Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him. (JOB 13:15)
Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. (ISAIAH 48:10)
"I WILL not let Thee go; Thou Help in time of need!
Heap ill on ill, I trust Thee still,
E'en when it seems that Thou wouldst slay indeed!
Do as Thou wilt with me, I yet will cling to Thee;
Hide Thou Thy face, yet, Help in time of need,
I will not let Thee go."
WOLFGANG C. DESSLER
"YOUR afflictions are not eternal, time will end them, and so shall ye at length see the Lord's salvation; His love sleepeth not, is still in working for you; His salvation will not tarry nor ; and suffering for Him is the noblest cross out of heaven. Your Lord hath the choice of ten thousand other crosses, beside this, to exercise you withal; but His wisdom and His love choosed out this for you, beside them all; and take it as a choice one, and make use of it. Let the Lord absolutely have the ordering of your evi'ls and troubles, and put them off you, by recommending your cross and your furnace to Him, who hath skill to melt His own metal, and knoweth well what to do with His furnace."
This encouraged me, so I hope it will you too. It is strengthening to remember that the afflictions will not last forever. Yesterday I was talking on a the phone with a friend, and I told her about something that had again come up that was bringing me heartache...part of the fire...and she reminded me in her most sweet way, of what lies beyond the fire. It helps so much to set our vision on what lies beyond. "For the joy set before him endured the cross..." (Heb 12) It seems that when I am not burdened by the current affliction and am rather focusing on the joy to follow, that it is only then that I can most affectivly make use of my cross and be sanctified by it.
Here is a quote from a book I am reading, The Discipline of Grace, by Jerry Bridges. "Our motive for obedience is just as important, probably more so, to God than the level of our performance. A person who struggles with some persistent sin but does so out of love for God is more pleasing to Him than the person who has no such struggle but is proud of his or her self-control. Of course, the person who obeys from a motive of love will be concerned about his or her peformance. There will be a sincere desire and an eranest effort to please God in every area of life."
This encouraged me a lot, because I feel that the sins I am battling most right now are those fiesty, persistent ones. This afternoon I was thinking about one area, feeling rather helpless, and recognizing my dependance on God to grow. I was crying out for grace, but also feeling a little bit discouraged that it was taking so much effort to overcome it. Then I rememberd the above quote that I read earlier this week. It is comforting to think that God is pleased with our desire to grow, even if the struggle is ongoing.
Click here to purchase The Discipline of Grace.
Making the Most
"If we are to receive benefit from our captivity we must accept the situation and turn it to the best possible account. Fretting over that from which we have been removed or which has been taken away from us, will not make things better, but it will prevent us from improving those which remain. The bond is only tightened by our stretching it to the uttermost." - By William Taylor
How easily we do this!!! I wonder sometimes how much lighter a heavy load would seem if we did not take it off our shoulders to examine it so often. Instead of dwelling on the burden and filling our arms with it, we should make the most of it.
I find myself doing this regularly. I know that it will not help matters, but only prevent me from joyfully walking out God's plan, and yet I "stretch it to the uttermost". Instead I could be trying to make the most of it, growing fruit from it, and seeking lost oppurtunties.
Burning the Dross
"He sat by a fire of seven-fold heat,
As He watched by the precious ore,
And closer He bent with a searching gaze
As He heated it more and more.
He knew He had ore that could stand the test,
And He wanted the finest gold
To mould as a crown for the King to wear,
Set with gems with a price untold.
So He laid our gold in the burning fire,
Tho' we fain would have said Him 'Nay,'
And He watched the dross that we had not seen,
And it melted and passed away.
And the gold grew brighter and yet more bright,
But our eyes were so dim with tears,
We saw but the fire--not the Master's hand,
And questioned with anxious fears.
Yet our gold shone out with a richer glow,
As it mirrored a Form above,
That bent o'er the fire, tho' unseen by us,
With a look of ineffable love.
Can we think that it pleases His loving heart
To cause us a moment's pain?
Ah, no! but He saw through the present cross
The bliss of eternal gain.
So He waited there with a watchful eye,
With a love that is strong and sure,
And His gold did not suffer a bit more heat,
Than was needed to make it pure."
