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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Worthy Sayings of Great Christians

I want to be a more serious-minded Christian, more detached from this world, more ready for heaven than I have ever been in my whole life. I want an ear that is sharp to know the voice of the enemy, whether it comes from religion, politics, or philosophy. I would rather stand and have everybody my enemy than to go along with the crowd to destruction. Do you feel that way?
~A. W. Tozer~

If it stops you from getting closer to God, then it needs to go. 
~A. W. Tozer~

When you have done everything you can do that's when God steps in to do what you can't do. (2 Cor. 12:10). "For when I am weak than I am strong."

If being hurt by the church causes you to lose faith in God, then your faith was in people.

Modern Christians are too tolerant, too nice, too anxious to be popular, and too quick to make excuses for sin in its many forms. God's people should be willing to stand up for God.
~A. W. Tozer~

The true Christians ideal is not to be happy, but to be holy. The whole purpose of God in redemption is to make us holy and to restore us to the image of God. To accomplish this He disengages us from earthly ambitions and draws us away from the cheap and unworthy prizes that worldly men set their hearts upon.
~A. W. Tozer~

The only One who can satisfy the human heart is the One who made it.
~A. W. Tozer~

I don't want the world to define God for me. I want the Holy Spirit to reveal God to me.
~A. W. Tozer~

Let your Christianity be so unmistakable, your eye so single, your heart so whole, your walk so straightforward that all who see you may have no doubts whose you are and whom you serve.
~J. C. Ryle~

No healthy Christian ever chooses suffering. He chooses God's will as Jesus did - whether it means suffering or not.
~Oswald Chambers~

Morals have changed, churches have changed, society has changed, people have changed but only God's Word remains the same.

To promise heaven, and not warn of hell, to offer forgiveness without repentance, to preach the gospel, without the Cross is a false message giving false hope.
~Greg Laurie~

Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Christian's Great Ability

The Christian's Great Ability
Philippians 4:13

by Robert L. Cobb
-Administrator, The Lamp & the Light
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. ..

We all appreciate greatness. The great speaker commands the attention of all hearers. The great athlete receives the gaze of every onlooker. The great craftsman's work is displayed for all to marvel. Aristotle's principle restated for modern times says, "Humans enjoy watching the most capable people perform great feats, and the enjoyment increases the greater the feat."

Someone said sadly, "The closest I will ever come to greatness is to maybe be in the presence of it." Shakespeare said "...some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them." If we are honest, we would not put ourselves in the category of "great." Most of us are average, mediocre, and ordinary. The self-help gurus may tell us to "think great thoughts." But we know our limitations.

But there is a sense in which God's people can be called "great." Our text tells us that we "can do all things through Christ." I believe the Bible teaches that the Christian is completely equipped to accomplish the purpose that God has for him. This ability is not a blank check, mind you, to do what we want. But it is a divine power to accomplish great things for God in His will.

The letter "I" is a frightening letter. It signifies oneness, aloneness, isolation, and separateness. It is personal, just for us. We like crowds; we like to blend into the woodwork. As youngsters, how many of us flinched when we heard our name called over the school intercom? Or how many of us, when traveling the highway, become fearful when we realize that the state trooper's blue light is meant for us? Paul says, "I..." In chapter four of Philippians, Paul uses the word "I" sixteen times.

"I" denotes responsibility. It is not a "we" proposition. It is an "I" proposition. We are individually responsible to God for our works. God has given each of us certain gifts and abilities, and we must accomplish His will in our lives. We can blame our church, our pastor, our wives and family, our jobs, or our station in life, but none of that accounts for the "I" in our accomplishments.

"I" denotes enabling. Paul was divinely prepared for the work God gave him to do. 1 Timothy 1:12 says, "And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry." The word "enabled" means "to receive strength, to endue with sufficient power." We need not fear the "I" of service. God has endued us and enabled us to do His work.

In Isaiah 6, God asks the question, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?"Isaiah answered, "Here am I; send me." We must all reach this place in the Christian life. Have you answered God's singular call for your life?

There is a movement in our culture today I will refer to as the "self-esteem" movement. They are the "power of positive thinking" crowd. They are the "Can-Doers." They are the ones who say, "If you can think it, you can accomplish it." Many of them even use Scripture to back their positions.

Some of the verses they like to quote are found in chapter four. Paul is teaching believers to "keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." He tells them to "think on" positive things, virtuous things, good things. On the surface, it sounds like the "self-esteem" crowd. But this "can-do" ability is not the kind that makes the top seller, the best athlete, or the best student. It is the supernatural ability of God, given to His people to accomplish His work. It is not a power that we can "plug into," it is being guided and controlled by the Hand of God for His purposes.

The Greek word translated "can do" is "ischuo." It means to be "empowered by extraordinary means." It is translated in other places "prevail" and "be whole." Such power should not be cheapened by those who preach a "self-help" gospel. They say that greatness is within each of us just waiting to come out. But we find our our text verse that we "can do" only "through Christ which strengtheneth me." Remember John 15:5, "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."

III. THE SCOPE OF GREAT ABILITY "...all things..."
Jesus told His disciples in John 14:12 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." "All things" is the English translation of the Greek word, "pas." "Pas" can mean "all things individually" or "all sorts of things collectively." In other words, there is no limit on the Christian's abilities.

12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. John 14:12-14

Hebrews 11 is the Christian Hall of Faith where we find the great exploits of the Old Testament saints. In all their great works, none of them approached the hem of the garment of the works of Jesus Christ. Yet He says that we who come after Him will do greater works than His. What an awe-inspiring statement!

How can this be true? With the great innovations in our culture today, we can reach millions while Christ only reached thousands. This message will be placed on the internet and will be accessed by web surfers thousands of times over the years. Mass media gives us opportunities that Christ never had in His ministry. Of course, we realize that the Holy Spirit made sure that Christ's words and deeds would live on with great power. Our ministries could never have as much power as Christ's. But we do operate "out of" the same power, if we follow and obey Him.

I think of Commander Rick Husband, pilot of the doomed space shuttle Columbia. He was a wonderful Christian man who had a great testimony among all who knew him, believer and unbeliever alike. Though in a glamorous career as an astronaut, he never had the opportunity to be a worldwide witness for Christ. But when the shuttle went down, the world learned the story of his life and faith. His wife has written a book about his life and many more will now hear his witness. "Greater works than these..."

Cyrus McCormick, born in Walnut Grove, Va in 1809 to a poor but godly family, is still affecting the world today. It was he who invented many farm implements that improved cultivating and harvesting methods greatly. Though he became rich with his inventions, he gave great sums of money to Christian causes. After the Civil War, he tried, without success, to bring the northern and southern Presbyterians back to one group. Farm implements and a Presbyterian seminary still bear the name of McCormick even today. "Greater works than these..."

