Encouragement

Here are more of the quotes that encouraged me while recovering from a bike accident this summer.  Sometimes encouragement comes from a book, from something a family member shares, or from a post on Facebook.  These quotes were just what I needed to hear:

He gives the best, and brings sweetness out of that which is harsh, forbidding, and wholly unpromising.  –Derek Kidner

Faith is not primarily a function of how you feel.  Faith is living out and believing what truth is despite what you feel.  –Timothy Keller

To avoid facing our low sense of worth, we try to compensate by building self-esteem.  Self-esteem is a way to be in control of our image in order to protect our sense of something missing within our hearts.  Through self-esteem, achievements are a way of creating hope.  Esteem for self rises and falls based upon the grade of our last performance.  Sadly, we forget that our value is inherent at birth.  –Chip Dodd, The Voice of the Heart, pg. 29

Never stop believing.  Miracles happen every day. –Unknown

 

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Regeneration

Here is a word we don’t hear often–“regeneration.”  I was surprised to come across it in my devotions. I saw it in the writings of A. W. Tozer (1897-1963).  The book I’m reading is called My Daily Pursuit.  The forward is by Ravi Zacharias, and he says this about Tozer:

The profound realization that God could be known personally drew me, with sincerity and determination, to plumb the depths of that claim…A few short years later, I encountered, through the writings, the distinctive pastoral voice of A. W. Tozer, who expounded on the grandest of all themes to which the human mind could ascend and the heart could embrace:  the study of God Himself.  Tozer’s voice was unique in his era, and I read and reread many of his books.  Works such as The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy opened up vistas that were life-transforming.  Those truths were timely for me and timeless for anyone hungry to know God.  So, his words still speak with power and tenderness today, leaving me with the twin passions of fulfillment and legitimate hunger…Tozer gives us the right kind of pause to learn the value of deep reflection on noble truths.  –Ravi Zacharias, quoted in A. W. Tozer, My Daily Pursuit, pg. 7-8

So now let’s look at this word “regeneration” that is heard so seldom today.  I think there are great truths to be considered here and this first quote is very touching to consider:

A new father goes to the hospital to see his first baby.  He goes to the window to look at all of the babies, but what he is looking for is one that looks like him.  The babies may be cute, but he has no interest in any of them except his own.  When he sees his own baby, what he is looking for is himself.  The little baby has his ears, his nose, his eyes and so forth.  The thing that drove him to that little baby is his own image in that baby.  The thing to draw God to us is His image in us.  Sin has destroyed it.  Regeneration puts it back in.  Now that man in Christ can have communion and fellowship with the Father of whose image he is.  –A. W. Tozer, My Daily Pursuit, pg. 188

Now, if the word “regeneration” isn’t enough of an unfamiliar word, take a look now at “compatibility,” “communion,” “congruity,” “atonement,” and a word that I think Tozer made up–“feelingly!”  It all makes complete sense when you put them together and understand his point:

One of the great Bible truths we should revel in is that the newest convert born again today, has a degree of moral likeness to God, which gives him a measure of compatibility.  Heaven is a place of complete compatibility.  Sin introduced an incompatibility between God and the sinner.  Sin disrupts the communion between God and man.  Sin introduces that quality which throws men and God out of accord with each other.  As it is, there is no accord, no congruity.  But when that sinner believes in the blood atonement, which is trust in Christ, and is justified in heaven and regenerated on earth, there is complete compatibility and communion…That compatibility allows God to draw feelingly near to the man or women, and it makes communion morally consistent.  –A. W. Tozer, My Daily Pursuit, pg. 186

Abba Father, through regeneration I have come back to the place where Thee can see in me Thy blessed divine image.  How I praise Thee through Jesus Christ my Savior!  Amen.  –A. W. Tozer,  My Daily Pursuit, pg. 188

History

I’m continuing with great quotes this week — there are so many right now in my life!  God is so faithful to keep them coming, and I’d like to pass them on to you, as they’ve been a huge encouragement to me.

