Tag Archives: Christian endurance

Our invisible building


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(J. R. Miller, “Unfinished Life-building”)

“This fellow began to build—and was not able to finish!” Luke 14:30

We are all builders. We may not erect any house or temple on a city street for human eyes to see—but every one of us builds an edifice which God sees!

Life is a building. It rises slowly, day by day, through the years. Every new lesson we learn, lays another block on the edifice which is rising silently within us.
Every experience,
every touch of another life on ours,
every influence that impresses us,
every book we read,
every conversation we have,
every act in our commonest days—
adds something to our invisible building.
All of life furnishes the materials which add to our life-wall.

Many people build noble character structures in this world. But there are also many who build only base, shabby huts, without beauty—which will be swept away in the testing fires of judgment!

There are many, too, whose life-work presents the sorry spectacle of an unfinished building. There was a beautiful plan to begin with, and the work was promising for a little time—but after a while it was abandoned and left standing, with walls halfway up—a useless fragment, open and exposed, an incomplete inglorious ruin—telling no story of past splendor—as do the ruins of some old castle or coliseum—a monument only of folly and failure!

Sin in some form draws many a builder away from his work—to leave it unfinished.

It may be the world’s fascinations, which lure him from Christ’s side.

It may be evil companions, which tempt him from loyal friendship to the Savior.

It may be riches, which enter his heart and blind his eyes to the attractions of heaven.

It may be some secret debasing lust, which gains power over him and paralyzes his spiritual life.

Many are those now amid the world’s throngs—who once sat at the Lord’s Table and were among God’s people! Their lives are unfinished buildings, towers begun with great enthusiasm—and then left to tell their sad story of failure to all who pass by. They began to build—and were not able to finish.

It is sad to think how much of this unfinished work, God sees as He looks down upon our earth. Think of the good beginnings which never came to anything in the end. Think of the excellent resolutions which are never carried out. Think of the noble life-plans entered upon by so many young people with ardent enthusiasm—but soon given up. Think of the beautiful visions and high hopes which might have been splendid realities—but which have faded out, with not even one earnest attempt to work them into life!

In all aspects of life—we see these abandoned buildings. Many homes present the spectacle of abandoned dreams of love. For a time, the beautiful vision shone—and two hearts tried to make it come true—but they gave their dream up in despair, either enduring in misery—or going their own sad and separate ways.

So life everywhere is full of beginnings, which are never carried on to completion.

There is  . . .
not a soul-wreck on the streets,
not a prisoner serving out a sentence behind prison bars,
not a debased, fallen person anywhere—
in whose soul, there were not once visions of beauty, high hopes, holy thoughts and purposes, and high resolves of an ideal of something lovely and noble. But alas! the visions, the hopes, the purposes, the resolves—never grew into more than beginnings. God bends down and sees a great wilderness of unfinished buildings, bright possibilities unfulfilled, noble might-have-beens abandoned; ghastly ruins now, sad memorials only of failure!

The lesson from all this, is that we should . . .
  finish our work,
allow nothing to draw us away from our duty,
never become weary in following Christ,
persevere from the beginning of our ideals—steadfast unto the end.

We should not falter under any burden, in the face of any danger, before any demand of cost or sacrifice.

No discouragement,
no sorrow,
no worldly attraction,
no hardship—
should weaken for one moment our determination to be faithful unto death! No one who has begun to build for Christ—should leave an unfinished, abandoned life-work, to his own eternal grief!

“This fellow began to build—and was not able to finish!” Luke 14:30

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

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A thing or two about sorrow


tears_of_sadness

So I endure all things for the sake of those chosen by God, that they too may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus and its eternal glory. (2 Tim 2:10)

If Job could have known as he sat there in the ashes, bruising his heart on this problem of Providence—that in the trouble that had come upon him he was doing what one man may do to work out the problem for the world, he might again have taken courage. No man lives to himself. Job’s life is but your life and mine written in larger text….So, then, though we may not know what trials wait on any of us, we can believe that, as the days in which Job wrestled with his dark maladies are the only days that make him worth remembrance, and but for which his name had never been written in the book of life, so the days through which we struggle, finding no way, but never losing the light, will be the most significant we are called to live.
—Robert Collyer

Who does not know that our most sorrowful days have been amongst our best? When the face is wreathed in smiles and we trip lightly over meadows bespangled with spring flowers, the heart is often running to waste.