Eliza Agnew was born in 1807 in New York City. She told her parents when she was eight years old that God wanted her to become a missionary. She was saved at seventeen and searched for God's choice of a husband so that she might pursue missions with him. No husband came and Eliza was reduced to the life of an "old maid." She cared for her aged parents until they died in 1839. Now 32 years old, considered past marrying age, she applied to American Board of Missions and was accepted as the first single woman missionary to a foreign field. She went to the island of Ceylon, now known as Sri Lanka, and became matron of a boarding school for girls. She continued in this capacity for 40 consecutive years, never going back to America on furlough and never taking a vacation. She became known as the "Mother of 1000 Daughters," though she never had any children of her own. Over half of her schoolgirls made professions of faith and lived dedicated Christian lives. Her health caused her to give up her position as matron of the school in 1879, but she stayed in Ceylon and ministered to her converts. She died at 76 years old with many of her "daughters" at her bedside.
"Greater works than these..."

In the year 1854, Charles Kimball was a humble Sunday School teacher at the Mt. Vernon Congregational Church in Boston, MA. He taught the teens and young men and thought it was more than he could handle. He was naturally a shy man and did not feel comfortable presenting the gospel in one-on-one encounters. He had a 17 year old student that God placed on his heart in a special way. He prayed for the young man's soul and resolved to witness to him. The young man was working as a clerk in a shoe store when Mr. Kimball called on him and nervously presented the gospel to him. The young man called on God and was saved right then and there. That young man was Dwight Moody. The great D.L. Moody was converted by the witness of a humble Sunday School teacher. "Greater works than these..."

Fanny Crosby lived in a time when the blind were treated as badly as the mentally disabled. She attended a blind school and learned what she could. She began writing poetry when she was eight. She had books of secular poetry published as a young woman. She was not converted until she was thirty, turning her talents to writing Christian verse. God sent her a husband at the age of 38, who wrote much of the music that was set to her verse. Though she died in 1915, there are few church hymnals today that do not have a Fanny Crosby song inside. "Greater works than these..."

"All things" is not just for preachers, teachers and full time Christian workers. "All things is for every Christian alive today!

Now we come to a great qualifier in the Christian's great ability. Our works are "through Christ." This means that they are done "in the power" of Christ. We are the instruments by which Christ accomplishes His work! Our gifts and abilities are at His discretion; our opportunities are by His will; Our power is through His power. We do not walk along side those who say, "The power is within you. All you must do is believe it and it will happen." The power is in Christ. And to do great things for Him, we must center ourselves in His will and surrender ourselves to His direction.

2 Corinthians 3:5 says, "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God." There is no place for pride in the work of God. The potter's wheel receives no glory, but the potter. The tools receive no payment when the automobile is repaired. It is the mechanic who receives the pay. The brushes hold their tongues when the painter begins to create. Likewise, our work is "through Christ" and He receives the glory!

V. THE STRENGTH OF GREAT ABILITY "...which strengtheneth me."
The Christian who is an instrument for God should be the most unassuming person around. I believe the great man of strength, Samson, was like that. He was not built like Arnold Scharwenegger, with muscles on muscles. His strength was in God, not in his body. Our strength is not in ourselves, our talents, or our abilities. It is in Christ, who strengthens us. The word translated strengtheneth is"endunamoo," from which we derive the word "endue." It means "to make strong for the task,""to provide needed energy."

Most of us are familiar with The Hiding Place, the story of Corrie ten Boom, who was arrested and sent to Nazi concentration camps during World War II for harboring and assisting Jews. Years after those experiences, Corrie met face to face with one of the camp guards. He had humiliated and degraded her then, but now he stood before her with hand outstretched and said, “Will you forgive me?” She struggled within herself, knowing that she could not, on her own, forgive him. Her family had died in the camps in part because of him and other men like him. She writes, “I stood there with coldness clutching at my heart. I prayed, Jesus, help me! I thrust my hand into his and I experienced an incredible thing. A warm reconciliation seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes. ‘I forgive you, brother,’ I cried with my whole heart. For a long moment we grasped each others hands, the former guard, the former prisoner. I have never known the love of God so intensely as I did in that moment.”

In 1555, the Catholic church held sway over England. The protestant bishops were jailed and scheduled to be burnt at the stake as heretics. The three greatest leaders were Thomas Cranmer, Nicholas Ridley, and Hugh Latimer. Ridley and Latimer were to be burned together. Both were pressured to recant their Bible convictions. Both refused. As they were led to the stake, Latimer said to a faltering Ridley, "Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day light such a candle by God's grace in England, that shall never be put out." Cranmer witnessed the martyrdom's from his prison window. Watching his friends burn brought great fear to his heart. When his tormentors demanded that he recant, he did so. He signed seven letters of recantation, each more humiliating than the last. Even after this, he was still condemned to die at the stake. As he reached the flames, he thrust his right hand into the flame and held it there. "This hand hath offended." he said, referring to the letters he had signed. He never stirred or cried out as his hand burnt. Then he was pushed fully into the fire to die. Cranmer was a man who tried his best to save his life, but in the end found that it was God that was his strength to meet the challenge. He did not face martyrdom alone.

Conclusion: Most of us never think of ourselves as "great." We tend to exaggerate the abilities of others and denigrate our own. But Paul tells us here that God's people are "can-do" people. We have no excuses for our slackness and lack of results in the Christian life. During World War II, there was a group of men called the Seabees. Their official designation was the U.S. Naval Construction Battalions. They were the men who went ashore behind the Marines during the Pacific island battles and constructed the facilities necessary for the support of the initial assault forces. They referred to themselves as "can-do" people, and were often quoted as saying, "The difficult we do immediately; the impossible takes a little longer." Christians are God's special forces. We are His instruments, His can-do people.

Someone said, "“It is not our abilities that determine who we are. It is our choices.” Can He turn to you for results? Can He count on you for service in His army? Will you choose to serve Him?

Tailor-made (and other devotionals)

These are tailor-made for the flesh!

(A.W. Tozer

Jesus Christ has almost no authority at all today, among the groups that call themselves by His name. By these I mean not the Roman Catholics, nor the liberals, nor the various quasi-Christian cults. 

I do mean Protestant churches generally, and I include those that protest the loudest that they are in spiritual descent from our Lord and His apostles, namely the evangelicals.

We evangelicals also know how to avoid the plain instructions, and sharp point of obedience of our Lord in the New Testament--by means of fine and intricate explanations. These are tailor-made for the flesh! They excuse disobedience, worldliness, and carnality and make the words of Christ of no effect. And the essence of it all is that Christ simply could not have meant what He said. His teachings are accepted even theoretically, only after they have been weakened by our interpretations.

