Monthly Archives: June 2017
“For God hath made me fruitful in the land of my affliction” (Genesis 41:52).
The summer showers are falling. The poet stands by the window watching them. They are beating and buffeting the earth with their fierce downpour. But the poet sees in his imaginings more than the showers which are falling before his eyes. He sees myriads of lovely flowers which shall be soon breaking forth from the watered earth, filling it with matchless beauty and fragrance. And so he sings:
“It isn’t raining rain for me, it’s raining daffodils;
In every dimpling drop I see wild flowers upon the hills.
A cloud of gray engulfs the day, and overwhelms the town;
It isn’t raining rain for me: it’s raining roses down.”
Perchance some one of God’s chastened children is even now saying, “O God, it is raining hard for me tonight.”
“Testings are raining upon me which seem beyond my power to endure. Disappointments are raining fast, to the utter defeat of all my chosen plans. Bereavements are raining into my life which are making my shrinking heart quiver in its intensity of suffering. The rain of affliction is surely beating down upon my soul these days.”
Withal, friend, you are mistaken. It isn’t raining rain for you. It’s raining blessing. For, if you will but believe your Father’s Word, under that beating rain are springing up spiritual flowers of such fragrance and beauty as never before grew in that stormless, unchastened life of yours.
You indeed see the rain. But do you see also the flowers? You are pained by the testings. But God sees the sweet flower of faith which is upspringing in your life under those very trials.
You shrink from the suffering. But God sees the tender compassion for other sufferers which is finding birth in your soul.
Your heart winces under the sore bereavement. But God sees the deepening and enriching which that sorrow has brought to you.
It isn’t raining afflictions for you. It is raining tenderness, love, compassion, patience, and a thousand other flowers and fruits of the blessed Spirit, which are bringing into your life such a spiritual enrichment as all the fullness of worldly prosperity and ease was never able to beget in your innermost soul. — J. M. McC.
As I was arranging everything on the pulpit just before the worship this Sunday (June 11th, 2017), I saw my wife in tears. It left me bewildered. Usually she starts crying, only after hearing me sing – okay, only after she hears me trying to sing. But here, she was in tears even before I could clear my throat. So, in the small time I had, I rushed to her side and asked her the reason for her tears. And surely I was not ready for her answer.
As I was getting ready, she remembered how I was around this time last year, and she could not control her tears for two reasons. One, she remembered the helpless position I was in, and second, how graceful the Lord has been in saving my life.
Needless to say, when I was leading the worship, there were times when I was about to breakdown as I remembered what we went through last year. By this time last year, I had become so large and swollen, I was unable to use the keyboard in my laptop. It was so difficult for me to drink water, as every gulp I had to take, was very painful and quite slow. I could not eat much of anything, as anything solid would lodge on my swollen throat and I ended up choking invariably. I could not get out of my bed without someone’s help, even then it would take from one hour to 2 hours; yes, seriously it would take so long to catch my breath and for others to help me. I was so heavy. And during Sundays, they would prop me in a bed and leave for the worship. Of course, my wife would be constantly checking to see if everything was okay, and the sad part was I would be just there, like a lump of clay as I could not move much on my own. And there was so much physical suffering involved, even today, it is hard to talk about it.
But as we talked about it on Monday and we remembered taking photographs and videos during those days, as a testimony for future. And, there was something weird about all those photos and videos. In all the photos, I was smiling and in all the videos, we were bantering. Even as I was leaving for the emergency ward on an ambulance on July 8th, 2016, everyone who was there to send us off, had remarked how smiling I was and how composed my wife was.
Now, when we look back at those days, we are wondering why on earth, were we that happy? Why we were laughing at each other whole time, with my wife making fun about my swollen face all the time? I wish we could tell that it is because we are strong and resolute. But, one year later, when we look back, if at all we look back, it scares us. There are times when we would just burst into tears, thinking about those days… then what made us so happy?
After talking about all these, I opened my Bible and reading Psalm 119, and suddenly verse 92 riveted my attention and I could not go further.
“If Your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.” – Psalm 119:92(NIV).
Then we remembered how we spent so much time reading the Bible, reading sermons by Charles Spurgeon and listening to Christian songs non-stop. Most importantly I was reciting various promise verses from the Bible all the time and would discuss about the precious promises that the Lord has given us in the Holy Scriptures.
Yes, if the Word of God was not my delight, I would have surely perished in my affliction. And, all I can do now is, thank the Lord for proving His Word, His Son, for me. And for giving His Spirit to guide us to His Word, so that our delight was and is in His Word alone. And even today, we have not perished in our afflictions, because His Word alone has been our delight. Thank You, Lord.
My peace I give in times of deepest grief,
Imparting calm and trust and My relief.
My peace I give when prayer seems lost, unheard;
Know that My promises are ever in My Word.
My peace I give when thou art left alone–
The nightingale at night has sweetest tone.
My peace I give in time of utter loss,
The way of glory leads right to the cross.
My peace I give when enemies will blame,
Thy fellowship is sweet through cruel shame.