The soul which is always blithe and gay misses the deepest life. It has its reward, and it is satisfied to its measure, though that measure is a very scanty one. But the heart is dwarfed; and the nature, which is capable of the highest heights, the deepest depths, is undeveloped; and life presently burns down to its socket without having known the resonance of the deepest chords of joy.

“Blessed are they that mourn.” Stars shine brightest in the long dark night of winter. The gentians show their fairest bloom amid almost inaccessible heights of snow and ice.

God’s promises seem to wait for the pressure of pain to trample out their richest juice as in a wine-press. Only those who have sorrowed know how tender is the “Man of Sorrows.”
—Selected

Thou hast but little sunshine, but thy long glooms are wisely appointed thee; for perhaps a stretch of summer weather would have made thee as a parched land and barren wilderness. Thy Lord knows best, and He has the clouds and the sun at His disposal.
—Selected

“It is a gray day.” “Yes, but dinna ye see the patch of blue?”
—Scotch Shoemaker

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The God of the Broken Hearted.


As “fair flowers bloom upon rough stalks,” so many of the fairest flowers of human life, grow upon the rough stalks of suffering.

I found myself this morning having a bit of a “pity party”.
It seems like the past year has been one health problem after another for me. I am the kind of person who has a tendency to put a “happy face” on all my problems and focus on anything else. I put off going to Doctor’s until it’s too late, I don’t ask for help unless it’s urgent and I eventually bottom out somewhere. It’s not a healthy pattern and God usually has to do something to get my attention.
I recently wrote a little bit about my testimony for another blog.  I have never written it down because it’s one of those situations where God made good out of a really bad thing and it’s hard to revisit without having to think about those hard times. Looking back over my life was bittersweet to me, and this morning driving to Church it all came crashing down. I spent most of my morning crying out to God in my office and then in my car. I know God can handle it, it perplexes me why I always wait to unload on Him when he promises to never leave or forsake me. I know there is a reason for everything we go through on our journey home to Heaven, and that God is using those very things to refine us for His glory, but sometimes I guess I need to just pour out my heart to Him and let Him carry the burdens of life for me.
 I included a wonderful article from Grace Gems my J.R. Miller. If for some reason today you are sad, or weary please remember that God has special grace for you today. Lean on Him, trust Him. He has this all under control, He cares for His children.
The God of the broken-hearted

(J. R. Miller, “The Beatitude for the Unsuccessful” 1892)

“The Lord is near the broken-hearted.” Psalm 34:18

The God of the Bible, is the God of the broken-hearted. The world cares little for the broken hearts. Indeed, people oftentimes break hearts by their cruelty, their falseness, their injustice, their coldness–and then move on as heedlessly as if they had trodden only on a worm! But God cares. Broken-heartedness attracts Him. The plaint of grief on earth–draws Him down from heaven.

Physicians in their rounds, do not stop at the homes of the well–but of the sick. So it is with God in His movements through this world. It is not to the whole and the well–but to the wounded and stricken, that He comes with sweetest tenderness! Jesus said of His mission: “He has sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted.” Isaiah 61:1

We look upon trouble as misfortune. We say that the life is being destroyed, which is passing through adversity. But the truth which we find in the Bible, does not so represent suffering. God is a repairer and restorer of the hurt and ruined life. He takes the bruised reed–and by His gentle skill makes it whole again, until it grows into fairest beauty. The love, pity, and grace of God, minister sweet blessing of comfort and healing–to restore the broken and wounded hearts of His people.

Much of the most beautiful life in this world, comes out of sorrow. As “fair flowers bloom upon rough stalks,” so many of the fairest flowers of human life, grow upon the rough stalks of suffering. We see that those who in heaven wear the whitest robes, and sing the loudest songs of victory–are those who have come out of great tribulation. Heaven’s highest places are filling, not from earth’s homes of glad festivity and tearless joy–but from its chambers of pain; its valleys of struggle where the battle is hard; and its scenes of sorrow, where pale cheeks are wet with tears, and where hearts are broken. The God of the Bible–is the God of the bowed down–whom He lifts up into His strength.

God is the God of those who fail. Not that He loves those who stumble and fall, better than those who walk erect without stumbling; but He helps them more. The weak believers get more of His grace–than those who are strong believers. There is a special divine promise, which says, “My divine power is made perfect in weakness.” When we are conscious of our own insufficiency, then we are ready to receive of the divine sufficiency. Thus our very weakness is an element of strength. Our weakness is an empty cup–which God fills with His own strength.

