When the cloud remained. . .the Israelites. . .did not set out. (Numbers 9:19)
This was the ultimate test of obedience. It was relatively easy to fold up their tents when the fleecy cloud slowly gathered over the tabernacle and began to majestically float ahead of the multitude of the Israelites. Change normally seems pleasant, and the people were excited and interested in the route, the scenery, and the habitat of the next stopping place.
Yet having to wait was another story altogether. “When the cloud remained,” however uninviting and sweltering the location, however trying to flesh and blood, however boring and wearisome to those who were impatient, however perilously close their exposure to danger—there was no option but to remain encamped.
The psalmist said, “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry” (Ps. 40:1). And what God did for the Old Testament saints, He will do for believers down through the ages, yet He will often keep us waiting. Must we wait when we are face to face with a threatening enemy, surrounded by danger and fear, or below an unstable rock? Would this not be the time to fold our tents and leave? Have we not already suffered to the point of total collapse? Can we not exchange the sweltering heat for “green pastures . . . [and] quiet waters” (Ps. 23:2)?
When God sends no answer and “the cloud remain[s],” we must wait. Yet we can do so with the full assurance of God’s provision of manna, water from the rock, shelter, and protection from our enemies. He never keeps us at our post without assuring us of His presence or sending us daily supplies.
Young person, wait—do not be in such a hurry to make a change! Minister, stay at your post! You must wait where you are until the cloud clearly begins to move. Wait for the Lord to give you His good pleasure! He will not be late! from Daily Devotional Commentary
An hour of waiting!
Yet there seems such need
To reach that spot sublime!
I long to reach them—but I long far more
To trust HIS time!
“Sit still, My children”—
Yet the heathen die,
They perish while I stay!
I long to reach them—but I long far more
To trust HIS way!
It’s good to get,
It’s good indeed to give!
Yet it is better still—
O’er breadth, through length, down depth, up height,
To trust HIS will!
Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. (Acts 12:5)
Prayer is the link that connects us with God. It is the bridge that spans every gulf and carries us safely over every chasm of danger or need.
Think of the significance of this story of the first-century church: Everything seemed to be coming against it, for Peter was in prison, the Jews appeared triumphant, Herod still reigned supreme, and the arena of martyrdom was eagerly awaiting the next morning so it could drink the apostle’s blood. “But the church was earnestly praying to God for him.” So what was the outcome? The prison was miraculously opened, the apostle freed, the Jews bewildered, and as a display of God’s punishment, wicked King Herod “was eaten by worms and died. ”And rolling on to even greater victory, “the word of God continued to increase and spread” (vv. 23–24).
Do we truly know the power of our supernatural weapon of prayer? Do we dare to use it with the authority of a faith that not only asks but also commands? God baptizes us with holy boldness and divine confidence, for He is looking not for great people but for people who will dare to prove the greatness of their God! “But the church was earnestly praying.” A. B. Simpson
In your prayers, above everything else, beware of limiting God, not only through unbelief but also by thinking you know exactly what He can do. Learn to expect the unexpected, beyond all that you ask or think.
So each time you intercede through prayer, first be quiet and worship God in His glory. Think of what He can do, how He delights in Christ His Son, and of your place in Him—then expect great things. Andrew Murray
Our prayers are God’s opportunities.
Are you experiencing sorrow? Prayer can make your time of affliction one of strength and sweetness. Are you experiencing happiness? Prayer can add a heavenly fragrance to your time of joy. Are you in grave danger from some outward or inward enemy? Prayer can place an angel by your side whose very touch could shatter a millstone into smaller grains of dust than the flour it grinds, and whose glance could destroy an entire army.
What will prayer do for you? My answer is this: Everything that God can do for you. “Ask for whatever you want me to give you” (2 Chron. 1:7). Frederick William Farrar
Wrestling prayer can wonders do,
Bring relief in dire straits;
Prayer can force a passage through
Iron bars and heavy gates.
You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain. (Isaiah 40:9)
Toys and trinkets are easily earned, but the most valuable things carry a heavy price. The highest places of power are always bought with blood, and you can attain those pinnacles if you have enough blood to pay. That is the condition of conquering holy heights everywhere. The story of true heroics is always the story of sacrificial blood. The greatest values and character in life are not blown randomly across our path by wayward winds, for great souls experience great sorrows.
Great truths are dearly bought, the common truths,
Such as we give and take from day to day,
Come in the common walk of easy life,
Blown by the careless wind across our way.
Great truths are greatly won, not found by chance,
Nor wafted on the breath of summer dream;
But grasped in the great struggle of our soul,
Hard buffeting with adverse wind and stream.
But in the day of conflict, fear, and grief,
When the strong hand of God, put forth in might,
Plows up the subsoil of our stagnant heart,
And brings the imprisoned truth seed to the light.
Wrung from the troubled spirit, in hard hours
Of weakness, solitude, and times of pain,
Truth springs like harvest from the well-plowed field,
And our soul feels it has not wept in vain.
Our capacity for knowing God is enlarged when we are brought by Him into circumstances that cause us to exercise our faith. So when difficulties block our path, may we thank God that He is taking time to deal with us, and then may we lean heavily on Him.
I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. . . . There the hand of the Lord was upon [me]. (Ezekiel 1:1, 3)
There is nothing that makes the Scriptures more precious to us than a time of “captivity.” The old psalms of God's Word have sung for us with compassion by our stream at Babel and have resounded with new joy as we have seen the Lord deliver us from captivity and “restore our fortunes, . . . like streams in the Negev” (Ps. 126:4).
A person who has experienced great difficulties will not be easily parted from his Bible. Another book may appear to others to be identical, but to him it is not the same. Over the old and tear-stained pages of his Bible, he has written a journal of his experiences in words that are only visible to his eyes. Through those pages, he has time and again come to the pillars of the house of God and “to Elim, where there were . . . palm trees” (Ex. 15:27). And each of those pillars and trees have become a remembrance for him of some critical time in his life.
