A Word in Season
I will Trust and Not be Afraid
"I will trust and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song..." Isaiah 12:2
"Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear Him..." Deuteronomy 13:4
There are two types of fear: one is centered in the material, the other, in the spiritual realm. Which is the Christian fear? Which is the un-Christian fear? Have you not observed many, even professing Christians, who are haunted by fear? They are overwhelmed with apprehension. They fear their health will be wrecked, their funds will not be sufficient to carry them through their earthly pilgrimage. They fear friend or foe may say or do something that will injure their reputation or occupation. They fear death will snatch a loved one from their side. This type of fear is certainly not Christ-like, and thus never should be present in the life of a believer.
Relative to material things, we read in Rev. 2:10, "Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer;" and also in Phil 4:6, "In nothing be anxious." If our life is in harmony with God's will, we have absolutely nothing to fear. We will then put our trust wholly and unreservedly in Him, and He will never cease to have His guardian angel over us. Yes, if the Lord is on our side, we need not fear what man can do unto us.
On the other hand, is it intended that we human beings are to be immune from all fear? No, indeed! "Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God and serve Him..." (Deut. 6:13) "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him." (Ps. 25:14) What is implied by fearing the Lord? We find the answer in Prov. 8:13, "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil..." Certainly the populace of our land today would not engage in a life of debauchery, wickedness, sensuality and dissipation if they possessed this type of fear.
"Blessed is everyone that feareth the Lord, that walketh in His ways." (Ps. 128:1) We are children of God by faith, and our fear of Him is to be a child-like fear, a fear mingled with love and trust. If God is our strength we have naught to fear; and if "The Lord is our light and our salvation, whom shall we fear?" (Ps. 27:1) If the Lord is our Shepherd, we will confidently and gladly go even through the valley of death and fear no evil, for we know that He is with us. — Frieda J. Schneider
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A Life of Service
"But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant." Matthew 23:11
"Bear ye one another's burdens,..." Galatians 6:2
The happiest people in the world are those who are living for others. "Give and it shall be given unto you, pressed down shaken together and running over..." (Luke 6:38) Not merely money, but time, love, interest and loving service invested will return with interest. How may you find the secret of life of service? Live a life for the Master. Let Him unfold your life, your days, your years. He never fails. Be earnest, be diligent, be faithful. You will be abundantly useful.
Look at the artist's chisel. The artist cannot carve without it. Yet, imagine the chisel, conscious that it was made to carve, and that it is its function, trying to carve alone. It lays itself against the hard marble, but it has neither strength nor skill. Then we can imagine the chisel full of disappointment. "Why cannot I carve?" it cries. Then the artist comes and seizes it. The chisel lays itself into his hand, and is obedient to him. That obedience is faith. It opens the channels between the sculptor's chambers of the artist's soul to the chisel's edge. The sculptor and the chisel are not two, but one. It is the unit which they make that carves the stone.
We are but the steel to carve God's statues in this world. Unquestionably we must do the work. But the human worker is only the chisel of the great Artist. The artist needs his chisel; but the chisel can do nothing, produce no beauty of itself. The artist must seize it, and the chisel lay itself into his hand and be obedient to him. We must yield ourselves altogether to Christ and let Him use us. Then His power, His wisdom, His skill, His thought, His love, shall flow through our souls, our brains, our hearts, our fingers. That is working by faith. — Phillips Brooks
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"...but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." I Corinthians 10:13
"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation, for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him." James 1:12
"Temptation vanishes before the sight of the dying Redeemer. Then inbred lust roars against us, and we overcome it through the blood of the Lamb; for "the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin." Sometimes a raging corruption or a strong habit wars upon us, and then we conquer by the sanctifying Spirit of God, who is with us and shall be in us evermore. Or else it is the world which tempts, and our feet have almost gone; but we overcome the world through the victory of faith. If Satan raises against us the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life all at once, we are still delivered, for the Lord is a wall of fire round about us.