You may think that your weakness unfits you for noble, strong, beautiful living–or for sweet, gentle, helpful serving. You wish you could get clear of it. It seems to burden you–an ugly spiritual deformity. But really it is something which–if you give it to Christ–He can transform into a blessing, a source of His power. The friend by your side, whom you envy because he seems so much stronger than you are–does not get so much of Christ’s strength as you do. You are weaker than him–but your weakness draws to you divine power, and makes you strong.

“He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

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The Alluring


narrow gate

James Smith, 1860

The Lord having chosen his people for himself — will bring them to know him, confide in him, and love him. So, when they have backslidden and wandered from him — he will employ means, that his banished ones be not expelled from him. Thus he brought Israel out of Egypt, and consecrated them to himself; and thus he led them out of Babylon, and again set them apart for his praise. These things were types, and show unto us, how the Lord deals with his people now, both at their first conversion, and at their restoration afterwards. How striking are the words of the Lord by his servant Hosea, on this point, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably to her;” or as the margin reads, “I will speak to her heart.” Hosea 2:14. What will the Lord do?

“I will allure her.” The eye and the heart of God, are upon his people — before they know it, and when they little think of it. He loves them with an everlasting love — therefore, he will draw, or allure them. He will draw them from their . . .
carnal pleasures,
vain pursuits, and
wordily company.

He will secretly persuade them . . .
by a divine operation upon their minds;
or by disappointments, vexations, convictions, distress of soul, and bereavements;
or by discoveries of his glorious grace, the blessedness of his people, or the felicity of Heaven
— to leave the pleasures and pursuits that are carnal — and seek for himself, and spiritual things. He will entice her, or draw her, by the revelation, and exhibition, of Jesus — in his glory, beauty, and exact adaptation to her.

“I will bring her into the wilderness.” Not an uninhabited spot — but what is elsewhere called “the wilderness of the people.” So, that though surrounded by society, the soul feels ALONE — it has an inward persuasion, that it is an isolated being. The allured soul feels that no one is like it — no one ever had such feelings, such fears, such corruptions, such temptations, such doubts. Therefore as Jeremiah says, “Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him. Let him bury his face in the dust — there may yet be hope.”

The believer, like a person in a wilderness, has a painful sense of BARRENNESS. Beneath, there is no green and pleasant verdure — but scorching sands; above, no shower bearing clouds — but a burning sky. All is barren, and tends to barrenness. So the soul finds it — the means of grace are barren; prayer, preaching, and conversation, all are barren. Even the Bible appears to be a barren book.

So the man feels exposed to DANGER — danger from Satan, sin, the world, and death. Danger from the law, and danger even from Christian friends.

There is also a painful sense of DESTITUTION, and the man becomes wearied, bewildered, and exhausted.

This wilderness is a place of INSTRUCTION, here the soul learns many a painful — but important lesson. Here it learns dependence on God, the emptiness and insufficiency of the creature, and the need of a divine agency to carry on the work. It learns that there is no bread but from Heaven, and what comes down appears to be small and unusual; so that with Israel, as we gather and feed on it, we are ready to cry, “Manna,” what is it? what is it?

Here God works wonders, in preserving, supplying, correcting, restoring, and guiding. Here the bridegroom finds his bride, raises her to his side, allows her to lean upon him, holds secret, soul-sustaining communion with her, and conducts her to the promised land.

“I will speak to her heart.”

He speaks a divorce from all creatures — that we may enjoy union to, and find happiness in himself alone.

He calls us away from centering in self — to fix our faith and affections on himself.

He speaks, so as to prevail with us to leave all others, and give ourselves up . . .
to be ruled by his will,
to feed at his table, and
to be satisfied with his goodness.

He speaks comfort, and speaks comfortably to us. By a Barnabas, or by the Comforter — he speaks, and, brings home a word of promise to the heart. This encourages faith, emboldens hope, and persuades the soul to close in with Christ. Or some sweet word flows into the mind, assuring us that he . . .
has pardoned our sins,
will take us as his own,
will guide us by his counsel, and
afterwards receive us to glory.

Reader, has the Lord ever allured you, and drawn you away into a wilderness, revealing himself to you? Has he ever spoken to your heart, words of peace and love? Jesus spoke to the heart of the poor woman, when he said, “Your sins, which are many, are all forgiven,” and to the poor man, when he said, “Your faith has saved you, go in peace.” Such pleasant words are as a honeycomb — sweet to the soul, and health to the bones. Such good words will make the heart glad.

