Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what he has made crooked? (Ecclesiastes 7:13)
God often seems to place His children in places of deep difficulty, leading them into a corner from which there is no escape. He creates situations that human judgment, even if consulted, would never allow. Yet the cloudiness of the circumstance itself is used by Him to guide us to the other side. Perhaps this is where you find yourself even now.
Your situation is filled with uncertainty and is very serious, but it is perfectly right. The reason behind it will more than justify Him who brought you here, for it is a platform from which God will display His almighty grace and power.
He not only will deliver you but in doing so will impart a lesson that you will never forget. And in days to come, you will return to the truth of it through singing. You will be unable to ever thank God enough for doing exactly what He has done. selected
We may wait till He explains,
Because we know that Jesus reigns.
It puzzles me; but, Lord,You understandest,
And will one day explain this crooked thing.
Meanwhile, I know that it has worked out Your best—
Its very crookedness taught me to cling.
You have fenced up my ways, made my paths crooked,
To keep my wand’ring eyes fixed on You,
To make me what I was not, humble, patient;
To draw my heart from earthly love to You.
So I will thank and praise You for this puzzle,
And trust where I cannot understand.
Rejoicing You do hold me worth such testing,
I cling the closer to Your guiding hand.
F. E. M. I.
Be ready in the morning, and then come up.... Present yourself to me there on top of the mountain. No one is to come with you. (Exodus 34:2–3)
The morning is a critically important time of day. You must never face the day until you have faced God, nor look into the face of others until you have looked into His. You cannot expect to be victorious, if you begin your day in your own strength alone.
Begin the work of every day after having been influenced by a few reflective, quiet moments between your heart and God. Do not meet with others, even the members of your own family, until you have first met with the great Guest and honored Companion of your life—Jesus Christ.
Meet with Him alone and regularly, having His Book of counsel open before you. Then face the ordinary, and the unique, responsibilities of each day with the renewed influence and control of His character over all your actions.
Begin the day with God!
He is your Sun and Day!
His is the radiance of your dawn;
To Him address your day.
Sing a new song at morn!
Join the glad woods and hills;
Join the fresh winds and seas and plains,
Join the bright flowers and rills.
Sing your first song to God!
Not to your fellow men;
Not to the creatures of His hand,
But to the glorious One.
Take your first walk with God!
Let Him go forth with thee;
By stream, or sea, or mountain path,
Seek still His company.
Your first transaction be
With God Himself above;
So will your business prosper well,
All the day be love.
Those who have accomplished the most for God in this world are those who have been found on their knees early in the morning. For example, Matthew Henry would spend from four to eight o’clock each morning in his study. Then, after breakfast and a time of family prayer, he would return to his study until noon. After lunch, he would write till four p.m. and then spend the remainder of the day visiting friends.
Philip Doddridge referred to his Family Expositor as an example of the difference of rising at five o’clock, as opposed to seven. He realized that increasing his workday by twenty-five percent was the equivalent of adding ten work years to his life over a period of forty years.
Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible was penned primarily in the early morning hours. Barnes’ Notes, a popular and useful commentary by Albert Barnes, was also the fruit of the early morning. And Charles Simeon’s Sketches were mostly written between four and eight a.m.
The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. (Mark 9:26)
Evil never surrenders its grasp without a tremendous fight. We never arrive at any spiritual inheritance through the enjoyment of a picnic but always through the fierce conflicts of the battlefield. And it is the same in the deep recesses of the soul. Every human capacity that wins its spiritual freedom does so at the cost of blood. Satan is not put to flight by our courteous request. He completely blocks our way, and our progress must be recorded in blood and tears. We need to remember this, or else we will be held responsible for the arrogance of misinterpretation. When we are born again, it is not into a soft and protected nursery but into the open countryside, where we actually draw our strength from the distress of the storm. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). John Henry Jowett
Faith of our Fathers! living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword:
Oh, how our hearts beat high with joy
Whene’er we hear that glorious word.
Faith of our Fathers! Holy Faith!
We will be true to Thee till death!
Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,
Were still in heart of conscience free;
How sweet would be their children’s fate,
If they, like them, could die for Thee!
Imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. (Hebrews 6:12)
The biblical heroes of faith call to us from the heights they have won, encouraging us that what man once did, man can do again. They remind us not only of the necessity of faith but also of the patience required for faith’s work to be perfected. May we fear attempting to remove ourselves from the hands of our heavenly Guide, or missing even one lesson of His loving discipline due to our discouragement or doubt.
An old village blacksmith once said, “There is only one thing I fear: being thrown onto the scrap heap. You see, in order to strengthen a piece of steel, I must first temper it. I heat it, hammer it, and then quickly plunge it into a bucket of cold water. Very soon I know whether it will accept the tempering process or simply fall to pieces. If, after one or two tests, I see it will not allow itself to be tempered, I throw it onto the scrap heap, only to later sell it to the junkman for a few cents per pound.
“I realize the Lord tests me in the same way: through fire, water, and heavy blows of His hammer. If I am unwilling to withstand the test, or prove to be unfit for His tempering
process, I am afraid He may throw me onto the scrap heap.” When the fire in your life is the hottest, stand still, for “later on ... it produces a harvest” (Heb. 12:11) of blessings. Then we will be able to say with Job, “When he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). selected
Sainthood finds its source in suffering. Remember, it requires eleven tons of pressure on a piano’s strings for it to be tuned.
And God will tune you to perfect harmony with heaven’s theme if you will withstand the strain.
Things that hurt and things that mar
Shape the man for perfect praise;
Shock and strain and ruin are
Friendlier than the smiling days.
We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. (Hebrews 3:14)
Often the last step is the winning step. In Pilgrim’s Progress the greatest number of dangers were lurking in the area closest to the gates of the Celestial City. It was in that region the Doubting Castle stood. And it was there the enchanted ground lured the tired traveler to fatal slumber. It is when heaven’s heights are in full view that the gates of hell are the most persistent and full of deadly peril. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9). “Run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Cor. 9:24).
In the bitter waves of woe
Beaten and tossed about
By the sullen winds that blow
From the desolate shores of doubt,
Where the anchors that faith has cast
Are dragging in the gale,
I am quietly holding fast
To the things that cannot fail.
And fierce though the fiends may fight,
And long though the angels hide,
I know that truth and right
Have the universe on their side;
And that somewhere beyond the stars
Is a love that is better than fate.
When the night unlocks her bars
I will see Him—and I will wait.
The greatest challenge in receiving great things from God is holding on for the last half hour. selected
We had hoped. (Luke 24:21)
I have always been so sorry that the two disciples walking with Jesus on the road to Emmaus did not say to Him, “We still hope” instead of “We had hoped.” The situation is very sad, because in their minds it is over.