History is of no use if we don’t remember it. The rich heritage of God’s mighty works gives neither insight nor inspiration if we are ignorant of it.”  –Eugene Peterson

As Christians, we see the acts of God in history as an essential part of our faith.  We make a mistake if we think that Christianity is based solely on the catechisms and the teachings of Jesus (the Beatitudes, etc.).  Christianity is rooted in history.  We believe that our life is critically affected by things that happened in the past.  Old Testament history shows God at work for his people.  The promises God made to his people were fulfilled in historical events.  That’s why it was important for Jewish parents to keep reminding their children of them through stories and through historical psalms like Psalm 77, 78, 81 and 83.  These examples of God’s acting on behalf of his people give new generations, including our own, hope that God will continue to act for us.  In this way, we see history truly as his story.  —One Year Book of Psalms, 6/24

When Israel out of Egypt came

They left the proud oppressors Land

Supported by the great I AM,

Safe in the hollow of His hand

–Charles Wesley

Innocent

Here is the last set of quotes this week.  As promised, the first quote is a continuation of the previous quote I mentioned.  We don’t behave perfectly all the time, but nevertheless we can be certain we are innocent before our Heavenly Judge:

Justification declares the sinner righteous, but it is external to the man.  That is, the justified man may be no better off for his justification if that is all that happened to him.  Justification is a judicial thing.  Just as a man may stand before the court and be declared innocent of a crime — not guilty, and yet it does not change the man inside.  He weighs exactly the same as he weighed before; stands at the same height, with the same color of hair and eyes as before. He has the same relationships and in every way is the same man he was before.  The only difference, he is judicially free, declared not guilty before the law.  — A. W. Tozer, My Daily Pursuit, pg. 184

Of course he doesn’t leave us that way if we truly seek Him in repentance and offer Him our hearts:

In the history lesson of Psalm 78, we find the Israelites following the Lord “only with their words.”  They knew what to say, but they didn’t know how to live.  They would come to God’s Temple with sacrifices but they would not offer him their hearts.  “I want you to be merciful,” God said,  “I don’t want your sacrifices.”  The people were going through the motions, but not letting God’s emotions go through them.  —One Year Book of Psalms, 6/21

Repentance is primarily a change of moral purpose, a sudden and often violent reversal of the soul’s direction.  The prodigal son took his first step upward from the pigsty when he said, “I will arise and go to my father.”  As he had once willed to leave his father’s house, now he willed to return.”  — A. W. Tozer

The atonement (the fact that Jesus lived a perfect life for us, and died a perfect judgment for us on the cross, and truly did rise again from the dead as proof) makes all the difference in the world and can even change the inside of a man, though we will never be perfect until Christ returns.  How do I know Jesus did rise from the dead?  See my previous “God is Real” posts — Part 1, Part 2, Part 3!

Atonement is the basis upon which God acts toward humanity.  Atonement makes justification possible, and justification leads to regeneration.  This is the work of God outside of a man that has the potential to change the inside of a man.  Regeneration takes place at the same time justification takes place…A regenerated man is a man [or woman] who partakes of the divine nature, a man who has a new relation to God, which gives him eternal life.  –A. W. Tozer, My Daily Pursuit, pg. 185

But now we are seeing the righteousness of God declared quite apart from the Law (though simply testified by by both Law and prophets)–it is a righteousness imparted to, and operating in, all who have faith in Jesus Christ.  (For there is no distinction to be made anywhere: everyone has sinned, everyone falls short of the beauty of God’s plan).  Under this divine system a man who has faith is now freely acquitted in the eyes of God by his generous dealing in the redemptive act of Christ Jesus.  God has appointed him as the means of propitiation, a propitiation accomplished by the shedding of his blood, to be received and made effective in ourselves by faith.  God has done this to demonstrate his righteousness both by the wiping out of the sins of the past (the time when he withheld his hand), and by showing in the present time that he is a just God and that he justifies every man who has faith in Jesus Christ. What happens now to human pride of achievement?  There is no more room for it.  Why, because failure to keep the Law has killed it?  Not at all, but because the whole matter is now on a different plane–believing instead of achieving.  We see now that a man is justified before God by the fact of his faith in God’s appointed Savior and not by what he has managed to achieve under the Law.  — Romans 3:21-28 (PHI)

