Offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life. (Romans 6:13)
One night I went to hear a sermon on consecration. Nothing special came to me from the message, but as the preacher knelt to pray, he said, “O Lord, You know we can trust the Man who died for us.” That was my message. As I rose from my knees and walked down the street to catch the train, I deeply pondered all that consecration would mean to my life. I was afraid as I considered the personal cost, and suddenly, above the noise of the street traffic, came this message: “You can trust the Man who died for you.” I boarded the train, and as I traveled toward home, I thought of the changes, sacrifices, and disappointments that consecration might mean in my life—and I was still afraid.
Upon arriving home, I went straight to my room, fell on my knees, and saw my life pass before my eyes. I was a Christian, an officer in the church, and a Sunday school superintendent, but I had never yielded my life to God with a definite act of my will. Yet as I thought of my own “precious” plans that might be thwarted, my beloved hopes to be surrendered, and my chosen profession that I might have to abandon — I was afraid.
I completely failed to see the better things God had for me, so my soul was running from Him. And then for the last time, with a swift force of convicting power to my inmost heart, came that searching message: “My child, you can trust the Man who died for you. If you cannot trust Him, then whom can you trust?” Finally that settled it for me, for in a flash of light I realized that the Man who loved me enough to die for me could be absolutely trusted with the total concerns of the life He had saved.
Dear friend, you can trust the Man who died for you. You can trust Him to thwart each plan that should be stopped and to complete each one that results in His greatest glory and your highest good. You can trust Him to lead you down the path that is the very best in this world for you. J. H. M.
Just as I am, Thy love unknown,
Has broken every barrier down,
Now to be Thine, yea, Thine ALONE,
O Lamb of God, I come!
Life is not wreckage to be saved out of the world but an investment to be used in the world.
I will turn all my mountains into roads. (Isaiah 49:11)
God will make our obstacles serve His purposes. We all have mountains in our lives, and often they are people and things that threaten to block the progress of our spiritual life. The obstacles may be untruths told about us; a difficult occupation; “a thorn in [the] flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7); or our daily cross. And often we pray for their removal, for we tend to think that if only these were removed, we would live a more tender, pure, and holy life.
“How foolish you are, and how slow of heart . . . !” (Luke 24:25). These are the very conditions we need for achievement, and they have been put in our lives as the means of producing the gifts and qualities for which we have been praying so long. We pray for patience for many years, and when something begins to test us beyond our endurance, we run from it. We try to avoid it, we see it as some insurmountable obstacle to our desired goal, and we believe that if it was removed, we would experience immediate deliverance and victory.
This is not true! We would simply see the temptations to be impatient end. This would not be patience. The only way genuine patience can be acquired is by enduring the very trials that seem so unbearable today.
Turn from your running and submit. Claim by faith to be a partaker in the patience of Jesus and face your trials in Him. There is nothing in your life that distresses or concerns you that cannot become submissive to the highest purpose. Remember, they are God’s mountains. He puts them there for a reason, and we know He will never fail to keep His promise.
“God understands the way to it and he alone knows where it dwells, for he views the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens” (Job 28:23–24). So when we come to the foot of the mountains, we will find our way. from Christ in Isaiah, by F. B. Meyer
The purpose of our trials is not only to test our worthiness but also to increase it, just as the mighty oak is tested by the storms as well as strengthened by them.
Be men of courage; be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13)
Never pray for an easier life—pray to be a stronger person! Never pray for tasks equal to your power—pray for power equal to your tasks. Then doing your work will be no miracle—you will be the miracle. Phillips Brooks
We must remember that Christ will not lead us to greatness through an easy or self-indulgent life. An easy life does not lift us up but only takes us down. Heaven is always above us, and we must continually be looking toward it.
Some people always avoid things that are costly, or things that require self-denial, self-restraint, and self-sacrifice. Yet it is hard work and difficulties that ultimately lead us to greatness, for greatness is not found by walking the moss-covered path laid out for us through the meadow. It is found by being sent to carve out our own path with our own hands.
Are you willing to sacrifice to reach the glorious mountain peaks of God’s purpose for you? selected
We are not here to play, to dream, to drift;
We have hard work to do, and loads to lift.
Shun not the struggle; face it.
It’s God’s gift.
Say not the days are evil—Who’s to blame?
Or fold your hands, as in defeat—O shame!
Stand up, speak out, and bravely, In God’s name.
It matters not how deep entrenched the wrong,
How hard the battle goes, the day how long,
Faint not, fight on!
Tomorrow comes the song.
Maltbie D. Babcock
Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.” (John 11:41)
The sequence of events in this passage seems strange and unusual. Lazarus was still in his tomb, yet Jesus’ thanksgiving preceded the miracle of raising him from the dead. It seems that thanks would only have been lifted up once the great miracle had been accomplished and Lazarus had been restored to life. But Jesus gave thanks for what He was about to receive. His gratitude sprang forth before the blessing had arrived, in an expression of assurance that it was certainly on its way. The song of victory was sung before the battle had been fought. It was the Sower singing the song of harvest—it was thanksgiving before the miracle!
Who ever thinks of announcing a victory song as the army is just heading out to the battlefield? And where do we ever hear a song of gratitude and thanksgiving for an answer that has not yet been received?
Yet in this Scripture passage, there is nothing strange, forced, or unreasonable to the Master’s sequence of praise before the miracle. Praise is actually the most vital preparation to the working of miracles. Miracles are performed through spiritual power, and our spiritual power is always in proportion to our faith. John Henry Jowett
Praise Changes Things
Nothing pleases God more than praise as part of our prayer life, and nothing blesses someone who prays as much as the praise that is offered. I once received a great blessing from this while in China. I had recently received bad news from home, and deep shadows of darkness seemed to cover my soul. I prayed but the darkness remained. I forced myself to endure but the shadows only deepened. Then suddenly one day, as I entered a missionary’s home at an inland station, I saw these words on the wall: “Try giving thanks.” So I did, and in a moment every shadow was gone, never to return. Yes, the psalmist was right: “It is good to praise the Lord” (Ps. 92:1). Henry W. Frost
My grace is sufficient for you. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
God was pleased” (1 Cor. 1:21) to take my youngest child from this world, under circumstances that caused me severe trials and pain. And as I returned home from the church cemetery, having just laid my little one’s body in the grave, I felt a compulsion to preach to my people on the meaning of trials.
