Ruth 2:16
And let fall also [some] of the handfuls of purpose for her, and leave [them], that she may glean [them], and rebuke her not.
 

Welcome to Handfuls devotional archive. It our prayer that these devotional stories will find have a timely message for each season in your life and encourage you to a deeper understanding of God’s plan for your life.

The Richest Man in the Valley Will Die Tonight
A rich man has frightening dream.

The Robber
What would the robber take from you if he came to your home today?

When You’ve Been a Guron
A story about waiting for the Master to return.

When God is Silent in Your Life
An interesting lesson in the interesting lesson in the life of Abraham that the casual reader may miss.

How Then Shall We Accept Death?
Blessed is a wise wife.

The Titanic, The Icy Waters, and the Evangelist, Harper
The last words of the Evangelist Harper.

A Few Thoughts on Quiddity
A word worth remembering.

When You Struggle in Prayer
When your life is a constant zig zag between prayer and sin.

Except the Lord Builds a House
An Elderly Carpenter’s Last Project.

When Your Cross is Too Hard to Carry
When you feel like complaining about your cross.

Ever Forgotten Where You Were?
Sometimes in our busy and hurried world we lose our way.

St. Francis ofAssisi & the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II
The Emperor dines with St. Francis.

Sentenced To Death As Young Man. Russian Writer Dostoyevsky Given a Last Minute Chance To Live
Seeing the world through another lens.

Moses at the Well. – When God Doesn’t Make Sense
When God doesn’t make sense.

The Witness of Telemacus
Standing up for what is right!

Mutiny on the Bounty
Have you ever lost your Bible?

The Greek Word “Katartizo”
Katartitzo is an encouraging word.

What Do You Set Your Clock By?
The story of the curious watchmaker.

Daniel Webster Called Them The Most Beautiful Words Ever Written in Literature
Young Daniel pleads his case for a mischievous woodchuck.

The Men of Issachar
They knew the times in which they were living.

Lessons From the Ladder
A foreshadowing of what was to come.

When Bombs Go Off
Charles the Twelfth, King ofSweden, while besieged by constant air raids in WWII.

Forgotten Riches
William Randolph Hearst and the rare artifact.

A Few Thoughts on Anger
The story of the little boy with a bad temper.

Light in Darkness
Each of us at different times in our lives will face dark places of uncertainty.

God Remembers
We may forget many things, but God remembers.

Mercy from The Lord
Mercy from the Lord.

Two Shiny New Quarters
A father gives his young son two shiny new quarters.

Trials Turn to Gold
Amy Carmichael rescues young girls dedicated to a life of prostitution and slavery.

What Will Be Your First Glimpse of Eternity?
A little girl becomes blind for life.

Obeying God’s Call in Your Life
King Henry III ofBavaria grew tired of court life and the pressures of being a monarch.

This Could be Good, or This Could be Bad
An ancient Eastern story about a jealous man and a wise man.

The Two Who Live Within You
The struggle of the outward man and the inner man.

How Full is Your Cup?
A story about a man who sought great wisdom all his life.

Lost Opportunities
A conversation with a young president.

What Can You Take into Eternity?
A shipwrecked sailor becomes king for a year.

A Young Lawyer Finds Strength in His Weakness
Can a drunkard enter into theKingdom ofGod?

When God Ran
Another look at the prodigal son story.

Though Your Sin be as Scarlet
Though your sin be double dyed.

The King and the Cobbler
A king who disguised himself among his people. 

Curious Boy, An Old Wise Man and a Cocoon
Struggling? Learn the Lesson This Little Boy Learned.

God Asks Seventy Seven Questions
How many can man answer today?

Self Portrait
Rembrandt leaves 90 self portraits.

When Your Cross is too Hard to Carry?
Be careful what you ask for.

Who Will Stand for You?
When Did God stand?

When you want to Know God’s Will
F. B. Meyer and a stormy night on the sea. 

Lesson from a Bag of Sand
God’s thoughts towards of each day are more than the sand of the sea. 

A Hedge of Thorns
Hast thou considered my servant Job?

The Disgruntled Workers
Parable of the laborers at harvest time.

Suffer Hardships With Me
What was the first recorded word of Jesus in the New Testament?

The Book of Remembrances
Are these not written arable of the laborers at harvest time.

Give us Barabbas
They all cried out, “Give us the son of the father.”

Every Purpose Under the Sun
Reminders that we are just mortals on this earth.

Twenty Nine Knives
Why did count the knives?

On Thankfulness
There are 138 passages that deal with the subject of Thankful.

Sole Survivor
Marooned and alone, a man cried out to God to save him from his terrible fate.

Serendipity
What can we learn from the three Princes of Serendip?

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Handfuls of Purpose

  Devotions on Living the Deeper Christian Life

“For where your treasure is, there will be your heart be also.” – Luke 12:34

The Richest Man in the Valley Will Die Tonight

Years ago in Germany, there lived a very rich man who owned fields, animals, and every valley as far as you could see around his castle. One night he had a terrible nightmare in which he dreamed that an angel came to him and said, “The richest man in the valley is going to die at midnight tonight!” Terrified from his dream, the rich man woke up drenched in his own sweat. He thought to himself, “I am doomed, for I am the richest man in the valley!”

Worried about his dream, he called his good friend who was also his doctor. Sensing fear in his friend’s voice, he came to visit the rich man where upon he told him about his dream. The doctor examined the rich man, and told him not to worry that he was in perfect health. The rich man said, “No, you don’t understand. The angel said that the ‘richest man’ in the valley is going to die tonight at midnight, and I am the richest man in the valley!” He continued to plead with the doctor to stay with him till after midnight.

As midnight approached, the rich man and the doctor waited with much anticipation as the clock showed 11:59 p.m. Then, when the clock struck midnight, it started the first of its twelve chimes. “One!” “Two!” “Three!” and so on till it struck, “Ten!” “Eleven” and finally, “Twelve!” The rich man was clutching his chest, breathing heavily as the last of the chimes sounded.

Midnight had come and gone, and he was still alive. He shouted for joy and danced, and then, just as they were just about to toast to life, the rich man heard an urgent knock at his door. It was one of his servants. The man came in with tears in his eyes and told the rich man that “Hans his servant had just died.”

You see, ‘Hans’ was the “richest man” in the valley. He was always seen helping the poor, the widowed, and the fatherless on his time off. When someone was in need, it was Hans that would be there lending a hand. But now he was gone, and the town began to mourn the treasure they had lost. Truly, the richest man in the valley died that night, but it wasn’t the man who trusted in his earthly wealth, but the man who stored up treasure in heaven


I Counted Dollars

I counted dollars, while God counted crosses,
I counted gains, while He counted losses,
I counted my worth by the things in store,
But He sized me up by the scars that I bore,
I coveted honors and sought for degrees,
He wept as He counted the hours on my knees,
I never knew till a day by a grave,
how vain are the things that we try to save,
I did not know till a friend went above,
that richest is he, that is riches in God’s Love.

~ Unknown

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  Devotions on Living the Deeper Christian Life

“Wherein hath we robbed Thee?” – Malachi 3:8

 

The Robber

Many years ago, a man who had obtained many of this world’s treasures, went on another of his many long journeys. This man had traveled the world over as an adventurer and explorer. He had been to places and collected artifacts that people only dream about.

While he was gone, the Robber came.

The robber had awaited this opportunity. He knew of this man’s reputation as a collector of rare artifacts. This man had accumulated much wealth and priceless artifacts in the Orient, Africa, Europe, and theMiddle East. Now, this collection of world treasures was going to be his.

News travels fast among the curious. People gathered together around the house of the traveler, knowing that he was due home that day by train ride. Many interested people were gathered there to see his reaction to having had the robber steal the valuables from his home.

The long journey home had worn down the traveler, and he arrived exhausted, yet successful from his new adventure. Tired as was, he didn’t even notice the people gathered around his house. He just walked right past them into the house.

The people took a breath as the man entered his home. A silence came over the crowd. A faint laughter arose from within the house. People thought that the man had gone mad. As they peered into the open door, they called out to the man, “Did the robber take all that you own?”

The man emerged with a smile in his eyes. He said, “Yes, the robber did come. Yes, the robber did take the jade I sought in the Orient, the rare books I collected from Europe, the tribal artifacts I discovered in Africa, and the precious pictures I took in theHoly Land. Yes, the robber did come!”

The people stared in amazement, confused about his demeanor when such an apparent tragedy had occurred in this man’s life. The man continued in a booming voice, “Yes, the robber took these things, yet he could never steal the joy I had in finding the jade in the Orient, nor the knowledge from the rare books that I collected, nor the adventure lived in obtaining the tribal artifacts, nor my experience of seeing theHoly Land with my own eyes. Yes, the Robber did come, but he did not take all that I own!”

This powerful story illustrates how we should view our earthly possessions. What would the Robber take from you if he came to your home today?

 


Words to Think About…

<>–LET THE WINDS BLOW—-<>

“We cannot be established except by suffering. It is of no use our hoping that we shall be well rooted if no March winds have passed over us.”

– Charles Haddon Spurgeon

God always fills in all hearts all the room which is left for Him.

– F. W. Faber

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  Devotions on Living the Deeper Christian Life

“Be not conformed to this world.” – Romans 12:2

 

When You’ve Been a Guron

One day, Guron’s master came to him with the news that he would be gone for awhile. Guron, perplexed at the news, asked his master what he should do while he is gone. His master told him, “Wait and pray for my return by the side of this mountain.”

Guron being a good disciple said, “Master, I will wait for your return.”

Guron went up the mountain with only one possession, a blanket. He set his direction towards the city. As time passed, Guron continued to do as his master had asked. One night, Guron was awakened by a rat chewing on his blanket. This continued night after night, and the stench from his blanket became unbearable.

Guron decided to head down into the city to find another blanket. As he approached, the city elders met him shouting, “Its Guron the holy man, get him anything he wants!”

Guron replied, “My needs are simple. I only require a new blanket.”

The elders immediately said, “Get Guron the most beautiful blanket that we have.”

Guron went back up the mountain satisfied with his new blanket, but unfortunately, this did not solve the problem. The rat returned to chew on his new blanket. The next morning, Guron quickly went back down into the city. As he approached the city he was once again met by the city Elders, with the words, “Its Guron the holy man, get him anything he wants!”

Guron told them that he needed another blanket because the rat kept chewing on it in the night. The Elders said, “Get Guron a new blanket, and the best rat catching cat we have.”

This solved the problem with the blanket, but the cat was continually hungry, and needed to be fed. He was constantly meowing for food. The next morning, Guron made his way back down into the city. When the city Elders saw him approaching, they again came to him with the words, “Its Guron the holy man, get him anything he wants!”

Guron said, “My needs are simple. I am so thankful for the new blanket, but the cat you gave me requires milk and I have none. The Elders said, “Get Guron the best milk cow that we have!”

The elders watched as Guron walked back up the mountain with another blanket, holding a cat, and pulling up a cow behind him with a rope. This seemed to work for a while, but the cow began to wander, and Guron spent his time attending to the cow and the cat. Again, Guron headed down into the city the next morning, and again, he was met by the city Elders with the words, “Its Guron the holy man, get him anything he wants!”

Guron said, “Thank you for the blanket, the cat and the cow, but the cow continues to wander and I cannot care for it.”

The city Elders, seeing where this was going, said among themselves, “We must build Guron a fence.” Another suggested that Guron would need a barn. And another suggested that Guron would need a place to stay to take care of the barn; the ideas went on and on. As time passed, Guron became a great trader of goods and he became quite successful, fat, and wealthy.

One day, Guron was out walking aroundhis estate admiring all thathe had built, when off in the distance, he saw a man approaching. Guron quickly made his way towards the man, and walking up to the man, looked him in the eye and confidently offered, “What can I sell you? What would you like to buy?”

Then his Master said to Guron, “Have I been gone so long that you don’t recognize me?”

Learn from the simplicity that this story has to offer. I remember telling this story to a 10-year-old boy one day, while he was at work with his mother. I saw a tear in his eye when he said to me, “I’ve been a Guron too.” It made me look at my self and ask, “Have I been a Guron?” There are probably seasons in our life that each of us would have to admit that we had fallen into a life that was consumed with our failures and successes. I wonder how much of this is actually God’s plan for our life? God’s instruction upon leaving was to watch diligently and expectantly for His return, (Mark 13:33). If he came today, how many of us would be ready? My prayer is that none of us would be caught chasing cows, collecting more blankets, or caught up in the process of building empires that we do not even recognize that the Master is going to return at any moment.

 


Words to Think About…

<>–GREAT MERCY–<>

Spurgeon says, “God’s mercy is so great, that it forgives great sins to great sinners, after great lengths of time, and then gives great favors and great privileges, and raises us up to great enjoyments in the great heaven of the great God.”

John Bunyan also tells us, “It must be a great mercy, or no mercy: for little mercy will never serve my turn.”

<>–COURAGE IS–<>

“Courage is simply not just one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality.” – C.S.Lewis

 

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Handfuls of Purpose

  Devotions on Living the Deeper Christian Life

“Hold thy peace, and I shall teach thee wisdom.” – Job 33:33

 

When God is Silent in Your Life

In the book of Genesis, there is an interesting lesson in the life of Abraham that the casual reader may miss. Abraham assumed that he was walking in the center of God’s will for his life, but by taking matters into his own hands, he learned one of the most difficult lessons a child of God can learn.

Abraham was eighty-six years old at the conception of Ishmael, the child of his handmaid and the result of his flesh. The Bible mentions that God didn’t speak again to Abraham for the next 13 years! (Genesis 17:11) Can you imagine not hearing from God for thirteen long years? How many of us give up hope when we don’t hear from God in a day or a week or a month?

God was teaching Abraham an important lesson that He wants us all to learn in this life; when a child of God takes things into his or her own hands and attempts to manipulate people, relationships, or circumstances, God will allow us to do it. He may not even say a word at the time, and in Abraham’s case, He may remain silent for many years.

This story illustrates that God’s grace is greater than our foolishness and He is able to clean up the messes we make. If you have learned the lesson God has been trying to teach you through delays and detours, you will be more than ready to listen to him the next time He speaks to you. That’s what happened in Abraham’s life, and the next word he received from God was the promise that within a year their long awaited son Isaac would be born.

Delay is not denial. Just because you don’t feel that God is answering your prayer (the way you want him to), doesn’t mean that he is ignoring you, or even that he is necessarily saying “No.” God knows what is best for you in a given season of your life. Often times he asks us to wait for His perfect timing. Sometimes the way that seems most desirable to us, may end in disaster if we don’t allow God to guide us though. Walking in this type of faith is often difficult, because we long to know what God is leading us to do in a given circumstance.

Imagine for a minute in retrospect, if God said “yes” to all of our prayers. Think of who you might be married to or what career change you might have made. Wisdom comes from walking in the ways of His Spirit and listening to God’s perfect leading. Abraham was given the promise of descendants as numerous as the stars, yet God delayed this event and asked him to wait in faith. The result was a son born of his flesh, or a man-made problem, that Abraham had to deal with the rest of his life. How many things will be born in our flesh that we will have to deal with for the rest of our lives until we yield to God’s wisdom and His way of bringing each of our promises to pass? If today God is silent, wait, for tomorrow He may speak to you and lead you in the way that you should go.


Words to Think About…

<>—I SOUGHT GOD—<>

In the late 1950s, twenty-three year old Armando Valladares was thrown into a Cuban prison, where he remained for 22 years. Executions were staged each night during his first year in prison. Later, he endured some of the most vile and sadistic tortures imaginable. In his memoirs,Against All Hope, Valladares wrote,

“I sought God…. I never asked Him to get me out of there…. I only prayed for Him to accompany me.”

<>—WORRIED ABOUT THE FUTURE?—<>

“Don’t worry about the future–worry quenches the work of grace within you. The future belongs to God. He is in charge of all things. Never second-guess him.”

-Francois Fenelon 17th-century French Bishop

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  Devotions on Living the Deeper Christian Life

“Death is Swallowed up in Victory” – 1 Corinthians 15:54

The Titanic, The Icy Waters,

 And the last words of the American Evangelist, Harper

At a Christian conference in Switzerland, an old man gave his testimony. He told how he had been on the Titanic, which went down in the North Atlantic in 1912 with some 2,200 passengers on board. He had been one of the 700 who survived.

He found himself struggling in the cold sea water to stay afloat. Near him swam the American evangelist, Harper, who asked him, “Are you saved? Think about your soul.”

With this, Harper sank under a wave of the icy sea, then after a few seconds reappeared. Again he asked, “Are you prepared to appear before the Lord?”

The man replied, “I don’t know how to get saved.” Harper told him, “Believe in the Lord Jesus. His blood cleanses from all sins.”

“These were Harper’s last words,” continued the old man. “I watched as he succumbed to the rigors of the icy Atlantic. A boat finally picked me up. I am Harper’s last convert.”

 


Words to Think About…

<>—ON LIVING—<>

“Those people, who did the greatest things for God, weren’t really trying at all. They were just being obedient.”