Oh, if only they had said, “Everything has come against our hope, and it looks as if our trust were in vain. Yet we will not give up, because we believe we will see Him again.” Instead, they walked by His side, declaring their shattered faith. Jesus had to say to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe!” (Luke 24:25).
Are we not in danger of having these same words said to us? We can afford to lose every possession we have, except our faith in the God of truth and love. May we never express our faith, as these disciples did, in the past tense—“We had hoped.” Yet may we always say, “I have hope.” from Crumbs
The soft, sweet summer was warm and glowing,
Bright were the blossoms on every bough:
I trusted Him when the roses were blooming;
I trust Him now....
Small was my faith should it weakly falter
Now that the roses have ceased to blow;
Frail was the trust that now should alter,
Doubting His love when storm clouds grow.
The Song of a Bird in a Winter Storm
We were harassed at every turn. (2 Corinthians 7:5)
Why is it that God leads us in this way, allowing such strong and constant pressure on us? One of His purposes is to show us His all-sufficient strength and grace more effectively than if we were free from difficulties and trials. “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Cor. 4:7).
Another purpose is to bring us a greater awareness of our dependence upon Him. God is constantly trying to teach us how dependent we are on Him—that we are held completely by His hand and reliant on His care alone.
This is exactly where Jesus Himself stood and where He desires us to stand. We must stand not with self-made strength but always leaning upon Him. And our stand must exhibit a trust that would never dare to take even one step alone. This will teach us to trust Him more.
There is no way to learn of faith except through trials. They are God’s school of faith, and it is much better for us to learn to trust Him than to live a life of enjoyment. And once the lesson of faith has been learned, it is an everlasting possession and an eternal fortune gained. Yet without trust in God, even great riches will leave us in poverty. from Days of Heaven upon Earth
Why must I weep when others sing?
“To test the deeps of suffering.”
Why must I work while others rest?
“To spend my strength at God’s request.”
Why must I lose while others gain?
“To understand defeat’s sharp pain.”
Why must this lot of life be mine
When that which fairer seems is thine?
“Because God knows what plans for me
Will blossom in eternity.”
Do as you promised . . . that your name will be great forever. (1 Chronicles 17:23–24)
This is one of the most blessed aspects of genuine prayer. Often we ask for things that God has not specifically promised. Therefore we are not sure if our petitions are in line with His purpose, until we have persevered for some time in prayer. Yet on some occasions, and this was one in the life of David, we are fully persuaded that what we are asking is in accordance with God’s will. We feel led to select and plead a promise from the pages of Scripture, having been specially impressed that it contains a message for us. At these times, we may say with confident faith, “Do as you promised.”
Hardly any stance could be more completely beautiful, strong, or safe than that of putting your finger on a promise of God’s divine Word and then claiming it. Doing so requires no anguish, struggle, or wrestling but simply presenting the check and asking for cash. It is as simple as producing the promise and claiming its fulfillment. Nor will there be any doubt or cloudiness about the request. If all requests were this definitive, there would be much more interest in prayer. It is much better to claim a few specific things than to make twenty vague requests. F. B. Meyer
Every promise of Scripture is a letter from God, which we may plead before Him with this reasonable request: “Do as you promised.” Our Creator will never cheat those of us of His creation who depend upon His truth. And even more, our heavenly Father will never break His word to His own child.
“Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope” (Ps. 119:49). This is a very common plea and is a double argument, for it is “your word.” Will You not keep it? Why have You spoken it, if You will not make it good? “You have given me hope” Will You now disappoint the hope that You Yourself have brought forth within me? Charles H. Spurgeon
Being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. Romans 4:21
It is the everlasting faithfulness of God that makes a Bible promise “very great and precious” (2 Peter 1:4). Human promises are often worthless, and many broken promises have left broken hearts. But since the creation of the world, God has never broken a single promise to one of His trusting children.
Oh, how sad it is for a poor Christian to stand at the very door of a promise during a dark night of affliction, being afraid to turn the knob and thereby come boldly into the shelter as a child entering his Father’s house! Gurnal
Every promise of God’s is built on four pillars. The first two are His justice and holiness, which will never allow Him to deceive us. The third is His grace or goodness, which will not allow Him to forget. And the fourth is His truth, which will not allow Him to change, which enables Him to accomplish what He has promised. selected
Descend from the crest. (Song of Songs 4:8)
Bearing the burden of crushing weight actually gives Christians wings. This may sound like a contradiction in terms, but it is a blessed truth. While enduring a severe trial, David cried, “OH, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest” (Ps. 55:6). Yet before he finished his meditation, he seems to have realized that his wish for wings was attainable, for then he said, “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you” (Ps. 55:22).
The word “burden” is described in my Bible commentary as being “what Jehovah has given you.” The saints’ burdens are God-given, leading us to wait upon Him. And once we have done so, the burden is transformed into a pair of wings through the miracle of trust, and the one who was weighted down “will soar on wings like eagles” (Isa. 40:31). from Sunday School Times
One day when walking down the street,
On business bent, while thinking hard
About the “hundred cares” which seemed
Like thunderclouds about to break
In torrents, Self-pity said to me:
“You poor, poor thing, you have too much
To do. Your life is far too hard.
This heavy load will crush you soon.”
A swift response of sympathy
Welled up within. The burning sun
Seemed more intense. The dust and noise
Of puffing motors flying past
With rasping blast of blowing horn
Incensed still more the whining nerves,
The fabled last back-breaking straw
To weary, troubled, fretting mind.
“Ah yes, it will break and crush my life;
I cannot bear this constant strain
Of endless, aggravating cares;
They are too great for such as I.”
So thus my heart consoled itself,
“Enjoying misery,” when lo!
A “still small voice” distinctly said,
“’Twas sent to lift you—not to crush.”
I saw at once my great mistake.
My place was not beneath the load
But on the top! God meant it not
That I should carry it. He sent
It here to carry me. Full well
He knew my incapacity
Before the plan was made He saw
A child of His in need of grace
And power to serve; a puny twig
Requiring sun and rain to grow;
An undeveloped chrysalis;
A weak soul lacking faith in God.
He could not help but see all this
And more. And then, with tender thought
He placed it where it had to grow—
Or die. To lie and cringe beneath
One’s load means death, but life and power
Await all those who dare to rise above.
Our burdens are our wings; on them
We soar to higher realms of grace;
Without them we must ever roam
On plains of undeveloped faith,
(For faith grows but by exercise
In circumstance impossible).
O paradox of Heaven. The load
We think will crush was sent to lift us
Up to God! Then, soul of mine,
Climb up! Nothing can e’er be crushed
Save what is underneath the weight.
How may we climb! By what ascent
Will we crest the critical cares
Of life! Within His word is found
The key which opens His secret stairs;
Alone with Christ, secluded there,
We mount our loads, and rest in Him.