In order to receive any benefit from our captivity, we must accept the situation and be determined to make the best of it. Worrying over what we have lost or what has been taken from us will not make things better but will only prevent us from improving what remains. We will only serve to make the rope around us tighter if we rebel against it.
In the same way, an excitable horse that will not calmly submit to its bridle only strangles itself. And a high-spirited animal that is restless in its yoke only bruises its own shoulders. Everyone will also understand the analogy that Laurence Sterne, a minister and author of the eighteenth century, penned regarding a starling and a canary. He told of the difference between a restless starling that broke its wings struggling against the bars of its cage and continually cried, “I can’t get out! I can’t get out!” and a submissive canary that sat on its perch and sang songs that surpassed even the beauty of those of a lark that soared freely to the very gates of heaven.
No calamity will ever bring only evil to us, if we will immediately take it in fervent prayer to God. Even as we take shelter beneath a tree during a downpour of rain, we may unexpectedly find fruit on its branches. And when we flee to God, taking refuge beneath the shadow of His wing, we will always find more in Him than we have ever before seen or known.
Consequently, it is through our trials and afflictions that God gives us fresh revelations of Himself. Like Jacob, we must cross “the ford of the Jabbok” (Gen. 32:22) if we are ever to arrive at Peniel, where he wrestled with the Lord, was blessed by Him, and could say, “I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared” (Gen. 32:30).
Make this story your own, dear captive, and God will give you “songs in the night” (Job 35:10) and will turn your “blackness into dawn” (Amos 5:8). Nathaniel William Taylor
Submission to God’s divine will is the softest pillow on which to rest.
It filled the room, and it filled my life,
With a glory of source unseen;
It made me calm in the midst of strife,
And in winter my heart was green.
And the birds of promise sang on the tree
When the storm was breaking on land and sea.
Is anything too hard for the Lord? (Genesis 18:14)
This is God’s loving challenge to you and me each day. He wants us to think of the deepest, highest, and worthiest desires and longings of our hearts. He wants us to think of those things that perhaps were desires for ourselves or someone dear to us, yet have gone unfulfilled for so long that we now see them as simply lost desires. And God urges us to think of even the one thing that we once saw as possible but have given up all hope of seeing fulfilled in this life.
That very thing, as long as it aligns with what we know to be His expressed will—as a son was to Abraham and Sarah—God intends to do for us. Yes, if we will let Him, God will do that very thing, even if we know it is such an utter impossibility that we would simply laugh at the absurdity of anyone ever suggesting it could come to pass.
“Is anything too hard for the Lord?” No, nothing is too difficult when we believe in Him enough to go forward, doing His will and letting Him do the impossible for us. Even Abraham and Sarah could have blocked God’s plan if they had continued to disbelieve.
The only thing “too hard for the Lord” is our deliberate and continual disbelief in His love and power, and our ultimate rejection of His plans for us. Nothing is impossible for Jehovah to do for those who trust Him. from Messages for the Morning Watch
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. (Revelation 3:19)
God selects the best and most notable of His servants for the best and most notable afflictions, for those who have received the most grace from Him are able to endure the most afflictions. In fact, an affliction hits a believer never by chance but by God’s divine direction. He does not haphazardly aim His arrows, for each one is on a special mission and touches only the heart for whom it is intended. It is not only the grace of God but also His glory that is revealed when a believer can stand and quietly endure an affliction. Joseph Caryl
If all my days were sunny, could I say,
“In His fair land
He wipes all tears away”?
If I were never weary, could I keep
This blessed truth, “He gives His loved ones sleep”?
If no grave were mine, I might come to deem
The Life Eternal but a baseless dream.
My winter, and my tears, and weariness,
Even my grave, may be His way to bless.
I call them ills; yet that can surely be
Nothing but love that shows my Lord to me!
Christians with the most spiritual depth are generally those who have been taken through the most intense and deeply anguishing fires of the soul. If you have been praying to know more of Christ, do not be surprised if He leads you through the desert or through a furnace of pain.
Dear Lord, do not punish me by removing my cross from me. Instead, comfort me by leading me into submission to Your will and by causing me to love the cross. Give me only what will serve You best, and may it be used to reveal the greatest of all Your mercies: bringing glory to Your name through me, according to Your will. a captive’s prayer
Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. (Philippians 3:7)
When George Matheson, the blind Scottish preacher, was buried, they lined his grave with red roses commemorating his life of love and sacrifice. And it was Matheson, this man who was so beautifully and significantly honored, who wrote the following hymn in 1882. It was written in five minutes, during a period he later called “the most severe mental suffering,” and it has since become known around the world.
O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee,
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
O Light that followeth all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee,
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine’s glow its day
May brighter, fairer be.
O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee,
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to hide from Thee,
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red,
Life that shall endless be.
There is a legend of an artist who had found the secret of a wonderful red that no other artist could imitate. He never told the secret of the color, but after his death an old wound was discovered over his heart. It revealed the source of the matchless hue in his pictures.
The moral of the legend is that no great achievement can be made, no lofty goal attained, nor anything of great value to the world accomplished, except at the cost of the heart’s blood.
He took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.... Peter and his companions. . . saw his glory. (Luke 9:28–29, 32)
If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways. (Exodus 33:13)
When Jesus took these three disciples up onto the mountain alone, He brought them into close communion with Himself. They “saw his glory” and said, “It is good for us to be here” (Luke 9:32–33). Heaven is never far from those who linger on a mountain with their Lord.
Who of us in certain moments of meditation and prayer has not caught a glimpse of the heavenly gates? Who has not in the secret place of holy communion felt a surging wave of emotion—a taste of the blessed joy yet to come?