"The inward life bravely resists all sin, and God's help is given to believers to preserve them from all evil in the moment of urgent need; even as HE helped His martyrs and confessors to speak the right word when called, unprepared, to confront their adversaries. Care not, therefore, O thou truster in the Lord Jesus, how fierce thine enemy may be on this day! As young David slew the lion and the bear and smote the Philistine, even so shalt thou go from victory to victory." — Charles Spurgeon
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"But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." Galatians 6:14
Jesus hath now many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few bearers of His Cross. Many He hath that are desirous of consolation, but few of tribulation. Many He findeth that share His table, but few His fasting. All desire to rejoice with Him, few are willing to endure anything for Him. Many follow Jesus unto the breaking of bread, but few to the drinking of the cup of His Passion. Many reverence His miracles, few follow the shame of His Cross. Many love Jesus as long as no adversities befall them. Many praise and bless Him, so long as they receive any consolations from Him. But if Jesus hides Himself, and leaves them but a little while, they fall either into complaining, or into too much dejection of mind. But they who love Jesus for the sake of Jesus, and not for some special comfort of their own, bless Him in all tribulation and anguish of heart, as well as in the highest comfort. —From "The Imitation of Christ" by Thomas À Kempis
When I survey the wondrous cross,
On which the prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
See, from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
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Abide in Me
"If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." John 15:7
Some explanations that have been given of this are so mystical or so profound that to many simple-minded children of God, they mean practically nothing at all. But what Jesus meant was really very simple. He had been comparing Himself to a vine, His disciples to the branches in the vine. Some branches continued in the vine; that is, remained in living union with the vine so that the sap, or life, of the vine constantly flowed into these branches. They had no independent life of their own. Their buds, their leaves, their blossoms and fruit were really not theirs, but of the vine. Other branches were completely severed from the vine, or else the flow of the sap, or life, of the vine into them was in some way hindered.
Now for us to abide in Christ is for us to bear the same relationship to Him that the first sort of branch bears to the vine. That is to say, to abide in Christ is to renounce any independent life of our own, to give up trying to think our thoughts, or to form our resolutions, or cultivate our feelings. It is to simply and constantly look to Christ, to think His thoughts in us, to form His purposes in us, to feel His emotions and affections in us. It is to renounce all life independent of Christ, and constantly look to Him for the inflow of His life into us, and the outworking of His life through us.
When we do this, our prayers will obtain that which we seek from God. This must necessarily be so, for our desires will not be our own desires, but Christ's; and our prayers will not in reality be our own prayers, but Christ praying in us. Such prayers will always be in harmony with God's will, and the Father heareth Him always. R. A. Torrey
Oh, to be but emptier, lowlier,
Mean, unnoticed and unknown.
And to God a vessel holier,
Filled with Christ, and Christ alone!
Naught of earth to cloud the glory,
Naught of Self the light to dim,
Telling forth His wondrous story,
Emptied, to be filled with Him.
— Author Unknown
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A Deeper Fellowship with God
"And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee..." II Kings 2:1,2
"Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" We stand before Jordan today and wave our wands, but the waters do not divide. The reason is not hard to find. Few there be of Elisha's sort who will not be stopped at Gilgal or Jericho, but who press on for the double portion. The men whom God has blessed with His Spirit in unusual power through the ages have been men in such dead earnest that they would not let the good keep them from the best. They craved a deeper fellowship with God, and found it through prevailing prayer, while the rest, like the sons of the prophets at Bethel and Jericho, stood by the roadside and watched them go by.
Call it what you will, there is a waiting before God that we hurried, modern mortals do not know; that sends a man back to his task with the hand of God upon him in such a fashion that the waters of Jordan part before him. It is not that God puts a premium on fasting and night-long prayers and tears, and austerities of the flesh; but He does reward burning desire for His very best that leaves no stone unturned, and follows Elijah across Jordan while others merely watch him go by.
Our Lord himself lived perfectly in the will of God; yet He found it necessary to spend nights in prayer. Shall we poor failing mortals casually snatch from heaven the power that others gained only by fervent and importunate intercession? It is true that our Father in heaven giveth and upbraideth not; but He keeps His choicest blessings for those who really press through, and who will not stop at the Gilgal of a mild, average experience? — Vance Havner
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Our Loving Father
"And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee... to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldst keep His commandments, or no." Deuteronomy 8:2
God knoweth best what is needful for us, and all that He does is for our good. If we knew how much He loves us, we should always be ready to receive equally and with indifference from His hand the sweet and the bitter. All would please that came from Him. The secret afflictions never appear intolerable, except when we see them in the wrong light. When we see them as dispensed by the hand of God, when we know that it is our loving Father who abases and distresses us, our sufferings will lose their bitterness and become even matter of consolation.