~ Rich Mullins 1956-1997 (Singer Song Writer)

Alexander the Great left orders that when he was carried to the grave, his hands should not be wrapped in the specially treated clothes used by the embalmers of that day, but rather be exposed to view so that all might see that they were empty!

“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, for what he cannot lose.”

~ Jim Elliot (1927-1956 ~ Missionary murdered by the Iriqui Indians. Written in his journal at age 22:

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  Devotions on Living the Deeper Christian Life

“So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” – Psalm 90:12

 

A Few Thoughts on Quiddity

C.S. Lewis wrote that, “To surrender to the quiddity of life–which means, to surrender to whatever life sends you–can be an adventure of unexpected and neglected delight. The commonplace becomes quite startling and marvelous when one actually pays attention to it and forgets oneself.”

Have you ever been going along in this life when all of sudden an opportunity or adventure presented itself to you in such a way that it required all of your attention, to the point where you even forgot the direction you were going in the first place?

The element of quiddity can be found in such an event like waking up Christmas morning with the anticipation and excitement of new gifts under the tree. When you are visited with quiddity, it is always presented in a fun and adventurous light. It allows us to see beyond the gift and recognize the Giver (God).

Lewis believed that simple everyday life, always presents us with countless opportunities to have fun if we would only look for them. By surrendering to our circumstances, we may catch a glimpse, or hint, of the mystery beyond this world. It allows the Holy Spirit to enter into our lives and lead us in a divine path, away from the world and our own insecurities, leaving that force that demands that we somehow maintain some sort of “control” over our lives. It is truly an admirable undertaking, for the life that is abandoned to God in this way, throws itself on the mercy of its Creator, and yet emerges as a life abundant indeed!

In this life there will always be setbacks and struggles. Let us take the time to look carefully at our circumstances, for we may find quiddity starring back at us, inviting us to come along and experience an adventure of an unexpected delight.

 


Words to Think About…

<>–ON CHARACTER–<>

A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble. – Charles H. Spurgeon

<>–PROVIDENCE–<>

People talk about special providences. I believe in the providences, but not in the specialty. I do not believe that God lets the thread of my affairs go for six days, and on the seventh evening takes it up for a moment.

– George MacDonald

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Handfuls of Purpose

  Devotions on Living the Deeper Christian Life

“You that call His Name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” Matthew 1:21

When You Struggle in Prayer

A story is told in the Pateric, an authentic book of Christian tradition, about a young monk who was very pious, but weak in temptations. Whenever he prayed, he was like an angel. But soon after finishing his prayer, he fell again into sin, after which, deeply burdened by remorse, he returned to the church and didn’t cease praying, until he felt God’s forgiveness. And immediately he fell again into sin.

Then he prayed again… and so on. In this way his life was a constant zig zag between prayer and sin. One day he committed a “bigger” sin than usual. Horrified at his deed he went again to the church, and prostate in front of the altar, begged for forgiveness. At that moment, he saw the doors of heaven open and Jesus Himself appear to him.

Immediately Satan appeared also, saying to the Savior, “You cannot possibly forgive this man now!”

“Who are you to stop Me?” Jesus asked.

”Is not all power in earth and in heaven mine?” Satan insisted, “How can You possibly forgive this one who runs to sin immediately after his prayer? He constantly goes from me to You, from You to me.”

“Not at all!” replied Jesus. “He turns from you and comes to Me, from you to Me. After all, whenever he goes from prayer to sin, you receive him! So why shouldn’t I receive him even this time? And from now on, not only will I receive him, but I will also give him the power against sin.” Indeed, from that on, the monk became a model of piety and holiness. Jesus is He who saves His people from their sin.


Words to Think About…

<>–ON PRAYER–<>

“God doesn’t answer prayer, He answers DESPERATE prayer.” ~ Leonard Ravenhill

“In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.” – John Bunyan

“All God’s giants have been weak men, who did great things for God because they believed that God would be with them.” – HudsonTaylor

 

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  Devotions on Living the Deeper Christian Life

He telleth the the numbers of the stars; He calleth the stars by their names. Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is infinite” – Psalm 147:4,5

 

A God That Knows His Creation

Astronomer’s today tell us that there may be more than 200 billion universes. That is quite a staggering number isn’t it? If you were to count to 100 for each minute, of each hour, of each day, for 19 years, you will have counted to one billion. There is a star, actually a “super giant” star, called Anteres. Think about this, Anteres is 390 times the size of the sun. That is 1.25 million times the size of our earth.

If you were to take a hollow rubber ball and let it represent Anteres, and then slice this rubber ball in half, you could put inside it: Venus, Mercury, Mars, and the Earth. All could fit inside Anteres and continue their orbits around the sun, which you could also put inside the rubber ball. As these planets would continue in their orbits around the sun, they would never touch the inside of the rubber ball. Anteres can be seen in the constellation Scorpio, low on the summer horizon. Anteres is just one of the many stars that God calls by name.

There are some stars that are 2000 times the size of the sun in our universe. The stars are innumerable, each one unique, each one with a divine purpose, just like you are in His sight. We can never reach them in this life, but in our glorified bodies, we shall have endless time to explore the infinite heavens.

Heed the advice of Amos 5:8, “Seek Him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the faces of the earth: The Lord is His Name.”

Daniel 12:3 tells us, “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”


Words to Think About…

<>–HOW BIG IS YOUR GOD?–<>

“People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars…. and they pass by themselves without wondering.” -St. Augustine

“A God that is well defined, is not a very Big God” – French proverb

“If your vision doesn’t scare you, then both your vision and your God are too small.” – Brother Andrew

<>–A 100 YEARS FROM NOW–<>

A Hundred Years from Now What Will Matter Then?

It will not make any difference friend,
a hundred years from now,
if you live in a stately mansion
or a floating river scow;

If the clothes you wear are tailor made,
or put together somehow,
if you eat big steaks, or beans and cakes
a hundred years from now,

It won’t matter your bank account,
or what make of car you drive,
for the grave will claim all your riches and fame,
and the things for which you strive,

There’s a deadline we all must meet,
and no one will show up late,
it won’t matter all the places you’ve been,
each one will keep that date,

We will only have in eternity
what we give away on earth,
when we go to the grave
we can only save the things of eternal worth,

What matters friend the earthly gain,
for which some men will bow,
for your destiny will be sealed you see,
a hundred years from now.

 

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  Devotions on Living the Deeper Christian Life

 “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” – Matthew 16:24

 

When Your Cross is Too Hard To Carry

Ever complain about your cross in life? A Christian once complained to God about it, so God took him to His storehouse and told him, “You are free to choose whatever cross you like.” The man walked around the vast storehouse and saw many different crosses. There was one that was golden and beautiful, but also very heavy. Another was light, but rugged, and was apt to wound one’s shoulder. He continued looking around the storehouse until he discovered in the corner, a cross, which he thought, would suit him. God granted his request and invited him to examine it more closely.

“Have a better look at it.” God said. The man looked back at the cross he had chosen only to realize it was the cross which he had originally received from God.

A cross is always difficult to bear and is usually perfectly fitted for a particular Christian. Why does God allow such “crosses” in our lives? God uses the crosses we carry in this life to teach us life lessons. I have cried out to God many times for Him to take away a particular cross in my life, only to realize later in life that He was teaching me something of far more value than I could understand or possibly bear at the time. Perhaps the answers too many of our questions are in the very cross that we carry today.

Edith Stein had been a secularized Jew in Germany during World War II, a woman whom Judaism meant nothing. When she became a Christian, she learned to value her Jewish heritage. As a Jewish Christian, she expressed her heartfelt desire in one sentence: “I wish to be a martyr for the church, for Carmel, my Jewish people,Germany, and all those whom God had given me.” Along with 987 other Jews, she was sent toAuschwitz death camp in 1942. She and three of her sisters were killed, among hundreds of others. Yet, through her cross, Edith had found the voice of her heritage, and her God.

Edith was said to have had two sayings that she often repeated during her difficult times: “God sometimes hides Himself from us in order that we might experience the joy of being found.” and, “Sober thinking is also an exquisite manner of worship.”

The cross you carry today may seem too difficult for you to carry, but by embracing it, you may find the very thing that has eluded you for most of your life. Through the path of the cross, you will come to experience the true image of God intervening in your life, just beyond your human perception. It is well for our souls to heed the words of the One who bore our shame on His cross, when He says to us “Take up your cross and follow me.”


Words to Think About…

<>–DO YOU WISH TO BE GREAT?–<>

Do you wish to be great? Then begin by being little. Do you desire to construct a vast and lofty fabric? Think first about the foundation of humility. The higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundation.

– Augustine

<>–HOW TO LOOK AT DIFFICULTIES–<>

“Victories hard won many men owe the grandeur of their lives to their tremendous difficulties.”

– C. H. Spurgeon

“His brow was crowned with thorns; do we then seek rosebuds for our crowning?”

– Amy Carmichael

 

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  Devotions on Living the Deeper Christian Life

“There is but a step between me and death.” – 1 Sam 20:3

 

Ever Forgotten Where You Were?

Sometimes in our busy and hurried world we can lose our way. I am reminded of a story about two painters that were employed to fresco the walls of a magnificent cathedral a century ago. Both stood on rude scaffolding constructed for the purpose, some distance from the floor.

One, so intent upon his work, forgetting where he was, stepped back slowly, surveying critically the work of his brush, until he had neared the edge of the plank on which he stood. At that moment, his companion perceiving his friend’s danger, seized a wet brush and flung it against the wall, splattering the picture with unsightly blotches of color.

The painter flew forward, and lunged upon his friend with fierce anger, until he suddenly became aware of the danger he had just escaped. Then, with tears of gratitude, he blessed the hand that had saved him.

How often do we get so absorbed with the pictures of the world that we become unconscious of our own peril? We can get so caught up in our humanity and the pleasantries it has to offer, that we have no idea just how far we have veered from the path that God has planned for us. Often times we may be so very close to our own demise. It is then that God in His mercy often chooses to dash out “beautiful things”, and draw us; at the very time we are complaining of His dealings, into His outstretched arms of love.

God, in His infinite wisdom, knows what is best for us. He can see us at the edge of the plank, where we are blinded by the object that has captured our attention. God may use our friend to splatter our best-laid plans, but only for our own good. If we wouldn’t let our best friend fall to his death, why would we expect anything less from our Savior?

God is merciful. His hands are there to catch us, to break our fall, and He will remove a stumbling block in our lives, even if it makes us angry for a moment. Because when all the dust has cleared, and the story has unfolded, it is often the prayers that God seemingly “ignored” that have often saved us from certain spiritual death. Let us all pray that we might trust Him today in His infinite knowledge, and lean not on our own finite understanding. Maybe then, we could walk away from the edge that threatens to draw us away from the masterpiece that our Father is creating for each of us.

 


Words to Think About…

<>–PREACH WITH CONVICTION–<>

Goethe once said, after hearing a young minister, “When I go to hear a preacher preach, I may not agree with what he says, but I want him to believe it.” Even a vacillating unbeliever has no respect for the man who lacks the courage to preach what he believes.

<>–WHAT WOULD YOU CARRY?–<>

How many times in our world do we see children rebelling against their parents? An ancient city was besieged, and at length, obliged to surrender. In the city were two brothers, who had obliged the conquering general, and received permission to leave the city before it was set on fire, taking with them as much of their property as each could carry. The two youths appeared at the gates of the city, one of them carrying their father, and the other carrying their mother.

 

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  Devotions on Living the Deeper Christian Life

“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:3

St. Francis of Assisi & the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II

The Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, after having defeating the Arabs in Sicily, learned that Francis of Assisi was passing through the city.Frederick invited him to his palace to show him the wealth and extravagance in which he lived, the sumptuous table, the servants’ glittering uniforms, the golden dishes in which rich food was served, and the abundance of singers.

All were being merry, but Francis of Assisi was silent. The emperor asked him, “Francis, what are you thinking about?”

“Sire,” replied Francis, “I am thinking about Brother Massiliu and how happy he must be right now that he can pray alone in the forest.” After a period of silence, the emperor asked him again, what he thought about at that moment, Francis said, “I am thinking how happy Brother Ageu, who is nursing a leper man, and how happy he must be.” A third time, when asked anew, Francis answered, “How happy Brother Bernard is. Right now he is helping a widow clean her barn and then, in the evening, he will give instructions to her children in the teachings of Jesus.”

Pastor Richard Wurmbrand who spent 14 years in Communists prisons tells that the particular virtue of “poverty in spirit” controls the whole happiness of human nature:

“Those who have it are happy. Those who do not have it will seek happiness in vain. Blessed are those who do not need any possessions, they are happier than those who possess them tightly in their hands, as if those things were indispensable for life. Living in a “poverty of spirit”you know how to be happy in your present state or in the simple tasks entrusted to you, enduring everything without complaining. The poor in spirit are those who do not have anything of their own human spirit. They are the ones who receive God’s Spirit and understand properly the Holy Scripture. This is what I can tell you about the meaning of ‘poor in spirit,’ and I pray these explanations may be rightly understood and profitable for you. The poor in spirit are those who do not have anything of their own.”

 


Words to Think About…

<>–PREACH WITH CONVICTION–<>

“Study always to have Joy, for it befits not the servant of God to show before his brother or another sadness or a troubled face.”

– St. Francis of Assisi

Where there is doubt, let me sow faith…
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is sadness, ever joy
Grant that I may not so much
Seek to be consoled, as to console
To be understood, as to understand…
To be loved, as to love.

— St. Francis of Assisi

 

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“It is not you that sent me hither, but God.” – (Joseph to his brothers) Gen 45:8

Sentenced To Death, Russian Writer Dostoyevsky Given a Last Minute Chance To Live.

In this verse (Genesis 45:8), Joseph see’s the bigger picture on why he was sold into slavery, put in prison, and separated from his family. In tough times, we must always try to add God’s perspective to what is happening to us.

The renowned Russian writer Dostoyevsky was sentences to death as a young man. At the last minute, just before he was to be hanged, he was told that his sentence had been commuted to ten years in prison. Later he wrote that when he looked down on the crowd around the gallows, he saw in their eyes something he had never seen before… he saw them all as oppressed sufferers, groping in the darkness, needing forgiveness. Everything in life seemed to him insignificant except love.

Released from prison, Dostoyevsky wrote great books in which he describes life as seen through the prism of that moment. He has words of understanding, love for the worst, even for the drunkards, prostitutes and a murderers. In one book he describes a fancied encounter between Jesus and an inquisitor guilty of the blood of thousands of innocents, in which the prelate speaks to Christ with scorn. Jesus, understanding the forces that cause a man to be wicked, kisses him. He looked with pity on a man who had beautiful hands capable of caressing, but used instead for torturing, who had beautiful eyes, but used them instead to express anger, who had a beautiful voice but used it for threats and insults. Jesus loved the inquisitor. And Jesus loves you and me.

If you are in a situation that seems hopeless today, look at your situation again through Dostoyevsky’s lens. You may get a glimpse of your situation from God’s perspective that will carry you to a new height.


Words to Think About…

<>–ON PARADOXES–<>

“The world wishes to involve you in its race towards destruction… be dead to it.” – Richard Wurmbrand – spent 14 years in communist prisons

8 Paradoxes To Think About

1. To conquer we must surrender. (Matt 3:39, 1 Cor 15:37)
2. To live, we must die. (John 12:23,25)
3. To save our life, we must lose it. (Matt 10:39, Luke 17:33)
4. To get, we must give. (Proverbs 11:23, 25)
5. To reign, we must serve. (Luke 12:42-44)
6. To be wise, we must become fools. (1 Cor 3:18)

7. To be exalted, we must become humble. (Matt 18:4, Matt 23:12)
8. To be first, we must be last. (Mark 20:26)

“Every day we step on chords that vibrate throughout eternity.” – Charles Finney

 

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“It is the Glory of God to conceal a thing…” – Proverbs 25:2

Moses at the Well – When God Doesn’t Make Sense

A legend says that Moses once sat near a well in meditation. A wayfarer stopped to drink from the well, and when he did so, his purse fell from his girdle onto the sand. The man departed without realizing that he left it behind.

Shortly afterwards another man passed by the well, saw the purse and picked it up. Later, a third man stopped to assuage his thirst and went to sleep in the shadow of the well. Meanwhile, the first man had discovered that his purse was missing. Assuming that he lost it at the well, he returned, awoke the sleeper (who of course knew nothing), and demanded his money back. An argument followed, and irate, the first man slew the latter.

Where upon Moses said to God, “You see, therefore why men don’t believe in you. There is too much evil and injustice in the world. Why should the first man have lost his purse and become a murderer? Why should the second have gotten a full purse without working for it? The third was completely innocent; why was he slain?”

God answered, “For once and only once I will give you an explanation, although I can not do it with every step of your life. The first man was a thief’s son. The purse contained money stolen from the father of the second, who, finding the purse, only found what was due him. The third was a murderer whose crime had never been revealed and who received from the first the punishment that he deserved.”

