Encouragement

Pray for faith. Pray for great faith. Pray for a faith that will provide strength and resolve, confidence and courage. Receive this faith and with it, through it, and by it glorify the God who blessed you with it.

Trust in God as a small child trusts in their mother and father. Be fearful in nothing, knowing that your Father in heaven loves you and that He is a faithful God. He will not leave nor forsake you.

Love God and love others as you love yourself.

In Time of Suffering

C. H. Spurgeon

This Morning’s Meditation

“Though He was a Son—yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” — Hebrews 5:8

We are told that the Captain of our salvation was made perfect through suffering, therefore we who are sinful, and who are far from being perfect—must not wonder if we are called to pass through suffering too. Shall the Head be crowned with thorns—and shall the other members of the body be rocked upon the dainty lap of ease? Must Christ pass through seas of His own blood to win the crown—and are we to walk to heaven dry-shod in silver slippers? No, our Master’s experience teaches us that suffering is necessary, and the true-born child of God must not, would not, escape it if he might!

But there is one very comforting thought in the fact of Christ’s “being made perfect through suffering” — it is, that He can have complete sympathy with us. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are.” In this sympathy of Christ, we find a sustaining power. One of the early martyrs said, “I can bear it all, for Jesus suffered, and He sympathizes with me, and this makes me strong.” Believer, lay hold of this thought in all times of agony. Let the thought of Jesus, strengthen you as you follow in His steps. Find a sweet support in His sympathy!

Remember that, to suffer is an honorable thing — to suffer for Christ is glory. The apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to do this. Just so far as the Lord shall give us grace to suffer for Christ, to suffer with Christ—just so far does He honor us. The jewels of a Christian are his afflictions! The regalia of the kings whom God has anointed—are their troubles, their sorrows, and their griefs. Let us not, therefore, shun being honored. Let us not turn aside from being exalted. Griefs exalt us, and troubles lift us up. “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him.”

Our Faith Walk

Octavius Winslow

Today’s Morning Thought

“We walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Cor. 5:7.

This walk of faith takes in all the minute circumstances of every day’s history; a walking every step by faith; a looking above trials, above necessities, above perplexities, above improbabilities and impossibilities, above all second causes; and, in the face of difficulties and discouragements, going forward, leaning upon God. If the Lord were to roll the Red Sea before us, and marshal the Egyptians behind us, and thus hemming us in on every side, should yet bid us advance, it would be the duty and the privilege of faith instantly to obey, believing that, before our feet touched the water, God, in our extremity, would divide the sea and take us dry-shod over it.

This is the only holy and happy life of a believer; if he for a moment leaves this path and attempts to walk by sight, difficulties will throng around him, troubles will multiply, the smallest trials will become heavy crosses, temptations to depart from the simple and uptight walk will increase in number and power, the heart will sicken at disappointment, the Holy Spirit will be grieved, and God will be dishonored. Let this precious truth ever be before the mind, “We walk by faith, not by sight.”

Our Understanding in Light of God’s Holy Spirit

J. C. Philpot

Today’s Morning Thought

“We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.” –1 Corinthians 2:12

What thick clouds of darkness spread themselves at times over our souls; all things out of sight; our signs and tokens buried, as it were, in mist. It is like a sea fog, that comes out of the bosom of the vasty deep, and hides all objects from view. The ships are on the sea, notwithstanding, but this deep fog prevents their being seen. So with our souls at times–all is misty, cloudy, and no signs can be seen of the work of God upon our hearts. And yet we “know” them, by receiving the Spirit of God, for it is the only way whereby they can be known. We can only see light in God’s light; only believe by God’s faith; only love by God’s love; therefore can only know the things freely given to us of God by the revelation of the Spirit.

