This is my doing. (1 Kings 12:24)
The disappointments of life are simply the hidden appointments of love. C. A. Fox
My child, I have a message for you today. Let me whisper it in your ear so any storm clouds that may arise will shine with glory, and the rough places you may have to walk will be made smooth. It is only four words, but let them sink into your inner being, and use them as a pillow to rest your weary head. “This is my doing.”
Have you ever realized that whatever concerns you concerns Me too? “For whoever touches you touches the apple of [my] eye” (Zech. 2:8). “You are precious and honored in my sight” (Isaiah 43:4). Therefore it is my special delight to teach you.
I want you to learn when temptations attack you, and the enemy comes in “like a pent-up flood” (Isaiah 59:19), that “this is my doing” and that your weakness needs My strength, and your safety lies in letting Me fight for you.
Are you in difficult circumstances, surrounded by people who do not understand you, never ask your opinion, and always push you aside? “This is my doing.” I am the God of circumstances. You did not come to this place by accident—you are exactly where I meant for you to be.
Have you not asked Me to make you humble? Then see that I have placed you in the perfect school where this lesson is taught. Your circumstances and the people around you are only being used to accomplish My will.
Are you having problems with money, finding it hard to make ends meet? “This is my doing,” for I am the One who keeps your finances, and I want you to learn to depend upon Me. My supply is limitless and I “will meet all your needs” (Phil. 4:19). I want you to prove My promises so no one may say, “You did not trust in the Lord your God” (Deut. 1:32).
Are you experiencing a time of sorrow? “This is my doing.” I am “a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (Isa. 53:3). I have allowed your earthly comforters to fail you, so that by turning to Me you may receive “eternal encouragement and good hope” (2 Thess. 2:16). Have you longed to do some great work for Me but instead have been set aside on a bed of sickness and pain? “This is my doing.” You were so busy I could not get your attention, and I wanted to teach you some of My deepest truths. “They also serve who only stand and wait.” In fact, some of My greatest workers are those physically unable to serve, but who have learned to wield the powerful weapon of prayer.
Today I place a cup of holy oil in your hands. Use it freely, My child. Anoint with it every new circumstance, every word that hurts you, every interruption that makes you impatient, and every weakness you have. The pain will leave as you learn to see Me in all things. Laura A. Barter Snow
“This is from Me,” the Savior said,
As bending low He kissed my brow,
“For One who loves you thus has led.
Just rest in Me, be patient now,
Your Father knows you have need of this,
Though, why perhaps you cannot see—
Grieve not for things you’ve seemed to miss.
The thing I send is best for thee.”
Then, looking through my tears, I plead,
“Dear Lord, forgive, I did not know,
It will not be hard since You do tread,
Each path before me here below.”
And for my good this thing must be,
His grace sufficient for each test.
So still I’ll sing, “Whatever be
God’s way for me is always best.”
In the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver. (Isaiah 49:2)
“In the shadow”—each of us must go there sometimes. The glare of the sunlight is too bright, and our eyes become injured. Soon they are unable to discern the subtle shades of color or appreciate neutral tints, such as the shadowed sickroom, the shadowed house of grief, or the shadowed life where the sunlight has departed.
But fear not! It is the shadow of God’s hand. He is leading you, and there are lessons that can be learned only where He leads.
The photograph of His face can only be developed in the dark room. But do not assume that He has pushed you aside.
You are still “in his quiver.” He has not thrown you away as something worthless.
He is only keeping you nearby till the moment comes when He can send you quickly and confidently on some mission that will bring Him glory. O shadowed, isolated one, remember how closely the quiver is tied to the warrior. It is always within easy reach of his hand and jealously protected. from Christ in Isaiah, by F. B. Meyer
In some realms of nature, shadows or darkness are the places of greatest growth. The beautiful Indian corn never grows more rapidly than in the darkness of a warm summer night. The sun withers and curls the leaves in the scorching light of noon, but once a cloud hides the sun, they quickly unfold. The shadows provide a service that the sunlight does not. The starry beauty of the sky cannot be seen at its peak until the shadows of night slip over the sky. Lands with fog, clouds, and shade are lush with greenery. And there are beautiful flowers that bloom in the shade that will never bloom in the sun. Florists now have their evening primrose as well as their morning glory. The evening primrose will not open in the noonday sun but only reveals its beauty as the shadows of the evening grow longer.
If all of life were sunshine,
Our face would long to gain
And feel once more upon it
The cooling splash of rain.
Henry Jackson Van Dyke
At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert. (Mark 1:12)
This seemed a strange way for God to prove His favor. “At once”—after what? After heaven was opened and the Spirit descended “like a dove” (v. 10), and the Father voiced His blessing, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (v. 11). Yet it is not an abnormal experience.
You, my soul, have also experienced it. Aren’t your times of deepest depression the moments that immediately follow your loftiest highs? Just yesterday you were soaring high in the heavens and singing in the radiance of the morning. Today, however, your wings are folded and your song is silent. At noon you were basking in the sunshine of the Father’s smile, but by evening you were saying from the wilderness, “My way is hidden from the Lord” (Isaiah. 40:27).
No, my soul, the actual suddenness of the change is proof that it is not abnormal. Have you considered the comfort of the words “at once,” and why the change comes so soon after the blessing? Simply to show that it is the sequel to the blessing. God shines His light on you to make you fit for life’s deserts, Gethsemanes, and Calvaries. He lifts you to new heights to strengthen you so that you may go deeper still. He illuminates you so He may send you into the night, making you a help to the helpless.
You are not always worthy of the wilderness—you are only worthy of the wilderness after the splendor of the Jordan River experience. Nothing but the Son’s vision can equip you to carry the Spirit’s burden, and only the glory of the baptism can withstand the hunger of the desert. George Matheson
After blessings comes the battle.
The time of testing that distinguishes and greatly enriches a person’s spiritual career is not an ordinary one but a period when it seems as if all hell were set loose. It is a time when we realize our soul is caught in a net, and we know God is allowing us to be gripped by the Devil’s hand. Yet it is a period that always ends in certain triumph for those who have committed the keeping of their souls to God. And the testing “later on ... produces a harvest of righteousness and peace” (Heb. 12:11) and paves the way for the thirtyfold to one hundredfold increase that is promised to follow (see Matt. 13:23). Aphra White
I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land. (Isaiah 58:14)
One of the first rules of aerodynamics is that flying into the wind quickly increases altitude. The wings of the airplane create more lift by flying against the wind. How was this lesson learned? It was learned by watching birds fly. If a bird is simply flying for pleasure, it flies with the wind. But if it senses danger, it turns into the wind to gain altitude, and flies up toward the sun.