The Master had special times and places for quiet conversation with His disciples. He met with them once on Mount Hermon but more often on the sacred slopes of the Mount of Olives. Every Christian should have his own Mount of Olives. Most of us today, especially those of us in cities, live under great stress. From early morning until bedtime we are exposed to the whirlwind of life. Amid all the turmoil, there is little opportunity for quiet thought, God’s Word, prayer, and fellowship of the heart!
Even Daniel needed to have his Mount of Olives in his room amid the roar of idolatrous Babylon. Peter found a rooftop in Joppa, and Martin Luther found an “upper room” in Wittenberg, a place that is still considered sacred.
Joseph Parker, an English Congregationalist preacher of the nineteenth century, once said, “If we, as the church, do not get back to spiritual visions, glimpses of heaven, and an awareness of a greater glory and life, we will lose our faith. Our altar will become nothing but cold, empty stone, never blessed with a visit from heaven.” And this is the world’s need today—people who have seen their Lord. from The Lost Art of Meditation
Come close to Him! Perhaps He will take you today to the mountaintop—the same place He took Peter with his blundering, and James and John, the “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17), who time and again totally misunderstood their Master and His mission. There is no reason why He will not take you, so do not shut yourself out by saying, “Oh, these wonderful visions and revelations of the Lord are only for certain people! ”They may be for you! John Thomas McNeill
Men will dwell again in his shade. He will flourish like the grain. He will blossom like a vine. (Hosea 14:7)
The day ended with heavy showers, and the plants in my garden were beaten down by the pelting storm. I looked at one plant I had previously admired for its beauty and had loved for its delicate fragrance. After being exposed to the merciless storm, its flowers had drooped, all its petals were closed, and it appeared that its glory was gone. I thought to myself, “I suppose I will have to wait till next year to see those beautiful flowers again.”
Yet the night passed, the sun shone again, and the morning brought strength to my favorite plant. The light looked at its flowers and the flowers looked at the light. There was contact and communion, and power passed into the flowers. They lifted their heads, opened their petals, regained their glory, and seemed more beautiful than before. I wondered how this took place—these feeble flowers coming into contact with something much stronger, and gaining strength!
I cannot explain exactly how we are able to receive the power to serve and to endure through communion with God, but I know it is a fact. Are you in danger of being crushed by a heavy and difficult trial? Then seek communion with Christ and you will receive strength and the power to be victorious, for God has promised, “I will strengthen you” (Isa. 41:10).
The falling rain of yesterday is ruby on the roses,
Silver on the poplar leaf, and gold on willow stem;
The grief that fell just yesterday is silence that encloses
God’s great gifts of grace, and time will never trouble them.
The falling rain of yesterday makes all the hillsides glisten,
Coral on the laurel and beryl on the grass;
The grief that fell just yesterday has taught the soul to listen
For whispers of eternity in all the winds that pass.
O faint of heart, storm-beaten, this rain will shine tomorrow,
Flame within the columbine and jewels on the thorn,
Heaven in the forget-me-not; though sorrow now is sorrow,
Yet sorrow will be beauty in the magic of the morn.
Katherine Lee Bates
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed. (Romans 4:18)
Abraham’s faith seemed to be in complete agreement with the power and constant faithfulness of Jehovah. By looking at the outer circumstances in which he was placed, he had no reason to expect the fulfillment of God’s promise. Yet he believed the Word of the Lord and looked forward to the time when his descendants would be “as numerous as the stars in the sky” (Gen. 26:4).
Dear soul, you have not been given only one promise, like Abraham, but a thousand promises. And you have been given the example of many faithful believers as a pattern for your life. Therefore it is simply to your advantage to rely with confidence upon the Word of God. And although He may delay in sending His help, and the evil you are experiencing may seem to become worse and worse, do not be weak. Instead, be strong and rejoice, for God usually steps forward to save us when we least expect it, fulfilling His most glorious promises in a miraculous way.
He generally waits to send His help until the time of our greatest need, so that His hand will be plainly seen in our deliverance. He chooses this method so we will not trust anything that we may see or feel, as we are so prone to do, but will place our trust solely on His Word—which we may always depend upon, no matter our circumstance. C.H. Von Bogatzky
Remember, the very time for faith to work is when our sight begins to fail. And the greater the difficulties, the easier it is for faith to work, for as long as we can see certain natural solutions to our problems, we will not have faith. Faith never works as easily as when our natural prospects fail.
He will be like rain falling on a mown field. (Psalm 72:6)
Amos tells of “the king’s mowings” (Amos 7:1 KJV). Our King also has many scythes and is constantly using them to mow His lawns. The bell-like sound of the whetstone against the scythe foretells of the cutting down of countless blades of grass, daisies, and other flowers. And as beautiful as they were in the morning, within a few hours they will lie in long, faded rows.
In human life, we try to take a brave stand before the scythe of pain, the shears of disappointment, or the sickle of death. And just as there is no way to cultivate a lawn like velvet without repeated mowings, there is no way to develop a life of balance, tenderness, and sympathy for others without enduring the work of God’s scythes.
Think how often the Word of God compares people to grass, and God’s glory to its flower. But when the grass is cut, when all the tender blades are bleeding, and when desolation seems to reign where flowers once were blooming, the perfect time has come for God’s rain to fall as delicate showers so soft and warm.
Dear soul, God has been mowing you! Time and again the King has come to you with His sharp scythe. But do not dread His scythe—for it is sure to be followed by His shower. F. B. Meyer
When across the heart deep waves of sorrow
Break, as on a dry and barren shore;
When hope glistens with no bright tomorrow,
And the storm seems sweeping evermore;
When the cup of every earthly gladness
Bears no taste of the life-giving stream;
And high hopes, as though to mock our sadness,
Fade and die as in some restless dream,
Who will hush the weary spirit’s chiding?
