Tag Archives: God’s comfort

The Cross


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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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Alone with Jesus


Alone with Jesus!

(from Octavius Winslow’s, “Morning Thoughts”)

“Suddenly they looked around, and Moses and Elijah
were gone, and only Jesus was with them.” Mark 9:8

It is possible, my dear reader, that this page may be
read by you at a period of painful and entire separation
from all public engagements, ordinances, and privileges.

The way which it has pleased God to take thus to set
you aside may be painful and humbling. The inmate
of a sick chamber, or curtained within the house of
mourning, or removed far remote from the sanctuary
of God and the fellowship of the saints, you are,
perhaps, led to inquire, “Lord, why this?”

He replies, “Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet
place and get some rest.” Oh the thoughtfulness, the
discrimination, the tenderness of Jesus towards His
people! He has set you apart from public, for private
duties; from communion with others, for communion
with Himself. Ministers, friends, privileges are withdrawn,
and you are; oh enviable state! alone with Jesus!

And now expect the richest and holiest blessing of your life!

Is it sickness? Jesus will make all your bed in your
sickness, and your experience shall be, “His left hand
is under my head, and His right hand embraces me.”

Is it bereavement? Jesus will soothe your sorrow and
sweeten your loneliness; for He loves to visit the house
of mourning, and to accompany us to the grave, to
weep with us there.

Is it exile from Christian fellowship? Still it is Jesus who
speaks, “I will be a sanctuary to you during your time in exile.”

The very circumstances, new and peculiar as they are,
in which you are placed, God can convert into new and
peculiar mercies; yes, into the richest means of grace
with which your soul was ever fed.

The very void you feel, the very need you deplore, may
be God’s way of satiating you with His goodness.

Ah! does not God see your grace in your very desire for grace?

Does He not mark your sanctification in your very thirsting for holiness?

And can He not turn that desire, and convert that thirst,
into the very blessing itself? Truly He can, and often does.

He can now more than supply the absence of others by the presence of Himself.

Oh, who can compute the blessings which now may flow
into your soul from this season of exile and of solitude?

Solitude?

No, it is not solitude! Never were you less alone than now.

You are alone with Jesus, and He is infinitely better
than health, wealth, friends, ministers, or sanctuary,
for He is the substance and the sweetness of all.

And oh, if while thus alone with Jesus you are led more
deeply to search out the plague of your own heart, and
the love of His; to gather up the trailing garment; to
burnish the rusted armor; to trim the glimmering lamp;
and to cultivate a closer fellowship with your Father,
how much soever you may mourn the necessity and
the cause, you yet will not regret that the Lord has
set you apart from others, that you might rest awhile
in His blest embrace; alone with Jesus!

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Can We Learn to Be Contented?


 

“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11)

J. R. Miller

Someone has said that if men were to be saved by contentment, instead of by faith in Christ, most people would be lost. Yet contentment is possible. There was one man at least who said, and said it very honestly, “I have learned in whatever state I am, therein to be content.” His words have special value, too, when we remember in what circumstances they were written. They were dated in a prison, when the writer was wearing a chain. It is easy enough to say such things in the summer days of prosperity—but to say them amid trials and adversities, requires a real experience of victorious living.

But just what did Paul mean when he said, “I am content”? The original word, scholars tell us, contains a fine sense which does not come out into the English translation. It means self-sufficing. Paul, as a Christian man, had in himself all that he needed to give him tranquility and peace. Therefore he was not dependent upon any external circumstances. Wherever he went, there was in himself a competence, a fountain of supply, a self-sufficing. This is the true secret of Christian contentment wherever it is found. We cannot keep sickness, pain, sorrow, and misfortune away from our lives—yet as Christians we are meant to live in any experience in unbroken peace, in sweet restfulness of soul.

How may this unbroken contentment be obtained? Paul’s description of his own life, gives us a hint as to the way he reached it. He says, “I have learned to be content.” It is no small comfort to us common people, to get this from such a man. It tells us that even with him, it was not always thus; that at first he probably chafed amid discomforts, and had to “learn” to be contented in trial. It did not come naturally to him, any more than it does to the rest of us, to have peace in the heart, in time of external strife. Nor did this beautiful way of living come to him at once as a divine gift when he became a Christian. He was not miraculously helped to acquire contentment. It was not a special power granted to him as an apostle.