The World is Passing Away!
Horatius Bonar

"This world in its present form is passing away!" 1 Corinthians 7:31
"The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever!" 1 John 2:17
The things that are seen are temporal. Ours is a dying world, and here we have no continuing city. But a few years — it may be less — and all things here are changed. But a few years — it may be less — and the Lord shall have come, and the last trumpet shall have sounded, and the great sentence shall have been pronounced upon each of the sons of men.
There is a world that which does not pass away. It is fair and glorious. It is called "the inheritance in light." It is bright with the love of God, and with the joy of Heaven. "The Lamb is the light thereof." Its gates are of pearl — they are always open. And as we tell men of this wondrous city, we invite them to enter in.
The Book of Revelation tells us the story of earth's vanity: "Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: "With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again. The music of harpists and musicians, flute players and trumpeters, will never be heard in you again. No workman of any trade will ever be found in you again. The sound of a millstone will never be heard in you again." (18:21-22).
Such is the day that is coming on the world, and such is the doom overhanging earth — a doom dimly foreshadowed by the sad commercial disasters that have often sent sorrow into so many hearts, and desolation into so many homes.
An old minister — now two hundred years ago — lay dying. His fourscore years were well-near completed. He had been tossed on many a wave, from England to America, from America to England, again from England to America. At Boston he lay dying, full of faith and love. The evening before his death, as he lay all but speechless, his daughter asked him how it was with him. He lifted up his dying hands, and with his dying lips simply said, "Vanishing things, vanishing things!"We repeat his solemn words, and, pointing to the world, with all the vanities on which vain man sets his heart, say, "Vanishing things!"
"The world is passing away!" This is our message.
The world is passing away — like a dream of the night. We lie down to rest; we fall asleep; we dream; we awake at morn — and lo, all is fled, which in our dream seemed so stable and so pleasant! So hastens the world away. O child of mortality, have you no brighter world beyond?
The world is passing away — like the mist of the morning. The night brings down the mists upon the hills — the vapor covers the valleys; the sun rises, all has passed away — hill and valley are clear. So the world passes away, and is seen no more. O man, will you embrace a world like this? Will you lie down upon a mist, and say: This is my home?
The world is passing away — like a shadow. There is nothing more unreal than a shadow. It has no substance, no being. It is dark, it is a figure, it has motion, that is all! Such is the world. O man will you chase a shadow? What will a shadow do for you?
The world is passing away — like a wave of the sea. It rises, falls, and is seen no more. Such is the history of a wave. Such is the story of the world. O man will you make a wave your portion? Have you no better pillow on which to lay your wearied head than this? A poor world this for human heart to love, for an immortal soul to be filled with!
The world is passing away — like a rainbow. The sun throws its colors on a cloud, and for a few minutes all is brilliant. But the cloud shifts, and the brilliance is all gone. Such is the world.
With all its beauty and brightness;
with all its honors and pleasures;
with all its mirth and madness;
with all its pomp and luxury;
with all its revelry and riot;
with all its hopes and flatteries;
with all its love and laughter;
with all its songs and splendor;
with all its gems and gold — it vanishes away!
And the cloud that knew the rainbow knows it no more. O man, is a passing world like this, all that you have for an inheritance?
The world is passing away — like a flower. Beautiful, very beautiful; fragrant, very fragrant, are the summer flowers. But they wither away. So fades the world from before our eyes. While we are looking at it, and admiring it — behold, it is gone! No trace is left of all its loveliness but a little dust! O man, can you feed on flowers? Can you dote on that which is but for an hour? You were made for eternity — and only that which is eternal can be your portion or your resting place. The things that perish with the using only mock your longings. They cannot fill you — and even if they filled, they cannot abide. Mortality is written on all things here — immortality belongs only to the world to come — to that new heavens and new earth wherein dwells righteousness.
The world is passing away — like a ship at sea. With all its sails set, and a fresh breeze blowing, the vessel comes into sight, passes before our eye in the distance, and then disappears. So comes, so goes, so vanishes away this present world, with all that it contains. A few hours within sight, then gone! The wide sea o'er which it sailed, is as calm or as stormy as before; no trace anywhere of all the life or motion or beauty which was passing over it! O man, is that vanishing world your only dwelling-place? Are all your treasures, your hopes, your joys laid up there? Where will all these be when you go down to the tomb? Or where will you be when these things leave you, and you are stripped of all the inheritance which you are ever to have for eternity? It is a poor heritage at the best, and its short duration makes it poorer still. Oh, choose the better part, which shall not be taken from you!
The world is passing away — like a tent in the desert. Those who have traveled over the Arabian sands know what this means. At sunset a little speck of white seems to rise out of the barren waste. It is a traveler's tent. At sunrise it disappears. Both it and its inhabitant are gone. The wilderness is as lonely as before. Such is the world. Today it shows itself — tomorrow it disappears. O man, is that your stay and your home? Will you say of it, "This is my rest!" There is an everlasting rest, remaining for the people of God.
The world is passing away — this is the message from Heaven. "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass!" Isaiah 40:6-7
The world is passing away — but God ever lives. He is from everlasting to everlasting; the King eternal and immortal.
The world is passing away — but man is immortal. Eternity lies before each son of Adam as the duration of his lifetime. In light — or in darkness, forever! In joy — or in sorrow, forever!
The world is passing away — what then? This is the question that so deeply concerns man. If the world is to vanish away, and man is to live forever — then of what importance is it to know where and what we are to be forever! A celebrated physician, trying to cheer a desponding patient, said to him, "Treat life as a plaything." It was wretched counsel. For life is no plaything, and time is no child's toy, to be flung away. Life here is the beginning of the life which has no end; andtime is but the gateway of eternity.
What then? You must, O man, make sure of a home in that world into which you are so soon to pass. You must not pass out of this earthly tent without making sure of the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. When you have done this, you can lie down upon your deathbed in peace.
One who had lived a worldly life at last lay down to die; and when about to pass away he uttered these terrible words, "I am dying, and I don't know where I am going!"
Another in similar circumstances cried out, "I am within an hour of eternity, and all is dark!"
O man of earth, it is time to awake!
"How can I make sure?" you ask. God has long since answered that question, and His answer is recorded for all ages: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved." "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ! I have never done anything else," you say. If that is really true, then, as the Lord lives, you are a saved man. But is it really so? Has your life been the life of a saved man? No, truly. It has been a life wholly given to vanity. Then as the Lord God of Israel lives, and as your soul lives — you have not truly believed, and you are not yet saved.
"Have I then no work to work in this great matter of my pardon?" None! What work can you work? What work of your can buy forgiveness, or make you fit for the Divine favor? What work has God bidden you work in order to obtain salvation? None! His Word is very plain, and easy to be understood: "To him who does not work, but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness" (Rom 4:5) There is but one work by which a man can be saved. That work is not yours, but the work of the Son of God. That work is finished — neither to be taken from nor added to — perfect through all ages — and presented by Himself to you, that you may avail yourself of it and be saved.
"And is that work available for me just as I am?" It is! God has brought it to your door; and your only way of honoring it is by accepting it for yourself, and taking it as the one basis of your eternal hope. We honor the Father when we consent to be saved entirely by the finished work of His Son. We honor the Son when we consent to take His one finished work in the room of all our works. We honor the Holy Spirit, whose office is to glorify Christ, when we hear what He says to us concerning that work finished "once for all" upon the cross. Forgiveness is through Christ Jesus, who is Son of God as well as Son of man! This is our message.
Forgiveness through the one work of sin-bearing which He accomplished for sinners upon earth. Forgiveness to the worst and wickedest, to the farthest off from God whom this earth contains. Forgiveness of the largest, fullest, completest kind; without stint, or exception, or condition, or the possibility of revocation! Forgiveness free and undeserved — as free as the love of God, as free as the gift of His beloved Son. Forgiveness ungrudged and unrestrained — whole-hearted and joyful — as the forgiveness of the father falling on the neck of the prodigal! Forgiveness simply in believing; for, "by Him, all who believe are justified from all things."
Could salvation be made more free? Could forgiveness be brought nearer? Could God in any way more fully show His earnest desire that you should not be lost, but saved — that you should not die, but live? In the cross there is salvation — nowhere else. No failure of this world's hopes can quench the hope which it reveals. It shines brightest in the evil day. In the day of darkening prospects, of thickening sorrows, of heavy burdens, of pressing cares — when friends depart, when riches fly away, when disease oppresses us, when poverty knocks at our door — then the cross shines out, and tells us of a light beyond this world's darkness, the Light of Him who is the light of the world.