I found that the verse “My grace is sufficient for you” was the text of next week’s Sunday school lesson, so I chose it as my Master’s message to the congregation, as well as His message to me. Yet while trying to write the sermon, I found that in all honesty, I could not say that the words were true in my life. Therefore I knelt down and asked the Lord to make His grace sufficient for me. While I was pleading in this way, I opened my eyes and saw this exact verse framed and hanging on the wall. My mother had given it to me a few days before, when I was still at the vacation resort where our little child had been taken from us. I had asked someone to hang it on the wall at home during my absence but had not yet noticed its words. Now as I looked up and wiped my eyes, the words met my gaze:
“My grace is sufficient for you.”
The word “is” was highlighted in bright green, while the words “my” and “you” were painted in yet another color. In a moment, a message flashed straight to my soul, coming as a rebuke for having prayed such a prayer as, “Lord, make Your grace sufficient for me.” His answer was almost an audible voice that said, “How dare you ask for something that is? I cannot make My grace any more sufficient than I have already made it. Get up and believe it, and you will find it to be true in your life.”
The Lord says it in the simplest way: “My grace is [not will be or may be] sufficient for you.” The words “my,” “is,” and “you” were from that moment indelibly written upon my heart. And thankfully, I have been trying to live in the reality of that truth from that day to the present time.
The underlying lesson that came to me through this experience, and that I seek to convey to others, is this: Never change God’s facts into hopes or prayers but simply accept them as realities, and you will find them to be powerful as you believe them. H. W. Webb Peploe
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added affliction He addeth His mercies,
To multiplied trials His multiplied peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.
Annie Johnson Flint
Awake, north wind, and come, south wind! Blow on my garden, that its fragrance may spread abroad. (Song of Songs 4:16)
Let us examine the meaning of this prayer for a moment. It is rooted in the fact that in the same way beautiful fragrances may lie hidden in a spice plant, certain gifts may lie unused or undeveloped in a Christian’s heart. Many seeds of a profession of faith may be planted, but from some the air is never filled with the aroma of holy desires or godly deeds. The same winds blow on the thistle and the spice plant, but only one of them emits a rich fragrance.
Sometimes God causes severe winds of trial to blow upon His children to develop their gifts. Just as a torch burns more brightly when waved back and forth, and just as a juniper plant smells sweetest when thrown into the flames, so the richest qualities of a Christian often arise under the strong winds of suffering and adversity. Bruised hearts often emit the fragrance that God loves to smell.
I had a tiny box, a precious box
Of human love—my perfume of great price;
I kept it close within my heart of hearts
And scarce would lift the lid lest it should waste
Its fragrance on the air. One day a strange
Deep sorrow came with crushing weight, and fell
Upon my costly treasure, sweet and rare,
And broke the box to pieces. All my heart Rose
in dismay and sorrow at this waste,
But as I mourned, behold a miracle
Of grace Divine. My human love was changed
To Heaven’s own, and poured in healing streams
On other broken hearts, while soft and clear
A voice above me whispered, “Child of Mine,
With comfort wherewith you are comforted,
From this time forth, go comfort others,
And you will know blest fellowship with Me,
Whose broken heart of love has healed the world.”
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.... With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 4:31, 33)
Christmas Evans, a Welsh preacher of the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries, once wrote the following account in his diary.
“One Sunday afternoon I was traveling by horseback to an appointment. Suddenly as I went along a very lonely road, I was convicted of having a cold heart. I dismounted, tethered my horse to a tree, and found a secluded spot. Then, walking back and forth in agony, I reviewed my life. I waited before God in brokenness and sorrow for three hours. Finally a sweet sense of His forgiving love broke over me, and I received a fresh filling of His Holy Spirit.
“As the sun was setting, I walked back to the road, found my horse, and rode on to my appointment. The following day I preached with so much new power, to a vast gathering of people on a hillside, that revival broke out and ultimately spread through all of Wales.”
This explains the great question of the born-again—the password of the early church—“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2).
Oh, the Spirit-filled life; is it thine, is it thine?
Is your soul wholly filled with the Spirit Divine?
As a child of the King, has He fallen on thee?
Does He reign in your soul, so that all men may see
The dear Savior’s blest image reflected in thee?
Does He reign in your soul, so that all men may see
The dear Savior’s blest image reflected in thee?
Has He swept through your soul like the waves of the sea?
Does the Spirit of God daily rest upon thee?
Does He sweeten your life, does He keep you from care?
Does He guide you and bless you in answer to prayer?
Is your joy to be led of the Lord ev’rywhere?
Is He near you each hour, does He stand at your side?
Does He clothe you with strength, has He come to abide?
Does He teach you to know that all things may be done
Through the grace and the power of the Crucified One?
Does He witness to you of the glorified Son?
Has He purified you with the fire from above?
Is He first in your thoughts, does He have all your love?
Is His service your choice, and your sacrifice sweet?
Is your doing His will both your drink and your meat?
Do you run at His calling with glad eager feet?
Has He freed you from self and from all of your greed?
Do you hasten to comfort your brother in need?
As a soldier of Christ does your power endure?
Is your hope in the Lord everlasting and sure?
Are you patient and meek, are you tender and pure?
Oh, the Spirit-filled life may be thine, may be thine,
Ever in your soul Shechinah glory may shine;
It is yours to live with the tempests all stilled,
It is yours with God’s blest Holy Spirit to be filled;
It is yours, even yours, for your Lord has so willed.
You are my King and my God, who decrees victories for Jacob. (Psalm 44:4)
There are no enemies to your growth in grace, or to your Christian work, that were not included in your Savior’s victory. Remember, “The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not be afraid of them, because . . . I will hand all of them over to [you]’” (Josh. 11:6). Also recall the fact that when you resist your enemies, they “will flee from you” (James 4:7). And remember what Joshua said to the people: “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous” (Josh. 10:25). The Lord is with you, “mighty men of valour” (Josh. 1:14 KJV), and you are mighty because you are one with the Mightiest. So claim victory!
Whenever your enemies are closing in on you, claim victory! Whenever your heart and your flesh fail you, look up and claim VICTORY! Be sure you claim your share in the triumph that Jesus won, for He won it not for Himself alone but for us all. Remember that you were in Him when He won it—so claim victory!
Count Christ’s victory as yours and gather the spoils of the war. Neither the giant “descendants of Anak” (Num. 13:33) nor fortified cities need intimidate or defeat you. You are a part of the conquering army. Claim your share in the Savior’s victory. from Joshua, by F. B. Meyer
We are children of the King. Therefore which of these most honors our divine Sovereign: failing to claim our rights and even doubting they belong to us, or asserting our privilege as children of the Royal Family and demanding the rights that accompany our inheritance?