The sufferings of life are God’s winds. Sometimes they blow against us and are very strong. They are His hurricanes, taking our lives to higher levels, toward His heavens.
Do you remember a summer day when the heat and humidity were so oppressive, you could hardly breathe? But a dark cloud appeared on the horizon, growing larger and larger, until it suddenly brought a rich blessing to your world. The storm raged, lightning flashed, and thunder rumbled. The storm covered your sky, the atmosphere was cleansed, new life was in the air, and your world was changed.
Human life works exactly on the same principle. When the storms of life appear, the atmosphere is changed, purified, filled with new life, and part of heaven is brought down to earth. selected
Facing obstacles should make us sing. The wind finds its voice not when rushing across an open sea but when it is hindered by the outstretched limbs of a pine tree or broken by the strings of an aeolian wind harp. Only then does the harp have songs of power and beauty. Send your soul, which has been set free, sweeping across the obstacles of life. Send it through the relentless forests of pain and against even the smallest hindrances and worries of life, and it too will find a voice with which to sing. selected
Be like a bird that, halting in its flight,
Rests on a limb too slight.
And feeling it give way beneath him sings,
Knowing he has wings.
You will not leave in haste. (Isaiah 52:12)
I do not believe we have even begun to understand the wonderful power there is in being still. We are in such a hurry, always doing, that we are in danger of not allowing God the opportunity to work. You may be sure that God will never say to us, “Stand still,” “Sit still,” or “Be still,” unless He is going to do something. This is our problem regarding the Christian life: we want to do something to be Christians, instead of allowing Him to work in us.
Think of how still you stand when your picture is being taken, as the photographer captures your likeness on film. God has one eternal purpose for us: that we should be “conformed to the likeness of his Son” (Rom. 8:29). But in order for that to happen, we must stand still. We hear so much today about being active, but maybe we need to learn what it means to be quiet. from Crumbs
Sit still, my children! Just sit calmly still!
Nor deem these days—these waiting days—as ill!
The One who loves you best,
who plans your way,
Has not forgotten your great need today!
And, if He waits, it’s sure He waits to prove
To you, His tender child, His heart’s deep love.
Sit still, my children! Just sit calmly still!
You greatly long to know your dear Lord’s will!
While anxious thoughts would almost steal their way
Corrodingly within, because of His delay—
Persuade yourself in simple faith to rest
That He, who knows and loves, will do the best.
Sit still, my children! Just sit calmly still!
Nor move one step, not even one, until
His way has opened. Then, ah then, how sweet!
How glad your heart, and then how swift your feet,
Your inner being then, ah then, how strong!
And waiting days not counted then too long.
Sit still, my daughter! Just sit calmly still!
What higher service could you for Him fill?
It’s hard! ah yes! But choicest things must cost!
For lack of losing all how much is lost!
It’s hard, it’s true! But then—He gives you grace
To count the hardest spot the sweetest place.
He turned the sea into dry land, they passed through the waters on foot—come, let us rejoice in him. (Psalm 66:6)
It is a profound statement that “through the waters,” the very place where we might have expected nothing but trembling, terror, anguish, and dismay, the children of Israel stopped to “rejoice in him”!
How many of us can relate to this experience? Who of us, right in the midst of our time of distress and sadness, have been able to triumph and rejoice, as the Israelites did?
How close God is to us through His promises, and how brightly those promises shine! Yet during times of prosperity, we lose sight of their brilliance. In the way the sun at noon hides the stars from sight, His promises become indiscernible. But when night falls—the deep, dark night of sorrow—a host of stars begin to shine, bringing forth God’s blessed constellations of hope, and promises of comfort from His Word.
Just as Jacob experienced at Jabbok, it is only once the sun sets that the Angel of the Lord comes, wrestles with us, and we can overcome. It was at night, “at twilight” (Ex. 30:8), that Aaron lit the sanctuary lamps. And it is often during nights of trouble that the brightest lamps of believers are set ablaze.
It was during a dark time of loneliness and exile that John had the glorious vision of his Redeemer. Many of us today have our “Isle of Patmos,” which produces the brightest memories of God’s enduring presence, uplifting grace, and love in spite of solitude and sadness.
How many travelers today still passing through their Red Seas and Jordan Rivers of earthly affliction, will be able to look back from eternity, filled with memories of God’s great goodness, and say, “We ‘passed through the waters on foot.’ And yet, even in these dark experiences, with waves surging all around, we stopped and said, ‘Let us rejoice in him’!” J. R. Macduff
There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make
the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing.
Why are you downcast, O my soul? (Psalm 43:5)
Is there ever any reason to be downcast? Actually, there are two reasons, but only two. If we were still unbelievers, we would have a reason to be downcast; or if we have been converted but continue to live in sin, we are downcast as a consequence.
Except for these two conditions, there is never a reason to be downcast, for everything else may be brought to God “by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving” (Phil. 4:6). And through all our times of need, difficulty, and trials, we may exercise faith in the power and love of God.
“Put your hope in God” (Ps. 43:5). Please remember there is never a time when we cannot hope in God, whatever our need or however great our difficulty may be. Even when our situation appears to be impossible, our work is to “hope in God.” Our hope will not be in vain, and in the Lord’s own timing help will come.
Oh, the hundreds, even the thousands, of times I have found this to be true in the past seventy years and four months of my life! When it seemed impossible for help to come, it did come, for God has His own unlimited resources. In ten thousand different ways, and at ten thousand different times, God’s help may come to us.
Our work is to lay our petitions before the Lord, and in childlike simplicity to pour out our hearts before Him, saying, “I do not deserve that You should hear me and answer my requests, but for the sake of my precious Lord Jesus; for His sake, answer my prayer. And give me grace to wait patiently until it pleases You to grant my petition. For I believe You will do it in Your own time and way. ”
“For I will yet praise him” (Ps. 43:5). More prayer, more exercising of our faith, and more patient waiting leads to blessings— abundant blessings. I have found it to be true many hundreds of times, and therefore I continually say to myself, “Put your hope in God.” George Mueller
Surely I am with you always. (Matthew 28:20)
Never look ahead to the changes and challenges of this life in fear. Instead, as they arise look at them with the full assurance that God, whose you are, will deliver you out of them. Hasn’t He kept you safe up to now? So hold His loving hand tightly, and He will lead you safely through all things. And when you cannot stand, He will carry you in His arms.
Do not look ahead to what may happen tomorrow. The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering or He will give you His unwavering strength that you may bear it. Be at peace, then, and set aside all anxious thoughts and worries. Francis de Sales
The Lord is my shepherd. Psalm 23:1
Not was, not may be, nor will be. “The Lord is my shepherd.” He is on Sunday, on Monday, and through every day of the week. He is in January, in December, and every month of the year. He is when I’m at home and in China. He is during peace or war, and in times of abundance or poverty. J. Hudson Taylor
He will silently plan for you,
His object of omniscient care;
God Himself undertakes to be
Your Pilot through each subtle snare.