My righteous one will live by faith. (Hebrews 10:38)
Often our feelings and emotions are mistakenly substituted for faith. Pleasurable emotions and deep, satisfying experiences are part of the Christian life, but they are not the essence of it. Trials, conflicts, battles, and testings lie along the way and are to be counted not as misfortunes but rather as part of our necessary discipline.
In all of these various experiences, we are to rely on the indwelling of Christ in our hearts, regardless of our feelings, as we walk obediently before Him. And this is where many Christians get into trouble. They try to walk by feelings rather than by faith.
A believer once related that it seemed as if God had totally withdrawn Himself from her. His mercy seemed completely gone. Her loneliness lasted for six weeks, until the heavenly Lover seemed to say to her, “You have looked for Me in the outside world of emotions, yet all the while I have been waiting inside for you. Meet Me now in the inner chamber of your spirit, for I am there.”
Be sure to distinguish between the fact of God’s presence and the feeling of the fact. It is actually a wonderful thing when our soul feels lonely and deserted, as long as our faith can say, “I do not see You, Lord, nor do I feel Your presence, but I know for certain You are graciously here—exactly where I am and aware of my circumstances.” Remind yourself again and again with these words: “Lord, You are here. And though the bush before me does not seem to burn, it does burn. I will take the shoes from my feet, ‘for the place where [I am] standing is holy ground’” (Ex. 3:5). London Christian
Trust God’s Word and His power more than you trust your own feelings and experiences. Remember, your Rock is Christ, and it is the sea that ebbs and flows with the tides, not Him. Samuel Rutherford
Keep your eyes firmly fixed on the infinite greatness of Christ’s finished work and His righteousness. Look to Jesus and believe—look to Jesus and live! In fact, as you look to Him, unfurl your sails and bravely face the raging storms on the sea of life. Do not exhibit your distrust by staying in the security of the calm harbor or by sleeping comfortably through your life of ease. Do not allow your life and emotions to be tossed back and forth against each other like ships idly moored at port. The Christian life is not one of listless brooding over our emotions or slowly drifting our keel of faith through shallow water. Nor is it one of dragging our anchor of hope through the settling mud of the bay, as if we were afraid of encountering a healthy breeze.
Sail away! Spread your sail toward the storm and trust in Him who rules the raging seas. A brightly colored bird is safest when in flight. If its nest is near the ground or if it flies too low, it exposes itself to the hunter’s net or trap. In the same way, if we cower in the lowlands of feelings and emotions, we will find ourselves entangled in a thousand nets of doubt, despair, temptation, and unbelief. “How useless to spread a net in full view of ALL THE BIRDS!” (Prov. 1:17). “Put your hope in God” (Ps. 42:5). J. R. Macduff
When I cannot feel the faith of assurance, I live by the fact of God’s faithfulness. Matthew Henry
After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River.” (Joshua 1:1–2)
Yesterday you experienced a great sorrow, and now your home seems empty. Your first impulse is to give up and to sit down in despair amid your dashed hopes. Yet you must defy that temptation, for you are at the front line of the battle, and the crisis is at hand. Faltering even one moment would put God’s interest at risk. Other lives will be harmed by your hesitation, and His work will suffer if you simply fold your hands. You must not linger at this point, even to indulge your grief.
A famous general once related this sorrowful story from his own wartime experience. His son was the lieutenant of an artillery unit, and an assault was in progress. As the father led his division in a charge, pressing on across the battlefield, suddenly his eye caught sight of a dead artillery officer lying right before him. Just a glance told him it was his son. The general’s fatherly impulse was to kneel by the body of his beloved son and express his grief, but the duty of the moment demanded he press on with his charge. So after quickly kissing his dead son, he hurried away, leading his command in the assault.
Weeping inconsolably beside a grave will never bring back the treasure of a lost love, nor can any blessing come from such great sadness. Sorrow causes deep scars, and indelibly writes its story on the suffering heart. We never completely recover from our greatest griefs and are never exactly the same after having passed through them. Yet sorrow that is endured in the right spirit impacts our growth favorably and brings us a greater sense of compassion for others. Indeed, those who have no scars of sorrow or suffering upon them are poor. “The joy set before” (Heb. 12:2) us should shine on our griefs just as the sun shines through the clouds, making them radiant. God has ordained our truest and richest comfort to be found by pressing on toward the goal. Sitting down and brooding over our sorrow deepens the darkness surrounding us, allowing it to creep into our heart. And soon our strength has changed to weakness. But if we will turn from the gloom and remain faithful to the calling of God, the light will shine again and we will grow stronger. J. R. Miller
Lord, You know that through our tears
Of hasty, selfish weeping
Comes surer sin, and for our petty fears
Of loss You have in keeping
A greater gain than all of which we dreamed;
You knowest that in grasping
The bright possessions which so precious seemed
We lose them; but if, clasping
Your faithful hand, we tread with steadfast feet
The path of Your appointing,
There waits for us a treasury of sweet
Delight, royal anointing
With oil of gladness and of strength.
Helen Hunt Jackson
The Lord made an east wind blow across the land all that day and all that night. By morning the wind had brought the locusts.... Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron.... And the Lord changed the wind to a very strong west wind, which caught up the locusts and carried them into the Red Sea. Not a locust was left anywhere in Egypt. (Exodus 10:13, 16, 19)
In these verses we see how in ancient times, when the Lord fought for Israel against the cruel Pharaoh, it was stormy winds that won their deliverance. And again later, in the greatest display of His power, God struck the final blow to the proud defiance of Egypt with stormy winds. Yet at first it seemed that a strange and almost cruel thing was happening to Israel. They were hemmed in by a multitude of dangers: in front, a raging sea defied them; on either side, mountains cut off any hope of escape; and above them, a hurricane seemed to blow. It was as if the first deliverance had come only to hand them over to a more certain death. “The Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord” (Ex. 14:10).
Only when it seemed they were trapped for the enemy did the glorious triumph come. The stormy wind blew forward, beating back the waves. The vast multitude of Israelites marched ahead along the path of the deep sea floor—a path covered with God’s protecting love. On either side were crystal walls of water, glowing in the light of the glory of the Lord, and high above them roared the thunder of the storm. And so it continued on through the night, until at dawn the next day, as the last of the Israelites set foot on shore, the work of the stormy wind was done.
Then Israel sang a song to the Lord of how the stormy wind fulfilled His word: “The enemy boasted, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake them. I will divide the spoils. . . .’ But you blew with your breath, and the sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters” (Ex. 15:9–10).
Someday, through His great mercy, we too will stand on “a sea of glass,” holding “harps given [to us] by God.” Then we will sing “the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb: ‘Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages’” (Rev. 15:2–3). Then we will know how the stormy winds have won our deliverance.
Today, only questions surround your great sorrow, but then you will see how the threatening enemy was actually swept away during your stormy night of fear and grief.