We must be weaned from the world, from the creatures, and be brought into secret, heart-affecting, soul transforming communion with God. We must therefore find the world a wilderness, a desert, a land of drought. We must turn from man to God, and in God as revealed in Jesus, find a friend that loves at all times, and be able to say, with the apostle, “Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

The Gift

When the Lord has allured, and drawn his people away from all other to himself, when they have found it good to be alone with God, and when he has comforted their hearts — then he bestows upon them great and precious blessings. Thus the prophet represented the Lord as speaking, “There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor (trouble) — a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of he youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.” Hosea. 2:15.

I will give her back her vineyards.” I will not only speak — but give. Vineyards were valuable property, delightful possessions; so the Lord will not only give enough for our subsistence — but abundance. Not only tastes of Canaan — but Canaan itself. That is, all the privileges and comforts of the gospel, which are like these gifts, proofs of reconciliation, and fruits of love. I will give her back her vineyards from thence. From that time, when I have brought her to be mine, only mine. From that place, the wilderness — where all was barren and unpromising. From that condition of loneliness and isolation. Vineyards from wildernesses.

“I will make the Valley of Achor (trouble) — a door of hope.” This valley was naturally pleasant and secure. It took its name from Achor, who by his covetousness and theft, here troubled Israel. It means the valley of trouble, and this, says the Lord, shall be a door of hope. Trouble is often the means of good. Sanctified trouble always ends well. Achor was the first part of Canaan, which Israel possessed; trouble accompanied their entrance into the land. So often trouble attends the first joys of salvation; our first entrance into promised rest. But at the end of afflictions, stands the door of hope.

This door lets out our desires to God, and lets in covenant mercies from God. It keeps out many and great evils — as gloom, despondency, and despair. And it lets out God’s saints into liberty, peace, union, possessions, and honors. In Joseph’s prison — was a door of hope, through which he passed to be lord over all the land of Egypt. In Daniel’s den of lions — was a door of hope which admitted him to the highest place in the kingdom. In the experience of David, many and varied as his troubles and afflictions were, there was a door of hope, which introduced him to the promised throne, and made him king over all Israel. So in your experience, believer, you have always found a door of hope at the end of your conflicts, trials, and troubles, through which, when you least expected it, you passed into the enjoyment of peace and liberty.

Our present mercies, are doors to admit us to new and greater mercies. The door may appear shut, all may seem dark and distressing — but Jesus carries the key, and will open the door, and introduce us to deliverance, just at the best moment. His key will open the most difficult lock with ease, and throw open the strongest door at his pleasure.

The Lord will not only give us vineyards, and set before us a door of hope — but he will give us mirth; “There she will sing.”

Sing, where? At the door of hope, in the vineyards he gives us.

Sing, why? On account of our obtaining our freedom, and such glorious possessions.”

Sing, how? As Israel did at the Red Sea, when Miriam took a timbrel, and all the women went after her in dances, singing, “Sing unto the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously.”

Sing, for what? For wonders wrought, for faithfulness proved, for obedience crowned.

She shall be humbled there, as rich displays of grace always humble us. She shall answer there, as the people of old did saying, “All that the Lord has spoken to us — will we do.” Signal deliverances lead to cheerful and prompt obedience.

Observe, believer, Our songs are generally preceded by sorrow. We sigh in the valley — before we sing on the mountain. Our groans are heard in the glen, before our anthems ascend from the rock. The Lord’s people shall be enriched and happy. They may be poor enough for a time, and their sorrow may be great — but vineyards and songs, will be theirs before long.

Observe, inward joys should be expressed. If the Lord renders us happy — we should gratefully show it. The Lord loves to hear us praise him. The grateful Christian, will never be long at a loss for matter for a song. New mercies should remind us of former ones. Every new deliverance, should lead our thoughts back to our first and great deliverance: and from thence we should draw the conclusion of the apostle, “He who has delivered, does deliver, and in him I trust that he will yet deliver me.”

If we have received a vineyard as our marriage dowry — we shall soon enter upon the possession of the glorious inheritance. If we sing the songs of deliverance in these lowlands now — we shall soon shout from the heights of Zion. If we enter the door of hope into the enjoyment of grace — we shall assuredly pass through the door of hope again, into the enjoyment of glory.

The Relationship

The Lord having allured his people, brought them away from all others, to feel alone with himself; having turned the shadow of death into morning, and given the valley of Achor for a door of hope, and put a new song into their mouths; God then takes them into the closest possible union with himself, and indulges them with the sweetest views of his love. Hence we read, “It shall be at that day, says the Lord, that you shall call me Ishi, and shall call me no more Baali.” Hosea 2:16.

