Monday, December 28, 2015

The Priceless Promise and Presence

Your conduct must be free from the love of money and you must be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you and I will never abandon you.” — Heb. 13:5 NET

 by C.H. Spurgeon

Several times in the Scriptures the Lord hath said this. He has often repeated it to make our assurance doubly sure. Let us never harbor a doubt about it. In itself the promise is specially emphatic. In the Greek it has five negatives, each one definitely shutting out the possibility of the Lord’s ever leaving one of His people so that he can justly feel forsaken of his God. This priceless Scripture does not promise us exemption from trouble, but it does secure us against desertion. We may be called to traverse strange ways, but we shall always have our Lord’s company, assistance, and provision. We need not covet money, for we shall always have our God, and God is better than gold; His favor is better than fortune.

We ought surely to be content with such things as we have, for he who has God has more than all the world besides. What can we have beyond the Infinite? What more can we desire than almighty Goodness.

Come, my heart; if God says He will never leave thee nor forsake thee, be thou much in prayer for grace that thou mayest never leave thy Lord, nor even for a moment forsake His ways.


A song of faith in the night: Sing on!

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord (with singing!);
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
He makes my feet like the deer’s;
He makes me tread on my high places.

— Habakkuk 3:17-19


Monday, December 21, 2015

A terror of darkness, yet light beyond the darkness. Press on!

When the sun went down, Abram fell sound asleep, and great terror overwhelmed him. — Gen 15:12 NET

by F.B. Meyer

The sun at last went down, and the swift, eastern night cast its heavy veil over the scene. Worn out with the mental conflict, the watchings, and the exertions of the day, Abraham fell into a deep sleep, and in that sleep, his soul was oppressed with a dense and dreadful darkness, such as almost stifled him, and lay like a nightmare upon his heart. Do you understand something of the horror of that darkness?

When some terrible sorrow which seems so hard to reconcile with perfect love, crushes down upon the soul, wringing from it all its peaceful rest in the pitifulness of God, and launching it on a sea unlit by a ray of hope; when unkindness, and cruelty maltreat the trusting heart, till it begins to doubt whether there be a God overhead who can see and still permit—these know something of the “horror of great darkness.” It is thus that human life is made up; brightness and gloom; shadow and sun; long tracks of cloud, succeeded by brilliant glints of light, and amid all Divine justice is working out its own schemes, affecting others equally with the individual soul which seems the subject of special discipline.

O ye who are filled with the horror of great darkness because of God’s dealings with mankind, learn to trust that infallible wisdom, which is co-assessor with immutable justice; and know that He who passed through the horror of the darkness of Calvary, with the cry of forsakenness, is ready to bear you company through the valley of the shadow of death till you see the sun shining upon its further side. Let us, by our Forerunner, send forward our anchor, Hope, within the veil that parts us from the unseen; where it will grapple in ground and will not yield, but hold until the day dawns, and we follow it into the haven guaranteed to us by God’s immutable counsel.


F.S. Webster: The disciples thought that that angry sea separated them from Jesus. Nay, some of them thought worse than that; they thought that the trouble that had come upon them was a sign that Jesus had forgotten all about them, and did not care for them. Oh, dear friend, that is when troubles have a sting, when the devil whispers, “God has forgotten you; God has forsaken you”; when your unbelieving heart cries as Gideon cried, “If the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us?” The evil has come upon you to bring the Lord nearer to you. The evil has not come upon you to separate you from Jesus, but to make you cling to Him more faithfully, more tenaciously, more simply.


Never should we so abandon ourselves to God as when He seems to have abandoned us
. Let us enjoy light and consolation when it is His pleasure to give it to us, but let us not attach ourselves to His gifts, but to Himself; and when He plunges us into the night of pure faith, let us still press on through the agonizing darkness.



Thursday, December 03, 2015

Security in the wilderness, peace in tenuous places

I will make a covenant of peace with them and will rid the land of wild beasts, so that they can live securely in the wilderness and even sleep in the woods. — Ezek. 34:25 NET

 by C.H. Spurgeon

It is the height of grace that YHVH should be in covenant with man, a feeble, sinful, and dying creature. Yet the Lord has solemnly entered into a faithful compact with us, and from that covenant He will never turn aside. In virtue of this covenant we are safe. As lions and wolves are driven off by shepherds, so shall all noxious influences be chased away. The Lord will give us rest from disturbers and destroyers; the evil beasts shall cease out of the land. O Lord, make this Thy promise good even now!

The Lord’s people are to enjoy security in places of the greatest exposure: wilderness and woods are to be as pastures and folds to the flock of Christ. If the Lord does not change the place for the better, He will make us the better in the place. The wilderness is not a place to dwell in, but the Lord can make it so; in the woods one feels hound to watch rather than to sleep, and yet the Lord giveth His beloved sleep even there. Nothing without or within should cause any fear to the child of God. By faith the wilderness can become the suburbs of heaven and the woods the vestibule of glory.



Monday, November 30, 2015

God on the front lines -- and rearguard, and all around!

The Lord is indeed going before you – He will be with you; He will not fail you or abandon you. Do not be afraid or discouraged! — Deut. 31:8

by C.H. Spurgeon

In the presence of a great work or a great warfare, here is a text which should help us to buckle on our harness. If Jehovah Himself goes before us, it must be safe to follow. Who can obstruct our progress if the Lord Himself is in the van? Come, brother soldiers, let us make a prompt advance! Why do we hesitate to pass on to victory?

Nor is the Lord before us only; He is with us. Above, beneath, around, within is the omnipotent, omnipresent One. In all time, even to eternity, He will be with us even as He has been. How this should nerve our arm! Dash at it boldly, ye soldiers of the cross, for the Lord of hosts is with us!

Being before us and with us, He will never withdraw His help. He cannot fail in Himself, and He will not fail toward us. He will continue to help us according to our need, even to the end. As He cannot fail us, so He will not forsake us. He will always be both able and willing to grant us strength and succor till fighting days are gone.

Let us not fear nor be dismayed; for the Lord of hosts will go down to the battle with us, will bear the brunt of the fight, and give us the victory.


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Treasures of the Snow: Impossible Flowers that Conquer Ice

For nothing will be impossible with God. — Lk. 1:37

Far up in the Alpine hollows, year by year God works one of His marvels. The snow-patches lie there, frozen with icy edges from the strife of sunny days and frosty nights; and through that ice-crust come, unscathed, rare flowers that bloom.

Back in the days of the by-gone summer, the little Soldanelle plant spread its leaves wide and flat on the ground, to drink in the sun-rays, and it kept them stored in the root through the winter. Then spring came, and stirred the pulses even below the snow-shroud, and as it sprouted, warmth was given out in such strange measure that it thawed a little dome in the snow above its head.