He WILL silently plan for you,
So certainly, He cannot fail!
Rest on the faithfulness of God,
In Him you surely will prevail.
He will SILENTLY plan for you
Some wonderful surprise of love.
No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
But it is kept for you above.
He will silently PLAN for you,
His purposes will all unfold;
Your tangled life will shine at last,
A masterpiece of skill untold.
He will silently plan FOR YOU,
Happy child of a Father’s care,
As if no other claimed His love,
But you alone to Him were dear.
Whatever our faith says God is, He will be.
Jesus did not answer a word. (Matthew 15:23)
He will quiet you with his love. (Zephaniah 3:17)
Are you reading these verses as a child of God who is experiencing a crushing sorrow, a bitter disappointment, or a heartbreaking blow from a totally unexpected place? Are you longing to hear your Master’s voice calling you, saying, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (Matt. 14:27)? Yet only silence, the unknown, and misery confront you—“Jesus did not answer a word.”
God’s tender heart must often ache listening to our sad, complaining cries. Our weak, impatient hearts cry out because we fail to see through our tear-blinded, shortsighted eyes that it is for our own sakes that He does not answer at all or that He answers in a way we believe is less than the best. In fact, the silences of Jesus are as eloquent as His words and may be a sign not of His disapproval but of His approval and His way of providing a deeper blessing for you.
“Why are you downcast, O my soul? . . . I will yet praise him” (Ps. 43:5). Yes, praise Him even for His silence. Let me relate a beautiful old story of how one Christian dreamed she saw three other women in prayer.
When they knelt the Master drew near to them. As He approached the first of the three, He bent over her with tenderness and grace. He smiled with radiant love and spoke to her in tones of pure, sweet music. Upon leaving her, He came to the next but only placed His hand upon her bowed head and gave her one look of loving approval. He passed the third woman almost abruptly, without stopping for a word or a glance.
The woman having the dream said to herself, “How greatly He must love the first woman. The second gained His approval but did not experience the special demonstrations of love He gave the first. But the third woman must have grieved Him deeply, for He gave her no word at all, nor even a passing look.”
She wondered what the third woman must have done to have been treated so differently. As she tried to account for the actions of her Lord, He Himself came and stood beside her. He said to her, “O woman! How wrongly you have interpreted Me! The first kneeling woman needs the full measure of My tenderness and care to keep her feet on My narrow way. She needs My love, thoughts, and help every moment of the day, for without them she would stumble into failure.
“The second woman has stronger faith and deeper love than the first, and I can count on her to trust Me no matter how things may go or whatever people may do. Yet the third woman, whom I seemed not to notice, and even to neglect, has faith and love of the purest quality. I am training her through quick and drastic ways for the highest and holiest service.
“She knows Me so intimately, and trusts Me so completely, that she no longer depends on My voice, loving glances, or other outward signs to know of My approval. She is not dismayed or discouraged by any circumstances I arrange for her to encounter. She trusts Me when common sense, reason, and even every subtle instinct of the natural heart would rebel, knowing that I am preparing her for eternity, and realizing that the understanding of what I do will come later.
“My love is silent because I love beyond the power of words to express it and beyond the understanding of the human heart. Also, it is silent for your sakes—that you may learn to love and trust Me with pure, Spirit-taught, spontaneous responses. I desire for your response to My love to be without the prompting of anything external.”
He “will do wonders never before done” (Ex. 34:10) if you will learn the mystery of His silence and praise Him every time He withdraws His gifts from you. Through this you will better know and love the Giver. selected
Do not take revenge, my friends. (Romans 12:19)
There are times when doing nothing demands much greater strength than taking action. Maintaining composure is often the best evidence of power. Even to the vilest and deadliest of charges, Jesus responded with deep, unbroken silence. His silence was so profound, it caused His accusers and spectators to wonder in awe. To the greatest insults, the most violent treatment, and to mockery that would bring righteous indignation to the feeblest of hearts, He responded with voiceless, confident calmness. Those who are unjustly accused, and mistreated without cause, know the tremendous strength that is necessary to keep silent and to leave revenge to God.
Men may misjudge your aim,
Think they have cause to blame,
Say, you are wrong;
Keep on your quiet way,
Christ is the Judge, not they,
Fear not, be strong.
The apostle Paul said, “None of these things move me” (Acts 20:24 KJV). He did not say, “None of these things hurt me.” It is one thing to be hurt, and quite another to be moved. Paul had a very tender heart, for we do not read of any other apostle who cried as he did. It takes a strong man to cry. “Jesus wept” (John 11:35), and He was the strongest man that ever lived.
Therefore it does not say, “None of these things hurt me.” The apostle Paul had determined not to move from what he believed was right. He did not value things as we are prone to do. He never looked for the easy way, and placed no value on his mortal life. He only cared about one thing, and that was his loyalty to Christ—to gain Christ’s smile. To Paul, more than to any other man, doing Christ’s work was his earthly pay, but gaining Christ’s smile was heaven. Margaret Bottome
As soon as the priests ... set foot in the Jordan, its waters ... will be cut off. (Joshua 3:13)
The Israelites were not to wait in the camp until the Jordan was opened but to “walk by faith” (2 Cor. 5:7 KJV). They were to break camp, pack up their belongings, form a marching line, and actually step into the river before it would be opened.
If they had come down to the riverbank and then stopped, waiting for the water to divide before stepping into it, they would have waited in vain. They were told to “set foot in the Jordan” before “its waters ... will be cut off.”
We must learn to take God at His word and walk straight ahead in obedience, even when we can see no way to go forward. The reason we are so often sidetracked by difficulties is that we expect to see barriers removed before we even try to pass through them.
If we would only move straight ahead in faith, the path would be opened for us. But we stand still, waiting for the obstacle to be removed, when we ought to go forward as if there were no obstacles at all. from Evening Thoughts
What a lesson Christopher Columbus taught the world—a lesson of perseverance in the face of tremendous difficulties!
Behind him lay the gray Azores,
Behind the gates of Hercules;
Before him not the ghost of shores,
Before him only shoreless seas.
The good Mate said: “Now we must pray,
For lo! the very stars are gone.
Brave Admiral, speak, what shall I say?”
“Why, say, ‘Sail on! sail on! and on!’”
“My men grow mutinous day by day;
My men grow ghastly pale and weak!”
The strong Mate thought of home; a spray
Of salt wave washed his sunburned cheek.
“What shall I say, brave Admiral, say,
If we sight only seas at dawn?”