Let all our employment be to know God. The more one knows Him, the more one desires to know Him. As knowledge is commonly the measure of love, the deeper and more extensive our knowledge shall be, the greater will be our love; and if our love of God were great, we should love Him equally in pains and pleasures.
Let us not content ourselves with loving God for the mere sensible favors, howsoever elevated, which He has done or may do for us. Such favors, though ever so great, cannot bring us so near to Him as faith does in one simple act. Let us seek Him often by faith. He is within us. Seek Him not elsewhere. If we do love Him alone, are we not rude, and do we not deserve blame if we busy ourselves about trifles which do not please, and perhaps offend Him? It is to be feared these trifles will one day cost us dearly.
Let us begin to be devoted to Him in good earnest. Let us cast everything besides out of our hearts. He would possess them alone. Beg this favor of Him. If we do what we can on our parts, we shall soon see that change wrought in us which we aspire after. — Brother Lawrence in "The Practice of the Presence of God"
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For His Kingdom
"...and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" Esther 4:14
Our natural talents, endowments, and advantages constitute part of our trust in God. Esther's beautiful face was part of her kingdom. Beloved, do you recognize that even your person, your natural attractions, your intellectual gift, all are a trust from God and are for God? Did you know that you might sacredly use your personal influence and power to advance His kingdom?
Our social position and circumstances are part of our kingdom. God led Esther, in His providence, into a palace and made her the bride of a king; thus giving her an influence that practically controlled the whole world. Likewise, God has given to each of us our places in life, our relationships, our friendships, our family ties, our wealth or poverty, our occupation and business as channels of holy influence and opportunities of service for His kingdom.
We have not the placing of ourselves, but the filling of our place. Sometimes the humblest place is as important as the most prominent; even as the little jeweled pivot in the watch is the axis of the whole machinery, and the piston in the engine moves the whole works of the factory, or the carriages of the train. Let us therefore recognize every place in life, and every circumstance that comes to us as a definite occasion for some heavenly purpose. Let us seek to use it for a blessing to those around you.
Are you rich? Your money is not your own, but a trust for God. Are you in a business position? You are there, not merely to seize the opportunity for gain and aggrandizement, but to glorify God in every person you meet, and to be a blessing to all with whom you come in contact. Are you a workman in the factory? You are there for the salvation of somebody, or for the uplifting of the name of Christ in the face of some dishonor or insult, or to set an example in which they shall see and recognize their Master...God help you to recognize your kingdom and to use it for your King!
Do we realize, beloved, the high place which He has given us? It is even as Esther's. The Church of God is the bride of the King of kings. She has been raised from nothingness and worthlessness to share all His resources and glory, to represent Him in all His fullness, to draw from Him all His might, and to use His power to establish His own kingdom. Do we really know that we have come to the kingdom for such as this? — A. B. Simpson
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"...Resist the devil and he will flee from you." James 4:7
Temptations are often very profitable to a man, though they be troublesome and grievous; for in them a man is humbled, and purified, and instructed. Many seek to flee temptations, and do fall more grievously into them. By flight alone we cannot overcome, but by patience and true humility, we are made stronger than all our enemies...The beginning of all evil temptations is inconstancy of mind, and small confidence in God. For as a ship without a helm is tossed to and fro with the waves; so the man who is careless, and apt to leave his purpose is in many ways tempted.
Fire proveth iron; and temptation, a just man. We know not oftentimes what we are able to do, but temptation showeth us what we are. Humble we therefore our souls under the hand of God in all temptation and tribulation, for He will save and exalt the humble in spirit. In temptations and tribulations, a man is tested as to how much he hath profited; and his reward is thereby greater, and his virtue the better made clear. Neither is it a great thing if a man be devout and fervent when he feeleth no affliction; but if, in adversity, he bear himself patiently, there is hope then of great progress. Some are guarded from great temptations, and in little daily ones are often overcome, to the end that being humbled, they may never presume on themselves in great matters who are made weak in so small things. — "The Imitation of Christ" by Thomas À Kempis
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"In your patience possess ye your souls." Luke 21:19
Impatience is the root of unnumbered evils; and as a disturber of human happiness, it probably has no equal in practical life. Its assumed innocence makes it more dangerous; but its out-croppings of evil are rarely surpassed.
Webster defines impatience as "...chafing of spirit... as not bearing with composure; intolerant, uneasy; fretful; restless; etc..." With many of God's saints, impatience is their greatest temptation. Who can measure the loss sustained by it? With many, temptation to be impatient is greater than all others combined; and many Christians yield to it more frequently than to any other sin.
