it cast her down.

Learn from her, friends. Your brokenness is a great place for grace to take hold, and make something stronger and more beautiful than you can imagine. 



Sunday, April 20, 2014

Stand still until the forward command is clear!

Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord that he will provide for you today; for the Egyptians that you see today you will never, ever see again. — Exod. 14:13

by C.H. Spurgeon

These words contain God’s command to the believer when he is reduced to great straits and brought into extraordinary difficulties. He cannot retreat; he cannot go forward; he is shut upon the right hand and on the left. What is he now to do?

The Master’s word to him is “stand still.” It will be well for him if, at such times, he listens only to his Master’s word, for other and evil advisers come with their suggestions. Despair whispers, “Lie down and die; give it all up.” But God would have us put on a cheerful courage, and even in our worst times, rejoice in His love and faithfulness.

Cowardice says, “Retreat; go back to the worldling’s way of action; you cannot play the Christian’s part; it is too difficult. Relinquish your principles.”

But, however much Satan may urge this course upon you, you cannot follow it, if you are a child of God. His Divine fiat has bid thee go from strength to strength, and so thou shalt, and neither death nor hell shall turn thee from thy course. What if for a while thou art called to stand still; yet this is but to renew thy strength for some greater advance in due time.

Precipitancy cries, “Do something; stir yourself; to stand still and wait is sheer idleness.” We must be doing something at once — we must do it, so we think — instead of looking to the Lord, who will not only do something, but will do everything.

Presumption boasts, “If the sea be before you, march into it, and expect a miracle.” But faith listens neither to Presumption, nor to Despair, nor to Cowardice, nor to Precipitancy, but it hears God say, “Stand still,” and immovable as a rock it stands.

“Stand still” — keep the posture of an upright man, ready for action, expecting further orders, cheerfully and patiently awaiting the directing voice; and it will not be long ere God shall say to you, as distinctly as Moses said it to the people of Israel, “Go forward.”



Friday, April 18, 2014

Nothing is impossible for God, so nothing is impossible for prayer in the will of God

Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You. — Jer. 32:17

When Tennyson wrote "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of," he probably uttered a truth of vaster significance than even he understood. While it is not always possible to trace an act of God to its prayer-cause, it is yet safe to say that prayer is back of everything that God does for the sons of men here upon earth. One would gather as much from a simple reading of the Scriptures.

What profit is there in prayer? "Much every way." Whatever God can do faith can do, and whatever faith can do prayer can do when it is offered in faith. An invitation to prayer is, therefore, an invitation to omnipotence, for prayer engages the Omnipotent God and brings Him into our human affairs. Nothing is impossible to the man who prays in faith, just as nothing is impossible with God. This generation has yet to prove all that prayer can do for believing men and women.


 — A.W. Tozer, The Set of the Sail, p. 33

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ask largely and boldly, in grace and righteousness!

God will grant righteous desires

What the wicked fears will come on him; what the righteous desire will be granted. — Prov 10:24

by C.H. Spurgeon

Because it is a righteous desire it is safe for God to grant it. It would be neither good for the man himself, nor for society at large, that such a promise should be made to the unrighteous. Let us keep the Lord’s commands, and He will rightfully have respect to our desires.

When righteous men are left to desire unrighteous desires, they will not be granted to them. But then these are not their real desires; they are their wanderings or blunders, and it is well that they should be refused. Their gracious desires shall come before the Lord, and He will not say them nay.

Does the Lord deny us our requests for a time? Let the promise for today encourage us to ask again. Has He denied us altogether? We will thank Him still, for it always was our desire that He should deny us if He judged a denial to be best.

As to some things, we ask very boldly. Our chief desires are for holiness, usefulness, likeness to Christ, preparedness for heaven. These are the desires of grace rather than of nature — the desires of the righteous man rather than of the mere man. God will not stint us in these things but will do for us exceeding abundantly. “Delight thy self also in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” This day, my soul, ask largely!



Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Thankful for thorns


Therefore I am content with weaknesses, with insults, with troubles, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ, for whenever I am weak, then I am strong. — 2 Cor. 12:10

The literal translation of this verse gives a startling emphasis to it, and makes it speak for itself with a force that we have probably never realized. Here It is: “Therefore I take pleasure in being without strength, in insults, in being pinched, in being chased about, in being cooped up in a corner for Christ’s sake; for when I am without strength, then am I dynamite.” 

Here is the secret of Divine all-sufficiency, to come to the end of everything in ourselves and in our circumstances. When we reach this place, we will stop asking for sympathy because of our hard situation or bad treatment, for we will recognize these things as the very conditions of our blessing, and we will turn from them to God and find in them a claim upon Him.

— A.B. Simpson 

Lord, have I thanked you for my thorn? 

George Matheson, the blind poet-preacher of Scotland, prayed this prayer:

My God, I have never thanked Thee for my thorn. I have thanked Thee a thousand times for my roses, but not once for my thorn. I have been looking forward to a world where I shall get compensation for my cross; but I have never thought of my cross as itself a present glory.

Teach me the glory of my cross; teach me the value of my thorn. Show me that I have climbed to Thee by the path of pain. Show me that my tears have made my rainbows.