 My determined purpose is that I may know Him. (Philippians 3:10 AMP) 

There are few words in his writings which reveal how committed to the Lord Jesus this man was. The whole context is one consummate outpouring of his heart to the One whom he said had "apprehended" him, and he focuses all in a brief half sentence: "That I may know Him." The impressive thing about this expressed ambition is the time at which it is made. Here is a man who has had a revelation and knowledge of Jesus Christ greater than any other man up to that time. That knowledge commenced whence as he said, "it pleased God to reveal His Son in me." That beginning devastated him, and sent him into the desert to try to grasp its implications. Later he had been "caught up into the third heaven and shown unspeakable things, which (he said) were not lawful to be uttered." Between, and around those two experiences, there is evidence of an ever growing knowledge of Christ. Here, after all that, near the end of his life, he is crying passionately: "That I may know Him."

The very least that we can say about this is that the Christ in view was a very great Christ indeed, who outstrips the greatest capacity and comprehension of man. This stands in such tremendous contrast to the limited Christ of our recognition and apprehension! How very much more there is in Christ than we have ever seen!
By T. Austin-Sparks

It pleased God... to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him. (Galatians 1:15,16)
Since Paul’s day so very much of Christian activity has been the furthering of a movement, the propagating of a teaching, and the furthering of the interests of an institution. It is not a movement, nor to establish a movement in the Earth and to get followers, adherents, members, support. It is not an institution, even though we might call that institution the church. The church has no existence in the thought of God apart from the revelation of Jesus Christ, and it is judged according to the measure in which Christ the Son of God’s love is in evidence by its existence. It is not a testimony, if by that you mean a specific form of teaching, a systematized doctrine. No, it is not a testimony. Let us be careful what we mean when we speak about "the testimony." We may have in our minds some arrangement of truth, and that truth couched in certain phraseology, form of words, and thus speak about "the testimony"; it is not the testimony in that sense. It is not a denomination, and it is not a "non-denomination," and it is not an "inter-denomination." It is not Christianity. It is not "the work" – oh, we are always talking about "the work": "How is the work getting on?" – we are giving ourselves to the work, we are interested in the work, we are out in the work. It is not a mission. It is Christ! "...That I might preach Him."
If that had remained central and preeminent all these horrible disintegrating jealousies would never have had a chance. All the wretched mess that exists in the organization of Christianity today would never have come about. It is because something specific in itself, a movement, a mission, a teaching, a testimony, a fellowship, has taken the place of Christ. People have gone out to further that, to project that, to establish that. It would not be confessed; nevertheless it is true, that today it is not so much Christ that is our work. Now beloved, an inward revelation is the cure of all that. Am I saying too hard a thing, too sweeping a thing? The existence of all that represents the absence of an adequate inward revelation of Christ.

By T. Austin-Sparks

Romans 14:22-23

(22) Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. (23) But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.
New King James Version   Change your email Bible version
Paul is dealing with a clash of values within an individual. Confronting a situation in which two distinctly different moral or ethical alternatives exist can produce puzzlement and fear. Such a situation has the potential to leave a person conscience-stricken after doing what he permits himself to do.
If there were no differences between what a person is permitted to do and what he actually does, there would be no self-doubt or self-condemnation to be concerned about. However, the reality is that differences arise. This often occurs when the individual has learned a value in his past, but he is challenged by a different value in the present. This leads to a number of overlapping questions that we need to consider:
» What is the source of what we permit ourselves to do?
» Where did our values originate?
» Where did we form our values?
» Are we sure we are right even when we are not conscience-stricken? This last question is necessary because people can be absolutely wrong while sincerely thinking that they are right.
We should ask these questions of ourselves in areas such as business ethics, education, entertainment, athletics, fashion, diet, child-training, and marital relations—in other words, the entire framework of life, not just in the obvious areas of morality. Acts 18:25-26 reminds us that Christianity is a way of life, a course of conduct encompassing every aspect of life.

~John W. Ritenbaugh~

Are You a Thermostat or a Thermometer?

"Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God."

—Genesis 6:9

Peter, in his second epistle, described the world's effect on two believers. Both lived in a wicked culture, yet one thrived and the other shriveled.

First there's Noah, who lived an uncompromised life. "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord" and "walked with God" (Genesis 6:8, 9 NKJV). Times were so bad that wickedness was full to the brim (see Genesis 6:5), yet Noah faithfully served the Lord despite the criticism of his culture. He raised his family as believers as well, and preached to others.

On the other hand was Lot, who reluctantly left Sodom. "Yes, Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day." (2 Peter 2:8 NLT). He ended up as a leader in the city who had no influence whatsoever.

When told by angels that judgment was coming, he told his sons-in-law. They "blew him off" because they thought he was joking. The angels had to take him by the hand to get him out. He did not want to leave. He lived a compromised life, and when judgment came, he left reluctantly. He could have sung (like Tony Bennett), "I left my heart, in Sodom and Gomorrah."