Higher and higher it grew and always above it rose the bell of air, till the flower-bud formed safely within it: and at last the icy covering of the air-bell gave way and let the blossom through into the sunshine, the crystalline texture of its mauve petals sparkling like snow itself as if it bore the traces of the flight through which it had come.

And the fragile thing rings an echo in our hearts that none of the jewel-like flowers nestled in the warm turf on the slopes below could waken. We love to see the impossible done. And so does God.

Face it out to the end, cast away every shadow of hope on the human side as an absolute hindrance to the Divine, heap up all the difficulties together recklessly, and pile as many more on as you can find; you cannot get beyond the blessed climax of impossibility. Let faith swing out to Him. He is the God of the impossible.


— Selected

Friday, November 20, 2015

Blessed is the one who waits and attains to the completion of days

Blessed is the one who waits and attains to the 1,335 days. — Dan. 12:12 NET

It may seem an easy thing to wait, but it is one of the postures which a Christian soldier learns not without years of teaching. Marching and quick-marching are much easier to God’s warriors than standing still.

There are hours of perplexity when the most willing spirit, anxiously desirous to serve the Lord, knows not what part to take. Then what shall it do? Vex itself by despair? Fly back in cowardice, turn to the right hand in fear, or rush forward in presumption?

No, but simply wait. Wait in prayer, however. Call upon God and spread the case before Him; tell Him your difficulty, and plead His promise of aid.

Wait in faith. Express your unstaggering confidence in Him. Believe that if He keeps you tarrying even till midnight, yet He will come at the right time; the vision shall come, and shall not tarry.

Wait in quiet patience. Never murmur against the second cause, as the children of Israel did against Moses. Accept the case as it is, and put it as it stands, simply and with your whole heart, without any self-will, into the hand of your covenant God, saying, “Now, Lord, not my will, but Thine be done. I know not what to do; I am brought to extremities; but I will wait until Thou shalt cleave the floods, or drive back my foes. I will wait, if Thou keep me many a day, for my heart is fixed upon Thee alone, O God, and my spirit waiteth for Thee in full conviction that Thou wilt yet be my joy and my salvation, my refuge and my strong tower.”

— Morning by Morning


Wait patiently wait,
God never is late;
Thy budding plans are in Thy Father’s holding,
And only wait His grand divine unfolding.
Then wait, wait,
Patiently wait.

Trust, hopefully trust,
That God will adjust
Thy tangled life; and from its dark concealings,
Will bring His will, in all its bright revealings.
Then trust, trust,
Hopefully trust.

Rest, peacefully rest
On thy Savior’s breast;
Breathe in His ear thy sacred high ambition,
And He will bring it forth in blest fruition.
Then rest, rest,
Peacefully rest!

— Mercy A. Gladwin

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Lessons from a Traitor's Kiss

Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi,” and kissed him. — Matt 26:49 NET

 by J.R. Miller

The very reading of the words makes us shudder. A kiss has always been the token of affection and the seal and pledge of fidelity. Judas’s going up to Christ and kissing Him was a solemn protestation of sincere friendship. Yet the kiss was not only false, but was the sign of betrayal. No words are strong enough to characterize this crime. We remember the fable of the poisonous reptile taken into the bosom of a kindly man to be warmed, rewarding the benefactor by striking its deadly fangs into his flesh. But even this does not illustrate the baseness of Judas’s act. It is no wonder that he is the execration of the world. A poet represents him as placed in the lowest circles of the lost, as the sole sharer with Satan himself of the very uttermost punishment, and shunned even there and even by the guiltiest.

In studying the character and the sin of Judas the following lessons may be brought out:

  1. We must not be surprised if some bad men enter the Church, for even among the twelve was one Judas.
  2. It is no proof that Christianity is untrue when some of its professors prove hypocrites. The defection of Judas did not leave a stain on the name of Christ, not did it disprove the loyalty and fidelity of the other disciples.
  3. One may be very near to Christ and not be made holy in character. Judas was three years with Christ, heard His words, lived in the atmosphere of His love, and remained unchanged. An empty bottle, hermetically sealed, may lie long in the ocean and continue perfectly dry within. A heart sealed to Christ’s love may lie in His bosom for years and not be blessed. Only when the heart is opened to receive His grace does closeness to Him sanctify.
  4. Sin grows, and we never can know to what terrible extent a wicked thought or desire may reach.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Unanswered? Strike the Flint and Steel of Prayer again and again.

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unrighteous judge says! Won’t God give justice to his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he delay long to help them? Lk. 18:6-7

by C.H. Spurgeon

God’s seasons are not at your beck. If the first stroke of the flint doth not bring forth the fire, you must strike again. God will hear prayer, but He may not answer it at the time which we in our minds have appointed; He will reveal Himself to our seeking hearts, but not just when and where we have settled in our own expectations. Hence the need of perseverance and importunity in supplication.

In the days of flint and steel and brimstone matches we had to strike and strike again, dozens of times, before we could get a spark to live in the tinder; and we were thankful enough if we succeeded at last.

Shall we not be as persevering and hopeful as to heavenly things? We have more certainty of success in this business than we had with our flint and steel, for we have God’s promises at our back.

Never let us despair. God’s time for mercy will come; yea, it has come, if our time for believing has arrived. Ask in faith nothing wavering; but never cease from petitioning because the King delays to reply. Strike the steel again. Make the sparks fly and have your tinder ready; you will get a light before long.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Sin pardoned and sin subdued

You will once again have mercy on us; you will conquer our evil deeds; you will hurl our sins into the depths of the sea. — Mic. 7:19 NET

by J.C. Philpot

Sin subdued is the next greatest blessing to sin pardoned; and wherever God pardons sin, he subdues sin; for the same grace which saves sanctifies; the same grace which casts sin behind God’s back, puts its foot upon the corruptions of the believer, and prevents iniquity from having dominion over him.

The Scripture is very plain and express upon this point. “Sin shall not have dominion over you.” Why? “Because you are not under the law,” which gives sin its strength and power, “but under grace,” which is able to subdue its dominion. Nor do I believe that any child of God can ever rest satisfied except by the subduing of his sins as well as the pardoning of them. To have his unbelief, infidelity, worldly-mindedness, pride, and covetousness subdued by the grace of God, its power taken out of it, its dominion dethroned, its authority destroyed, and its strength weakened and diminished, that he may not be under the dominion of any lust, or carried away by the strength of any secret or open sin, but may walk before God in the light of his countenance, as desirous to know his will and do it—this is the desire and breathing of every one that knows sin in its guilt, filth, and power. How gracious, then, is the promise, how sweet the favor, that the Lord has promised to subdue our iniquities by the same grace as that whereby he pardons them; that, as we receive the blood of Christ to sprinkle the conscience, so we receive the grace of Christ to sanctify and renew the soul, and the strength of Christ to overcome all our inward and outward foes.


