Archive for June, 2011

Sweet Trials

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.” Isa. 43:2

Are trials sweet in your life? They should be according to Eph. 5:20 which instructs us to give thanks for all things at all times. I know that is easier said than done, but that is what it says.

If you look at the stories of the Bible you find that trials were a regular part of the growth process that God took the people through.

Apparently God knew what He was doing, for they came forth as pure gold and the better for it.

For the three worthies in the fiery furnace, they only lost the cords that were artificially binding them. Nothing else was adversely affected. Not only that, as a result of their living testimony of God’s protecting power, the reigning King, Nebuchadnezzar, came to know the power of God in a way that would not have been possible otherwise.

The same could be said of other worthies mentioned in the Bible.

I believe the same is true for people in our day. Think of all the people who have come to know God as a result of some trial. Think of the people who came back from a dread sickness seeking after God for the first time.

The trials were sweet because (1) it provided time to consider their precarious spiritual condition; (2) the trial also led the person to become anxious about their own condition; (3) it caused them to pray more earnestly than before; (4) it brought about a life-changing encounter with God. Truly the trial was sweet.

The same could be said about other situations as well. That doesn’t mean that all trials can be understood, or are necessarily seen as sweet by the naked eye. However, trusting in God and claiming His promise, we can believe it to be so.

When we are in heaven and can ask about everything that went on down here, we are going to realize far better than we do now, that God ordered ALL THE CIRCUMSTANCES of our life, EVEN the UNTOWARD ones.

So trials ARE sweet!

Notice what Francis Ridley Havergal, the writer of many hymns, said: “Pain, as to God’s own children, is truly and really, only blessing in disguise. It is but His chiseling, one of His graving tools, producing the likeness to Jesus for which we long. I never yet came across a suffering (real) Christian who could not thank Him for pain! Is not this a strong and comforting fact! I do not say that they always do so during the very moments of keenest pain, though much more often than not I think they are able to do this; but, certainly, they do deliberately praise Him for it afterwards. I think one must pass through it for oneself before one can fully realize the actual blessedness of suffering; meanwhile, you may well take the testimony of those who have.”

This one comes from William Chalmers Burns who was so successful as a revivalist in the UK, Canada and China: “How sweet the trials of a Christian are when he meets with Jesus in them, and feels that the Lord is making them a means of purging away his dross, and taking away all his sin. The believer’s trials are like the fiery furnace to the three children of Israel at Babylon, which burned off their bands, but touched not a hair of their heads. Seek, dear followers of the despised Immanuel, to obtain glimpses of his divine glory and grace, through the power of the indwelling Spirit, and these will make you to see such a surpassing beauty and glory in Jesus, that you will count all things loss that you may win him, and be found in him. If you find the way to glory hard and rugged, oh! think what it cost the Son of God to open up that way! Remember also that, wherever you are called to go, in following the Lamb, you may see, by faith, the prints of Immanuel’s feet on the path before you. He does lead his people through fire and through water, but it is to a wealthy place. Soon will he come to call us home to the place prepared for us above. Soon he will offer up for us the prayer, ‘Father, I will that they whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory,’ and then shall we depart and be with Jesus! To them that look for him, he will appear the second time without sin unto salvation!”—William Chalmers Burns

And from Ellen White: “God has a purpose in sending trials to his children. He never leads them otherwise than they would choose to be led if they could see the end from the beginning, and discern the glory of the purpose which they are fulfilling. He subjects them to discipline to humble them,–to lead them, through trial and affliction, to see their weakness and to draw near unto him. As they cry to him for help, he responds, saying, “Here am I.”

Here are links on overcoming trials at path2prayer.com.

I know it isn’t easy seeing trials as being sweet, but they are. Let’s keep trusting God!!!

Supernatural Power!

Monday, June 20th, 2011

“With great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.” Acts 4:33

What does it mean to enjoy God’s supernatural power in one’s life? How much of that power is God’s power versus one’s own power?

I came across a wonderful sermon by Hudson Taylor on God’s supernatural power that is worthy of prayerful consideration. I share a few key paragraphs. You can find the rest of it at path2prayer.com. Taylor was the much used founder of the China Inland Mission who played a primary role in bring Christianity to China.

Quoting Hudson Taylor…

“God’s power is available power. We are a supernatural people, born again by a supernatural birth, kept by a supernatural power, sustained on supernatural food, taught by a supernatural Teacher, from a supernatural Book. We are led by a supernatural Captain in right paths to assured victories.