Blessed are those whose strength is in you... .As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs. (Psalm 84:5–6)
Comfort is not given to us when we are lighthearted and cheerful. We must travel the depths of emotion in order to experience comfort—one of God’s most precious gifts. And then we must be prepared to become co workers with Him.
When the shadows of night—needed night—gather over the garden of our souls, when leaves close up and flowers no longer reflect any sunlight within their folded petals, and when we experience even the thickest darkness, we must remember that we will never be found wanting and that the comforting drops of heavenly dew fall only after the sun has set.
I have been through the valley of weeping,
The valley of sorrow and pain;
But the “God of all comfort” was with me,
At hand to uphold and sustain.
As the earth needs the clouds and sunshine,
Our souls need both sorrow and joy;
So He places us oft in the furnace,
The dross from the gold to destroy.
When he leads through some valley of trouble,
His omnipotent hand we trace;
For the trials and sorrows He sends us,
Are part of His lessons in grace.
Oft we run from the purging and pruning,
Forgetting the Gardener knows
That the deeper the cutting and trimming,
The richer the cluster that grows.
Well He knows that affliction is needed;
He has a wise purpose in view,
And in the dark valley He whispers,
“Soon you’ll understand what I do.”
As we travel through life’s shadowed valley,
Fresh springs of His love ever rise;
And we learn that our sorrows and losses,
Are blessings just sent in disguise.
So we’ll follow wherever He leads us,
Let the path be dreary or bright;
For we’ve proved that our God can give comfort;
Our God can give songs in the night.
Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days. (John 11:6)
This miraculous story begins with the following declaration: “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus” (v. 5). It is as if God were teaching us that at the very heart and foundation of all His dealings with us, no matter how dark and mysterious they may be, we must dare to believe in and affirm His infinite, unmerited, and unchanging love. Yet love permits pain to occur.
Mary and Martha never doubted that Jesus would quickly avert every obstacle to keep their brother from death, “yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.”
What a startling word: “Yet”! Jesus refrained from going not because He did not love them but because He did love them. It was His love alone that kept Him from hurrying at once to their beloved yet grief-stricken home. Anything less than infinite love would have rushed instantly to the relief of those beloved and troubled hearts, in an effort to end their grief, to have the blessing of wiping and stopping the flow of their tears, and to cause their sorrow and pain to flee. Only the power of divine love could have held back the spontaneity of the Savior’s tender-heartedness until the angel of pain had finished his work.
Who can estimate the great debt we owe to suffering and pain? If not for them, we would have little capacity for many of the great virtues of the Christian life. Where would our faith be if not for the trials that test it; or patience, without anything to endure or experience and without tribulations to develop it? selected
Loved! then the way will not be drear;
For One we know is ever near,
Proving it to our hearts so clear
That we are loved.
Loved when our sky is clouded o’er,
And days of sorrow press us sore;
Still we will trust Him evermore,
For we are loved.
Time, that affects all things below,
Can never change the love He’ll show;
The heart of Christ with love will flow,
And we are loved.
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Habakkuk 3:17–18)
I ask you to observe what a disastrous situation is being described in this passage and to notice how courageous is the faith that is expressed. It is as if the writer were actually saying, “Even if I am forced to undergo the extreme condition of not knowing where to find my next meal, and although my house is empty and my fields yield no crops and I see the evidence of divine pestilence where I once saw the fruits of God’s plentiful provision, ‘yet I will rejoice in the Lord.’”
I believe that these words are worthy of being written forever in stone with a diamond tool. Oh, by God’s grace, may they be deeply etched on the tablets of each of our hearts! Although the above verse is very concise, it nevertheless implies or expresses the following thoughts of the writer: that in his time of distress he would flee to God; that he would maintain his spiritual composure under the darkest of circumstances; and that in the midst of everything, he would delight himself with a sacred joy in God and have cheerful expectations of Him.
Heroic confidence! Glorious faith! Unconquerable love! Philip Doddridge
Last night I heard a robin singing in the rain,
And the raindrop’s patter made a sweet refrain,
Making all the sweeter the music of the strain.
So, I thought, when trouble comes, as trouble will,
Why should I stop singing? Just beyond the hill
It may be that sunshine floods the green world still.
He who faces the trouble with a heart of cheer
Makes the burden lighter. If there falls a tear,
Sweeter is the cadence in the song we hear.
I have learned your lesson, bird with spotted wing,
Listening to your music with its tune of spring—
When the storm cloud darkens, it’s the TIME to sing.
Eben Eugene Rexford
He has given us his very great and precious promises. (2 Peter 1:4)
When a shipbuilder erects a boat, does he do so only to keep it on the scaffolding? No, he builds it to sail the seas and to weather the storms. In fact, if he does not think of strong winds and hurricanes as he builds it, he is a poor shipbuilder.
In the same way, when God made you a believer, He meant to test you. And when He gave you promises and asked you to trust them, He made His promises suitable for times of storms and high seas. Do you believe that some of His promises are counterfeit, similar to a life vest that looks good in the store but is of no use in the sea?
We have all seen swords that are beautiful but are useless in war, or shoes made for decoration but not for walking. Yet God’s shoes are made of iron and brass, and we can walk all the way to heaven in them, without ever wearing them out. And we could swim the Atlantic a thousand times in His life vest, with no fear of ever sinking. His Word of promise is meant to be tried and tested.
There is nothing Christ dislikes more than for His people to publicly profess Him and then not use Him. He loves for us to make use of Him, for His covenant blessings are not simply meant to be looked at but should be appropriated. Our Lord Jesus has been given to us for our present use. Are you making use of Him as you should?
O beloved, I plead with you not to treat God’s promises as something to be displayed in a museum but to use them as everyday sources of comfort. And whenever you have a time of need, trust the Lord. Charles H. Spurgeon
Go to the depths of God’s promise,
And claim whatsoever you will;
The blessing of God will not fail you,
His Word He will surely fulfill.
How can God say no to something He has promised?
If clouds are full of water, they pour rain upon the earth. (Ecclesiastes 11:3)
If we believe the message of this verse, then why do we dread the clouds that darken our sky? It is true that for a while the dark clouds hide the sun, but it is not extinguished and it will soon shine again. Meanwhile those clouds are filled with rain, and the darker they are, the more likely they are to bring plentiful showers.
How can we have rain without clouds? Our troubles have always brought us blessings, and they always will, for they are the dark chariots of God’s bright and glorious grace. Before long the clouds will be emptied, and every tender plant will be happier due to the showers. Our God may drench us with grief, but He will refresh us with His mercy. Our Lord’s love letters often come to us in dark envelopes. His wagons may rumble noisily across the sky, but they are loaded with benefits. And His rod blossoms with sweet flowers and nourishing fruits. So let us not worry about the clouds. Instead, let us sing because May flowers are brought to us through April clouds and showers.
