“Many voices ask for our attention. There is a voice that says, ‘Prove that you are a good person.’ Another voice says, ‘You’d better be ashamed of yourself.’ There also is a voice that says, ‘Nobody really cares about you,’ and one that says, ‘Be sure to become successful, popular, and powerful.’ But underneath all these often very noisy voices is a still, small voice that says, ‘You are my Beloved, my favor rests on you.’ That’s the voice we need most of all to hear. To hear that voice, however, requires special effort; it requires solitude, silence, and a strong determination to listen. That’s what prayer is. It is listening to the voice that calls us ‘my Beloved.’”—Henri Nouwen (via julesofnature)
"The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?" (John 18:11).
This was a greater thing to say and do than to calm the seas or raise the dead. Prophets and apostles could work wondrous miracles, but they could not always do and suffer the will of God. To do and suffer God’s will is still the highest form of faith, the most sublime Christian achievement. To have the bright aspirations of a young life forever blasted; to bear a daily burden never congenial and to see no relief; to be pinched by poverty when you only desire a competency for the good and comfort of loved ones; to be fettered by some incurable physical disability; to be stripped bare of loved ones until you stand alone to meet the shocks of life—to be able to say in such a school of discipline, “The cup which my Father has given me, shall I not drink it?’—this is faith at its highest and spiritual success at the crowning point. Great faith is exhibited not so much in ability to do as to suffer. —Dr. Charles Parkhurst
To have a sympathizing God we must have a suffering Saviour, and there is no true fellow-feeling with another save in the heart of him who has been afflicted like him.
We cannot do good to others save at a cost to ourselves, and our afflictions are the price we pay for our ability to sympathize. He who would be a helper, must first be a sufferer. He who would be a saviour must somewhere and somehow have been upon a cross; and we cannot have the highest happiness of life in succoring others without tasting the cup which Jesus drank, and submitting to the baptism wherewith He was baptized.
The most comforting of David’s psalms were pressed out by suffering; and if Paul had not had his thorn in the flesh we had missed much of that tenderness which quivers in so many of his letters.
The present circumstance, which presses so hard against you (if surrendered to Christ), is the best shaped tool in the Father’s hand to chisel you for eternity. Trust Him, then. Do not push away the instrument lest you lose its work.”
"Strange and difficult indeed We may find it, But the blessing that we need Is behind it.”
Text from The Rule of St Benedict: Insight for the Ages.
“How does a person seek union with God?’ the seeker asked. “The harder you seek,” the teacher said, “the more distance you create between God and you.” “So what does one do about the distance?” “Understand that it isn’t there,” the teacher said. “Does that mean that God and I are one?” the seeker said. “Not one. Not two.” “How is that possible?” the seeker asked. “The sun and its light, the ocean and the wave, the singer and the song. Not one. Not two.“
“When all our hopes are gone,
‘Tis well our hands must keep toiling on
For others’ sake:
For strength to bear is found in duty done;
And he is best indeed who learns to make
The joy of others cure his own heartache.”—
I ASK not that my course be calm and still; No, here too, Lord, be done Thy holy will: 1 ask but for a quiet childlike heart; Though thronging cares and restless toil be mine, Yet may my heart remain forever Thine; Draw it from earth, and fix it where Thou art.
God’s servants must be taught the value of the hidden life. The man who is to take a high place before his fellows must take a low place before his God. We must not be surprised if sometimes our Father says: “There, child, thou hast had enough of this hurry, and publicity, and excitement; get thee hence, and hide thyself b the brook—hide thyself in the Cherith of the sick chamber, or in the Cherith of bereavement, or in some solitude from which the crowds have ebbed away.”
Happy is he who can reply, “This Thy will is also mine; I flee unto Thee to hide me. Hide me in the secret of Thy tabernacle, and beneath the covert of Thy wings!”
Every saintly soul that would wield great power with men must win it in some hidden Cherith. The acquisition of spiritual power is impossible, unless we can hide ourselves from men and from ourselves in some deep gorge where we may absorb the power of the eternal God; as vegetation through long ages absorbed these qualities of sunshine, which it now gives back through burning coal.
Bishop Andrews had his Cherith, in which he spent five hours every day in prayer and devotion. John Welsh had it—who thought the day ill spent which did not witness eight or ten hours of closet communion. David Brainerd had it in the woods of North America. Christmas Evans had it in his long and lonely journeys amid the hills of Wales.
Or, passing back to the blessed age from which we date the centuries: Patmos, the seclusion of the Roman prisons, the Arabian desert, the hills and vales of Palestine, are forever memorable as the Cheriths of those who have made our modern world.
Our Lord found His Cherith at Nazareth, and in the wilderness of Judea; amid the olives of Bethany, and the solitude of Gadara. None of us, therefore, can dispense with some Cherith where the sounds of human voices are exchanged for the waters of quietness which are fed from the throne; and where we may taste the sweets and imbibe the power of a life hidden with Christ.—Elijah, by Meyer.
"Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed" (John 20:29).
How strong is the snare of the things that are seen, and how necessary for God to keep us in the things that are unseen! If Peter is to walk on the water he must walk; if he is going to swim, he must swim, but he cannot do both. If the bird is going to fly it must keep away from fences and the trees, and trust to its buoyant wings. But if it tries to keep within easy reach of the ground, it will make poor work of flying.
God had to bring Abraham to the end of his own strength, and to let him see that in his own body he could do nothing. He had to consider his own body as good as dead, and then take God for the whole work; and when he looked away from himself, and trusted God alone, then he became fully persuaded that what He had promised, He was able to perform. That is what God is teaching us, and He has to keep away encouraging results until we learn to trust without them, and then He loves to make His Word real in fact as well as faith.—A. B. Simpson
I do not ask that He must prove His Word is true to me, And that before I can believe He first must let me see. It is enough for me to know 'Tis true because He says 'tis so; On His unchanging Word I’ll stand And trust till I can understand. —E. M. Winter
I remember a summer in which I said, “It is the ocean I need,” and I went to the ocean; but it seemed to say, “It is not in me!” The ocean did not do for me what I thought it would. Then I said, “The mountains will rest me,” and I went to the mountains, and when I awoke in the morning there stood the grand mountain that I had wanted so much to see; but it said, “It is not in me!” It did not satisfy. Ah! I needed the ocean of His love, and the high mountains of His truth within. It was wisdom that the “depths” said they did not contain, and that could not be compared with jewels or gold or precious stones. Christ is wisdom and our deepest need. Our restlessness within can only be met by the revelation of His eternal friendship and love for us.—Margaret Bottome
"My heart is there! 'Where, on eternal hills, my loved one dwells Among the lilies and asphodels; Clad in the brightness of the Great White Throne, Glad in the smile of Him who sits thereon, The glory gilding all His wealth of hair And making His immortal face more fair THERE IS MY TREASURE and my heart is there.
"My heart is there! 'With Him who made all earthly life so sweet, So fit to live, and yet to die so meet; So mild, so grand, so gentle and so brave, So ready to forgive, so strong to save. His fair, pure Spirit makes the Heavens more fair, And thither rises all my longing prayer THERE IS MY TREASURE and my heart is there.” —Favorite poem of the late Chas. E. Cowman
You cannot detain the eagle in the forest. You may gather around him a chorus of the choicest birds; you may give him a perch on the goodliest pine; you may charge winged messengers to bring him choicest dainties; but he will spurn them all. Spreading his lofty wings, and with his eye on the Alpine cliff, he will soar away to his own ancestral halls amid the munition of rocks and the wild music of tempest and waterfall.
The soul of man, in its eagle soarings, will rest with nothing short of the Rock of Ages. Its ancestral halls are the halls of Heaven. Its munitions of rocks are the attributes of God. The sweep of its majestic flight is Eternity! “Lord, THOU hast been our dwelling place in all generations.”—Macduff.
"My Home is God Himself"; Christ brought me there. I laid me down within His mighty arms; He took me up, and safe from all alarms He bore me “where no foot but His hath trod,” Within the holiest at Home with God, And bade me dwell in Him, rejoicing there. O Holy Place! O Home divinely fair! And we, God’s little ones, abiding there.
"My Home is God Himself"; it was not so! A long, long road I traveled night and day, And sought to find within myself some way, Aught I could do, or feel to bring me near; Self effort failed, and I was filled with fear, And then I found Christ was the only way, That I must come to Him and in Him stay, And God had told me so.
And now “my Home is God,” and sheltered there, God meets the trials of my earthly life, God compasses me round from storm and strife, God takes the burden of my daily care. O Wondrous Place! O Home divinely fair! And I, God’s little one, safe hidden there. Lord, as I dwell in Thee and Thou in me, So make me dead to everything but Thee; That as I rest within my Home most fair, My soul may evermore and only see My God in everything and everywhere; My Home is God. —Author Unknown
"For the Vision is yet for an appointed time?though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry" (Hab. 2:3).
In the charming little booklet, Expectation Corner, Adam Slowman was led into the Lord’s treasure houses, and among many other wonders there revealed to him was the "Delayed Blessings Office," where God kept certain things, prayed for, until the wise time came to send them.
It takes a long time for some pensioners to learn that delays are not denials. Ah, there are secrets of love and wisdom in the "Delayed Blessings Department," which are little dreamt of! Men would pluck their mercies green when the Lord would have them ripe. "Therefore will the Lord WAIT, that He may be gracious unto you” (Isa. 30:18). He is watching in the hard places and will not allow one trial too many; He will let the dross be consumed, and then He will come gloriously to your help.
