Monday, February 28, 2011

"I the LORD do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it..."

"I the LORD do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day" Isaiah 27:3

In the scorching Oriental heat the vineyard needs incessant watering, else the vines fail. And our spirits are equally dependent on the refreshment which only God's tender love can afford. The heat of temptation and of sore discipline is so oppressive, that we must faint beneath either one or the other, except for the alleviating succor which our faithful God is constantly administering.

Every moment--literally every time the eye twinkles--God is watering us. We have become so accustomed to it, that we hardly realize how much we owe to it. Sometimes by the gentle distillation of dew, that gathers almost imperceptibly on our spirits, and we hardly know whence or how it has come. Sometimes by the touch of a moistening sponge, applied by the very hand of God. Sometimes by a shower of grace. By a text suggested to our memory; a holy thought; the look, or act, or word of some companion; a paragraph in a paper; a sentence in a book--God waters us, and we become fresh and green, where the leaf showed signs of becoming shriveled and sere.

How blessed is life like this! In such hands--watched and guarded by such care--nurtured with such tenderness! May the result in each of us be--not the disappointment of wild grapes, but--the abundant clusters that will make glad the great Husbandman of our souls. ...FB Meyer
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"Be ready in the morning, and come ...present thyself there to me....

"Be ready in the morning, and come ...present thyself there to me in the top of the mount. And no man shall come up with thee" Exod. 34:2-3

The morning watch is essential. You must not face the day until you have faced God, nor look into the face of others until you have looked into His.

You cannot expect to be victorious, if the day begins only in your own strength. Face the work of every day with the influence of a few thoughtful, quiet moments with your heart and God. Do not meet other people, even those of your own home, until you have first met the great Guest and honored Companion of your life--Jesus Christ.

Meet Him alone. Meet Him regularly. Meet Him with His open Book of counsel before you; and face the regular and the irregular duties of each day with the influence of His personality definitely controlling your every act.
Streams in the Desert photo

'It Is Well With My Soul' - The Rest of the Story


By James N. Watkins
Feb. 24, 2011

You’ve probably heard the famous story of Horatio Spafford (pictured) writing the beloved hymn “It Is Well with My Soul” following the death of his four daughters...Story

Saturday, February 26, 2011

We do not understand the intricate pattern of the stars...

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We do not understand the intricate pattern of the stars in their courses, but we know that He who created them does, and that just as surely as He guides them, He is charting a safe course for us. ...Billy Graham image

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Father Who Runs

by Jill Carattini

The massive Rembrandt measures over eight and a half feet tall and six and a half feet wide, compelling viewers with a larger than life scene. "The Return of the Prodigal Son" hangs on the walls of the St. Petersburg Hermitage Museum depicting Christian mercy, according to one curator, as if it were Rembrandt's last "spiritual testament to the world." Fittingly, it is one of the last paintings the artist ever completed and remains one of his most loved works.

The painting portrays the reunion of the wayward son and the waiting father as told in the Gospel of Luke. The elderly father is shown leaning in an embrace of his kneeling son in ragged shoes and torn clothes. With his back toward us, the son faces the father, his head bowed in regret. Clearly, it is the father Rembrandt wants us most to see. The aged man reaches out with both hands, his eyes on the son, his entire body inclining toward him.

It is understandable that viewers have spent hours looking at this solemn reflection of mercy and homecoming. The artist slows unstill minds to a scene where the parable's characters are powerfully still. The kneeling son leans silently toward the father; the father calmly and tenderly leans toward the son. All is at rest. But in fact, this is far from the scene Jesus portrays in the parable itself.

The parable of the prodigal son is a long way from restful, and the father within it is anything but solemn and docile in his embrace of the wayward son. In the story Jesus tells, while the son was "still a long way off," the father saw him and "was filled with compassion for him" (Luke 15:20). This father was literally moved by his compassion. The Greek word conveys an inward movement of concern and mercy, but this man was also clearly moved outwardly. The text is full of dramatic action. The father runs to the son, embraces him (literally, "falls upon his neck"), and kisses him. Unlike the depiction of Rembrandt, Jesus describes a scene far more abrupt and shocking. It is not the son who we find kneeling in this picture, but the father. The characters are not at rest but in radical motion. The father who runs to his wayward son runs without any assurance of repentance; he runs without any promise that the son is even home to stay. the rest image

Whenever you have much joy...