Saturday, November 07, 2015

A Heart's Sacrifice

But these assets I have come to regard as liabilities because of Christ. — Phil. 3:7 NET

When they buried the blind preacher, George Matheson, they lined his grave with red roses in memory of his love-life of sacrifice. And it was this man, so beautifully and significantly honored, who wrote,

“O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee,
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

“O Light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee,
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

“O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee,
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shalt tearless be.

“O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee,
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red,
Life that shall endless be.”

There is a legend of an artist who had found the secret of a wonderful red which no other artist could imitate. The secret of his color died with him. But after his death an old wound was discovered over his heart. This revealed the source of the matchless hue in his pictures. The legend teaches that no great achievement can be made, no lofty attainment reached, nothing of much value to the world done, save at the cost of heart’s blood.


Selected from Streams in the Desert.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

They gaze upon their Lord till His name is photographed upon their brows

And there will no longer be any curse, and the throne of God and the Lamb will be in the city. His servants will worship him, and they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. — Rev 22:3-4 NET

C.H. Spurgeon: Three choice blessings will be ours in the gloryland.

“His servants shall serve him.”

No other lords shall oppress us, no other service shall distress us. We shall serve Jesus always, perfectly, without weariness, and without error. This is heaven to a saint: in all things to serve the Lord Christ and to be owned by Him as His servant is our soul’s high ambition for eternity.

“And they shall see his face.” 

This makes the service delightful: indeed, it is the present reward of service. We shall know our Lord, for we shall see Him as He is. To see the face of Jesus is the utmost favor that the most faithful servant of the Lord can ask. What more could Moses ask than “Let me see thy face?”

“And his name shall be in their foreheads.” 

They gaze upon their Lord till His name is photographed upon their brows. They are acknowledged by Him, and they acknowledge Him. The secret mark of inward grace develops into the public sign-manual of confessed relationship.

O Lord, give us these three things in their beginnings here that we may possess them in their fullness in Thine own abode of bliss!



He will act like a refiner and purifier of silver and will cleanse the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will offer the Lord a proper offering. — Mal 3:3 NET

A.T. Pierson

Our Father, who seeks to perfect His saints in holiness, knows the value of the refiner’s fire. It is with the most precious metals that the assayer takes the most pains, and subjects them to the hot fire, because such fires melt the metal, and only the molten mass releases its alloy or takes perfectly its new form in the mould.

The old refiner never leaves his crucible, but sits down by it, lest there should be one excessive degree of heat to mar the metal. But as soon as he skims from the surface the last of the dross, and sees his own face reflected, he puts out the fire.


Monday, October 26, 2015

Ask in the Name and Right of the Son

Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive it, so that your joy may be complete. — John 16:24

During the Civil War, a man had an only son who enlisted in the armies of the Union. The father was a banker and, although he consented to his son’s going, it seemed as if it would break his heart to let him go.

He became deeply interested in the soldier boys, and whenever he saw a uniform, his heart went out as he thought of his own dear boy. He spent his time, neglected his business, gave his money to caring for the soldiers who came home invalid. His friends remonstrated with him, saying he had no right to neglect his business and spend so much thought upon the soldiers, so he fully decided to give it all up.

After he had come to this decision, there stepped into his bank one day a private soldier in a faded, worn uniform, who showed in his face and hands the marks of the hospital.

The poor fellow was fumbling in his pocket to get something or other, when the banker saw him and, perceiving his purpose, said to him:

“My dear fellow, I cannot do anything for you today. I am extremely busy. You will have to go to your headquarters; the officers there will look after you.”

Still the poor convalescent stood, not seeming to fully understand what was said to him. Still he fumbled in his pockets and, by and by, drew out a scrap of dirty paper, on which there were a few lines written with a pencil, and laid this soiled sheet before the banker. On it he found these words:

“Dear Father: “This is one of my comrades who was wounded in the last fight, and has been in the hospital. Please receive him as myself. — Charlie.”

In a moment all the resolutions of indifference which this man made, flew away. He took the boy to his palatial home, put him in Charlie’s room, gave him Charlie’s seat at the table, kept him until food and rest and love had brought him back to health, and then sent him back again to imperil his life for the flag.

— Selected (from Streams in the Desert)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Let Him Take All: Nothing but Love Satisfies God and Us

Jesus said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ — Mat. 22:37 NET

by J.R. Miller

We are to notice, first, that it is love God wants. We may give Him our life’s highest honor, but He is not satisfied with honor. We ought to obey Him. He is our God and our King, and we owe Him the fullest obedience. But obedience is not enough. We owe Him service also, for we belong to Him, and we ought to pour out our lives for Him. But it is neither honor, obedience, nor service that this command requires. We are to Love God. If it were possible for us to render such honor, obedience, and service as the angels give, and yet not love Him, He would not be satisfied. Nothing but love will satisfy Him.

We are told here also the measure of the love that we are to give to God. It must be an all absorbing love. God wants no half-hearts. He must be loved supremely — more than all tender friends, more than all worldly things. Then this love must draw the whole life after it, the mind, the soul, the strength; it must lead to true and entire consecration.

Suppose a mother gives her child a beautiful flower-plant in bloom, and tells her to carry it to a sick friend. The child takes the plant away, and when she reaches the friend’s door she plucks off one leaf and gives it to her, keeping the plant herself. Then afterward, once a week, she plucks off another leaf, or a bud, or a flower, and takes it to the friend, still retaining the plant. Has she obeyed? Nothing but the giving of the whole plant would be obedience. Yet God asks for all our life’s heart, soul, mind, and strength; and we pluck off a little leaf of love now and then, a bud, a flower of affection, or one cluster of fruit, and give these little things to Him, keeping the life itself. Shall we not say, “Let Him take all?” This first commandment requires the complete consecration of the whole life to God.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fall upon your knees, and grow there

They repay my love with accusations, but I continue to pray. — Psalm 109:4 NET

We are often in a religious hurry in our devotions. How much time do we spend in them daily? Can it not be easily reckoned in minutes? Who ever knew an eminently holy person who did not spend much time in prayer? Did ever a person exhibit much of the spirit of prayer, who did not devote much time in the closet of prayer?

Whitefield says, “Whole days and weeks have I spent prostrate on the ground, in silent or vocal prayer.” “Fall upon your knees and grow there,” is the language of another, who knew whereof he affirmed.