Who the aching void within will fill?
Who will whisper of a peace abiding,
And each surging wave will calmly still?
Only He whose wounded heart was broken
With the bitter cross and thorny crown;
Whose dear love glad words of joy had spoken,
Who His life for us laid meekly down.
Blessed Healer, all our burdens lighten;
Give us peace. Your own sweet peace, we pray!
Keep us near You till the morn does brighten,
And all the mists and shadows flee away!
These were the potters, and those that dwelt among plants and hedges: there they dwelt with the king for his work. (1 Chronicles 4:23 KJV)
We may dwell “with the king for his work” anywhere and everywhere. We may be called to serve Him in the most unlikely places and under the most adverse conditions. It may be out in the countryside, far away from the King’s many activities in the city. Or it may be “among plants and hedges” of all kinds— hindrances that surround us, blocking our way. Perhaps we will be one of “the potters,” with our hands full of all types of pottery, accomplishing our daily tasks.
It makes no difference! The King who placed us “there” will come and dwell with us. The hedges, or hindrances, are right for us, or He will quickly remove them. And doesn’t it stand to reason that whatever seems to block our way may also provide for our protection? As for the pottery—it is exactly what He has seen fit to place in our hands and is for now “his work.” Frances Ridley Havergal
Go back to your garden plot, sweetheart!
Go back till the evening falls,
And tie your lilies and train your vines,
Till for you the Master calls.
Go make your garden fair as you can,
You will never work alone;
Perhaps he whose plot is next to yours
Will see it and mend his own.
Brightly colored sunsets and starry heavens, majestic mountains and shining seas, and fragrant fields and fresh-cut flowers are not even half as beautiful as a soul who is serving Jesus out of love, through the wear and tear of an ordinary, unpoetic life. Frederick William Faber
The most saintly souls are often those who have never distinguished themselves as authors or allowed any major accomplishment of theirs to become the topic of the world’s conversation. No, they are usually those who have led a quiet inner life of holiness, having carried their sweet bouquets unseen, like a fresh lily in a secluded valley on the edge of a crystal stream. Kenelm Digby
I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children. (Genesis 18:19)
God chooses people He can depend upon. He knew what to expect from Abraham and said of him, “I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children . . . that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” God knew Abraham would “direct his children.” The Lord can be depended upon, and He desires for us to be just as reliable, determined, and stable. This is simply the meaning of faith.
God is looking for people on whom He can place the weight of His entire love, power, and faithful promises. And His engines are strong enough to pull any weight we may attach to them. Unfortunately, the cable we fasten to the engine is often too weak to handle the weight of our prayers. Therefore God continues to train and discipline us in His school of stability and certainty in the life of faith. May we learn our lessons well and then stand firm. A. B. Simpson
God knows that you can withstand your trial, or else He would not have given it to you. His trust in you explains the trials of your life, no matter how severe they may be. God knows your strength, and He measures it to the last inch. Remember, no trial has ever been given to anyone that was greater than that person’s strength, through God, to endure it.
Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:24)
In Northampton, Massachusetts, stands the old cemetery where David Brainerd is buried. Brainerd, a pioneer American missionary, died in 1747 at the age of twenty-nine after suffering from tuberculosis. His grave is beside that of Jerusha Edwards, the daughter of Jonathan Edwards, a Puritan theologian of that day. Brainerd loved Jerusha and they were engaged to be married, but he did not live until the wedding.
Imagine what hopes, dreams, and expectations for the cause of Christ were buried in the grave with the withered body of that young missionary. At that point, nothing remained but memories and several dozen Indian converts! Yet Jonathan Edwards, that majestic old Puritan saint, who had hoped to call Brainerd his son, began to write the story of that short life in a little book. The book took wings, flew across the sea, and landed on the desk of a Cambridge student by the name of Henry Martyn.
Poor Henry Martyn! In spite of his education, brilliance, and great opportunities, he—after reading that little book on the life of Brainerd—threw his own life away! Afterward, what had he accomplished once he set his course toward home from India in 1812? With his health then broken, he dragged himself as far north as the town of Tokat, Turkey, near the Black Sea. There he lay in the shade of a pile of saddles, to cool his burning fever, and died alone at the age of thirty-one.
What was the purpose behind these “wasted lives”? From the grave of a young David Brainerd, and the lonely grave of Henry Martyn near the shores of the Black Sea, have arisen a mighty army of modern missionaries. Leonard Woolsey Bacon
Is there some desert, or some boundless sea,
Where You, great God of angels, will send me?
Some oak for me to rend,
Some sod for me to break,
Some handful of Your corn to take
And scatter far afield,
Till it in turn will yield
Of grains of gold
To feed the happy children of my God?
Show me the desert, Father, or the sea;
Is it Your enterprise? Great God, send me!
And though this body lies where ocean rolls,
Father, count me among all faithful souls.
We were under great pressure. (2 Corinthians 1:8)
...so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
God allowed the crisis in Jacob’s life at Peniel to totally surround him until he ultimately came to the point of making an earnest and humble appeal to God Himself. That night, he wrestled with God and literally came to the place where he could take hold of Him as never before. And through his narrow brush with danger, Jacob’s faith and knowledge of God was expanded, and his power to live a new and victorious life was born.
The Lord had to force David, through the discipline of many long and painful years, to learn of the almighty power and faithfulness of his God. Through those difficult years, he also grew in his knowledge of faith and godliness, which were indispensable principles for his glorious career as the king of Israel.
Nothing but the most dangerous circumstances in which Paul was constantly placed could ever have taught him, and thus the church through him, the full meaning of the great promise of God he learned to claim: “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor. 12:9). And nothing but the great trials and dangers we have experienced would ever have led some of us to know Him as we do, to trust Him as we have, and to draw from Him the great measure of His grace so indispensable during our times of greatest need.