There is a difference in the terms, though there is some similarity. Sarah called Abraham, “Baali, my Lord,” though he was her husband, manifesting profound reverence as well as tender affection. “Baali,” signifies, “my Lord,” and conveys the idea of owner, and patron — implying inferiority, rule, subjection, and fear.

“Ishi,” signifies “my man,” signifying my husband, my strength, my protector — and implying, love, familiarity, and boldness. The contrast, therefore, is between lordly and loving.

“Baali,” had become ambiguous, being applied to idols as well as Jehovah; and it befit the servant, better than the bride; therefore it must be dispensed with. But there are still some dry professors, some backsliders, and some who live at a distance from God, who prefer “Baali,” to “Ishi;” they prefer . . .
distance to nearness,
reserve to familiarity, and
doubt to assurance.

But the Lord would have us know and enjoy his love to us; and see us come boldly to his throne, and feel confidence in his presence.

The relationship indicated, is the marriage relationship. It is the Lord saying, “I am married unto you!” “Your Maker is your husband, the Lord almighty is his name, and your Redeemer the Holy One of Israel, the God of the whole earth shall he be called.” It indicates, that we are God’s portion — and that he is ours! That he has chosen us for his own — set his heart and his love upon us — and has brought us into nearness and union with himself — giving us a sweet assurance of his love, so that we can say, “My beloved is mine — and I am his!”

Not only so — but he brings us into a state of positive dependence upon him; so that as the wife, who brings no portion with her, is dependent upon her husband for all — so we must look to the Lord for all, and trust in him alone.

But we must not omit to observe, that the relation into which the Lord brings us is permanent and perpetual. He takes us as we are, and knowing all about us, to be his own, and his own forever; and we take him to be ours, and ours forever. He says, “I will be for you, and you shall be for me,” and the union is formed for eternity, the relationship is entered into forever.

The privileges flowing out of this relationship, are many, and very great. “You shall call me Ishi, my husband.” This intends that we shall acknowledge and treat him as such. We are to look to him . . .
for counsel, in all our difficulties and perplexities;
for comfort in all seasons of sadness and sorrow;
for sympathy in all our sufferings and trials; and
for our maintenance, both as creatures and Christians.

We are to expect from him . . .
all that the wisest head can devise,
all that the kindest heart bestow,
all that the most experienced hand can perform,
all that the most eloquent tongue can express
all that the wealth of God can procure!

“You shall call me Ishi,” that is —
you shall serve me from love, rather than fear;
you shall make me the object of confidence, rather than of dread;
you shall receive the spirit of adoption, rather than the spirit of bondage.

O what a privilege to be thus related to God, to be one with God! To be delivered from all terror, alarm, and dismay — and enjoy peace, confidence, and courage, in our approaches to him, and dealings with him. Blessed be God, for alluring us, and drawing us out of the world! Blessed be God, for our afflictions and trials! Blessed be God, for all the gifts of his grace. Blessed be God, for taking us into union with himself, in the person of his beloved Son!

Observe, God would have us look to him with love and delight — not with fear and dread. Think of this, lost sinner. Think of this, poor legalist. God does not want our works, or our sufferings — but our persons, and our love. He wishes us to think kindly of him, and to set our love upon him. We should view God in Christ, as . . .
our portion,
our strength,
our husband.

And as our portion — we should live upon him,
as our strength — we should lean upon him, and
as our husband — we should abide in his presence, and enjoy constant fellowship and communion with him.

He will cleanse his people from all their idols, and take the name of Baali out of their mouth. Yes, every idol must fall, and Jesus must become the object of our supreme love, confidence, and adoration.

Let us, then, admire the love, tenderness, and condescension of our God — let us submit to all his discipline and dispensations, with meekness and humility — and let us seek grace, that realizing our union with him, we may walk before him as befits the objects of his highest love and sovereign grace. Let us be willing . . .
to be weaned from all others,
to endure the afflictions appointed for our good, and
to be shut up to God in Christ, for all our comfort, peace, and joy.

Gracious God, let us often experience your alluring influence — let us often find ourselves alone with you — let us in every trouble look unto the door of hope — let us often sing of your delivering mercy and grace — and let us realize that we are one with you, and that you are one with us, so that in all our approaches to you, and dealings with you — we may exercise love, confidence, and joy!