To men of the world, patience in Christian behavior is a test of true discipleship. From gray-haired elders to the youngest child capable of thinking, the slightest manifestation of impatience in a Christian begets distrust. Some way God had ingrained into humanity, great and small, that impatience is not Christ-like... To overcome impatience, you must secure and maintain an abiding attitude against impatience, as you can do against lying, exaggerating, scolding, gossiping, or any other sin.
The lack of firm decision against committing any sin makes us an easy prey to the temptation. It is impossible for any one to be kept from lying while any door is left open to lie. Get the doors to impatience all closed with the attitude that, in you, patience shall have her perfect work, and in that attitude, the Lord will be your strong, loving Partner in the undertaking. You trusted Him to save you; now trust Him to keep you victorious and patient. His best promises in both Testaments are a failure if He cannot keep you from impatience and all other vices. (Jude 24)
Beloved Christian, thus shall your soul conquer through the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony; and in you, patience shall have her perfect work. So shall you be "strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;" (Col.1:11) — M. L. Haney
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God's Unspeakable Gift
"Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift." II Corinthians 9:15
No merry bells pealed out on that silent, holy night in Bethlehem; nor on that first Christmas morning when the virgin mother pressed to her heart a tiny bundle of babyhood in which was wrapped Infinitude, "all the fullness of God." He was born to die, to die the death that would conquer and end all death. God's edict had gone forth: "It is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul," and "without the shedding of blood there is no remission." But neither the "blood of bulls and goats," nor sin-tainted human blood could take away sin. Only holy blood could meet the need, and God could not die!
O, the infinite wisdom that "drew salvation's plan." "My son, God will provide Himself a lamb," was Abraham's quiet answer to Isaac's query as the two journeyed up the slopes of Mt. Moriah. Deity, in union with humanity, in the Person of Mary's virgin born son, provided the spotless "Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world."
"This man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God." Yes, the great Creator became our Saviour because God, the Father, was willing to give His only begotten Son; and because the Son was willing to give Himself a ransom for all. — Author Unknown
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Knowing God's Guidence
"Teach me Thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path..." Psalms 27:11
Many children of God are so deeply exercised on the matter of guidance that it may be helpful to give a few suggestions as to knowing the way which our father would have us walk, and the work He would have us do... So much of our power and peace consists in knowing where God would have us be, and in being just there. If we are precisely where our heavenly Father would have us to be, we are perfectly sure that He will provide food and raiment, and everything beside. When He sends His servants to Cherith, He will make even the ravens to bring them food.
There are certain practical directions to which we must attend in order that we may be led into the mind of the Lord. They are these:
1. Our motives must be pure...We must be very careful in judging our motives, searching them as the detectives at the doors of the House of Commons search each stranger who enters.
2. Our will must be surrendered. It is for the lack of this subordination that we so often miss the guidance we seek. There is a secret controversy between our will and God's; and we shall never be right until we have let Him take, and break, and make...If you cannot give, let Him take. If you are not willing, confess that you are willing to be made willing.
3. We must seek information for our mind. It is of greatest importance then, that we should feed our minds with facts, with reliable information,...and above all, with the Word of God.
4. We must be much in prayer. It is the law of our Father's house that His children ask for what they want.
5. We must wait for the gradual unfolding of God's plan in Providence. God's impressions within and His Word without are always corroborated by His Providence around, and we should quietly wait until these three focus into one point...
6. If you don't know what to do, stand still till you do. Then when the time comes for action, circumstances, like glow-worms, will sparkle along your path, and you will become so sure that you are right (when God's three witnesses concur) that you could not be surer though an angel beckoned you on.
7. Have no other aim except to do His will. Let us look high enough for guidance. Let us encourage our souls to wait only upon God till it is given. Let us cultivate that meekness which He will guide in judgment. (Ps. 25:9) — F. B. Meyer
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When Ye Pray
"...What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." Mark 11:24
A good while ago in smoky, foggy, lovely London there was a fully surrendered, consecrated woman-gray-haired, bent back (she spent many hours a day over the washtub and the ironing board.) She had a boy. He ran away to sea in his teens, and for years she did not know where the boy was. And she prayed, of course. These praying mothers! And prayer never slips! Many a time the dew of her eyes mingled with the suds as she prayed for John on the high seas, she knew not where. And the prayer was answered, of course. No real, simple prayer ever slipped yet. It cannot. John came to Jesus. And then he began telling others about Jesus, and he became known as "the sailor preacher" of London. And John Newton, London's sailor preacher, was the means of turning men (I will use a big word thoughtfully) by the THOUSANDS to Jesus.