Oh Lord, help me to see beyond the present cross to your hand...to see what you see! Let not my tears blind me from viewing the end result. The dross is melting away, and your loving hand will not withold a single moment longer than needed.
Rotten On the Inside
Once upon a time, a little girl was given a prophecy. This girl always liked prophesies, because in the past they had often served to strengthen her. So she was glad when somebody started prophecying over her. But it did not take long before she realized this would not be like the previous ones.
Among other things, she was told of a tree. Green, beautiful leaves clothed it on the outside, but on the inside the wood was rotten and ugly. What could this mean?
She was this tree.
:p The End
Sowing to the Spirit
"Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
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 6:7-9)
That could either be encouraging or frightening, depending on where one feels they are. It is easy to grow weary in doing good, especially when we cannot see a harvest yet. But we are *promised*, that at the *proper* time we *will* reap a harvest if we continue to sow to the Spirit. That gives much hope. All the seeds sown are not in vain. Though it might seem to take a while for them to sprout, if we do not grow weary, do not give up, we are promised that in the perfect timing, when the test of perserverance is learned, a harvest will be reaped. Yay!
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 followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee,
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine's blaze 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 shalt tearless be.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee,
I lay in dust life's glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red,
Life that shall endless be.
--by George Matheson
This poem is so full it is hard to know where to start! Each line is dripping with meaning. As I re-read each line meditativly it lifts my heart. It has a theme of greater to be gained and of better to come. "May richer, fuller be...May brighter, fairer be...That morn shalt tearless be...And from the ground there blossoms red, Life that shall endless be." Praise the Lord that he has given us a future hope to lift our eyes up to!
From Weakness to Power
"For my strength is made perfect in weakness."
--2 Corinthians 12:9
"A primary qualification for serving God with any amount of success, and for doing God's work well and triumphantly, is a sense of our own weakness. When God's warrior marches forth to battle, strong in his own might, when he boasts, 'I know that I shall conquer, my own right arm and my conquering sword shall get unto me the victory,' defeat is not far distant. God will not go forth with that man who marches in his own strength. He who reckoneth on victory thus has reckoned wrongly, for 'it is not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.' They who go forth to fight, boasting of their prowess, shall return with their gay banners trailed in the dust, and their armour stained with disgrace. Those who serve God must serve Him in His own way, and in His strength, or He will never accept their service.
That which man doth, unaided by divine strength, God can never own. The mere fruits of the earth He casteth away; He will only reap that corn, the seed of which was sown from heaven, watered by grace, and ripened by the sun of divine love. God will empty out all that thou hast before He will put His own into thee; He will first clean out thy granaries before He will fill them with the finest of the wheat. The river of God is full of water; but not one drop of it flows from earthly springs. God will have no strength used in His battles but the strength which He Himself imparts. Are you mourning over your own weakness? Take courage, for there must be a consciousness of weakness before the Lord will give thee victory. Your emptiness is but the preparation for your being filled, and your casting down is but the making ready for your lifting up." -- Charles Spurgeon
"When I am weak then am I strong,
Grace is my shield and Christ my song."
This was from Morning & Evening (Nov 4th, morning) but I happened to read it this afternoon. It couldn't have been more on the mark for how this day has gone. My emotions have been trying to get the better of me today (its so fun being a female! :p ) and I have felt completely weak and helpless to rise above them. Its amazing how strong the rush of emotion can be. Even when our minds know unchanging truths we can be swept away by the tidal wave of emotions.
Weak could not be a better word to describe how I felt. Weak to stand up against the water rushing around me. Weak to fight the current and swim towards shore. Weak to climb upon that rock that is higher than I. But that is just it - I am so weak that on my own I cannot do it. I would drown swimming in my own strength. But when I am weak, then I am strong, for then I can CRY OUT for God's power to rescue me. HIS strength, HIS power takes over and carries me to shore. HE lifts me onto the rock that is above the rushing water. If I had tried to make it there on my own I would not have survived. But I have a powerful savour who delights to use my helplessness to reveal his power when I call out to him.
His name be praised!
Like A Flower in the Rain
"They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn and grow as the vine" (Hosea 14:7).