Difficulties and obstacles are God’s challenges to our faith. When we are confronted with hindrances that block our path of service, we are to recognize them as vessels for faith and then to fill them with the fullness and complete sufficiency of Jesus.
As we move forward in faith, simply and fully trusting Him, we may be tested. Sometimes we may have to wait and realize that “perseverance must finish its work” (James 1:4). But ultimately we will surely find “the stone rolled away” (Luke 24:2) and the Lord Himself waiting to bestow a double blessing on us for our time of testing. A. B. Simpson
They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb . . .; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (Revelation 12:11)
When James and John came to Christ with their mother, asking Him to give them the best place in His kingdom, He did not refuse their request. He told them that the place would be given to them if they could do His work, drink His cup, and be baptized with His baptism. (See Mark 10:38.
Are we willing to compete for God’s best, with the knowledge that the best things are always achieved by the most difficult paths? We must endure steep mountains, dense forests, and the Enemy’s chariots of iron, since hardship is the price of the victor’s coronation. Arches of triumph are made not of rose blossoms and strands of silk but of hard blows and bloody scars. The very hardships you are enduring in your life today have been given to you by the Master, for the express purpose of enabling you to win your crown.
Therefore do not always look ahead to your tomorrows for some ideal situation, exotic difficulty, or faraway emergency in which to shine. Rise today to face the circumstances in which the providence of God has placed you. Your crown of glory is hidden in the heart of these things—the hardships and trials pressing in on you this very hour, week, and month of your life. Yet the most difficult things are not those seen and known by the world but those deep within your soul, unseen and unknown by anyone except Jesus. It is in this secret place that you experience a little trial that you would never dare to mention to anyone else and that is more difficult for you to bear than martyrdom.
Beloved, your crown lies there. May God help you to overcome and to wear it. selected
It matters not how the battle goes,
The day how long;
Faint not! Fight on!
Tomorrow comes the song.
Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. (Luke 18:6–8)
God’s timing is not ours to command. If we do not start the fire with the first strike of our match, we must try again. God does hear our prayer, but He may not answer it at the precise time we have appointed in our own minds. Instead, He will reveal Himself to our seeking hearts, though not necessarily when and where we may expect. Therefore we have a need for perseverance and steadfast determination in our life of prayer.
In the old days of flint, steel, and brimstone matches, people had to strike the match again and again, perhaps even dozens of times, before they could get a spark to light their fire, and they were very thankful if they finally succeeded. Should we not exercise the same kind of perseverance and hope regarding heavenly things? When it comes to faith, we have more certainty of success than we could ever have had with flint and steel, for we have God’s promises as a foundation.
May we, therefore, never despair. God’s time for mercy will come—in fact, it has already come, if our time for believing has arrived. Ask in faith without wavering, but never cease to petition the King simply because He has delayed His reply.
Strike the match again and make the sparks fly. Yet be sure to have your tinder ready, for you will get a fire before long. Charles H. Spurgeon
I do not believe there is such a thing in the history of God’s eternal kingdom as a right prayer, offered in the right spirit, that remains forever unanswered. Theodore L. Cuyler
Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. (Luke 7:23 KJV)
It is sometimes very difficult not to be offended in Jesus Christ, for the offense may be the result of my circumstances. I may find myself confined to narrow areas of service, or isolated from others through sickness or by taking an unpopular stance, when I had hoped for much wider opportunities. Yet the Lord knows what is best for me, and my surroundings are determined by Him. Wherever He places me, He does so to strengthen my faith and power and to draw me into closer communion with Himself. And even if confined to a dungeon, my soul will prosper.
The offense that causes me to turn from Christ may be emotional. I may be continually confused and troubled over questions I cannot solve. When I gave myself to Him, I had hoped that my skies would always be fair, but often they are overcast with clouds and rain. But I must believe that when difficulties remain, it is that I may learn to trust Him completely—to trust and not be afraid. And it is through my mental and emotional struggles that I am being trained to tutor others who are being tossed by the storm.
The offense causing me to turn away may be spiritual. I had imagined that once within His fold, I would never again suffer from the stinging winds of temptation. Yet it is best for me the way it is, for when I endure temptation His grace is magnified, my own character matures, and heaven seems sweeter at the end of the day.
Once I arrive at my heavenly home, I will look back across the turns and trials along my path and will sing the praises of my Guide. So whatever comes my way, I will welcome His will and refuse to be offended in my loving Lord. Alexander Smellie
Blessed is he whose faith is not offended,
When all around his way
The power of God is working out deliverance
For others day by day;
Though in some prison dark his own soul does fail,
Till life itself be spent,
Yet still can trust his Father’s love and purpose,
And rest therein content.
Blessed is he, who through long years of suffering,
Not now from active toil,
Still shares by prayer and praise the work of others,
And thus “divides the spoil.”
Blessed are you, O child of God, who does suffer,
And cannot understand
The reason for your pain, yet will gladly leave
Your life in His blest Hand.
Yes, blessed are you whose faith is “not offended”
By trials unexplained,
By mysteries unsolved, past understanding,
Until the goal is gained.
Freda Hanbury Allen
Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again. (Psalm 71:20)
God makes you “see troubles.” Sometimes, as part of your education being carried out, you must “go down to the depths of the earth” (Ps. 63:9), travel subterranean passages, and lie buried among the dead. But not for even one moment is the bond of fellowship and oneness between God and you strained to the point of breaking. And ultimately, from the depths, He “will restore [your] life again.”
Never doubt God! Never say that He has forsaken or forgotten you or think that He is unsympathetic. He “will restore [your] life again.” No matter how many twists and turns the road may have, there is always one smooth, straight portion. Even the longest day has a sunset, and the winter snow may stay quite some time, but it will finally melt.