“Why, you shall say at break of day,
‘Sail on! sail on! sail on! and on!’”
They sailed. They sailed. Then spoke the Mate:
“This mad sea shows its teeth tonight.
He curls his lip, he lies in wait,
With lifted teeth, as if to bite!
Brave Admiral, say but one good word;
What shall we do when hope is gone?”
The words leapt like a leaping sword:
“Sail on! sail on! sail on! and on!”
Then, pale and worn, he kept his deck
And peered through darkness. Ah! that night
Of all dark nights! And then a speck—
A light! A light! A light! A light!
It grew, a starlit flag unfurled!
It grew to be Time’s burst of dawn.
He gained a world; he gave that world
Its grandest lesson: “On! sail on!”
Faith that goes forward triumphs.
Your heavenly Father knows. (Matthew 6:32)
A visitor at a school for the deaf was writing questions on the board for the children. Soon he wrote this sentence: “Why has God made me able to hear and speak, and made you deaf?”
The shocking sentence hit the children like a cruel slap on the face. They sat paralyzed, pondering the dreadful word “Why?” And then a little girl arose.
With her lip trembling and her eyes swimming with tears, she walked straight to the board. Picking up the chalk, she wrote with a steady hand these precious words: “Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure” (Matt. 11:26). What a reply! It reaches up and claims an eternal truth upon which the most mature believer, and even the youngest child of God, may securely rest—the truth that God is your Father.
Can you state that truth with full assurance and faith? Once you do, your dove of faith will no longer wander the skies in restless flight but will settle forever in its eternal resting place of peace: your Father!
I still believe that a day of understanding will come for each of us, however far away it may be. We will understand as we see the tragedies that today darken and dampen the presence of heaven for us take their proper place in God’s great plan— a plan so overwhelming, magnificent, and joyful, we will laugh with wonder and delight. Arthur Christopher Bacon
Chance has not brought this ill to me;
It’s God’s own hand, so let it be,
For He sees what I cannot see.
There is a purpose for each pain,
And He one day will make it plain
That earthly loss is heavenly gain.
Like as a piece of tapestry
Viewed from the back appears to be
Only threads tangled hopelessly;
But in the front a picture fair
Rewards the worker for his care,
Proving his skill and patience rare.
You are the Workman, I the frame.
Lord, for the glory of Your Name,
Perfect Your image on the same.
The forested hill country ... will be yours. (Joshua 17:18)
There is always room higher in the hills. When the valleys are full of Canaanites, whose mighty iron chariots are slowing your progress, go up to the hills and occupy the higher land. If you find you can no longer do work for God, pray for those who can. You may not be able to move things on earth with your words, but you may move heaven. If it seems that your continued growth is impossible on the lower slopes due to limited areas of service, the constraints of maintaining the day-to-day necessities, or other hindrances, allow your life to burst forth, reaching toward the unseen, the eternal, and the heavenly.
Your faith can level forests. Even if the tribes of Israel had realized what treasures awaited them in the hills above, they would never have dreamed it would be possible to actually harvest the thick forests. But as God instructed them to clear the forests, He also reminded them of the sufficient power they possessed. The sight of seemingly impossible tasks, like leveling these forest-covered hills, are not sent to discourage us. They come to motivate us to attempt spiritual feats that would be impossible except for the great strength God has placed within us through His indwelling Holy Spirit.
Difficulties are sent in order to reveal what God can do in answer to faith that prays and works. Are you being squeezed from all sides in the valley? Then “ride on the heights of the land” and be “nourished ... with honey from the rock” (Deut. 32:13). Gain wealth from the terraced slopes that are now hidden by the forests. from Daily Devotional Commentary
Got any rivers they say are uncrossable,
Got any mountains they say “can’t tunnel through”?
We specialize in the wholly impossible,
Doing the things they say you can’t do.
song of the Panama Canal builders
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)
It is a good thing to “rejoice in the Lord.” Perhaps you have tried it but seemed to fail at first. Don’t give it a second thought, and forge ahead. Even when you cannot feel any joy, there is no spring in your step, nor any comfort or encouragement in your life, continue to rejoice and “consider it pure joy” (James 1:2). “Whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2), regard it as joy, delight in it, and God will reward your faith. Do you believe that your heavenly Father will let you carry the banner of His victory and joy to the very front of the battle, only to calmly withdraw to see you captured or beaten back by the enemy? NEVER! His Holy Spirit will sustain you in your bold advance and fill your heart with gladness and praise. You will find that your heart is exhilarated and refreshed by the fullness within.
Lord, teach me to rejoice in You—to “be joyful always” (1 Thess. 5:16). selected
The weakest saint may Satan rout,
Who meets him with a praiseful shout.
Be filled with the Spirit.... Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord. Ephesians 5:18–19
In these verses, the apostle Paul urges us to use singing as inspiration in our spiritual life. He warns his readers to seek motivation not through the body but through the spirit, not by stimulating the flesh but by exalting the soul.
Sometimes a light surprises
The Christian while he sings.
Let us sing even when we do not feel like it, for in this way we give wings to heavy feet and turn weariness into strength. John Henry Jowett
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns
to God, and the other prisoners were listening
to them. Acts 16:25
O Paul, what a wonderful example you are to us! You gloried in the fact that you “bear on [your] body the marks of Jesus” (Gal. 6:17). You bore the marks from nearly being stoned to death, from three times being “beaten with rods” (2 Cor. 11:25), from receiving 195 lashes from the Jews, and from being bloodily beaten in the Philippian jail. Surely the grace that enabled you to sing praises while enduring such suffering is sufficient for us. J. Roach
Oh, let us rejoice in the Lord, evermore,
When darts of the Tempter are flying,
For Satan still dreads, as he oft did before,
Our singing much more than our crying.
Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong. (Psalm 37:1)
Never become extremely upset over your circumstances. If worry were ever justified, it would have been during the circumstances surrounding the writing of this psalm. “Evil men” were “dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day” (Luke 16:19). “Those who do wrong” were ascending to the highest places of power and were tyrannizing their brothers who were less fortunate. Sinful men and women strutted through the land with arrogant pride and basked in the light of great prosperity, while good people became fearful and worried.
“Do not fret.” Never get unduly upset! Stay cool! Even for a good reason, worrying will not help you. It only heats up the bearings but does not generate any steam. It does not help the locomotive for its axles to become hot; their heat is only a hindrance. The axles become heated because of unnecessary friction. Dry surfaces are grinding against each other instead of working in smooth cooperation, aided by a thin cushion of oil.