Today you see only your loss, but then you will see how God used it to break the evil chains that had begun to restrain you.
Today you cower at the howling wind and the roaring thunder, but then you will see how they beat back the waves of destruction and opened your way to the peaceful Land of Promise. Mark Guy Pearse
Though winds are wild,
And the gale unleashed,
My trusting heart still sings:
I know that they mean
No harm to me,
He rides upon their wings.
Just and true are your ways, King of the ages. (Revelation 15:3)
The following story was related by Mrs. Charles H. Spurgeon, who suffered greatly with poor health for more than twenty-five years:
“At the end of a dull and dreary day, I lay resting on my couch as the night grew darker. Although my room was bright and cozy, some of the darkness outside seemed to have entered my soul and obscured its spiritual vision. In vain I tried to see the sovereign hand that I knew held mine and that guided my fog surrounded feet along a steep and slippery path of suffering.
“With a sorrowful heart I asked, ‘Why does the Lord deal with a child of His in this way? Why does He so often send such sharp and bitter pain to visit me? Why does He allow this lingering weakness to hinder the sweet service I long to render to His poor servants?’
“These impatient questions were quickly answered through a very strange language. Yet no interpreter was needed except the mindful whisper of my heart. For a while silence reigned in the little room, being broken only by the crackling of an oak log burning in the fireplace. Suddenly I heard a sweet, soft sound: a faint, yet clear, musical note, like the tender trill of a robin beneath my window.
“I asked aloud, ‘What can that be? Surely no bird can be singing outside at this time of year or night.’ But again came the faint, mournful notes, so sweet and melodious, yet mysterious enough to cause us to wonder. Then my friend exclaimed, ‘It’s coming from the log on the fire! ‘The fire was unshackling the imprisoned music from deep within the old oak’s heart!
“Perhaps the oak had acquired this song during the days when all was well with him—when birds sang merrily on his branches, and while the soft sunlight streaked his tender leaves with gold. But he had grown old and hard since then. Ring after ring of knotty growth had sealed up his long-forgotten melody, until the fiery tongues of the flames consumed his callousness. The intense heat of the fire wrenched from him both a song and a sacrifice at once. Then I realized: when the fires of affliction draw songs of praise from us, we are indeed purified, and our God is glorified!
“Maybe some of us are like this old oak log: cold, hard, unfeeling, and never singing any melodious sounds. It is the fires burning around us that release notes of trust in God and bring cheerful compliance with His will. As I thought of this, the fire burned, and my soul found sweet comfort in the parable so strangely revealed before me.
“Yes, singing in the fire! God helping us, sometimes using the only way He can to get harmony from our hard and apathetic hearts. Then, let the furnace be ‘heated seven times hotter than usual’ [Dan. 3:19].”
Moses approached the thick darkness where God was. (Exodus 20:21)
God still has His secrets—hidden from “the wise and learned” (Luke 10:21). Do not fear these unknown things, but be content to accept the things you cannot understand and to wait patiently. In due time He will reveal the treasures of the unknown to you—the riches of the glory of the mystery. Recognize that the mystery is simply the veil covering God’s face.
Do not be afraid to enter the cloud descending on your life, for God is in it. And the other side is radiant with His glory. “Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ” (1 Peter 4:12– 13). When you feel the most forsaken and lonely, God is near. He is in the darkest cloud. Forge ahead into the darkness without flinching, knowing that under the shelter of the cloud, God is waiting for you. selected
Have you a cloud?
Something that is dark and full of dread;
A messenger of tempest overhead?
A something that is darkening the sky;
A something growing darker by and by;
A something that you’re fearful will burst at last;
A cloud that does a deep, long shadow cast?
God’s coming in that cloud.
Have you a cloud?
It is Jehovah’s triumph car: in this
He’s riding to you, o’er the wide abyss.
It is the robe in which He wraps His form;
For He does dress Him with the flashing storm.
It is the veil in which He hides the light
Of His fair face, too dazzling for your sight.
God’s coming in that cloud.
Have you a cloud?
A trial that is terrible to thee?
A dark temptation threatening to see?
A loss of some dear one long your own?
A mist, a veiling, bringing the unknown?
A mystery that insubstantial seems:
A cloud between you and the sun’s bright beams?
God’s coming in that cloud.
Have you a cloud?
A sickness—weak old age—distress and death?
These clouds will scatter at your last faint breath.
Fear not the clouds that hover o’er your boat,
Making the harbor’s entrance woeful to float;
The cloud of death, though misty, chill and cold,
Will yet grow radiant with a fringe of gold.
GOD’S coming in that cloud.
A man once stood on a high peak of the Rocky Mountains watching a raging storm below. As he watched, an eagle came up through the clouds and soared away toward the sun. The water on its wings glistened in the sunlight like diamonds. If not for the storm, the eagle might have remained in the valley. In the same way, the sorrows of life cause us to rise toward God.
Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob.... I will make you into a threshing sledge, new and sharp, with many teeth. (Isaiah 41:14–15)
Could any two things be in greater contrast than a worm and a threshing tool with sharp teeth? A worm is delicate and is easily bruised by a stone or crushed beneath a passing wheel. Yet a threshing tool with sharp teeth can cut through rock and not be broken, leaving its mark upon the rock. And almighty God can convert one into the other. He can take an individual or a nation, who has all the weakness of a worm, and through the energizing work of His own Spirit, endow that person or nation with strength enough to make a profound mark upon the history of their time.
Therefore a “worm” may take heart. Almighty God can make us stronger than our circumstances and can turn each situation to our good. In God’s strength we can make them all pay tribute to our soul. We can even take the darkest disappointment, break it open, and discover a precious jewel of grace inside. When God gives us an iron will, we can cut through difficulties just as an iron plowshare cuts through the hardest soil. As He said in the above verse, “I will make you. . . .” Will He not do it? John Henry Jowett
Christ is building His kingdom with the broken things of earth. People desire only the strong, successful, victorious, and unbroken things in life to build their kingdoms, but God is the God of the unsuccessful—the God of those who have failed. Heaven is being filled with earth’s broken lives, and there is no “bruised reed” (Isa. 42:3) that Christ cannot take and restore to a glorious place of blessing and beauty. He can take a life crushed by pain or sorrow and make it a harp whose music will be total praise. He can lift earth’s saddest failure up to heaven’s glory. J. R. Miller
“Follow Me, and I will make you . . .”
Make you speak My words with power,
Make you vessels of My mercy,
Make you helpful every hour.
“Follow Me, and I will make you . . .”
Make you what you cannot be—
Make you loving, trustful, godly,
Make you even just like Me.