Be steadfast, “because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58). He will turn to you again and comfort you. And when He does, your heart that has forgotten how to sing will break forth in thankful and jubilant song, just like the psalmist who sang, “My tongue will sing of your righteousness” (Ps. 51:14). selected
Though the rain may fall and the wind be blowing,
And chilled and cold is the wintry blast;
Though the cloudy sky is still cloudier growing,
And the dead leaves tell that the summer has passed;
My face is fixed on the stormy heaven,
My heart is as calm as the summer sea,
Glad to receive what my God has given,
Whate’er it be.
When I feel the cold, I can say, “He sends it,”
And His winds blow blessing, I surely know;
For I’ve never a need but that He will meet it;
And my heart beats warm, though the winds may blow.
Blessed is the one who waits. (Daniel 12:12)
Waiting may seem like an easy thing to do, but it is a discipline that a Christian soldier does not learn without years of training. Marching and drills are much easier for God’s warriors than standing still.
There are times of indecision and confusion, when even the most willing person, who eagerly desires to serve the Lord, does not know what direction to take. So what should you do when you find yourself in this situation? Should you allow yourself to be overcome with despair? Should you turn back in cowardice or in fear or rush ahead in ignorance?
No, you should simply wait—but wait in prayer. Call upon God and plead your case before Him, telling Him of your difficulty and reminding Him of His promise to help.
Wait in faith. Express your unwavering confidence in Him. And believe that even if He keeps you waiting until midnight, He will come at the right time to fulfill His vision for you.
Wait in quiet patience. Never complain about what you believe to be the cause of your problems, as the children of Israel did against Moses. Accept your situation exactly as it is and then simply place it with your whole heart into the hand of your covenant God. And while removing any self-will, say to Him, “Lord, ‘Not my will, but yours be done’ [Luke 22:42]. I do not know what to do, and I am in great need. But I will wait until You divide the flood before me or drive back my enemies. I will wait even if You keep me here many days, for my heart is fixed on You alone, dear Lord. And my spirit will wait for You with full confidence that You will still be my joy and my salvation, ‘for you have been my refuge, [and] a strong tower against the foe’ [Ps. 61:3].” from Morning by Morning
Wait, patiently wait,
God never is late;
Your budding plans are in Your Father’s holding,
And only wait His grand divine unfolding.
Then wait, wait, Patiently wait.
Trust, hopefully trust,
That God will adjust
Your tangled life; and from its dark concealings,
Will bring His will, in all its bright revealings.
Then trust, trust,
Rest, peacefully rest
On your Savior’s breast;
Breathe in His ear your sacred high ambition,
And He will bring it forth in blest fruition.
Then rest, rest,
Mercy A. Gladwin
Commit your way to the Lord. (Psalm 37:5)
Talk to God about whatever may be pressuring you and then commit the entire matter into His hands. Do this so that you will be free from the confusion, conflicts, and cares that fill the world today. In fact, anytime you are preparing to do something, undergoing some trial, or simply pursuing your normal business, tell the Father about it. Acquaint Him with it; yes, even burden Him with it, and you will have put the concerns and cares of the matter behind you. From that point forward, exercise quiet, sweet diligence in your work, recognizing your dependence on Him to carry the matter for you. Commit your cares and yourself with them, as one burden, to your God. R. Leighton
Build a little fence of trust
Fill the space with loving work
And therein stay.
Look not through the protective rails
God will help you bear what comes
Of joy or sorrow.
You will find it impossible to “commit your way to the Lord,” unless your way has met with His approval. It can only be done through faith, for if there is even the slightest doubt in your heart that your way is not a good one, faith will refuse to have anything to do with it. Also, this committing of your way to Him must be continuous, not just one isolated action. And no matter how unexpected or extraordinary His guidance may seem and no matter how close to the edge of the cliff He may lead you, never snatch the guiding reins from His hands.
Are you willing to submit all your ways to God, allowing Him to pass judgment on them? There is nothing a Christian needs to more closely examine than his own confirmed views and habits, for we are so prone to taking God’s divine approval of them for granted. And that is why some Christians are so anxious and fearful. They have obviously not truly committed their way to the Lord and left it with Him. They took it to Him but walked away with it again. selected
Do you believe that I am able to do this? (Matthew 9:28)
God deals with impossibilities. It is never too late for Him to do so, as long as that which is impossible is brought to Him in complete faith by the person whose life and circumstances would be impacted if God is to be glorified. If we have experienced rebellion, unbelief, sin, and ruin in our life, it is never too late for God to deal triumphantly with these tragic things, if they are brought to Him in complete surrender and trust.
It has often been said, and truthfully so, that Christianity is the only religion that can deal with a person’s past. God “will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25), and He is trustworthy to do it unreservedly. He does so not because of what we are but because of who He is. God forgives and heals and restores, for He is “the God of all grace” (1 Peter 5:10). May we praise Him and trust Him. from Sunday School Times
Nothing is too hard for Jesus
No man can work like Him.
We have a God who delights in impossibilities and who asks, “Is anything too hard for me?” (Jer. 32:27). Andrew Murray
You have shown your people desperate times. (Psalm 60:3)
I have always been glad that the psalmist said to God that certain times of life are desperate or difficult. Make no mistake about it, there are difficult things in life.
This summer someone gave me some beautiful pink flowers, and as I took them, I asked, “What kind are they?” My friend answered, “They are rock flowers. They grow and bloom only on rocks where you can see no soil.” Then I thought of God’s flowers growing in desperate times and hard places, and I somehow feel that He may have a certain tenderness for His “rock flowers” that He may not have for His lilies and roses. Margaret Bottome
The trials of life are sent to make us, not to break us. Financial troubles may destroy a person’s business but build up his character. And a direct blow to the outer person may be the greatest blessing possible to the inner person. So if God places or allows anything difficult in our lives, we can be sure that the real danger or trouble will be what we will lose if we run or rebel against it. Maltbie D. Babcock
Heroes are forged on anvils hot with pain,
And splendid courage comes but with the test.