“The power given is not a gift from the Holy Ghost. He, Himself, is the Power. To-day He is as truly available and as mighty in power as He was on the day of Pentecost. But has the whole Church ever, since the days before Pentecost, put aside every other work and waited for Him for ten days, that that power might be manifested? Has there not been a source of failure here? We have given too much attention to methods, and to machinery, and to resources, and too little to the Source of Power; the filling with the Holy Ghost.

“God is the ultimate source of power; and faith is the hand which lays hold on God. And how important is that hand! If the contact of faith with the living God be to any extent broken, may it not again be true, as in the days of His flesh, when He could not do many mighty works because of their unbelief? How important is faith, and what is this so essential faith? Is it not simply the recognition of and reliance upon God’s faithfulness? Is it not simply reliance on the fact that faithful is He who promised, who also will do it?

“Redemptive work, soul-saving work, can not be carried out without suffering. If we are simply to pray to the extent of a simple pleasant and enjoyable exercise, and know nothing of watching in prayer, and of weariness in prayer, we shall not draw down the blessing that we may. We shall not sustain our missionaries who are overwhelmed with the appalling darkness of heathenism; we shall not even sufficiently maintain the spiritual life of our own souls. We must serve God even to the point of suffering, and each one ask himself in what degree, in what point, am I extending, by personal suffering, by personal self-denial to the point of pain, the kingdom of Christ?

“It is a very important fact for us all to bear in mind that, as we have already been reminded, the command was not given to a limited class; it was given to the whole Church, and we all have our share of the responsibility.

“There is another power, a power far too little appreciated and sought after, the power of self-emptying and unresisting suffering. We have tried to do, many of us, as much good as we felt we could easily do or conveniently do, but there is a wonderful power when the love of God in the heart raises us to this point that we are ready to suffer, and with Paul we desire to know Him in the power of His resurrection (which implies the death of self), and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death. It is ever true that what costs little is worth little. Then how little some of our service has been worth.

“There are different ways of preaching the gospel. There is the plan of preaching the gospel and looking forward to the gradual enlightenment of the people, to their being saved as it were by a process of gradual instruction and preaching. And there is another method of preaching the gospel; believing it to be the power of God unto salvation; preaching it in the expectation that He who first brought light out of darkness can and will at once and instantaneously take the darkest heathen heart and create light within. That is the method that is successful.

To what degree does that supernatural power work in your life? Definitely something to pray about!

You can read all of Taylor’s sermon “The Source of Power” at his page at path2prayer.com

The Love of Christ Constrains…!

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

What motivates you to be a Christian? Blessings? Friends? Fear? Salvation? Love?

I just posted a chapter from Griffith John’s book, Voice From China where he considers the motives that drive us in serving Christ. After considering the various motives, he lists the ones that SHOULD drive us, particularly the love of Christ.

Griffith John was a missionary with the London Missionary Society who served in China and was a contemporary of Hudson Taylor. He isn’t very well known in our day, but what he shares is wonderful.

Here is one quote from the chapter:

“The love of Christ constraineth us.”

“The love of Christ to me-to me personally-constrains me to live to Him and for Him. He died for me; my life is His. He suffered for me; I will suffer for Him. He lives for me; I will live for Him. I will work for His sake; I will give for His sake; I will endure for His sake. There is nothing I would not do to please Him. He is my Lord and my Saviour. He loved me and gave Himself for me. I owe Him an infinite debt, a debt which is always due, and which I can never pay off. All I can do is to lay myself on the altar, and say: Lord Jesus take me, take me as I am, and use me as Thou wilt. This is a grand motive-the love of Christ to us, to each one of us personally. Let us come under the influence of this mighty motive, and we shall cease to find His service, whether in working or in giving, a burden. We shall serve the Lord with gladness, and day by day come before His presence with a song of joy. And there is Christ’s love for the whole world-for all men. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” “He died for all.” “He is the Saviour of all men.” All men are His. His love embraces all, and He desires the salvation of all. It may be hard sometimes to love the heathen, and to make a great sacrifice on their behalf. You may find it difficult to do it for their sakes merely. Do it then for His sake. “I would work for the slave for his own sake,” said Henry Ward Beecher on one occasion, “but I am sure that I would work ten times as earnestly for the slave for Christ’s sake.”

Click on the link to find all the Supreme Motive in Missions chapter.