Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him. (Job 13:15)
Because I know whom I have believed. (2 Timothy 1:12)
I will not doubt, though all my ships at sea
Come drifting home with broken masts and sails;
I will believe the Hand that never fails,
From seeming evil works to good for me.
And though I weep because those sails are tattered,
Still will I cry, while my best hopes lie shattered:
“I trust in Thee.”
I will not doubt, though all my prayers return
Unanswered from the still, white realm above;
I will believe it is an all-wise love
That has refused these things for which I yearn;
And though at times I cannot keep from grieving,
Yet the pure passion of my fixed believing
Undimmed will burn.
I will not doubt, though sorrows fall like rain,
And troubles swarm like bees about a hive.
I will believe the heights for which I strive
Are only reached by anguish and by pain;
And though I groan and writhe beneath my crosses,
Yet I will see through my severest losses
The greater gain.
I will not doubt. Well anchored is this faith,
Like some staunch ship, my soul braves every gale;
So strong its courage that it will not fail
To face the mighty unknown sea of death.
Oh, may I cry, though body leaves the spirit,
“I do not doubt,” so listening worlds may hear it,
With my last breath.
An old seaman once said, “In fierce storms we must do one thing, for there is only one way to survive: we must put the ship in a certain position and keep her there.” And this, dear Christian, is what you must do.
Sometimes, like Paul, you cannot see the sun or the stars to help you navigate when the storm is bearing down on you. This is when you can do only one thing, for there is only one way. Reason cannot help you, past experiences will shed no light, and even prayer will bring no consolation. Only one course remains: you must put your soul in one position and keep it there.
You must anchor yourself steadfastly upon the Lord. And then, come what may—whether wind, waves, rough seas, thunder, lightning, jagged rocks, or roaring breakers—you must lash yourself to the helm, firmly holding your confidence in God’s faithfulness, His covenant promises, and His everlasting love in Christ Jesus. Richard Fuller
They looked . . . and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud. (Exodus 16:10)
You should get into the habit of looking for the silver lining of storm clouds. And once you have found it, continue to focus on it rather than the dark gray of the center. Do not yield to discouragement no matter how severely stressed or surrounded by problems you may be. A discouraged soul is in a helpless state, being neither able to “stand against the devil’s schemes” (Eph. 6:11) himself nor able to prevail in prayer for others. Flee every symptom of the deadly foe of discouragement as you would run from a snake. Never be slow to turn your back on it, unless you desire to eat the dust of bitter defeat.
Search for specific promises of God, saying aloud of each one, “This promise is mine.” Then if you still experience feelings of doubt and discouragement, pour your heart out to God, asking Him to rebuke the Adversary who is so mercilessly harassing you.
The very instant you wholeheartedly turn away from every symptom of discouragement and lack of trust, the blessed Holy Spirit will reawaken your faith and breathe God’s divine strength into your soul. Initially you may be unaware that this is happening, but as you determine to uncompromisingly shun every attack of even the tendency toward doubt and depression, you will quickly see the powers of darkness being turned back.
Oh, if only our eyes could see the mighty armies of strength and power that are always behind our turning away from the hosts of darkness toward God, there would be no attention given to the efforts of our cunning Foe to distress, depress, or discourage us! All the miraculous attributes of the Godhead are marshaled on the side of even the weakest believer who, in the name of Christ and in simple, childlike trust, yields himself to God and turns to Him for help and guidance. Selected
One day in autumn, while on the open prairie, I saw an eagle mortally wounded by a rifle shot. With his eyes still gleaming like small circles of light, he slowly turned his head, giving one last searching and longing look toward the sky. He had often swept those starry spaces with his wonderful wings. The beautiful sky was the home of his heart. It was the eagle’s domain. It was there he had displayed his splendid strength a thousand times. In those lofty heights, he had played with the lightning and raced the wind. And now, far below his home, the eagle lay dying. He faced death because—just once—he forgot and flew too low.
My soul is that eagle. This is not its home. It must never lose its skyward look. I must keep faith, I must keep hope, I must keep courage, I must keep Christ. It would be better to crawl immediately from the battlefield than to not be brave. There is no time for my soul to retreat. Keep your skyward look, my soul; keep your skyward look!
Keep looking up—
The waves that roar around your feet,
Jehovah-Jireh will defeat
When looking up.
Keep looking up—
Though darkness seems to wrap your soul;
Light of Light will fill your soul
When looking up.
Keep looking up—
When worn, distracted with the fight;
Your Captain gives you conquering might
When you look up.
We can never see the sunrise by looking toward the west.
Glorify ye the Lord in the fires. (Isaiah 24:15 KJV)
Notice the little word “in”! We are to honor the Lord in the trial—in the very thing that afflicts us. And although there are examples where God did not allow His saints to even feel the fire, usually the fire causes pain.
It is precisely there, in the heat of the fire, we are to glorify Him. We do this by exercising perfect faith in His goodness and love that has permitted this trial to come upon us. Even more, we are to believe that out of the fire will arise something more worthy of praise to Him than had we never experienced it.
To go through some fires will take great faith, for little faith will fail. We must win the victory in the furnace. Margaret Bottome
A person has only as much faith as he shows in times of trouble. The three men who were thrown into the fiery furnace came out just as they went in—except for the ropes that had bound them. How often God removes our shackles in the furnace of affliction!
These three men walked through the fire unhurt—their skin was not even blistered. Not only had the fire “not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them” (Dan. 3:27). This is the way Christians should come out of the furnace of fiery trials—liberated from their shackles but untouched by the flames.
Triumphing over them in it. Colossians 2:15 KJV
This is the real triumph—triumphing over sickness in it, triumphing over death in dying, and triumphing over other adverse circumstances in them. Believe me, there is a power that can make us victors in the conflict.
There are heights we can reach where we can look back over the path we have come and sing our song of triumph on this side of heaven. We can cause others to regard us as rich, while we are poor, and make many rich in our poverty. We are to triumph in it.
Christ’s triumph was in His humiliation. And perhaps our triumph will also be revealed through what others see as humiliation. Margaret Bottome
Isn’t there something captivating about the sight of a person burdened with many trials, yet who is as lighthearted as the sound of a bell? Isn’t there something contagious and valiant in seeing others who are greatly tempted but are “more than conquerors” (Rom. 8:37)? Isn’t it heartening to see a fellow traveler whose body is broken, yet who retains the splendor of unbroken patience?
What a witness these give to the power of God’s gift of grace!
John Henry Jowett
When each earthly brace falls under,
And life seems a restless sea,
Are you then a God-held wonder,
Satisfied and calm and free?
Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.” (2 Kings 6:17)
This is the prayer we need to pray for ourselves and one another: “Lord, open our eyes so we may see.” We are surrounded, just as the prophet Elisha was, by God’s “horses and chariots of fire” (2 Kings 6:17), waiting to transport us to places of glorious victory.