He tells us plainly in his old age, that he has “learned” it. This means that he was not always able to say, “I am content in any state.” This was an attainment of his later years, and he reached it by struggle and by discipline, by learning in the school of Christ, just as all of us have to learn it if we ever do, and as any of us may learn it if we will.

Surely everyone who desires to grow into spiritual beauty, should seek to learn this lesson. Discontent is a miserable fault. It grieves God, for it springs from a lack of faith in him. It destroys one’s own heart-peace; discontented people are always unhappy. It disfigures beauty of character. It sours the temper, ruffles the calm of sweet life, and tarnishes the loveliness of the spirit. It even works out through the flesh, and spoils the beauty of the fairest face. To have a transfigured face, one must have heaven in one’s heart. Just in proportion as the lesson is learned, are the features brightened by the outshining of the indwelling peace. Besides all this, discontent casts shadows on the lives of others. One discontented person in a family, often makes a whole household wretched. If not for our own sake, then, we ought at least for the sake of our friends to learn to be contented. We have no right to cast shadows on other lives.

But how can we learn contentment? One step toward it is patient submission to unavoidable ills and hardships. No earthly lot is perfect. No mortal in this world, ever yet found a set of circumstances without some drawback. Sometimes it lies in our power to remove the discomfort. Much of our hardship is of our own making. Much of it would require but a little energy on our own part to cure. We surely are very foolish if we live on amid ills and frets, day after day, which we might change for comforts if we would. All removable troubles we ought, therefore, to remove. But there are trials which we cannot change into pleasures, burdens which we cannot lay off, crosses which we must continue to carry, and “thorns in the flesh” which must remain with their rankling. When we have such trials, why should we not sweetly accept them as part of God’s best way with us? Discontent never made a rough path smoother, a heavy burden lighter, a bitter cup less bitter, a dark way brighter, a sorrow less sore. It only makes matters worse. One who accepts with patience what he cannot change, has learned the secret of victorious living.

Another part of the lesson is that we moderate our desires. Paul says, “If we have food and clothing—we will be content with these.” 1 Timothy 6:8. Very much of our discontent arises from envy of those who seem to be more favored than ourselves. Many people lose most of the comfort out of their own lot, in coveting the finer things some neighbor has. Yet if they knew the whole story of the life they envy for its greater prosperity, they probably would not exchange for it their own lowlier life, with its homelier circumstances. Or if they could make the exchange, it is not likely they would find half so much real happiness in the other position, as they had enjoyed in their own. Contentment does not dwell so often in palaces—as in the homes of the humble. The tall peaks rise higher and are more conspicuous—but the winds smite them more fiercely than they do the quiet vales. And surely the lot in life which God makes for us—is always the very best that could be made for us for the time being. The cause of our discontent is not in our circumstances; if it were, a change might cure it. It is in ourselves; and, wherever we go, we shall carry it with us.

Envious desires for other people’s places which seem finer than ours, prevent our getting the best blessing and good out of our own. Trying to grasp the things which are beyond our reach, we leave unseen, unappreciated, untouched, and despised, the many sweet bits of happiness which lie close about us. Someone says: “Stretching out his hand to catch the stars, man forgets the flowers at his feet, so beautiful, so fragrant, so multitudinous, and so various.” A fine secret of contentment lies in finding and extracting all the pleasure we can get from the things we have, while we enter no mad, vain chase after impossible dreams. In whatever state we are, we may therein find enough for our need.

If we would learn the lesson of contentment, we must train ourselves to live for the higher things. One of the ancient wise men, having heard that a storm had destroyed his merchant ships, thus sweeping away all his fortune, said: “It is just as well, for now I can give up my mind more fully to study.” He had other and higher sources of enjoyment, than his merchandise, and felt the loss of his ships no more than manhood feels the loss of childhood’s toys. He was but a heathen philosopher; we are Christians. He had only his studies to occupy his thought when his property was gone; and we have all the blessed things of God’s love. No earthly misfortune can touch the wealth a Christian holds in the divine promises and hopes.

Just in the measure, therefore, in which we learn to live for spiritual and eternal realities—do we find contentment amid earth’s trials and losses. If we live to please God, to build up Christlike character in ourselves, and to lay up treasure in heaven—we shall not depend for happiness on the way things go with us here on earth, nor on the measure of temporal goods we have. The lower desires are crowded out by the higher. We can do without childhood’s toys when we have manhood’s better possessions; we need this world less as we get more of God and heaven into our hearts.