In the future believe that there is sense and righteousness in what transpires when you do not understand.” -100 Prison Meditations, by Richard Wurmbrand

There will be times when God doesn’t seem to make sense in your life. It is in these times that you must yield to the path that God has put you on. It is here where our faith is made stronger. Things we see with our eyes are not always what is really happening from an eternal perspective.


Words to Think About…

<>–ON ASKING WHY–<>

For What Purpose Lord?

The word “why” does not exist in the Hebrew language. It can only be translated “For what purpose?” Learn to take your “Why Lord?” questions and replace them with, “For what purpose Lord?” – I think when we ask in this manner we will understand more of what God has for us.

“The heart of the Gospel is that we must die with Christ in order to live with Him. And that means signing over to God our desires, our dreams, our hurts. All that we are, or will be.” ~ Keith Green 1953-1982

 

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“The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”- Psalm 27:1

 

The Witness of Telemacus

There was a monk in the 4th century after Christ, who lived in a Cloister. One day while he was all by himself just studying, he believed God said for him to go to Rome. “Rome?” he thought, “I don’t want to go to Rome, I’m studying in this cloister.” But he felt the irresistible call of God to go Rome, and so he packed everything he had into a little satchel, threw it over his shoulder, put on his habit, and started westward over the dusty roads.

When he got into Rome, he discovered tremendous excitement going on and people rushing about. He said, “What’s going here?”

The people answered, “This is the day of the games! This is when the gladiators come in to fight the animals, gladiators fight the gladiators, and people die for the glory of Caesar.” The monk wondered if this was the reason why God had sent him here.

The little monk, Telemacus, went down and looked into the arena and saw a crowd of 80,000 cheering as huge gladiators were coming out shouting, “Hail, we who will die to the glory of Caesar!”

Telemacus saw all this and said, “This is not right! Four centuries after Christ, this is not right!” He went rushing down, jumped up unto the parapet, and down into the middle of the arena, and started to shout in a squeaky voice, (for he been cloistered for years), “In the Name of Christ, Fore Bare!”

The crowd began to laugh and chant, “Get that little man off the field!” A big gladiator came over and took the back of his sword and hit Telemacus in the stomach, sending him spinning off into the dust. The little monk got up and dusted himself off and ran back in between two gladiators. Again he shouted, “In the name of Christ, Fore Bare!”

Now the crowd began to chant, “Run him through, Run him through! Run him through!” and a big gladiator came over and took his sword and ran it through the stomach of Telemacus.

The little monk fell into the sand, and as the ground began to redden around him, he spoke with his last breath of air. One last time with the last ounce of breathe in him, he squeaked out, “In the name of Christ, Fore Bare!”

Silence came over that amphitheater. In the upper tier, a man stood up and walked to the exit. Within a matter of minutes the amphitheater was empty.

It was the last known gladiatorial contest in the history of Rome.

(by Chuck Colson, Radical Faith: Answers to Mess We’re In.-audio tape)

This is being a witness. Telemacus announced the gospel with his life. He was a witness. Someone once said, “If Christianity were against the law, would there be enough to convict you?”Your greatest legacy will be those who live eternally because of our efforts.

 


Words to Think About…

<>–ON COURAGE–<>

“Courage is simply not just one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality.”- C.S.Lewis

“Forgiveness is the balm of healing that soothes and heals the wounds of error. Joy is the fresh new path, stretching out before the forgiver and the forgiven.” – V. Gilbert Beers in “Joy Is . . .”

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“Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.” – Mark 13:31

 

Mutiny on the Bounty – Have You Ever Lost Your Bible?

One of the most dramatic examples of the Bible’s divine ability to transform men and women involved the famous, “Mutiny on the Bounty.” Following their rebellion against the notorious Captain Bligh, nine mutineers, along with the Tahitian men and women who accompanied them, found their way to Pitcairn Island. The island, a tiny dot in the South Pacific, was only two miles long and a mile wide.

Ten years later, drink and fighting had left only one man alive–John Adams. Eleven women and 23 children made up the rest of the Island’s population. This, so far, is the familiar story made famous in the book and motion picture. But the rest of the story is even more remarkable.

About this time,Adams came across the “Bounty’s” Bible in the bottom of an old chest. He began to read it, and the divine power of God’s Word reached into the heart of the hardened murderer on that tiny volcanic speck in the vast Pacific Ocean, and changed his life forever. The peace and love that Adams found in the Bible entirely replaced the old life of quarreling, brawling, and liquor. He began to teach the children from the Bible until every person on the island had experienced the same amazing change that he had found. Today, with a population of slightly less than 100, nearly every person on Pitcairn Island is a Christian.

Kierkegaard said that most of us read the Bible the way a mouse tries to remove the cheese from the trap without getting caught. Some of us have mastered that. We read the story as though it were about someone else a long time ago; that way we don’t get caught. But if we see the Bible as the story of the triumph of God’s grace, the story of God searching for us, then look out. The story will come alive. God will find us and we will know that we are found.


Words to Think About…

<>–ON BIBLE STUDY–<>

“I study my Bible like I gather apples. First, I shake the whole tree that the ripest may fall. Then I shake each limb, and when I have shaken each limb, I shake each branch and every twig. Then I look under every leaf. I search the Bible as a whole like shaking the whole tree. Then I shake every limb–study book after book. Then I shake every branch, giving attention to the chapters. Then I shake every twig, or a careful study of the paragraphs and sentences and words and their meanings.” – Martin Luther

“If You see a Bible that is falling apart, it probably belongs to someone who isn’t!”- Vance Havner

 

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“Brethren, if any man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore (katartitzo) such a one in the spirit of meekness: considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” – Galatians 6:1

 

 

The Greek Word “Katartizo”

Here’s a great word for you from the Greek language of the New Testament. The word is “Katartizo” (kat-ar-tid’zo – #2675 in the Strong’s Concordance). It is used in Galatians 6:1; “Brethren, if any man be overtaken (or caught up) in a fault (or trespass), ye which are spiritual, Katartitzo (restore) such a one in the spirit of meekness: considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” We are limited in the English language for the translation of this word.

The essence of Katartitzo is that of a “curing or mending” word. Like a surgeon would set a broken limb, a fisherman mending a torn net, a king equipping a warrior with weapons, it means to give to someone something that is missing, or something that they lack. It is executing a repair, or reviving something so it can be effective again. Katartitzo is an encouraging word.

The idea of this verse is the process of confronting a guilty person who has been tripped, or has fallen. The goal in the confrontation is to restore (katartitzo) that person. It’s to be done in the spirit of “meekness, temperance, and gentleness” (Gal 5:22, 23). So many times we see brethren caught in a sin, and in our zeal of confronting him, we only wound and drive them to a place where restoration is impossible. This verse teaches us that we are to confront in a spirit of gentleness, lest we also be tempted. Put yourself in their shoes, for next time it could be you. The purpose is to restore not cripple.

Our goal should be to create a “mending” home for our children and loved ones in a world where shattered and broken homes are all around us. Katartitzo, great word isn’t it?


Words to Think About…

<>–ON RECONCILIATION –<>

 God Has Given Us The Ministry of Reconciliation (2 Cor 5:17-21)

1. The Prodigal Son – Restored!

2. The Suffering of Job – Restored!

3. The Lost Sheep – Restored!

4. The one who left the other 99 – Restored!

5. Peter, denied His Lord 3 times – Restored!

6. Gomer, runaway wife of Hosea – Restored

7 David, murderer, adulterer, man after God’s own heart – Restored!

8. Me – Restored!

“And I (God) will restore unto you the years the locusts have eaten…. Joel 2:25

 

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“We dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves; but they that commend themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” – 2nd Corinthians 10:12

 

What Do You Set Your Clock By?

There is story about a watchmaker who lived many years ago that set up his shop in a small village. This small village was unique in the fact that eighty percent of the men were employed at the local mill. After the watchmaker had opened up his little shop, he noticed that every single day since the opening, a gentleman would come by and pause for a moment, take out his pocket watch, adjust it very carefully by the clock in the window, put it back in his pocket, and then go on his way.

This went on for a period of weeks. Finally, out of curiosity, the watchmaker stopped him one morning and said to him, “I’ve noticed for the last of number of weeks now, you’ve come by, adjusted your watch, and gone on your way.” He continued, “Just out of curiosity, I was just wondering what exactly you do for a living that you pass by my little shop every morning and set your watch to start your day?”

The gentleman explained that he was the foreman down at the mill, and it was his responsibility to blow the whistle at lunch time. He went on to explain why it was so important that he have the correct time each day because not only does the whistle signify that it is time for the men to knock off from work for an hour, but that it was amazing how many people rely on this whistle to set their clocks by.

The watchmaker sort of smiled and chuckled to himself and said, “That’s interesting, ever since I’ve been in this village, I’ve been setting my clock according toyour whistle.”

We tend to do this spiritually also. We look at others and compare ourselves. We adjust our way of thinking by their way of doing things, and the Bible says that if we do this, we are not wise,“… they that commend themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”

Wouldn’t it be amazing if each Christian was to look into the mirror and try to see the reflection that God sees, not a distorted image of who we think we should be? Today, dear brother or sister, why don’t we each reach for a greater understanding of who we are in Christ Jesus. For each of us are, “…fearfully and wonderfully made.” – Psalm 139:14


Words to Think About…

<>–ON THE VALUE OF TIME –<>

Dr. Cotton Mather would express his regret after the departure of a visitor that had wasted his time, “I had rather have given him a handful of money than have been kept thus long out of my study.”

Queen Charlotte said, “I am always quarreling with time: it is so short to do something and so long to do nothing.”

John Bradford used to say, “I count an hour lost in which I have done no good by my pen or tongue.”

Seneca taught that time was the only thing of which it is a virtue to be covetous.

 

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“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls” (18) Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” – Habakkuk 3:17-18

Daniel Webster Called Them The Most Beautiful Words Ever Written in Literature.

Every time I think about Daniel Webster, I’m reminded of the story about a woodchuck that helped himself to what vegetables he wanted in their father’s garden. Ezekiel Webster, Daniel’s brother, set a trap and caught him, and said, “Now we’ll kill the thief. You’ve done mischief enough to die Mr. Woodchuck, and you shall die.”

Young Daniel pleaded for the woodchuck’s immediate release. The case was brought before the father, who acted as judge. Ezekiel presented the vicious habits of the prisoner, the damage already done to the garden, and the value of his skin, as reasons why he ought to die. Daniel pleaded that the woodchuck was one of the creatures of God, not particularly vicious, having a right to food, life, and liberty. He urged against the cruelty of taking the life of the helpless creature. The plea moved the father, and he cried, “Zeke, Zeke, let the woodchuck go!”

This was Daniel Webster’s first case, won when he was only ten years old.

Daniel Webster used to meet with his friends regularly to discuss literature written throughout the ages. He once remarked to his friends that the words in Habakkuk 3:17-18, were the most beautiful words ever written in literature; “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls. Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”

Read these verses again. Only this time, insert your own name. “Although ‘my’ fig tree shall not blossom,” etc… The Hebrew word used for “rejoice,” in verse 18 is alaz {aw-laz’}, which is interchangeable with the words, triumph & joyful. The Lord wants us to rejoice in our adversity for He will deliver us. If you’re in a place where you need restoration in your life, seek the Lord for that restoration; that is what He does. He is the Restorer.


Words to Think About…

<>–ON WHAT TRUE RICHES –<>

Daniel Webster said, “If religious books are not widely circulated among the masses in this country. I do not know what is going to become of us as a nation. If truth be not diffused, error will be; if God and His Word are not known and received, the devil and his works will gain the ascendancy; if the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will; if the power of the Gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of the land, anarchy will reign without mitigation or end.”

What Treasure Would You Take With You?

An ancient city was besieged, and at length obliged to surrender. In the city were two brothers, who had obliged the conquering general, and received permission to leave the city before it was set on fire, taking with them as much of their property as each could carry. The two youths appeared at the gates of the city, one of them carrying their father, and the other carrying their mother.

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“And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times to know what Israel ought to do.” – 1 Chronicles 12:32

 

The Men of Issachar

In this very interesting verse in 1 Chronicles (12:32), we read about a group of “mighty men” from the tribe of Issachar, who “understood the times” they were living in. This verse can serve as a reminder for us to strive to gain understanding of the times that WE are living in.

Isachar was the ninth son of Jacob and the fifth son of Leah (Gen 30:14-18). His name is a verbal form of “Sakar,” meaning, “hire, or wages.” The name implies that the tribe would “hire” itself out to bear the burdens of the others. (Gen 49:14-15). Leaders such as Deborah and Barak belonged to the tribe of Issachar.

If you were to meet the admirable men of Issachar in their day, they would live out the fulfillment of their name. They were truly men who bore the burdens of others. Their standard position in the desert march was with the tribe of Judah on the East side of the Tabernacle. If one could peer down on the twelve tribes from overhead, they would be found encamped in the form of a cross. The tribes of Issachar were men that prospered in the wilderness. At Sinai, the tribe numbered 54,400 men of war over twenty years of age (Num 1:29). At the end of the wanderings, their numbers had grown to 64,300 (Num 26:23-24). When they ceased their travel, they dwelt in a fertile territory (Josh 19-23), and were allotted the territory between the eastern Jezreel Valley and the Jordan Valley. They are also mentioned in Revelation 7:7, where it is explained that 12,000 of their tribe would be sealed. These mighty men understood the times and seasons of their position under God, and were known share their wisdom with others.

Who are the “Men of Issachar” for this generation? We need men who can give insight and understanding into the times that we are living in. God intended it to be that each generation of believers would think that it was their generation chosen to see the second coming. The Bible tells us “No one knows the day or the hour.” Therefore, every generation has had their “watchmen on the wall,” or men of Issachar looking for his return.

Today, we again find ourselves living in very uncertain times. We hear of wars, and rumors of wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes, as mentioned throughout the New Testament as signs that the imminent return of Christ is near.

Jesus held the people of His day responsible for knowing the times of His coming. He will also hold the people alive at His return for understanding the times before His second coming. We must seek understanding for the times that we are living in now. It is a foolish generation that ignores what is going on around them in the world, and lives for itself and its own gratification. We must be awake, with our lamps full of oil, peering into the night for the sounds of the bridegroom approaching.

 


Words to Think About…

<>–END OF THE AGE–<>

“The coming of Jesus Christ and the end of the age occupies some 1,845 Scriptural verses.” – John Wesley White

“Many times when I go to bed at night I think to myself that before I awaken Christ may come.” – Billy Graham

<>–GEORGE MATHESON’S SMALL AUDIENCE–<>

George Matheson grew discouraged over his small crowd on a winter’s evening in Innellan, Scotland. He had worked hard on his sermon, but the sparse numbers and empty chairs nearly defeated him. He nonetheless did his best; not knowing that in the congregation was a visitor from the large St. Bernard’s Church in Edinborough, which was seeking a pastor. “Make every occasion a great occasion,” said Matheson, who was to spend the rest of his career at St. Bernard’s. “You can never tell when somebody may be taking measure for a larger place.”

 

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“Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set forth up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.” – Genesis 28:12

Lessons From the Ladder

In this verse (Genesis 28:12) we are told that Jacob left Beersheba (meaning, “Well of the oath”), toward Haran (meaning, “strong and enlightened”) a 12 mile journey. He stopped at a certain place for the night and had a dream. What did he dream?

A stairway was set on the ground and its top reached to the sky, and the angels of God were going up and down on it. Some were going from the earth to the heaven, others from the heaven to the earth. The Hebrew translation suggests that the ramp extended both towards earth and the heavens, rather than it was supported upon a cursed earth. This is also the only place in the Bible where the word, “Ladder” is used.

Some Hebrew commentators have written that this story is meant to teach us the following; a man does not always remain at the same stage. He is always ascending or descending. When he reaches the top, he must concern himself with the probability that he will fall. When he reaches the bottom, he must strive once again to climb to the top. That is the nature of man.

Chaim Potok, novelist and narrator of contemporary Jewish experience, said, “When the soul of a man is in its darkest night, he must strive constantly for new light. When one thinks there is only an end that is when one must struggle for the new beginning.” It is at this point in his life that Jacob was in the “dark night of the soul.” His brother was out to kill him for the birthright that Jacob had stolen. It was here that God extended His vision, His “Enlightenment” to Jacob’s eyes.

The vision revealed the knowledge of God’s involvement with man. God’s angels, His messengers, were revealed to Jacob personally, ascending and descending to heaven with a God given destination. Jacob came to understand through this enlightenment, that God was involved directly with His people on earth, and therefore directly involved with the direction that Jacob was going also. Notice that in this story, Jacob lies in a horizontal position with his head on a rock, while God’s vision was one of a vertical nature; a ladder going from heaven to earth, revealing God’s plan that was one of heavenly movement.

It is here that God reiterates the promise that he had given his forefather Abraham, (v. 14). The promise that Jacob’s descendants would be blessed by the “Seed” that would come from his family. But this time, the promise was given to Jacob PERSONALLY. God wanted a personal relationship with Jacob, not that of a grandchild relationship that was handed down. God was asking him to get his head off the rock and look at all that was available to him, a relationship that was interactive with God, a virtual ladder between heaven and earth.