Once our eyes are opened by God, we will see all the events of our lives, whether great or small, joyful or sad, as a “chariot” for our souls. Everything that comes to us becomes a chariot the moment we treat it as such. On the other hand, even the smallest trial may become an object crushing everything in its path into misery and despair if we allow it.
The difference then becomes a choice we make. It all depends not on the events themselves but on how we view them. If we simply lie down, allowing them to roll over and crush us, they become an uncontrollable car of destruction. Yet if we climb into them, as riding in a car of victory, they become the chariots of God to triumphantly take us onward and upward. Hannah Whitall Smith
There is not much the Lord can do with a crushed soul. That is why the Adversary attempts to push God’s people toward despair and hopelessness over their condition or the condition of the church. It has often been said that a discouraged army enters a battle with the certainty of defeat. I recently heard a missionary say she had returned home sick and disheartened because her spirit had lost its courage, which led to the consequence of an unhealthy body.
We need to better understand these attacks of the Enemy on our spirit and how to resist them. If he can dislodge us from our proper position, he then seeks to “wear out the saints of the most High” (Dan. 7:25 KJV) through a prolonged siege, until we finally, out of sheer weakness, surrender all hope of victory.
Go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. (2 Kings 4:4)
The widow and her two sons were to be alone with God. They were not dealing with the laws of nature, human government, the church, or the priesthood. Nor were they even dealing with God’s great prophet, Elisha. They had to be isolated from everyone, separated from human reasoning, and removed from the natural tendencies to prejudge their circumstance. They were to be as if cast into the vast expanse of starry space, depending on God alone—in touch with the Source of miracles.
This is an ingredient in God’s plan of dealing with us. We are to enter a secret chamber of isolation in prayer and faith that is very fruitful. At certain times and places, God will build a mysterious wall around us. He will take away all the supports we customarily lean upon, and will remove our ordinary ways of doing things. God will close us off to something divine, completely new and unexpected, and that cannot be understood by examining our previous circumstances. We will be in a place where we do not know what is happening, where God is cutting the cloth of our lives by a new pattern, and thus where He causes us to look to Him.
Most Christians lead a treadmill life—a life in which they can predict almost everything that will come their way. But the souls that God leads into unpredictable and special situations are isolated by Him. All they know is that God is holding them and that He is dealing in their lives. Then their expectations come from Him alone.
Like this widow, we must be detached from outward things and attached inwardly to the Lord alone in order to see His wonders. from Soul Food
It is through the most difficult trials that God often brings the sweetest discoveries of Himself. from Gems
God sometimes shuts the door and shuts us in,
That He may speak, perhaps through grief or pain,
And softly, heart to heart, above the din,
May tell some precious thought to us again.
I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me. (Habakkuk 2:1)
Without watchful expectation on our part, what is the sense in waiting on God for help? There will be no help without it. If we ever fail to receive strength and protection from Him, it is because we have not been looking for it. Heavenly help is often offered yet goes right past us. We miss it because we are not standing in the tower, carefully watching the horizon for evidence of its approach, and then are unready to throw the gates of our heart open so it may enter. The person who has no expectations and therefore fails to be on the alert will receive little help. Watch for God in the events of your life.
There is an old saying: “They who watch for the providence of God will never lack the providence of God to watch for.” And we could turn the saying around as well and say, “They who never watch for the providence of God will never have the providence of God to watch for.” Unless you put the water jars out when it rains, you will never collect the water.
We need to be more businesslike and use common sense with God in claiming His promises. If a man were to go to the bank several times a day, lay his check at the teller’s window, and then pick it up and leave without cashing it, it would not be long before the bank would have him ordered from the premises.
People who go to the bank have a purpose in mind. They present their check, receive their cash, and then leave, having transacted real business. They do not lay their check on the counter, discuss the beauty of the signature, and point out the lovely design on it. No, they want to receive money for their check and will not be satisfied without it. These are the people who are always welcome at the bank, unlike those who simply waste the teller’s time.
Unfortunately, a great many people also play at praying. They do not expect God to give them an answer, so they simply squander their prayer time. Our heavenly Father desires us to transact real business with Him in our praying. Charles H. Spurgeon
Your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 23:18
Their strength is to sit still. (Isaiah 30:7 KJV)
Inner stillness is an absolute necessity to truly knowing God. I remember learning this during a time of great crisis in my life. My entire being seemed to throb with anxiety, and the sense of need for immediate and powerful action was overwhelming. Yet the circumstances were such that I could do nothing, and the person who could have helped would not move.
For a time it seemed as if I would fall to pieces due to my inner turmoil. Then suddenly “a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12 KJV) whispered in the depths of my soul, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10). The words were spoken with power and I obeyed. I composed myself, bringing my body to complete stillness, and forced my troubled spirit into quietness. Only then, while looking up and waiting, did I know that it was God who had spoken. He was in the midst of my crisis and my helplessness, and I rested in Him.
This was an experience I would not have missed for anything. I would also say it was from the stillness that the power seemed to arise to deal with the crisis, and that very quickly brought it to a successful resolution. It was during this crisis I effectively learned that my “strength is to sit still.” Hannah Whitall Smith
There is a perfect passivity that is not laziness. It is a living stillness born of trust. Quiet tension is not trust but simply compressed anxiety.
Not in the turmoil of the raging storm,
Not in the earthquake or devouring flame;
But in the hush that could all fear transform,
The still, small whisper to the prophet came.
O Soul, keep silence on the mount of God,
Though cares and needs throb around you like a sea;
From prayers, petitions, and desires unshod,
Be still, and hear what God will say to thee.
All fellowship has interludes of rest,
New strength maturing in each level of power;
The sweetest Alleluias of the blest
Are silent, for the space of half an hour.
O rest, in utter quietude of soul,
Abandon words, leave prayer and praise awhile;
Let your whole being, hushed in His control,
Learn the full meaning of His voice and smile.
Not as an athlete wrestling for a crown,
Not taking Heaven by violence of will;
But with your Father as a child sit down,
And know the bliss that follows His “Be Still!”
Mary Rowles Jarvis
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)
The literal translation of this verse adds a startling emphasis to it, allowing it to speak for itself with power we have probably never realized. It is as follows: “Therefore I take pleasure in being without strength, being insulted, experiencing emergencies, and being chased and forced into a corner for Christ’s sake; for when I am without strength, I am dynamite.”