It has been said that no great work in literature or science was ever wrought by a person who did not love solitude. We may lay it down as an elemental principle of religion, that no large growth in holiness was ever gained by one who did not take time to be often, and long, alone with God.

— The Still Hour

Monday, September 21, 2015

God creates priceless things from our tears

Someone recently told me that they avoid coming to church, because invariably the worship service moves them to tears, and they don't want others to see them cry.

There is grief and pain beneath those words, and a world of hurt -- but the sentiment is misguided. Tears are not the enemy, even tears shed in the worst trial, the worst pain and brokenness of heart. God creates beautiful things from our tears. He uses tears to reshape, to remake and heal us. He uses tears to reveal the heights of divine love and holy will. He uses tears to clear our eyes to see Him in the midst of our pain. He uses tears to wash the soul of His loved children. Never yet has a tear fallen from the eyes of God's dear child, but that He did not see, and appoint the tear as a balm of healing: every place the tear dripped on face or skin, there brushed the liquid love of Abba God, and the sacred tears of the Holy Spirit, and eternal, sacrificial tears of Jesus, still poured out upon those He loves.

Flee not your tears, friends. Let them flow in full accord, as your eyes are turned upon the holy God of the universe. Priceless gifts will spring up where the tears fall. And the tears will simply drop from time to eternity, bottled up in love by God himself, stored up as future diamonds in a forever of love.



In a similar line, Venus Bardanouve writes a meditation entitled, "He Gave Us Tears." Listen to her apt thoughts:

Lord, I don't want to cry in front of my children and grandchildren. Help me to be brave and show them how a Christian faces death."

This was my friend's prayer when she lost her husband. And she sat dry-eyed through his funeral.

Weeks went by and she was still tearless, but her weight of sorrow grew heavier every day. Finally she called out in desperation, "Lord, give me back my tears." He did, and as the tears flowed, her pent-up burden lightened and her broken heart began to heal. She realized that tears are one of God's gracious gifts to us. The all-knowing and compassionate God, who fully understands us, knew we needed them for many reasons.

My friend found that she needed her tears to help relieve the burden of loss. Abraham wept when he buried Sarah, Jacob cried when he thought his son Joseph was dead, David poured out his sorrow with tears over his slain son Absalom, and Mary Magdalene wept at Jesus' tomb.

Sometimes it is not loss, but God's blessing that brings tears. When Jesus enters a heart, old walls are often washed away by tears. As tears poured down the cheeks of a big, burly man who had just found God, he said, "Twenty-five years ago when I was twelve years old, my father almost beat me to death. I vowed then that no one would ever make me cry again, and I have never shed a tear since that day. Now I can hardly stop crying."

Four-year-old Kyle had a touch of that same experience. He was having lunch with Grandma. As she held his small hand, she thanked God for the food and for her little grandson. As she finished praying, he wiped his hand across his eyes and said, "Grandma, when you pray it makes my eyes water." The Holy Spirit often brings tears to the eyes of those with tender hearts.

The Bible tells us to "... weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15). Jesus wept in compassion when He saw Mary and Martha's grief at the loss of their brother, Lazarus. Tears of others may move us to compassion and action as we sense the hurt that caused them.


You can read the rest here: HE GAVE US TEARS.

The money quote, for me: "Grandma, when you pray it makes my eyes water."

Oh the riches of God's appointed tears for His loved children!

Let your love leak out today, friends, and splash redemptively around your world in acts of kindness, servanthood and prayer... and yea, even through your tears!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

We grow under the load into kings and priests of God's design

Then Jesus called the crowd, along with his disciples, and said to them, "If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." — Mark 8:34 NET

by Alexander Smellie

The cross which my Lord bids me take up and carry may assume different shapes. I may have to content myself with a lowly and narrow sphere, when I feel that I have capacities for much higher work. I may have to go on cultivating year after year, a field which seems to yield me no harvests whatsoever. I may be bidden to cherish kind and loving thoughts about someone who has wronged me—be bidden speak to him tenderly, and take his part against all who oppose him, and crown him with sympathy and succor. I may have to confess my Master amongst those who do not wish to be reminded of Him and His claims. I may be called to “move among my race, and show a glorious morning face,” when my heart is breaking.

There are many crosses, and every one of them is sore and heavy. None of them is likely to be sought out by me of my own accord. But never is Jesus so near me as when I lift my cross, and lay it submissively on my shoulder, and give it the welcome of a patient and unmurmuring spirit.

He draws close, to ripen my wisdom, to deepen my peace, to increase my courage, to augment my power to be of use to others, through the very experience which is so grievous and distressing. And then — as I read on the seal of one of those Scottish Covenanters whom Claverhouse imprisoned on the lonely Bass, with the sea surging and sobbing round — I grow under the load.


Wisdom: Use your cross as a crutch to help you on, and not as a stumblingblock to cast you down.

The cross creates in us a weight of glory that will far exceed the worst burdens of this earth — so weighty, in fact, that in comparison, the worst frenzies of earth will be but light and momentary things. In faith, we grow under the load — inner light, inner glory that can only match eternal life, and only fully be expressed in glory. Champions of faith, living into forever...

Note: The story behind the intro picture can be found here:

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Blessings coming and going

You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out. — Deut. 28:6 NET

by C.H. Spurgeon

The blessings of the law are not canceled. Jesus confirmed the promise when He bore the penalty. If I keep the commands of my Lord, I may appropriate this promise without question.

This day I will come in to my house without fear of evil tidings, and I will come in to my closet expecting to hear good news from my Lord. I will not be afraid to come in unto myself by self-examination, nor to come in to my affairs by a diligent inspection of my business. I have a good deal of work to do indoors, within my own soul; oh, for a blessing upon it all, the blessing of the Lord Jesus, who has promised to abide with me.

I must also go out. Timidity makes me wish that I could stay within doors and never go into the sinful world again. But I must go out in my calling, and I must go out that I may be helpful to my brethren and useful to the ungodly. I must be a defender of the faith and an assailant of evil. Oh, for a blessing upon my going out this day! Lord, let me go where Thou leadest, on Thy errands, under Thy command, and in the power of Thy Spirit.

Lord Jesus, turn in with me and be my guest; and then walk out with me and cause my heart to burn while You speak with me by the way.


Thursday, September 03, 2015

Not overwork, but overflow

He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn He went out to them, walking on the lake. — Mk. 6:48

Straining, driving effort does not accomplish the work God gives man to do. Only God Himself, who always works without strain, and who never overworks, can do the work that He assigns to His children. When they restfully trust Him to do it, it will be well done and completely done. The way to let Him do His work through us is to partake of Christ so fully, by faith, that He more than fills our life.

