Last year at this time, August 9th. 2016, 11:30 pm, I was in the hospital, after undergoing a totally unnecessary biopsy, wearing a medical gown; as I was already suffering from severe pain, three sets of doctors left three different instructions on what position I should sleep that night, and was constantly interrupted by one or the other nurse, to change my sleeping position according to which doctor had left the instructions to that particular nurse; so, when I entered August 10th, 2016, my birthday, I was sleep deprived, wearing a medical gown and in severe pain.
So, this year, I did not have any plans for my birthday. Even yesterday, when I was praying for my birthday, I was grateful that this year, I would not be wearing a medical gown, suffering from sleep deprivation and intense pain. I just thanked the Lord for this, and in prayer, asked Him to bless me according to His will, and whatever He does, I will accept it with a grateful heart.
Imagine my surprise then when this morning (August 9th, 2017), as I was getting ready for our morning family prayer, my cousin brother called me to ask if I would join him for a small trip to Pondicherry, a nearby town by the East Coast of India. When I asked him what the occasion was, he told me that his family just wanted to go out and he would be happy if my wife and I could join them for the trip.
So, we went in the morning and I just came back. It was exhausting, but in a good way. We went to the beach, had some delicious food and did some shopping. More importantly I could spend a lot of time with my nieces. Though I became very tired in the evening, the Lord strengthened me soon.
I am too exhausted now. All I want is to sleep. But then my heart is filled with so much gratitude, I don’t know how to thank our Father in Heaven. One thing though. When I was young, I was taught that if you leave anything to the will of God, you will end up suffering a lot – remember the prayer of Jesus at Gethsemane and what happened to Him within 24 hours – is what I was taught. Though over the years I understood the folly of that notion, “according to Your will” had been always associated with severe afflictions and tribulations. But, the death at Calvary is not the end. It is the path leading to the glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ; yes, the will of the Lord is not always to make us suffer, but once we have suffered with Jesus, to make us partakers in His revealed glory.
With a grateful heart, I praise our Father and as I am about to begin a new year, Father, may Your will be done in my life; bless me according to Your Word that You have given Your servant. Through Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.
My grace is sufficient for you. – 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV)
A devotion by Prebendary H. W. Webb Peploe.
It had pleased God to remove my youngest child under circumstances of peculiar trial and pain; and as I had just laid my little one’s body in the churchyard, on return home, I felt it my duty to preach to my people on the meaning of trial.
Finding that this text was in the lesson for the following Sabbath, I chose it as my Master’s message to them and myself; but on trying to prepare the notes, I found that in honesty I could not say that the words were true; and therefore I knelt down and asked God to let His grace be sufficient for me. While I was thus pleading, I opened my eyes and saw a framed illuminated text, which my mother had given me only a few days before, and which I had told my servant to place upon the wall during my absence at the holiday resort where my little one was taken away from us.
I did not notice the words on returning to my house; but as I looked up and wiped my eyes, the words met my gaze, “My grace is sufficient for thee.”
The “is” was picked out in bright green while the “My” and the “thee” were painted in another color.
In one moment the message came straight to my soul, as a rebuke for offering such a prayer as, “Lord, let Thy grace be sufficient for me”; for the answer was almost as an audible voice, “How dare you ask that which is?” God cannot make it any more sufficient than He has made it; get up and believe it, and you will find it true, because the Lord says it in the simplest way: “My grace is (not shall be or may be) sufficient for thee.”
“My,” “is,” and “thee” were from that moment, I hope, indelibly fixed upon my heart; and I (thank God) have been trying to live in the reality of the message from that day forward to the present time. The lesson that came to me, and which I seek to convey to others, is, Never turn God’s facts into hopes, or prayers, but simply use them as realities, and you will find them powerful as you believe them.
“Surrender your very selves to God as living men who have risen from the dead”
– Romans 6:13 (Weymouth)
I went one night to hear an address on consecration. No special message came to me from it, but as the speaker kneeled to pray, he dropped this sentence: “O Lord, Thou knowest we can trust the Man that died for us.” And that was my message. I rose and walked down the street to the train; and as I walked, I pondered deeply all that consecration might mean to my life and I was afraid. And then, above the noise and clatter of the street traffic came to me the message: “You can trust the Man that died for you.”
I got into the train to ride homeward; and as I rode, I thought of the changes, the sacrifices, the disappointments which consecration might mean to me and I was afraid.
I reached home and sought my room, and there upon my knees I saw my past life. I had been a Christian, an officer in the church, a Sunday-school superintendent, but had never definitely yielded my life to God.
Yet as I thought of the darling plans which might be baffled, of the cherished hopes to be surrendered, and the chosen profession which I might be called upon to abandoned, I was afraid.
I did not see the better things God had for me, so my soul was shrinking back; and then for the last time, with a swift rush of convicting power, came to my innermost heart that searching message:
“My child, you can trust the Man that died for you. If you cannot trust Him whom can you trust?”
That settled it for me, for in a flash I saw that the Man who so loved me as to die for me could be absolutely trusted with all the concerns of the life He had saved.
Friend, you can trust the Man that died for you. You can trust Him to baffle no plan which is not best to be foiled, and to carry out every one which is for God’s glory and your highest good. You can trust Him to lead you in the path which is the very best in this world for you.– J H. McC
“In fierce storms,” said an old seaman, “we must do one thing; there is only one way: we must put the ship in a certain position and keep her there.”