It is interesting to note, that God led Jacob to stop at a certain place for the night that meant, “enlightenment,” a foreshadowing of what was to come. It may be that God is leading you from the place of your “well of oath” or first commitment, to stop at a certain place of “enlightenment”. I have seen many people fight and claw their way to the top, only to find that they had placed their ladder against the wrong building. They are unhappy with their career, their relationships, their homes, and their very lives. God offers a glimpse at HIS ladder that is supported by heaven itself, and a promise of His involvement in our lives. If today, you find your head against a rock, look up, for you may see angels descending from the heavens with a message from heaven to you.

 


Words to Think About…

<>–PATCHES OF GODLIGHT–<>

“We–or at least I–shall not be able to adore God on the highest occasions if we have learned no habit of doing so on the lowest. At best, our faith and reason will tell us that He is adorable, but we shall not have found Him so, not have “tasted and seen.” Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun, which you could never get from reading books on astronomy. These pure and spontaneous pleasures are “Patches of Godlight” in the woods of our experience.”

– C. S. Lewis in ‘Letters to Malcolm’

<>–WHAT DO YOU SEE?–<>

“When you have first learned God, or His will, you can address yourself cheerfully to the study of His works. If you do not see yourselves and all things as living, moving, and having their being in God, you see nothing, whatever you may think you see.”

– Richard Baxter in “The Reformed Pastor”

 

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Handfuls of Purpose

  Devotions on Living the Deeper Christian Life

 

“To them that are called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28

When Bombs Go Off

Charles the Twelfth, King of Sweden, while besieged by constant air raids in Stralsund, was found one day dictating a letter to his secretary. A bombshell from an enemy plane fell upon the building they were in. The bomb exploded close to his office, totally destroying the adjoining floor, blowing it to pieces. Charles’ room was left untouched from the explosion. Seeing that the building was in almost total ruin, the pen fell from the hand from the secretary.

“What’s the matter?” said the king with a composed countenance. “Why do you not continue writing?”

“Most gracious Sire,” replied the secretary, “The bombshell!”

“Well,” said the king. “What has the bombshell to do with the letter? Go on writing.”

It is so hard to stay focused when all around us seems to be falling apart. Bombs occasionally go off in the middle of our lives, yet the Lord asks us to maintain our trust in Him,” to press on towards the goal” regardless of our circumstance. How difficult it often is to do this. Many times we throw our hands up in the air and focus in on surveying the damage. Yet, God asks us turn our eyes towards him in our distress, and stay steady on our path with Him, as the king was able to stay focused on his goal and not be distracted from his duty.

The Bible instructs us, “And we know that all things work together for the good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” The words, “according to” in this verse from Rom 8:28 come from the Greek word preposition, “Kata.” It means that we are called “according to” something. “According to” in this context means that our calling lines up with some kind of standard, or measuring system.

You are called “according to” some specific or precise standard or measurement that God has designed you alone to complete. He is the master builder, and as with all contractors, there has to be a master plan, a plan with precise measurements and directives, so that all elements will work together to form completeness in its architectural form. God has a plan for your very life; nothing has gone unnoticed in the layout of the scheme. You were created for a specific time, a specific purpose, for an hour such as this, “according to” his plan.

Each of us has been “called” at the moment of our salvation, yet we did not know what we were called “according to.” We are told in Romans 11:29, “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” Let us stay steady on the course that we have been called to, regardless of the sound of distant bombs that threatened to detain us from the duty of THE King.


Words to Think About…

<>–ON TALKING TO GOD–<>

“Some people think God does not like to be troubled with our constant coming and asking. The way to trouble God is not to come at all.” – D. L. Moody

 

“Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men is greater still.” – E. M. Bounds

 

“The Christian on his knees sees more than the philosopher on tiptoe.” – D. L. Moody

 

 

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“..that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” – Eph 3:8

Forgotten Riches

Years ago, the great art collector, William Randolph Hearst, sat in his study reading about a rare artifact that had eluded his art findings for many years. After reading the article, Hearst called in his best researchers for an information meeting on the priceless object. He described the artifact in detail to the men, and told them to buy it at any price.

The men set out to find the artifact and looked diligently for many months. Then one day, the head of the research team came into Mr. Hearst’s office and declared that they had found it.

“Well, where is it?” inquired Mr. Hearst with great anticipation.

“It is one of your own warehouses sir.” reported the man.

Mr. Hearst already had in his possession the very thing that he had longed for so badly, for so many years.

This story reminds me of the hidden riches that we have in Christ:

Ephesians 3:16 tells us about the riches of His glory.
Ephesians 2:7 tells us about the riches of His grace.
Romans 2:4 tells us about the riches of His goodness.
Romans 11:33 tells us of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God.
Col 1:27 tells us of the riches of the mystery of Christ in us, the hope of glory.
Ephesians 1:18 tells us of the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.

Ephesians 3:8 tells us that these riches in Christ are “unsearchable.” Strong’s Concordance explains the word “unsearchable” as follows; “That cannot be searched out, that cannot be comprehended.” God’s riches are beyond our understanding; we cannot “search” them out and somehow capture them. This is contrary to the things of this world, as we see in the example of Mr. Hearst’s quest in which his men were able to search the world and find his desired riches. God’s riches are eternal in value, unlike the riches of the world that will eventually fade away in time and land forgotten in someone’s collection warehouse.

It is so easy to get caught up in our own struggles to make our way through this life. Yet, God explains in His word, that His children need only to ask and receive God’s riches that were already planted in our hearts by His Spirit. We have what we have been searching for! It is within us. God asks merely for us to seek Him out, and therein, we will discover the forgotten riches we have in Christ.

 


Words to Think About…

<>–IT DEPENDS ON HOW YOU LOOK AT THINGS—-<>

When a mother saw a thunderstorm forming in mid-afternoon, she worried about her seven-year-old daughter who would be walking the three blocks home alone from school. Deciding to go and meet her, the mother saw her child walking nonchalantly along the road. The girl looked up and smiled whenever the lightning flashed. Seeing her mother, she ran to her, explaining happily, “All the way home, God has been taking my picture.”

The word “Witness” is a translation of the Greek word “Martus,” from which we get our English work “Martyr” – one who witnesses with his or her life.

“We tend by secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God.” – A.W. Tozer.

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“Be ye angry and sin not…” – Eph 4:26

 

A Few Thoughts on Anger

There was a little boy with a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he was to hammer a nail in the back fence. The first day the boy had driven thirty-seven nails into the fence. Then it gradually dwindled down day by day. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.

Finally, the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.

The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar, just like these nails have.”

Anyone can be angry. That’s easy. But to be angry with the right person, for the right reason, at the right time, and in the right way, is not easy. The Bible does teach us in Ephesians 4:26 that anger is permitted, but not to let our anger take us to a place of sin. We can be angry at injustice. We can be angry about a loss. We can be angry at man’s inhumanity to man, false teachings, lies, or other perversions. But the key is to sin not!

In my humanness, I am angry and frustrated with the reaping of a choice I made many years ago. Shall I let this get the best of me? My choice is to let it fester inside me and blister my heart, or to lay it at the foot of the cross and allow his redemptive power to heal the wound.

I have the choice to pound nails into the fence of my perceived injustice, or sin not. I need to take my anger and frustration to the Lord, who measured the very oceans in the hallow of His hand. Isaiah 40:12 reads, “Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?” My anger would serve me better resigned to Him, then breathing an unresolved life of its own.

 


Words to Think About…

<>–MANY ARE CALLED, FEW ARE CHOSEN—-<>

Noah preached that judgment was coming for 100 years, yet only 8 people were saved. Lot preached to the thousands in Sodom and Gomorrah, yet only three were saved. Six hundred thousand men, (not counting women and children), passed through the Red Sea, but only 2 entered into the promise land. Gideon went to fight with 32,000 men, but only 300 men were allowed to be a part of the victory. “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matt 22:14

Anger is one letter short of (D)anger.

The Chinese say that a word spoken cannot be overtaken by the swiftest horse.

‘Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: To choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s way.”  -Viktor Frankl concentration camp survivor

 

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“He maketh darkness His secret place.” – Psalm 18:11

 

Light in Darkness

When my boys were young one of them was having some trouble with the darkness in his room at night. As the days passed, this fear seemed to grow with each passing night. Facing this problem with him, I told him of a discovery that I read in which scientists had found that light particles actually exist in darkness. This seemed to ease his mind as he drifted off into a peaceful sleep. This was also of particular interest to me because the Bible teaches that God is omnipresent, which means that there is no place where He does not exist.

Psalm 18:11, tells us that God actually makes darkness His “secret” place. What does this mean for us in times of apparent darkness? Is there a hidden lesson or illumination in dark times for us to gain more of an understanding of God’s plan for our lives?

The first mention of the word “darkness” is in Genesis 1:2, “And darkness was upon the face of the deep.” Each of us at different times in our lives will face dark places of uncertainty. We lose loved ones, relationships, jobs, and sometimes even our direction in life. When these dark times come, it is important for us to know that the Scriptures tell us that darkness does have an end, “He setteth an end to darkness,” Job 28:3.

The Bible contains 366 “Fear not’s,” one for each day of the year, and one even for the extra day that leap year brings. Dr. Everek R. Storms counted 8,810 promises in the Bible. Of these promises, 7,487 of them are from God to man. We never face any life situation for which God has not supplied specific promises that give us mercy and grace to help in our time of need.

We are told in Psalm 119:105, “Thy word [is] a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” In times of darkness we need to apply the light of Scripture to our situation. The mere mention of the word “path,” assures us that nothing has taken God by surprise. It is comforting to know that although our physical eyes may comprehend only the darkness surrounding us at a given moment of our lives, the existence of light is promised.

 


Words to Think About…

<>–LIGHT BEFORE A CITY—-<>

When Alexander the Great encamped before a city, he used to set up a light to give notice to those within the city. If anyone came forth to him while the light lasted, they would be given quarter (mercy). Otherwise, no mercy was to be expected. God sets up light after light, and waits year after year, and even invites men to come unto Him, that they may have life.

<>–TREASURE IN HEAVEN—-<>

The epitaph of the Romanist, Edward Molloy, reads as follows; “Edward Malloy, the friend of humanity, the father of the poor. He employed the wealth of this world only to procure the riches of the next; and leaving a balance of credit on the book of life, he made heaven debtor to mercy.”

God never gives His children a promise which He does not intend them to use.” – Charles Spurgeon

 

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“And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him on the ark.” – Genesis 1:8

 

God Remembers

In the mid 1800’s, a group of white children who had been recaptured from an Indian tribe were brought before a group of parents who had lost their children. These children had been so long in captivity that they could give no account of themselves.

A mother, who had lost her two children years before, went to seek them out among the recovered children. The children were drawn up in line for identification; but she could not recognize any of them as hers. She turned away, weeping, but began to sing the hymn that had been her children’s lullaby song. She had barely had one verse sung, when her two lost children rushed from the line and cried, “Mamma, Mamma!”

If we look at the verse in Genesis 1:8, “And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him on the ark.” We find that it contains the very first mention of the word, “Remember” in the Bible. It gives us some insight into what God deems important to remember. During the awful cataclysm of the flood, the most devastating event thus far in the history of the world, God still remembered the obedience of Noah, and His “living things.”

I also find it interesting that God chose to remember even the twenty-nine knives that Cyrus, king of Persia, took from the house of the Lord (Ezra 1:9). He chose to account for the very smallest treasures that had been stolen from the temple of His people.

The Lord also chose to highlight one of the Ten Commandments in which He commands us to “Remember,” “Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy.” (Exodus 20:8)

We may forget many things, but God remembers, “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have shewed towards His name” (Hebrews 6:10). God even “Remembers the sparrows; not one of them is forgotten before the Lord” (Luke 12:6). And He remembers His own children, “For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14).

The most interesting thing about our God that “Remembers” is the one thing that God chooses NOT to remember. God chooses not to remember the sinful past of those who have come to Christ for forgiveness; “And their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 10:17). The God of the heavens and earth, who knows all, sees all, and remembers the smallest creatures of His creation, chooses not to recall our sins that His Son has shed blood for. THAT is good news!

God loves us enough NOT to remember. Yet, He will never forget His love for you or the price that was paid for your life. He will always remember the love that caused Him to sacrifice His only Son for us. Let us be mindful today of all the things that God remembers about His people, and most importantly, the things that He has chosen NOT to remember because you chose to love Him back.

 


Words to Think About…

<>–TWO THINGS TO NEVER FORGET—-<>

It was the remark of John Newton, writer of the hymn, Amazing Grace, when his memory had almost completely left him, that he could never forget two things,1) That he was a great sinner 2) That Jesus Christ was great and mighty Savior.

<>–THE EMBLEM OF CHARITY—-<>

The Egyptian Hieroglyphic representing charity is a naked child, with a heart in his hand, giving honey to a bee without wings. The child represents the humility of charity; the heart in its hand, the cheerfulness of charity; giving money to help a bee without wings represents the worthiness and helplessness of the object of charity.

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“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness.” – Lamentations 3:22-23

 

Mercy from The Lord

According to French historians, a mother visited Napoleon on behalf of her condemned son. The emperor told her the young man had committed the same offense twice, and justice demanded the death penalty.

“But Sire,” she pleaded, “I don’t ask for justice…only for mercy.”

“He doesn’t deserve it,” Napoleon replied.

“No, he doesn’t,” she replied sadly, “but it would not be mercy if he deserved it.”

“You’re right!” said the ruler with compassion. “I’ll grant your request and show him mercy!”

The mention of the word “Mercies” in Lamentations 3:18-23 were written by the prophet Jeremiah when he was at a low point in his life. In verse 18, he cries that his strength and hope had perished within him. Maybe you can remember crying out to God from a place like this. Jeremiah was 17 years old when he went into captivity for seventy years.

The tense of these verses change dramatically in verse 21. Jeremiah brings remembrances to his mind of the works God has done in his life, and he declares, “Therefore, I have hope.” The word used for “Hope” is the Hebrew word “Yachel,” which means to wait with an expectant hope. A modern day example of this would be the way a child waits for gifts on Christmas Eve with excitement and hope of what the morning may bring.

Jeremiah reminds us that it is only by the Lord’s mercy that we are not consumed; His compassion(s) are new every morning. Jeremiah lived to see the Lord’s restoration of the Nation of Israel from captivity.

One can never be reminded enough that the Lord’s mercies and compassions (both words are in the plural tense, because they are inexhaustible) are new every morning. That means when you awoke this very morning from your pillow, God’s mercy and compassion towards you were NEW this day. This very day, God lays before you a different opportunity to live than yesterday. Let us embrace THIS day and rejoice in it, no matter what our circumstances, this is truly a way that God provides for us an opportunity to begin again.

 


Words to Think About…

<>–ON SECRET HISTORY—-<>

“If only we could read the secret history of our enemies, we would find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Know all, and you will pardon all.”- Thomas a Kempis

“It is impossible to righteously govern the world without God and the Bible.” – George Washington

 

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“All that will live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
– 1 Tim 3:12

 

In Memory Of Sabina Wurmbrand 1913-2000

Two Shiny New Quarters

In Sabina Wurmbrand’s book,The Pastor’s Wife, Sabina, a Romanian Christian, gave her life to the ministry of the persecuted church. After she spent ten years of her life in Communist prisons for her faith in Christ, she and her husband, Richard Wurmbrand, founded the organization,Voice of the Martyers, a Christian outreach to the suffering church. During World War II, she also was known to have hid the Jews from the Nazis. Later, she hid the Nazis from the Communists. Her ministry reached the expanse of many countries.

I remember hearing her husband Richard tell a church group that a woman came up to him after hearing him preach one Sunday morning and told him, “All the questions that I ever had about being a Christian woman were answered in Sabina’s book.”

Sabina liked to tell the story of a father who gave his young son two shiny new quarters. He instructed his son to put one of the quarters into the offering plate at the church as a gift to God and the other he could spend as he please.

The young son, filled with joy, played with the two quarters until one finally slipped from his hands and fell into a drainage pipe, no longer to be found. Tears filled the boy’s eyes as he ran to his father and said, “Daddy, Daddy, I’ve lost the quarter you gave me for God.”

Sabina’s simple story was a constant reminder of how quickly we assign our lost time to God and hold fast to ourselves what is left. How often do we give the first fruit of our time, energy, and resources to our needs and desires and leave what is left, if anything, to God? Sabrina is an example of a woman who put God and the needs of His people first. During times of difficulty she would often ask a person, “Whose coin have you lost?”

Sabrina left this world with virtually no earthly possessions. She didn’t own or desire any savings, house or car, but she made many rich with the gift of her life.

 


Words to Think About…

<>—RICHES IN CHRIST—<>

A.W. Tozer once said; “We’ll hardly get our feet out of time into eternity that we’ll bow our heads in shame and humiliation. We’ll gaze on eternity and say, ‘Look at all the riches there were in Jesus Christ, and I’ve come to the Judgment Seat almost a pauper.'”