A man who had learned this secret once said: “I came to Jesus and I drank, and I do not think that I shall ever be thirsty again. I have taken for my motto, 'Not overwork, but overflow’; and already it has made all the difference in my life.”

There is no effort in overflow. It is quietly irresistible. It is the normal life of omnipotent and ceaseless accomplishment into which Christ invites us today and always.

From: Sunday School Times


Thou shalt conquer

They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb. — Rev. 12:11

So that we may not be exploited by Satan (for we are not ignorant of his schemes). — 2 Cor 2:11

Fear not Satan’s strong temptations
Though they tease thee day by day,
And thy evil inclinations
Overwhelm thee with dismay!
Thou shalt conquer,
Through the Lamb’s redeeming blood.


Monday, August 24, 2015

Such Amazing Grace!

If one can grasp the meaning of these three hymns... then one will understand the saving gospel of Christ. And, be encouraged when feeling the weight of sin, or overwhelmed in the pain and weakness of self-condition.

It's not about us. Salvation belongs not to the strong. But to the infinitely weak, who are loved by God into divine strength.

When we are truly weak (weak enough to give up on trusting self, and fully surrender to God), then we are strong. Rest in His strength. Give up even weakness, in utter confession of it...

Sing through these towering songs of faith. Trust. Commit. Rest. Surrender to Grace.



What Tho' I Cannot Break My Chain
I Am Not Skilled to Understand
Amazing Grace


Friday, July 31, 2015

Missionary serendipity: "A little country overrun by the English!"

Reading the life of James O. Fraser, missionary to the Lisu people in the early part of the 20th century, and this vignette caused a smile -- serendipitous sovereignty and divine humor!

One day Dan was escorting Anna when a young Chinese officer arrogantly accosted them. Were they English?

“I’m from Denmark,” Anna replied. “Where’s that?” “It’s a little country over-run by the Nazis.” “And you?” turning to Dan, “where are you from?” “My family came from Scotland,” said Dan. “Where’s that?” “It’s a little country over-run by the English.”

“So! We are all oppressed peoples,” the man said. “Come and eat with me.”

Big smile.

Amazing to trace the hand of God in little things, including humorous (and often unnoticed) twists and turns!


Note: As told by Eileen Crossman, daughter of James and Roxie Fraser, in the book Mountain Rain.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

God builds fair things from our tears

The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will certainly not allow the wicked to go unpunished. He marches out in the whirlwind and the raging storm; dark storm clouds billow like dust under his feet. — Nah. 1:3 NET

by Henry Ward Beecher

I recollect, when a lad, and while attending a classical institute in the vicinity of Mount Pleasant, sitting on an elevation of that mountain, and watching a storm as it came up the valley. The heavens were filled with blackness, and the earth was shaken by the voice of thunder. It seemed as though that fair landscape was utterly changed, and its beauty gone never to return.

But the storm swept on, and passed out of the valley; and if I had sat in the same place on the following day, and said, “Where is that terrible storm, with all its terrible blackness?” the grass would have said, “Part of it is in me,” and the daisy would have said, “Part of it is in me,” and the fruits and flowers and everything that grows out of the ground would have said, “Part of the storm is incandescent in me.”

Have you asked to be made like your Lord? Have you longed for the fruit of the Spirit, and have you prayed for sweetness and gentleness and love? Then fear not the stormy tempest that is at this moment sweeping through your life. A blessing is in the storm, and there will be the rich fruitage in the “afterward.”


The flowers live by the tears that fall
From the sad face of the skies;
And life would have no joys at all,
Were there no watery eyes.
Love thou thy sorrow: grief shall bring
Its own excuse in after years;
The rainbow!—see how fair a thing
God hath built up from tears.

— Henry S. Sutton

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

That Sweet Roll Ain't So Sweet (and Omega-6 oils, Highly Processed Carbs, Sugars and Margarines Are Killing Us)

Dr. Dwight Lundell is the author of The Cure for Heart Disease and The Great Cholesterol Lie. He admits that the common knowledge regarding heart disease is based on flawed assumptions, and may just be making the matters. Must read for anyone concerned with health:

We physicians with all our training, knowledge and authority often acquire a rather large ego that tends to make it difficult to admit we are wrong. So, here it is. I freely admit to being wrong.. As a heart surgeon with 25 years experience, having performed over 5,000 open-heart surgeries,today is my day to right the wrong with medical and scientific fact.

I trained for many years with other prominent physicians labelled “opinion makers.”  Bombarded with scientific literature, continually attending education seminars, we opinion makers insisted heart disease resulted from the simple fact of elevated blood cholesterol.

The only accepted therapy was prescribing medications to lower cholesterol and a diet that severely restricted fat intake. The latter of course we insisted would lower cholesterol and heart disease. Deviations from these recommendations were considered heresy and could quite possibly result in malpractice.

It Is Not Working!

These recommendations are no longer scientifically or morally defensible. The discovery a few years ago that inflammation in the artery wall is the real cause of heart disease is slowly leading to a paradigm shift in how heart disease and other chronic ailments will be treated.

The long-established dietary recommendations have created epidemics of obesity and diabetes, the consequences of which dwarf any historical plague in terms of mortality, human suffering and dire economic consequences.

Despite the fact that 25% of the population takes expensive statin medications and despite the fact we have reduced the fat content of our diets, more Americans will die this year of heart disease than ever before.

Statistics from the American Heart Association show that 75 million Americans currently suffer from heart disease, 20 million have diabetes and 57 million have pre-diabetes. These disorders are affecting younger and younger people in greater numbers every year.

Simply stated, without inflammation being present in the body, there is no way that cholesterol would accumulate in the wall of the blood vessel and cause heart disease and strokes. Without inflammation, cholesterol would move freely throughout the body as nature intended. It is inflammation that causes cholesterol to become trapped.

Inflammation is not complicated — it is quite simply your body’s natural defense to a foreign invader such as a bacteria, toxin or virus. The cycle of inflammation is perfect in how it protects your body from these bacterial and viral invaders. However, if we chronically expose the body to injury by toxins or foods the human body was never designed to process,a condition occurs called chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is just as harmful as acute inflammation is beneficial.

What thoughtful person would willfully expose himself repeatedly to foods or other substances that are known to cause injury to the body?  Well,smokers perhaps, but at least they made that choice willfully.

The rest of us have simply followed the recommended mainstream diet that is low in fat and high in polyunsaturated fats and carbohydrates, not knowing we were causing repeated injury to our blood vessels. This repeated injury creates chronic inflammation leading to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity.