From there, we can encourage one another in our relationship with Jesus, our Savior.  The apostle Paul spent much time in prison writing to believers in various places, encouraging them in their faith.  Here is just one example of many, beautifully expressed in the J.B. Phillips translation:

I wish you could understand how deep is my anxiety for you…How I long that you may be encouraged, and find out more and more how strong are the bonds of Christian love.  How I love for you to grow more certain in your knowledge and more sure in your grasp of God himself.  May your spiritual experience become richer as you are more and more full of God’s great secret, Christ himself.  For it is in him, and in him alone, that men will find all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge…in spirit I am by your side, watching like a proud father the solid steadfastness of your faith in Christ.  Just as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so go on living in him–in simple faith.  Grow out of him as a plant grows out of the soil it is planted in, becoming more and more sure of the faith as you were taught it, and your lives will overflow with joy and thankfulness.  –Colossians 2:1-7 (PHI)

And now, if you haven’t already, go back and read my “God is Real” posts, to see why I’m so certain that all of this is true — Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

 

Heart

Here is the “heart” of Andrew Murray’s thoughts that spoke so clearly to me last week in his book, Waiting On God.  This is really special; don’t miss what He has to say here:

Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all ye that wait for the Lord. –Psalm 31:24 (RV)

“Let your heart take courage.”  All our waiting depends on the state of the heart.  As a man’s heart is, so is he before God.  We can advance no further or deeper into the holy place of God’s presence to wait on Him there, than our heart is prepared for it by the Holy Spirit.  –pg. 35

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”  (Prov. 3:5)  In all faith, we have to use these two powers.  The mind has to gather knowledge from God’s Word and prepare the food by which the heart with the inner life is to be nourished.  But here is the terrible danger of our leaning to our own understanding and trusting in our own comprehension of divine things.  People imagine that if they are occupied with the truth, the spiritual life will, as a matter of course, be strengthened.  And this is by no means the case.  The understanding deals with concepts and images of divine things, but it cannot reach the real life of the soul.  Hence the command:  “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart, and lean not upon thine own understanding.”  Man believes with the heart and comes into touch with God.  God has given His Spirit in the heart to be the presence and the power of God working in us.  In all our faith, the heart must trust and love and worship and obey.  My mind is utterly unable to create or maintain the spiritual life within me.  The heart must wait on God for Him to work it in me.  –pg. 36-37

Murray likens this to physical nourishment:

My reason may tell me what to eat and drink, and how the food nourishes me.  But in the eating and feeding, my reasons can do nothing–the body has its organs for that special purpose.  Just so, reason may tell me what God’s Word says, but it can do nothing to the feeding of the soul on the bread of life–this the heart alone can do by its faith and trust in God. –pg. 37

Then he compares this spiritual process to physical sleep:

A man may be studying the nature and effects of food or sleep.  When he wants to eat or sleep, he sets aside his thoughts and study, and uses the power of eating or sleeping.  And so, the Christian always needs, when he has studied or heard God’s Word, to cease from his thoughts, to put no trust in them [his own thoughts], to awaken his heart to open itself before God, and seek the living fellowship with Him.  –pg. 37

Let the heart wait at times in perfect silence and quiet; in its hidden depths.  God will work.  Be sure of this, and just wait on Him.  Give your whole heart, with its secret workings, into God’s hands continually.  He wants the heart.  He takes it and, as God, dwells in it.  –pg. 38

I love these thoughts:  Let Your Heart take courage!  Sometimes we’re unwilling to rest or trust.  Sometimes we’d rather worry and fret about something.  Or we’d like to try something in our own strength. And yet, here in His Word, He encourages us:  “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all ye that wait for the LORD.”

