Monday, July 28, 2014

Kingdom math: The way down is the way up

And God will exalt you in due time, if you humble yourselves under His mighty hand. — 1 Pet. 5:6

by C.H. Spurgeon

This is tantamount to a promise: if we will bow down, the Lord will lift us up. Humility leads to honor; submission is the way to exaltation. That same hand of God which presses us down is waiting to raise us up when we are prepared to bear the blessing. We stoop to conquer. Many cringe before men and yet miss the patronage they crave; but he that humbles himself under the hand of God shall not fail to be enriched, uplifted, sustained, and comforted by the ever-gracious One. It is a habit of Jehovah to cast down the proud and lift up the lowly.

Yet there is a time for the Lord’s working. We ought now to humble ourselves, even at this present moment; and we are bound to keep on doing so whether the Lord lays His afflicting hand upon us or not. When the Lord smites, it is our special duty to accept the chastisement with profound submission. But as for the Lord’s exaltation of us, that can only come “in due time,” and God is the best judge of that day and hour. Do we cry out impatiently for the blessing? Would we wish for untimely honor? What are we at? Surely we are not truly humbled, or we should wait with quiet submission. So let us do.


Friday, July 18, 2014

The wilderness is a door of hope for the beloved

"I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her." Hosea 2:14

Charles Spurgeon comments:

The goodness of God sees us allured by sin, and it resolves to try upon us the more powerful allurements of love. Do we not remember when the Lover of our souls first cast a spell upon us and charmed us away from the fascinations of the world! He will do this again and again whenever He sees us likely to be ensnared by evil.

He promises to draw us apart, for there He can best deal with us, and this separated place is not to be a paradise, but a wilderness, since in such a place there will be nothing to take of our attention from our God. In the deserts of affliction the presence of the LORD becomes everything to us, and we prize His company beyond any value which we set upon it when we sat under our own vine and fig tree in the society of our fellows. Solitude and affliction bring more to themselves and to their heavenly Father than any other means.

When thus allured and secluded the LORD has choice things to say to us for our comfort. He "speaks to our heart," as the original has it. Oh, that at this we may have this promise explained in our experience! Allured by love, separated by trial, and comforted by the Spirit of truth, may we know the LORD and sing for joy! 


Note that it is the WILDERNESS to which God allures His chosen ones, to recall them to their first spirit love. It is the wilderness, not a resort. A wilderness, a place of barrenness, a desert, a place of wildness, with solitude and affliction. Whoever is wise will hear and take instruction: whom the Lord loves, He disciplines. And the lonely wilderness is intended the only place whereby the beloved can receive her basis of blessing. Truly, it is intended as the first phase in a "harvest of righteousness" (Heb. 12:11). In this place, the Lord speaks to the heart, with great tenderness.

Also note that the wilderness becomes a DOOR OF HOPE. The next verse says this (v. 15): "I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope." The AV translates this verse "I will give her her vineyards from thence." In other words, the vineyards spring from the wilderness place: when the heart is restored to love, divine fruitfulness springs forth in life. The Valley of Achor thus becomes the Door of Hope for the covenant child.

This fruitfulness may not resemble what humans call blessing. It may be in the fuller blessing of another, as this passage is fulfilled perfectly in the in-gathering of the Gentiles into covenant blessing (cf. Romans 9:25). It may be in a life of affliction, as my father witnessed in a holy life of physical handicap, or Joni Eareckson Tada witnesses to daily, from a wheelchair of paralysis. The point much larger than humans might make it, in falsely defined blessing. The fulfillment is holy harvest, supernatural vineyards in redeemed human life. Divine fruitfulness is the promise of the wilderness!


The lesson is enduring. The place of affliction, the valley of trouble, is never intended as an end in itself. For the child of God it is destined to be a gateway of hope, as the heart receives its needed healing, away from the comforts that distracted it from the heart of Life. Never give up on your desert, friend! Never give up on your valley. Look anew to the word and presence of God. Listen for the voice of the holy Lover speaking tenderly to your heart.  A holy vineyard awaits you. The heart's home is yours. Alleluia!


Saturday, July 12, 2014

God has appointed the path of sorrow for the redeemed to walk in

And our hope for you is steadfast because we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you will share in our comfort. — 2 Cor 1:7

by J.R. Miller

The Lord has appointed the path of sorrow for the redeemed to walk in. Why? One purpose is to wean them from the world; another purpose is to show them the weakness of the creature; a third purpose is to make them feel the liberty and vitality of genuine godliness made manifest in their soul’s experience. What am I, and what are you when we have no trials? Light, frothy, worldly-minded, carnal, frivolous. We may talk of the things of God, but they are at a distance; there are no solemn feelings, no melting sensations, no real brokenness, no genuine contrition, no weeping at the divine feet, no embracing of Christ in the arms of affection.

But when affliction, be it in providence or be it in grace, brings a man down; when it empties him of all his high thoughts, lays him low in his own eyes, brings trouble into his heart, I assure you he needs something more than mere external religion. He needs power; he needs to experience in his soul the operations of the blessed Spirit; he wants to have a precious Jesus manifesting himself to his soul in love and blood; he needs to see his lovely countenance beaming upon him in ravishing smiles; he needs to hear the sweet whispers of dying love speaking inward peace; he needs to have the blessed Lord come into his soul, manifesting himself to him as he does not manifest himself to the world.

What brings a man here? A few dry notions floating to and fro in his brain, like a few drops of oil in a pail of water? That will never bring the life and power of vital godliness into a man’s heart. It must be by being experimentally acquainted with trouble. When he is led into the path of tribulation, he then begins to long after, and, in God’s own time and way, he begins to drink into, the sweetness of vital godliness, made manifest in his heart by the power of God.