<>—LET US FACE OUR FEARS HONESTLY—<>

A lady once came to D. L. Moody and said, “I’ve found a verse to help me conquer my fear–Psalm 56:3.”

Moody replied, “I’ll give you a better verse–Isaiah 12:2.” Psalm 56:3 tells us that when we’re afraid, we’ll trust. Isaiah 12:2 says that we’ll “trust and not be afraid.” Faith overcomes everything (Ps. 103:5). Let’s face our fears honestly.

“The world wishes to involve you in its race towards destruction be dead to it.” – Richard Wurmbrand – spent 14 years in Communist prisons

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“But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”
– Job 23:10

Trials Turn to Gold

Amy Carmichael was a missionary, who at the turn of the 1900’s, devoted much of her life to rescuing young girls dedicated to a life of prostitution and slavery in Indian Hindu Temples. One day, she took some of her children to see a goldsmith refining gold in the ancient manner of the Orient.

The old goldsmith sat beside a small charcoal fire. On top of the coals, lay a common red curved roof-tile, and another tile over it like a lid. This was his homemade crucible. The man had a mixture of salt, tamarind fruit, and burnt brick dust which he called his “medicine” for purifying of the gold. He dropped a lump of ore into the blistering mixture and let the fire “eat” it. After a while, the man lifted the gold out with a pair of tongs, let it cool, and studied it.

Then he replaced the gold in the crucible and blew the fire hotter than it was before. This process went on and on, the fire growing hotter and hotter. “The gold could not bear it so hot at first,” explained the goldsmith. “But it can bear it now. What would have destroyed it, has helped it.”

As the children watched with amazement as the gold was purified in the fire. One of the girls asked the man, “How do you know when the gold is purified?”

The old man answered, “When I can see my face in it [the liquid gold in the crucible], then it is purified.”

Job 23:10 says that our trials can turn to gold. God often times allows us to feel the fire of the furnace in our lives. The purpose … refinement. Refinement of our souls, refinement of our character. God allows the impurities of our life, our sin, or the sin of another against us, to be consumed by a holy fire. Trials often come and threaten to take us away with them, but God urges us to “press on for the goal that lies ahead.” The goal again is refinement. Our loving God refuses to leave us as He found us. His work is deep and often hurts, but the end product is gold. It is in that gold that God’s character is truly reflected in us.

Amy Carmichael spent her adult life at the turn of the century as a missionary in India. She wrote about her practical accounts of her work for children in books of spiritual guidance and poetry, born of a life steeped in prayer and the scriptures, and influenced by her wide-ranging reading of past Christian writers. Amy’s refinement allowed her to minister to the broken and lost in a country where her faith was not welcomed, except for those courageous enough to reach their hands out for God amidst the fire.

 


Words to Think About…

<>—HAST THOU NO SCAR?—<>

Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot or side or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land.
I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star.
Hast thou no scar? Hast thou no wound?

Yet I was wounded by the archers, spent,
leaned Me against a tree to die and rent,
by ravening beasts that compassed Me. I swooned.

Hast thou no wound? No wound? No scar?
Yet as the Master shall the servant be,
and pierced are the feet that follow Me.
But thine are whole.
Can he have followed far who has no wound or scar?”

– Amy Carmichael (1867-1951)

“My first memory as a tiny child is this: after the nursery light had been turned low and I was quite alone, I used to smooth a little place on the sheet, and say aloud, but softly, to our Father, ‘Please come and sit with me.’ And that baby custom left something which recurs and is with me still. Our God is a God at hand, and ‘To Him who is everywhere, men come not by traveling but by loving.'”

-Amy Carmichael “Rose from Brier”

The deeper the sorrow, the less tongue it hath – the Talmud

 

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“Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” – John 20:29

 

What Will Be Your First Glimpse of Eternity?

As a baby, she had an eye infection that a doctor treated by placing hot poultices on her little red and inflamed eyelids. The infection finally did clear up, but scars formed on her eyes. The little girl became blind for life.

A few months later, her dad became ill and died. Widowed at 21, her mother hired herself out as a maid while the girl’s grandmother took care of her. Her grandmother took the education of her little granddaughter on herself, and became the girl’s eyes, vividly describing the physical world. Her careful teaching helped develop the little girl’s descriptive abilities and also nurtured her spirit. She read and carefully explained the Bible to her, and she always emphasized the importance of prayer.

Towards the end of the girl’s life, a wealthy lady said to her, “God isn’t just! You’re over 80 years of age, and you’re blind. You’ve never seen the sunset. You’ve never seen the flowers. I don’t understand how you could have written hymns like “Blessed Assurance” to a God who has never healed you. These hymns have blessed millions, and you can’t even see His creation. You have so many disadvantages; it’s not fair for God to do that.”

The girl, now an elderly woman replied, “My dear, I have a far greater advantage than you have.”

The woman said, “What do you mean? I’m a wealthy woman. I have everything.”

“I have an advantage over you,” she answered. “My dear, don’t you realize, that the first face that I ever see will be His face?”

The little girl, known as an American hymn writer and poetess, Francis Jane Crosby, wrote over 9,000 hymns during her life. She seems to have “seen” far deeper into the heart of God than most, despite her physical blindness. How many of us can see clearly in the natural, but fail to see the loving ways of the Father working in our life?

What will be the first thing you see when you enter eternity? Will you look unto the Son of God, whom the Scriptures tell us “…hath eyes like unto a flame of fire?” (Rev 2:18). Will you hear a voice speaking to you “…as the voice of many waters?” (Rev 19:6). The Bible tells us that there are many treasures in heaven so wonderful that we could not bear to see them now. Yet, there seems to be so few of us that actually set our sights on eternity.

Fanny Crosby seems to have seen something ahead that empowered her to write the amazing songs of love and worship, hymns to a God that had allowed her eyes to be dim here on earth, yet illuminated to the things of heaven so that she might help us set our eyes on eternity.


Words to Think About…

<>—CHILDREN IN HEAVEN—<>

“Perhaps God does with a heavenly garden as we do with our own. He may chiefly stock it from nurseries, and select for transplanting that which is yet in its young and tender age, – flowers before they have bloomed, and treasure they begin to bear.” – Dr. Guthrie

Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) used to pray before he preached a sermon,”Lord, stamp eternity on my eyelids!”

“Victories hard won many men owe the grandeur of their lives to their tremendous difficulties.”

– C. H. Spurgeon, in Streams in the Desert.

 

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“To obey is better than sacrifice, and to harken than the fat of rams.” – 1 Samuel 15:22

 

Obeying God’s Call in Your Life

In the eleventh century, King Henry III of Bavaria grew tired of court life and the pressures of being a monarch. He made an application to Friar Richard at a local monastery, asking to be accepted as a contemplative monk and spend the rest of his life in the monastery.

“Your Majesty,” said Friar Richard, “do you understand that the pledge here is one of obedience? That will be hard since you have been a king.”

“I understand.” said Henry. “The rest of my life I will be obedient to you, as Christ leads you.”

“Then I will tell you what to do.” said Friar Richard. “Go back to your throne and serve faithfully in the place where God has put you.”

When King Henry died, the statement was written of him, “The King learned to rule by being obedient.”

This story illustrates something people struggle with their whole lives. Always thinking that they must be somewhere other than where they are. How many times have we asked God to make us someone else, change our circumstances, or change our lives, when He has asked us to obey and serve where He has put us this very day? Could we actually bear more fruit for His Kingdom if we sought to make the best of each day exactly where we are?

God has given each of us different gifts. It is in our nature to try and look beyond our circumstances for a meaning for the life that we live. God longs to bless us in His work more than we long to be used, but it is God who promotes and anoints us for His service in the place that we are called. Often times He has us serve in places that seem unimportant to us, but they may actually be a training ground for what is to come. David was told he was to be King by God’s prophet himself, and then landed his next job as a shepherd in the fields. But, it was only in fighting lions and bears that the soon-to-be King slew Goliath.

If God is calling you to do something do it now. He will give you the strength to fulfill what He wants you to do. There are few greater feelings than to experience God stretch us beyond what we feel capable of doing or achieving. God would not give you a burning desire if you were not capable of its fulfillment.


Words to Think About…

<>—THE BEST USE OF YOUR PAST—<>

“You must learn, you must let God teach you, that the only way to get rid of your past is to make a future out of it. God will waste nothing.”

– -Phillips Brooks, quoted in Heirlooms

There are minerals called hydrophanous, which are not transparent until they are immersed in water. The hydrophane undergoes a transformation in the water that forms it into a variety of opal. So it is with the Christian. Until floods of adversity pour over him, his character appears marred and clouded by selfishness and worldly influences. It is the trials that clear away the obscurity and give distinctness and beauty to his life.

Abraham Lincoln used to say,Whatever you are, be a good one!”

“The cure for dullness in the pulpit is not brilliance but reality.” – Principal P. R. Forsyth

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  Devotions on Living the Deeper Christian Life

“If you learn to extract the precious from the worthless, you shall be as my mouth.” Jer.15:19

 

This Could be Good, or This Could be Bad

There is an ancient Eastern story about two men. One a jealous man, and the other, a wise man. Their houses faced each other. The jealous man coveted the prized black stallion of his neighbor. One day when the jealous man was looking out his window, the prized black stallion jumped his neighbor’s fence and ran off.

Immediately, the jealous man ran over to the wise man and told him what had happened. The wise man simply said, “This could be good, or this could be bad.”

A few days later, again looking out his window, the jealous man was amazed to see the prized black stallion returning home with thirty more stallions following him. Amazed, the jealous man ran over to the wise man and said, “Fortune has shown on you this very day, for your prized stallion has returned with thirty more stallions!”

The wise man simply said, “This could be good, or this could be bad.”

The next day, the number one son of the wise man was trying to tame one of the stallions, when he fell and broke his leg in three places. Again, the jealous man ran across to the wise man and said, “Misfortune has shown on you this very day, for your number one son has broken his leg trying to tame one of your new stallions.”

The wise man, again with no change in expression, simply said, “This could be good, or this could be bad.”

A few days later, war broke out throughout the Province. The first son of every family was required to go to war. The son of the wise man could not go because of his broken leg. The son of the jealous man was sent. A few days later, the jealous man received word that his son was killed in battle. Sadly, he went back to the wise man and said, “Misfortune has shown on ME this very day. For my son has been killed in battle.”

Again, without a change in expression, the wise old man looked at him and simply said, “This could be good or this could be bad.”

This Eastern parable implies that the jealous man’s son may have grown up and become an unjust ruler, or perhaps just like his father, a jealous and covetous man. This story also illustrates that many things are out of our perception for a time.

There may be things that happen to us today that may turn out to be for the best tomorrow. The Bible tells us to “be anxious for nothing.” But, how many of us can actually live in the peace that this verse provides? It seems to be a struggle for most of us.

Why does God tell us to be anxious for NOTHING? The statement itself answers the question, for it implies that SOMEONE is in control (and it is not us)! God has a plan for everything that passes through the life of His children. Nothing has caught Him off guard. He has a plan for even the most difficult loss. He is a Father that gives “Beauty for ashes” (Isa 61:3). He will not leave you in your time of despair. Sometimes we might perceive things to be of our darkest hour, but dawn is just a few hours away.

Let us remember the lesson from the simple faith of the wise old man in the story, when he answers every event with the profession, “This could be good, or this could be bad.” For we have no true understanding of the good that God has planned for His children.

 


Words to Think About…

<>—EXTRACTING THE PRECIOUS FROM THE WORTHLESS—<>

God once told a very young Jeremiah, “If you learn to extract the precious from the worthless, you shall be as my mouth.” (cf. Jer.15:19). This skill of discernment means three things;

1) There is knowing the difference in what’s of value and what is junk.
2) Knowing when to leave the worthless alone.
3) The skill of selecting the valuable.

“Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special regard to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you.” -Saint Augustine of Hippo

 

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  Devotions on Living the Deeper Christian Life

“But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, Abraham, Abraham!” – Gen 22:11

 

 

 The Two Who Live Within You

In the verse Gen 22:11, the words, “Abraham, Abraham,” occur in our English translation of the Bible. But in the Hebrew, there is one more thing added, a disjunctive sign between the two “Abrahams.” This same disjunctive also appears in the Hebrew text in 1 Sam 3:10, when the Lord called, “Samuel, Samuel.” In Exodus 3:4, we read, “Moses, Moses”, but there is no disjunctive in this verse. Therefore, there must be a significant purpose in this use of this sign. What does it mean?

The two “Abrahams,” with the disjunctive line between them should really be translated, “You, the two different Abrahams co-existing in one person.”

Like us, Abraham also had the outward and the inner man. There was the man that people knew, and the hidden man of the heart, with all its impulses, instincts and desires.

In his book, “My Correspondence with Jesus,” Richard Wurmbrand, who spent 14 years in Communist prisons, wrote about the two natures living within all of us. Wurmbrand, a Jew by birth, was a Christian Pastor and recognized Greek and Hebrew Scholar. He explained the existence of the “hidden man,” as a whole man, with his own desires, thoughts, emotions, will and love – who lives in the heart of the outer man. This inner man is so hidden that men often live a lifetime without discovering him.

Wurmbrand wrote, “In my case, this Richard is known only to me, distinct from the ordinary Richard known to others. Therefore God speaks to them as with two different beings. In the case of Moses, a harmony had been established. Thus there is no disjunctive sign when God says, ‘Moses, Moses.'”

It is interesting that God addresses both persons within his children. He doesn’t single out the part of you that we would like to believe is more presentable to God – our “spiritual side,” but He speaks to all that is within a man. That means that God speaks into the ways of the flesh in us, those parts of us that we are often ashamed. In my efforts to keep parts of myself “hidden” from God or my brother, God lovingly uncovers and speaks my name. He doesn’t leave anything in the dark; it is all in the light. God recognizes it as part of me, part of my struggle as man yet, He breathes acceptance into me, all of me. Men are commanded to love one another, which means that the two in you should also love one another. The good person in you should love the person who is sinful in you. It is desirable that we understand each other and love God with all our heart, which means to love him with both sides of our nature, the good and evil.

 


Words to Think About…

<>—NO ACCIDENTS IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD—<>

Rowland V. Bingham, founder of the Sudan Interior Mission, was once seriously injured in an automobile accident. He was rushed to a hospital in critical condition. The following day, when he regained consciousness, he asked the nurse what he was doing there. “Don’t try to talk now, just rest,” she replied. “You have been in an accident.” “Accident? Accident!” exclaimed Dr. Bingham. “There are no accidents in the life of a Christian. This is just an incident in God’s perfect leading.”

“You must learn, you must let God teach you, that the only way to get rid of your past is to make a future out of it. God will waste nothing.” -Phillips Brooks

 

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Handfuls of Purpose

  Devotions on Living the Deeper Christian Life

“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.” – Proverbs 9:9

 

How Full is Your Cup?

There is a story about a man who sought great wisdom all his life. Finally, he heard of a man known for his vast knowledge who lived in a remote mountainous area. He quickly sent a messenger asking for an audience with man.

The day came when he was granted audience by the old wise man, who offered him tea. As the wise man quietly poured water into his cup, the man continued talking about his contemplation on wisdom. He told of his extensive experience and profound thoughts, and especially of his own brilliance in processing all these things in such depth. The old man said nothing, but continued pouring until the man’s tea cup was overflowing. He just kept pouring until the man noticed that he was spilling water all over the table, and asked in a surprised manner, “What are you doing?”

The old man simply said, “Only when your cup is empty can I fill it with anything useful.”

Isn’t this the way God is with us? We ask Him for things, yet our hands are full with the things that WE want in them. We seek His wisdom, yet we act on our own understanding and experience. When was the last time we sat in stillness in God’s presence and waited for His voice? The psalmist urges us, “Be still, and know that He is God.” -Psalm 46:10.

Often times we don’t get an answer soon enough and rush ahead in what we “feel” is God’s will. We try to force God’s hand because of our time schedule or short attention span, instead of waiting on His timing, His purpose. We grasp hold of the wisdom that worked for us the last time, or what the world would deem common sense. I wonder how many times God just sits back and waits, pouring tea, waiting for us patiently to just stop talking, just stop telling Him what should or shouldn’t happen in our lives. Seeking wisdom means seeking God, and often times it is in His still, small voice that we are given the greatest of all secrets of His kingdom. It is only by letting go that we can be filled.

 


Words to Think About…

<>—The Wisdom in Waiting on God—<>

Hudson Taylor, missionary to China, wrote in his journal, “These forty years have not seen the sun come up in China without my father kneeling in prayer.”

<>—Preach With Conviction—<>

Goethe once said, after hearing a young minister, “When I go to hear a preacher preach, I may not agree with what he says, but I want him to believe it. Even a vacillating unbeliever has no respect for the man who lacks the courage to preach what he believes.”

“Before I was married I had three theories about raising children. Now I have three children and no theories.”

– John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (1647-1680)

“When the passions become masters, they are vices.”