O Lord, “clouds are the dust of [your] feet”! (Nah. 1:3). Help us remember how near You are during the dark and cloudy days! Love behold You and is glad. Faith sees the clouds emptying themselves and thereby making the hills on every side rejoice. Charles H. Spurgeon
What seems so dark to your dim sight
May be a shadow, seen aright
Making some brightness doubly bright.
The flash that struck your tree—no more
To shelter thee—lets heaven’s blue floor
Shine where it never shone before.
The cry wrung from your spirit’s pain
May echo on some far-off plain,
And guide a wanderer home again.
The blue sky of heaven is much larger than the dark clouds.
You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. (John 19:11)
Nothing that is not part of God’s will is allowed to come into the life of someone who trusts and obeys Him. This truth should be enough to make our life one of ceaseless thanksgiving and joy, because God’s will is the most hopeful, pleasant, and glorious thing in the world. It is the continuous working of His omnipotent power for our benefit, with nothing to prevent it, if we remain surrendered and believing.
Someone who was passing through the deep water of affliction wrote a friend:
Isn’t it glorious to know that no matter how unjust something may be, even when it seems to have come from Satan himself, by the time it reaches us it is God’s will for us and will ultimately work to our good?
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Rom. 8:28). Think of what Christ said even as He was betrayed: “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (John 18:11).
We live fascinating lives if we are living in the center of God’s will. All the attacks that Satan hurls at us through the sins of others are not only powerless to harm us but are transformed into blessings along the way. Hannah Whitall Smith
In the center of the circle
Of the will of God I stand:
There can come no second causes,
All must come from His dear hand.
All is well! for it’s my Father
Who my life has planned.
Shall I pass through waves of sorrow?
Then I know it will be best;
Though I cannot tell the reason,
I can trust, and so am blest.
God is Love, and God is faithful.
So in perfect Peace I rest.
With the shade and with the sunshine,
With the joy and with the pain,
Lord, I trust You! both are needed,
Each Your wayward child to train,
Earthly loss, if we will know it,
Often means our heavenly gain.
We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.(Acts 14:22)
The best things in life are the result of being wounded. Wheat must be crushed before becoming bread, and incense must be burned by fire before its fragrance is set free. The earth must be broken with a sharp plow before being ready to receive the seed. And it is a broken heart that pleases God.
Yes, the sweetest joys of life are the fruits of sorrow. Human nature seems to need suffering to make it fit to be a blessing to the world.
Beside my cottage door it grows,
The loveliest, daintiest flower that blows,
A sweetbrier rose.
At dewy morn or twilight’s close,
The rarest perfume from it flows,
This strange wild rose.
But when the raindrops on it beat,
Ah, then, its odors grow more sweet,
About my feet.
Often with loving tenderness,
Its soft green leaves I gently press,
In sweet caress.
A still more wondrous fragrance flows
The more my fingers close
And crush the rose.
Dear Lord, oh, let my life be so
Its perfume when strong winds blow,
The sweeter flow.
And should it be Your blessed will,
With crushing grief my soul to fill,
Press harder still.
And while its dying fragrance flows
I’ll whisper low, “He loves and knows
His crushed brier rose.”
If you aspire to be a person of consolation, if you want to share the priestly gift of sympathy, if you desire to go beyond giving commonplace comfort to a heart that is tempted, and if you long to go through the daily exchanges of life with the kind of tact that never inflicts pain, then you must be prepared to pay the price for a costly education—for like Christ, you must suffer. Frederick William Robertson
I waited patiently for the Lord. (Psalm 40:1)
Waiting is much more difficult than walking, for waiting requires patience, and patience is a rare virtue. We enjoy knowing that God builds hedges around His people, when we look at the hedge from the aspect of protection. But when we see it growing higher and higher until we can no longer see over it, we wonder if we'll ever get out of our little sphere of influence and service, where we feel trapped. Sometimes it is hard for us to understand why we do not have a larger area of service, and it becomes difficult for us to “brighten the corner” where we are. But God has a purpose in all of His delays. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord” (Ps. 37:23 KJV).
Next to this verse, in the margin of his Bible, George Mueller made this note: “And the stops too.” It is a sad mistake for someone to break through God’s hedges. It is a vital principle of the Lord’s guidance for a Christian never to move from the spot where he is sure God has placed him, until the “pillar of cloud” (Ex. 13:21) moves. from Sunday School Times
Once we learn to wait for the Lord’s leading in everything, we will know the strength that finds its highest point in an even and steady walk. Many of us are lacking the strength we so desire, but God gives complete power for every task He calls us to perform. Waiting—keeping yourself faithful to His leading—this is the secret of strength. And anything that does not align with obedience to Him is a waste of time and energy. Watch and wait for His leading. Samuel Dickey Gordon
Must life be considered a failure for someone compelled to stand still, forced into inaction and required to watch the great, roaring tides of life from shore? No — victory is then to be won by standing still and quietly waiting. Yet this is a thousand times harder to do than in the past, when you rushed headlong into the busyness of life. It requires much more courage to stand and wait and still not lose heart or lose hope, to submit to the will of God, to give up opportunities for work and leave honors to others, and to be quiet, confident, and rejoicing while the busy multitude goes happily along their way.
The greatest life is: “after you have done everything, to stand” (Eph. 6:13). J. R. Miller
I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. (Acts 27:25)
A number of years ago I went to America with a steamship captain who was a very devoted Christian. When we were off the coast of Newfoundland, he said to me, “The last time I sailed here, which was five weeks ago, something happened that revolutionized my entire Christian life. I had been on the bridge for twenty-four straight hours when George Mueller of Bristol, England, who was a passenger on board, came to me and said, ‘Captain, I need to tell you that I must be in Quebec on Saturday afternoon.’ ‘That is impossible,’ I replied. ‘Very well,’ Mueller responded, ‘if your ship cannot take me, God will find some other way, for I have never missed an engagement in fifty-seven years. Let’s go down to the chart room to pray.’
“I looked at this man of God and thought to myself, ‘What lunatic asylum did he escape from?’ I had never encountered someone like this. ‘Mr. Mueller,’ I said, ‘do you realize how dense the fog is? ’No,’ he replied. ‘My eye is not on the dense fog but on the living God, who controls every circumstance of my life.’