For our good. (Hebrews 12:10)
In one of Ralph Conner’s books he tells the story of Gwen. Gwen was an undisciplined and strong-willed girl, always accustomed to having her own way. One day she had a terrible accident that crippled her for life, leading her to become even more rebellious. Once while in a complaining mood, she was visited by a local “sky pilot,” or mountaineer missionary. He told her the following parable about the canyon:
“At first there were no canyons but only the vast, open prairie. One day the Master of the prairie, walking across His great grasslands, asked the prairie, ‘Where are your flowers?’ The prairie responded, ‘Master, I have no flower seeds.’
“The Master then spoke to the birds, and they brought seeds of every kind of flower, scattering them far and wide. Soon the prairie bloomed with crocuses, roses, yellow buttercups, wild sunflowers, and red lilies all summer long. When the Master saw the flowers, He was pleased. But He failed to see His favorites and asked the prairie, ‘Where are the clematis, columbine, violets, wildflowers, ferns, and the flowering shrubs?’
“So once again He spoke to the birds, and again they brought all the seeds and spread them far and wide. But when the Master arrived, He still could not find the flowers he loved the most, and asked, ‘Where are my sweetest flowers?’ The prairie cried sorrowfully, ‘O Master, I cannot keep the flowers. The winds sweep fiercely across me, and the sun beats down upon my breast, and they simply wither up and blow away.’
“Then the Master spoke to the lightning, and with one swift bolt, the lightning split the prairie through its heart. The prairie reeled and groaned in agony and for many days bitterly complained about its dark, jagged, and gaping wound. But the river poured its water through the chasm, bringing rich, dark soil with it.
“Once again the birds brought seeds and scattered them in the canyon. After a long time the rough rocks were adorned with soft mosses and trailing vines, and all the secluded cliffs were draped with clematis and columbine. Giant elms raised their huge limbs high into the sunlight, while at their feet small cedars and balsam firs clustered together. Everywhere violets, anemones, and maidenhair ferns grew and bloomed, until the canyon became the Master’s favorite place for rest, peace, and joy.”
Then the “sky pilot” said to her, “‘The fruit [or “flowers”] of the Spirit [are] love, joy, peace, patience, kindness . . . gentleness’ [Gal. 5:22–23], and some of these grow only in the canyon.” Gwen softly asked, “Which are the canyon flowers?” The missionary answered, “Patience, kindness, and gentleness. Yet even though love, joy, and peace may bloom in the open spaces, the blossom is never as beautiful, or the perfume as fragrant, as when they are found blooming in the canyon.”
Gwen sat very still for quite some time, and then longingly said with trembling lips, “There are no flowers in my canyon— only jagged rocks.” The missionary lovingly responded, “Someday they will bloom, dear Gwen. The Master will find them, and we will see them, too.
” Beloved, when you come to your canyon, remember!
Stay there until I tell you. (Matthew 2:13)
I’ll stay where You’ve put me; I will, dear Lord,
Though I wanted so badly to go;
I was eager to march with the “rank and file,”
Yes, I wanted to lead them, You know.
I planned to keep step to the music loud,
To cheer when the banner unfurled,
To stand in the midst of the fight straight and proud,
But I’ll stay where You’ve put me.
I’ll stay where You’ve put me; I’ll work, dear Lord,
Though the field be narrow and small,
And the ground be neglected, and stones lie thick,
And there seems to be no life at all.
The field is Your own, only give me the seed,
I’ll sow it with never a fear;
I’ll till the dry soil while I wait for the rain,
And rejoice when the green blades appear;
I’ll work where You’ve put me.
I’ll stay where You’ve put me; I will, dear Lord;
I’ll bear the day’s burden and heat,
Always trusting You fully; when sunset has come
I’ll lay stalks of grain at Your feet.
And then, when my earth work is ended and done,
In the light of eternity’s glow,
Life’s record all closed, I surely will find
It was better to stay than to go;
I’ll stay where You’ve put me.
O restless heart—beating against the prison bars of your circumstances and longing for a wider realm of usefulness—allow God to direct all your days. Patience and trust, even in the midst of the monotony of your daily routine, will be the best preparation to courageously handle the stress and strain of a greater opportunity, which God may someday send.
He answered nothing. (Mark 15:3 KJV)
There is no scene in all the Bible more majestic than our Savior remaining silent before the men who were reviling Him. With one quick burst of divine power, or one fiery word of rebuke, He could have caused His accusers to be laid prostrate at His feet. Yet He answered not one word, allowing them to say and do their very worst. He stood in THE POWER OF STILLNESS—God’s holy silent Lamb.
There is a place of stillness that allows God the opportunity to work for us and gives us peace. It is a stillness that ceases our scheming, self-vindication, and the search for a temporary means to an end through our own wisdom and judgment. Instead, it lets God provide an answer, through His unfailing and faithful love, to the cruel blow we have suffered.
Oh, how often we thwart God’s intervention on our behalf by taking up our own cause or by striking a blow in our own defense! May God grant each of us this silent power and submissive spirit. Then once our earthly battles and strife are over, others will remember us as we now remember the morning dew, the soft light of sunrise, a peaceful evening breeze, the Lamb of Calvary, and the gentle and holy heavenly Dove. A. B. Simpson
The day when Jesus stood alone
And felt the hearts of men like stone,
And knew He came but to atone—
That day “He held His peace.”
They witnessed falsely to His word,
They bound Him with a cruel cord,
And mockingly proclaimed Him Lord;
“But Jesus held His peace.”
They spat upon Him in the face,
They dragged Him on from place to place,
They heaped upon Him all disgrace;
“But Jesus held His peace.”
My friend, have you for far much less,
With rage, which you called righteousness,
Resented slights with great distress?
Your Savior “held His peace.”
I remember hearing Bishop Whipple of Minnesota, who was well known as “The Apostle of the Indians,” voice these beautiful words: “For the last thirty years, I have looked for the face of Christ in the people with whom I have disagreed.”
When this spirit drives us, we will be immediately protected from a feeble tolerance of others, narrow-mindedness, harsh vindictiveness, and everything else that would damage our testimony for Him who came not to destroy lives but to save them. W. H. Griffith-Thomas
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering.... But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ. (1 Peter 4:12–13)
Many hours of waiting were necessary to enrich David’s harp with song. And hours of waiting in the wilderness will provide us with psalms of “thanksgiving and the sound of singing” (Isa. 51:3). The hearts of the discouraged here below will be lifted, and joy will be brought to our Father’s heavenly home.
What was the preparation for Jesse’s son, David, to compose songs unlike any others ever heard before on earth? It was the sinful persecution he endured at the hands of the wicked that brought forth his cries for God’s help. Then David’s faint hope in God’s goodness blossomed into full songs of rejoicing, declaring the Lord’s mighty deliverances and multiplied mercies. Every sorrow was yet another note from his harp, and every deliverance another theme of praise.
One stinging sorrow spared would have been one blessing missed and unclaimed. One difficulty or danger escaped—how great would have been our loss! The thrilling psalms where God’s people today find expression for their grief or praise might never have been known.