My peace I give in agony and sweat,
For mine own brow with bloody drops was wet.
My peace I give when nearest friend betrays
Peace that is merged in love, and for them prays.
My peace I give when there’s but death for thee
The gateway is the cross to get to Me.
“In everything ye are enriched by Him” (1Corinthians 1:5).
Have you ever seen men and women whom some disaster drove to a great act of prayer, and by and by the disaster was forgotten, but the sweetness of religion remained and warmed their souls?
So have I seen a storm in later spring; and all was black, save where the lightning tore the cloud with thundering rent.
The winds blew and the rains fell, as though heaven had opened its windows. What a devastation there was! Not a spider’s web that was out of doors escaped the storm, which tore up even the strong-branched oak.
But ere long the lightning had gone by, the thunder was spent and silent, the rain was over, the western wind came up with its sweet breath, the clouds were chased away, and the retreating storm threw a scarf of rainbows over her fair shoulders and resplendent neck, and looked back and smiled, and so withdrew and passed out of sight.
But for weeks long the fields held up their bands full of ambrosial flowers, and all the summer through the grass was greener, the brooks were fuller, and the trees cast a more umbrageous shade, because the storm passed by– though all the rest of the earth had long ago forgotten the storm, its rainbows and its rain. — Theodore Parker
Is it raining, little flower?
Be glad of rain;
Too much sun would wither thee;
’twill shine again.
The clouds are very black, ’tis true;
But just behind them shines the blue.
Art thou weary, tender heart?
Be glad of pain:
In sorrow sweetest virtues grow,
As flowers in rain.
God watches, and thou wilt have sun,
When clouds their perfect work have done.
— Lucy Larcom
Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. – 1 Samuel 1:13 (NKJV)
Nowadays, you need to be verbose in prayer for people to realize how much you are suffering. If you remain calm, not talking much about your afflictions, then either you have no problems or you are not suffering enough.
Especially with the latest motivational self-help books asking you to “speak your heart out, tell exactly how you feel, don’t let the emotions remain in your heart”, many Christians are taking this route. Yes, when we tell others aloud about our problems, we feel as if the burden has reduced. But, it is what we feel. In truth, nothing has changed. It is sad that more Christians seek a temporary relief for their problems, when the Prince of peace is waiting to give a permanent solution.
In today’s world, if you even have a headache, you need to post in Facebook; you need to send a tweet about how bad you are feeling; and of course, a photograph on Instagram is a must so that others understand your pain. Then you need to monitor to see how many likes and comments you get, and who gave the first like, and who took time to comment… It is really sad that a generation is wasting their life, instead of spending their time in prayer.
One of the verses about prayers in the Bible is written about Hannah. It says that despite all her sorrows, only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Yet, later she tells Eli that she had poured out her heart before the Lord (v.15). Yes, we can pour our hearts before the Lord without our voices being heard.
This is what our Lord Jesus Christ taught us about prayer. If we read the Sermon of the Mount, in the segment where He deals with prayer, Jesus says to pray in secret so that our Father Who sees in secret will reward us (Matthew 6:6). May the Spirit of God help us to internalize our feelings and pour it out in secret to our loving Father, so that we may receive the rewards He has for us. Amen.
“The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all” (Psa_103:19).
Some time since, in the early spring, I was going out at my door when round the corner came a blast of east wind– defiant and pitiless, fierce and withering– sending a cloud of dust before it.
I was just taking the latchkey from the door as I said, half impatiently, “I wish the wind would”– I was going to say change; but the word was checked, and the sentence was never finished.
As I went on my way, the incident became a parable to me. There came an angel holding out a key; and he said:
“My Master sends thee His love, and bids me give you this.”
“What is it?” I asked, wondering. “The key of the winds,” said the angel, and disappeared.
Now indeed should I be happy. I hurried away up into the heights whence the winds came, and stood amongst the caves. “I will have done with the east wind at any rate– and that shall plague us no more,” I cried; and calling in that friendless wind, I closed the door, and heard the echoes ringing in the hollow places. I turned the key triumphantly. “There,” I said, “now we have done with that.”
“What shall I choose in its place?” I asked myself, looking about me. “The south wind is pleasant”; and I thought of the lambs, and the young life on every hand, and the flowers that had begun to deck the hedgerows. But as I set the key within the door, it began to burn my hand.
“What am I doing?” I cried; “who knows what mischief I may bring about? How do I know what the fields want! Ten thousand things of ill may come of this foolish wish of mine.”
Bewildered and ashamed, I looked up and prayed that the Lord would send His angel yet again to take the key; and for my part I promised that I would never want to have it any more.
But lo, the Lord Himself stood by me. He reached His hand to take the key; and as I laid it down, I saw that it rested against the sacred wound-print.
It hurt me indeed that I could ever have murmured against anything wrought by Him who bare such sacred tokens of His love. Then He took the key and hung it on His girdle.
“Dost THOU keep the key of the winds?” I asked.