“He then knelt down and prayed one of the most simple prayers I’ve ever heard. When he had finished, I started to pray, but he put his hand on my shoulder and told me not to pray. He said, ‘First, you do not believe God will answer, and second, I BELIEVE HE HAS. Consequently, there is no need whatsoever for you to pray about it.’
“As I looked at him, he said, ‘Captain, I have known my Lord for fifty-seven years, and there has never been even a single day that I have failed to get an audience with the King. Get up, Captain, and open the door, and you will see that the fog is gone.’ I got up, and indeed the fog was gone. And on Saturday afternoon George Mueller was in Quebec for his meeting.” selected
If our love were just more simple,
We would take Him at His word;
And our lives would be all sunshine,
In the sweetness of our Lord.
The Lord alone led him. (Deuteronomy 32:12)
The hill was steep, but cheered along the way
By conversation sweet, climbing with the thought
That it might be so till the height was reached;
But suddenly a narrow winding path
Appeared, and then the Master said, “My child,
Here you will walk safest with Me alone.”
I trembled, yet my heart’s deep trust replied,
“So be it, Lord.” He took my feeble hand
In His, accepting thus my will to yield Him
All, and to find all in Him.
One long, dark moment,
And no friend I saw, save Jesus only.
But oh! so tenderly He led me on
And up, and spoke to me such words of cheer,
Such secret whisperings of His wondrous love,
That soon I told Him all my grief and fear,
And leaned on His strong arm confidingly.
And then I found my footsteps quickened,
And light unspeakable, the rugged way
Illumined, such light as only can be seen
In close companionship with God.
A little while, and we will meet again
The loved and lost; but in the rapturous joy
Of greetings, such as here we cannot know,
And happy song, and heavenly embraces,
And tender recollections rushing back
Of life now passed, I think one memory
More dear and sacred than the rest, will rise,
And we who gather in the golden streets,
Will oft be stirred to speak with grateful love
Of that dark day Jesus called us to climb
Some narrow steep, leaning on Him alone.
There is never a majestic mountain without a deep valley, and there is no birth without pain. Daniel Crawford
Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. (2 Corinthians 6:10)
Sorrow was beautiful, but his beauty was the beauty of the moonlight shining through the leafy branches of the trees in the woods. His gentle light made little pools of silver here and there on the soft green moss of the forest floor. And when he sang, his song was like the low, sweet calls of the nightingale, and in his eyes was the unexpectant gaze of someone who has ceased to look for coming gladness. He could weep in tender sympathy with those who weep, but to rejoice with those who rejoice was unknown to him.
Joy was beautiful, too, but hers was the radiant beauty of a summer morning. Her eyes still held the happy laughter of childhood, and her hair glistened with the sunshine’s kiss. When she sang, her voice soared upward like a skylark’s, and her steps were the march of a conqueror who has never known defeat. She could rejoice with anyone who rejoices, but to weep with those who weep was unknown to her.
Sorrow longingly said, “We can never be united as one.” “No, never,” responded Joy, with eyes misting as she spoke, “for my path lies through the sunlit meadows, the sweetest roses bloom when I arrive, and songbirds await my coming to sing their most joyous melodies.”
“Yes, and my path,” said Sorrow, turning slowly away, “leads through the dark forest, and moonflowers, which open only at night, will fill my hands. Yet the sweetest of all earthly songs— the love song of the night—will be mine. So farewell, dear Joy, farewell.”
Yet even as Sorrow spoke, he and Joy became aware of someone standing beside them. In spite of the dim light, they sensed a kingly Presence, and suddenly a great and holy awe overwhelmed them. They then sank to their knees before Him.
“I see Him as the King of Joy,” whispered Sorrow, “for on His head are many crowns, and the nailprints in His hands and feet are the scars of a great victory. And before Him all my sorrow is melting away into deathless love and gladness. I now give myself to Him forever.”
“No, Sorrow,” said Joy softly, “for I see Him as the King of Sorrow, and the crown on His head is a crown of thorns, and the nailprints in His hands and feet are the scars of terrible agony. I also give myself to Him forever, for sorrow with Him must be sweeter than any joy I have ever known.”
“Then we are one in Him,” they cried in gladness, “for no one but He could unite Joy and Sorrow.” Therefore they walked hand in hand into the world, to follow Him through storms and sunshine, through winter’s severe cold and the warmth of summer's gladness, and to be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.”
Does Sorrow lay his hand upon your shoulder,
And walk with you in silence on life’s way,
While Joy, your bright companion once, grown colder,
Becomes to you more distant day by day?
Run not from the companionship of Sorrow,
He is the messenger of God to thee;
And you will thank Him in His great tomorrow—
For what you do not know now, you then will see;
He is God’s angel, clothed in veils of night,
With whom “we walk by faith” and “not by sight”
[2 Cor. 5:7 KJV].
Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. (Genesis 32:24)
In this passage, God is wrestling with Jacob more than Jacob is wrestling with God. The “man” referred to here is the Son of Man—the Angel of the Covenant. It was God in human form, pressing down on Jacob to press his old life from him. And by daybreak God had prevailed, for Jacob’s “hip was wrenched” (v. 25). As Jacob “fell” from his old life, he fell into the arms of God, clinging to Him but also wrestling until his blessing came. His blessing was that of a new life, so he rose from the earthly to the heavenly, the human to the divine, and the natural to the supernatural. From that morning forward, he was a weak and broken man from a human perspective, but God was there. And the Lord’s heavenly voice proclaimed, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome” (v. 28).
Beloved, this should be a typical scene in the life of everyone who has been transformed. If God has called us to His highest and best, each of us will have a time of crisis, when all our resources will fail and when we face either ruin or something better than we have ever dreamed. But before we can receive the blessing, we must rely on God’s infinite help. We must be willing to let go, surrendering completely to Him, and cease from our own wisdom, strength, and righteousness. We must be “crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20) and yet alive in Him. God knows how to lead us to the point of crisis, and He knows how to lead us through it.
Is God leading you in this way? Is this the meaning of your mysterious trial, your difficult circumstances, your impossible situation, or that trying place you cannot seem to move past without Him? But do you have enough of Him to win the victory?
Then turn to Jacob’s God! Throw yourself helplessly at His feet. Die in His loving arms to your own strength and wisdom, and rise like Jacob into His strength and sufficiency. There is no way out of your difficult and narrow situation except at the top. You must win deliverance by rising higher, coming into a new experience with God. And may it bring you into all that is meant by the revelation of “the Mighty One of Jacob” (Isa. 60:16)! There is no way out but God.