No one is reached by compromise.

Which one of those men do you relate to? Are you changing culture, or is culture changing you? Are you a thermostat or are you a thermometer?

A thermometer is affected by its surroundings. Depending on the temperature, the mercury moves up or down. In contrast, a thermostat influences its surroundings. Unlike the thermometer, the thermostat controls the heat or coldness around it.

Noah was a thermostat and Lot was a thermometer.

So, what kind of a believer are you? It's easy to blame our wicked culture for the way we are but the fact of that matter is that it's our job as followers of Jesus is to permeate and affect it.

Do you influence your surroundings or do your surroundings influence you?
~Greg Laurie~

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Take My Yoke ... (and other devotionala)

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29 NIV)

The great business of Christians is to learn Christ. This is not just a subject to study. I want to ask you: What is the greatest desire in your life? I wonder if it is the same as mine! The greatest desire in my heart – and the longer I live the stronger it grows – is to understand the Lord Jesus. There is so much that I do not understand about Him. I am always coming up against problems about Him, and they are not intellectual problems at all, but spiritual ones: problems of the heart. Why did the Lord Jesus say and do certain things? Why is He dealing with me as He is? He is always too deep for me, and I want to understand Him. It is the most important thing in life to understand the Lord Jesus. Well, we are here that He may bring us to some better understanding of Himself. The material of the Word will not be new – it will be old and well-known Scripture. Perhaps we think that we know the Gospel by John very well. Well, you may, but I do not. I am discovering that this Gospel contains deeper truth and value than I know anything about....
The one business of disciples is to know Him, and to do what He called His disciples to do: "Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me" (Matthew 11:29). Jesus came to bring heavenly knowledge in His own person, and in His person we come into heavenly knowledge. It is not just what He says: it is what He says He is. Every true teacher is not one who says a lot of things, but one who, when he says things, gives something of himself.

 By T. Austin-Sparks

Polishing God's jewels!

"They will be Mine in the day when I make up My jewels!" Malachi 3:17

(Robert Leighton, 1611-1684)
God has many sharp-cutting instruments and rough files for the polishing of His jewels. Those He especially loves and means to make the most resplendent--He most often uses His tools upon!

(Richard Newton, "Bible Jewels")
Jewels are polished for the sake of removing specks and blemishes from them. They are often cut andpolished on purpose to make them look more beautiful. If a large diamond is to be put on the crown of some great king, it is only by cutting and polishing that it can be made to shine with all its brilliance.

When you look at a diamond, you see that it has many faces or sides. These don't belong to diamonds naturally. When they are found in the mines, they have none of these smooth faces. They are then like little pebble-stones, without any particular shape. These smooth, even sides are made by the jeweler, by grinding and polishing. And they are made on purpose to make the diamond look more beautiful.

In the same way, God cuts and polishes His jewels in order to make them shine more brightly and beautifully in the crown of His glory in Heaven.

Sometimes we see good Christian people who have very heavy trials which they are obliged to bear for many years. And when we see them bearing those trials, we often wonder what it is all for.

God is using those trials just as the jeweler uses the files and wheels--to polish His jewels so as to make them brighter and more beautiful in Heaven.

There was that poor beggar at the gate of the rich man, of whom we read in the New Testament. He was left to be so poor, and to have all those dreadful sores, not because God could not help it; He could easily have made him a rich man and have kept him from having any sores at all, if He had so pleased. But Lazarus was one of God's jewels, and God was making use of his poverty and beggary and sores--in order to polish that jewel and make it shine more beautifully in Heaven!
All of God's jewels need polishing!

"I have refined you in the furnace of suffering!" Isaiah 48:10

You have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do!
(Hiram Mattison,  1867)
"You have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do--living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, revelings, banquetings, and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you!" 1 Peter 4:3-4

Here observe:
1. That Christians were not to live as formerly, and like other men--in folly and dissipation.
2. That "revelings" and "banquetings" are specified, which covers all balls, parties, and masquerades, at least.
3. That the early Christians had ceased to run with those who walked in these follies.
4. That the ungodly thought this very "strange" and over-rigid.
5. That the ungodly spoke evil of Christians, on account of their peculiar abstinence and self-denial.
And today the same holy course meets the same unholy treatment, even at the hands of some who profess religion, and ought to be found wholly upon the Lord's side.
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind!" Romans 12:2

"The spirit of the world is eating out the very heart and life of true godliness!" (George Everard)

It is a fact of life!

(Albert Barnes, "Life at Three-score and Ten" 1868)

It is a fact of life, that all of our thoughts, words, and actions are fixed and unchangeable.

Now, at the age of seventy, my work for good or for evil is done. 
I cannot go back and repair what has been amiss. 
I cannot now do what has been left undone. 
I cannot do in a better manner, what has been imperfectly performed. 
I cannot recover the hours that have been wasted.
I cannot correct the evils which may have resulted from my errors. 
I cannot overtake and stop what I have spoken or written, as it has gone out into the world. 
I cannot summon back the opportunities for usefulness which have been neglected. 
I cannot obliterate the reality or the memory of wrong thoughts, or wrong motives, or wrong words, or wrong actions. 
All that has been thought or said or done in these seventy years, has become fixed as a reality--never to be changed. 
Past errors and follies may be forgiven--but they are never to be changed

The hope of a man at seventy years of age--at any age--is not that the errors, and sins, and follies of the past can be changed--it is only . . .
  that they may be pardoned by a merciful God;
  that they may be covered over by the blood of the atonement;
  that though they must remain forever as facts--facts fully known to the Great Searcher of hearts--their guilt may be so taken away that they will not be punished;
  that by the blood shed on the cross, they themselves may be so covered over--so hidden--that they will not be disclosed on the final trial before assembled worlds! 

That hope, the religion of Christ offers to all. 

How different would men try to make their lives, if they habitually felt that all--literally all--that they do, or say, or think--even their most fugitive thoughts--becomes thus fixed and unchangeable forever!

Selfish Christianity

Which interests you more—who Jesus is or what He can do for you? I’m afraid that too many of us are more concerned about what He can give us than we are about getting to know who He is.
But this is nothing new—Jesus had this problem when He walked on earth. The crowds often sought Him out for what He could do for them. Even though their needs were quite often legitimate, Christ knew their motives.
There is a fine line between selfishly trying to use the Lord to get what we want and humbly coming to Him with our needs and struggles. Some of the issues we bring to Him are so pressing and urgent in our minds that our desire for Him to take action in the way we want becomes greater than our willingness to submit to His will. At times, what we call “faith” is really a demanding spirit.
We must remember that our needs will come to an end, but Jesus Christ will remain forever. If our prayers have dealt only with presenting our requests to the Lord, we’ve missed a great opportunity to get to know the One with whom we’ll spend eternity. Let’s invest time in pursuing intimacy with Christ. Then we can enjoy the benefits of that relationship forever.
How much of your communion with God is devoted to your needs—even legitimate ones? Are you spending any time getting to know the Lord? Although God delights in our prayers and tells us to pray about everything, He also wants us to come to Him just because we enjoy being with Him.