“I do, my child,” He answered graciously.
And lo, I looked again and there hung all the keys of all my life. He saw my look of amazement, and asked, “Didst thou not know, my child, that my kingdom ruleth over all?”
“Over all, my Lord!” I answered; “then it is not safe for me to murmur at anything?” Then did He lay His hand upon me tenderly. “My child,” He said, “thy only safety is, in everything, to love and trust and praise.” — Mark Guy Pearse
Hero worship is, unfortunately, a common problem among Christians today. We have our favourite preachers, evangelists, ministers and servants of God, authors and pastors. We may even have certain political leaders as our heroes. And we end up worshipping these heroes, knowingly or unknowingly.
There were few times when I saw some theology posted online and had the temerity to point out certain Biblical verses which directly contradict the said theology. And then the wolves would come out – how dare you question our pastor/preacher/minister of God? Do you have his anointing? No one knows who you are, but our pastor/preacher/minister has so many followers on Facebook, Twitter, etc,.
But no one would say whether what I wrote is correct or not, based on the Bible. That’s never the problem. How dare you question our ….?
Especially in Pentecostal churches, the hero worship is so easily visible to human eyes, except those who are into it. The church attendance would drop if certain pastor is not preaching; the church will be full when a certain person leads the worship.
There are some Christians who believe that God our Father do not listen to our prayers, but if such a minister of God prays, then there will be an immediate answer to those prayers. So when they need prayers, they will write to those ministers of God or call them, so that they can get an instant answer from God through the “direct line”.
Is it wrong to have someone else pray for us? Of course not. Is it wrong that some men of God are asked to intercede on our behalf. No, it is not. But to depend on them, to follow them blindly, is wrong and it will lead to spiritual idolatry and spiritual adultery.
In Exodus chapter 32, we see the idolatry of Israelites. But what we don’t read between the lines is most revealing.
That morning, they collected manna – which was provided by our Lord God.
That day, they drank water that came from the roc – again the provision was from our God.
During the entire day, when they were busy preparing the idols, they were under the shadow of the pillar of cloud – provided by God.
During that night, when they were worshipping the idols and celebrating, they were received light by the pillar of fire – provided by God.
If all these were not enough to remind them of the presence of God among them, they were at the base of Mount Sinai and the peak was covered with clouds, symbolizing the glory and presence of the LORD God.
There were thunders and lightning that would have reminded them the awesome power of our God.
Imagine this. After eating the manna and drinking the water provided by the Lord our God, they proceeded to create and worship an idol under the pillar of cloud and pillar of fire that the Lord had given them in His mercy. HIS awesome power and magnificent glory were visible whenever they looked up. Yet they went ahead and created the idols. Why? Because they were worried about their hero, Moses.
Exodus 21:1 says: Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”
Since they could not see their hero and did not know what happened to them, they decided to choose another leader… no, wait, no, they did not do that. That would have been the right thing to do. Instead, when they thought they lost Moses, they replaced him with idols. Hero worship had led them to idolatry. And there were so many things that would have reminded them of the presence of the Lord among them, the LORD God Who actually brought them out of the land of Egypt. But when people have heroes, true and living God cannot be seen – only idols can be seen.
So, who is your focus? Are you looking only Jesus, Him crucified or your preacher? Are you focussing your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, or some Christian author whose books have revived your faith? Let us focus our eyes only on Jesus and Jesus Christ alone. Amen.
God only knows who His elect are. If our sons and daughters are numbered among them they will be saved. Not one of God’s chosen ones will perish. Christ will have those whom He has redeemed. In God’s time, He will call His own from death to life by the power of the Holy Spirit. If some of our children are not chosen of God, they will not be saved. They will not believe. And those who will not believe deserve to perish.
But it is our responsibility to do what we can to bring our families into the family of God. I offer these words of instruction to you who believe, to you who are interested in the immortal souls of your sons and daughters.
1. If you want your family to be saved, see to it that you worship God with your family. If you do not see to it that your children hear the gospel, it is because you do not care for their souls. If you neglected to feed your children, it would be reasonable to assume that you cared nothing for their bodies. And if you do not provide them with the gospel of Christ, both by private instruction and by bringing them to hear the Word preached, it is obvious that you do not care for their souls. You can do nothing that is more positively harmful to your family than to rob them of the ministry of the Word.
2. If you care for the souls of your children you will exercise loving discipline in your home. Eli was a believer. He showed his wicked sons the way of faith and life in Christ. He taught them the gospel. He taught them right from wrong. And he prayed for them. But he was a miserable failure as a father, because he exercised no discipline over them. ‘He restrained them not!’ God told him plainly that the cause of his sons’ death was his lack of’ discipline as a father.
3. If you want your children to follow Christ, let them see that you follow Christ. By all means see to it that your sons and daughters regularly attend the ministry of the gospel. See to it that you pray for them and discipline them. But if your religion is all lip service, they will soon detect your hypocrisy. Set before them an example of love for, faith in and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ.
– From “Grace for Today” by Don Fortner