What we know savingly, experimentally, feelingly, we know only by divine teaching. How dark our mind often is; how low we sink at times; it is only the Son of God that can enable us to rise; only by the revelation of his Spirit can we believe that we are his. We know he is God when he shines forth, as we know the sun when it blazes forth in the summer sky. We know him by the teaching of the Spirit, but cannot see him until our eyes are divinely opened. The sun may shine in all its glory–does that communicate light to the eyes of the blind? or warm the corpse lying in the coffin? The blind see not; the dead hear not; the living, the living alone see and know the Son of God.

 

Our Fiery Trials

Octavius Winslow

Today’s Evening Thought

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you; but rejoice inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings. 1 Peter 4:12, 13.

IF, dear reader, you are in possession of real faith, even in the smallest degree, expect its conflict and its trial. It is truly remarked by the holy Leighton, that God never had but one Son without sin, and never one without suffering. The existence of faith seems necessarily to imply the endurance of suffering—not because of any intrinsic defect in faith, but in consequence of the impurity of the heart in which that faith is lodged; its perpetual admixture with the alloy of a mind but partially renewed, its constant contact with the objects and scenes of sense and of earth, render trial as essential to the purification of faith, as the flail to the pure wheat, and as the crucible to the precious metal.

The trials and temptations, therefore, with which God visits His people, are designed as tests of faith. Without them we should lack some of the strongest evidences of experimental Christianity. Who would wish the stubble and the chaff to render doubtful the existence of the true grain, or the tin and the dross to obscure the luster of the fine gold? Welcome, then, every trial and test of your faith. Welcome whatever stamps its reality, increases its strength, and heightens its luster. Nor be surprised that this, above all the graces of the Holy Spirit, should be a mark for the great enemy of God.

As faith is the grace which most glorifies God, which brings the greatest degree of joy and peace into the soul, and which constitutes its mightiest shield in the conflict, it becomes an especial object of Satan’s malignant attack. The most Christ-exalting, God-honoring, and sanctifying of all the Spirit’s graces must not expect to escape his fearful assaults. If this “gold ” was “tried in the fire” in the sinless person of Jesus, is there not a greater necessity that in our fallen and corrupt nature it should be subjected to a second process of trial?

It was tried in the Head, to show that it was real gold; it is tried in the members, to separate it from the alloy with which t becomes mixed in its contact with our hearts. In the one case, the trial was to stamp its divine nature; in the other case, the trial is to purify it from the human nature. Thus are we honored to suffer, in some small degree, as our Lord and Master suffered. Therefore, beloved, “rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy.”

Our Necessary Perspective During Time of Trial

Originally Posted on August 10, 2017

Octavius Winslow

Today’s Morning Thought

“Every branch that bears fruit he prunes, that it may bring forth more fruit.”

John 15:2

The Lord empties before He fills. He makes room for Himself, for His love, and for His grace. He dethrones the rival, casts down the idol, and seeks to occupy the temple, filled and radiant with His own ineffable glory. Thus does He bring the soul into great straits, lay it low, but to school and discipline it for richer mercies, higher service, and greater glory. Be sure of this, that, when the Lord is about to bless you with some great and peculiar blessing, He may prepare you for it by some great and peculiar trial.

If He is about to advance you to some honor, He may first lay you low that He may exalt you. If He is about to place you in a sphere of great and distinguished usefulness, He may first place you in His school of adversity, that you may know how to teach others. If He is about to bring forth your righteousness as the noon-day, He may cause it to pass under a cloud, that, emerging from its momentary obscuration, it may shine with richer and more enduring luster. Thus does He deal with all His people. Thus He dealt with Joseph. Intending to elevate him to great distinction and influence, He first casts him into a dungeon, and that, too, in the very land in which he was so soon to be the gaze and the astonishment of all men. Thus, too, He dealt with David, and Job, and Nebuchadnezzar; and thus did God deal with His own Son, whom He advanced to His own right hand from the lowest state of humiliation and suffering.