Waiting on God and abiding in His will is to know Him in “the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings” (Phil. 3:10) and “to be conformed to the likeness of his Son” (Rom. 8:29). Therefore if God’s desire is to enlarge your capacity for spiritual understanding, do not be frightened by the greater realm of suffering that awaits you. The Lord’s capacity for sympathy is greater still, for the breath of the Holy Spirit into His new creation never makes a heart hard and insensitive, but affectionate, tender, and true. Anna Shipton
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. 1 Timothy 1:12
Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. (2 Corinthians 6:10)
A stoic person despises the shedding of tears, but a Christian is not forbidden to weep. Yet the soul may become silent from excessive grief, just as the quivering sheep may remain quiet beneath the scissors of the shearer. Or, when the heart is at the verge of breaking beneath the waves of a trial, the sufferer may seek relief by crying out with a loud voice. But there is something even better.
It is said that springs of sweet, fresh water pool up amid the saltiness of the oceans, that the fairest Alpine flowers bloom in the wildest and most rugged mountain passes, and that the most magnificent psalms arose from the most profound agonies of the soul.
May it continue to be! Therefore, amid a multitude of trials, souls who love God will discover reasons for boundless, leaping joy. Even though “deep calls to deep” (Ps. 42:7), the clear cadence of the Lord’s song will be heard. And during the most difficult hour that could ever enter a human life, it will be possible to bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Have you learned this lesson yet? Not simply to endure or to choose God’s will but to rejoice in it “with an inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8). from Tried by Fire
I will be still, my bruised heart faintly murmured,
As o’er me rolled a crushing load of woe;
My words, my cries, e’en my low moan was stifled;
I pressed my lips; I barred the teardrop’s flow.
I will be still, although I cannot see it,
The love that bares a soul and fans pain’s fire;
That takes away the last sweet drop of solace,
Breaks the lone harp string, hides Your precious lyre.
But God is love, so I will stay me, stay me—
We’ll doubt not, Soul, we will be very still;
We’ll wait till after while, when He will lift us—
Yes, after while, when it will be His will.
And I did listen to my heart’s brave promise;
And I did quiver, struggling to be still;
And I did lift my tearless eyes to Heaven,
Repeating ever, “Yes, Christ, have Your will.”
But soon my heart spoke up from ’neath our burden,
Rebuked my tight-drawn lips, my face so sad:
“We can do more than this, O Soul,” it whispered.
“We can be more than still, we can be glad!”
And now my heart and I are sweetly singing—
Singing without the sound of tuneful strings;
Drinking abundant waters in the desert;
Crushed, and yet soaring as on eagle’s wings.
According to your faith will it be done to you. (Matthew 9:29)
Praying through something might be defined as follows: “Praying your way into full faith; coming to the point of assurance, while still praying, that your prayer has been accepted and heard; and in advance of the event, with confident anticipation, actually becoming aware of having received what you ask.”
Let us remember that no earthly circumstances can hinder the fulfillment of God’s Word. We must look steadfastly at His immutable Word and not at the uncertainty of this everchanging world. God desires for us to believe His Word without other evidence, and then He is ready to do for us “according to [our] faith.”
When once His Word is past,
When He has said, “I will,” [Heb. 13:5 KJV]
The thing will come at last;
God keeps His promise still. [See 2 Cor. 1:20.]
The prayers of the Pentecostal era were prayed with such simple faith that they were like cashing a check. Robert Anderson
And God said. . . . And it was so. Genesis 1:9
After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. . . .Then the Lord said to him, “. . . I have indeed seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groaning and have come down to set them free. Now come, I will send you back to Egypt.” (Acts 7:30, 33–34)
Forty years was a long time to wait in preparation for a great mission. Yet when God delays, He is not inactive. This is when He prepares His instruments and matures our strength. Then at the appointed time we will rise up and be equal to our task. Even Jesus of Nazareth had thirty years of privacy, growing in wisdom before He began His work. John Henry Jowett
God is never in a hurry. He spends years preparing those He plans to greatly use, and never thinks of the days of preparation as being too long or boring.
The most difficult ingredient of suffering is often time. A short, sharp pain is easily endured, but when a sorrow drags on its long and weary way year after monotonous year, returning day after day with the same dull routine of hopeless agony, the heart loses its strength. Without the grace of God, the heart is sure to sink into dismal despair.
Joseph endured a long trial, and God often has to burn the lessons he learned into the depths of our being, using the fires of prolonged pain. “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver” (Mal. 3:3), yet He knows the specific amount of time that will be needed. Like a true goldsmith, God stops the fire the moment He sees His image in the glowing metal.
Today we may be unable to see the final outcome of the beautiful plan that God has hidden “in the shadow of his hand” (Isa. 49:2). It may be concealed for a very long time, but our faith may rest in the assurance that God is still seated on His throne. Because of this assurance, we can calmly await the time when, in heavenly delight, we will say, “All things [have] work[ed] together for good” (Rom. 8:28 KJV).
As Joseph did, we should be more careful to focus on learning all the lessons in the school of sorrow than to focus anxious eyes toward the time of our deliverance. There is a reason behind every lesson, and when we are ready, our deliverance will definitely come. Then we will know we could never have served in our place of higher service without having been taught the very things we learned during our ordeal. God is in the process of educating us for future service and greater blessings. And if we have gained the qualities that make us ready for a throne, nothing will keep us from it once His timing is right.
Don’t steal tomorrow from God’s hands. Give Him time to speak to you and reveal His will. He is never late—learn to wait. selected
He never shows up late; He knows just what is best;
Fret not yourself in vain; until He comes just REST.
Never run impulsively ahead of the Lord. Learn to await His timing—the second, minute, and hour hand must all point to the precise moment for action.
Some of the plunder taken in battle they dedicated for the repair of the temple of the Lord. (1 Chronicles 26:27)
Great physical force is stored in the depths of the earth, in places such as coal mines. Coal was produced by the tremendous heat that burned the ancient forests. In the same way, spiritual force is stored in the depths of our being and is brought about by the very pain we cannot understand.
Someday we will see that “the plunder taken in battle” from our trials was simply preparing us to become like Great-heart in Pilgrim’s Progress, so we too could lead our fellow pilgrims triumphantly through trials to the city of the King. But may we never forget that the source of learning to help others must be the experience of victorious suffering. Whining and complaining about our pain never does anyone any good.
Paul never carried the gloom of a cemetery around with him, but a chorus of victorious praise. The more difficult his trial, the more he trusted and rejoiced, shouting from the very altar of sacrifice. He said, “Even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you” (Phil. 2:17). Lord, help me today to draw strength from everything that comes to me! from Days of Heaven upon Earth
He placed me in a little cage,
Away from gardens fair;
But I must sing the sweetest songs
Because He placed me there.