This was the secret of the contentment of the old prisoner whose immortal word is so well worth considering. He was content in any trial, because earth meant so little and Christ meant so much to him. He did not need the things he did not have; he was not made poor by the things he had lost; he was not vexed by the sufferings he had to endure, because the sources of his life were in heaven, and could not be touched by earthly experiences of pain or loss.

These are hints of the way we may learn in whatever state we are therein to be content. Surely the lesson is worth learning. One year of sweet content, amid earth’s troublous scenes, is better than a lifetime of vexed, restless discontent. The lesson can be learned, too, by anyone who truly is Christ’s disciple, for did not the Master say: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you”?

The artist painted life as a dark, storm-swept sea filled with wrecks. Then out on the wild sea-waves, he made a rock to arise, in a cleft of which, high up, amid herbage and flowers, he painted a dove sitting quietly on her nest. It is a picture of Christian peace in the midst of this world’s strifes and storms. In the cleft of the rock is the home of content.

He Hideth my Soul

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
A wonderful Savior to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
Where rivers of pleasure I see.

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life with the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
He taketh my burden away;
He holdeth me up, and I shall not be moved,
He giveth me strength as my day.

With numberless blessings each moment He crowns,
And filled with His fullness divine,
I sing in my rapture, oh, glory to God
For such a Redeemer as mine!

When clothed in His brightness, transported I rise
To meet Him in clouds of the sky,
His perfect salvation, His wonderful love
I’ll shout with the millions on high.

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The Befriended Orphans


Jesus the Comforter

“Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said”:
“No, I will not abandon you as orphans, I will come to you.”
John 14:18

Does the Christian’s path lie all the way through Beulah? No, he is forewarned it is to be one of “much tribulation.”

He has his Marahs as well as his Elims—his valleys of Baca as well as his grapes of Eschol.

Often is he left un-befriended to bear the brunt of the storm—his gourds fading when most needed—his sun going down while it is yet day—his happy home and happy heart darkened in a moment with sorrows with which a stranger (with which often a brother) cannot understand.

There is One Brother “born for adversity” who can.

How often has that voice broken with its silvery accents the muffled stillness of the sick-chamber!

“I will not leave you comfortless: the world may, friends may, the desolations of bereavement and death may; but I will not; you will be alone, yet not alone, for I your Savior and your God will be with you!”

Jesus seems to have a special love and affection for His orphaned and comfortless people. A father loves his sick and sorrowing child most; of all his household, that child occupies most of his thoughts.

Christ seems to delight to lavish His deepest sympathy on “him that has no helper.”

It is in the hour of sorrow His people have found Him most precious; it is in “the wilderness” He speaks most “comfortable unto them;” He gives them “their vineyards from thence”; in the places they least expected, wells of heavenly consolation break forth at their feet.

As Jonathan of old, when faint and weary, had his strength revived by the honey he found dropping in the tangled thicket; so the faint and woe-worn children of God find “honey in the wood”; everlasting consolation dropping from the tree of life, in the midst of the thorniest thickets of affliction.

Comfortless ones, be comforted! Jesus often makes you portionless here in this world, to drive you to Himself, the everlasting portion! He often dries every rill and fountain of earthly bliss, that He may lead you to say, “All my springs are in You.”

“He seems intend,” says one who could speak from experience, “to fill up every gap love has been forced to make; one of his errands from heaven was to bind up the broken-hearted.”

How beautifully in one amazing verse does He conjoin the depth and tenderness of his comfort with the certainty of it—“As one whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you, and you SHALL be comforted!”

Ah, how many would not have their wilderness-state altered, with all its trials, and gloom, and sorrow, just that they might enjoy the unutterable sympathy and love of this Comforter of the comfortless, one ray of whose approving smile can dispel the deepest earthly gloom!

As the clustering constellations shine with the most intense luster in the midnight sky, so these “words of Jesus” come out like ministering angels in the deep dark night of earthly sorrow. We may see no beauty in them when the world is sunny and bright; but He has laid them up in store for us for the dark and cloudy day.

“These things have I told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.”

by John MacDuff

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