Archive for May 2010

Worldly Losses

May 14, 2010

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If we have God – no other loss is irreparable! There is surely enough in God’s love to compensate a thousand times for every earthly deprivation! Our lives may be stripped bare – home, friends, riches, comforts, every sweet voice of love, every note of joy – and we may be driven out from brightness and music and tenderness and shelter into the cold ways of sorrow. Yet if we have God Himself left – ought it not to suffice? Yes, is not He Himself infinitely more than all His gifts?

J.R. Miller (1840-1912)
Living Without Worry
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The Furnace of Affliction

May 6, 2010

Sooner or later, affliction and sorrow come to every Christian. We ought, therefore, to have true views about pain, about the divine reasons for sending it, and about the mission on which it comes. We ought to know, also, how to endure suffering so as to get from it the blessing, which its hot hand brings to us.

While they do not solve all the mystery of human suffering, the Scriptures show, at least, that suffering is no accident in God’s world – but is one of His messengers; and that it comes not as an enemy – but as a friend on an errand of blessing. The design of God, in all the afflictions which He sends upon His people, is to advance their purification of character. It is very clearly taught in the Word of God, that suffering is necessary in preparing us for heavenly glory.

We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).

Tribulation is God’s threshing, not to harm us or to destroy us – but to separate what is heavenly in us from what is earthly. His puts us in the fire of purification, until His Own image shines reflected in the gold! His prunings mean greater fruitfulness. In whatever form the suffering comes – the purpose of the pain is merciful. In all our life in this world, God is purifying us – and suffering is one of the chief agents which He employs.

We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope (Romans 5:3-4).

Suffering develops in us qualities of Christian character, which cannot be developed in any other way.

Afflictions must be received as God’s messengers. They often come in very somber garb, and it is only when we receive them in faith that they disclose to us their merciful aspect and mission.

We should therefore receive afflictions reverently, as sent from God. We may be assured that there is always some blessing for us, in pain’s hot hand. There is some golden fruit, wrapped up in the rough husk. God designs to burn off some sins from us, in every fire through which He calls us to pass.

J.R. Miller (1840-1912)
Living Without Worry

Adam’s Descendants’ Middle Name

May 3, 2010

Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward (Job 5:7).

“Trouble” is Adam’s descendants’ middle name. It seems that’s all we have. It is a part of the daily battle we face.

God has called us to do His will in what appears to be the most disadvantaged circumstances. Our hearts sink regularly. Then we remember that something has not gone “wrong” – instead, this is His plan: to use weak, foolish, despised, unqualified nothingness as His vessels so as to bring about Divine Glory!

For you see your calling, brothers, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, has God chosen, yes, and things which are not, to bring to nothing things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him are you in Christ Jesus, Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” (I Corinthians 1:26-31).

“Seeing” this divine perspective is all an issue of pure faith. Everything else (all of our senses and worldly reasoning) begs and pleads for a change in the circumstances.

When reading through Israel’s history in the Old Testament we can get so discouraged for them, and God. Every time it looked like they were on the right track, they turned away from God’s purpose and plan. Or, so we would think, until we realize that no matter what happened, God had a plan, and that nothing that Israel (or Satan) did was going to thwart His Plan and Purpose for them. So it is today: we lose sight of this tremendous truth in our own lives, expecting that God is working differently than He ever has, and so we play the fool to our emotions by letting the old man dictate our feelings and actions.

Why does it take us so long to learn these truths? We are amazed when we read Paul saying that he had to learn some things – amazed because he had personal contact with the Lord Jesus Christ; but even this did not provide an instantaneous arrival of conviction and faith for him. So it is with us: we are learning to rest and trust Him in the midst of our “troubles.”

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body (II Corinthians 4:8-10).

Joseph, during his troubled times after being sold into slavery, may have had occasion to complain and grieve about his circumstances – Scripture says little, if anything about this – but one thing we do know: knowing His God, Joseph maintained his faith and divine perspective, and in the midst of and in spite of those “troubles” he became a “vessel of mercy” (Romans 9:23) and a testimony to the wonderful grace of Almighty God. In so doing we learn that while the “trouble” of this world may appear as “evil against us,” God means it as good unto us (Genesis 50:20).

The story of Joseph, and many others we have of which to read from the Scriptures, are meant to be examples for us (I Corinthians 10:11).

Instead of reacting in despair, whether looking back at Israel’s “troubles” or living in the midst of our own, we should read “the rest of the story” and look ahead to see the “riches of His glory” which God has prepared for us (Romans 9:23). Let us remember that suffering ­– trouble, if you will – is a gift from God (Philippians 1:29), and is intended for our benefit and good, in order that His Divine Glory and Life may be manifest in us to the rest of the world around us.

Almighty God is performing a wonderful work in us (Philippians 1:6; 2:13). Let us praise God that we have been chosen by Him to be channels of His blessing to those whose lives we have occasion to touch, lives filled with as much trouble as ours are. Let us learn to say, as Paul said, that we are “always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.”

André Sneidar
Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
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