Some natures ripen and some natures bloom
Only on blood-wet soil, some souls prove great
Only in moments dark with death or doom.
God finds His best soldiers on the mountain of affliction.
Be still, and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)
Is there any note in all the music of the world as mighty as the grand pause? Is there any word in the Psalms more eloquent than the word “Selah,” meaning pause? Is there anything more thrilling and awe-inspiring than the calm before the crashing of the storm, or the strange quiet that seems to fall upon nature before some supernatural phenomenon or disastrous upheaval? And is there anything that can touch our hearts like the power of stillness?
For the hearts that will cease focusing on themselves, there is “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” (Phil. 4:7); “quietness and trust” (Isa. 30:15), which is the source of all strength; a “great peace” that will never “make them stumble” (Ps. 119:165); and a deep rest, which the world can never give nor take away. Deep within the center of the soul is a chamber of peace where God lives and where, if we will enter it and quiet all the other sounds, we can hear His “gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:12).
Even in the fastest wheel that is turning, if you look at the center, where the axle is found, there is no movement at all. And even in the busiest life, there is a place where we may dwell alone with God in eternal stillness.
There is only one way to know God: “Be still, and know.” “The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him” (Hab. 2:20). selected
All-loving Father, sometimes we have walked under starless skies that dripped darkness like drenching rain. We despaired from the lack of light from the sun, moon, and stars. The gloomy darkness loomed above us as if it would last forever. And from the dark, there spoke no soothing voice to mend our broken hearts. We would gladly have welcomed even a wild clap of thunder, if only to break the torturing stillness of that mournfully depressing night.
Yet Your soft whisper of eternal love spoke more sweetly to our bruised and bleeding souls than any winds that breathe across a wind harp. It was Your “gentle whisper” that spoke to us. We were listening and we heard You, and then we looked and saw Your face, which was radiant with the light of Your love. And when we heard Your voice and saw Your face, new life returned to us, just as life returns to withered blossoms that drink the summer rain.
“Take the arrows.... Strike the ground.” He struck it three times and stopped. The man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck the ground five or six times.” (2 Kings 13:18–19)
How striking and powerful is the message of these words! Jehoash, king of Israel, thought he had done quite well when he struck the ground “three times and stopped.” To him, it seemed to be an extraordinary act of his faith, but the Lord and the prophet Elisha were deeply disappointed, because he had stopped halfway
Yes, he did receive something; in fact, he received a great deal—exactly what he had believed God for, in the final analysis. Yet Jehoash did not receive everything that Elisha meant for him to have or that the Lord wanted to bestow on him. He missed much of the meaning of the promise, and the fullness of the blessing. He did receive more than any human could have offered, but he did not receive God’s best.
Dear believer, how sobering is the truth of this story! How important it is for us to learn to pray through our circumstances and to fully examine our hearts with God’s message to us!
Otherwise, we will never claim all the fullness of His promise or all the possibilities that believing prayer offers. A. B. Simpson
To him who is able to do immeasurably more than
all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at
work within us, to him be glory. Ephesians 3:20–21
In no other place does the apostle Paul use these seemingly redundant words: “immeasurably more than all.” Each word is packed with God’s infinite love and power “to do” for His praying believers. Yet there is the following limitation: “according to his power that is at work within us.” He will only do as much for us as we will allow Him to do in us. The same power that saved us, washed us with His blood, filled us with the power of His Holy Spirit, and protected us through numerous temptations will work for us to meet every emergency, every crisis, every circumstance, and every adversary. The Alliance
Caleb asked her, “What can I do for you?” She replied, “Do me a special favor. Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs. (Joshua 15:18–19)
There are both “upper and lower springs” in life, and they are springs, not stagnant pools. They are the joys and blessings that flow from heaven above, through the hottest summer and through the most barren desert of sorrow and trials. The land belonging to Acsah was in the Negev under the scorching sun and was often parched from the burning heat. But from the hills came the inexhaustible springs that cooled, refreshed, and fertilized all the land.
These springs flow through the low places, the difficult places, the desert places, the lonely places, and even the ordinary places of life. And no matter what our situation may be, these springs can always be found. Abraham found them amid the hills of Canaan. Moses found them among the rocks of Midian. David found them among the ashes of Ziklag, when his property was gone and his family had been taken captive. And although his “men were talking of stoning him . . . David found strength in the Lord his God” (1 Sam. 30:6).
Isaiah found them in the terrible days when King Sennacherib of Assyria invaded Judah, when the mountains themselves seemed to be thrown into the midst of the sea. Yet his faith could still sing: “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall” (Ps. 46:4–5).
The Christian martyrs found them amid the flames, the church reformers amid their enemies and struggles, and we can find them each day of the year if we have the Comforter in our hearts and have learned to say with David, “All my springs of joy are in you” (Ps. 87:7 NASB).
How plentiful and how precious these springs are, and how much more there is to be possessed of God’s own fullness! A. B. Simpson
I said, “The desert is so wide!
”I said, “The desert is so bare!
What springs to quench my thirst are there?
Where will I from the tempest hide?”
I said, “The desert is so lone!
No gentle voice, nor loving face
To brighten any smallest space.
”I paused before my cry was done!
I heard the flow of hidden springs;
Before me palms rose green and fair;
The birds were singing; all the air
Was filled and stirred with angels’ wings!
And One asked softly, “Why, indeed,
Take overanxious thought for what
Tomorrow brings you? See you not
The Father knows just what you need?”