– Blaise Pascal

 

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  Devotions on Living the Deeper Christian Life

“Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” – 2 Corinthians 6:2

 

Lost Opportunities

In his autobiography, “Just As I Am,” Billy Graham tells about a conversation he had with John F. Kennedy shortly after his election:

On the way back to the Kennedy house, the president-elect stopped his car and turned towards me, “Do you believe in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ?” he asked. “I most certainly do.'” “Well, does my church believe it?” “They have it in their creeds.” I answered. “They don’t preach it,” he said. “They don’t tell us much about it. I’d like to know what you think.” I explained what the Bible said about Christ coming the first time, dying on the Cross; rising from the dead, and then promising that he would come back again. “Only then,” I said, “are we going to have permanent world peace.'” “Very interesting,” he said, looking away, “we’ll have to talk more about that someday.” And he drove on.

Several years later, the two met again at the 1963 National Prayer Breakfast. “I had the flu,” Graham remembers. “After I gave my short talk, and he gave his, we walked out of the hotel to his car together, as was our custom.” At the curb, he turned to me.” Billy, could you ride back to the White House with me? I’d like to see you for a minute.'” “Mr. President, I’ve got a fever,” I protested. “Not only am I weak, but I don’t want to give you this thing. Couldn’t we wait and talk some other time?” It was a cold, snowy day, and I was freezing as I stood there without my overcoat. “Of course.” he said graciously. But the two would never meet again. Later that year, Kennedy was shot dead. Graham comments, “His hesitation at the car door, and his request, haunt me still. What was on his mind? Should I have gone with him? It was an irrecoverable moment.”

I got a phone call from an old friend this past week. He was headed back to California from Washington for the funeral of his cousin who had passed away at 54. He told me that this visit back home will be the first time that he gets to visit his mom and dad’s grave since they passed on a few years ago. He paused for a moment and said, “Always, always tell your mom that you love her!”

We never know when a person close to us will hear the words, “This day thy soul is required of thee.” Statistics say that there is a 30% chance that someone you know will die in the next five years. You never know how long you will have those you hold dear to your heart. “Never be afraid to share Christ with them, it may be their last time to hear the Gospel.

 


Words to Think About…

<>—ON WHAT WE DO IN THIS LIFE—<>

Louis Pasteur, the pioneer of immunology, lived at a time when thousands of people died each year of rabies. Pasteur had worked for years on a vaccine. Just as he was about to begin experimenting on himself, a 9-year-old, Joseph Meister, was bitten by a rabid dog. The boy’s mother begged Pasteur to experiment on her son. Pasteur injected Joseph for ten days — and the boy lived. Decades later, of all the things Pasteur could have had etched on his headstone, he asked for three words: JOSEPH MEISTER LIVED!

Everyday we step on chords that vibrate throughout eternity. – Charles Finney

Your greatest legacy will be those who live eternally because of our efforts.

 

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  Devotions on Living the Deeper Christian Life

“Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” – Matt 6:20

What Can You Take Into Eternity?

This verse (Matt 6:20) reminded me of a story about a sailor shipwrecked on a South Sea island. The sailor was seized by local natives, carried shoulder high to a rude throne, and was proclaimed to be their king. He learned of the culture and realized that according to the custom, a king ruled for only a year. The idea appealed to the sailor until he began to wonder what had befallen previous kings. He learned that when a king’s reign ended, he was banished to a lonely island where he was left to starve. Knowing he had the power of kingship for a year, the sailor began issuing orders. Carpenters were ordered to make boats; farmers were commanded to go ahead to the island and plant crops. Builders were to erect a sturdy home. When his reign finished, he was exiled, not to a barren isle, but to a paradise of plenty.

The wisdom of this sailor raises an interesting question. Can we send ahead riches into eternity? The Bible teaches in 1 Corinthians 3:8 that in eternity, “Every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor.” You can take your riches with you the same way a traveler exchanges currency before embarking on a long trip. You can take your currency (money, time, knowledge) and exchange it for something eternal. You can feed the hungry, help the captives, and care for the sick and downtrodden with your currency of today, in exchange for a future currency where “Neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.”

If you were to have the wisdom that you have now and go back into the womb, you may ask things like, “I wonder what these feet are for?” Never knowing that one day you will run free in a green field. “I wonder what these eyes are for.” Never knowing that one day you will behold beautiful skies with your eyes. It would make more sense if we were born old and regressed to a baby. Would God have us acquire all of our life wisdom/life experiences only to grow old and have it wasted?

Surely God has a plan for all that we have learned in this life, and surely. When we are born into this world we come naked and with nothing. When we die, we leave this earth with what we learned from this life, the wisdom we have gleaned of God’s eternal plan, the experiences of love and relationships, the lessons we have learned through trials, and the hope that we have placed in the God we have learned to trust here on earth.

What will be our treasures in heaven? One of the biggest surprises in eternity is what we will be given rewards for. The things we believe we should receive treasure for, we will not, and some things that we think little of, we will receive great rewards. God looks at the intent of our heart and the extent that we have allowed His love to permeate our hearts. It is acting from that love, with a pure heart, that our good works will be received into His throne room. The works of the flesh, no matter how mighty and recognized they might be, will ultimately fall by the wayside and be as dust in the Kingdom of heaven. What are you sending ahead to the life you will live in eternity? Let us all consider today, like the sailor in our story; the things that we can send ahead that will make an eternal difference in our lives and the lives of others.

 


Words to Think About…

<>–THIS PRESENT WORLD—-<>

“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did the most for this present world were precisely those who thought most of the next.” – C. S. Lewis

<-HEAVEN–<>

“Heaven: where questions and answers become one.” – Elie Wiesal

<–GOD’S ROUGH DIAMONDS ->

 “You are one of God’s rough diamonds, and He is going to have to cut you so that you may really shine for Him. It takes a diamond to cut a diamond. You are to be ground and cut, and hurt by other Christians, by spiritual Christians. But the more cutting and the more perfecting, the more you are going to shine for the Lord.”– G.Marshall

 

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  Devotions on Living the Deeper Christian Life

“He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” – Matt 10:39

 

A Young Lawyer Finds Strength in His Weakness – Can a Drunkard Enter into the Kingdom of God?

Many years ago inSt. Louis, a young lawyer visited a Christian to transact some business. Before the two parted, his client said to him, “I’ve often wanted to ask you a question, but I’ve been afraid to do so.”

“What do you want to know?” asked the lawyer.

The man replied, “You are such a man of great integrity; I’ve wondered why you’re not a Christian.”

The saddened lawyer hung his head, “I know enough about the Bible to realize that it says no drunkard can enter the kingdom of God, and you know my weakness!”

“That does not answer my question,” continued the believer.

“Well, truthfully, I can’t recall anyone ever explaining how to become a Christian.”

Picking up a Bible, the client read some passages showing that all are under condemnation, but that Christ came to save the lost by dying on the cross for their sins. “By receiving Him as your Substitute and Redeemer,” he said, “you can be forgiven. If you’re willing to receive Jesus, let’s pray together.”

The lawyer agreed, and when it was his turn to pray, he exclaimed, “Oh Jesus, I am a slave to drink. One of your servants has shown me how to be saved. O God, forgive my sins and help me overcome the power of this terrible habit in my life.” Right there he was converted.

That lawyer was C.I. Scofield, who later edited the reference Bible that today bears his name.

 


Words to Think About…

<>—“HOW MANY THINGS? —<>

 “(Disregard your feelings because) Justification takes place in the mind of God, not in the nervous system of the believer.” – C.I. Scofield

“Don’t worry about the future–worry quenches the work of grace within you. The future belongs to God. He is in charge of all things. Never second-guess him.”- Francois Fenelon 17th-century French Bishop 

<>—AMAZING GRACE—<>

It was the trademark of John Newton(1725 – 1807), when his memory had almost completely gone, that he would never forget two things:

1. That he was a great sinner;

2. That Jesus Christ was a great and mighty Savior.

Newton’s tombstone reads, “John Newton, Clerk, once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa, was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the faith he had long labored to destroy.” But a far greater testimony outlives Newton in the most famous of the hundreds of hymns he wrote:

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me,
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come.
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

 

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  Devotions on Living the Deeper Christian Life

“And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” – Luke 15:20

 

When God Ran

In this verse (Luke 15:20), we see the only mention of when God ran. It is found within the Parable of the Prodigal son. Here we see a joyful Father running at the first sight of his prodigal son returning that had left him some time ago.

I think that few things are harder than having a son who has chosen the way of the Prodigal. The pain of this sorrow is deeper than one can imagine. You second guess the way you raised your children, the things you said, the choices you made but it the end it is their choice to leave. This sorrow resides in a deep place within your soul. It asks, “Will you be able to ‘Run’ to your son when God brings him back to fellowship with you?”

There is another parable where Jesus left the ninety-nine sheep to go after the one sheep that went astray (Luke 15:4). I have been this lost sheep and the Lord did come after me. How do you deal with a prodigal child? Do you go after him, or do you let him go as the Father illustrated in the Prodigal’s parable did for his son? These are very hard questions. The father in this story waited for his son to return and then ran to him when he saw him coming towards him.

A closer look at the culture of that day shows that the Father may have had to run to his son in an effort to save his life from being stoned to death. The son had dishonored his Father. In those days, many a rebellious son had been stoned for a lesser offense. The son would have had to pass through the housing of the Father’s servants and neighbors. Stoning was certainly a possibility, and the Father knew this. Perhaps this is why he “Ran” to his son. Perhaps he had heard others talking about what would be a just punishment for his rebellious son. Perhaps he ran to protect him from any harm.

Another thing to consider is the Father’s robe. He would have had to lift up the bottom of his robe to run to his son. This was a sign of dishonor for a father to lift up his robe and run in any manner, thus showing his concern only for the life of his son who was lost and was now returning. This parable is rich with many treasures and insights for anyone wanting to study how God receives back to Himself those of us who choose to leave.

I’m reminded of another story on this topic about a daughter who left her mother one night to pursue the things that she had heard the world had to offer her. The mother had always left a light on and her door unlocked for her daughter when she would return home late at night. The daughter consumed by her passions, came home later and later until one evening, she did not return home at all. Her passions had taken her flesh far beyond her wildest imaginations.

Then one day, she was reminded of her mother. Five years had passed. She quickly headed home, traveling all day to see her mother. When she arrived late at night, she saw the light that her mother had left on, and was surprised to find the door was left unlocked.

When she entered her mother’s home, she asked her mother why she had left the light on so late, and why the door was unlocked so late at night. Her mother replied that she did this every night since she had left for the past five years, anticipating her return, and now she was joyful that the day had finally come of her return home. The daughter fell to her mother’s feet and wept. Such devoted love from the broken heart of a mother.

I ask myself, “Do I have this kind of strength to leave my light on and my door left unlocked for what could be five years or perhaps even longer? I struggle with the words of this story as they re-play in my inner thoughts.

I have lived a part of my life as the prodigal. It is now years later, and God has restored my life and blessed me with a new daughter in my old age. There is no doubt in me that He foreknew that I would need the unconditional love of a child at this time in my life. Never underestimate God knowing what you need. God is our loving father and knows our deepest needs.

I think that there are few things harder in life than being the father of a prodigal. Yet, I know that there would be few things more joyful than the return and restoration of my prodigal child. Never lose hope for the day when you can rejoice in the words spoken by a Father many years ago (Luke 15:23-24);

“And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill [it]; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.

 


Words to Think About…

<>—“WORDS OF WISDOM —<>

<>–THE SECRET TO SUCCESS AND LONG LIFE–<>

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise 😉 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” – Ephesians 6:1-3

<>–THE BACKSIDE OF A DESERT–<>

“It is always on the backside of the desert that we come to the mountain of God – on the backside of the desert of self, at the end of our own dreams and ambitions and plans. Poor Moses had quite a come-down from the courts of Egypt to the desert of Midian. He carried in his hand only the shepherd’s rod, fit symbol of his humiliation. God demanded that he cast even that to ground. And when he took it up again it became henceforth the ‘Rod of the Lord.’ If God has brought you to the backside of the desert, if you are reduced, as it were, to a shepherd’s rod, cast even that gladly at His feet and He will restore it to you the rod of God – and with it you shall work wonders in His name so long as you ‘Endure as seeing Him Who is invisible.’ – Vance Havner

<>–DEAR FRIENDS–<>

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.” – 1 Peter 4: 12-13

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  Devotions on Living the Deeper Christian Life

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” – Isaiah 1:18

 

Though Your Sin Be as Scarlet

It is amazing that this great offer in Isaiah 1:18 introduced in its original language has a reference to the law of the courts; “Let us reason together.” The defendants in this case were the Israelites who had repented and shown a will to lead a Godly life; as described in Isaiah: 16-17, but still struggled the guilty stain of their sins and shed blood.

The Lord had mercy on the Israelites, and said to them, “Let us come together as defendant and plaintiff in a court of law.” In this verse we can gain valuable insight into God’s plan of bringing His people, grieving their sin, into a place of reconciliation with Him.

This was a graphic illustration, for in the days of Isaiah (740 B.C.), Hebrew women would take a white garment, dye it a bright red (scarlet) color from a dye that was extracted from an insect called a Caccus ilicic, and use it for dyeing fabric and leather.

The white garment, soaked in the red dye, would be left to dry in the wind; then that same garment would be re-dyed a second time, thus making the red color a permanent stain to the very fiber of the cloth.

What Isaiah is saying is “Though your sin be as scarlet,” (a permanent double-dyed stain) God will wash your soul as the whiteness of snow and new lambs wool.

Jesus was mockingly clothed in scarlet at his trial (Matt. 27:28). The garment color, symbolized the sin of all put on the One who was as pure as the whitest snow. He took are stained garments upon himself to stand trial in our place.

If today you are feeling clothed in scarlet from a past sin or current struggle, take your stained garments to the Lord, and “reason” with Him as He did with the Israelites so many years ago. It doesn’t matter how deep you believe the sin to be woven into the fabric of your soul, what matters is that you believe His promise, and He will wash you as white as snow.

 


Words to Think About…

          <>–EVERY PROMISE–<>

“Every promise of Scripture is a writing of God, which may be pledged before Him with this reasonable request: Do as Thou hast said.”- Charles H. Spurgeon.”

       <>–THE PROMISES OF GOD–<>

“If you were to spend a month feeding on the precious promises of God, you would not be going about with your heads hanging down like bulrushes, complaining how poor you are; but you would lift up your heads with confidence, and proclaim the riches of His grace because you could not help it.”- Dwight L. Moody

 

 

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  Devotions on Living the Deeper Christian Life

“Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust” – Psalm 40:4

The Cobbler and the King

There was once a king who ruled his small country with justice and love. Unknown to his subjects, the king would put on a disguise in the evenings and roam the streets of his the towns in order to understand life from the perspective of the people.

One night, as he walked in disguise, the king was drawn to simple cottage. The doors and windows were thrown wide open, and inside a rather robust man was eating and singing with great volume. Knocking on the door, the king inquired, “Is a guest welcome here?”

“A guest is a gift from God!” the man shouted. “Please, enter and eat with me.”

The king sat down and began to eat the very simple but substantial food that rested on the table. The two men talked freely, immediately feeling a bond between them. Finally, the king asked, “What is your trade my friend?”

“I am a cobbler,” came the enthusiastic reply. “Each day I take my tool kit and wander about town fixing people’s shoes. They give me some pennies, and I spend it all to buy my evening meal.”

“You spend all of your money each day?” the king asked incredulously. “Don’t you save for the future? What about tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow is in the hands of God, my friend,” laughed the cobbler. “He will provide, and I will praise him day by day.”

Before the king left that evening, he asked if he might return the next night. “You are always welcome, my friend,” the cobbler replied warmly.

On the way home the king developed a plan to test the simple cobbler. The next morning he issued a proclamation prohibiting the repair of shoes without a permit. When he returned the next evening he found the cobbler eating and drinking and making merry.

“What have you done today, dear friend.” The king asked, hiding his surprise.

When I heard that our gracious king had issued a proclamation prohibiting the repair of shoes without a permit, I went to the well, drew water, and carried it to homes of people. They gave me some pennies, I put them in my pocket, and went out and spent it all this food,” the cobbler sang. “Come, eat, there is plenty for all.”

“You spent it all?” the king asked. “What if you cannot draw water tomorrow? Then what will you do?”

“Tomorrow is in the hands of God!” the cobbler shouted. “He will provide, and I, his simple servant, will praise Him day by day.”

The next morning the king decided to test his new friend again. He sent heralds throughout the land announcing that it was illegal for one person to draw water for another. That evening when he returned to visit the cobbler, he found him eating drinking and enjoying life as before. “I worried about you this morning when I heard the king’s proclamation. “What did you do?”

When I heard our good king’s new edict, I went out to chop wood. When I had a bundle, I brought it to town and sold it. People gave me some pennies, I put them in my pocket, and when the workday was over, I spent it all on food. Let us eat.”

“You worry me,” the king said. “What if you cannot chop wood tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow, good friend is in the hands of God. He will provide.”