Do not grieve Him by doubting His love. Nay, lift up your head, and begin to praise Him even nowforthe deliverance which is on the way to you, and you will be abundantly rewarded for the delay which has tried your faith.
O Thou of little faith, God hath not failed thee yet! When all looks dark and gloomy, Thou dost so soon forget—
Forget that He has led thee, And gently cleared thy way; On clouds has poured His sunshine, And turned thy night to day.
And if He’s helped thee hitherto, He will not fail thee now; How it must wound His loving heart Tosee thy anxious brow!
Oh! doubt not any longer, To Him commit thy way, Whom in the past thou trusted, And is “just the same today.” —Selected
The polyps which construct the coral reefs, work away under water, never dreaming that they are building the foundation of a new island on which, by-and-by, plants and animals will live and children of God be born and fitted for eternal glory as joint-heirs of Christ.
If your place in God’s ranks is a hidden and secluded one, beloved, do not murmur, do not complain, do not seek to get out of God’s will, if He has placed you there; for without the polyps, the coral reefs would never be built, and God needs some who are willing to be spiritual polyps, and work away out of sight of men, but sustained by the Holy Ghost and in full view of Heaven.
The day will come when Jesus will give the rewards, and He makes no mistakes, although some people may wonder how you came to merit such a reward, as they had never heard of you before. —Selected
Just where you stand in the conflict, There is your place. Just where you think you are useless, Hide not your face. God placed you there for a purpose, Whate’er it be; Think He has chosen you for it; Work loyally. Gird on your armor! Be faithful At toil or rest! Whate’er it be, never doubting God’s way is best. Out in the fight or on picket, Stand firm and true; This is the work which your Master Gives you to do. —Selected
Safely we may leave the crowded meeting, the inspiring mountain top, the helpful fellowship of “just men,” and betake ourselves to our dim homely Emmaus, or to our dread public Colossae, or even to our far Macedonia in the mission field, quietly confident that just where He has placed us, in the usual round of life, He ordains that the borderland may be possessed, the victory won. —Northcote Deck
Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord. ROMANS 12:11
LET us begin from this moment to acknowledge Him in all our ways, and do everything, whatsoever we do, as service to Him and for His glory, depending upon Him alone for wisdom, and strength, and sweetness, and patience, and everything else that is necessary for the right accomplishing of all our living. It is not so much a change of acts that will be necessary, as a change of motive and of dependence. The house will be kept, or the children cared for, or the business transacted, perhaps, just the same as before as to the outward, but inwardly God will be acknowledged, and depended on, and served; and there will be all the difference between a life lived at ease in the glory of His Presence, and a life lived painfully and with effort apart from Him. There will result also from this bringing of God into our affairs a wonderful accession of divine wisdom in the conduct of them, and a far greater quickness and despatch in their accomplishment, a surprising increase in the fertility of resource, and an enlargement on every side that will amaze the hitherto cramped and cabined soul. HANNAH WHITALL SMITH
It is the enemy who tempts us, as he tempted Jesus, to demand always some visible proof of the miracle-working power of God: “Tell these stones to become bread” (Mt 4:3 NEB). A miracle would validate our own claim to be in close touch with the Father. But the important thing in life is not to be vindicated, nor to see miracles, but to walk by faith—that is, to take God at his word. So shall we live.
So shall we follow Christ, content to do without the startling, the dramatic evidences that God is God, believing instead—in the face of all the enemy’s taunts—the spoken Word of Him who calls Himself the I AM. Even in the wilderness, even in our isolation and hunger, we need not ask for more than the Bread of Heaven.
Give us this day, Lord, Not the miracles our human hearts long for, Not the proud but brief satisfaction of saying to doubters, "I told you so!" But give us daily bread—only that which You see will truly nourish us in our pilgrimage towards home.
“GOD has a purpose for each one of us, a work for each one to do, a place for each one to fill, an influence for each one to exert, a likeness to His dear Son for each one to manifest, and then, a place for each one to fill in His holy Temple.”—ARTHUR C. A. HALL
"The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him" (Ps. 25:14).
There are secrets of Providence which God’s dear children may learn. His dealings with them often seem, to the outward eye, dark and terrible. Faith looks deeper and says, “This is God’s secret. You look only on the outside; I can look deeper and see the hidden meaning.”
Sometimes diamonds are done up in rough packages, so that their value cannot be seen. When the Tabernacle was built in the wilderness there was nothing rich in its outside appearance. The costly things were all within, and its outward covering of rough badger skin gave no hint of the valuable things which it contained.
God may send you, dear friends, some costly packages. Do not worry if they are done up in rough wrappings. You may be sure there are treasures of love, and kindness, and wisdom hidden within. If we take what He sends, and trust Him for the goodness in it, even in the dark, we shall learn the meaning of the secrets of Providence. —A. B. Simpson
"Not until each loom is silent, And the shuttles cease to fly, Will God unroll the pattern And explain the reason why The dark threads are as needful In the Weaver’s skillful hand, As the threads of gold and silver For the pattern which He planned.”
