Seeds

This week I’m sharing more quotes from my journals.  These come from scriptures, books, even Facebook posts from friends.  I don’t write something down every day but some days I come across many to record.  My journals are full of great truths I don’t want to forget or neglect.  Here are some of the recent quotes:

This is the blessedness of waiting upon God:  it takes our eyes and thoughts away from ourselves, even our needs and desires, and occupies us with our God.  –Andrew Murray, Waiting On God, pg. 39-40

Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the apples in a seed.  –Unknown

If you are then “risen” with Christ, reach out for the highest gifts of Heaven, where Christ reigns in power.  Give your heart to the heavenly things, not to the passing things of earth.  For, as far as this world is concerned, you are already dead, and your true life is a hidden one in God, through Christ.  One day Christ, the secret centre of our lies, will show himself openly, and you will all share in that magnificent dénouement.  –Colossians 3:1-4 (PHI)

The eye of the LORD is on them that fear Him, upon them that hope in His mercy.  Fear and hope are generally thought to be in conflict with each other.  In the presence and worship of God, they are found side by side in perfect and absolute harmony.  And this because in God Himself all apparent contradictions are reconciled.  Righteousness and peace, judgment and mercy, holiness and love, infinite power and infinite gentleness, a majesty that is exalted above all heaven and a condescension that bows very low, meet and kiss each other.  –Andrew Murray, Waiting On God, pg. 40

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.

Never Give Up

I have recently been encouraged by a book I’ve been studying this year from Beth Moore, and would like to share a devotion from it for anyone that is weathering a storm of any type.  These words are true, and I can tell you from personal experience that it works!  The thoughts are based on Acts 17:13-26 when the Apostle Paul and Dr. Luke ended up in a fierce storm, which became worse when others made poor decisions.  We all end up in situations like this based on the actions, attitudes, or words of others in our family, work place, community or nation.

Some end up in fierce, literal storms, such as Haiti just experienced, and yet I’m reading many stories of people giving to supply their needs, and of God’s faithfulness to them in their struggles.  Before I give you Beth’s words, let me share this recent note from my missionary friends in Haiti (Craig and Renee Janofski):

A post from a missionary on the front lines in some of the hardest hit areas of the country shared these words…it proves the strength and resilience of the Haitian people! They have hope, even in the sorrow.

“The cities and villages along the roads are destroyed but the villages in the mountains are decimated.  Life is hard in the mountains on a good day and after this folks are pretty down and out. Their houses and gardens are gone. They have infections from stepping on nails and tin slicing them. They are sleeping under whatever they could salvage from their homes.

But…there is always a but…

There is hope, there is laughter and there are smiles. When I talked to a farmer about what he could plant now and harvest quickly his eyes sparkled at the thought of getting back in the garden. There was pride in showing me the one goat that survived the storm.

The leaves are resprouting on the trees that didn’t fall. Where there is life there is hope!”
-Kelly Crowdis
http://www.cvmusa.org

Isn’t that encouraging?  If they can weather their physical storms with God’s help, and with our support (you can give here), then we can weather our emotional storms, as Beth explains below (and don’t miss a bit of this–it’s powerful!):

The sailors on board with Paul took steps to deal with the storm that enveloped their ship.  In their actions I see practical behaviors we can also apply in our lives for surviving our personal storms.  Although the points I am about to make might not apply to a literal ship on an angry sea, they will be helpful in the storms we encounter when someone close to us exercises poor judgment.