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Yet I will trust Him


image

Though he slay me, yet will I trust him (Job 13:15).

For I know whom I have believed (2 Tim. 1:12).

I will not doubt, though all my ships at sea
Come drifting home with broken masts and sails;
I will believe the Hand which never fails,
From seeming evil worketh good for me.
And though I weep because those sails are tattered,
Still will I cry, while my best hopes lie shattered:
‘I trust in Thee.’

I will not doubt, though all my prayers return
Unanswered from the still, white realm above;
I will believe it is an all-wise love
Which has refused these things for which I yearn;
And though at times I cannot keep from grieving,
Yet the pure ardor of my fixed believing
Undimmed shall burn.

I will not doubt, though sorrows fall like rain,
And troubles swarm like bees about a hive.
I will believe the heights for which I strive
Are only reached by anguish and by pain;
And though I groan and writhe beneath my crosses.
I yet shall see through my severest losses
The greater gain.

I will not doubt. Well anchored is this faith,
Like some staunch ship, my soul braves every gale;
So strong its courage that it will not quail
To breast the mighty unknown sea of death.
Oh, may I cry, though body parts with spirit,
‘I do not doubt,’ so listening worlds may hear it,
With my last breath.

“In fierce storms,” said an old seaman, “we must do one thing; there is only one way: we must put the ship in a certain position and keep her there.” This, Christian, is what you must do.

Sometimes, like Paul, you can see neither sun nor stars, and no small tempest lies on you; and then you can do but one thing; there is only one way. Reason cannot help you; past experiences give you no light. Even prayer fetches no consolation. Only a single course is left. You must put your soul in one position and keep it there.

You must stay upon the Lord; and come what may–winds, waves, cross-seas, thunder, lightning, frowning rocks, roaring breakers–no matter what, you must lash yourself to the helm, and hold fast your confidence in God’s faithfulness, His covenant engagement, His everlasting love in Christ Jesus.
–Richard Fuller

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God will not throw away His jewels!


abba's jewels

(William Secker, “The Consistent Christian” 1660)

“Lord, I believe—help my unbelief!” Mark 9:24

Lord, I see—but enlighten my darkness!
Lord, I hear—but cure my deafness!
Lord, I move—but quicken my dullness!
Lord, I desire—but help my unwillingness!

Wherever sin proves hateful—it shall not prove hurtful.

What an apology does a sorrowful Savior make for His
sleeping saints!
“The spirit is willing—but the flesh is weak!”

Take a carnal man, and what he can do—that he will not do.
Take a Christian man, and what he would do—that he cannot do.

God will pity impotency—but He will punish obstinacy.

It would be folly, indeed, to think that our fields have
no grain
in them—because there is some chaff about
the wheat; or that the ore had no gold in it—because
there is some dross mixed among it.

In heaven, there is service alone—without any sin.
In hell, there is sin alone—without service.
But on earth, there is sin and service in the same man
—as there is light and shade in the same picture.

Above us—there is light without any darkness.
Below us—there is darkness without any light.
But in this world—it is neither all day nor all night.

Though the lowest believer is above the power of sin—
yet the highest believer is not above the presence of sin!

It is in a living Christian that sin is to be mortified—but
it is only in a dying Christian that sin is to be destroyed.

When the body and the soul—are separated by mortality
—sin and the soul—will then be separated to eternity!

Sin never ruins—but where it reigns!

Sin is not damning—where it is disturbing!

The more trouble sin receives from us
—the less trouble sin does to us.

Sin is only a murderer—where it is a governor!

Our graces are our best jewels—but they do
not yield their brightest luster in this world.

The moon, when she shines brightest—has its spots;
and the fire, when it burns the hottest—has its smoke.

Sin is an enemy at the Christian’s back
—but not a friend in his bosom.

Although believers should be mournful—because
they have infirmities; yet they should be thankful
—because they are but infirmities.

It is true, they have sin in them—and that should
make them sorrowful. But it is just as true, that
they have a Savior for them—and that should
make them joyful.

The conduct of a Christian may sometimes
be spotted with infirmity—when the heart is
sound in the love of sanctity.

Jacob halted—and yet was blessed. As his blessing
did not take away his halting—so his halting did
not keep away his blessing.

The heavenly Bridegroom will not put out a believer’s
candle—because of the dimness of its burning; nor
will He overshadow a believer’s sun—because of the
weakness of its shining.