Early the next morning the king’s heralds announced that all woodchoppers should report immediately to the palace for service in the king’s army. The cobbler-turned woodcutter obediently reported and was trained all day. When evening came, he was given no wages but allowed to take his sword home. On the way home, he stopped at a pawnshop where he sold the blade. Then he bought his food, as usual. Returning to his house, he took a piece of wood and carved a wooden blade, attached it to the sword’s hilt, and placed it in his sheath.

When the king arrived that evening, the cobbler told him the entire story. “What happens tomorrow if there is a sword inspection?” the kings asked.

“Tomorrow is in the hands of God,” answered the cobbler calmly. “He will provide.”

In the morning the officer in charge of the palace guard took the cobbler by the arm. “You are to act as executioner today. This man has been sentenced to death. Cut off his head.”

“I am a gentle man,” the cobbler protested. “I have never hurt another man in my life.”

“You will do as you are commanded!” the officer shouted.

As they walked to the place of execution, the cobbler’s mind was exploding. As the prisoner knelt before him, the cobbler took the hilt of his sword in one hand, raised his other palm to the heavens and prayed in a loud voice. “Almighty God, you alone can judge the innocent and the guilty. If this prisoner is guilty let my sword be sharp and my arm be strong. If, however, he is innocent, let this sword be made of wood.”

Dramatically, the cobbler pulled his sword from the sheath. The people were amazed to see that the sword was made of wood.  The king, who had watched the events from a distance, ran to his friend and revealed his true identity. “From this day forward you will come and live with me. You will eat from my table. I will be the host and you will be the guest. What do you say about that?”

The cobbler smiled from ear to ear. “What I say is, the Lord has provided, and you and I together will praise Him day by day.” (As told by William R. White).

The Bible tells us, “Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust” (Psalm 40:4). This means that you can take the most intimate struggle that you face today, and give it over to the One who has laid a plan for your life. He hasn’t forgotten you in this present day struggle. Nothing is too big for Him. Yet, we fight to hold the worry and control in our hands. God uses the word “Blessed” here, which can literally be translated, “Oh how happy is the man that maketh the Lord his trust.”

None of this is easy. God has given us many examples in His word of His people’s struggle to learn how to trust. We fail time and again, yet He petitions us to try again, “To trust in the Lord with all of your heart.” This involves an effort on our part, “the man that maketh the Lord his trust.” It is a choice of our will. The Cobbler chose to rely on God, despite his unfortunate circumstances. Let us learn from the lesson of this simple man and realize that tomorrow is truly in the hands of God…. He will provide.

 


Words to Think About…

<>—SOMEONE ONCE ASKED D.L.MOODY —<>

Someone once asked evangelist D.L. Moody how he managed to remain so intimate in his relationship with Christ. He replied, “I have come to Him as the best friend I have ever found, and I can trust Him in that relationship. I have believed He is Savior; I have believed he is God; I have believed His atonement on the cross is mine, and I have come to Him, and submitted myself on my knees, surrendered everything to Him, and gotten up and stood by His as my friend, and there isn’t any problem in my life, there isn’t any uncertainty in my work but I turn and speak to Him as naturally as to someone in the same room, and I have done it these years because I can trust in Jesus.”

“When Jesus takes your hand, He keeps you tight. When Jesus keeps you tight, He leads you through your whole life. When Jesus you through your life, He brings you safely home.” – Corrie ten Boom

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  Devotions on Living the Deeper Christian Life

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” – 3rd John 4

Struggling? Learn the Lesson This Little Boy Learned

There was once this holy man who was sitting starring intently into what he was holding in the palm of his hand. A young boy who had passed by the dervis earlier in the day noticed the man still seated staring intently at what he was holding. Curious, like most boys his age, he approached the man to see what he was looking at…

The man was holding a butterfly cocoon. He told the boy that he was going to watch the miracle transformation of this cocoon into a butterfly…The boy’s interest heightened. Excitedly, He asked the man if he could have the cocoon. The dervis looked at the young boy with wisdom and said; “I will give the cocoon under ‘one’ condition.” “Anything!” said the boy shouted.

The man told him, “when the cocoon starts to shake, and the butterfly struggles to get out, under NO circumstances are you to help it.” The boy agreed, took the cocoon and found a spot to sit and wait for this miracle of life.

After a short while, the cocoon started to move, then shake, it started to open, then the boy saw that the butterfly was struggling to get out… he panicked… and then helped the butterfly by opening part of the cocoon.. This beautiful butterfly flew straight up into the sky….then… fell straight down onto the ground dead.

The boy picked up the butterfly, and ran back to where the man was still seated…In tears, he showed the man the dead butterfly… The man said, “You helped it didn’t you?” The dervis explained to the young boy that the butterfly strengthened its wing through its struggle to get out of the cocoon. By helping it, its wings didn’t develop to be strong enough to survive.

I like this story. As parents, we have to let our children struggle, so they can develop their own wings for when they go out and fly on their own in this world. Doesn’t the Lord do the same with us, His children as we become the people that He created us to be?


Words to Think About…

<>—A MOTHER’S WORDS—<>

“From the time that, at my mother’s feet, or my father’s knee, I first learned to lisp verses from the sacred writings, they have been my daily study and vigilant contemplation. If there be any thing in my style or thoughts to be commended, the credit is due to my kind parents in instilling into my mind an early love of the Scriptures.” – Daniel Webster – writer of Webster’s Dictionary

“The heart of the Gospel is that we must die with Christ in order to live with Him. And that means signing over to God our desires, our dreams, our hurts. All that we are, or will be.” ~ Keith Green (1953-1982).

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“Then the Lord answered Job out of a whirlwind and said…” – Job 14:14

 Seventy-Seven Questions

In the book of Job, the oldest book in the Bible, are recorded the seventy-seven questions that God asks of man (chapters 38-42). Man, over the centuries of existence, has only been able to answer perhaps two or three of these questions over the past 4000 years.

It is in these chapters of Job where we find a frustrated man, challenging the silence of heaven with cries to his Creator in his time of need. All of a sudden, God decides to come to Job out of a whirlwind, and speaks a demand; “Gird up now thy loins like a MAN; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.” (Job 38:3). It is interesting to note that the word used for “Man” in verse. 3, “geber,” denotes man not in frailty, but in his strength, man as a strong combatant. God calls to Job to stand strong as God responds with His challenging questions back to him.

In Job 38:22, God asks, “Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? Or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail?” Ever thought about what this might mean? Is there a great scientific discovery waiting to be discovered in the rain and hail?

Another question God asks is, “By what way is the light parted, which scattered the east wind upon the earth?”

Can you imagine yourself challenging God to explain why he is allowing certain things to happen in your life, when all of a sudden, a whirlwind appears, and the very next thing that you hear is the voice of God DEMANDING that you answer his questions? Revelation 14:2 describes God’s voice in this way, “And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder.”

The next time you find yourself asking God, “Why?” I suggest you read these seventy-seven questions in Job Chapters 38-42. God’s thinking is so far above our thinking. He measures all of His interventions in our lives from an eternal perspective. All of God’s subsequent questions in Job reveal to us that there is so much out of our perception. It is God who has commanded the tides of the oceans and the giant animals of the sea, the same God who is in charge of your life and the lives of all His children.

What was Job’s response to these seventy-seven questions?

“Then Job answered the Lord, and said, Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.”

(Job 40:3-4).

God’s response to Job’s humility is summed up in Job 42:12, “So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning.” God was pleased with Job’s faithfulness.

It is interesting to note that God’s works of deliverance from Job’s evils are in the reverse order of their occurrence. Job’s false sense of God’s estrangement was the first evil corrected. Then defamation of Job’s name among men is dealt with, and finally, his family and wealth are restored. There was nothing in Job’s life that God left unaddressed. He restored all.

The man who had been a combatant against God, is now seen as a worshipper, humbly confessing his sinfulness, and entering into an experience of divine forgiveness. The unveiling of God’s glory led to an unprecedented experience of divine forgiveness and restoration.

Are you questioning God about details of your life today? Often times it appears that the heavens are silent, and God has abandoned you, but I challenge you to trust further than what you can see with your human eyes, or touch with your human hands, for God has a plan for you. He reminds us in his word, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (Jeremiah. 33:3).

God, in his infinite understanding, knows what is best for us. Ask, yes ask, of the Lord the purpose of all that you struggle with, but let us reach for the understanding that allows us to trust an awesome God who “…commanded the mornings since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place.” (Job 38:12) Maybe there we will find rest and come to the understanding that Job was left with at the end of his challenge of God, where he states, “I know You can do everything. And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.” We are in the hands of an all-knowing, all-loving God who knows all aspects of our struggle this day, and the next…

 


Words to Think About…

<>—THE QUESTION – WHY?—<>

“Whenever one begins a question with ‘Why?’ he should realize that the answer must necessarily be theological, not scientific. Science can deal with the questions of ‘what’ and ‘how,’ sometimes even with ‘where’ and ‘when, but never with ‘why!’ The ‘why’ questions have to do with motives and purposes, even when dealing with natural phenomena ‘Why does the earth rotate on its axis? Why do we have mosquitoes?’ Even though we can partially explain such secondary causes, we finally encounter a ‘first cause,’ and then the ‘why?’ can be answered only by God.”

Dr. Henry Morris (Daily Devotionals in Defense of Biblical Christianity).

“God whispers to us in our pleasures . . . but shouts in our pains.” – C. S. Lewis in ‘The Problem of Pain’

<>—WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE?—<>

There is a story about when the famed English architect, Sir Christopher Wren, was directing the building of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Some of the workers were interviewed by a journalist who asked them, “What are you doing here?”

The first said, “I’m cutting stone for three shillings a day.”

The second replied, “I’m putting in ten hours a day on this job.”

The third man replied, “I’m helping Sir Christopher Wren build the greatest cathedral in Great Britain for the glory of God.”

 

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“Remember those in bonds as bound with them.” – Hebrews 13:3

Self Portrait

(Dedicated to Richard Wurmbrand 1909-2001)

Rembrandt is the only painter who left 90 self-portraits. He gradually and attentively painted the slow ruin of his own flesh. He revealed in his work, the times of skepticism and courage, melancholy and calm; all was laid open, like a confession before a priest. He also painted fantasies about himself. He painted himself as a wealthy nobleman and a flamboyant cavalier, although he was neither. By 1640, he had become the most successful artist in Amsterdam. Yet, he knew his popularity would not last, so he painted his decline as well. After ten years, his popularity was faded. By 1652, he was bankrupt. All was captured in a moment of time with his brush.

My personal favorite self-portrait of Rembrandt is his painting of the crucifixion of Christ. He painted himself in the crowd below, identifying himself as one who crucified Jesus. Conveying the message that if he were there, he too would have fallen, like all the rest. Rembrandt was a master painter who left his impression on many.

Richard Wurmbrand was also such man who painted a self-portrait in the lives of many suffering Christians during his life. Like other pastors who were imprisoned for their faith, Richard had an agreement with his prison officials. He would preach the gospel to the other prisoners, and the officials would beat him. Preaching in prison was absolutely forbidden. If anyone wished to share the gospel, they would pay the price – a price Pastor Wurmbrand paid many times. Of his 14 years in communist prisons Wurmbrand wrote; “They broke four vertebrae in my back, and many other bones. They carved me in a dozen places. They burned and cut eighteen holes in my body.” He was truly tortured for Christ.

Pastor Wurmbrand was also refrigerated in a “cold cell,” had his teeth knocked out, was drugged and tempted, and nearly died of tuberculosis. Yet, his suffering marked those who witnessed his courage, and later heard his stories. He painted pictures with his words of those that suffer for the sake of Christ.

Pastor Wurmbrand painted his self-portrait in my own life with his many stories and insights into the Greek and Hebrew languages. He was what the Spanish call a “Contador,” a keeper of the old stories. It has become a passion of mine to collect such “Handfuls” and share them with others, knowing that these powerful stories must not be lost. They must be preserved, as an oil painting on canvas for my generation.

Pastor Wurmbrand and his wife Sabina founded “The Voice of the Martyrs” http://www.persecution.com. Today, thousands of Gospels, Bibles, and other Christian titles are given though out the world to the lost, equipping Christians with tools to share the Gospel in restricted countries. Pastor Wurmbrand truly continues to paint his self-portrait in the lives of the suffering.

Each of us is given the opportunity to paint a self-portrait in the lives of others, but how many of us actually pick up the brush? We can leave a mark in the lives of others and make a difference. We can be the face that someone remembers when he is down-and-out, or feeling grief. We can be God’s messengers to shine the reflection of his love here on earth to the lost. We are called to it. It is our commission as children of the living God. Each of us has a canvas; a circle of influence that we are a part of, and somewhere on that picture is a portrait of each one of us. What are we doing in that big picture?

 


Words to Think About…

<>–WORDS TO LIVE BY—<>

“And we know that ALL things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

“You yourself may ebb and flow, rise and fall, wax and wane, but your Lord is this day as He was yesterday; and it is your comfort that your salvation is not rolled upon wheels of your own making, neither have you to do with Christ of your own shaping.” – Samuel Rutherford (1600 – 1661) Scottish Minister

Practice what you know, and it will help to make clear what now you do not know. -Rembrandt

 

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And said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” – Stephen, moments before he was stoned to death. – Acts 7:56

Who Will Stand For You?

In this verse (Acts 7:56) we get our first glimpse of the resurrected Christ as He stands to receive Stephen, the first martyr of the New Testament. What a sight Steven was fortunate to behold, the resurrected Son of Man, standing at the right hand of the God. Stephen’s reaction in verse 60 is, “He kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.”

At different times in your life you may have been asked to stand for someone as a best man, God parent, or you may have even been asked to attest to someone’s character. It is often a place in which we feel honored to be called upon to testify for the person to whom you stand up for, believing in what you are called to confirm.

I hope that God gives us the opportunity to stand for those who have touched our lives when they step forward to receive a reward for their works while here on this earth.

In 2 Corinthians 5:10 we are told that “We must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body, according to that he hath done, whether [it be] good or bad.

In 1 Corinthians 3:13, we see that “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.

I often wonder who will stand with me on that day to testify that my time living on this earth made a difference in the life of someone. The Bible tells me that Jesus will stand for me on that day. What an awesome thought to behold Christ standing on my behalf! Christ, not only standing for our salvation, but also revealing our lives before us.

I hope that others will be there . . . standing up to share in the joy that is set before us, declaring the difference that we had made in their life. Maybe it was the neighbor you prayed for who got saved, the woman you gave your tithe to feed her kids, or the orphan you helped sponsor in a third world country. It might even be someone that you would have never suspected who will give his testimony for your life.

Maybe you might also be compelled to stand for someone when their name is called, and you might have the opportunity tell your story about how they blessed your life. Several people come to my mind that I would like to stand for on their day of redemption. I can think of a few that made such an impact on my life and have no idea how they touched me. . . but it went in, deep into my being and made a difference. I hope that I will be allowed to stand for each one of them to share in the joy of the blessing that awaits them for touching my life.

Who will stand for you? Perhaps it will be the very next person you meet that is need.


Words to Think About…

<>–DO YOU WISH TO BE GREAT?–<>

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

I think God was looking for a little man, little enough so that He could show Himself strong through him. A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. – Hudson Taylor, explaining his success.

 <>–ON WITNESSING TO YOUR FRIENDS–<>

Dr. R. A. Torrey once said, “I waited and watched fifteen long years to get my chance with one man. Never a day passed for all those fifteen years that I did not speak to God about that man. At last my chance came, and it was my privilege to lead him to Christ. He afterwards became a preacher of the Gospel, and is now in heaven. . . . When you undertake to bring a man to Christ, never give up.”

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“If I have found grace in Thy sight, show me now Thy way. that I may know Thee.” – Moses to God – Exodus 33:13

 

When You Want To Know God’s Will

One night the famous Bible teacher F.B. Meyer stood on the deck of a ship approaching land. As they guided the vessel in, he wondered how the crew knew when to safely steer towards the dock. It was a stormy night, and visibility was low. Meyer, standing on the bridge and peering through the window, asked “Captain, “How do you know when to turn this ship into that narrow harbor?”

“That’s an art,” replied the captain. Do you see those three red lights on the shore? When they are all in a straight line, I go right in!”

Later, F.B Meyer wrote, “When we want to know God’s will, there are three things which always need to line up, the inward impulse, the Word of God, and the trend of circumstances. Never act until these three things agree.”

I think one of the most asked questions today by Christians is “How do I know God’s will for my life?”

Never doubt in the darkness what God has shown you in the light. There are certain truths you know to be right that God has shown you in your life, but often when faced with a time of darkness, we doubt these truths. When seeking God’s will for your life, always keep this in mind. The Bible teaches us not to “lean on our own understanding.”

This is where most of us get in trouble. Fear often demands that we make sense of everything right now, when God is teaching us something through the trial. Many answers are not known until He reveals His purpose at the end of that difficult season. My experience with God is that He likes to work outside of our own understanding as he molds and shapes our lives into the person he created us to be.

I like F.B. Meyer’s advice on seeking God’s will. Examine your inward impulses, seek the Word of God on the subject, and examine the circumstances that are outside of your control to see where your control ends and where His leading begins.