Isn’t it interesting how similar the words “fret” and “friction” are? Friction caused by fretting is an indication of the absence of the anointing oil of the grace of God. When we worry, a little bit of sand gets into the bearings. It may be some slight disappointment, ungratefulness, or discourtesy we have experienced—suddenly our life is no longer running smoothly. Friction leads to heat, and heat can lead to very dangerous conditions.
Do not allow your bearings to become heated. Let the oil of the Lord keep you cool so that an unholy heat will not cause you to be regarded as one of the “evil men.” from The Silver Lining
Dear restless heart, be still; don’t fret and worry so;
God has a thousand ways His love and help to show;
Just trust, and trust, and trust, until His will you know.
Dear restless heart, be still, for peace is God’s own smile,
His love can every wrong and sorrow reconcile;
Just love, and love, and love, and calmly wait awhile.
Dear restless heart, be brave; don’t moan and sorrow so,
He has a meaning kind in chilly winds that blow;
Just hope, and hope, and hope, until you braver grow.
Dear restless heart, recline upon His breast this hour,
His grace is strength and life, His love is bloom and flower;
Just rest, and rest, and rest, within His tender power.
Dear restless heart, be still! Don’t struggle to be free;
God’s life is in your life, from Him you may not flee;
Just pray, and pray, and pray, till you have faith to see.
Edith Willis Linn
Although I have afflicted you, ...I will afflict you no more. (Nahum 1:12)
There is a limit to our affliction. God sends it and then removes it. Do you complain, saying, “When will this end?” May we quietly wait and patiently endure the will of the Lord till He comes. Our Father takes away the rod when His purpose in using it is fully accomplished.
If the affliction is sent to test us so that our words would glorify God, it will only end once He has caused us to testify to His praise and honor. In fact, we would not want the difficulty to depart until God has removed from us all the honor we can yield to Him.
Today things may become “completely calm” (Matt. 8:26). Who knows how soon these raging waves will give way to a sea of glass with seagulls sitting on the gentle swells?
After a long ordeal, the threshing tool is on its hook, and the wheat has been gathered into the barn. Before much time has passed, we may be just as happy as we are sorrowful now.
It is not difficult for the Lord to turn night into day. He who sends the clouds can just as easily clear the skies. Let us be encouraged—things are better down the road. Let us sing God’s praises in anticipation of things to come. Charles H. Spurgeon
“The Lord of the harvest” (Luke 10:2) is not always threshing us. His trials are only for a season, and the showers soon pass. “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Ps. 30:5). “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Cor. 4:17). Trials do serve their purpose.
Even the fact that we face a trial proves there is something very precious to our Lord in us, or else He would not spend so much time and energy on us. Christ would not test us if He did not see the precious metal of faith mingled with the rocky core of our nature, and it is to refine us into purity and beauty that He forces us through the fiery ordeal.
Be patient, O sufferer! The result of the Refiner’s fire will more than compensate for our trials, once we see the “eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” Just to hear His commendation, “Well done” (Matt. 25:21); to be honored before the holy angels; to be glorified in Christ, so that I may reflect His glory back to Him—ah! that will be more than enough reward for all my trials. from Tried by Fire
Just as the weights of a grandfather clock, or the stabilizers in a ship, are necessary for them to work properly, so are troubles to the soul. The sweetest perfumes are obtained only through tremendous pressure, the fairest flowers grow on the most isolated and snowy peaks, the most beautiful gems are those that have suffered the longest at the jeweler’s wheel, and the most magnificent statues have endured the most blows from the chisel. All of these, however, are subject to God’s law. Nothing happens that has not been appointed with consummate care and foresight. from Daily Devotional Commentary
The land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. (Joshua 1:2 KJV)
God is speaking about something immediate in this verse. It is not something He is going to do but something He does do, at this very moment. As faith continues to speak, God continues to give. He meets you today in the present and tests your faith. As long as you are waiting, hoping, or looking, you are not believing. You may have hope or an earnest desire, but that is not faith, for “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Heb. 11:1). The command regarding believing prayer is: “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24). We are to believe that we have received—this present moment. Have we come to the point where we have met God in His everlasting NOW? from Joshua, by A. B. Simpson
True faith relies on God and believes before seeing. Naturally, we want some evidence that our petition is granted before we believe, but when we “live by faith” (2 Cor. 5:7), we need no evidence other than God’s Word. He has spoken, and in harmony with our faith it will be done. We will see because we have believed, and true faith sustains us in the most trying of times, even when everything around us seems to contradict God’s Word.
The psalmist said, “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Ps. 27:13). He had not yet seen the Lord’s answer to his prayers, but he was confident he would see, and his confidence sustained him.
Faith that believes it will see, will keep us from becoming discouraged. We will laugh at seemingly impossible situations while we watch with delight to see how God is going to open a path through our Red Sea. It is in these places of severe testing, with no human way out of our difficulty, that our faith grows and is strengthened.
Dear troubled one, have you been waiting for God to work during long nights and weary days, fearing you have been forgotten? Lift up your head and begin praising Him right now for the deliverance that is on its way to you. from Life of Praise
Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24)
When my little son was about ten years old, his grandmother promised him a stamp collecting album for Christmas. Christmas came and went with no stamp album and no word from Grandma. The matter, however, was not mentioned, until his friends came to see his Christmas presents. I was astonished, after he had listed all the gifts he had received, to hear him add, “And a stamp album from my grandmother.”
After hearing this several times, I called my son to me and said, “But George, you didn’t get a stamp album from Grandma. Why did you say you did?”
With a puzzled look on his face, as if I had asked a very strange question, he replied, “Well, Mom, Grandma said, and that is the same as.” Not a word from me would sway his faith.
A month passed and nothing else was said about the album. Finally one day, to test his faith and because I wondered in my own heart why the album had not been sent, I said, “George, I think Grandma has forgotten her promise.”
“Oh no, Mom,” he quickly and firmly responded. “She hasn’t.” I watched his sweet, trusting face, which for a while looked very serious, as if he were debating the possibility I had suggested. Soon his face brightened as he said, “Do you think it would do any good for me to write Grandma, thanking her for the album?”
“I don’t know,” I said, “but you might try it.” A rich spiritual truth then began to dawn on me.
In a few minutes a letter was written and mailed, as George went off whistling his confidence in his grandma. Soon a letter from Grandma arrived with this message:
My dear George,
I have not forgotten my promise to you for a stamp
album. I could not find the one you wanted here, so I
ordered one from New York. It did not arrive until after
Christmas, and it was not the right one. I then ordered
another, but it still has not arrived. I have decided to send
you thirty dollars instead so that you may buy the one you
want in Chicago.
Your loving Grandma.
As he read the letter, his face was the face of a victor. From the depths of a heart that never doubted came the words, “Now, Mom, didn’t I tell you?” George “against all hope... in hope believed” (Rom. 4:18) that the stamp album would come. And while he was trusting, Grandma was working, and in due time faith became sight.