Though that vice may be found in us—for which God
might justly damn us; yet that grace is to be found
in Him—by which He will justly save us. He does not
come with water to extinguish the fire—but with wind
to disperse the smoke!

As death leaves the body soulless
—so death leaves the soul sinless.

“You of little faith—why did you doubt?” Poor Peter
had faith enough to keep him from drowning—but
not enough faith to keep him from doubting.

As Alexander’s painter could find a finger
to conceal the scar on his master’s face—so
when Jesus Christ draws the picture of the
saint’s excellency—He can find a covering
for all the scars of his infirmities!

God will not throw away His jewels—for
every speck of dirt which may be on them!

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The Cross


cross-and-sky_1084_1024x7-2

It’s been so since long I have been here. My heart was injured but slowly healing. The past three years have been the most intense and difficult of my life. Loss and illness, sadness and frustration filled it and I needed time to process that and figure out how to keep moving. Battle weary, but not worn down I had to guard my heart for a season. I think I forgot how to do this blog thing in the process so this may be a jumbled mess. I apologize for that, but it’s at the least an exercise of opening my heart a little again.

In this season of my life I found myself pondering some strange things.  Well strange to most people probably.  I wondered what life would really be like if all of your comforts in life were taken away? I thought about why so many people I know are comfortable…cozy in homes with two car garages and plenty to eat, full of toys and Bluetooth and happy families.  Work all week and church on Sunday if you are a Christian, or a weekend full of honey-do lists and fun,  maybe a trip to a theme park or the beach. The occasional tragedy and hard times that we all face but even after life often goes back to trying to grasp that sense of comfort and normalcy again.   Vanity of all vanities as the very comfortable King Solomon would say.  Some people are born into abject poverty or chaos,  in one way or another much less comfortable circumstances.  Age old questions I guess and I  don’t have any answers, but  I still find myself mulling them over once in a while.  This story caused me to really stop and think about riches in this earthly kingdom, and far greater things  in the one to come http://www.lifenews.com/2014/06/10/meriam-ibrahims-brother-in-law-brutal-pre-execution-flogging-will-take-her-skin-off/

I think of people like Corrie Ten Boom who never really had a lot of money or luxury, but in a providence only God understands was asked to give up her comforts, most of her family and nearly her own life for the cause of Christ in the Holocaust.  I am so guilty of scanning social media, comparing myself to friends and wondering why I am less comfortable than them when in fact I am rich compared to most of the planet, and spiritually rich beyond all measure. God forgive this sinner for her discontent! Comfort, ease and a false sense of security are lures to my flesh and I know so much better than to even think they might make living temporarily better.  I don’t know a whole lot but in these past few years I have learned that  no matter the mood or circumstance I can lift my eyes to Christ, trusting that my heart will follow soon when I read His word and believe and contentment and joy flood my soul. What a gift we have Christian Brothers and Sisters! Like Paul in his Epistle to the Philippians  I can say “ for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content”.   God’s promises are eternal, never fading and they are available to the most comfortable of us and the least.

I am going to quit yapping….Martyn Lloyd-Jones got me started and now I will let his words finish this. 

 

“To whom does the invitation of this cross come?  It comes to the failures, the people who know they have gone wrong, the people who are filled with a sense of shame, the people who are weary and tired and forlorn in the struggle. . . .

Do you despise yourself, kick yourself metaphorically, and feel you are no good?  Weary, forlorn, tired, and on top of it all, sad and miserable?  Nothing can comfort you.  The pleasures of the world mock you.  They do not give you anything.  Life has disappointed you, and you are sad, miserable and unhappy, and on top if it all, you have a sense of guilt within you.  Your conscience nags at you, condemns, raises up your past and puts it before you, and you know that you are unworthy, you know that you are a failure, you know that there is no excuse, you are guilty. . . .

And then on top of all this, you are filled with a sense of fear.  You are afraid of life, you are afraid of yourself and your own weakness, you are afraid of tomorrow.  You are afraid of death, you know it is coming and you can do nothing about it, but you are afraid of it. . . .

This is the amazing thing about the cross.  It comes to such a person, and it is to such a person above all others that it brings its gracious and its glorious invitation.   What does it say to you? . . . You are not far off, and the cross speaks to you with sympathy.  That man dying on that cross was known as the friend of sinners.  He was reviled by the good and the religious because he sat down and ate and drank with sinners.  He had sympathy. . . .

Not only that, he will tell you that he is ready to accept you.