  1. Don’t pull up the anchor (see v. 13).  The ship’s masters were ill advised to attempt to sail, but they decided to weigh anchor anyway.  Jesus Christ is our anchor beyond the veil (see Heb. 6:19-20).  When gentle breezes blow in our lives and all seems calm and peaceful, we often become less attentive to Him.  We’re not as aware of our need for the One who secures our lives and holds us steady until the storms begin to rage.  Don’t let a few calm breezes give you a false sense of security in yourself and your surroundings.  Stay anchored in Christ in gentle times too.
  2. Don’t give way to the storm (see v. 15).  Peril caused by another person’s poor judgment can often cause feelings of immense helplessness.  Don’t give way to the storm.  Give way to the Master of the seas.
  3. Do throw some cargo overboard (see v. 18).  As the storm worsened, the crew began to jettison cargo to keep the ship afloat.  Raging storms have ways of identifying some old stuff we’re still hanging on to.  When we’re upset over someone’s poor judgment, we have a tendency to drag up memories of other times we’ve been wronged as well.  Storms complicate life enough.  Ask God to simplify and clarify a few things in your life by helping you throw some old cargo overboard.
  4. Do throw the tackle overboard (see v. 19).  After jettisoning the cargo, the crew still needed to further lighten the ship.  The tackling on a ship included all kinds of gear:  ropes, pulleys, spars, masts, and planks.  These objects were man-made provisions needed to master the storm.  Storms are seldom pleasant, but they can serve an important purpose.  They help us to see the man-made solutions we’re substituting in place of depending on and getting to know God.
  5. Never give up hope (see v. 20).   Luke uses the word “we” when identifying those who gave up hope.  This is a man who wrote one of the Gospels!  How could he lose hope?  He had witnessed miracles!  This text reminds us that anyone can lose hope when a storm rages.  The original word for “gave up” in verse 20 is the same one translated “cutting loose” in verse 40.  We might say Luke and the others cut loose their hope when the storm continued to rage day after day.  The psalmist offers us a lifesaver in our raging storms in Psalm 62:5:  “Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him” (HCSB).   The “hope” in Psalm 62:5 is the word tiqvah, which literally means “a cord, as an attachment” (Strong’s).  The psalmist contrasted the disappointment he often experienced in man with the security he found in his faithful God.  His cord or rope was attached to God alone.  We’re all holding on to a rope of some kind for security, but if anyone but God is on the other end, we’re hanging on by a thread!  Hang on to Christ for dear life when the waves break hard against you.  He will be your survival no matter what the storm may destroy.  Only He can keep you from becoming bitter.  Only He can rebuild what gale-force winds tear apart.
  6. Listen for God to speak (see v. 24).  Incline your ear to the Master of the seas when the storms rage.  He will not be silent.  Just when the passengers and crew had lost hope, Paul stood to testify.  He told them, “This night an angel of the God I belong to and serve stood by me, saying, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul.  You must stand before Caesar.  And, look!  God has graciously given you all those who are sailing with you'” (vv. 23-24 HCSB).  God will probably not send an angel from heaven to speak audibly to you, but He may send a fellow believer, a neighbor, a pastor, or friend.  You can also hear Him speak through His Word anytime you are willing to open the Bible and receive.  Job also suffered for reasons outside his control, in ways we will never experience.  He had plenty of places to lay blame.  I believe one reason he survived such tragedy was because God proved not to be silent as Job had feared.  The place in which He spoke to Job is very applicable to us today.  Job 40:6 tells us, “The Lord answered Job from the whirlwind” (HCSB).  God will speak to you too–straight to your heart.  Sometimes others can make decisions that are devastating to our lives.  I cannot promise you everything will be OK.  It may be; it may not be.  But I promise you based on the faithfulness of God that you can be OK.  Just don’t pull up that anchor.  And never let go of the rope.  [Beth Moore, Portraits of Devotion, pp. 406-407]

Unbelievers

Here is a final quote from my journal this week.  I know this is difficult to understand, because we hear so much human wisdom about spiritual matters (much of which is not true), but I have a feeling Sproul is right about this.  Think about it, and about Who it is that calls people to Himself.

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.  (Mt 6:33, ESV)

In learning to please God, the Christian must have a clear idea of what his goal is.  Though the Bible makes that goal clear, it is one that is easily forgotten.

Jesus stated the goal in Mt. 6:33.  First, Jesus said we must seek.  To seek something requires effort.  It involves a diligent search.  Seeking is not accomplished by taking a nap.  It involves persistent work.  We do not sit back and wait for God to drop it in our laps.

We are to seek the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness.  Jesus says we are to seek these things first.  The New Testament word used here for first carries the force of priority.  A more accurate translation of the concept would be, “Seek first, above all else, the kingdom of God and HIs righteousness.”  Seek the kingdom.  Seek righteousness.  These are the priorities of the Christian life.