The day closed with heavy showers. The plants in my garden were beaten down before the pelting storm, and I saw one flower that I had admired for its beauty and loved for its fragrance exposed to the pitiless storm. The flower fell, shut up its petals, dropped its head; and I saw that all its glory was gone. "I must wait till next year," I said, "before I see that beautiful thing again."
That night passed, and morning came; the sun shone again, and the morning brought strength to the flower. The light looked at it, and the flower looked at the light. There was contact and communion, and power passed into the flower. It held up its head, opened its petals, regained its glory, and seemed fairer than before. I wonder how it took place--this feeble thing coming into contact with the strong thing, and gaining strength!
I cannot tell how it is that I should be able to receive into my being a power to do and to bear by communion with God, but I know It is a fact.
Are you in peril through some crushing, heavy trial? Seek this communion with Christ, and you will receive strength and be able to conquer. "I will strengthen thee."
--by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman
The rain that fell a-yesterday is ruby on the roses,
Silver on the poplar leaf, and gold on willow stem;
The grief that chanced a-yesterday is silence that incloses
Holy loves when time and change shall never trouble them.
The rain that fell a-yesterday makes all the hillsides glisten,
Coral on the laurel and beryl on the grass;
The grief that chanced a-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 gleam tomorrow,
Flame within the columbine and jewels on the thorn,
Heaven in the forget-me-not; though sorrow now be sorrow,
Yet sorrow shall be, beauty in the magic of the morn.
--Katherine Lee Bates
May the rain that now pelts hard cause a more beautiful, stronger plant to grow up. "It held up its head, opened its petals, regained its glory, and seemed fairer than before. I wonder how it took place--this feeble thing coming into contact with the strong thing, and gaining strength!"
He Withholds No Good Thing
And shall I fear
That there is anything that men hold dear
Thou would'st deprive me of,
And nothing give in place?
That is not so--
For I can see Thy face
And hear Thee now:
"My child, I died for thee.
And if the gift of love and life
You took from Me,
Shall I one precious thing withhold--
One beautiful and bright,
One pure and precious thing withhold?
My child, it cannot be."
"The Lord God is a sun and a shield,
He bestows favor and honor,
No good thing does the Lord withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
Oh Lord of hosts,
happy is everyone who trusts in you."
The Perfect Situation
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross...No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:2,11)
Some plants die if they have too much sunshine. It may be that you are planted where you get but little, you are put there by the loving Husbandman, because only in that situation will you bring forth fruit unto perfection.
Aawww, that lifts my spirits so much to think about!!! There is nothing that is more helpful to dwell on (for me) than to consider the "joy set before me". That place I find myself in now - though not what I would wish for - is ideal for my growth. Praise the Lord!!!!!! "Only in that situation will you bring forth fruit unto perfection." If it is true that only in this situation a "harvest of righteousness and peace" will be reaped, then this is where I want to be. Did I just say that?! Hehe! But in my heart it is true. For the JOY set before him Christ endured the Cross. And it is for the joy set before me that I too will endure and endure with hope!
Click here to read the rest of Hebrews 12.
Click here to read the rest of the devotional from which I quoted Spurgeon.
A Heart Set Free
"I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.
I meditate on your precepts
and consider your ways.
I delight in your decrees;
I will not neglect your word."
"I have chosen the way of truth;
I have set my heart on your laws.
I hold fast to your statutes, O LORD;
do not let me be put to shame.
I run in the path of your commands,
for you have set my heart free."
Running in the path of God's commands sets my heart free! There is joy in having a clear conscience before God, and no sin hidden or held back. Surrending to his law is not a surrender to slavery, but a surrender to freedom.
Theology, Doxology & Devotion
"Who has understood the mind of the LORD,
or instructed him as his counselor?
Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him,
and who taught him the right way?
Who was it that taught him knowledge
or showed him the path of understanding?"
As I often tell my students, theology is for doxology and devotion-- that is, the praise of God and the practice of godliness. It should therefore be presented in a way that brings awareness of the divine presence. Theology is at its healthiest when it is consciously under the eye of the God of whom it speaks, and when it is singing to His glory.
-- J.I. Packer
Recently I have been studying Bible doctrine more than normal. Instead of it being dry and lifeless, I am finding it to be rich and awe-evoking! The more I study the theology that shapes my faith, the more I realize how much greater God is than we are, how much wiser his ways, how much higher his thoughts. It inspires devotion and praise. The combination of the intellect and the soul is an essential recipe! Glory to God!