At Your feet I fall,
Yield You up my ALL,
TO SUFFER, LIVE, OR DIE
For my Lord crucified.
He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. (Psalm 18:19)
What is this “spacious place”? What can it be but God Himself—the infinite Being through whom all other beings find their source and their end of life? God is indeed a “spacious place.” And it was through humiliation, degradation, and a sense of worthlessness that David was taken to it. Madame Guyon
I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Exodus 19:4
Fearing to launch on “full surrender’s” tide,
I asked the Lord where would its waters glide
My little boat, “To troubled seas I dread?”
“Unto Myself,” He said.
Weeping beside an open grave I stood,
In bitterness of soul I cried to God:
“Where leads this path of sorrow that I tread?”
“Unto Myself,” He said.
Striving for souls, I loved the work too well;
Then disappointments came; I could not tell
The reason, till He said,” I am your all;
Unto Myself I call.”
Watching my heroes—those I love the best—
I saw them fail; they could not stand the test,
Even by this the Lord, through tears not few,
Unto Himself me drew.
Unto Himself! No earthly tongue can tell
The bliss I find, since in His heart I dwell;
The things that charmed me once seem all as naught;
Unto Himself I’m brought.
The rest were to get there on planks or on pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land in safety. (Acts 27:44)
The miraculous story of Paul’s voyage to Rome, with its trials and triumphs, is a wonderful example of the light and the darkness through the journey of faith of human life. And the most remarkable part of the journey is the difficult and narrow places that are interspersed with God’s extraordinary providence and intervention.
It is a common misconception that the Christian’s walk of faith is strewn with flowers and that when God intervenes in the lives of His people, He does so in such a wonderful way as to always lift us out of our difficult surroundings. In actual fact, however, the real experience is quite the opposite. And the message of the Bible is one of alternating trials and triumphs in the lives of “a great cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1), everyone from Abel to the last martyr.
Paul, more than anyone else, is an example of how much a child of God can suffer without being defeated or broken in spirit. Because of his testimony given in Damascus, he was hunted down by persecutors and forced to flee for his life. Yet we see no heavenly chariot, amid lightning bolts of fire, coming to rescue the holy apostle from the hands of his enemies. God instead worked a simple way of escape for Paul: “His followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall” (Acts 9:25).Yes, he was in an old clothes basket, like a bundle of laundry or groceries. The servant of the Lord Jesus Christ was lowered from a window over the wall of Damascus, and in a humble way escaped the hatred of his foes.
Later we find him languishing for months in lonely dungeons, telling of his “sleepless nights and hunger” (2 Cor. 6:5), of being deserted by friends, and of his brutal, humiliating beatings. And even after God promised to deliver him, we see him left for days to toss upon a stormy sea and compelled to protect a treacherous sailor. And finally, once his deliverance comes, it is not by way of some heavenly ship sailing from the skies to rescue this illustrious prisoner. Nor is there an angel who comes walking on the water to still the raging sea. There is no supernatural sign at all of surpassing greatness being carried out, for one man is required to grab a piece of the mast to survive, another a floating timber, another a small fragment of the shipwreck, and yet another is forced to swim for his life.
In this account, we also find God’s pattern for our own lives. It is meant to be good news to those who live in this everyday world in ordinary surroundings and who face thousands of ordinary situations, which must be met in completely ordinary ways.
God’s promises and His providence do not lift us from the world of common sense and everyday trials, for it is through these very things that our faith is perfected. And it is in this world that God loves to interweave the golden threads of His love with the twists and turns of our common, everyday experiences. from Hard Places in the Way of Faith
By faith Abraham . . . obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. (Hebrews 11:8)
This is faith without sight. Seeing is not faith but reasoning. When crossing the Atlantic by ship, I once observed this very principle of faith. I saw no path marked out on the sea, nor could I even see the shore. Yet each day, we marked our progress on a chart as if we had been following a giant chalk line across the water. And when we came within sight of land on the other side of the Atlantic, we knew exactly where we were, as if we had been able to see it from three thousand miles away.
How had our course been so precisely plotted? Every day, our captain had taken his instruments, looked to the sky, and determined his course by the sun. He was sailing using heavenly lights, not earthly ones.
Genuine faith also looks up and sails, by using God’s great Son. It never travels by seeing the shoreline, earthly lighthouses, or paths along the way. And the steps of faith often lead to total uncertainty or even darkness and disaster, but the Lord will open the way and often makes the darkest of midnight hours as bright as the dawning of the day.
Let us move forth today, not knowing or seeing, but trusting. from Days of Heaven upon Earth
Too many of us want to see our way through a new endeavor before we will even start. Imagine if we could see our way from beginning to end. How would we ever develop our Christian gifts? Faith, hope, and love cannot be picked from trees, like ripe apples. Remember, after the words “In the beginning” (Gen. 1:1) comes the word “God.” It is our first step of faith that turns the key in the lock of His powerhouse. It is true that God helps those who help themselves, but He also helps those who are helpless. So no matter your circumstance, you can depend on Him every time.
Waiting on God brings us to the end of our journey much faster than our feet.
Many an opportunity is lost while we deliberate after He has said, “Move!”
I have received full payment and even more. (Philippians 4:18)
In one of my garden books there is a chapter with a very interesting title: “Flowers That Grow in the Shade.” It deals with those areas of a garden that never catch direct sunlight, and it lists the kinds of flowers that not only grow in the dark corners but actually seem to like them and to flourish in them.
There are similarities here to the spiritual world. There are Christians who seem to blossom when their material circumstances become the most harsh and severe. They grow in the darkness and shade. If this were not true, how could we otherwise explain some of the experiences of the apostle Paul?
When he wrote the above verse, he was a prisoner in Rome. The primary mission of his life appeared to have been broken. But it was in this persistent darkness that flowers began to show their faces in bright and fascinating glory. Paul may have seen them before, growing along the open road, but certainly never in the incomparable strength and beauty in which they now appeared. And words of promise opened their treasures to him in ways he had never before experienced.
Among those treasures were such wonderful things as Christ’s grace, love, joy, and peace, and it seemed as though they had needed the circumstance of darkness to draw out their secret and inner glory. The dark and dingy prison had become the home of the revealed truth of God, and Paul began to realize as never before the width and the wealth of his spiritual inheritance.
Haven’t we all known men and women who begin to wear strength and hopefulness like a regal robe as soon as they must endure a season of darkness and solitude? People like that may be put in prison by the world, but their treasure will be locked away with them, for true treasure cannot be locked out of their lives. Their material condition may look like a desert, but “the desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom” (Isa. 35:1). John Henry Jowett
Every flower, even the most beautiful, has its own shadow beneath it as it basks in the sunlight.
