Archive for March, 2008

Bring God What You Can!

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

“He hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Ephesians 1:6

I’ve been carefully reading True Christianity by Johann Arndt and came across the following quotation this evening. It reminded me of the times I have struggled to have meaningful devotional moments with the Lord. I know I’m not the only one and accordingly wanted to share it.

“If you cannot bring to your beloved God many and great offerings such as meditation, prayer, and thanksgiving, bring to him what you have and can, and with these, a good will and holy desires; and hope that you might please him in your worship.

“To have such a holy desire, indeed, to wish to have one, is not a small gift or sacrifice. It too pleases God. … God does not demand more from you than his grace works in you and you cannot give him more than he has given you. Pray to your Lord Jesus Christ that he make your sacrifice and gifts perfect with his perfect sacrifice, for your perfection is in him; in us, it is in part.

“Speak as follows: Dear God and Father, take my meditation, faith, prayer, and thanksgiving in your dear Son, and do not look on it as it is in itself but [as it is] in Christ; thus, it will give you pleasure as a perfect work; my Lord Jesus will make that perfect which is lacking in me.

“Thus, your meditation, prayer, and thanksgiving succeeds and even if it is in itself weak and dark, and has its shortcomings, it is a great perfection, a great light and glory from the merit of Christ. …

“Your old acts are in themselves nothing, but if they are adorned with Christ’s perfection, all your works truly please God. Apples that are brought in in golden trays are seen as particularly valuable. Apples in themselves are not considered so great, but they are more lovely if they are brought in in golden rays. So it is with our prayer, meditation and thanksgiving in Christ.”

Arndt wrote his book in the Spring of 1606 and helped initiate the “Pietist” movement so that positively impacted the nascent Lutheran Church, bringing about a new interest in a religion of the heart, and spawning later Pietist revivals through the efforts of Philip Spener, August Francke and Nicholas Zinzendorf. In fact, Zinzendorf was raised reading True Christianity by his godly grandmother.

Are you struggling to connect with God? I hope you will take Arndt’s words to heart, and “bring to God what you have and can…” I hope you will also believe that God will accept your effort, remembering that God doesn’t demand what his grace hasn’t worked in!

Father, I don’t know who is reading these words, but if they are anything like me, I know they’ve had their moments of struggling in their devotional time with you, when the things they read seem to fall short and the prayers offered don’t seem to ascend any further than the sky. I pray that you will take these words and set them as seals upon their hearts, so that when the enemy of souls comes along and suggests they are unworthy and not good enough, and that their time in prayer and meditation is falling short, they can know that in Jesus, they are not only accepted, but perfectly accepted in the beloved. And Father, please work in as much grace as you possibly can, so that they might bring great glory and honor to you. Thank you in advance, Father, for being perfectly capable and perfectly willing to perform what I am asking. And while you are at it, please send the Spirit with power into their lives. I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen!

Learn more about how to have a meaningful devotional life at path2prayer.com

Surrender Brings the Call

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

Hudson Taylor 2
Surrender Brings the Call

Abstract: Hudson Taylor’s China venture began at the age of 17 when he offered to do anything God desired if God would only take his heart of stone and replace it with a sanctified heart of flesh.

“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.’ And He said, ‘Go, and tell this people….’” Isaiah 6:8

“And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.” Acts 5:32

I’ve heard from a number of you who took heart when you heard about the difficult situation Hudson Taylor faced when he first arrived in China at the age of 22, including a revolution where 15,000 rebels were defending the city of Shanghai against a 50,000 member contingent of the Imperial Army, food was selling at famine prices, the dollar was soaring, he couldn’t find lodging, nor could he afford it since his sending organization had not yet sent an all important letter of credit.

To make matters worse, when the letter finally came, he found his annual income was limited to 80, even though renting lodging in the foreign settlement was 120. Adding further difficulty and embarrassment was the sending organization’s decision to not honor bills exceeding 40 per quarter.

Taylor responded by writing and seeking more realistic support, but responses arrived with hardly any acknowledgment of his struggles, and one even spoke of additional missionaries coming to join him.

Not wanting to remain dependent on friends, he moved to a ramshackle place near the Chinese part of the city, outside the protection of the foreign settlement, where the bullets not only sounded in the distance, but struck his home at times—even cannon-balls.

Needless to say it wasn’t the kind of mission service he had dreamed of back in England, yet he continued determinedly learning the language and sharing his faith as possible. Why was he so committed? Where was his confidence coming from?