~Charles Stanley~

That always brings down the wrath of the religious majority!

(A.W. Tozer)

Pragmatism is having a powerful influence upon contemporary Christianity!

Pragmatism asks no embarrassing questions about the Scripturalness of what we are doing. It accepts our chosen ends as right and good--and casts about for efficient means and ways to get them accomplished. When it discovers something that works, it soon finds a text to justify it, then "consecrates" it to the Lord, and plunges ahead. 

As one fairly familiar with the contemporary religious scene, I say without hesitation that a very large part of the activities carried on today in evangelical circles are not only influenced by pragmatism--but almost completely controlled by it! 
Religious methodology is geared to it;
it appears large in our youth meetings; 
magazines and books constantly glorify it; 
conventions are dominated by it; and 
the whole religious atmosphere is alive with it!

What shall we do to break its power over us? The answer is simple. We must acknowledge the right of Jesus Christ to control the activities of His church. The New Testament contains full instructions, not only about what we are to believe--but what we are to do and how we are to go about doing it. Any deviation from those instructions, is a denial of the Lordship of Christ.

The answer is simple, but it is not easy--for it requires that we obey God rather than man, and that always brings down the wrath of the religious majority! It is not a question of knowing what to do--we can easily learn that from the Scriptures. It is a question of whether or not we have the courageto do it!

Worthy Sayings of Great Christians

You will never know the fullness of Christ until you know the emptiness of everything else.
~Charles Spurgeon~
If we are not changed by grace then we are not saved by grace.
~A. W. Tozer~

Lord, let no thing live in me that should die and let nothing die in me that should live.
~Leonard Ravenhill~

God needs no one, but when faith is present He works through anyone.
~A. W. Tozer~

The Spirit-filled life is not a special delux edition of Christianity. It is part and parcel of the total plan of God for His people.
~A. W. Tozer~

We cannot pray in love and live in hate and still think we are worshiping God.
~A. W. Tozer~

In that great day, the fire of judgment is going to test the sort, not the size of the work we have done.
~Leonard Ravenhill~

Evil is no longer evil - we've changed the terminology; iniquity is now infirmity, wickedness i now weakness; devilry is now deficiency.
~Leonard Ravenhill~

I see life as a tiny speck of an island, surrounded by a shoreline ocean of eternity.
~Leonard Ravenhill~

Revival is when God gets so sick and tired of being misrepresented that He shows Himself.
~Leonard Ravenhill~

What I have done in the past troubles me no more, for it is under the blood. But what I have not done troubles me.
~Leonard Ravenhill~

The brightest crowns that are worn in heaven have been tried,  and smelted, and polished, and glorified through the furnice of tribulation.
~Edwin Hubbell Chapin~

Adversities do not make the man either weak or strong, but they reveal what he is.
~Faith Forsyte~

The long, dull, monotonous years of middle-aged prosperity or middle-aged adversity are excellent campaigning weather (for the devil).
~C.S. Lewis~

Gold is tried in fire, and acceptable men in the furnace if adversity.

Anger is contagious. So is grace.

Repentance is more than a repeated apology.
~A. W. Tozer~

God's silences are His answers. If we take as answers those that are visible to our senses, we are in a very elementary condition of grace.
~A. W. Tozer~

I believe in the sun even when it is not shining. I believe in love, even when I am alone. I believe in God, even when He is silent.
~A. W. Tozer~

God has one end for mankind - holiness! His one aim is that production of saints. God is not an eternal blessing-machine for men. He did not come to save men out of pity. He came to save men because He had created them to be holy.
~Oswald Chambers~

No healthy Christian ever chooses suffering; he chooses God's will, as Jesus did, whether it means suffering or not.
~Oswald Chambers~

The remarkable thing about God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.
~Oswald Chambers~

Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading.
~Oswald Chambers~

We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there's nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything.
~Oswald Chambers~

If the Spirit of God detects anything in you that is wrong, He does not ask you to put it right; He asks you to accept the light, and He will put it right.
~Oswald Chambers~

One of the most difficult, yet critical disciplines of the Christian life to allow the Holy Spirit to bring us into absolute harmony with the teaching of Jesus.
~Oswald Chambers~

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Just Believe (and other devotionals)

Just Believe
Jesus answered and said to him, "Because I said to you, 'I saw you under the fig tree,' do you believe? You will see greater things than these." John 1:50
What does it take for you to believe? For some, we want the small things like a peaceful day. For others, we want our bodies healed. And for others, we want God to appear to us and give us direction on what to do next. All of these requests fall on the lines of appeasing our flesh. Our flesh doesn’t want to struggle or guess; we want clarity, peace and a life that is pain free. But that is why many do not believe.
At times, God does perform these kinds of miracles, but God doesn’t need to prove He is God as much as we need to prove we believe He is God. Despite how we feel, what we see or how we think, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). Faith goes beyond the senses to a deep understanding and knowing that He is God in the midst of a hassled day and in the hurts from life’s circumstances. Faith is believing without seeing.
The Lord asks us today, “Do you believe?” If the answer is yes, He will spiritually open your eyes to see in faith what He has for you. He might not show you through a burning bush or through an earthquake, but it is that still small voice that will testify within your spirit His will and ways for you. Sometimes He says, “Wait.” Other times He will say, “Go.” But every time, the Lord Jesus Christ will say, “Just believe.” He knows what is best. Trust Him today with that issue you want to see God work through so badly. Give it to Him. Lay it down at His feet. Just believe and you will see greater things than these.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 NIV)

The whole thought of God, running right through this letter, is spiritual fullness; and any religion – even Christianity – mixing and confusing soul and spirit, the sentient and the spiritual (as did the Christian-Judaism and as does organized Christianity) is doomed to the destiny of Judaism. If we draw upon the soul resources of people to build up Christianity, instead of recognizing that “all things are out from God” – that all must first come from Him and have its first point of contact with man in his spirit, which, being renewed (made anew) becomes the vessel and vehicle of all divine things for ever after – no matter how immense may be our structure, it is going to crash when the great "shaking" comes. Christianity now is very largely a built up thing with many Jewish features in it; i.e., outward orders, forms, vestments, titles, buildings and rigidly fixed boundaries of apprehension of truth. Viewed from a heavenly standpoint, it is all so much nonsense, child's play; albeit so seriously regarded by its children.