Regard the present suffering as but preparatory to future glory. This will greatly mitigate the sorrow, reconcile the heart to the trial, and tend materially to secure the important end for which it was sent. The life of a believer is but a disciplining for heaven. All the covenant dealings of His God and Father are but to make him a partaker of His holiness here, and thus to fit him for a partaker of His glory hereafter. Here, he is but schooling for a high station in heaven. He is but preparing for a more holy, and, for anything we know, a more active and essential service in the upper world. And every infirmity overcome, every sin subdued, every weight laid aside, every step advanced in holiness, does but strengthen and mature the life of grace below, until it is fitted for, and terminates in, the life of glory above.

 

Pray Thee With Fervent Heart, Knowing That Our Prayers Shall Be Heard

C. H. Spurgeon

This Morning’s Meditation

“He was heard in that he feared.” — Hebrews 5:7

Did this fear arise from the infernal suggestion that He was utterly forsaken.

There may be sterner trials than this—but surely it is one of the worst to be utterly forsaken?

“See,” said Satan, “you have a friend nowhere! Your Father has shut up the affections of His compassion against you. Not an angel in His courts will stretch out his hand to help you. All heaven is alienated from You; You are left alone. See the companions with whom You have taken sweet counsel, what are they worth? Son of Mary, see there Your brother James, see there Your beloved disciple John, and Your bold apostle Peter—how the cowards sleep—when You are in Your sufferings! Lo! You have no friend left in heaven or earth. All hell is against You. I have stirred up my infernal den. I have sent my missives throughout all regions summoning every prince of darkness to set upon You this night, and we will spare no arrows, we will use all our infernal might to overwhelm You! And what will You do, You solitary one?”

It may be, this was the temptation; we think it was, because the appearance of an angel unto Him strengthening Him removed that fear. He was heard in that He feared; He was no more alone—but heaven was with Him. It may be that this is the reason of His coming three times to His disciples — as Joseph Hart puts it — “Backwards and forwards thrice He ran—as if He sought some help from man.” He would see for Himself whether it were really true that all men had forsaken Him; He found them all asleep; but perhaps He gained some faint comfort from the thought that they were sleeping, not from treachery—but from sorrow, the spirit indeed was willing—but the flesh was weak.

At any rate, He was heard in that He feared. Jesus was heard in His deepest woe; my soul—you shall be heard also.

Two Possible Responses to Goliath – Part 2 (repost)

Originally Posted on December 15, 2015

By Larry Cook

In Part 1 (Link Here) we considered a survey of Americans on the subject of their fears. This survey sought responses on the level of fear experienced in eighty-eight domains. These domains included terrorist attacks, government tracking of personal data, insects, public speaking, and eighty-four others. Interestingly, the designers of the survey did not include the fear of God in the eighty-eight.

I find this omission interesting not because I would expect a secular institution such as Chapman University to consider the fear of God a valid and rational thing, but more so because it is, at the very least, a possible fear in the universe of fears, and therefore adequately valid to justify its inclusion.

But those of us united in Christ are not to fear the exclusion of this foundational element of our faith by a secular university conducting a survey. We all, to a greater or lesser degree, understand that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And we hold this to be true regardless of what might or might not be put forth by the unbelieving world.

Charles Spurgeon, in the following quote, presses on us the vital nature of the fear of God by implying that we need not consider moving forward in our religion unless and until we grasp this fundamental concept. He writes:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning and the foundation of all true religion. Without a solemn awe and reverence of God there is no foothold for the more brilliant virtues.

But lest we fail to consider the corresponding attribute of God, namely His mercy, Spurgeon reminds the believer of the love God showed us in our redemption.

The roaring thunder of the law and the fear of the terror of judgment are both used to bring us to Christ, but the final victory culminating in our salvation is won through God’s loving-kindness.

And so we ask, where does this leave us?

If we are to be faithful to God’s Word, then according to Revelation 14:7, we will proclaim God’s command that all are to fear the one who will judge, to give glory to the one who made heaven and earth, and to worship him who made the sea and the springs of water.

But we must do so with compassion, remembering that the man or woman to whom we speak these words is lost and without God in this world. We must muster the same level of compassion that Jesus displayed when he tells the unbelieving world in Mathew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

God bless you.