The secret of knowing God’s complete sufficiency is in coming to the end of everything in ourselves and our circumstances. Once we reach this point, we will stop seeking sympathy for our difficult situation or ill treatment, because we will recognize these things as the necessary conditions for blessings. We will then turn from our circumstances to God, realizing they are the evidence of Him working in our lives. A. B. Simpson
George Matheson, the well-known blind preacher of Scotland, once said, “My dear God, I have never thanked You for my thorns. I have thanked you a thousand times for my roses but not once for my thorns. I have always looked forward to the place where I will be rewarded for my cross, but I have never thought of my cross as a present glory itself.
“Teach me, O Lord, to glory in my cross. Teach me the value of my thorns. Show me how I have climbed to You through the path of pain. Show me it is through my tears I have seen my rainbows.”
Alas for him who never sees
The stars shine through the cypress trees.
Everything is against me! (Genesis 42:36)
All things God works for the good of those who love him. (Romans 8:28)
Many people are lacking when it comes to power. But how is power produced?
The other day, my friend and I were passing by the power plant that produces electricity for the streetcars. We heard the hum and roar of the countless wheels of the turbines, and I asked my friend, “How is the power produced?” He replied, “It simply is generated by the turning of those wheels and the friction they create. The rubbing produces the electric current.”
In a similar way, when God desires to create more power in your life, He creates more friction. He uses this pressure to generate spiritual power. Some people cannot handle it, and run from the pressure instead of receiving the power and using it to rise above the painful experience that produced it.
Opposition is essential to maintaining true balance between forces. It is the centripetal and centrifugal forces acting in opposition to each other that keep our planet in the proper orbit. The propelling action coupled with the repelling counteraction keep the earth in orbit around the sun instead of flinging it into space and a path of certain destruction.
God guides our lives in the same way. It is not enough to have only a propelling force. We need an equal repelling force, so He holds us back through the testing ordeals of life. The pressures of temptations and trials and all the things that seem to be against us further our progress and strengthen our foundation.
Let us thank Him for both the weights and the wings He produces. And realizing we are divinely propelled, let us press on with faith and patience in our high and heavenly calling. A. B. Simpson
In a factory building there are wheels and gearings,
There are cranks, pulleys, belts either tight or slack—
Some are whirling swiftly, some are turning slowly,
Some are thrusting forward, some are pulling back;
Some are smooth and silent, some are rough and noisy,
Pounding, rattling, clanking, moving with a jerk;
In a wild confusion in a seeming chaos,
Lifting, pushing, driving—but they do their work.
From the mightiest lever to the smallest cog or gear,
All things move together for the purpose planned;
And behind the working is a mind controlling,
And a force directing, and a guiding hand.
So all things are working for the Lord’s beloved;
Some things might be hurtful if alone they stood;
Some might seem to hinder; some might draw us backward;
But they work together, and they work for good,
All the thwarted longings, all the stern denials,
All the contradictions, hard to understand.
And the force that holds them, speeds them and retards them,
Stops and starts and guides them—is our Father’s hand.
Annie Johnson Flint
Tell me what charges you have against me. (Job 10:2)
O tested soul, perhaps the Lord is sending you through this trial to develop your gifts. You have some gifts that would never have been discovered if not for trials. Do you not know that your faith never appears as great in the warm summer weather as it does during a cold winter? Your love is all too often like a firefly, showing very little light except when surrounded by darkness. And hope is like the stars—unseen in the sunshine of prosperity and only discovered during a night of adversity. Afflictions are often the dark settings God uses to mount the jewels of His children’s gifts, causing them to shine even brighter.
Wasn’t it just a short time ago that on your knees you prayed, “Lord, I seem to have no faith. Please show me that I do”? Wasn’t your prayer, even though you may not have realized it at the time, actually asking for trials? For how can you know if you have faith, until your faith is exercised? You can depend upon the fact that God often sends trials so our gifts may be discovered and so we may be certain of their existence. And there is more than just discovering our gifts—we experience real growth in grace as another result of our trials being sanctified by Him.
God trains His soldiers not in tents of ease and luxury but by causing them to endure lengthy marches and difficult service. He makes them wade across streams, swim through rivers, climb mountains, and walk many tiring miles with heavy backpacks.
Dear Christian, could this not account for the troubles you are now experiencing? Could this not be the reason He is dealing with you? Charles H. Spurgeon
Being left alone by Satan is not evidence of being blessed.
What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. (Matthew 10:27)
Our Lord is constantly taking us into the dark in order to tell us something. It may be the darkness of a home where bereavement has drawn the blinds; the darkness of a lonely and desolate life, in which some illness has cut us off from the light and the activity of life; or the darkness of some crushing sorrow and disappointment.
It is there He tells us His secrets—great and wonderful, eternal and infinite. He causes our eyes, blinded by the glare of things on earth, to behold the heavenly constellations. And our ears suddenly detect even the whisper of His voice, which has been so often drowned out by the turmoil of earth’s loud cries.
Yet these revelations always come with a corresponding responsibility: “What I tell you . . . speak in the daylight . . . proclaim from the roofs. “We are not to linger in the darkness or stay in the closet. Soon we will be summoned to take our position in the turmoil and the storms of life. And when that moment comes, we are to speak and proclaim what we have learned.
This gives new meaning to suffering, the saddest part of which is often the apparent feeling of uselessness it causes. We tend to think, “How useless I am! What am I doing that is making a difference for others? Why is the ‘expensive perfume’ (John 12:3) of my soul being wasted?” These are the desperate cries of the sufferer, but God has a purpose in all of it. He takes His children to higher levels of fellowship so they may hear Him speaking “face to face, as a man speaks with his friend” (Ex. 33:11), and then deliver the message to those at the foot of the mountain. Were the forty days Moses spent on the mountain wasted? What about the time Elijah spent at Mount Horeb or the years Paul spent in Arabia?
There is no shortcut to a life of faith, which is an absolute necessity for a holy and victorious life. We must have periods of lonely meditation and fellowship with God. Our souls must have times of fellowship with Him on the mountain and experience valleys of quiet rest in the shadow of a great rock. We must spend some nights beneath the stars, when darkness has covered the things of earth, silenced the noise of human life, and expanded our view, revealing the infinite and the eternal. All these are as absolutely essential as food is for our bodies.
In this way alone can the sense of God’s presence become the unwavering possession of our souls, enabling us to continually say, as the psalmist once wrote, “You are near, O Lord” (Ps. 119:151). F. B. Meyer
Some hearts, like evening primroses, open more beautifully in the shadows of life.
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. (Luke 4:1–2)
Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit and yet was tempted. The strongest force of temptation often comes upon a person when he is closest to God. Someone once said, “The Devil aims high.” In fact, he caused one disciple to say he did not even know Christ.
Why is it that very few people have had as great a conflict with the Devil as Martin Luther had? It is because Martin Luther was shaking the very kingdom of hell itself. And remember the tremendous struggles John Bunyan had!