He that is mastered by Christ is the master of every circumstance. Does the circumstance press hard against you? Do not push it away. It is the Potter’s hand. Your mastery will come, not by arresting its progress, but by enduring its discipline, for it is not only shaping you into a vessel of beauty and honor, but it is making your resources available.
Our natural inclination is to be so precise—trying always to forecast accurately what will happen next—that we look upon uncertainty as a bad thing. We think that we must reach some predetermined goal, but that is not the nature of the spiritual life. The nature of the spiritual life is that we are certain in our uncertainty. Consequently, we do not put down roots. Our common sense says, “Well, what if I were in that circumstance?” We cannot presume to see ourselves in any circumstance in which we have never been.
Certainty is the mark of the commonsense life—gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life. To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, not knowing what tomorrow may bring. This is generally expressed with a sigh of sadness, but it should be an expression of breathless expectation. We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. As soon as we abandon ourselves to God and do the task He has placed closest to us, He begins to fill our lives with surprises. When we become simply a promoter or a defender of a particular belief, something within us dies. That is not believing God—it is only believing our belief about Him. Jesus said, “… unless you … become as little children …” (Matthew 18:3). The spiritual life is the life of a child. We are not uncertain of God, just uncertain of what He is going to do next. If our certainty is only in our beliefs, we develop a sense of self-righteousness, become overly critical, and are limited by the view that our beliefs are complete and settled. But when we have the right relationship with God, life is full of spontaneous, joyful uncertainty and expectancy. Jesus said, “… believe also in Me” (John 14:1), not, “Believe certain things about Me”. Leave everything to Him and it will be gloriously and graciously uncertain how He will come in—but you can be certain that He will come. Remain faithful to Him.
"And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil"
Jesus was full of the Holy Ghost, and yet He was tempted. Temptation often comes upon a man with its strongest power when he is nearest to God. As someone has said, “The devil aims high.” He got one apostle to say he did not even know Christ.
Very few men have such conflicts with the devil as Martin Luther had. Why? Because Martin Luther was going to shake the very kingdom of hell. Oh, what conflicts John Bunyan had!
If a man has much of the Spirit of God, he will have great conflicts with the tempter. God permits temptation because it does for us what the storms do for the oaks—it roots us; and what the fire does for the paintings on the porcelain—it makes them permanent.
You never know that you have a grip on Christ, or that He has a grip on you, as well as when the devil is using all his force to attract you from Him; then you feel the pull of Christ’s right hand. —Selected
Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary sins, but sometimes the trial of extraordinary graces. God hath many sharp-cutting instruments, and rough files for the polishing of His jewels; and those He especially loves, and means to make the most resplendent, He hath oftenest His tools upon. —Archbishop Leighton
I bear my willing witness that I owe more to the fire, and the hammer, and the file, than to anything else in my Lord’s workshop. I sometimes question whether I have ever learned anything except through the rod. When my schoolroom is darkened, I see most. —C. H. Spurgeon
In the Old Testament, a person’s relationship with God was seen by the degree of separation in that person’s life. This separation is exhibited in the life of Abraham by his separation from his country and his family. When we think of separation today, we do not mean to be literally separated from those family members who do not have a personal relationship with God, but to be separated mentally and morally from their viewpoints. This is what Jesus Christ was referring to in Luke 14:26.
Living a life of faith means never knowing where you are being led. But it does mean loving and knowing the One who is leading. It is literally a life of faith, not of understanding and reason—a life of knowing Him who calls us to go. Faith is rooted in the knowledge of a Person, and one of the biggest traps we fall into is the belief that if we have faith, God will surely lead us to success in the world.
The final stage in the life of faith is the attainment of character, and we encounter many changes in the process. We feel the presence of God around us when we pray, yet we are only momentarily changed. We tend to keep going back to our everyday ways and the glory vanishes. A life of faith is not a life of one glorious mountaintop experience after another, like soaring on eagles’ wings, but is a life of day—in and day—out consistency; a life of walking without fainting (see Isaiah 40:31). It is not even a question of the holiness of sanctification, but of something which comes much farther down the road. It is a faith that has been tried and proved and has withstood the test. Abraham is not a type or an example of the holiness of sanctification, but a type of the life of faith—a faith, tested and true, built on the true God. “Abraham believed God…” (Romans 4:3).
“These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on shelves. From each of them goes out its own voice…and just as the touch of a button on our set will fill the room with music, so by taking down one of these volumes and opening it, one can call into range that voice of a man far distant in time and space, and hear him speaking to us, mind to mind, heart to heart.”—Gilbert Highet (via quote-book)