In the Fires

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” ‘Glorify ye the Lord in the fires’ Isaiah 24:15 (ESV), not when they have passed or you are out of them and they are only memories, but in them.”

~Amy Carmichael, 1867-1951

When we’re going through trials, we cannot be so focused on the “fire” that we neglect that greater Light. It’s important that we stay in God’s word – remembering that the encouragement that threads through the Bible was put there for strugglers like us.

“Some, though dead to the world, have not that joy in God which it is their privilege to possess. They meditate too much upon their own infirmities, and too little upon the perfections and promises of their God.

O brethren, look at God as the God of salvation, as the God of your salvation, and you shall have your fears turned into confidence, and your sorrows into thanksgiving and the voice of melody.”

~Charles Simeon from his sermon titled “The Christian’s Boast” from Habakkuk 3:17-18. Read the entire message here.


“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

God, the Lord, is my strength; He makes my feet like the deer’s; He makes me tread on my high places” Habakkuk 3:17-18 (ESV).

The Next Step

 

It’s not too difficult to find time to read God’s Word, but to go a step further and thoroughly think through what we’ve read is another story altogether.

Maybe we’re just too busy.

Yet, I hear the wisdom of an old friend who said that people usually find time to do the things that they really want to do.

May God give us a desire to take that next step and meditate on what God has revealed to us in the Bible.

In J.I. Packer’s classic, Knowing God, his definition of “meditation” serves as a enticing explanation of what it means to ponder the things of God.

“Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God. It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God.

Its purpose is to clear one’s mental and spiritual vision of God, and to let His truth make its full and proper impact on one’s mind and heart. It is a matter of talking to oneself about God and oneself; it is, indeed, often a matter of arguing with oneself, reasoning oneself out of moods of doubt and unbelief into a clear apprehension of God’s power and grace.

Its effect is ever to humble us, as we contemplate God’s greatness and glory and our own littleness and sinfulness, and to encourage and reassure us – ‘comfort’ us, in the old, strong, Bible sense of the word – as we contemplate the unsearchable riches of divine mercy displayed in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

~J.I. Packer, Knowing God


“And she [Martha] had a sister called Mary, who sat at the the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving” Luke 10:39-40 (ESV).

A 16th Century Post-it Note

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I don’t have the best of memories, but thankfully, I do have Post-it Notes. I have one on my computer at work right now to remind me that there’s an important recording at 1:30 Monday afternoon. Or is it 2:30?

The fact is we all need reminders. And that holds true for spiritual matters as well. These truths from an ancient catechism prompted me to recall some very important truths that serve to warm a Christian’s heart. I’m hopeful that will be your experience.

Question 1.
What is thy only comfort in life and death?

Answer.
That I with body and soul,
both in life and death,
am not my own,
but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ;
who, with his precious blood,
has fully satisfied for all my sins,
and delivered me from all the power of the devil;
and so preserves me
that without the will of my heavenly Father,
not a hair can fall from my head;
yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation,
and therefore, by His Holy Spirit,
He also assures me of eternal life,
and makes me sincerely willing and ready,
henceforth, to live unto Him.

~The Heidelberg Catechism, 1563


“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” Philippians 4:8 (ESV).

The God of the Waves

 

When trials come, it’s easy to forget that the trials are only temporary. What we’re going through we are going through. That’s been the experience of God’s children down through the ages.

Take heart that God is seeing us through to a glorious end.

“But God is the God of the waves and the billows, and they are still His when they come over us; and again and again we have proved that the overwhelming thing does not overwhelm. Once more by His … [intervention] deliverance came. We were cast down, but not destroyed.”

~Amy Carmichael


“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (ESV).

Pursuing Christ

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Scottish pastor Samuel Rutherford penned this letter while in exile in 1637. It was written to Lady Cardoness. Perhaps the Lord has preserved it down through the centuries so that believers would read it and become a bit jealous of Rutherford’s nearness to Christ. That’s the impact the letter had on me.

“Walk in the Truth, and follow the despised but most lovely Son of God.

I cannot but recommend Him to you as your Husband, your Well-beloved, your Portion, your Comfort and your Joy.

I say this of the Lovely One, because considering what He has done for me, I can say nothing else. He has watered with His sweet comforts an oppressed prisoners. He was always kind to my soul; but never so kind as now in my great extremities.

I dine and sup with Christ.”

You can read the entire letter here.

Beginning, Center, and End

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Octavius Winslow was a 19th century pastor and writer in America.

I’m thankful for the simplicity of what he wrote. He places these wonderful truths down where I can easily reach them.

“We cannot keep our eye too exclusively or too intently fixed on Jesus.

All salvation is in Him. All salvation proceeds from Him. All salvation leads to Him.

And for the assurance and comfort of our salvation we are to repose believingly and entirely on Him.

Christ must be all!

Christ the beginning; Christ the center; and Christ the end.

Oh sweet truth to you who are sensible of your poverty, vileness, and insufficiency, and of the ten thousand flaws and failures of which, perhaps, no one is cognizant but God and your own soul!

Oh, to turn and rest in Christ; a loving Christ; a tender Christ, whose heart’s love never chills, from whose eye darts no reproof, from whose lips breathes no sentence of condemnation!

Christ must be all!”

You can read more about Pastor Winslow here. More of his writings can be found at Grace Gems.


“Christ is all and in all.” Colossians 3:11 (ESV)

Mail from John Newton

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“I think the Lord has seen fit to visit you with much … [illness] of late; I say He has seen fit, for all our trials are under His immediate direction, and we are never in heaviness without a need-be.” 

Hymn writer and pastor John Newton shared that consolation in a letter to an ailing friend in 1768.

One of the things that encourages me most about John Newton’s letters is his confidence that the Lord is the one who orchestrates life’s events – even illness. I find great comfort in that.

The man who brought us Amazing Grace and Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken went on to write:

“How happy is the state of a believer, to have a sure promise that all shall work together for good in the end, and in the meantime a sure refuge where to find present relief, support, and protection!

I trust He does and will give you strength equal to your day, and sweeten what would be otherwise bitter with the essence of His precious love. I hope soon to hear that you are restored to health, and that you have found cause to praise Him for the rod.

How … [comforting] is it, when trouble is near, to know that the Lord is near likewise, and to commit ourselves and all our cares simply to Him, believing that His eye is upon us, and His ear open to our prayers.

Under the conduct of such a Shepherd we need not fear: though we are called to pass through fire and water, through the valley of the shadow of death, He will be with us, and will shew Himself mighty on our behalf.”

You can read the entire letter here.