When a person has the fullness of the Spirit of God, he will experience great conflicts with the Tempter. God allows temptation because it does for us what storms do for oak trees, rooting us deeper, and it does for us what heat does for paint on porcelain, giving us long-lasting endurance.
You will never fully realize the level of strength of your grasp on Christ, or His grasp on you, until the Devil uses all his force to attract you to himself. It is then you will feel the tug of Christ’s right hand. selected
Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary sins but are sometimes the trials resulting from God’s extraordinary gifts. God uses many sharp-cutting instruments, and polishes His jewels with files that are rough. And those saints He especially loves, and desires to make shine the most brilliantly, will often feel His tools upon them. R. Leighton
I willingly bear witness to the fact that I owe more to my Lord’s fire, hammer, and file than to anything else in His workshop. Sometimes I wonder if I have ever learned anything except at the end of God’s rod. When my classroom is darkest, I see best. Charles H. Spurgeon
The hand of the Lord was upon me there, and he said to me, “Get up and go out to the plain, and there I will speak to you.” (Ezekiel 3:22)
Have you ever heard of anyone being greatly used by Christ who did not experience a special time of waiting, or a complete upset of his plans at first? From the apostle Paul’s being sent into the Arabian wilderness for three years—during which time he must have been overflowing with the Good News—down to the present day, it seems those who will be used will have a time of waiting. Have you been looking forward to telling about trusting Jesus, but instead He is asking you to show what trust is, by waiting?
My own experience is far less severe than Paul’s but reveals the same principle. Once when I thought the door was being thrown open for me to enter the literary field with a great opportunity, it was just as quickly shut. My doctor stepped in and simply said, “Never! You must choose between writing and living, for you cannot do both.” The year was 1860, and I did not come out of my shell of isolation with my book Ministry of Song until 1869. By then I saw the distinct wisdom of having been kept waiting for nine years in the shade.
God’s love is unchangeable, and He is just as loving even when we do not see or feel it. And His love and His sovereignty are equal and universal. Therefore He often withholds our enjoyment and awareness of our progress, because He knows best what will actually ripen and further His work in us. Frances Ridley Havergal
I laid it down in silence,
This work of mine,
And took what had been sent me—
A resting time.
The Master’s voice had called me
To rest apart;
“Apart with Jesus only,”
Echoed my heart.
I took the rest and stillness
From His own hand,
And felt this present illness
Was what He planned.
How often we choose labor,
When He says “Rest”—
Our ways are blind and crooked;
His way is best.
Work He Himself has given,
He will complete.
There may be other errands
For tired feet;
There may be other duties
For tired hands,
The present, is obedience
To His commands.
There is a blessed resting
In lying still,
In letting His hand mold us,
Just as He will.
His work must be completed.
His lesson set;
He is the Master Workman:
Do not forget!
It is not only “working.”
We must be trained;
And Jesus “learned” obedience,
Through suffering gained.
For us, His yoke is easy,
His burden light.
His discipline most needful,
And all is right.
We are to be His servants;
We never choose
If this tool or if that one
Our hands will use.
In working or in waiting
May we fulfill
Not ours at all, but only
The Master’s will!
God provides resting places as well as working places. So rest and be thankful when He brings you, tired and weary, to streams along the way.
The Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17)
It was “very early in the morning” (Luke 24:1), “while it was still dark” (John 20:1), that Jesus rose from the dead. Only the morning star, not the sun, shone down upon His tomb as it opened. Jerusalem’s shadows had not yet retreated, and its citizens were still asleep. Yes, it was still night, during the hours of darkness and sleep, when He arose, but His rising did not break the slumbering of the city.
And it will be during the darkness of the early morning, while only the morning star is shining, that Christ’s body— His church—will arise. Like Him, His saints will awake while the children of the night and darkness are still sleeping their slumber of death. Upon rising, the saints will disturb no one, and the world will not hear the voice that summons them. As quietly as Jesus has laid them to rest—each in their own silent grave, like children held in the arms of their mothers—He will just as quietly and gently awake them when the hour arrives. To each will come the life-giving words, “You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy” (Isa. 26:19). Into their graves the earliest ray of glory will find its way. The saints will soak up the first light of morning, while the clouds of the eastern sky will give only the faintest hints of the uprising. The gentle fragrance of the morning, along with its soothing stillness, invigorating freshness, sweet loneliness, and quiet purity—all so solemn and yet so full of hope—will be theirs.
Oh, how great the contrast between these blessings and the dark night through which they have just passed! Oh, how great the contrast between these blessings and the graves from which they have been freed! They will shake off the dirt of earth that once held them, flinging mortality aside, and will rise with glorified bodies “to meet the Lord in the air.” The light of “the bright Morning Star” (Rev. 22:16) will guide them upward along a brand-new path. The beams of that Star of the Morning will, like the star of Bethlehem, direct them to the presence of the King. “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Ps. 30:5). Horatius Bonar
While the hosts cry Hosanna, from heaven descending,
With glorified saints and the angels attending,
With grace on His brow, like a halo of glory,
Will Jesus receive His own.
“I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. Revelation 22:20
A soldier once said, “When I die, do not play taps over my grave. Instead, play reveille, the morning call, the summons to arise.”
I trust in your word. (Psalm 119:42)
The strength of our faith is in direct proportion to our level of belief that God will do exactly what He has promised. Faith has nothing to do with feelings, impressions, outward appearances, nor the probability or improbability of an event. If we try to couple these things with faith, we are no longer resting on the Word of God, because faith is not dependent on them. Faith rests on the pure Word of God alone. And when we take Him at His Word, our hearts are at peace.
God delights in causing us to exercise our faith. He does so to bless us individually, to bless the church at large, and as a witness to unbelievers. Yet we tend to retreat from the exercising of our faith instead of welcoming it. When trials come, our response should be, “My heavenly Father has placed this cup of trials into my hands so I may later have something pleasant.”
Trials are the food of faith. Oh, may we leave ourselves in the hands of our heavenly Father! It is the joy of His heart to do good to all His children. Yet trials and difficulties are not the only way faith is exercised and thereby increased. Reading the Scriptures also acquaints us with God as He has revealed Himself in them.
Are you able to genuinely say, from your knowledge of God and your relationship with Him, that He is indeed a beautiful Being? If not, let me graciously encourage you to ask God to take you to that point, so you will fully appreciate His gentleness and kindness, so you will be able to say just how good He is, and so you will know what a delight it is to God’s heart to do good for His children.
The closer we come to this point in our inner being, the more willing we are to leave ourselves in His hands and the more satisfied we are with all of His dealings with us. Then when trials come, we will say, “I will patiently wait to see the good God will do in my life, with the calm assurance He will do it.”