It is important to recognize that this letter was addressed to a people who – for a long period – had held the position nationally of a people whom God had taken out of the world unto Himself. It seeks to explain their nature and history in the light of Christ and true spiritual Christianity. It shows that even such a people may make their separation earthly and earthbound, and that for so doing they have been “overthrown,” and will – even as Christians – be overthrown again if they repeat in Christianity what their fathers did in Judaism. There is something here much more than typology interpreted and the interpretation accepted as to salvation from sin and judgment; it is the essential and indispensable heavenly relatedness and life of the Lord's people as inwardly detached from the natural life even in a religious sense.

By T. Austin-Sparks

Become a Fruit-Bearing Christian

by Andrew Murray

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. " (John 15:1-2)

A vine is planted solely for the sake of its fruit. There are many sorts of vines, each with its different sort of fruit. When a vinedresser plants a vine or a vineyard, he selects the type that produces the desired fruit. The fruit will be the manifestation of his purpose. When God planted the Heavenly Vine, it was that its fruit might bring life and strength to dying men. The very life of God, which man had lost by the fall, was to be brought back to him by Christ from heaven; Christ was to be to us the True Tree of Life. In Him, the True, the Heavenly Vine, in His Word and work, in His life and death, the life of God was brought within reach of men; all who should eat of the fruit should live forever.
More wonderful still, Christ's disciples should not only eat and live, but in turn become fruit-bearing branches. The Divine life entering into them should not only dwell in them, but so assert its life-giving power that it should show itself in the fruit they bear for their fellow men. As truly as the Heavenly Vine, all its branches receive the life of God.
I. The Life in the Vine
We often speak of receiving Christ, following Christ, of Christ living in us, when our ideas of who Christ is are very vague. Christ gave Himself as a sacrifice to God for men, and in that proved what is the true nobility of man as partaker of the Divine nature. We speak, and rightly too, of the obedience of Christ as the praiseworthy cause of our salvation: "By the obedience of One many were made righteous." But we do not sufficiently recognize what it was that gave that obedience its redeeming power. It was this—that in it Christ restored that which is the only thing that the creature can render to its Creator, and so rendered to God what man owed to Him. It is because of this obedience He became a Redeemer, and this nature is the very life which as the Heavenly Vine He imparts. "Let this mind be in you, which was in Christ Jesus, who became obedient unto death. Therefore God has highly exalted Him." The life of God in human nature is obedience to the death.
And with that Christ loved men. In that He fulfilled the will of God. He gave Himself to the mighty Redeeming love of God towards men, and so gave Himself as much to men as to God. There is no possible way of living for God but by loving and living for the men whom He loves and lives for. The human life in Christ could be nothing but a surrender to His love to be used in saving and blessing men. Whether in God, or in Christ, or in us, the Divine life is love to men. This is the life-sap of the True Vine, the spirit that was in Christ Jesus.

II. The Life in the Branch
The life in the Branch is essentially and entirely the same as that in the Vine. If we are to bear fruit, it can only come as the life and the power that work in the Vine work in us. This alone is the secret of effective service.
In Christian work a great mistake is often made. The difference between work and fruit is overlooked. Under a sense of duty or from an inborn love of work, a Christian may be very diligent in doing his work for God, and yet find little blessing in it. He may think of gratitude as the great motive of the Christian life, and not understand that though that may rouse the will, it cannot give the power to work successfully. We need to see that if work is to be acceptable and effective, it must come as fruit; it must be the spontaneous outgrowth of a healthy, vigorous life, the Spirit and power of Christ living and working in us. And that power can only work freely and effectively in us as our main concern is to maintain the relationship to our Lord close and intimate. As He streams His nature into us, our work will truly be the fruit the Vine bears.
Still another mistake is made. We pray very earnestly for God's blessing on our work and on those whom we wish to help. We forget that the God who delights to bless ourselves first, to give into our hearts the blessing He wants to impart through us. We are not channels, in the sense in which a lead pipe is when it carries water, and yet does not drink it in. We are channels in the way the branch is. The sap of the vine, before it goes through it to form fruit, first enters to be its life, to give it new wood and strength, and then passes on into the grape. When we preach the love of God and obedience to Him, when we call men to surrender themselves to that love, we must first seek each day to be receiving afresh, in close communion with Christ Jesus, that love and devotion to God into our hearts. When we teach love to man, we should do it as those in whom the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, is manifest in its freshness and beauty.
It is by having exactly the same spirit that was in Christ Jesus, and being possessed of the same mind and disposition that was in Him, that we can bear the same fruit He bore, that He can still bring forth fruit through us. And this spirit we cannot have by any imitation or effort, but only by receiving it fresh from Him every morning and all day. An intense devotion to God and an entire yielding up of ourselves to His service for men, and giving up of our life to live, and love and die for men, as Jesus did, this is the life to which the branches of the True Vine are called, this is the life for which the True Vine will surely prepare us. His words are true: He is the Truth and the Life. He gives all He promises. Count no time too precious and no pains too great, in waiting on Him by His Spirit to reveal to you the wondrous mystery of your being a branch, a partaker of the very Life there is in the Vine.

The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. (Luke 18:27)
All hangs upon this one thing (as simple as it may seem) that if Christ is present (which means nothing else than that God is present) anything is possible at any moment. Are you waiting for some day when things will be better? It is not a matter of time at all, it is a matter of Him. He says, "I am time and eternity all in a moment, and you need not accept anything in the matter of time; you accept Me, and you may be well-nigh dead in the morning and be very much alive before the day is over. 'I am the resurrection and the life.'" Mary said, “I know that He will rise again in the last day.” For her resurrection was a matter of time. Oh no. Resurrection was right there....
As long as it takes to break a loaf you have gone from seed-time to harvest. "'Do you not say, There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest?' (John 4:35). I am here, and there can be harvest at any moment when I am here." It is not a matter of time, of circumstance. We are dealing with God, and He is not bound by anything that is known to our human life at all. Eternity dwells in any moment when He is present. All things are bound up with any moment when He is present. The centurion said, "Just say the word and my servant will be healed." "You need not come. Distance does not matter, time does not matter, just speak the word and it will be done." The Lord said, "Ihave not found such great faith, not even in Israel." The word was uttered, and when the enquiry was made as to when it happened it was found to synchronize with the moment when He spoke. He takes everything into His hands, and says "My hour..." and when that comes, there is no postponement. Oh, that we should lay hold of that more, live on that, never surrender to conditions, never surrender to the inevitable from the standpoint of the human, but say, "We have Him; He is our future, He is our circumstance." Anything can be at any moment with the Lord present.

By T. Austin-Sparks

A medicine essential for our spiritual health and happiness!