Whenever you have much joy, be cautious; there is sorrow down the road. But when you have much sadness be hopeful; there is a joy on the way to you, be sure of that. Our blessed Lord reveals himself to his people more in the valleys, in the shades, in the deeps, than he does anywhere else. He has a way and an art of showing himself to his children at midnight, making the darkness light by his presence. ...CH Spurgeon image

We have need of patience with ourselves...

We have need of patience with ourselves and with others; with those below and those above us, and with our own equals; with those who love us and those who love us not; for the greatest things and for the least; against sudden inroads of trouble, and under daily burdens; against disappointments as to the weather, or the breaking of the heart; in the weariness of the body, or the wearing of the soul; in our own failure of duty, or others' failure towards us; in every-day wants, or in the aching of sickness or the decay of old age; in disappointment, bereavement, losses, injuries, reproaches; in heaviness of the heart, or its sickness amid delayed hopes. In all these things, from childhood's little troubles to the martyr's sufferings, patience is the grace of God, whereby we endure evil for the love of God.
... Edward B. Pusey photo

Worship is the submission of all our nature to God...

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name. Bring an offering and come before Him; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness and in holy array. 1 Chronicles 16: 29

Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by his holiness, the nourishment of the mind with his truth, the purifying of the imagination of his beauty, the opening of the heart to his love, the surrender of the will to his purpose. ...William Temple photo

This way of seeing our Father in everything...

This way of seeing our Father in everything makes life one long thanksgiving and gives a rest of heart, and, more than that, a gayety of spirit, that is unspeakable. Some one says, "God's will on earth is always joy, always tranquility." And since He must have His own way concerning His children, into what wonderful green pastures of inward rest, and beside what blessedly still waters of inward refreshment is the soul led that learns this secret. If the will of God is our will, and if He always has His way, then we always have our way also, and we reign in a perpetual kingdom. He who sides with God cannot fail to win in every encounter; and, whether the result shall be joy or sorrow, failure or success, death or life, we may, under all circumstances, join in the Apostle's shout of victory, "Thanks be unto God which always causeth us to triumph in Christ!" ...Hannah Whitall Smith photo

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Joy...

Where others see but the dawn coming over the hill, I see the soul of God shouting for joy. ...William Blake image by Lee Coursey

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Drudgery

"Arise, shine." Isaiah 60:1

We have to take the first step as though there were no God. It is no use to wait for God to help us, He will not; but immediately we arise we find He is there. Whenever God inspires, the initiative is a moral one. We must do the thing and not lie like a log. If we will arise and shine, drudgery becomes divinely transfigured.

Drudgery is one of the finest touchstones of character there is. Drudgery is work that is very far removed from anything to do with the ideal - the utterly mean grubby things; and when we come in contact with them we know instantly whether or not we are spiritually real. Read John 13. We see there the Incarnate God doing the most desperate piece of drudgery, washing fishermen's feet, and He says - "If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet." It requires the inspiration of God to go through drudgery with the light of God upon it. Some people do a certain thing and the way in which they do it hallows that thing for ever afterwards. It may be the most commonplace thing, but after we have seen them do it, it becomes different. When the Lord does a thing through us, He always transfigures it. Our Lord took on Him our human flesh and transfigured it, and it has become for every saint the temple of the Holy Ghost. ...Oswald Chambers image

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Faith is not a refuge from reality...

Faith is not a refuge from reality. It is a demand that we face reality, with all its difficulties, opportunities, and implications. The true subject matter of religion is not our own little souls, but the Eternal God and His whole mysterious purpose, and our solemn responsibility to Him. ...Evelyn Underhill image

How to be perplexed

Written by Andrée Seu
February 17, 2011

Paul admitted to being “perplexed but not in despair” (2 Corinthians 4:8). I am curious about what could perplex a mature believer like Paul to the extent that despair was in the ballpark of contemplatable reactions. He doesn’t go into detail, so we must imagine.