Strength and Courage

Here are more quotes from Andrew Murray’s book, Waiting On God.

Wait on the LORD:  be strong, and let thine heart take courage; yea, wait thou on the LORD.  –Psalm 27:14 (RV)

One of the chief needs in our waiting upon God, one of the deepest secrets of its blessedness and blessing, is a quiet, confident persuasion that it is not in vain.  –pg. 31

“Be strong, and of good courage.”  These words are frequently found in connection with some great and difficult enterprise, in prospect of the combat with the power of strong enemies, and the utter insufficiency of all human strength.  Is waiting on God a work so difficult that such words are needed:  “Be strong, and let your heart take courage?”  Yes, indeed.  The deliverance for which we often have to wait is from enemies, in whose presence we are so weak.  The blessings for which we plead are spiritual and unseen–things impossible with men–heavenly, supernatural, divine realities.  Our heart may well faint and fail.  –pg. 32

You are going to wait on God, to know first what He is, and then after that, what He will do…Come, and however feeble you feel, just wait in His presence.  As a feeble, sickly invalid is brought out into the sunshine to let its warmth go through him, come with all that is dark and cold in you into the sunshine of God’s holy omnipotent love.  Sit and wait there, with the one thought:  Here I am, in the sunshine of His love.  As the sun does its work in the weak, one who seeks its rays, God will do His work in you.  Oh, do trust Him fully!  –pg. 33-34

It takes strength and  courage to wait for an answer from God, and He gives it to you (both strength and courage) as you determine to wait.  I can’t tell how often I have needed an answer to a problem or situation, and have gone somewhere to sit before Him and await His answer.  When I open His Word, or even the newspaper or some book in the morning, there is my answer — specific, personal, final.  It’s truly amazing how clearly He speaks to those who will sit quietly before Him and wait.

And yes–sometimes the wait is longer, but it will come, always, if you wait.

Wait

Lately I’ve been reading a great devotional from Andrew Murray (1828-1917).  This week I’m sharing quotes from that book.  The topic (as can be seen by the title) is waiting on God.  These words are so meaningful and true:

Show me thy ways, O LORD: teach me thy paths.  Lead me in thy truth, and teach me:  for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.  Psalm 25:4-5 (KJV)

A soul cannot seek close fellowship with God, or attain the abiding consciousness of waiting on Him all the day, without a very honest and entire surrender to all His will.  –Andrew Murray, Waiting On God, Whitaker House Publishers, pg. 28

It must be clear to us what we are waiting for.  There may be very different things.  It may be waiting for God in our times of prayer to take His place as God and to work in us the sense of His holy presence and nearness.  It may be a special petition to which we are expecting an answer.  It may be our whole inner life, in which we are on the lookout for God’s putting forth of His power.  It may be the whole state of His church and saints, or some part of His work, for which our eyes are ever toward Him.  It is good that we remember and keep track of the things we are waiting for on God.  — pg. 29

It must also be clear to us on whom we are waiting.  Not an idol, a god of whom we have made an image by our concepts of what he is.  No, but the living God, such as He really is in His great glory, His infinite holiness, His power, wisdom, and goodness, in His love and nearness.  The presence of a beloved or a dreaded master awakens the whole attention of the servant who waits on him.  The presence of God, as He can in Christ by His Holy Spirit make Himself known, and keep the soul under its covering and shadow, will awaken and strengthen the true waiting spirit.  Let us be still and wait and worship until we know how near He is…   — pg. 29

It doesn’t seem to me that many people are willing to wait for anything any more, even regarding spiritual matters.  We seem to have much strength in our own wills, plans and ways.  But God tells us to wait on Him; wait and see what He will do!  There are things only He can do, and they are certainly worth waiting for.