Among the many that John Newton touched, there was one man, Thomas Scott-cultured, scholarly, moral, "didn't need a Saviour." Scott came to Jesus. And then Scott, as many of you know by tongue and by pen, (again I will use that big word) swayed THOUSANDS for Jesus.
Among the many that Scott touched, there was one man, the very reverse of Scott-young, dyspeptic, melancholy, "too bad" for God to save. But Scott touched Cowper, and Cowper found out about a fountain filled with blood. And he was cleansed in the flood of blood. He wrote down his hymn, "There Is a Fountain Filled With Blood." Some folks do not like that hymn today. Some of the new hymnbook makers are leaving it out. But the old hymn was sung, and saved people by the thousands.
And Cowper touched a man, among many, Wilberforce-clever, a Christian statesman who was a lay preacher of the old school... And Wilberforce, among many, touched one man, a vicar of the Church of England, namely Richmond. He was changed. And Richmond knew the story of the daughter of a milkman... He wrote down her story. He called the little bit of a book, "The Dairyman's Daughter. "...The little bit of a book went into peasant's huts and kings' palaces, and all between, and everywhere-burning like a soft, intense flame. Untold thousands of lives were touched and changed.
The center of the whole thing-an old woman, gray-haired, bent back, stubby fingers, bending over the washing and ironing as she prayed for her boy, John. And praying until John came... I am very clear about this. The Man on the throne yonder who came from the throne to the cross and back would say, "This woman, she was MY friend. Through her prayer I could loosen out the power that touched untold thousands. — S. D. Gordon
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Endued with Power
"And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high." Luke 24:49
This baptism of the Holy Ghost, this thing promised by the Father, this enduement of power from on high, Christ has expressly informed us, is the indispensable condition of performing the work which He has set before us. How shall we get it?... The example of the first disciples teaches us how. They first consecrated themselves to this work, and continued in prayer and supplication until the Holy Ghost fell upon them on the day of Pentecost; then they received the promised enduement. This, then is the way to get it.
There is a great difference between the peace and the power of the Holy Spirit in the soul. The disciples were Christians before the day of Pentecost, and as such, had a measure of the Holy Spirit. They must have had the peace of sins forgiven, and of a justified state; but they yet had not the enduement of power necessary. They had the peace which Christ had given them, but not the power which He had promised.
Everybody prays for this, and yet, with all this intercession, how few comparatively are really endued with this Spirit of power from on high! We are not willing, upon the whole, to have what we desire and ask. God has expressly informed us that if we regard iniquity in our hearts, He will not hear us. But the petitioner is often self-indulgent. This is iniquity, and God will not hear him. He in uncharitable, censorious, self-dependent... these and other forms of indulged sin explain why so little is received, while so much is asked. On the other hand, there is the certainty that we shall receive the promised enduement, and be successful in Christian work if we ask and fulfill the plainly revealed conditions of prevailing prayer. — Charles G. Finney
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Crucified with Christ
"I am crucified with Christ" Galatians 2:20
"Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." John 12:24
The act of crucifixion is one thing, but the spirit in the crucifixion is another. This divinely beautiful spirit of self-immolation cannot be defined. It can only be faintly described. It is a heart quality, a soul essence too fluid to be held by words. It is a silent spirit. It suffers without advertising the depths of its suffering. It can be subdued, scolded, criticized, misunderstood, misrepresented and checked; or hindered a thousand ways without a groan, or a kick, or a trace of threatening or imprudence. (See I Pet. 2:23)
It is a flexible spirit with no plans of its own. It can be turned by the finger of God in any direction without a moment's warning. It can wear old, threadbare clothes, and live on plain food with a thankful and sweet disposition, without even a thought of envy or coveting the nice things of others. It looks with a quiet, secret, joyful contempt on all the honors and pleasures, learning and culture, the honorable splendors of earth. This is because it sees into heaven, and is so fascinated with the magnitude of coming glories, that even the pretty and honorable things of the world look ugly to it.
The rugged cross, which frightens so many Christians, is embraced by this spirit with a secret, subtle joy because it knows that all suffering will enlarge and sweeten its love. — G. D. Watson
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