© The Christian’s Report, 2016

Two Possible Responses to Goliath – Part 1 (repost)

Originally Posted on Dec 12, 2015

By Larry Cook

As American Christians, our lives have changed over the years, and it seems that they will continue to change as events in the world around us more threatening with each new report of terrorism.

By its very definition, terrorism is intended to provoke fear in the minds of its victims. And beyond the acts themselves, we are often further provoked to a fearful state by our government and the media.

Chapman University published The Chapman University Survey of American Fears, Wave 2 (2015), which they say “provides an unprecedented look into the fears of the average American.”

The survey asked respondents to rate their level of fear about eighty-eight different fears. The top ten are shown on this graphic.

Top10Fears-740x572

What should be the Christian’s response to questions about our fear of things such as terrorist attacks, running out of money in the future, pandemic, or any of the other eight-eight fears listed on the survey?

1 Samuel 17 tells the story of two possible responses to a fearful situation. Taking place during a battle between Israel and the Philistines, it paints a picture of a Philistine soldier, great in stature and might, who challenged the men of Israel to find one man from their ranks to come forward and fight with him one-on-one.

Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle. And they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered, and encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in line of battle against the Philistines. And the Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them.And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron. And his shield-bearer went before him. He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 10 And the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.” 11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

Ultimately, there was found not one Israelite who could face the fear which this Philistine created. Beyond that, we are told that they were, “greatly afraid.” Other translations describe their condition as, “terrified” and “deeply shaken.” One can’t help but visualize these men cowering down in the hope that they would not be called upon by their captain as the one who would face this Goliath.

Thus we have a portrait of one possible response to a fearful thing, in this case an opposing soldier of great size and strength.

Now David, a shepherd and the youngest son of Jesse, did not join his three brothers who served under King Saul and against the Philistines. But during the time of this battle, when Goliath was challenging the men of Israel, he was sent to the camp with supplies.

After his arrival on the battlefield, and upon hearing the challenge put forth by Goliath, David asked the men of Israel, “…who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

David realized that the sovereign God of Israel was in control of the situation, and that if anyone should be fearful it was Goliath for attempting to defy the armies of this living God.

After convincing King Saul that he was capable of facing Goliath, 1 Samuel 17 describes the encounter as follows:

40 Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine.

41 And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. 42 And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance.43 And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” 45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth,that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord‘s, and he will give you into our hand.”

48 When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49 And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground.

50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David.51 Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. 52

Scripture reveals not the slightest hint that David experienced fear. In fact, David met the giant’s threat with a threat of his own. But David’s trust and confidence was not in size nor in armor. He went forth to meet the giant in the strength of almighty God and proclaimed to the Philistine as much.

It seems that, in David’s mind, the outcome was never in question. David took to heart the admonition in Deuteronomy 3:22, which says, “You shall not fear them, for it is the Lord your God who fights for you.”

And so what does this story inform us about how we should deal with fearful events in this life?

We have two choices. We can choose to narrow our perspective to this world and focus on the harm that might come to our flesh. Or we can remember that our God is sovereign over all things.

Job 5:22 tells us that destruction and devastation are not stir up fear in God’s people.  “At destruction and famine you shall laugh, and shall not fear the beasts of the earth.”

Gill comments that by laugh, what is intended is that through faith the believer shall trust in God’s provision for protection and sustenance.

At destruction and famine thou shalt laugh,…. Not deride and despise them, and make a jest of them; for good men have a reverence and awe of the righteous judgments of God upon them, when they are in the world, Psalm 119:120; but the sense is, that such shall reckon themselves safe and secure amidst such calamities, provision being made for their protection and sustenance; and be cheerful and comfortable, putting their trust and confidence in the Lord

Thus it should be clear to those who would follow Christ that we should meet the trials of this day, whether “natural” or man-made, with a calm resolve that our times truly are in the hands of a sovereign God.

In Part 2, we will consider with interest the fact that the fear of God is not included in Chapman University’s list of fears.


© The Christian’s Report, 2016