Not beat my wings against the cage
If it’s my Maker’s will,
But raise my voice to heaven’s gate
And sing the louder still!
Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O Lord, who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper.’ . . . Save me, I pray.” (Genesis 32:9, 11)
There are many healthy aspects to Jacob’s prayer. In some respects it could serve as a mold into which we pour our own spirits while we are being melted in the fiery furnace of sorrow.
Jacob began by quoting God’s promise twice and by saying, “Who said to me” and “You have said” (v. 12). See how he has God in his grasp! God places Himself within our reach through His promises, and when we can actually say to Him, “You have said,” He cannot say no. God must do as He has said.
If Jacob was so careful over his words, what great care will God take over His promises? Therefore while in prayer be sure to stand firmly on a promise of God. By doing so, you will obtain enough power to throw open the gates of heaven and to take it by force. from Practical Portions for the Prayer-Life
Jesus desires that we would be very specific in our requests, asking for something definite. “What do you want me to do for you?” (Matt. 20:32) is the question He asks everyone who comes to Him during trials and affliction. Make your requests earnestly and specifically, if you desire definite answers. It is the aimlessness of prayer that accounts for so many seemingly unanswered prayers. Be specific in your petitions. Fill out your check for something definite, and it will be cashed at the bank of heaven when it is presented in Jesus’ name. Dare to be specific with God. selected
Frances Ridley Havergal once said, “Every year I live—in fact, nearly every day—I seem to see more clearly how all the peace, happiness, and power of the Christian life hinges on one thing. That one thing is taking God at His word, believing He really means exactly what He says, and accepting the very words that reveal His goodness and grace, without substituting other words or changing the precise moods and tenses He has seen fit to use.”
Take Christ’s Word—His promise—and Christ’s sacrifice— His blood—with you to the throne of grace through prayer, and not one of heaven’s blessings can be denied you. Adam Clarke
Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
We all need faith for desperate days, and the Bible is filled with accounts of such days. Its story is told with them, its songs are inspired by them, its prophecy deals with them, and its revelation has come through them. Desperate days are the stepping-stones on the path of light. They seem to have been God’s opportunity to provide our school of wisdom.
Psalm 107 is filled with stories of God’s lavish love. In every story of deliverance, it was humankind coming to the point of desperation that gave God His opportunity to act. Arriving at “their wits’ end” (Ps. 107:27) of desperation was the beginning of God’s power.
Remember the promise made to a couple “as good as dead,” that their descendants would be “as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore” (Heb. 11:12). Read once again the story of the Red Sea deliverance, and the story of how “the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan” (Josh. 3:17). Study once more the prayers of Asa, Jehoshaphat, and Hezekiah when they were severely troubled, not knowing what to do. Go over the history of Nehemiah, Daniel, Hosea, and Habakkuk. Stand with awe in the darkness of Gethsemane, and linger by the tomb in Joseph of Arimathea’s garden through those difficult days. Call to account the witnesses of the early church, and ask the apostles to relate the story of their desperate days.
Desperation is better than despair. Remember, our faith did not create our desperate days. Faith’s work is to sustain us through those days and to solve them. Yet the only alternative to desperate faith is despair. Faith holds on and prevails.
There is not a more heroic example of desperate faith than the story of the three Hebrew young men Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Their situation was desperate, but they bravely answered, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Dan. 3:17–18). I especially like the words “But even if he does not”!
Let me briefly mention the Garden of Gethsemane and ask you to ponder its “nevertheless.” “If it be possible . . . nevertheless . . .” (Matt. 26:39 KJV). Our Lord’s soul was overwhelmed by deep darkness. To trust meant experiencing anguish to the point of blood, and darkness to the very depths of hell— Nevertheless! Nevertheless!
Find a hymnal and sing your favorite hymn of desperate faith. S. Chadwick
When obstacles and trials seem
Like prison walls to be,
I do the little I can do
And leave the rest to Thee.
And when there seems no chance, no change,
From grief can set me free,
Hope finds its strength in helplessness,
And calmly waits for Thee.
Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you. (Genesis 13:14 – 15)
No desire will ever be placed in you by the Holy Spirit unless He intends to fulfill it. So let your faith rise up and soar away to claim all the land you can discover. S. A. Keen
Everything you can comprehend through faith’s vision belongs to you. Look as far as you can, for it is all yours. All you long to be as a Christian, and all you long to do for God, are within the possibilities of faith. Then draw closer to Him, and with your Bible before you, and your soul completely open to the power of the Spirit, allow your entire being to receive the baptism of His presence. As He opens your understanding, enabling you to see His fullness, believe He has it all for you. Accept for yourself all the promises of His Word, all the desires He awakens within you, and all the possibilities of what you could become as a follower of Jesus. All the land you see is given to you.
The provision of His grace, which helps us along the way to the fulfillment of His promise, is actually tied to the inner vision God has given us. He who puts the natural instinct in the heart of a bird to fly across a continent in search of a warmer climate is too good to deceive it. Just as we are confident He placed the instinct within the bird, we can be assured He has also provided balmy breezes and spring like sun to meet it when it arrives.
And He who breathes heavenly hope into our hearts will not deceive or fail us when we press forward toward its realization. selected
They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. Luke 22:13
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)
A remarkable event occurred recently at a wedding in England. The bridegroom, a very wealthy young man of high social standing, had been blinded by an accident at the age of ten. In spite of his blindness, he had graduated from the university with honors and had now won the heart of his beautiful bride, although he had never looked upon her face. Shortly before his marriage he underwent a new round of treatments by specialists, and the result was ready to be revealed on the day of his wedding.
The big day arrived, with all the guests and their presents. In attendance were cabinet ministers, generals, bishops, and learned men and women. The groom, dressed for the wedding but with his eyes still covered by bandages, rode to the church with his father. His famous ophthalmologist met them in the vestry of the church.
The bride entered the church on the arm of her white-haired father. She was so moved, she could hardly speak. Would the man she loved finally see her face—a face others admired but he knew only through the touch of his delicate fingertips?
As she neared the altar, while the soft strains of the wedding march floated through the church, she saw an unusual group. There before her stood the groom, his father, and the doctor. The doctor was in the process of cutting away the last bandage.
Once the bandage was removed, the groom took a step forward, yet with the trembling uncertainty of someone who is not completely awake. A beam of rose-colored light from a pane in the window above the altar fell across his face, but he did not seem to see it.
Could he see anything? Yes! Recovering in an instant his steadiness and demeanor, and with a dignity and joy never before seen on his face, he stepped forward to meet his bride. They looked into each other’s eyes, and it seemed as if his gaze would never wander from her face.