In this way, we will bear a worthy testimony to the world and thereby strengthen the lives of others. George Mueller
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. (Hebrews 11:8)
Abraham “did not know where he was going”—it simply was enough for him to know he went with God. He did not lean as much on the promises as he did on the Promiser. And he did not look at the difficulties of his circumstances but looked to His King—the eternal, limitless, invisible, wise, and only God—who had reached down from His throne to direct his path and who would certainly prove Himself.
O glorious faith! Your works and possibilities are these: contentment to set sail with the orders still sealed, due to unwavering confidence in the wisdom of the Lord High Admiral; and a willingness to get up, leave everything, and follow Christ, because of the joyful assurance that earth’s best does not compare with heaven’s least. F. B. Meyer
In no way is it enough to set out cheerfully with God on any venture of faith. You must also be willing to take your ideas of what the journey will be like and tear them into tiny pieces, for nothing on the itinerary will happen as you expect.
Your Guide will not keep to any beaten path. He will lead you through ways you would never have dreamed your eyes would see. He knows no fear, and He expects you to fear nothing while He is with you.
The day had gone; alone and weak
I groped my way within a bleak
And sunless land.
The path that led into the light
I could not find! In that dark night
God took my hand.
He led me that I might not stray,
And brought me by a safe, new way
I had not known.
By waters still, through pastures green
I followed Him—the path was clean
Of briar and stone.
The heavy darkness lost its strength,
My waiting eyes beheld at length
The streaking dawn.
On, safely on, through sunrise glow
I walked, my hand in His, and lo,
The night had gone.
Annie Porter Johnson
The hand of the Lord has done this. (Job 12:9)
A number of years ago the most magnificent diamond in the history of the world was found in an African mine. It was then presented to the king of England to embellish his crown of state. The king sent it to Amsterdam to be cut by an expert stonecutter. Can you imagine what he did with it?
He took this gem of priceless value and cut a notch in it. Then he struck it one hard time with his hammer, and the majestic jewel fell into his hand, broken in two. What recklessness! What wastefulness! What criminal carelessness!
Actually, that is not the case at all. For you see, that one blow with the hammer had been studied and planned for days, and even weeks. Drawings and models had been made of the gem. Its quality, defects, and possible lines along which it would split had all been studied to the smallest detail. And the man to whom it was entrusted was one of the most skilled stonecutters in the world.
Now do you believe that blow was a mistake? No, it was the capstone and the culmination of the stonecutter’s skill. When he struck that blow, he did the one thing that would bring that gem to its most perfect shape, radiance, and jeweled splendor. The blow that seemed to be the ruin of the majestic precious stone was actually its perfect redemption, for from the halves were fashioned two magnificent gems. Only the skilled eye of the expert stonecutter could have seen the beauty of two diamonds hidden in the rough, uncut stone as it came from the mine.
Sometimes, in the same way, God lets a stinging blow fall on your life. You bleed, feeling the pain, and your soul cries out in agony. At first you think the blow is an appalling mistake. But it is not, for you are the most precious jewel in the world to God. And He is the most skilled stonecutter in the universe.
Someday you are to be a jewel adorning the crown of the King. As you lie in His hand now, He knows just how to deal with you. Not one blow will be permitted to fall on your apprehensive soul except what the love of God allows. And you may be assured that from the depths of the experience, you will see untold blessings, and spiritual enrichment you have never before imagined. J. H. M.
In one of George MacDonald’s books, one of the characters makes this bitter statement: “I wonder why God made me. I certainly don’t see any purpose in it!” Another of the characters responds, “Perhaps you don’t see any purpose yet, but then, He isn’t finished making you. And besides, you are arguing with the process.”
If people would only believe they are still in the process of creation, submit to the Maker, allowing Him to handle them as the potter handles clay, and yield themselves in one shining, deliberate action to the turning of His wheel, they would soon find themselves able to welcome every pressure from His hand on them, even if it results in pain. And sometimes they should not only believe but also have God’s purpose in sight: “bringing many sons to glory” (Heb. 2:10).
Not a single blow can hit,
Till the God of love sees fit.
He will do this. (Psalm 37:5)
I once believed that after I prayed, it was my responsibility to do everything in my power to bring about the answer. Yet God taught me a better way and showed me that self-effort always hinders His work. He also revealed that when I prayed and had confident trust in Him for something, He simply wanted me to wait in an attitude of praise and do only what He told me. Sitting still, doing nothing except trusting in the Lord, causes a feeling of uncertainty, and there is often a tremendous temptation to take the battle into our own hands.
We all know how difficult it is to rescue a drowning person who tries to help his rescuer, and it is equally difficult for the Lord to fight our battles for us when we insist upon trying to fight them ourselves. It is not that God will not but that He cannot, for our interference hinders His work. C. H. P.
Spiritual forces cannot work while we are trusting earthly forces.
Often we fail to give God an opportunity to work, not realizing that it takes time for Him to answer prayer. It takes time for God to color a rose or to grow a great oak tree. And it takes time for Him to make bread from wheat fields. He takes the soil, then grinds and softens it. He enriches it and wets it with rain showers and with dew. Then He brings the warmth of life to the small blade of grass, later grows the stalk and the amber grain, and finally provides bread for the hungry.
All this takes time. Therefore we sow the seed, till the ground, and then wait and trust until God’s purpose has been fulfilled. We understand this principle when it comes to planting a field, and we need to learn the same lesson regarding our prayer life. It takes time for God to answer prayer. J. H. M.
Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. (Exodus 14:13)
This verse contains God’s command to me as a believer for those times when I am confronted with dire circumstances and extraordinary difficulties. What am I to do when I cannot retreat or go forward and my way is blocked to the right and to the left?
The Master’s word to me is, “Stand firm.” And the best thing I can do at these times is to listen only to my Master’s word, for others will come to me with their suggestions and evil advice. Despair will come, whispering, “Give up—lie down and die.” But even in the worst of times, God would have me be cheerful and courageous, rejoicing in His love and faithfulness.
Cowardice will come and say, “You must retreat to the world’s ways of acting. It is too difficult for you to continue living the part of a Christian. Abandon your principles.” Yet no matter how much Satan may pressure me to follow his course, I cannot, for I am a child of God. The Lord’s divine decree has commanded me to go from “strength to strength” (Ps. 84:7). Therefore I will, and neither death nor hell will turn me from my course. And if for a season He calls me to “stand firm,” I will acknowledge it as time to renew my strength for greater strides in the future.
Impatience will come, crying, “Get up and do something! To ‘stand firm’ and wait is sheer idleness.” Why is it I think I must be doing something right now instead of looking to the Lord? He will not only do something—He will do everything.
Arrogance will come, boasting, “If the sea is blocking your way, march right into it and expect a miracle.” Yet true faith never listens to arrogance, impatience, cowardice, or despair but only hears God saying, “Stand firm.” And then it stands as immovable as a rock.