Would Paul have been perplexed that people turned on him? Maybe. But I would think that, like Jesus, he already “knew what was in man” (John 2:24-25). Would he have been perplexed by the relentless volley of suffering in his life? Maybe. But then again, surely he knew that “to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example . . .” (1 Peter 2:21). Was he perplexed when the Galatians wanted to turn back from grace to earnings? Well, we know he was at least “astonished” (Galatians 1:6).

I would suspect that what perplexed Paul was what has perplexed God’s people of all time—God seeming to act inconsistently with his promises or character. One psalmist asked God: “Why, O LORD, do you stand afar off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1). That’s my perplexity too. Recently I prayed according to Hebrews 6:11 for “grace to help in time of need”—and I felt no different afterward, no abating of symptoms. the rest image

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Oh, when we are journeying...

Oh, when we are journeying through the murky night and the dark woods of affliction and sorrow, it is something to find here and there a spray broken, or a leafy stem bent down with the tread of His foot, and the brush of His hand as He passed; and to remember that the path He trod He has hallowed, and thus to find lingering fragrance and hidden strength in the remembrance of Him as "in all points tempted like as we are," bearing grief for us, bearing grief with us, bearing grief like us. ...Alexander MacLaren image by Richard Freeman

Humility is perfect quietness of heart...

Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is for me to have no trouble; never to be fretted or vexed or irritated or sore or disappointed. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in the Lord where I can go in and shut the door and kneel to my Father in secret and be at peace as in a deep sea of calmness when all around is trouble. It is the fruit of the Lord Jesus Christ's redemptive work on Calvary's cross, manifested in those of His own who are definitely subject to the Holy Spirit. ...Andrew Murray image

God led Jesus to a cross...

God led Jesus to a cross, not a crown, and yet that cross ultimately proved to be the gateway to freedom and forgiveness for every sinner in the world. God also asks us as Jesus' followers to carry a cross. Paradoxically, in carrying that cross, we find liberty and joy and fulfillment. ...Bill Hybels image

As long as you notice...

As long as you notice, and have to count the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance. A good shoe is a shoe you don't notice. Good reading becomes possible when you need not conciously think about eyes, or light, or print, or spelling. The perfect church service would be the one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God. ...C.S. Lewis photo

The Shepherd does not ask of thee...

The Shepherd does not ask of thee
Faith in thy faith, but only faith in Him;
And this He meant in saying, "Come to me."
In light or darkness seek to do His will,
And leave the work of faith to Jesus still.
...Streams in the Desert 
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Monday, February 14, 2011

Obedience...

Obedience is the sepulcher of the will.   
 ...St. John Climacus image

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Lord can clear the darkest skies...

The Lord can clear the darkest skies
Can give us day for night.
Make drops of sacred sorrow rise
To rivers of delight.

Our Saviour kneels down...

Our Saviour kneels down and gazes upon the darkest acts of our lives. But rather than recoil in horror, he reaches out in kindness and says, 'I can clean that if you want.' And from the basin of his grace, he scoops a palm full of mercy and washes our sin. ...Max Lucado art

True spirituality manifests itself in...

True spirituality manifests itself in:
The desire to be holy rather than happy.
The desire to see the honor of God advanced through his life.
The desire to carry his cross.
The desire to see everything from God's viewpoint.
The desire to die right rather than live wrong.
The desire to see others advance at his expense.
The desire to make eternity-judgments instead of time-judgments.
...A.W. Tozer
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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I Will Run To You


Your eye is on the sparrow
And Your hand, it comforts me
From the ends of the Earth to the depth of my heart
Let Your mercy and strength be seen

You call me to Your purpose
As angels understand
For Your glory, may You draw all men
As Your love and grace demand

And I will run to You
To Your words of truth
Not by might, not by power
But by the spirit of God
Yes I will run the race
'Till I see Your face
Oh let me live in the glory of Your grace
by Darlene Zschech

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

God is not looking for ways to make you "squirm."