Correction: An added encouragement?
Warning: you are about to see a very ugly side of my flesh that needs some grace to be reflected onto it. If you easily tend to being negativly influenced, you might want to scurry away. :D
"Pride only breeds quarrels,
but wisdom is found in those who take advice."
"When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with humility comes wisdom."
Last night I received a stern rebuke from a family member. My reaction was one of frustration, resent, and hurt. I felt the correction was misplaced and overly strong. But this "reaction", of course, was that of pride. I am beginning to notice a pattern. It goes something like this:
God reveals to me some area in my life that I need to grow in. I repent of it and renew my commitment to change. I begin to implement my efforts to turn a new leaf. Shortly thereafter, somebody corrects me for that area that I had just undertaken. They don't know I lately become aware of it, and present their rebuke quite sternly. In my pride I am resentful of it...for don't they know that I had already begun to change?! I view their input as a hindrance to my growth because it discourages me. Worse yet, something in me doesn't want them to credit any fruit to their correction.
YUCK!!!! How utterly disgusting! :( Last night as I went to bed I was thinking about this. God prompted me to consider that instead of these belated (or not so belated?) rebukes being a hindrance and discouragement, they are further encouragement - like a push to help me along. I think that I should view them as God helping me to see that sinful area better and to strengthen my resolve to fight the enemy within. He sends the criticism to help me. But my pride gets in the way and makes an ugly mess of things.
Oh for some humility, Lord!
An Answered Prayer
"The LORD is faithful to all his promises
and loving toward all he has made.
The LORD upholds all those who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food at the proper time.
You open your hand
and satisfy the desires of every living thing."
"I will sing to the LORD,
for he has been good to me."
"From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another."
"I will give you thanks, for you answered me."
God answered a little prayer of mine today, so I just wanted to write a small thanks to him!
Ya know, sometimes it seems like there is more joy in the fact that God has answered a prayer of mine than in the answer itself. It seems odd, but the kindness and love he shows to bestow a ray of sunshine in my day is sweet indeed!
On This Thanksgiving Day
"From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another."
I am thankful for...
*The way that God has been so faithful to pour out his grace upon me lately...and truly through my whole life. He is teaching me so much by his patient, loving hand. He has stuck with me even when I drift.
*His Word that he has given us and the way that he graciously speaks to me through it. He has revealed himself to us and made a way for me to know him and to find hope and strength.
*For my family. I am trying to cherish this holiday season and th special times I have with them now. (Won't be here forever.) They have definetly been God's tools to guide and shape me. I shudder to think where I would be without my wise parents!!!!
*For my friends. What would life be like without them?! They bring so much encouragment to me and much joy! A lot could be said...but words don't suffice!
*For the beautiful, beautiful creation that God has made and enabled me to enjoy...for the lovely city I live in...for eyes to see the sky and trees, a nose to smell the fresh air, and skin to feel the refreshing breeze!
Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits-- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed,he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children - with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all. Praise the LORD, you his angels,you mighty ones who do his bidding,who obey his word. Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will. Praise the LORD, all his works everywhere in his dominion.Praise the LORD, O my soul.
Along With the Blessings
"From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."
This being the day after Thanksgiving, it seemed fitting to think about the responsibility and challenges that accompany the abundant blessings I have received.
I can't count the times that I have been told how blessed I am to have the parents that I do. It is indeed very true. God could not have given me better parents to lead, guide, and instruct me! But this blessing is not without challenges. I still have to make all the choices for myself - my parents cannot change my heart. I feel an added pressure to "make the most" of this gift and to bear more fruit because of it.
People look at me an expect me to be an example because they see my parents. Does God also demand more from me? I think so. I am without excuse. I cannot blame my parents for not teaching me His decrees, his laws, and his ways. They have always brought me up with solid teaching about the doctrine of sin...how it starts in my heart and then manifests itself in my actions. They have tried to "protect" me from much of the pollution in the world.
To whom much has been given, much is expected. Its not very fun having so many eyes upon you to see "how you turn out". Its scary having little girls watching to see how you live out your life. But its an oppurtunity, too. The consequences of me falling away would be great, but the possibilities of me encouraging others is also great.