Where there is much light, there is also much shade.
Before this faith came, we were held prisoners ..., locked up until faith should be revealed. (Galatians 3:23)
God, in times past, caused people to be kept subject to His law so they would learn the more excellent way of faith. For it was through the law that they would see God’s holy standard and thereby realize their own utter helplessness. Then they would gladly learn His way of faith.
God still causes us to be “locked up until faith” is learned. Our own nature, circumstances, trials, and disappointments all serve to keep us submissive and “locked up” until we see that the only way out is His way of faith. Moses attempted the deliverance of his people by using self-effort, his personal influence, and even violence. So God “locked [him] up” for forty years in the wilderness before he was prepared for His work.
Paul and Silas were called of God to preach the gospel in Europe. In Philippi they were “severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer . . . fastened their feet in the stocks” (Acts 16:23–24).They were “locked up” to faith. They trusted God and sang praises to Him in their darkest hour, and God brought deliverance and salvation.
The apostle John was also “locked up” to faith, when he was banished to the Isle of Patmos. And if he had never been sent there, he would never have seen such glorious visions of God.
Dear reader, are you in some terrible trouble? Have you experienced some distressing disappointment, sorrow, or inexpressible loss? Are you in a difficult situation? Cheer up! You have been “locked up” to faith. Accept your troubles in the proper way and commit them to God. Praise Him “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Rom. 8:28) and that He “acts on behalf of those who wait for him” (Isa. 64:4). God will send you blessings and help, and will reveal truths to you that otherwise would never have come your way. And many others will also receive great insights and blessings because you were “locked up” to learn the way of faith. C. H. P.
Great things are done when man and mountains meet,
These are not done by walking down the street.
It is not in me. (Job 28:14)
I remember saying one summer, “What I really need is a trip to the ocean.” So I went to the beach, but the ocean seemed to say, “It is not in me!” The ocean did not do for me what I thought it would. Then I said, “Perhaps the mountains will provide the rest I need.” I went to the mountains, and when I awoke the first morning, I gazed at the magnificent mountain I had so longed to see. But the sight did not satisfy, and the mountain said, “It is not in me!”
What I really needed was the deep ocean of God’s love, and the high mountains of His truth within me. His wisdom had depths and heights that neither the ocean nor the mountains could contain and that could not be compared with jewels, gold, or precious stones. Christ is wisdom and He is our deepest need. Our inner restlessness can only be pacified by the revelation of His eternal friendship and love for us. Margaret Bottome
My heart is there!
Where, on eternal hills, my loved one dwells
Among the lilies and asphodels;
Clad in the brightness of the Great White Throne,
Glad in the smile of Him who sits thereon,
The glory gilding all His wealth of hair
And making His immortal face more fair—
THERE IS MY TREASURE and my heart is there.
My heart is there!
With Him who made all earthly life so grand,
So fit to live, and yet to die His plan;
So mild, so great, so gentle and so brave,
So ready to forgive, so strong to save.
His fair, pure Spirit makes the Heavens more fair,
And that is where rises my longing prayer—
THERE IS MY TREASURE and my heart is there.
Favorite poem of the late Charles E. Cowman
You can never expect to keep an eagle in the forest. You might be able to gather a group of the most beautiful birds around him, provide a perch for him on the tallest pine, or enlist other birds to bring him the choicest of delicacies, but he will reject them all. He will spread his proud wings and, with his eye on an Alpine cliff, soar away to his own ancestral halls of rock, where storms and waterfalls make their natural music.
Our soul longs to soar as an eagle and will find rest with nothing short of the Rock of Ages. Its ancestral halls are the halls of heaven, made with the rock of the attributes of God. And the span of its majestic flight is eternity! “Lord, YOU have been our dwelling place throughout all generations” (Ps. 90:1). J. R. Macduff
“My Home is God Himself”; Christ brought me there.
I placed myself within His mighty arms;
He took me up, and safe from all alarms
He bore me “where no foot but His has trod,
” Within the holiest at Home with God,
And had me dwell in Him, rejoicing there.
O Holy Place! O Home divinely fair!
And we, God’s little ones, abiding there.
“My Home is God Himself”; it was not so!
A long, long road I traveled night and day,
And sought to find within myself some way.
Nothing I did or felt could bring me near.
Self-effort failed, and I was filled with fear,
And then I found Christ was the only way,
That I must come to Him and in Him stay,
And God had told me so.
And now “my Home is God,” and sheltered there,
God meets the trials of my earthly life,
God compasses me round from storm and strife,
God takes the burden of my daily care.
O Wondrous Place! O Home divinely fair!
And I, God’s little one, safe hidden there.
Lord, as I dwell in You and You in me,
So make me dead to everything but Thee;
That as I rest within my Home most fair,
My soul may evermore and only see
My God in everything and everywhere;
My Home is God.
He took him aside, away from the crowd. (Mark 7:33)
Paul withstood not only the tests that came while he was active in his service to Christ but also the tests of solitude during captivity. We may be able to withstand the strain of the most intense labor, even if coupled with severe suffering, and yet completely break down if set aside from all Christian activity and work. This would be especially true if we were forced to endure solitary confinement in a prison cell.
Even the most majestic bird, which soars higher than all others and endures the longest flights, will sink into despair when placed in a cage, where it is forced to helplessly beat its wings against its prison bars. Have you ever seen a magnificent eagle forced to languish in a small cage? With bowed head and drooping wings, it is a sad picture of the sorrow of inactivity.
To see Paul in prison is to see another side of life. Have you noticed how he handled it? He seemed to be looking over the top of his prison wall and over the heads of his enemies. Notice how he even signed his name to his letters—not as the prisoner of Festus, nor of Caesar, and not as a victim of the Sanhedrin, but as “a prisoner for the Lord” (Eph. 4:1).Through it all, he saw only the hand of God at work. To him, the prison became a palace, with its corridors resounding with shouts of triumphant praise and joy.
Forced from the missionary work he loved so well, Paul built a new pulpit—a new witness stand. And from his place of bondage arose some of the most encouraging and helpful ministries of Christian liberty. What precious messages of light came from the dark shadows of his captivity.
Also think of the long list of saints who have followed in the footsteps of Paul and were imprisoned for their faith. For twelve long years, John Bunyan’s voice was silenced in an English jail in Bedford. Yet it was there he wrote the greatest work of his life, Pilgrim’s Progress—read by more people than any other book except the Bible. He once said,” I was at home in prison, and my great joy led me to sit and write and write.” And the darkness of his long captivity became a wonderful dream to light the path of millions of weary pilgrims.