God is not looking for ways to make you "squirm." He does, however, want to be Lord of your life. Whenever you identify a place where you refuse to allow His lordship, that is a place He will go to work. He is interested in absolute surrender. God may or may not require you to do that very thing you identified, but He will keep working until you are willing for Him to be Lord of all. ...Henry Blackaby image

The beauty in the way God designed the four seasons...


To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven. -Ecclesiastes 3:1

The beauty in the way God designed the four seasons is that, though each one is distinct, they all work together to bring life and growth. Spring is a period of freshness and new life. Summer sees growth and productivity. Autumn is a time for harvesting the rewards of past labors. Winter is the season of dormancy and closure. Each season has its own unique beauty and makes a significant contribution to life.

Just as God planned seasons in nature, He planned seasons in life as well. Life has its springtime, when we begin new things and look excitedly toward the future. Summer comes and we work diligently in the heat of the day at all that God has assigned to us. With autumn comes the fruition of things begun at an earlier time in our lives. Winter brings an end to a particular period in our lives. Sometimes winter brings hardship, but we remain hopeful, for another spring is just around the corner!

In God's perfect design for our lives, He has planned for times of fruitfulness and activity. He will also build in times of quiet and rest. There will be times when He asks us to remain faithful doing the same work day after day. But there will also be periods of excitement and new beginnings. By God's grace, we will enjoy seasons of harvesting the fruit of our faithfulness. By God's grace we will also overcome the cold winters of heartache and grief, for without winter there would be no spring. Just as it is with the seasons of nature, these seasons in our lives work together to bring about God's perfect will for each one of us. ...Henry Blackaby image by Italo Losero

Monday, February 7, 2011

Believer! study the humility of Jesus...



Believer! study the humility of Jesus.
This is the secret, the hidden root of thy redemption. Sink down into it deeper day by day. Believe with thy whole heart that this Christ, whom God has given thee, even as His divine humility wrought the work for thee, will enter in to dwell and work within thee too, and make thee what the Father would have thee be.
...Andrew Murray image

Precious Lord Jesus...

Precious Lord Jesus,
Give me faith to behold . . .
my name engraved in Your hand,
my soul and body redeemed by Your blood,
my sinfulness covered by Your life of pure obedience.

May . . .
Your comforts cheer me in my sorrows,
Your strength sustain me in my trials,
Your blessings revive me in my weariness,
Your presence render me a fruitful tree of holiness,
Your promises establish me in peace and joy,
Your revivings kindle in me undying devotion.

Search my heart.
Show me more of my corruptions and helplessness, that I may . . .
flee to You,
cling to You,
rest in You,
as the beginning and end of my salvation.

May I never vex You by my indifference and waywardness;
or grieve You by my cold welcome.

Answer my prayers, O Lord, for Your great name's sake.
(A Puritan Prayer)
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We look for visions from heaven...


We look for visions from heaven, for earthquakes and thunders of God's power (the fact that we are dejected proves that we do), and we never dream that all the time God is in the commonplace things and people around us. If we will do the duty that lies nearest, we shall see Him. One of the most amazing revelations of God comes when we learn that it is in the commonplace things that the Deity of Jesus Christ is realized. ...Oswald Chambers image by kevin rawlings

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Fall on your knees and grow there...

Fall on your knees and grow there. There is no burden of the spirit but is lighter by kneeling under it. Prayer means not always talking to Him, but waiting before Him till the dust settles and the stream runs clear. ...FB Meyer photo

Prayer pulls the rope below...

Prayer pulls the rope below and the great bell rings above in the ears of God. Some scarcely stir the bell, for they pray so languidly. Others give but an occasional pluck at the rope. But he who wins with heaven is the man who grasps the rope boldly and pulls continuously, with all his might. ...Charles Spurgeon photo

Does the Bible ever say...