It came from a sense of his call to China and the preparatory work undertaken in England. One afternoon when he was 17 he wrote his beloved sister Amelia, requesting her to pray for him as he asked God to remove his heart of stone and give him a sanctified heart of flesh. He wanted to obtain “perfect holiness.”

That very day God responded, as he shared after the fact: “If God would only save me completely, then I would do ANYTHING in His cause He might direct. Never shall I forget the feeling that came over me then. Words can never describe it. I felt I was in the presence of God, entering into covenant with the Almighty. I felt as though I wished to withdraw my promise but could not. Something seemed to say ‘Your prayer is answered, your conditions are accepted,’ and from that time the conviction never left me that I was called to China.”

God’s answer had come so quickly that Taylor was able to add a post script to the aforementioned letter to Amelia: “He has revealed Himself to me in an overflowing manner…. Glory, glory, glory, to His ever-blessed Name! I cannot write for joy. I open my letter to tell you.”

He immediately began preparing to serve God in China.

What was the secret of His confidence? He was willing to do ANYTHING in God’s cause that God might direct.

I wonder, are we as willing to do ANYTHING in God’s cause that He might direct our way?

I suspect this kind of surrender is also key in God using us as His witnesses on a day to day basis.

These words came home to me this morning in a special way:

“It is only through the surrendered life that God can work. God cannot use you in any special way if you are holding back part of your life from Him. If there is one little chamber of which you hold the key, and into which God has not fully entered, he cannot greatly use you. Your intellectuality may be great, your genius may be superb, your social standing may be beyond question. But God does not use people for these reasons. God uses them when he has all there is of them, and ONLY then.” Chapman, Power

I want to be a much-used vessel for God. I think you do too. Basic to His using us is our making a voluntary, unselfish and unequivocal surrender of all we are and all we have, to His service—which for many people has begun as a “willingness to become willing!”

Surrender is OUR part. If we do our part, God will be able to do His part. Won’t you join me in making sure God has ALL of us?

Happy witnessing!

Hudson Taylor | Pressing Forward

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

Abstract: Hudson Taylor, one of the greatly blessed instruments of God in bringing the gospel to inland China, succeeded in spite of facing impossible circumstances at the outset. Upon arriving in Shanghai he discovered that rebels were in control of the city and were fighting a 50,000 man Imperial Army, food was selling at high famine prices, the dollar was soaring and out of control, he had no money and lodging couldn’t be found either. Yet he succeeded as he looked to God as the Great Circumstance in his life!

I want to share a quote from Hudson Taylor who was the instrument God used so marvelously to bring the gospel to China in the middle 1800s.

He set sail for China on the Dumfries on September 19, 1853, and voyaged for the next five and half months as the sole passenger. He arrived at Woosung on March 1, 1854, which was a short distance from Shanghai.

Conditions were far from ideal, for his home country was on the brink of the Crimean war, Shanghai was in the hands of rebels, the city was invested with an imperial army of 50,000 soldiers, food was at famine prices, the cost of the dollar had risen from four to seven shillings, and was soaring.

He was twenty-two and his courage was strong, and in his pocket were letters of introduction to three individuals. Seeking these people, he discovered the first was dead, the second had left, but the third was still there. In spite of sincere desires otherwise, as a result of the fighting in the area there were no lodging places available in the foreign compound and fighting was taking place on the outside.

Sadly he also lacked funds to get such lodging, for he had come with few funds, and was looking for a letter of credit that was to come from his sending organization. But there was no such letter for months, and he became dependent on the kindness of some missionaries who took him in as a paying guest.

As a result of the conflict going on, all he could do was pray and learn the Chinese language—a feat which he assured missionaries joining him later could be accomplished in six months!

He was not daunted by these circumstances, for he looked to God whom he had already learned was THE GREAT CIRCUMSTANCE in life.

Speaking of this he said the following:

“The believer does not need to wait until he sees the reason of God’s afflictive dealings with him ere he is satisfied; he knows that all things work together for good to them that love God; that all God’s dealings are those of a loving Father, who only permits that which for the time being is grievous in order to accomplish results that cannot be achieved in any less painful way. The wise and trustful child of God rejoices in tribulation… Our Heavenly Father delights to trust a trustworthy child with a trial in which he can bring glory to God, and through which he will receive permanent enlargement of heart and blessing for himself and others.”

I will share more from Taylor’s life in the days to come, but for now be encouraged knowing that the same God who was the great circumstance in Hudson Taylors’ life is still ruling the affairs of this world for the good and advancement of His kingdom and the good of His children, and is working ALL THINGS WELL for them!

Happy witnessing!

Dan