It is only human to want to see before we step out on the promises of God. Yet our Savior said to Thomas and to a long list of doubters who have followed, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). Mrs. Rounds
Every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. (John 15:2)
A child of God was once overwhelmed by the number of afflictions that seemed to target her. As she walked past a vineyard during the rich glow of autumn, she noticed its untrimmed appearance and the abundance of leaves still on the vines. The ground had been overtaken by a tangle of weeds and grass, and the entire place appeared totally unkempt. While she pondered the sight, the heavenly Gardener whispered such a precious message to her that she could not help but share it.
The message was this: “My dear child, are you questioning the number of trials in your life? Remember the vineyard and learn from it. The gardener stops pruning and trimming the vine or weeding the soil only when he expects nothing more from the vine during that season. He leaves it alone, because its fruitfulness is gone and further effort now would yield no profit. In the same way, freedom from suffering leads to uselessness. Do you now want me to stop pruning your life? Shall I leave you alone?”
Then her comforted heart cried, “No!” Homera Homer-Dixon
It is the branch that bears the fruit,
That feels the knife,
To prune it for a larger growth,
A fuller life.
Though every budding twig be trimmed,
And every grace
Of swaying tendril, springing leaf,
May lose its place.
O you whose life of joy seems left,
With beauty shorn;
Whose aspirations lie in dust,
All bruised and torn,
Rejoice, though each desire, each dream,
Each hope of thine
Will fall and fade; it is the hand
Of Love Divine
That holds the knife, that cuts and breaks
With tenderest touch,
That you, whose life has borne some fruit,
Might now bear much.
Annie Johnson Flint
Nothing will be impossible for you. (Matthew 17:20)
It is possible for believers who are completely willing to trust the power of the Lord for their safekeeping and victory to lead a life of readily taking His promises exactly as they are and finding them to be true.
It is possible to daily “cast all your anxiety on him” (1 Peter 5:7) and experience deep peace in the process.
It is possible to have our thoughts and the desires of our hearts purified in the deepest sense of the word.
It is possible to see God’s will in every circumstance and to accept it with singing instead of complaining.
It is possible to become strong through and through by completely taking refuge in the power of God and by realizing that our greatest weakness and the things that upset our determination to be patient, pure, or humble provide an opportunity to make sin powerless over us. This opportunity comes through Him who loves us and who works to bring us into agreement with His will, and thereby supplies a blessed sense of His presence and His power.
All these are DIVINE POSSIBILITIES. Because they are His work, actually experiencing them will always humble us, causing us to bow at His feet and teaching us to hunger and thirst for more. We will never be satisfied with anything less—each day, each hour, or each moment in Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit—than WALKING WITH GOD. H. C. G. Moule
We are able to have as much of God as we want. Christ puts the key to His treasure chest in our hands and invites us to take all we desire. If someone is allowed into a bank vault, told to help himself to the money, and leaves without one cent, whose fault is it if he remains poor? And whose fault is it that Christians usually have such meager portions of the free riches of God? Alexander Maclaren
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. (Psalm 37:7)
Have you prayed and prayed, and waited and waited, and still you see no evidence of an answer? Are you tired of seeing no movement? Are you at the point of giving up? Then perhaps you have not waited in the right way, which removes you from the right place—the place where the Lord can meet you.
“Wait for it patiently” (Rom. 8:25). Patience eliminates worry. The Lord said He would come, and His promise is equal to His presence. Patience eliminates weeping. Why feel sad and discouraged? He knows your needs better than you do, and His purpose in waiting is to receive more glory through it. Patience eliminates self-works. “The work of God is this: to believe” (John 6:29), and once you believe, you may know all is well. Patience eliminates all want. Perhaps your desire to receive what you want is stronger than your desire for the will of God to be fulfilled.
Patience eliminates all weakness. Instead of thinking of waiting as being wasted time, realize that God is preparing His resources and strengthening you as well. Patience eliminates all wobbling. “He touched me and raised me to my feet” (Dan. 8:18). God’s foundations are steady, and when we have His patience within, we are steady while we wait. Patience yields worship. Sometimes the best part of praiseful waiting is experiencing “great endurance and patience . . . joyfully” (Col. 1:11). While you wait, “let [all these aspects of] patience have her perfect work” (James 1:4 KJV), and you will be greatly enriched. C. H. P.
Hold steady when the fires burn,
When inner lessons come to learn,
And from this path there seems no turn—
“Let patience have her perfect work.”
“If you can”?...Everything is possible for him who believes. (Mark 9:23)
I seldom have heard a better definition of faith than that given in one of our meetings, by a sweet, elderly black woman, as she answered a young man who asked, “How do I obtain the Lord’s help for my needs?”
In her characteristic way, pointing her finger toward him, she said with great insistence, “You just have to believe that He’s done it and it’s done.” The greatest problem with most of us is, after asking Him to do it, we do not believe it is done. Instead, we keep trying to help Him, get others to help Him, and anxiously wait to see how He is going to work.
Faith adds its “Amen” to God’s “Yes” and then takes its hands off, leaving God to finish His work. The language of faith is, “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this” (Ps. 37:5). from Days of Heaven upon Earth
I simply take Him at His word,
I praise Him that my prayer is heard,
And claim my answer from the Lord;
I take, He undertakes.
Active faith gives thanks for a promise even though it is not yet performed, knowing that God’s contracts are as good as cash. Matthew Henry
Passive faith accepts the Word as true—
But never moves.
Active faith begins the work to do,
And thereby proves.
Passive faith says,“I believe it! every word of God is true.
Well I know He has not spoken what He cannot, will not, do.
He has instructed me, ‘Go forward!’ but a closed-up way I see,
When the waters are divided, soon in Canaan’s land I’ll be.
Lo! I hear His voice commanding, ‘Rise and walk: take up your bed’;
And, ‘Stretch to Me your withered hand!’ which for so long
has been dead.
When I am a little stronger, then, I know I’ll surely stand:
When there comes a thrill of healing, I will use with ease
my reclaimed hand.
Yes, I know that ‘God is able’ and full willing all to do:
I believe that every promise, sometime, will to me come true. ”
Active faith says, “I believe it! and the promise now I take,
Knowing well, as I receive it, God, each promise,
real will make.
So I step into the waters, finding there an open way;
Onward press, the land possessing; nothing can my progress stay.
Yes, I rise at His commanding, walking straight, and joyfully:
This, my hand so sadly shriveled, as I reach, restored will be.
What beyond His faithful promise, would I wish or do I need?
Looking not for ‘signs or wonders,’ I’ll no contradiction heed.