This, Christian, is what you must do. Sometimes, like Paul, you can see neither sun nor stars, and no small tempest lies on you; and then you can do but one thing; there is only one way.
Reason cannot help you; past experiences give you no light. Even prayer fetches no consolation. Only a single course is left. You must put your soul in one position and keep it there.
You must stay upon the Lord; and come what may– winds, waves, cross-seas, thunder, lightning, frowning rocks, roaring breakers– no matter what, you must lash yourself to the helm, and hold fast your confidence in God’s faithfulness, His covenant engagement, His everlasting love in Christ Jesus. — Richard Fuller
Then believed they His words; they sang His praise. They soon forgot His works; they waited not for His counsel; but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And He gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul (Psalms 106:12-15).
We read of Moses, that “he endured, as seeing Him Who is invisible.” Exactly the opposite was true of the children of Israel in this record. They endured only when the circumstances were favourable; they were largely governed by the things that appealed to their senses, in place of resting in the invisible and eternal God.
In the present day there are those who live intermittent Christian lives because they have become occupied with the outward, and centre in circumstances, in place of centring in God. God wants us more and more to see Him in everything, and to call nothing small if it bears us His message.
Here we read of the children of Israel, “Then they believed his words.” They did not believe till after they saw– when they saw Him work, then they believed. They really doubted God when they came to the Red Sea; but when God opened the way and led them across and they saw Pharaoh and his host drowned—“then they believed.”
They led an up and down life because of this kind of faith; it was a faith that depended upon circumstances. This is not the kind of faith God wants us to have.
The world says “seeing is believing,” but God wants us to believe in order to see. The Psalmist said, “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
Do you believe God only when the circumstances are favourable, or do you believe no matter what the circumstances may be? — C. H. P.
In our backyard a mango tree has been growing for a while. It covers almost half of our backyard. This summer, it was brutally hot. I mean, even if you are inside the house, closed all the windows and doors, and turned on all the fans, still you could feel the heat and you would be drenched in sweat. Especially, sleeping in the afternoons actually became dangerous, because when we woke up, our lips and throats would parched and we would have severe pain in our limbs. It was really a horrible summer, and I still can’t believe I survived it.
During this dreadful summer, I saw something. The landscape around our home was parched. There was no greenery at all in sight. All the grass have withered and all the leaves had fallen from the trees and it was a very disheartening sight. Except our backyard. The mango tree stood right there, amid all the parched land, and it was so green. Because its root go deep, it was drawing water from a live stream nearby and just looking at it would make our eyes feel better. But there was something else.
In the mornings, I would and I still wake up on hearing the morning calls of various birds, which have taken the mango tree as their homes. In this year alone, though I am not an ornithologist, I found five new types of sparrows in our backyard. And there are many birds which I have no idea, would visit once in a while. It would be so beautiful, hearing all of them singing the praises of our Lord in the morning. And in the evening, the shadow of the mango tree saved us from the burning sun. And, how can I forget the cool breeze that would pass through the mango tree.
It is such a great blessing to us and many types of birds. But, did the mango tree grow so that it could be a blessing to us? Did its root search for water deep in the ground, so that it could give us shadow during the summer? No. It grew because it is its nature. It searched for water, because it is its nature. It is evergreen throughout the year, because it is its nature. But its very nature has become a blessing to so many living beings.
Yes, dear friend, when the Lord says that you shall be a blessing (Genesis 12:2), He wants to change the very nature of yourself. We shall grow in the Lord. We will search for the Living Water of Jesus Christ, because it will become our nature to do so. As we do, we will be greener by the day, and we shall become a blessing unto thousands, without even realizing. Let us grow in our Lord and may all of us be a blessing. Amen.
“O troubled soul, beneath the rod,
Thy Father speaks, be still, be still;
Learn to be silent unto God,
And let Him mould thee to His will.
“O praying soul, be still, be still,
He cannot break His plighted Word;
Sink down into His blessed will,
And wait in patience on the Lord.
“O waiting soul, be still, be strong,
And though He tarry, trust and wait;
Doubt not, He will not wait too long,
Fear not, He will not come too late.”
“When thou goest, thy way shall be opened up before thee step by step” (Proverbs 4:12, free translation).
The Lord never builds a bridge of faith except under the feet of the faith-filled traveller. If He builds the bridge a rod ahead, it would not be a bridge of faith. That which is of sight is not of faith.
There is a self-opening gate which is sometimes used in country roads. It stands fast and firm across the road as a traveller approaches it. If he stops before he gets to it, it will not open. But if he will drive right at it, his wagon wheels press the springs below the roadway, and the gate swings back to let him through. He must push right on at the closed gate, or it will continue to be closed.
This illustrates the way to pass every barrier on the road of duty. Whether it is a river, a gate, or a mountain, all the child of Jesus has to do is to go for it. If it is a river, it will dry up when you put your feet in its waters. If it is a gate, it will fly open when you are near enough to it, and are still pushing on. If it is a mountain, it will be lifted up and cast into a sea when you come squarely up, without flinching, to where you thought it was.
Is there a great barrier across your path of duty just now? Just go for it, in the name of the Lord, and it won’t be there. — Henry Clay Trumbull
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.