(John Cumming)

"I, even I, am He who comforts you!" Isaiah 51:12

How does God comfort us? Suppose you are in some great trouble--how will God comfort you? 

God comforts us by showing us the necessity of that trouble. Do you ever think of this--that there is NO CHANCE? Not a pang can pierce the heart of His redeemed child, for which there is not a needs-be! 
Not an ache can gnaw the frame; 
not a grief can pierce the heart;
not a shadow can darken the soul--
which is not permitted because there was a needs-be!

It is comfort to know that no affliction is random, that no bereavement is accident--but that each is sent because it was a medicine essential for our spiritual health and happiness. Thus God comforts us. 

God comforts us in affliction, by revealing to us what is the source of trouble. We are told that not a trouble can befall us that has not been first in God's bosom; that not a tear can start in the eye that He has not first planned, and estimated, and weighed, and pronounced to be expedient for us. 

Admit for one moment, that CHANCE is the parent of your troubles--that accident is the author of your bereavements--and what a gloomy place must this world be! What a sad heart must the mourner's be! What an unhappy man must the victim of trouble be! But when we know that the blow that strikes the heaviest, is from our Father's hand; that the sorrow that pierces the heart with the keenest agony, lay in His bosom before it received its mission to touch us--then surely it is a truth, "I, even I, am He who comforts you!" 

God comforts us by showing us the end of that trouble. If the sorrows, bereavements, disappointments, griefs, secret and open, had no end, and no grand object, and no great purpose to accomplish--then they would be intolerable. But He tells us, "Though no tribulation for the present seems joyous, but grievous--yet afterwards it works out the peaceable fruits of righteousness to those who are exercised thereby." He tells us that "Our light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work out for us a far more exceeding, even an eternal weight of glory." "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."

And therefore the necessity, the source, and the end of our troubles, revealed to us by God--take away the edge of them, and make at least tolerable that which, if inexplicable, would be altogether intolerable.

Lastly, He will comfort us by delivering us from all our troubles, and introducing us into a glorious rest--more bright and beautiful than eye has seen, or ear has heard, or man's heart in its happiest imaginings has ever conceived!

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, and My ways are not your ways,” declares the Lord. “Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts are higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8,9 GW)
God's thoughts about things are very different from ours. We would often allow what God would never allow. He has an altogether different point of view about things. We judge in one way about things, and God judges in another. It is necessary for us to come to God's standpoint. "Oh," we would say, "There is no harm in such-and-such a thing. Oh, there is no wrong in that; look at So-and-so and So-and-so," and we take our standard, perhaps, from other people. We have known people to do that; point to some outstanding figure in the work of God, in whose life was a certain thing - that one has been taken as the model, to be copied, and so the thing has been taken on. "Oh, there is no harm in it; look at So-and-so." And I have known lives and ministries to be ruined on that very excuse.
The question is: What does the Lord say about it? God says, "Walk before Me!" Not before any human model; not before any human standard; "There is no harm in it; So-and-so does it; it is quite a common practice." No, no! "Walk before Me," says the Lord. We have got to get this in the spirit, in the inward man. It is deeper than our best moral standards. Otherwise there is no point in it being in the Bible at all, if our moral standards can rise to God's satisfaction - why must we be so handled and reconstituted? It is deeper than our intellect, than our reason. You cannot, by reason or intellect, arrive at God's standard at all. Not at all! Oh, do not think that by any method of reasoning, you are ever going to reach God's standard. You never will. Here, it is only by revelation of the Holy Spirit. Christ has got to be revealed in our hearts by the Spirit. There is no point in Jesus saying: "When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He shall guide you into all the truth," if we could get there by our own intelligence. Not at all. It must come by the revelation of Christ in our hearts, in the inward parts. This is something spiritual. "God is Spirit; they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" - spirit and truth go together. Only what is spiritual, what is of God, is truth - only that!

By T. Austin-Sparks

The only sure medicine for troubled hearts!

(J.C. Ryle)

"Do not let your heart be troubled. Believe in God--believe also in Me!" John 14:1
This verse is rich in precious truth. For eighteen centuries it has been peculiarly dear to Christ's believing servants in every part of the world. Many are the sick rooms which it has lightened! Many are the dying hearts which it has cheered! 
We have in this passage, a precious remedy against an old disease. That disease is trouble of heart. That remedy is faith.
Heart-trouble is the commonest thing in the world!
No rank, or class, or condition is exempt from it.
No bars, or bolts, or locks can keep it out.
Partly from inward causes--and partly from outward causes;
partly from the body--and partly from the mind;
partly from what we love--and partly from what we fear
--the journey of life is full of trouble! Between grace and glory--even the best of Christians have manybitter cups to drink. Even the holiest saints find the world to be a valley of tears! "Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows!" John 16:33
Faith in the Lord Jesus is the only sure medicine for troubled hearts!
To believe more thoroughly,
to trust more entirely,
to rest more unreservedly,
to lay hold more firmly,
to lean back more completely--
this is the prescription which our Master urges on the attention of all His disciples.
Never let us forget that there are degrees in faith, and that there is a wide difference between weak and strong believers. The weakest faith is enough to give a man a saving interest in Christ, and ought not to be despised--but it will not give a man such inward comfort as a strong faith. Vagueness and dimness of perception are the defect of weak believers. They do not see clearly what they believe and why they believe. In such cases more faith is the one thing needed. Like Peter on the water, they need to look more steadily at Jesus--and less at the waves and wind. 
"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You! Isaiah 26:3

 Walking in the midst of the fire (Daniel 3:25).
The fire did not arrest their motion; they walked in the midst of it. It was one of the streets through which they moved to their destiny. The comfort of Christ's revelation is not that it teaches emancipation from sorrow, but emancipation through sorrow.
O my God, teach me, when the shadows have gathered, that I am only in a tunnel. It is enough for me to know that it will be all right some day.
They tell me that I shall stand upon the peaks of Olivet, the heights of resurrection glory. But I want more, O my Father; I want Calvary to lead up to it. I want to know that the shadows of this world are the shades of an avenue the avenue to the house of my Father. Tell me I am only forced to climb because Thy house is on the hill! I shall receive no hurt from sorrow if I shall walk in the midst of the fire.
--George Matheson
'The road is too rough,' I said; 'It is uphill all the way; 
No flowers, but thorns instead;
And the skies over head are grey.'
But One took my hand at the entrance dim,
And sweet is the road that I walk with Him.
"The cross is too great,' I cried--
'More than the back can bear,
So rough and heavy and wide,
And nobody by to care.'
And One stooped softly and touched my hand:
'I know. I care. And I understand.'
"Then why do we fret and sigh;
Cross-bearers all we go:
But the road ends by-and-by
In the dearest place we know,
And every step in the journey we
May take in the Lord's own company.

~L. B. Cowman~