The world picks up its skirt and passes by.  It leaves you alone, it does not want to associate with you, you have gone down, you belong to the gutters, and the world is too respectable to have any interest in you.  Here is one who is ready to receive you and to accept you. . . . Sit down, he says.  Wait, stop, give up your activities.  Just as you are, I am ready to receive you.  In your rags, in your filth, in your vileness.  Rest.

What else?  Pardon.  The cross speaks of benediction, of pardon, joy and peace with God.  It tells you that God is ready to forgive you.  It says, listen to me, your sin has been punished.  I am here because this is the punishment of sin.  Listen to me, says the blood of sprinkling.  I have been shed that you might be forgiven, pardoned, at peace with God.  Oh, thank God, there is also cleansing here.”

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Cross (Wheaton, 1986), pages 168-170.

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The birds and lilies teach me better


wild lilly

(Alexander Smellie, “The Hour of Silence” 1899)

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26

Let me not worry — the birds and lilies teach me better. God spreads a table for the sparrows, and clothes the wayside anemones with their exquisite beauty. And I am dearer to Him by far. I, who am made in His image, and for whom His Son has died, and whom He means to dwell with Him in His Heaven — I occupy a larger place in His heart of hearts.

Let me not worry — it serves no good purpose to fret and worry. I cannot, with all my solicitude, add a cubit either to my stature or to my age. Anxiousness will only plunge me into mental distress and annoyance and sorrow, without bringing me any compensating advantage whatever. It knows how to wound; but ah! it does not know how to heal.

Let me not worry — a child should have more confidence in his Father’s wisdom and watchfulness and love. It may be excusable for worldly men and women to worry — but not a son in the royal and wealthy family of the King of kings! There is no justification for him if he goes worried and burdened during the day, and lies down to hours of sleeplessness at night.

“So do not worry . . . For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them!” Matthew 6:31-32

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Perfect freedom


letterwritingFrom :The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860

The Lord’s service perfect freedom

To Mrs. H., 1857.
My own dear Amelia,
It was sweet to meet in His name, whose love is our bond of union, and who is Himself the sweetness of our communion. How stately have been His steps towards each of us! how has He drawn us away from all others, to reveal Himself more fully and gloriously! But, oh, that He should have looked upon so vile a one as myself with love and favor! Oh, that He should have brought me “under the rod, into the bond of the new covenant;” this is a marvel in my eyes! How well do the provisions of that new covenant suit my soul: “I will not turn away from them to do them good; but I will put my fear into their hearts that they shall not depart from me.” Blessed Redeemer, let me ever be set as a seal upon Your arm, as a seal upon Your heart, for love is strong as death, and jealousy is cruel as the grave; and be daily sealed anew in my warmest love, that our delights may be ever new and mutual.

I must now thank you for the precious epistle so full of heavenly teaching. You have indeed repaid my long silence with a rich outpouring, which must have cost much time; but I believe as it is refreshing and instructive in reading, so it would be also in writing, and that you would prove the Lord’s service perfect freedom. His reward is with Him whether in doing or suffering, according to His will. With me you have no doubt proved that it is better to labor and endure in His will, than to rest in our own, and thus I doubt not your long epistle was more enriching than exhausting. I rejoice in its Divine lessons, hoping to ponder them in my heart.

That the Lord sent you living truth through me, to nourish His own life in you, is a favor of which I am most unworthy: “Not unto us, not unto us—but unto Your name, give glory.” Where there is a pot of oil in the house, (2 Kings 4:2-4) it will be poured out into empty vessels at the command of our great prophet—but, like the poor widow’s cruse, there shall be no wasting by such using. (1 Kings 17:16)

I rejoice that you have been having communion with our Beloved, and feeding on the Tree of Life; nothing else can nourish the inner man or satisfy living faith. This is the true bread, of which if a man eats, he shall live forever. “He who comes to me shall never hunger; and he who believes on me shall never thirst.” I love to mark the present tense of Scripture which teaches the continuousness of a life of faith—it is not said, He that has come, and has believed—but comes, believes, etc., and even to the end “the just shall live by faith.”

Farewell, my beloved one—every blessing be with you, and the Lord lead you in a plain path because of your enemies.

With tender love, your ever-affectionate,
Ruth

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I will lift my eyes


Psalm 121

A song of ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—

where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,

the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—

he who watches over you will not slumber;

indeed, he who watches over Israel

will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—

the Lord is your shade at your right hand;

the sun will not harm you by day,

nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—

he will watch over your life;

the Lord will watch over your coming and going

both now and forevermore.


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