Well I know that ‘God is able,’ and full willing all to do:
I believe that every promise, at this moment can come true.”
Passive faith but praises in the light,
When sun does shine.
Active faith will praise in darkest night—
Which faith is thine?
And there came a lion. (1 Samuel 17:34 KJV)
It is a source of inspiration and strength to us to remember how the youthful David trusted God. Through his faith in the Lord, he defeated a lion and a bear and later overthrew the mighty Goliath. When the lion came to destroy his flock, it came as a wonderful opportunity for David. If he had faltered and failed, he would have missed God’s opportunity for him and probably would never have been the Lord’s chosen king of Israel.
“And there came a lion.” Normally we think of a lion not as a special blessing from the Lord but only as a reason for alarm. Yet the lion was God’s opportunity in disguise. Every difficulty and every temptation that comes our way, if we receive it correctly, is God’s opportunity.
When a “lion” comes to your life, recognize it as an opportunity from the Lord, no matter how fierce it may outwardly seem. Even the tabernacle of God was covered with badger skins and goat hair. No one would think there would be any glory there, yet the Shechinah glory of God was very evident underneath the covering. May the Lord open our eyes to see Him, even in temptations, trials, dangers, and misfortunes. C. H. P.
Though John never performed a miraculous sign, all that John said about this man was true. (John 10:41)
Perhaps you are very dissatisfied with yourself. You are not a genius, have no distinctive gifts, and are inconspicuous when it comes to having any special abilities. Mediocrity seems to be the measure of your existence. None of your days are noteworthy, except for their sameness and lack of zest. Yet in spite of this you may live a great life.
John the Baptist never performed a miracle, but Jesus said of him, “Among those born of women there is no one greater” (Luke 7:28). His mission was to be “a witness to the light” (John 1:8), and that may be your mission and mine. John was content to be only a voice, if it caused people to think of Christ.
Be willing to be only a voice that is heard but not seen, or a mirror whose glass the eye cannot see because it is reflecting the brilliant glory of the Son. Be willing to be a breeze that arises just before daylight, saying, and “The dawn! The dawn!” and then fades away.
Do the most everyday and insignificant tasks knowing that God can see. If you live with difficult people, win them over through love. If you once made a great mistake in life, do not allow it to cloud the rest of your life, but by locking it secretly in your heart, make it yield strength and character.
We are doing more good than we know. The things we do today—sowing seeds or sharing simple truths of Christ— people will someday refer to as the first things that prompted them to think of Him. For my part, I will be satisfied not to have some great tombstone over my grave but just to know that common people will gather there once I am gone and say, “He was a good man. He never performed any miracles, but he told me about Christ, which led me to know Him for myself. ” George Matheson
Thy Hidden Ones (Ps. 83:3 KJV)
Thick green leaves from the soft brown earth,
Happy springtime has called them forth;
First faint promise of summer bloom
Breathes from the fragrant, sweet perfume,
Under the leaves.
Lift them! what marvelous beauty lies
Hidden beneath, from our thoughtless eyes!
Mayflowers, rosy or purest white,
Lift their cups to the sudden light,
Under the leaves.
Are there no lives whose holy deeds—
Seen by no eye save His who reads
Motive and action—in silence grow
Into rare beauty, and bud and blow
Under the leaves?
Fair white flowers of faith and trust,
Springing from spirits bruised and crushed;
Blossoms of love, rose-tinted and bright,
Touched and painted with Heaven’s own light
Under the leaves.
Full fresh clusters of duty borne,
Fairest of all in that shadow grown;
Wondrous the fragrance that sweet and rare
Comes from the flower-cups hidden there
Under the leaves.
Though unseen by our vision dim,
Bud and blossom are known to Him;
Wait we content for His heavenly ray—
Wait till our Master Himself one day
Lifts up the leaves.
God calls many of His most valued workers from the unknown multitude. [See Luke 14:23.]
I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised. (Joshua 1:3)
Besides the literal ground still unoccupied for Christ, there is before us the unclaimed and unwalked territory of God’s promises. What did God say to Joshua? “I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised.” Then He set the boundaries of the Land of Promise—all theirs on one condition: they must march across its length and breadth, measuring it off with their own feet.
Yet they never marched across more than one third of the land, and as a consequence, they never possessed more than that one third. They possessed only what they measured off and no more.
In 2 Peter 1:4 we read, “He has given us his very great and precious promises. “The land of God’s promises is open before us, and it is His will for us to possess it. We must measure off the territory with the feet of obedient faith and faithful obedience, thereby claiming and appropriating it as our own.
How many of us have ever taken possession of the promises of God in the name of Christ? The land of His promises is a magnificent territory for faith to claim by marching across its length and breadth, but faith has yet to do it.
Let us enter into and claim our total inheritance. Let us lift our eyes to the north, south, east, and west and hear God say, “All the land that you see I will give to you” (Gen. 13:15). Arthur Tappan Pierson
Wherever the tribe of Judah set their feet would be theirs, and wherever the tribe of Benjamin set their feet would be theirs, and so on. Each tribe would receive their inheritance by setting foot upon it. Don’t you imagine that as each tribe set foot upon a given territory, they instantly and instinctively felt, “This is ours”?
An elderly black man who had a wonderful testimony of grace was once asked, “Daniel, how is it that you exhibit such peace and joy in your faith?” “Oh, sir!” he replied. “I just fall flat on God’s ‘very great and precious promises,’ and I have all that is in them. Glory! Glory!” One who falls flat on God’s promises knows that all the riches abiding in them are his. from Faith Papers
The Marquis of Salisbury, an English statesman and diplomat, upon being criticized for his colonial policies, replied, “Gentlemen, get larger maps.”
My grace is sufficient for you. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
The other day I was riding home after a hard day’s work. I was very tired and deeply depressed, when quickly, and as suddenly as a lightning bolt, the verse came to me: “My grace is sufficient for you.” When I arrived home I looked it up in the Word, and it finally came to me this way: “MY grace is sufficient for you.” My response was to say, “Yes, Lord, I should think it is!” Then I burst out laughing.
Until that time, I had never understood what the holy laughter of Abraham was. This verse seemed to make unbelief totally absurd. I pictured a thirsty little fish who was concerned about drinking the river dry, with Father River saying, “Drink away, little fish; my stream is sufficient for you. ” I also envisioned a mouse afraid of starving after seven years of plenty, when Joseph says to him, “Cheer up, little mouse; my granaries are sufficient for you.” Again, I imagined a man high on a mountain peak, saying to himself, “I breathe so many cubic feet of air every year, I am afraid I will deplete all the oxygen in the atmosphere.” But the earth says to him, “Breathe away, filling your lungs forever; my atmosphere is sufficient for you.”