“At last!” she said. “At last,” he echoed solemnly, bowing his head. It was a scene with great dramatic power, as well as one of great joy. Yet as beautiful as this story is, it is but a mere suggestion of what will actually take place in heaven when Christians, who have been walking through this world of trial and sorrow, “shall see [HIM] face to face” (1 Cor. 13:12). selected
Just longing, dear Lord, for you,
Jesus, beloved and true;
Yearning and wondering when
You’ll be coming back again,
Under all I say and do,
Just longing, dear Lord, for you.
Some glad day, all watching past,
You will come for me at last;
Then I’ll see you, hear your voice,
Be with you, with you rejoice;
How the sweet hope thrills me through,
Sets me longing, dear Lord, for you.
As soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap. (Joshua 3:13)
Who can help but admire those brave Levites! They carried the ark of the covenant right into the water, for the river was not divided until “their feet touched the water’s edge” (v. 15). God had promised nothing else.
God honors faith—stubborn faith—that sees His PROMISE and looks to that alone. We can only imagine how bystanders today, watching these holy men of God march on, would say, “You will never catch me running that risk! The ark will be swept away!” Yet “the priests . . . stood firm on dry ground” (v. 17). We must not overlook the fact that faith on our part helps God to carry out His plans. Be willing to come to the help of the Lord.
The ark of the covenant was equipped with poles so the priests could raise it to their shoulders. So even the ark of God did not move itself but was carried. When God is the architect, men are the bricklayers and laborers. Faith assists God. It can shut the mouths of lions and quench the most destructive fire. Faith still honors God, and God honors faith.
Oh, for the kind of faith that will move ahead, leaving God to fulfill His promise when He sees fit! Fellow Levites, let us shoulder our load, without looking as though we were carrying God’s coffin. It is the ark of the living God! Sing as you march toward the flood! Thomas Champness
One of the distinguishing marks of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament church was the spirit of boldness. One of the great essential qualities of the kind of faith that will attempt great things for God and expect great things from God is holy boldness and daring. When dealing with a supernatural Being and taking things from Him that are humanly impossible, it is actually easier for us to take a lot than it is to take a little. And it is easier to stand in a place of bold trust than in a place where we cautiously and timidly cling to the shore.
Like wise sailors living a life of faith, let us launch our ships into the deep. We will find that all things are “possible with God” (Luke 18:27), and “everything is possible for him who believes” (Mark 9:23).
Today let us attempt great things for God, taking His faith to believe great things and taking His strength to accomplish them! from Days of Heaven upon Earth
See how the lilies of the field grow. (Matthew 6:28)
Many years ago there was a monk who needed olive oil, so he planted an olive tree sapling. After he finished planting it, he prayed, “Lord, my tree needs rain so its tender roots may drink and grow. Send gentle showers.” And the Lord sent gentle showers. Then the monk prayed, “Lord, my tree needs sun. Please send it sun.” And the sun shone, gilding the once-dripping clouds. “Now send frost, dear Lord, to strengthen its branches,” cried the monk. And soon the little tree was covered in sparkling frost, but by evening it had died.
Then the monk sought out a brother monk in his cell and told him of his strange experience. After hearing the story, the other monk said, “I also have planted a little tree. See how it is thriving! But I entrust my tree to its God. He who made it knows better than a man like me what it needs. I gave God no constraints or conditions, except to pray, ‘Lord, send what it needs—whether that be a storm or sunshine, wind, rain, or frost. You made it, and you know best what it needs.’”
Yes, leave it with Him,
The lilies all do,
And they grow—
They grow in the rain,
And they grow in the dew—
Yes, they grow:
They grow in the darkness, all hid in the night—
They grow in the sunshine, revealed by the light—
Still they grow.
Yes, leave it with Him,
It’s more dear to His heart,
You will know,
Than the lilies that bloom,
Or the flowers that start
’Neath the snow:
Whatever you need, if you seek it in prayer,
You can leave it with Him—for you are His care.
You, you know.
But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment. (Isaiah 50:11)
This is a solemn warning to those who walk in darkness and who try to help themselves find the light. They are described as the kindling for a fire that is surrounding itself with sparks. What does this mean?
It means that when we are in darkness, the temptation is to find our own way without trusting in the Lord and relying upon Him. Instead of allowing Him to help us, we try to help ourselves. We seek the light of the natural way and the advice of our friends. We reason out our own conclusions and thereby may be tempted to accept a path of deliverance that would not be of God at all.
The light we see may be the fires from our own kindling, or deceptive beacons leading us toward the danger of the rocks. And God will allow us to walk in the false light of those sparks, but the end will be sorrow.
Beloved, never try to get out of a dark place except in God’s timing and in His way. A time of trouble and darkness is meant to teach you lessons you desperately need. Premature deliverance may circumvent God’s work of grace in your life. Commit the entire situation to Him, and be willing to abide in darkness, knowing He is present.
Remember, it is better to walk in the dark with God than to walk alone in the light. from The Still Small Voice
Stop interfering with God’s plans and with His will. Touching anything of His mars the work. Moving the hands of a clock to suit you does not change the time. You may be able to rush the unfolding of some aspects of God’s will, but you harm His work in the long run. You can force a rosebud open, but you spoil the flower. Leave everything to Him, without exception. “Not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36). Stephen Merritt
God sent me on when I would stay
(’Twas cool within the wood);
I did not know the reason why.
I heard a boulder crashing by
’Cross the path where I had stood.
He had me stay when I would go;
“Your will be done,” I said.
They found one day at early dawn,
Across the way I would have gone,
A serpent with a mangled head.
I ask no more the reason why,
Although I may not see
The path ahead, His way I go;
For though I know not, He does know,
And He will choose safe paths for me.
from Sunday School Times
The wind was against it. (Matthew 14:24)
The winds of March are often cruel and blustery. And yet they typify the stormy seasons of my life. Indeed, I should be glad to have the opportunity to come to know these seasons. It is better for the rains to descend and the floods to come than to always live in the legendary land of Lotus or the lush Valley of Avalon, where the sun always shines and strong winds never blow. The storms of temptation may appear cruel, but don’t they lead to a greater intensity and earnestness in my prayer life? Don’t they compel me to cling to God’s promises with a tighter grasp? And don’t they leave me with character that is more refined?
The storms of sorrow through bereavement are intense, but they are one of the Father’s ways of driving me to Himself. His purpose is to softly and tenderly speak to my heart in the secret, hidden place of His presence. There is a certain glory of the Master that can only be seen when the wind is contrary and my ship is being tossed by the waves.
Jesus Christ is not my security against the storms of life, but He is my perfect security in the storms. He has never promised me an easy passage, only a safe landing.
Oh, set your sail to the heavenly gale,
And then, no matter what winds prevail,
No reef can wreck you, no calm delay;
No mist will hinder, no storm will stay;
Though far you wander and long you roam
Through salt sea sprays and o’er white sea foam,
No wind can blow but that will speed you Home.
Annie Johnson Flint