Madam Guyon, the sweet-spirited French saint, endured a lengthy time behind prison walls. And like the sounds of some caged birds whose songs are more beautiful as a result of their confinement, the music of her soul has traveled far beyond her dungeon walls to remove the sadness of many discouraged hearts.
Oh, the heavenly consolation that God has caused to flow out of places of solitude! S. C. Rees
Taken aside by Jesus,
To feel the touch of His hand;
To rest for a while in the shadow
Of the Rock in a weary land.
Taken aside by Jesus,
In the loneliness dark and drear,
Where no other comfort may reach me,
Than His voice to my heart so dear.
Taken aside by Jesus,
To be quite alone with Him,
To hear His wonderful tones of love
’Mid the silence and shadows dim.
Taken aside by Jesus,
Shall I resist the desert place,
When I hear as I never heard before,
And see Him “face to face”?
There he tested them. (Exodus 15:25)
I once visited the testing room of a large steel mill. I was surrounded by instruments and equipment that tested pieces of steel to their limits and measured their breaking point. Some pieces had been twisted until they broke, and then were labeled with the level of pressure they could withstand. Some had been stretched to their breaking point, with their level of strength also noted. Others had been compressed to their crushing point and measured. Because of the testing, the manager of the mill knew exactly how much stress and strain each piece of steel could endure if it was used to build a ship, building, or bridge.
It is often much the same with God’s children. He does not want us to be like fragile vases of glass or porcelain. He wants us to be like these toughened pieces of steel, able to endure twisting and crushing pressure to the utmost without collapse.
God does not want us to be like greenhouse plants, which are sheltered from rough weather, but like storm-beaten oaks; not like sand dunes that are driven back and forth by every gust of wind but like granite mountains that withstand the fiercest storms. Yet to accomplish this, He must take us into His testing room of suffering. And many of us need no other argument than our own experiences to prove that suffering is indeed God’s testing room of faith. J. H. M.
It is quite easy for us to talk and to theorize about faith, but God often puts us into His crucible of affliction to test the purity of our gold and to separate the dross from the metal. How happy we are if the hurricanes that blow across life’s raging sea have the effect of making Jesus more precious to us! It is better to weather the storm with Christ than to sail smooth waters without Him. J. R. Macduff
What if God could not manage to mature your life without suffering?
Carrying his own cross. (John 19:17)
The Changed Cross” is a poem that tells of a weary woman who thought that the cross she must bear surely was heavier than those of other people, so she wished she could choose another person’s instead. When she went to sleep, she dreamed she was taken to a place where there were many different crosses from which to choose. There were various shapes and sizes, but the most beautiful one was covered with jewels and gold. “This I could wear with comfort,” she said. So she picked it up, but her weak body staggered beneath its weight. The jewels and gold were beautiful, yet they were much too heavy for her to carry.
The next cross she noticed was quite lovely, with beautiful flowers entwined around its sculptured form. Surely this was the one for her. She lifted it, but beneath the flowers were large thorns that pierced and tore her skin.
Finally she came to a plain cross without jewels or any carvings and with only a few words of love inscribed on it. When she picked it up, it proved to be better than all the rest, and the easiest to carry. And as she looked at it, she noticed it was bathed in a radiance that fell from heaven. Then she recognized it as her own old cross. She had found it once again, and it was the best of all, and the lightest for her.
You see, God knows best what cross we need to bear, and we never know how heavy someone else’s cross may be. We envy someone who is rich, with a cross of gold adorned with jewels, but we do not know how heavy it is. We look at someone whose life seems so easy and who carries a cross covered with flowers. Yet if we could actually test all the crosses we think are lighter than ours, we would never find one better suited for us than our own. from Glimpses through Life’s Windows
If you, with impatience, give up your cross,
You will not find it in this world again;
Nor in another, but here and here alone
Is given for you to suffer for God’s sake.
In the next world we may more perfectly
Love Him and serve Him, praise Him,
Grow nearer and nearer to Him with delight.
But then we will not anymore
Be called to suffer, which is our assignment here.
Can you not suffer, than, one hour or two?
If He should call you from your cross today,
Saying, “It is finished—that hard cross of yours
From which you pray for deliverance,”
Do you not think that some emotion of regret
Would overcome you? You would say,
“So soon? Let me go back and suffer yet awhile
More patiently. I have not yet praised God.”
So whenever it comes, that summons we all look for,
It will seem soon, too soon. Let us take heed in life
That God may now be glorified in us.
Ugo Bassi’s Sermon in a Hospital
Others went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters.They saw the works of the Lord, his wonderful deeds in the deep. (Psalm 107:23–24)
The person who has not learned that every wind that blows can be used to guide us toward heaven has certainly not mastered the art of sailing and is nothing but an apprentice. In fact, the only thing that helps no one is a dead calm. Every wind, whether from the north, south, east, or west, may help us toward that blessed port. So seek only this: to stay well out to sea—and then have no fear of stormy winds. May our prayer be that of an old Englishman: “O Lord, send us into the deep water of the sea, for we are so close to shore that even a small breeze from the Devil could break our ship to pieces on the rocks. Again, Lord, send us into the deep water of the sea, where there will be plenty of room to win a glorious victory.” Mark Guy Pearse
Remember, our faith is always at its greatest point when we are in the middle of the trial, and confidence in the flesh will never endure testing. Fair-weather faith is not faith at all. Charles H. Spurgeon
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. (John 20:29)
How important it is for God to keep us focused on things that are unseen, for we are so easily snared by the things we can see! If Peter was ever going to walk on the water, he had to walk, but if he was going to swim to Jesus, he had to swim. He could not do both. If a bird is going to fly, it must stay away from fences and trees, trusting the buoyancy of its wings. And if it tries to stay within easy reach of the ground, it will never fly very well.
God had to bring Abraham to the end of his own strength and let him see that with his own body he could do nothing. He had to consider his own body “as good as dead” (Heb.11:12) and then trust God to do all the work. When he looked away from himself and trusted only God, he became “fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised” (Rom. 4:21).
This is what God is teaching us, and He has to keep results that are encouraging away from us until we learn to trust Him without them. Then He loves to make His Word as real to us in actuality as it is in our faith. A. B. Simpson
I do not ask that He must prove
His Word is true to me,
And that before I can believe
He first must let me see.
It is enough for me to know
It’s true because He says it’s so;
On His unchanging Word I’ll stand
And trust till I can understand.