Putting Afflictions In Perspective

gurnall-afflictionsWe all go through difficult times. There is not one person on planet Earth who doesn’t face times of adversity and trial. But Christians can put these challenging times in perspective…

“Job found his legacy through the grief he experienced. He was tried that his godliness might be confirmed and validated. In the same way, my troubles are intended to deepen my character and to clothe me in gifts I had little of prior to my difficulties. … Apparent adversity will ultimately become an advantage for those of us doing what is right, if we are willing to keep serving and to wait patiently.” —Lettie Cowman

“Afflictions are a spade which God uses to dig into His people’s hearts to find the gold of faith.” —William Gurnall

“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our inner strength in the Lord is growing every day. These troubles and sufferings of ours are, after all, quite small and won’t last very long. Yet this short time of distress will result in God’s richest blessing upon us forever and ever! So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to the joys in heaven which we have not yet seen. The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.” —2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Poetry Saturday—In The Center Of The Circle

FullSizeRenderIn the center of the circle
   Of the will of God I stand:
There can come no second causes,
   All must come from His dear hand.
All is well! for ‘tis my Father
   Who my life hath planned.
Shall I pass through waves of sorrow?
   Then I know it will be best;
Though I cannot tell the reason,
   I can trust, and so am blest.
God is Love, and God is faithful,
   So in perfect Peace I rest.
With the shade and with the sunshine,
   With the joy and with the pain,
Lord, I trust Thee! both are needed,
   Each Thy wayward child to train,
Earthly loss, did we but know it,
   Often means our heavenly gain. —I.G.W. (from Streams In The Desert)

I Love My “Job”

I cannot even begin to tell you how thrilled I am when I get to baptize folks in water who have made the decision to follow Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Today it was even sweeter when I got to baptize a father and son!

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Poetry Saturday—Joy And Sorrow

I know this technically isn’t a “poem” but I found this allegory poetically beautiful. I hope you enjoy it as I did!

FullSizeRender“…sorrowful, yet always rejoicing…” (2 Corinthians 6:10)

Sorrow was beautiful, but her beauty was the beauty of the moonlight shining through the leafy branches of the trees in the wood, and making little pools of silver here and there on the soft green moss below. When Sorrow sang, her notes were like the low sweet call of the nightingale, and in her eyes was the unexpectant gaze of one who has ceased to look for coming gladness. She could weep in tender sympathy with those who weep, but to rejoice with those who rejoice was unknown to her.

Joy was beautiful, too, but his was the radiant beauty of the summer morning. His eyes still held the glad laughter of childhood, and his hair had the glint of the sunshine’s kiss. When Joy sang his voice soared upward as the lark’s, and his step was the step of a conqueror who has never known defeat. He could rejoice with all who rejoice, but to weep with those who weep was unknown to him.

“But we can never be united,” said Sorrow wistfully.

“No, never.” And Joy’s eyes shadowed as he spoke. “My path lies through the sunlit meadows, the sweetest roses bloom for my gathering, and the blackbirds and thrushes await my coming to pour forth their most joyous lays.”

“My path,” said Sorrow, turning slowly away, “leads through the darkening woods, with moon-flowers only shall my hands be filled. Yet the sweetest of all earth-songs—the love song of the night—shall be mine; farewell, Joy, farewell.”

Even as she spoke they became conscious of a form standing beside them; dimly seen, but of a Kingly Presence, and a great and holy awe stole over them as they sank on their knees before Him.

“I see Him as the King of Joy,” whispered Sorrow, “for on His Head are many crowns, and the nail prints in His hands and feet are the scars of a great victory. Before Him all my sorrow is melting away into deathless love and gladness, and I give myself to Him forever.”

“Nay, Sorrow,” said Joy softly, “but I see Him as the King of Sorrow, and the crown on His head is a crown of thorns, and the nail prints in His hands and feet are the scars of a great agony. I, too, give myself to Him forever, for sorrow with Him must be sweeter than any joy that I have known.”

“Then we are one in Him,” they cried in gladness, “for none but He could unite Joy and Sorrow.”

Hand in hand they passed out into the world to follow Him through storm and sunshine, in the bleakness of winter cold and the warmth of summer gladness, “as sorrowful yet always rejoicing.” —Lettie Cowman

Thursdays With Oswald—My God-Given Vocation

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

My God-Given Vocation

     The vocation of our Lord had accepted was that of sin-bearer, not of dominating world-lord. satan’s aim was to get Him to fulfill His vocation on another line, “There is no need to die for sin, You can fulfill Your vocation by a ‘short cut’ and evade the Cross.” Our Lord came here for one purpose only—to bear away the sin of the world in His own Person on the Cross. He came to redeem man, not to set them a wonderful example. … 

     Have we accepted that kind of vocation, or are we only concerned that we get deep conscious communion with God? The acceptance of the saint for himself is that he is concerned about nothing at all saving this one thing, “that I might finish my course with joy,” not happiness. Joy is the result of the perfect fulfillment of what a man is created for. Happiness depends on things that happen, and may sometimes be an insult. It is continually necessary to revert to what the New Testament asks us to accept about ourselves. 

     Have we received to this ministry from Jesus, “As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world”? How did the Father send Him? “For I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.” The first obedience of Jesus was to the will of His Father, not to the needs of men. Then our first accepted vocation is not to help men, but to obey God, and when we accept that vocation we enter into relationship with the despised and the neglected. 

From The Psychology Of Redemption

Do I sometimes wish God would give me a “bigger ministry”? Or that He would use me in more visible ways? Am I looking for applause or recognition?

Jesus prayed, “Not My will, but Yours be done.” And He taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done.”

If I truly accept the vocation God has given me, I will see that it is the same vocation He gave Jesus: to go to the “despised and neglected,” and in the process to be despised and rejected by the world, just as Jesus was. But I’m not looking for the applause of men; I just want to obey God regardless of the personal cost. This is my God-given vocation.

Poetry Saturday—Garden Of Trust

FullSizeRenderBuild a little fence of trust
Around today;
Fill the space with loving work,
And therein stay;
Look not through the sheltering bars
Upon tomorrow;
God will help thee bear what comes
Of joy or sorrow. —Mary Frances Butts

Thursdays With Oswald—What Does Your Religion Mean?

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

What Does Your Religion Mean? 

     To believe is literally to commit. Belief is a moral act, and Jesus makes an enormous demand of a man when He asks him to believe in Him. To be “a believer in Jesus” means to bank our confidence in Him, to stake our soul upon His honor. …

     Many of us use religious jargon, we talk about believing in God, but our actual life proves that we do not really believe one tithe of what we profess. … “The unsearchable riches of Christ”—yet we often live as if our Heavenly Father had cut us off with a shilling! We think it is a sign of real modesty to say at the end of a day—“Oh well, I have just got through, but it has been a severe tussle.” We carry our religion as if it were a headache, there is neither joy nor power nor inspiration in it, none of the grandeur of the unsearchable riches of Christ about it, none of the passion of hilarious confidence in God. …

     Christianity is the vital realization of the unsearchable riches of Christ. …

     We have made Christianity to mean the saving of our skins. Christianity means staking ourselves on the honor of Jesus; His honor means that He will see us through time, death and eternity. … 

     Why do you pray? Why are you religious? Because of a consuming passion for a particular set of your beliefs to be enthroned and proved right, or because of a consuming passion for Jesus Christ? 

From The Place Of Help

Wow, those are excellent questions to consider—What do I think Christianity really is? Do I really believe what Jesus did for me, or is it just jargon I use? Am I consumed in my passion for Christ, or is it only something I profess when things are going my way?

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