Alas for him who never sees
The stars shine through the cypress trees!


Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Divine exercise: Praying with our armor on

With every prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and to this end be alert, with all perseverance and requests for all the saints. — Eph. 6:18

by J.R. Miller

If we do not continually “pray in the Spirit,” our limbs will, so to speak, shrink, and our armor drop off. The knights of old exercised every day in their full armor, or they could not have borne it, nor used their weapons with dexterity and strength. So must the Christian warrior, by prayer and supplication, “exercise himself unto godliness.” To this must be added, “watching thereunto.” To watch for the answer; to wait for the appearing of the Lord “more than those who watch for the morning.” And this, “with all perseverance,” never giving it up, taking no denial, begging of the Lord again and again, and wrestling with him until he appears to bless, visit, and shine upon the soul.

O how this heavenly recipe keeps every part of the armor bright, and the soldier active and expert in its use! The armor indeed of itself, as being from heaven, gets neither dull nor rusty. It is we who get sluggish in its use. But, to our apprehension, faith and prayer make it glitter more brightly. How, for instance, “the prayer of faith” brightens up the belt of truth, and makes it glitter and shine! How it burnishes the breast-plate, and makes it fit tightly round the bosom! How it makes the helmet glitter in the sun, and its noble plumes to wave in all their native luster! How it beats out every dent the shield may have received from the fiery darts, and fits it for fresh encounters! And how it sharpens “the sword of the Spirit,” gives it a brighter polish, and nerves the arm to wield it with renewed activity and vigor!

Oh, this is the secret of all true victory! All is, all must be well, when we are in a prayerful, meditative, watching state; and all is ill, when this heavenly recipe is neglected; when the hands droop, and the knees faint, and prayer seems dead and motionless in the breast. Let there be in the soul an abiding spirit of prayer, and victory is sure. Satan has little power against the soul that has an abiding spirit of prayer, and is “watching thereunto with all perseverance.” But without this spirit of prayer, we are a prey to all his temptations, and can neither take, wear, nor use the only armor against them.


Saturday, April 05, 2014

The loving Providence of stormy and fishless nights


Simon Peter told them, “I am going fishing.” “We will go with you,” they replied. They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. — John 21:3

God may let the sinful world succeed in their forbidden schemes, but, blessed be His name, He does not allow His chosen ones to prosper in the path which leads them out of His holy will! He has a storm to send after every Jonah, and an empty net for every unbelieving and inconsistent Simon.

— A. B. Simpson

Friday, April 04, 2014

We enter the City through the gate of Praise: Patiently wait, with praise!

Patiently wait for God alone, my soul! For He is the one who gives me confidence. — Psalm 62:5

by A.B. Simpson

When we believe for a blessing, we must take the attitude of faith, and begin to act and pray as if we had our blessing. We must treat God as if He had given us our request. We must lean our weight over upon Him for the thing that we have claimed, and just take it for granted that He gives it, and is going to continue to give it. This is the attitude of trust. When the wife is married, she at once falls into a new attitude, and acts in accordance with the fact, and so when we take Christ as a Savior, as a Sanctifier, as a Healer, or as a Deliverer, He expects us to fall into the attitude of recognizing Him in the capacity that we have claimed, and expect Him to be to us all that we have trusted Him for.

You may bring Him ev'ry care and burden,
You may tell Him ev'ry need in pray'r,
You may trust Him for the darkest moment,
He is caring, wherefore need you care?
Faith can never reach its consummation,
'Til the victor's thankful song we raise:
In the glorious city of salvation,
God has told us all the gates are praise.



Wednesday, April 02, 2014

The end of faithful suffering is life shining in divine radiance!

While we think of the sufferings of Christ, we must remember also that he came from them all unharmed, his life shining in divine radiance, lifted to glory, too, as a fruit of his suffering. This reminds sorrowing believers, that they too shall pass through their time of tribulation, that no scars and no manner of hurt shall be upon their souls because of their sufferings–but that they shall shine in fairer beauty and diviner glory, and shall be lifted up to higher honor, because of what they have suffered with Christ.


— J.R. Miller

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

The King's Highway

 A highway will be there – it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it; it is reserved for those authorized to use it – fools will not stray into it. — Isa 35:8

by C.H. Spurgeon

The way of holiness is so straight and plain that the simplest minds cannot go astray if they constantly follow it. The worldly wise have many twists and turns, and yet they make terrible blunders and generally miss their end. Worldly policy is a poor, shortsighted thing, and when men choose it as their road, it leads them over dark mountains. Gracious minds know no better than to do as the Lord bids them; but this keeps them in the King’s highway and under royal protection.

Let the reader never for a moment attempt to help himself out of a difficulty by a falsehood or by a questionable act; but let him keep in the middle of the high road of truth and integrity, and he will be following the best possible course. In our lives we must never practice circular sailing nor dream of shuffling. Be just and fear not, Follow Jesus and heed no evil consequences. If the worst of ills could be avoided by wrongdoing, we should, in the very attempt, have fallen into an evil worse than any other ill could be. God’s way must be the very best way. Follow it though men think you a fool, and you will be truly wise.

Lord, lead Thy servants in a plain path because of their enemies.