 


Words to Think About…

<>—KNOWING GOD’S WILL—<>

“I try to gather all the information and all the facts that are involved in a decision, and then weigh them up and pray them over in the Lord’s presence, and trust the Holy Spirit to sway my mind in the direction of God’s will. And God generally guides by presenting reasons to my soul for acting in a certain way.” – J. Oswald Sanders

The Chinese Christian, Christina Tsai, suffered from a debilitating disease much of her life. In her book,Queen of the Dark Chamber, are written these words, “Once a great scholar inChina said, ‘A sage seeks opportunities in difficulties, and a fool finds difficulties in opportunities.’ We are born to overcome difficulties through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

“There is no sin [unchastity] which will sooner bring about a nation’s fall. If history teaches anything, it teaches that sensual indulgence is the surest way to national ruin. Society, in not condemning this sin, condemns itself. – F. B. Meyer

 

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“How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with thee.” – Psalm 139:17,18

 

 

God’s Thoughts Towards Us Are More Than The Sand of the Sea

One of my favorite illustrations for children is to get a small clear lunch baggie, fill it with about an inch of sand, toss it at them, and say, “Count that for me!”
They look at me with such varied looks on their young faces, like, “Are you kidding?” or “That’s impossible!” “No one could count that!” My response is always to ignore them for a minute or two, and then ask in a challenging voice, “Are you going to count that or not?”

Then I’ll take the bag, hold it up for them, show them the different shapes, sizes, and colors of the sand, and ask, “How long do you think it would take to count it?” As they re-examine the bag of sand, I open my Bible to Psalm 139:17, 18; “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with thee.”

The bag of sand suddenly takes on a new meaning as they examine the different shapes and colors in the bag of sand. I like to point out the literal translation of ‘seven’ of the Hebrew words as I re-read these two verses to them. How precious (1-prized -valued -costly), also are thy thoughts (2-purposes -aim), unto me, O God? How great (3-increased or mightily), is the sum (4-literally the head, top, summit, upper most part), of them! If I should count (5-scribe – write – declare) them, they are more in number (6-multiply – increased), than the sand: (7-formed – pain – travail – calve – literally how the sand was formed by its wear and tear) when I awake, I am still with Thee.

What an awesome thought to understand that our God thinks about each one of us more than all the sand in the sea each day. The next time you’re near an ocean, grab a handful of sand, hold it in palm of your hand, and notice all different shapes, sizes, colors, and ‘thoughts’ for yourself. Take a look how far the beach extends, and re-think about these seven words.

It is amazing what a small bag of sand can do for a curious child or even a curious adult. What an awesome thing to contemplate that God thinks of us more than the sand of the seas and every hair on our head is numbered.


Words to Think About…

<>—KNOWING GOD’S THOUGHTS—<>

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord, For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9

Sir Isaac Newton, after his many discoveries in science, said, “I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself, I seem only like a boy playing upon the seashore, and diverting myself by now and then finding a pebble, or a prettier shell than ordinary, while the great ocean of truth lies all undiscovered before me.” Akin to this is the true Christian life.

 

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And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. – Ezekiel 22:30

A Hedge of Thorns

One of the more fascinating dialogues in the Bible is found in the book of Job, where God asks Satan the question, “Hast thou considered my servant Job?”

The word “Considered” in this verse is a military term in the Hebrew. God is asking have you “Considered” (looked for a way to attack him) as a military commander would look for the weak-nesses in an encampment. Satan’s answer (Job 1:10) is also a question, “Hast not thou made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Satan was complaining that God had put up a “Hedge” around Job to protect him. Can you hear God asking, “Have you considered my servant (your name here)?

Another interesting place in the Bible where we see this word “Hedge” used is in Hosea 2:6, where God instructs the prophet Hosea to pray a “Hedge” around his runaway wife (Gomer).

“Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths.”

The result of Hosea’s prayer was that all of Gomer’s lovers had lost their desire for her. God had dried up her vineyards, dried up her finances, and every direction that she turned, was walled up around her. Later in this story, we see Gomer being auctioned off as a slave, naked and broken. God tells Hosea to go purchase her. Here we see an insightful illustration of God’s love played out by Hosea in which he not only married her, but bought her with a price. Does that story sound familiar? Did not Christ say we are His bride and that we are bought with a price?

The word “Hedge” occurs nine times in the Scriptures. The description of this “Hedge” is an inpenetratable thorny hedge that is thick and tall with rounded sharp edges that are impossible to go through. This “Hedge,” is sometimes used to describe a barrier or boundary, sometimes of live plants such as thorny bush that we looked at in (Micah 7:4; Hosea 2:6), used to protect vineyards in (Mark 12:1 Matt 21:33), or to mark off roads and fields in (Luke 14:23).

Another interesting verse is in Ecclesiastics 10:8, “He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh a hedge, a serpent shall bite him.”

As the days get more and more uncertain, and we hear of wars and rumors of wars everyday in the headlines we need to know, more than ever to pray for a thorn of hedges around those we love. This story gives us insight into how Satan attacks God’s people. He looks for our weaknesses the same way a military commander would look to defeat an enemy. Let this be a wake up call to all that we should seek after the one true God, the One that watches over us, and the One who protects.

 


Words to Think About…

<>–WHEN WE PRAY—-<>

“The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayer-less studies, prayer-less work, Prayer-less religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.” – Samuel Chadwick 1786-1757

<>–PRAYER UNANSWERED–<>.

God does not give me all I ask,

Nor answer as I pray;

But, O. my cup is brimming o’er

With blessings day by day.

How oft the joy I thought withheld

Delight my longing eyes,

And so I thank Him from my heart

For what His love denies.

Sometimes I miss a treasured link

In friendship’s hallowed chain,

And yet His smile is my reward

For every throb of pain.

I look beyond, where purer joys

Delight my longing eye;

And so I thank Him from my heart

For what His love denies.

How tenderly He leadeth me

When earthly hopes dim;

And when I falter by the way,

He bids me lean on Him.

He lifts my soul and above the clouds

Where friendship never dies;

And so I thank Him from my heart

For what His love denies.

– Recently discovered unpublished poem by Donald Hustad.

 

 

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  Devotions on Living the Deeper Christian Life

“Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, [that] shall ye receive.” – Matthew 6:7

The Disgruntled Workers

The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard (Matt 20: 1-16) tells of a master of a vineyard needing to increase his workers at harvest time early one morning. The first workers were hired at dawn for a denarius (the ordinary pay for a day’s wages). The Parable tells us others “were standing idle.” Nowhere in the text is it implied that these men were lazy. From this group of unemployed workers, the master hired additional workers at 9 A.M, 12 noon, 3 P.M., and 5 P.M. Each responded immediately to the opportunity.

When the evening came, each worker received one denarius, regardless of his duration of service, starting from the last hired to the first. The Parable records the master telling one of the disgruntled workers, which had labored the longest, that the contract had been fully performed. As to the others, the employer’s obligation was his own affair. The essence of the story asks, are you envious because the master is generous?

The Parable teaches that service to Christ will be faithfully rewarded equally, according to the opportunities presented to each person. It is God who adequately assesses faithfulness and opportunities. If you are not working in the vineyard, what difference is that from standing idle? If you are not living the will of God, you are in God’s sight as one standing idle, no matter how much other work you have been doing.

Watchman Nee (who spent many twenty years in Communist prisons for his faith) commenting on this Parable said, “His will are all sorts of labors: some laborers are digging the ground. Some are sowing seed, and some are making repairs. No matter what work is being done, it will be acceptable if it is done for the good of the vineyard. And hence we need not be so exclusive as to consider only certain works or works done by certain people as being God’s works. No, as long as the days are spent ‘in the vineyard,’ they will be remembered.”

The idea of “all day” in verse 6 points to a lifetime. God will call you to work in the vineyard, which may be your job, family, church, the mission field, or someone living next to you. You may be called to plant a seed, water a seed, or harvest the work of others. You may be asked to bring

Salvation to someone that God has called this very evening for a purpose that will receive full wages late in the day.

Whether your vineyard is your family, workers, or a larger sphere of influence, God has given this opportunity to you. Whatever the call, your job is to faithfully fulfill it, according to His plan. Let us not stand idle then, in the place we are called this day. Let us not tire of doing his work in our particular plot of the vast expanse of the Master’s vineyard.

 


Words to Think About…

<>–THE STATUE SPEAKS—-<>

He has put us like a statue in its niche. When there is added to this simple staying some feeling that we belong completely to God, and that he is our all, we must indeed give thanks to His goodness. If a statue that had been placed in some niche in some room could speak, and was asked, “Why are you there?”

It would say, “Because my master has put me here.”

“Why don’t you move?”

“Because he wants me to remain immovable.”

“What use are you there; what do you gain by doing so?”

It is not for my profit that I am here; it is to serve and obey the will of my master.”

“But you do not see him.”

“No, but he sees me, and takes pleasure in seeing me where he has put me,”

“Would you not like to have a movement so that you could be nearer to him?”

“Certainly not. Except when he might command me.”

“Don’t you want anything else, then?”

“No, for I am where my master has placed me and his good pleasure is the unique contentment of my being.”

– Francis De Sales

 

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 “Suffer Hardships with me, as a soldier of Jesus Christ” – 2 Timothy 2:3

Suffer Hardships With Me

The first recorded word of Jesus in the New Testament is “Suffer,”(Matt 3:15, “Suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness). Paul gives an invitation in the above verse in 2 Timothy, to his church inEphesus. An invitation, I’m afraid, that too many of us would say, “Thanks, but I can’t make it Lord. Love to come on this journey, but I’m too busy working on this ministry project, and really… this suffering… thing is not to attractive to me… besides, one needs a lot of time to work on ‘those’ things.”

Somewhere along the line, I think that we have forgotten the value of suffering. In fact, the first thing that we usually do when we face it is command it to leave in Jesus Name! Yet, God has a different approach to suffering; one that Paul speaks almost as a guarded secret in his letters to God’s newest churches; “Therefore, I am content with weakness, with insults, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong”. -2 Corinthians 12:10.

Content with weakness? What? The only thing Paul could be sure of when he was traveling God’s missionary road, was the fact that there were going to be persecutions. Yet, he went towards it, and discovered a divine sort of contentment. How? Why? We want to turn and run away, take a pill, claim some sort of authority over it but, never, never, never embrace it.

Paul faced suffering full in the face, and like a soldier who drew up his sword to battle the gates of hell, Paul would not skirt around his trial, nor would he try to elevate himself above it. He would war through it, with sword in the air. Most people I know, including myself, would stop and ask, “Why do I have to go through this Lord?”

Paul knew that God had orchestrated these trials; He actually placed him right in the center of the war. It wasn’t an attack from Satan; it was from God. So many times, we are shouting, and rebuking the wrong person. God allows us to suffer because of what it is building in us, or stripping away from us. We are constantly praying for God to conform us to his image, yet when he takes out a chisel to perfect us in some way we run the other way.

Yet God says in His word; “It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” -Phil. 2:13. James points out those trials produce endurance… “that you may be perfect and complete.” -James 1:4

If today, you are facing a trial, know that regardless the source, God is at work in the lives of His children, forming, molding, chiseling, loving, caressing, all in the same breath. Reach for Him, embrace the lesson, “suffer it to be so,” and maybe, just maybe, you can bring a little more of His glory down in the testimony of your story of His greatness when you were at your point of breaking.

 


Words to Think About…

<>–STORM AND PATIENCE–<>

“Our Lord’s life was full of storm and tempest, yet in the darkest days of all He bequeathed to us His legacy of peace. His rest is no imaginary escape from reality…(but) that blessed consciousness that in the midst of trouble our real lives are beyond the reach of circumstance, hid with Christ in God.” – Vance Havner

If I cannot hear “The sound of rain’ long before the rain falls, and then go out to some hilltop of the Spirit, as near to my God as I can and have faith to wait there with my face between my knees, though six times or sixty times I am told “There is nothing’, till at last there arises a little cloud out of the sea, then I know nothing of Calvary love. (Read 1 Kings 18:41-45) – Amy Carmichael

If any are inclined to despond, because they do not have such patience, let them be of good courage. It is in the course of our feeble and very imperfect waiting that God Himself, by His hidden power, strengthens us and works out in us the patience of the great saints, the patience of Christ Himself. – Andrew Murray

<>–WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO–<>

“Be still and know that I am God.” – Psalm 46:10

 

 

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  Devotions on Living the Deeper Christian Life

Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard [it], and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.” – Malachi 3:16

 

The Book of Remembrances

The first time we see the word “Remember” mentioned in the Scriptures, is in this verse in (Malachi 3:16), where we see God telling us that He will “Remember” His covenant with man and that the “Waters shall no more become a flood and destroy all flesh.”

The last mention of the word “Remember” is in Revelation 3:3, where Jesus warns us to “Remember what thou hast received and heard and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.”

It is interesting that God chose to put these remembrances into a book (Mal 3:16). Not much is written about the Book of Remembrances in any literature. Perhaps another cross reference to this book may be found in Exodus 32:32 “Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.

There are other obscure books mentioned in the Bible that we have little or no information about like the Book of Jasher referred to in 2 Sam 1:18 “Also he bade them teach the children of Judah [the use of] the bow: behold, [it is] written in the book of Jasher.”

Another of these books is the “Book of Wars” referred to in Num 21:14 “Wherefore it is said in the book of the wars of the LORD, What he did in the Red sea, and in the brooks of Arnon.”

In Psalm 56:8 we are told about the “Book of Tears” “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: [are they] not in thy book?”

This book of Remembrance should teach us that God values those that think about Him and that He never forgets his promises to us. The word “Remember” occurs 148 times in the Scriptures, and the word “Remembrance” occurs 53 times. It is a worthy task to look up the different references in these Scriptures. One notable example is to “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exd 20:8). No doubt there will be interesting reading in heaven.

God must have known that throughout the ages His people would need to be reminded about His covenant with us. He knew about our human propensity to be distracted by this world’s lures and pleasures. He must have known that as His second coming came closer, people would be preoccupied with their lives and would again need to be reminded to “Watch” for they would not know what hour Jesus would come upon them.

Some of us living today may see the second coming, but for others there is a day when they will hear the words, “This night thy soul shall be required of thee” (Luke 12:20). What would God have us remember today? Will it be our wins and trophies? Will it be the how much money we have, or the house we live in? “Remember this” my dear reader, The only thing you will take from this earth with you is your remembrances, your experiences, and those with whom you have shared Christ.

 


Words to Think About…

<>–PROMISES OF GOD–<>

“Every promise of Scripture is a writing of God, which may be pledged before Him with this reasonable request: Do as Thou hast said.” – Charles H. Spurgeon.”

<>–THE PROMISES OF GOD…–<>

“If you were to spend a month feeding on the precious promises of God, you would not be going about with your heads hanging down like bulrushes, complaining how poor you are; but you would lift up your heads with confidence, and proclaim the riches of His grace because you could not help it.” – Dwight L. Moody

<>–ROSES IN DECEMBER–<>

God gave us memories so we would have roses in December.”

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  Devotions on Living the Deeper Christian Life

“And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this [man], and release unto us Barabbas.” – Luke 23:18

Give Us Barabbas!

If it were possible to take you back 2000 years ago, just days prior to the crucifixion of Jesus, to the day when He was brought before Pilate, we would witness the release of a prisoner, whom the Bible describes as the one named Barabbas, “… bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection.” The book of Matthew records that Pilate had both men stand before the multitude and asked the crowd to decide which man he would release unto them, as was the custom.

Pilate yelled out to the crowd, “Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus, which is called Christ?

The crowd cried out, “Give us Barabbas.” Matthew 27:26 records that Pilate then released Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered [him] to be crucified.

What is not seen by the causal reader looking at the events of this day is that we, the crowd, had a choice between, “Jesus, the Son of the Father,” and Barabbas, which translated means, “The son of the Father.” “Bar,” means “Son of” and “Abba” meaning “Father.”

If you were familiar with the Aramaic dialect of that day, you would have heard the crowd to be actually screaming both “Give us the Son of the Father!” “Give us the son of the Father!”

You have to wonder if the irony of this situation didn’t escape those screaming in the crowd and the religious leaders in the Sanhedrin. You can’t help but recognize the counterfeit here, the Son of the heavenly, divine, creator, Father of the Universe, or the lower case “son” of an unknown father of the earth.

Another interesting play on words during the Crucifixion account, is recorded in Matthew 27:46, which reads, “And about the ninth

hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani.’ that is to say, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

Here exists the possibility in the Aramaic language, in which SABACHTHANI, a homonym, has a double meaning and can also be translated, “How much have you glorified me?”

God, in His infinite wisdom, speaks the truth in each situation. Understood or not by the onlookers of the day, or even by modern Bible day readers, God has spoken His truth out in both words and deeds. The secrets, or treasures, hidden in God’s word are available to us today. Let us not forget that even when we feel forsaken and abandoned by God, He is working behind the scenes to bring His glory to your circumstances.