I pray that God will give me more vision to see it as less of a burden and more of an oppurtunity to promote his glory. Much is expected...help me, oh Lord!
Time Is A Friend
The enemy of that grand central habit of interior patience is haste: haste of thought, haste of judgment, haste of manner, haste of speech. Even natural powers of every kind become true strength, when they work submissively and harmoniously under the direction of Divine light and the movement of Divine grace; and this disciplined subjection at every point under the dominion of Christ our Lord, ruling us by His grace, makes the soul the serene organ of the Holy Spirit, for the animating, controlling, and guiding of our souls.
WILLIAM BERNARD ULLATHORNE
And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.
Last night I spent a long while thinking about time and waiting and their effects. It seems we always think of waiting as having negative consequences on whatever we are waiting for (although we may admit it is good for our soul). I would submit that this waiting is often also good for that awaited thing. Time is an anchor and root. If something is true, time will not diminish it, but rather it will grow stronger. It will not fade away, but will be deepened. Is the passing of time really such a bad thing when we are waiting? Genuineness is prooved when page after page is turned on the calander, and it remains steadfast. One can always keep striving, keep pressing on to reach their end. The deferred desires will be ever-present, but they will only be purified. Time is not an eraser, it is a bonder.
Sorry I have nothing profound to say today. What can you expect - I was in with the 3 year olds instead of the church service! (But they were cute!)
On one hand I am looking forward to change. On the other hand I'm dreading it. Christmas break isn't too far off now, and I am beginning to think about it. It will be nice not having school to stress over (you know how stressful my math can be! ;)) and plenty of time to get a lot done around the house. Then why do I find myself almost dreading it? I love being busy!! I love keeping occupied!! The thought of time on my hands and not much to occupy my mind kinda scares me. I've enjoyed going from one thing to the next this semester, and having so much time to drown in my thoughts doesn't appeal. I'd rather think about how political parties are formed then face that. :/ Breaks always seem to fly though, so no doubt it won't be long before I am full-fledged into the next semester...and that one is sounding like I won't have to worry a bit about "not being occupied".
"I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living."
"Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'"
"If God is for us, who can be against us?"
"Faith is not always a champion which marches alone. Sometimes faith is accompanied by fear. Faith is not the absence of questioning; it is the presence of action in the midst of those questions. Faith does not provide all the answers; it provides a basis for confidence in the midst of unreasonable circumstances."
In the midst of my "unreasonable circumstances" I am still confident...by God's grace I have faith. Its not that I do not sometimes tremble, for there are moments when I grow fearful. Nor is it that I do not ask questions, for they are regularly upon my lips to God. But the fear, the questions, the circumstances do not change my faith. Because of that I can keep pressing on. God is a god of the impossible, after all. And if He is for me, who can be against me? It doesn't matter what the circumstances look like.
"When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?"
"The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands."
"Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name."
"Look up at the heavens and see;
gaze at the clouds so high above you."
There are few things I enjoy more than looking up at the heavens - be it night or day - and marvelling at the beauty of God's creation. The bright stars in the night, the whispy clouds in the day, the sun's radiance, the moon's glow, they all move me to stand in awe of the Creator. They have a mysterious beauty about them that always lifts my spirits. I see them as little expressions of God's love for us, sweet little gifts for us to enjoy.
So enjoy them! Go gaze up at the sky and reflect on its gentle majesty! :D
Behind The Scenes
"If I say, 'Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,' even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you."
"The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever - do not abandon the works of your hands."
Earlier in the week I was feeling a little bit down about some things. I felt in the dark and disconnected from all that I wanted to know, and the silence was eery and unsettling. I was discouraged.
Then God spoke to me. He assured me that he was at work, though I could not see how. He told me that his hand was at work in ways I was not aware of. And, he told me that it was all for his glory.
Still I am dwelling in the night of uncertainty...but that's ok. God knows what is going on, even when I do not, for he is the one who is directing all that happens. He will reveal the work of his hands at the proper time. It is my responsibility to wait for the unveiling of all he has done. What praise I will be able to sing to him on that day!! Surely then I will realize that every little fear I had and every time I wished I could see what he was fashioning was a foolishness.