“Stand firm.” I must maintain the posture of one who stands, ready for action, expecting further orders, and cheerfully and patiently awaiting the Director’s voice. It will not be long until God will say to me, as distinctly as He told Moses to tell the children of Israel, “Move on” (Ex. 14:15). Charles H. Spurgeon
Be quiet! Why this anxious heed
About your tangled ways?
God knows them all. He gives you speed
And He allows delays.
It’s good for you to walk by faith
And not by sight.
Take it on trust a little while.
Soon will you read the mystery aright
In the full sunshine of His smile.
In times of uncertainty—wait. If you have any doubt—wait, never forcing yourself into action. If you sense any restraint in your spirit, do not go against it—wait until the way is clear.
“Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty. (Zechariah 4:6)
Once as I walked along the road on a steep hill, I caught sight of a boy on a bicycle near the bottom. He was pedaling uphill against the wind and was obviously working tremendously hard. Just as he was exerting the greatest effort and painfully doing the best he could do, a streetcar, also going up the hill, approached him. It was not traveling too fast for the boy to grab hold of a rail at the rear, and I am sure you can guess the result. He went up the hill as effortlessly as a bird gliding through the sky.
This thought then flashed through my mind: “I am like that boy on the bicycle in my weariness and weakness. I am pedaling uphill against all kinds of opposition and am almost worn out with the task. But nearby there is great power available— the strength of the Lord Jesus. All I must do is get in touch with Him and maintain communication with Him. And even if I grab hold with only one little finger of faith, it will be enough to make His power mine to accomplish the act of service that now overwhelms me.”
Seeing this boy on his bicycle helped me to set aside my weariness and to recognize this great truth. from The Life of Fuller Purpose
Utterly abandoned to the Holy Ghost!
Seeking all His fullness, whatever the cost;
Cutting all the moorings, launching in the deep
Of His mighty power—strong to save and keep.
Utterly abandoned to the Holy Ghost!
Oh! The sinking, sinking, until self is lost!
Until the emptied vessel lies broken at His feet;
Waiting till His filling shall make the work complete.
Utterly abandoned to the will of God;
Seeking for no other path than my Master trod;
Leaving ease and pleasure, making Him my choice,
Waiting for His guidance, listening for His voice.
Utterly abandoned! No will of my own;
For time and for eternity, His, and His alone;
All my plans and purposes lost in His sweet will,
Having nothing, yet in Him all things possessing still.
Utterly abandoned! It’s so sweet to be
Captive in His bonds of love, yet wondrously free;
Free from sin’s entanglements, free from doubt and fear,
Free from every worry, burden, grief, or care.
Utterly abandoned! Oh, the rest is sweet,
As I tarry, waiting, at His blessed feet;
Waiting for the coming of the Guest divine,
Who my inmost being will perfectly refine.
Lo! He comes and fills me, Holy Spirit sweet!
I, in Him, am satisfied! I, in Him, complete!
And the light within my soul will nevermore grow dim
While I keep my covenant—abandoned unto Him!
He did not waver . . . regarding the promise . . . , being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. (Romans 4:20 – 21)
Scripture tells us that Abraham, “without weakening in his faith, . . . faced the fact that his body was as good as dead” (v. 19). He was not discouraged, because he was not looking at himself but at almighty God. “He did not waver ... regarding the promise” but stood straight, not bending beneath the staggering load of God’s blessing. Instead of growing weak, his faith grew stronger, exhibiting more power, even as more difficulties became apparent. Abraham glorified God for His complete sufficiency and was “fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”
The literal translation of this passage from the Greek expresses the thought in this way: God is not merely able but abundantly able, bountifully and generously able, with an infinite surplus of resources, and eternally able “to do what he had promised.”
He is the God of limitless resources—the only limit comes from us. Our requests, our thoughts, and our prayers are too small, and our expectations are too low. God is trying to raise our vision to a higher level, call us to have greater expectations, and thereby bring us to greater appropriation. Shall we continue living in a way that mocks His will and denies His Word?
There is no limit to what we may ask and expect of our glorious El Shaddai—our almighty God. And there is no way for us to measure His blessing, for He is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Eph. 3:20). A. B. Simpson
The way to find God’s treasure-house of blessing is to climb the ladder of His divine promises. Those promises are the key that opens the door to the riches of God’s grace and favor.
He knows the way that I take. (Job 23:10)
O believer, what a glorious assurance this verse is! What confidence I have because “the way that I take”—this way of trials and tears, however winding, hidden, or tangled—“He knows”! When the “furnace [is] heated seven times hotter than usual” (Dan. 3:19), I can know He still lights my way. There is an almighty Guide who knows and directs my steps, whether they lead to the bitter water at the well of Marah or to the joy and refreshment of the oasis at Elim (see Ex. 15:23, 27).
The way is dark to the Egyptians yet has its own pillar of cloud and fire for God’s Israel. The furnace may be hot, but not only can I trust the hand that lights the fire, I can also have the assurance the fire will not consume but only refine. And when the refining process is complete, not a moment too soon or too late, “I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).
When I feel God is the farthest away, He is often the nearest to me. “When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way” (Ps. 142:3). Do we know of another who shines brighter than the most radiant sunlight, who meets us in our room with the first waking light, who has an infinitely tender and compassionate watchfulness over us throughout our day, and who “knows the way that [we] take”?
The world, during a time of adversity, speaks of “providence” with a total lack of understanding. They dethrone God, who is the living, guiding Sovereign of the universe, to some inanimate, dead abstraction. What they call “providence” they see as occurrences of fate, reducing God from His position as our acting, powerful, and personal Jehovah.
The pain would be removed from many an agonizing trial if only I could see what Job saw during his time of severe affliction, when all earthly hope lay dashed at his feet. He saw nothing but the hand of God—God’s hand behind the swords of the Sabeans who attacked his servants and cattle, and behind the devastating lightning; God’s hand giving wings to the mighty desert winds, which swept away his children; and God’s hand in the dreadful silence of his shattered home.
Thus, seeing God in everything, Job could say, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21). Yet his faith reached its zenith when this once powerful prince of the desert “sat among the ashes” (Job 2:8) and still could say, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15). J. R. Macduff
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. (Psalm 138:7)
The Hebrew of this verse literally means to “go on in the center of trouble.” What descriptive words! And once we have called on God during our time of trouble, pleaded His promise of deliverance but not received it, and continued to be oppressed by the Enemy until we are in the very thick of the battle—or the “center of trouble”—others may tell us, “Don’t bother the teacher any more” (Luke 8:49).
When Martha said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21), Jesus countered her lack of hope with His greater promise, “Your brother will rise again” (John 11:23). And when we walk “in the center of trouble” and are tempted to think, like Martha, that we are past the point of ever being delivered, our Lord also answers us with a promise from His Word: “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life.”