Nothing is impossible with God. (Luke 1:37)
High in the snow-covered Alpine valleys, God works one of His miracles year after year. In spite of the extremes of sunny days and frozen nights, a flower blooms unblemished through the crust of ice near the edge of the snow. How does this little flower, known as the soldanelle plant, accomplish such a feat?
During the past summer the little plant spread its leaves wide and flat on the ground in order to soak up the sun’s rays, and it kept that energy stored in its roots throughout the winter. When spring came, life stirred even beneath its shroud of snow, and as the plant sprouted, it amazingly produced enough warmth to thaw a small dome-shaped pocket of snow above its head.
It grew higher and higher, and as it did, the small dome of air continued to rise just above its head until its flower bud was safely formed. At last the icy covering of the air compartment gave way, and the blossom burst into the sunshine. The crystalline texture of its mauve-colored petals sparkled like the snow itself, as if it still bore the marks of the journey it had endured.
This fragile flower sounds an echo in our hearts that none of the lovely flowers nestled in the warm grass of the lower slopes could ever awaken. Oh, how we love to see impossible things accomplished! And so does God.
Therefore may we continue to persevere, for even if we took our circumstances and cast all the darkness of human doubt upon them and then hastily piled as many difficulties together as we could find against God’s divine work, we could never move beyond the blessedness of His miracle-working power. May we place our faith completely in Him, for He is the God of the impossible. selected
Where morning dawns and evening fades you call forth songs of joy. (Psalm 65:8)
Have you ever risen early, climbed a hill, and watched God make a morning? The dull gray gives way as He pushes the sun toward the horizon, and then the tints and hues of every color begin to blend into one perfect light as the full sun suddenly bursts into view. As king of the day, the sun moves majestically across the sky, flooding the earth and every deep valley with glorious light. At this point, you can hear the music of heaven’s choir as it sings of the majesty of God Himself and of the glory of the morning.
In the holy hush of the early dawn
I hear a Voice—
“I am with you all the day,
The clear, pure light of the morning made me yearn for the truth in my heart, which alone could make me pure and clear as the morning itself and tune my life to the concert pitch of nature around me. And the breeze that blew from the sunrise made me hope in God, who had breathed into my nostrils the breath of life. He had so completely filled me with His breath, mind, and Spirit that I would only think His thoughts and live His life. Within His life I had found my own, but now it was eternally glorified.
What would we poor humans do without our God’s nights and mornings! George MacDonald
In the early morning hours,
’Twixt the night and day,
While from earth the darkness passes
Then it’s sweet to talk with Jesus
In your bedroom still—
For the coming day and duties
Ask to know His will.
Then He’ll lead the way before you,
Laying mountains low;
Making desert places blossom,
Sweet’ning sorrow’s flow.
Do you want a life of triumph,
Victory all the way?
Then put God in the beginning
Of each coming day.
Later on, however . . . (Hebrews 12:11)
There is a legend that tells of a German baron who, at his castle on the Rhine, stretched wires in the air from tower to tower so that the wind might treat them as a wind harp and thereby create music as it blew across them. Yet as the soft breezes swirled around the castle, no music was born.
One night, however, a fierce storm arose, and the hill where the castle sat was struck with the fury of the violent wind. The baron looked out his doorway on the terror of the wind, and the wind harp was filling the air with melodies that rang out even above the noise of the storm. It had taken a fierce storm to produce the music!
Haven’t we all known people whose lives have never produced any pleasing music during their days of calm prosperity but who, when fierce winds have blown across their lives, have astonished us by the power and beauty of their music?
Beating against the pane!
How endlessly it pours
Out of doors
From the darkened sky—
I wonder why!
Springing up after showers,
Blossoming fresh and fair,
God has now explained
Why it rained!
You can always count on God to make the “later on” of difficulties a thousand times richer and better than the present, if we overcome them correctly. “No discipline seems pleasant at the time.... Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace” (Heb. 12:11). What a yield!
Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the Lord, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.(Jeremiah 45:5)
This is a promise given to you for the difficult places in which you may find yourself—a promise of safety and life even in the midst of tremendous pressure. And it is a promise that adjusts itself to fit the times as they continue to grow more difficult, as we approach the end of this age and the tribulation period.
What does it mean when it says that you will “escape with your life”? It means your life will be snatched from the jaws of the Enemy, as David snatched the lamb from the lion. It does not mean you will be spared the heat of the battle and confrontation with your foes, but it means “a table before [you] in the presence of [your] enemies” (Ps. 23:5), a shelter from the storm, a fortress amid the foe, and a life preserved in the face of continual pressure. It means comfort and hope from God, such as Paul received when he and his friends “were under great pressure, far beyond [their] ability to endure, so that [they] despaired even of life” (2 Cor. 1:8). And it means the Lord’s divine help, such as when Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7 KJV) remained, but the power of Christ came to rest upon him, and he learned that God’s “grace is sufficient” (2 Cor. 12:9).
May the Lord “wherever you go . . . let you escape with your life” and help you today to be victorious in your difficulties. from Days of Heaven upon Earth
We often pray to be delivered from afflictions, and even trust God that we will be. But we do not pray for Him to make us what we should be while in the midst of the afflictions. Nor do we pray that we would be able to live within them, for however long they may last, in the complete awareness that we are held and sheltered by the Lord and can therefore continue within them without suffering any harm.
The Savior endured an especially difficult test in the wilderness while in the presence of Satan for forty days and nights, His human nature weakened by the need for food and rest. The three Hebrew young men were kept for a time in the flames of “the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual” (Dan. 3:19). In spite of being forced to endure the tyrant’s last method of torture, they remained calm and composed as they waited for their time of deliverance to come. And after surviving an entire night sitting among the lions, “when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God” (Dan. 6:23).
They were able to endure in the presence of their enemies because they dwelt in the presence of their God.