Let me repeat that: The injury and inflammation in our blood vessels is caused by the low fat diet recommended for years by mainstream medicine.

What are the biggest culprits of chronic inflammation? Quite simply, they are the overload of simple, highly processed carbohydrates (sugar, flour and all the products made from them) and the excess consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils like soybean, corn and sunflower that are found in many processed foods.

Take a moment to visualize rubbing a stiff brush repeatedly over soft skin until it becomes quite red and nearly bleeding. you kept this up several times a day, every day for five years. If you could tolerate this painful brushing, you would have a bleeding, swollen infected area that became worse with each repeated injury. This is a good way to visualize the inflammatory process that could be going on in your body right now.

Regardless of where the inflammatory process occurs, externally or internally, it is the same. I have peered inside thousands upon thousands of arteries. A diseased artery looks as if someone took a brush and scrubbed repeatedly against its wall. Several times a day, every day, the foods we eat create small injuries compounding into more injuries, causing the body to respond continuously and appropriately with inflammation.

While we savor the tantalizing taste of a sweet roll, our bodies respond alarmingly as if a foreign invader arrived declaring war. Foods loaded with sugars and simple carbohydrates, or processed withomega-6 oils for long shelf life have been the mainstay of the American diet for six decades. These foods have been slowly poisoning everyone.

How does eating a simple sweet roll create a cascade of inflammation to make you sick?

Imagine spilling syrup on your keyboard and you have a visual of what occurs inside the cell. When we consume simple carbohydrates such as sugar, blood sugar rises rapidly. In response, your pancreas secretes insulin whose primary purpose is to drive sugar into each cell where it is stored for energy. If the cell is full and does not need glucose, it is rejected to avoid extra sugar gumming up the works.

When your full cells reject the extra glucose, blood sugar rises producing more insulin and the glucose converts to stored fat.

What does all this have to do with inflammation? Blood sugar is controlled in a very narrow range. Extra sugar molecules attach to a variety of proteins that in turn injure the blood vessel wall. This repeated injury to the blood vessel wall sets off inflammation. When you spike your blood sugar level several times a day, every day, it is exactly like taking sandpaper to the inside of your delicate blood vessels.

While you may not be able to see it, rest assured it is there. I saw it in over 5,000 surgical patients spanning 25 years who all shared one common denominator — inflammation in their arteries.

Let’s get back to the sweet roll. That innocent looking goody not only contains sugars, it is baked in one of many omega-6 oils such as soybean. Chips and fries are soaked in soybean oil; processed foods are manufactured with omega-6 oils for longer shelf life. While omega-6’s are essential -they are part of every cell membrane controlling what goes in and out of the cell — they must be in the correct balance with omega-3’s.

If the balance shifts by consuming excessive omega-6, the cell membrane produces chemicals called cytokines that directly cause inflammation.

Today’s mainstream American diet has produced an extreme imbalance of these two fats. The ratio of imbalance ranges from 15:1 to as high as 30:1 in favor of omega-6. That’s a tremendous amount of cytokines causing inflammation. In today’s food environment, a 3:1 ratio would be optimal and healthy.

To make matters worse, the excess weight you are carrying from eating these foods creates overloaded fat cells that pour out large quantities of pro-inflammatory chemicals that add to the injury caused by having high blood sugar. The process that began with a sweet roll turns into a vicious cycle over time that creates heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetesand finally, Alzheimer’s disease, as the inflammatory process continues unabated.

There is no escaping the fact that the more we consume prepared and processed foods, the more we trip the inflammation switch little by little each day. The human body cannot process, nor was it designed to consume, foods packed with sugars and soaked in omega-6 oils.

There is but one answer to quieting inflammation, and that is returning to foods closer to their natural state. To build muscle, eat more protein. Choose carbohydrates that are very complex such as colorful fruits and vegetables. Cut down on or eliminate inflammation- causing omega-6 fats like corn and soybean oil and the processed foods that are made from them.

One tablespoon of corn oil contains 7,280 mg of omega-6; soybean contains 6,940 mg. Instead, use olive oil or butter from grass-fed beef.

Animal fats contain less than 20% omega-6 and are much less likely to cause inflammation than the supposedly healthy oils labelled polyunsaturated. Forget the “science” that has been drummed into your head for decades. The science that saturated fat alone causes heart disease is non-existent. The science that saturated fat raises blood cholesterol is also very weak. Since we now know that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, the concern about saturated fat is even more absurd today.

The cholesterol theory led to the no-fat, low-fat recommendations that in turn created the very foods now causing an epidemic of inflammation. Mainstream medicine made a terrible mistake when it advised people to avoid saturated fat in favor of foods high in omega-6 fats. We now have an epidemic of arterial inflammation leading to heart disease and other silent killers.

What you can do is choose whole foods your grandmother served and not those your mom turned to as grocery store aisles filled with manufactured foods. By eliminating inflammatory foods and adding essential nutrients from fresh unprocessed food, you will reverse years of damage in your arteries and throughout your body from consuming the typical American diet.

Wow, right?

This isn't new information. But from his background, it's very interesting.

You can see the videos and read more here:

Monday, May 18, 2015

He rides on the wings of the wind, and every storm must fulfill His word

Today I saw pictures of a powerful storm sweeping over open land. The pictures evoked in me the songs of praise of Israel, who saw the great deliverance of God in nature, and understood God as the God of the Storm, the One who "rides on the wings of the wind" (Psalm 104:3), the One before whom every storm must bow, fulfilling His holy word (Psalm 148:8).

First, the song of deliverance in Exodus 15:6-8, where God shatters the enemy in a storm:

Your right hand, LORD, was majestic in power. Your right hand, LORD, shattered the enemy.

In the greatness of your majesty you threw down those who opposed you. You unleashed your burning anger; it consumed them like stubble.

By the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up. The surging waters stood up like a wall; the deep waters congealed in the heart of the sea.


And Psalm 29, a song of God's holiness and majestic power:

Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name;
    worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
    the God of glory thunders,
    the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.

The voice of the Lord is powerful;
    the voice of the Lord is majestic.

The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
    the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.

He makes Lebanon leap like a calf,
    Sirion like a young wild ox.

The voice of the Lord strikes
    with flashes of lightning.

The voice of the Lord shakes the desert;
    the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.

The voice of the Lord twists the oaks
    and strips the forests bare.
And in His temple all cry, “Glory!”

The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
    the Lord is enthroned as King forever.

The Lord gives strength to His people;
    the Lord blesses His people with peace.



Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Secrets of Sovereignty: Providential diamonds often come in rough packages

The Lord’s loyal followers receive His guidance, and He reveals His covenantal demands to them. — Psalm 25:14

by A. B. Simpson

There are secrets of Providence which God’s dear children may learn. His dealings with them often seem, to the outward eye, dark and terrible. Faith looks deeper and says, “This is God’s secret. You look only on the outside; I can look deeper and see the hidden meaning.”

Sometimes diamonds are done up in rough packages, so that their value cannot be seen. When the Tabernacle was built in the wilderness there was nothing rich in its outside appearance. The costly things were all within, and its outward covering of rough badger skin gave no hint of the valuable things which it contained.

God may send you, dear friends, some costly packages. Do not worry if they are done up in rough wrappings. You may be sure there are treasures of love, and kindness, and wisdom hidden within. If we take what He sends, and trust Him for the goodness in it, even in the dark, we shall learn the meaning of the secrets of Providence.


Our Lord can give a New Heart

These words I am commanding you today must be kept in mind. — Deut. 6:6 NET

by J.R. Miller

There is a story in one of the sacred books of the Hindus of a devotee who had served a certain goddess with such faithfulness that she offered to give him whatever he might ask.

She offered him lands and wealth beyond price, but the man said, “Alas! I have no need of such things. I already have great estates, abundance of silver and gold, and all the good things of this life. But I am a miser. I cannot enjoy the things I possess. I die of famine, with plenty all around me, and I know nothing of the pleasures that that are common to generous minds. Give me, then, a new heart.”

The goddess looked at him in amazement, and said, “Thou hast asked a thing too difficult,” and she vanished.

But this is the very thing God does for those who ask it. He is able to change the miser’s heart, so that he may find pleasure in blessing others with his gifts. He does this by putting His words into the heart. Then the heart is changed, and the life that was all wrong is made all right.


Saturday, May 02, 2015

May the fruit of the Spirit grow in me richly, today

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness... Gal. 5:22

A.B. Simpson

Nature's harshness has melted away and she is now beaming with the smile of spring, and everything around us whispers of the gentleness of God. This beautiful fruit is in lovely harmony with the gentle month of which it is the keynote. May the Holy Spirit lead us, beloved, these days, into His sweetness, quietness, and gentleness, subduing every coarse, rude, harsh, and unholy habit, and making us like Him, of whom it is said, He shall not strive, nor cry, nor cause His voice to be heard in the streets.

The man who is truly filled with Jesus will always be a gentleman. The woman who is baptized of the Holy Spirit, will have the instincts of a perfect lady, although low born and little bred in the schools of earthly refinement. Beloved, let us receive and reflect the gentleness of Christ, the spirit of the holy babe, until the world will say of us, as the polished and infidel Chesterfield once said of the saintly Fenelon, If I had remained in his house another day, I should have had to become a Christian. Lord, help us today, to so yield to the gentle Dove–Spirit, that our lives shall be as His life.


This reading by A.B. Simpson convicted me. It called to mind the story told of John Welsh of Ayr, the son-in-law of the great John Knox. A visiting friar needed lodging, and so was welcomed to the home of Welsh, the Presbyterian Covenanter. The friar heard talking during the night, and thought it was the devil, living in the house of the famous Protestant pastor. He fully intended to move on before the next night, but when he mentioned the night whispers to a villager, the villager laughed. "That's just Welsh praying. He prays more than another other pastor in France."

The friar agreed to stay one more night, resolving to listen to the words more closely. So he did. And when he turned his ear toward discerning the words, he began to weep -- for he had never heard prayer like this in his life. The next day he confessed his need of grace to John Welsh, who prayed for him. And he became a pastor in the Covenant.


Lord, grant that in me the fruit of your Spirit would grow so richly that others might be drawn to the harvest-beauty, the holy music.


Friday, May 01, 2015

A May Day song of praise

Indeed you will go out with joy; you will be led along in peace; the mountains and hills will give a joyful shout before you, and all the trees in the field will clap their hands. — Isa 55:12

by C.H. Spurgeon

When sin is pardoned, our greatest sorrow is ended, and our truest pleasure begins. Such is the joy which the Lord bestows upon His reconciled ones, that it overflows and fills all nature with delight. The material world has latent music in it, and a renewed heart knows how to bring it out and make it vocal. Creation is the organ, and a gracious man finds out its keys, lays his hand thereon, and wakes the whole system of the universe to the harmony of praise. Mountains and hills, and other great objects, are, as it were, the bass of the chorus; while the trees of the wood, and all things that have life, take up the air of the melodious song.

When God’s Word is made to prosper among us and souls are saved, then everything seems full of song. When we hear the confessions of young believers and the testimonies of well-instructed saints, we are made so happy that we must praise the Lord, and then it seems as if rocks and hills and woods and fields echo our joy-notes and turn the world into an orchestra. Lord, on this happy May Day, lead me out into thy tuneful world as rich in praise as a lark in full song.


Monday, April 27, 2015

He will perfect that which concerns me

The Lord avenges me. O Lord, your loyal love endures. Do not abandon those whom you have made! — Psalm 138:8

by C.H. Spurgeon

A song of faith

He who has begun will carry on the work which is being wrought within my soul. The Lord is concerned about everything that concerns me. All that is now good, but not perfect, the Lord will watch over, preserve, and carry out to completion.

This is a great comfort! I could not perfect the work of grace myself. Of that I am quite sure, for I fail every day and have only held on so long as I have because the Lord has helped me. If the Lord were to leave me, all my past experience would go for nothing, and I should perish from the way. But the Lord will continue to bless me. He will perfect my faith, my love, my character, my lifework. He will do this because He has begun a work in me.

He gave me the concern I feel, and, in a measure, He has fulfilled my gracious aspirations. He never leaves a work unfinished; this would not be for His glory, nor would it be like Him. He knows how to accomplish His gracious design, and though my own evil nature and the world and the devil all conspire to hinder Him, I do not doubt His promise. He will perfect that which concerneth me, and I will praise Him forever. Lord, let Thy gracious work make some advance this day!



Tuesday, April 14, 2015

My Choice Is His Choice

"He shall choose our inheritance for us." Psalms 47:4

by C.H. Spurgeon

Our enemies would allot us a very dreary portion, but we are not left in their hands. The LORD will cause us to stand in our lot, and our place is appointed by His infinite wisdom. A wiser mind than our own arranges our destiny. The ordaining of all things is with God, and we are glad to have it so; we choose that God should choose for us. If we might have our own way we would wish to let all things go in God's way.

Being conscious of our own folly, we would not desire to rule our own destinies. We feel safer and more at ease when the LORD steers our vessel than we could possibly be if we could direct it according to our own judgment. Joyfully we leave the painful present and the unknown future with our Father, our Savior, our Comforter.