Although His answer seems so long in coming and we continue to “walk in the midst of trouble,” “the center of trouble” is the place where He preserves us, not the place where He fails us. The times we continue to walk in seemingly utter hopelessness are the very times He will “stretch out [His] hand against the anger of [our] foes” (Ps. 138:7). He will bring our trouble to completion, causing the Enemy’s attack to cease and to fail.
In light of this, what reason would there ever be for despair? Aphra White
The Eye of the Storm
Fear not that the whirlwind will carry you hence,
Nor wait for its onslaught in breathless suspense,
Nor shrink from the blight of the terrible hail,
But pass through the edge to the heart of the tale,
For there is a shelter, sunlighted and warm,
And Faith sees her God through the eye of the storm.
The passionate tempest with rush and wild roar
And threatenings of evil may beat on the shore,
The waves may be mountains, the fields battle plains,
And the earth be immersed in a deluge of rains,
Yet, the soul, stayed on God, may sing bravely its psalm,
For the heart of the storm is the center of calm.
Let hope be not quenched in the blackness of night,
Though the cyclone awhile may have blotted the light,
For behind the great darkness the stars ever shine,
And the light of God’s heavens, His love will make thine,
Let no gloom dim your eyes, but uplift them on high
To the face of your God and the blue of His sky.
The storm is your shelter from danger and sin,
And God Himself takes you for safety within;
The tempest with Him passes into deep calm,
And the roar of the winds is the sound of a psalm.
Be glad and serene when the tempest clouds form;
God smiles on His child in the eye of the storm.
Faith is being . . . certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)
Genuine faith puts its letter in the mailbox and let’s go. Distrust, however, holds on to a corner of the envelope and then wonders why the answer never arrives. There are some letters on my desk that I wrote weeks ago, but I have yet to mail them because of my uncertainty over the address or the contents. Those letters have not done any good for me or anyone else at this point. And they never will accomplish anything until I let go of them, trusting them to the postal service.
It is the same with genuine faith. It hands its circumstance over to God, allowing Him to work. Psalm 37:5 is a great confirmation of this: “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this.” He will never work until we commit. Faith is receiving—or even more, actually appropriating—the gifts God offers us. We may believe in Him, come to Him, commit to Him, and rest in Him, but we will never fully realize all our blessings until we begin to receive from Him and come to Him having the spirit of abiding and appropriating. from Days of Heaven upon Earth
Dr. Payson, while still a young man, once wrote to an elderly mother who was extremely worried and burdened over the condition of her son. He wrote,
You are worrying too much about him. Once you have prayed for him, as you have done, and committed him to God, you should not continue to be anxious. God’s command, “Do not be anxious about anything” (Phil. 4:6), is unlimited, and so is the verse, “Cast all your anxiety on him” (1 Peter 5:7). If we truly have cast our burdens upon another, can they continue to pressure us? If we carry them with us from the throne of grace, it is obvious we have not left them there. In my own life I test my prayers in this way: after committing something to God, if I can come away, like Hannah did, with no more sadness, pain, or anxiety in my heart, I see it as proof that I have prayed the prayer of faith. But if I pray and then still carry my burden, I conclude my faith was not exercised.
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb. (Matthew 27:61)
Oh, how slow grief is to come to understanding! Grief is ignorant and does not even care to learn. When the grieving women “were sitting there opposite the tomb,” did they see the triumph of the next two thousand years? Did they see anything except that Christ was gone?
The Christ you and I know today came from their loss. Countless mourning hearts have since seen resurrection in the midst of their grief, and yet these sorrowing women watched at the beginning of this result and saw nothing. What they regarded as the end of life was actually the preparation for coronation, for Christ remained silent that He might live again with tenfold power.
They did not see it. They mourned, wept, went away, and then came again to the sepulcher, driven by their broken hearts. And still it was only a tomb—unprophetic, voiceless, and drab.
It is the same with us. Each of us sits “opposite the tomb” in our own garden and initially says, “This tragedy is irreparable. I see no benefit in it and will take no comfort in it.” And yet right in the midst of our deepest and worst adversities, our Christ is often just lying there, waiting to be resurrected.
Our Savior is where our death seems to be. At the end of our hope, we find the brightest beginning of fulfillment. Where darkness seems the deepest, the most radiant light is set to emerge. And once the experience is complete, we find our garden is not disfigured by the tomb.
Our joys are made better when sorrow is in the midst of them. And our sorrows become bright through the joys God has planted around them. At first the flowers of the garden may not appear to be our favorites, but we will learn that they are the flowers of the heart. The flowers planted at the grave deep within the Christian heart are love, hope, faith, joy, and peace.
’Twas by a path of sorrows drear
Christ entered into rest;
And shall I look for roses here,
Or think that earth is blessed?
Heaven’s whitest lilies blow
From earth’s sharp crown of woe:
Who here his cross can meekly bear,
Shall wear the kingly purple there.
I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Philippians 3:8)
Light is always costly and comes at the expense of that which produces it. An unlit candle does not shine, for burning must come before the light. And we can be of little use to others without a cost to ourselves. Burning suggests suffering, and we try to avoid pain.
We tend to feel we are doing the greatest good in the world when we are strong and fit for active duty and when our hearts and hands are busy with kind acts of service. Therefore when we are set aside to suffer, when we are sick, when we are consumed with pain, and when all our activities have been stopped, we feel we are no longer of any use and are accomplishing nothing.
Yet if we will be patient and submissive, it is almost certain we will be a greater blessing to the world around us during our time of suffering and pain than we were when we thought we were doing our greatest work. Then we are burning, and shining brightly as a result of the fire. from Evening Thoughts
The glory of tomorrow is rooted in the drudgery of today.
Many people want the glory without the cross, and the shining light without the burning fire, but crucifixion comes before coronation.
Have you heard the tale of the aloe plant,
Away in the sunny clime?
By humble growth of a hundred years
It reaches its blooming time;
And then a wondrous bud at its crown
Breaks into a thousand flowers;
This floral queen, in its blooming seen,
Is the pride of the tropical bowers,
But the flower to the plant is sacrifice,
For it blooms but once, and it dies.
Have you further heard of the aloe plant,
That grows in the sunny clime;
How every one of its thousand flowers,
As they drop in the blooming time,
Is an infant plant that fastens its roots
In the place where it falls on the ground,
And as fast as they drop from the dying stem,
Grow lively and lovely all ’round?
By dying, it liveth a thousandfold
In the young that spring from the death of the old.
Have you heard the tale of the pelican,
The Arabs’ Gimel el Bahr,
That lives in the African solitudes,
Where the birds that live lonely are?
Have you heard how it loves its tender young,
And cares and toils for their good,
It brings them water from mountains far,
And fishes the seas for their food.