Does the Bible ever say anywhere from Genesis to Revelation, 'My house shall be called a house of preaching'? Does it ever say, 'My house shall be called a house of music'? Of course not. The Bible does say, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations'. Preaching, music, the reading of the Word - these things are fine; I believe in and practice all of them. But they must never override prayer as the defining mark of God's dwelling. The honest truth is that I have seen God do more in people's lives during ten minutes of real prayer than in ten of my sermons. ...Jim Cymbala photo

Just as worship begins in holy expectancy...

Just as worship begins in holy expectancy, it ends in holy obedience. If worship does not propel us into greater obedience, it has not been worship. To stand before the Holy One of eternity is to change. Resentments cannot be held with the same tenacity when we enter his gracious light. As Jesus says, we need to leave our gift at the altar and go set the matter straight (Matthew 5:23, 24). In worship an increased power steals its way into the heart sanctuary, an increased compassion grows in the soul. To worship is to change. ...Richard J. Foster photo

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The life of the believer...

The life of the believer and that of the unbeliever show great similarity in their beginning, but when their end comes, they are as diverse as the snake and the silkworm. The snake, however many times he casts his skin, remains a snake and nothing else, but the silkworm, when it casts off its unsightly cocoon, becomes a new creature, and as a dainty pretty moth flies about in the air. So the believer, casting aside this body, enters into a state of spiritual glory and flies about for ever in heaven, while the sinner after death is but a sinner still. ...Sadhu Sundar Singh image

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The glory of the LORD entered the temple...

The glory of the LORD entered the temple through the gate facing east. Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. Ezekiel 43: 4-5

"See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the LORD Almighty.

But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years. Malachi 3: 1-4

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

How Deep The Father's Love For Us

In a World of Trouble


Margaret Manning
posted February 1, 2011

In one of the climactic scenes of The Lord of the Rings, the young hobbit Frodo laments the world he sees around him with all the tragedy and darkness that has befallen him. Looking at the difficulty in continuing on the path laid out before him, Frodo mourns, "I wish it need not have happened in my time." Gandalf the Grey, ever his wise mentor, consoles him with these words: "So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, in which case you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought."

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. I have often thought of this scene and these words as I look out onto our world. There are always crises of one sort or another that might make even the strongest among us pine for different times, crises that make us wish our journey would be a different and far more pleasant trip. The recent shootings in Arizona give us one such contemporary example. The randomness of violence upends any sense of security in a world that is far beyond our control. And this is simply one example of what seems to be an increasingly violent world. We long for peace and stability. But such is not the time that is given to us.

Given the instability of the world and the fear that instability engenders, how does one make the best of times like these? For many, flights of fantasy, wishful thinking, or simply burying their head in the sand offers a strategy for coping. Yet, even the desire to escape—through pleasure, distraction, or nostalgia—belies a longing for something more, something different, and something better. These longings speak to us of what should be and can motivate action for good here and now with the time that is given to us. As Gandalf rightly counseled, "[T]here are other forces at work in this world... beside the will of evil." the rest image

Faith is required of thee...

Faith is required of thee, and a sincere life, not loftiness of intellect, nor deepness in the mysteries of God. If thou understandest not... the things which are beneath thee, how shalt thou comprehend those which are above thee? Submit thyself unto God, and humble thy sense to faith, and the light of knowledge shall be given thee, as shall be profitable and necessary unto thee. ... Thomas à Kempis image

Sometimes I think of life as a big wagon wheel...

Sometimes I think of life as a big wagon wheel with many spokes. In the middle is the hub. Often in ministry, it looks like we are running around the rim trying to reach everybody. But God says, "Start in the hub; live in the hub. Then you will be connected with all the spokes, and you won't have to run so fast." ...Henri J. M. Nouwen photo

We say, then, to anyone who is under trial...

We say, then, to anyone who is under trial, give Him time to steep the soul in His eternal truth. Go into the open air, look up into the depths of the sky, or out upon the wideness of the sea, or on the strength of the hills that is His also; or, if bound in the body, go forth in the spirit; spirit is not bound. Give Him time and, as surely as dawn follows night, there will break upon the heart a sense of certainty that cannot be shaken.
...Amy Carmichael photo