O people of God, be great believers! Little faith will bring your souls to heaven, but great faith will bring heaven to your souls. Charles H. Spurgeon
His grace is great enough to meet the great things—
The crashing waves that overwhelm the soul,
The roaring winds that leave us stunned and breathless,
The sudden storms beyond our life’s control.
His grace is great enough to meet the small things—
The little pinprick troubles that annoy,
The insect worries, buzzing and persistent,
The squeaking wheels that grate upon our joy.
Annie Johnson Flint
There is always a large balance credited to our account in the bank of heaven. It is waiting for us to exercise our faith to draw upon it. Draw heavily on God’s resources.
So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. (Genesis 32:24)
Left alone!” What different emotions these words bring to mind for each of us! To some they mean loneliness and grief, but to others they may mean rest and quiet. To be left alone without God would be too horrible for words, while being left alone with Him is a taste of heaven! And if His followers spent more time alone with Him, we would have spiritual giants again.
Our Master set an example for us. Remember how often He went to be alone with God? And there was a powerful purpose behind His command, “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray” (Matt. 6:6).
The greatest miracles of Elijah and Elisha took place when they were alone with God. Jacob was alone with God when he became a prince (see Gen. 32:28). In the same way, we too may become royalty and people who are “wondered at” (Zech. 3:8 KJV). Joshua was alone when the Lord came to him (see Josh. 1:1). Gideon and Jephthah were by themselves when commissioned to save Israel (see Judg. 6:11; 11:29). Moses was by himself at the burning bush (see Ex. 3:1–5). Cornelius was praying by himself when the Angel of God came to him (see Acts 10:1–4). No one was with Peter on the housetop when he was instructed to go to the Gentiles (see Acts 10:9–28). John the Baptist was alone in the wilderness (see Luke 1:80), and John the Beloved was alone on the island of Patmos when he was the closest to God (see Rev. 1:9).
Earnestly desire to get alone with God. If we neglect to do so, we not only rob ourselves of a blessing but rob others as well, since we will have no blessing to pass on to them. It may mean that we do less outward, visible work, but the work we do will have more depth and power. Another wonderful result will be that people will see “no one except Jesus” (Matt. 17:8) in our lives.
The impact of being alone with God in prayer cannot be overemphasized.
If chosen men had never been alone,
In deepest silence open-doored to God,
No greatness would ever have been dreamed or done.
Let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise. (Hebrews 13:15)
An inner-city missionary, stumbling through the trash of a dark apartment doorway, heard someone say, “Who’s there, Honey?” Lighting a match, he caught sight of earthly needs and suffering, amid saintly trust and peace. Calm, appealing eyes, etched in ebony, were set within the wrinkles of a weathered black face. On a bitterly cold night in February, she lay on a tattered bed, with no fire, no heat, and no light. Having had no breakfast, lunch, or dinner, she seemed to have nothing at all, except arthritis and faith in God. No one could have been further removed from comfortable circumstances, yet this favorite song of the dear lady played in the background:
Nobody knows the trouble I see,
Nobody knows but Jesus;
Nobody knows the trouble I see—
Sing Glory Hallelu!
Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down,
Sometimes I’m level on the groun’,
Sometimes the glory shines aroun’—
Sing Glory Hallelu!
And so it continued: “Nobody knows the work I do, Nobody knows the griefs I have,” the constant refrain being, “Glory Hallelu!” until the last verse rose:
Nobody knows the joys I have,
Nobody knows but Jesus!
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor. 4:8–9). It takes these great Bible words to explain the joy of this elderly black woman.
Do you remember the words of Martin Luther as he lay on his deathbed? Between groans he preached, “These pains and troubles here are like the type that printers set. When we look at them, we see them backwards, and they seem to make no sense and have no meaning. But up there, when the Lord God prints out our life to come, we will find they make splendid reading. ”Yet we do not have to wait until then. The apostle Paul, walking the deck of a ship on a raging sea, encouraged the frightened sailors, “Be of good cheer” (Acts 27:22 KJV).
Paul, Martin Luther, and the dear black woman were all human sunflowers, seeking and seeing the Light in a world of darkness. William C. Garnett
Put out into deep water. (Luke 5:4)
The Lord did not say how deep. The depth of the water into which we sail depends upon how completely we have cut our ties to the shore, the greatness of our need, and our anxieties about the future. Yet the fish were to be found in the deep, not the shallow, water.
It is the same with us—our needs are to be met in the deep things of God. We are to sail into the deep of God’s Word, which the Holy Spirit will open to us with profound yet crystal-clear meaning. And the words we knew in the past will have an ocean of new meaning, which will render their original message very shallow.
“Put out into [the] deep” of the atonement. We must continue until the Spirit brings such understanding of Christ’s precious blood that it becomes an omnipotent balm, and food and medicine for our soul and body.
“Put out into [the] deep” of the Father’s will. We must endure until we fully comprehend its infinite detail and goodness and its far-reaching provision and care for us.
“Put out into [the] deep” of the Holy Spirit. We must never stop until He becomes to us a warm, shining, radiant, and fathomless sea, one in which we soak, basking and breathing and ultimately losing ourselves and our sorrows in the calmness and peace of His everlasting presence. We must keep on until the Spirit becomes a clear and glorious answer to our prayer; our most careful and tender guide; the most thoughtful anticipator of our needs; and the most skilled and supernatural sculptor of our circumstances.
“Put out into [the] deep” of God’s purposes and His coming kingdom. We must carry on until the Lord’s coming and His millennial reign are before us, where we see eternity unfolding beyond the glorious gates, until our imagination is blinded by the brilliant light, and our heart flutters with an inexpressible anticipation of the joy of seeing Jesus and “the glory that will be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18).
Jesus instructs us to set sail into all of these. He created us, and He created the depths of the fathomless sea. And He has made those depths fit together in perfect harmony with all our talents and desires. from Soul Food
Its streams the whole creation reach,
So plenteous is the store;
Enough for all, enough for each;
The deep waters of the Holy Spirit are always accessible, because they are always flowing. Will you claim afresh and anew today to be immersed and drenched in these waters of life? The waters in Ezekiel’s vision were at first “coming out from under the threshold of the temple” (Ezek. 47:1). Then as a man went to measure it, he found it to be ankle-deep. Soon he measured and found the water was knee-deep. Again he measured and the water was to the waist. Next it was “a river that no one could cross” (Ezek. 47:5).
How far have we advanced into this river of life? The Holy Spirit desires that our self be completely submerged—not merely ankle-deep, knee-deep, waist-deep, but self-deep. He wants us hidden and bathed under this life-giving stream. Let loose the lines holding you to the shore and sail into the deep. And never forget, the Man who does the measuring is with us today. J. Gresham Machen