In famine it feeds them—what love can devise!
The blood of its bosom—and, feeding them, dies.
Have you heard this tale—the best of them all—
The tale of the Holy and True,
He dies, but His life, in untold souls
Lives on in the world anew;
His seed prevails, and is filling the earth,
As the stars fill the sky above.
He taught us to yield up the love of life,
For the sake of the life of love.
His death is our life, His loss is our gain;
The joy for the tear, the peace for the pain.
I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! (Revelation 1:18)
Flowers! Easter lilies! Speak to me this morning the same sweet lesson of immortality you have been speaking to so many sorrowing souls for years. Wise old Book! Let me read again in your pages the steady assurance that “to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). Poets! Recite for me your verses that resound the gospel of eternal life in every line. Singers! Break forth once more into hymns of joy—let me hear again my favorite resurrection songs.
Trees, blossoms, and birds; and seas, skies, and winds—whisper it, sound it anew, sing it, echo it, let it beat and resonate through every atom and particle on earth, and let the air be filled with it. Let it be told and retold again and again, until hope rises to become conviction, and conviction becomes the certainty of knowing. Let it be told until, like Paul, even when we face our death, we will go triumphantly, with our faith secure and a peaceful and radiant expression on our face.
O sad-faced mourners, who each day are wending
Through churchyard paths of cypress and of yew,
Leave for today the low graves you are tending,
And lift your eyes to God’s eternal blue!
It is no time for bitterness or sadness;
Choose Easter lilies, not pale asphodels;
Let your souls thrill to the caress of gladness,
And answer the sweet chime of Easter bells.
If Christ were still within the grave’s low prison,
A captive of the Enemy we dread;
If from that rotting cell He had not risen,
Who then could dry the gloomy tears you shed?
If Christ were dead there would be need to sorrow,
But He has risen and vanquished death today;
Hush, then your sighs, if only till tomorrow,
At Easter give your grief a holiday.
May Riley Smith
A well-known preacher was once in his study writing an Easter sermon when this thought gripped him: “My Lord is living!” With excitement he jumped up, paced the floor, and began repeating to himself, “Christ is alive. His body is warm. He is not the great ‘I was’ but the great ‘I am.’”
Christ is not only a fact but a living fact. He is the glorious truth of Easter Day!
Because of that truth, an Easter lily blooms and an angel sits at every believer’s grave. We believe in a risen Lord, so do not look to the past to worship only at His tomb. Look above and within to worship the Christ who lives. Because He lives, we live. Abbott Benjamin Vaughan
When they cried out to the Lord, he raised up for them a deliverer, Othniel ..., Caleb’s younger brother, who saved them. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him. (Judges 3:9–10)
God is continually preparing His heroes, and when the opportunity is right, He puts them into position in an instant. He works so fast, the world wonders where they came from.
Dear friend, let the Holy Spirit prepare you, through the discipline of life. And when the finishing touch has been made on the sculpture, it will be easy for God to put you on display in the perfect place.
The day is coming when, like Othniel, we will also judge the nations and will rule and reign with Christ on earth during His millennial kingdom. But before that glorious day, we must allow God to prepare us, as He did Othniel at Kiriath Sepher (see Judg. 1:11–13). We must allow God to work amid our present trials and in the little victories, the future significance of which we can only imagine. Yet we can be sure that if the Holy Spirit has His way with us, the Lord of heaven and earth has also prepared for us a throne. A. B. Simpson
Human strength and human greatness
Spring not from life’s sunny side,
Heroes must be more than driftwood
Floating on a waveless tide.
Every highway of life descends into the valley now and then. And everyone must go through the tunnel of tribulation before they can travel on the high road of triumph.
Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly. (James 5:17)
Thank God Elijah was “just like us”! He sat under a tree, complained to God, and expressed his unbelief—just as we have often done. Yet this was not the case at all when he was truly in touch with God. “Elijah was a man just like us,” yet “he prayed earnestly.” The literal meaning of this in the Greek is magnificent: instead of saying, “earnestly,” it says, “He prayed in prayer.” In other words, “He kept on praying.” The lesson here is that you must keep praying.
Climb to the top of Mount Carmel and see that great story of faith and sight. After Elijah had called down fire from heaven to defeat the prophets of Baal, rain was needed for God’s prophecy to be fulfilled. And the man who could command fire from heaven could bring rain using the same methods. We are told, “Elijah . . . bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees” (1 Kings 18:42), shutting out all sights and sounds. He put himself in a position, beneath his robe, to neither see nor hear what was happening.
Elijah then said to his servant, “Go and look toward the sea” (1 Kings 18:43). Upon returning, the servant replied, “There is nothing there.” How brief his response must have seemed! “Nothing!” Can you imagine what we would do under the same circumstances? We would say, “Just as I expected!” and then would stop praying. But did Elijah give up? No. In fact, six times he told his servant, “Go back.” Each time the servant returned saying, “Nothing!”
Yet “the seventh time the servant reported, ‘A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea’” (1 Kings 18:44). What a fitting description, for a man’s hand had been raised in prayer to God before the rains came. And the rains came so fast and furiously that Elijah warned Ahab to “go down before the rain stops you.”
This is a story of faith and sight—faith cutting itself off from everything except God, with sight that looks and yet sees nothing. Yes, in spite of utterly hopeless reports received from sight, this is a story of faith that continues “praying in prayer.”
Do you know how to pray in that way—how to prevail in prayer? Let your sight bring you reports as discouraging as possible, but pay no attention to them. Our heavenly Father lives, and even the delays of answers to our prayers are part of His goodness. Arthur Tappan Pierson
Each of three young boys once gave a definition of faith that illustrates the important aspect of tenacity. The first boy defined faith as “taking hold of Christ,” the second as “keeping our hold on Him,” and the third as “not letting go of Him.”
The cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows.... The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. (Genesis 41:4, 7)
This dream should be a warning to each of us. Yes, it is possible for the best years of our life, the best experiences we have enjoyed, the best victories we have won, and the best service we have rendered, to be swallowed up by times of failure, defeat, dishonor, and uselessness in God’s kingdom. Some people whose lives offered exceptional promise and achievement have come to such an end. It is certainly terrible to imagine, but it is true. Yet it is never necessary.
Samuel Dickey Gordon once said that the only safe assurance against such a tragedy is to have a “fresh touch with God daily—or even hourly.” My blessed, fruitful, and victorious experiences of yesterday have no lingering value to me today. In fact, they can be “swallowed up” or reversed by today’s failures, unless I see them as incentives to spur me on to even better and richer experiences today.
Maintaining this “fresh touch with God,” by abiding in Christ, will be the only thing to keep the “ugly and gaunt . . . cows” and the “thin heads of grain” from consuming my life. from Messages for the Morning Watch