O my soul, this day lay down thy wishes at Jesus' feet! If thou hast of late been somewhat wayward and willful, eager to be and to do after thine own mind, now dismiss thy foolish self, and place the reins in the LORD's hands. Say, "He shall choose." If others dispute the sovereignty of the LORD and glory in the free will of man, do thou answer them, "He shall choose for me." It is my freest choice to let Him choose. As a free agent, I elect that He should have absolute sway.



Saturday, April 04, 2015

Faith turns the promise into a prophecy

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

by A.B. Simpson

Faith is not working up by will power a sort of certainty that something is coming to pass, but it is seeing as an actual fact that God has said that this thing shall come to pass, and that it is true, and then rejoicing to know that it is true, and just resting and entering into it because God has said it. Faith turns the promise into a prophecy. While it is merely a promise it is contingent upon our co–operation; it may or may not be. But when faith claims it, it becomes a prophecy and we go forth feeling that it is something that must be done because God cannot lie.

Faith is the answer from the throne saying, It is done. Faith is the echo of God's voice. Let us catch it from on high. Let us repeat it, and go out to triumph in its glorious power.

Hear the answer from the throne,
Claim the promise, doubting one,
God hath spoken, It is done.
Faith hath answered, It is done
Prayer is over, praise begun,
Hallelujah! It is done.


Faith is not presumption. Some Word of Faith teachers and prosperity gospel preachers act like it is. "Name it and claim it," based on irrevocably false theology and skewed biblical interpretation. Such *faith* is a dangerous thing. It breaks the person and leaves broken people in its wake.

However, that is not the faith of which Hebrews 11 speaks -- not the kind of faith that Simpson promotes here. The biblical faith is simply taking what God has clearly spoken, and then living into that. Faith is Abraham and Sarah believing that God would give them the son of promise -- even if they laughed all the way to the birth, at the incredible impossibility of God's plan. Faith is David believing that the kingdom was his, by divine calling, even as he ran for his life in the wilderness, with a price on his head -- believing so strongly in the promise that he conducted himself as king under God in the wilderness. Faith is Hannah believing that a son of promise could be hers, even if her body made that birth impossible -- and she wet the ground with her tears, and offered the agony of her prayers, living into the promise.

So it is with any true calling of faith. Faith knows nothing of silver spoons, comfort paths, and sensually laden, self-serving worship -- kicking back in relative painless ease and modeling faith and fulfillment. Never trust a faith leader who 1. has not suffered in the discipline of faith, and 2. makes himself rich in preaching or teaching or leading. For that is an illusion of faith, not the real thing.

That kind of faith will wilt under true trial, and give way under seductive temptation -- because self is at its center.

True faith simply sees the promise of God, His revealed Word, in the power of the Spirit, and swings life out on that promise, even if it costs all that people call normal life. Such a life will enter the promise. And many will be blessed -- perhaps unseen in human time, yet a great harvest of souls. And eternal fulfillment for the one who claimed -- and lived into -- the promise.



Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Sinner is a Sacred Thing

A Sinner is a Sacred Thing

– Joseph Hart 

(Tune: #183 — Faith of Our Fathers — 88.88.88) 

1. When Adam by transgression fell, and conscious, fled his Maker’s face,
Linked in clandestine league with hell, He ruined all his future race.
The seeds of evil once brought in, increased and filled the world with sin.

2. But lo! The Second Adam came, the serpent’s subtle head to bruise;
 He cancels his malicious claim, and disappoints his devilish views;
Ransoms poor sinners with His blood, and brings the sinner back to God.

3. To understand these things aright, this grand distinction should be known:
Though all are sinners in God’s sight, there are but few so in their own.
To such as these our Lord was sent; they’re only sinners who repent.

4. What comfort can a Savior bring to those who never felt their woe? 
 A sinner is a sacred thing; the Holy Ghost hath made him so. 
New life from Him we must receive, before for sin we rightly grieve.

5. This faithful saying let us own, well worthy ‘tis to be believed, 
That Christ into the world came down, that sinners might by Him be saved. 
Sinners are high in His esteem, and sinners highly value Him.


Verse 4 in this song is beyond profound: If a person sees his or her sin as sin, and repents of it, he or she does so only in the power of God, regenerated in spirit by the Holy Spirit.

This is speaking in spiritual actuality, of course. There are many who might say that they are degenerate or sinful, and then embrace that sin wholeheartedly, without repentance. Such a person does not really see himself as a sinner. That person is still celebrating her or her own self as desirable and worthy.

A sinner is a sacred thing, because only by the power of the Spirit and Word does a person truly accept the category. And Christ died for such persons, and they in turn learn to highly value Him, more than sin.


Receiving and resting in the prepared works of God

For we are His workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them. — Eph 2:10 NET

A.B. Simpson comments on this verse:

Christ sends us to serve Him, not in our own strength, but in His resources and might. We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath prepared that we should walk in them. We do not have to prepare them; but to wear them as garments, made to order for every occasion of our life.
We must receive them by faith and go forth in His work, believing that He is with us, and in us, as our all sufficiency for wisdom, faith, love, prayer, power, and every grace and gift that our work requires. In this work of faith we shall have to feel weak and helpless, and even have little consciousness of power.

But if we believe and go forward, He will be the power and send the fruits.

The most useful services we render are those which, like the sweet fruits of the wilderness, spring from hours of barrenness. I will bring her into the wilderness and I will give her vineyards from thence. Let us learn to work by faith as well as walk by faith, then we shall receive even the end of our faith, the salvation of precious souls, and our lives will bear fruit which shall be manifest throughout all eternity.


Such an amazing theme of grace, that God has prepared the works for us. We don't have to work them up or stress ourselves in finding them. We don't need to strive in discerning or creating them. They are prepared beforehand.

We simply must trust. We must receive the promise, by faith. We must obey in the next thing at the door of our conscience. Like this, God will lead us into all good works, even silent or unseen by others (or perhaps not even recognized by ourselves).

Tolstoy has written a short story of a shoe cobbler who entertains the Lord by accident, without knowing that he did so (merely by helping a cold woman, abandoned orphan and lonely man in the course of his day). So it is with us: we will do the destined works, as we simply trust and obey.

And, it's so important (especially in our world of celebrity, glamor and materially defined success) not to "compare ourselves among ourselves" (2 Cor. 10:12). There's no quicker way to lose sight of the prepared works of God than to compare personal life against the celebrated works of others.

Truly, "Let us learn to work by faith as well as walk by faith, then we shall receive even the end of our faith, the salvation of precious souls, and our lives will bear fruit which shall be manifest throughout all eternity."