There is much confusion about spiritual seeking in the Christian world.  We frequently hear this comment:  “My friend is not a Christian, but he’s seeking.”

What is the non-Christian seeking?  One thing we know he is not seeking.  He is not seeking God.  Paul declares, “There is none who seeks after God” (Rom. 3:11, NKJV).  The unbeliever never, never, never seeks God.  The unbeliever is a fugitive from God.  In his sinful state he may look for answers to life’s puzzles, but he does not seek God.  Unbelievers are seeking happiness, peace of mind, relief from guilt, a meaningful life, and a host of other things that we know only God can give them.  But they are not seeking God.  They are seeking the benefits of God.  Natural man’s sin is precisely this:  He wants the benefits of God without God Himself.

I belabor this point for this reason:  Seeking after God is a Christian enterprise.  The seeking of God begins at conversion.  — R. C. Sproul, in Pleasing God, as quoted in How Great is Our God, 4/1/16

 

In other words, for an unbeliever, God is the one seeking us, not the other way around.  Once we recognize Him trying to draw us to Himself, and we finally believe, then we start seeking to know Him, to trust Him and to understand all we can about His sovereignty, righteousness and power.  Wow.

Three Essential Truths

I’m sharing quotes from my journal again this week.  Here is another true quote.  I know it’s true because I’ve experienced it personally in deep, personal ways you can’t even imagine.  God is real and Present; He changes hearts and minds.  He performs miracles–physical, relational, emotional, spiritual–that only He can perform.

Just as the faith of salvation comes through hearing the message of the gospel (Roman. 10:27) so the faith to trust God in adversity comes through the word of God alone.  Only in the Scriptures will we find an adequate view of God’s relationship to and involvement in our painful circumstances.  Only from the Scriptures, applied to our heats by the Holy Spirit, will we receive the grace to trust God in adversity.

In the arena of adversity, the Scriptures teach us three essential truths about God:  (1) God is completely sovereign; (2) God is infinite in wisdom; (3) God is perfect in love.

As we become so convinced of these scriptural truths that we appropriate them in our daily circumstances, we learn to trust God in the midst of our pain, whatever form it may take.  It doesn’t matter whether our pain is trivial or traumatic, temporary or interminable.  Regardless of the nature of the circumstances, we must learn to trust God if we would glorify God in them.

In order to trust in God’s sovereignty, love, and wisdom, we must know Him in an intimate, personal way.  David said in Psalm 9:10, “Those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you” (ESV).  To know God’s name means coming into a deeper personal relationship with Him as a result of seeking Him in the midst of our personal pain and discovering Him to be trustworthy.  It’s only as we know God in this personal way that we  come to trust Him.  — Jerry Bridges, in Trusting God, as quoted in How Great is Our God, 3/28/16

 

Only Fire

Here is another outstanding quote from my journal.  It’s hard to believe that A. W. Tozer lived before 1963, and yet these words seem to be written for our day.  One thing I’m certain of — our God is real, and holy, and He will be recognized and revered by the entire world at the time of His choosing.  Everyone will know that what we’ve known all along really is true.  There is a lot of fake religion and human arrogance and pretension that will not stand when the true God appears.

What a broad world to roam in, what a sea to swim in is this God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He is eternal, which means He antedates time and is wholly independent of it.  To it He pays no tribute and from it He suffers no change.  He is immutable, which means he has never changed and can never change in any smallest measure.  He is omniscient, which means He knows in one free and effortless act all matter, all spirit, all relationships, all events.  He has no past and no future.  He is, and none of the limiting and qualifying terms used of creatures can apply to Him.  Love and mercy and righteousness are His, and holiness so ineffable that no comparisons or figures will avail to express it.

Only fire can give even a remote conception of it.  In fire He appeared at the burning bush; in the pillar of fire He dwelt through all the long wilderness journey.  The fire that glowed between the wings of the cherubim in the holy place was called the Shekinah, the Presence, through the years of Israel’s glory, and when the Old had given place to the New, He came at Pentecost as a fiery flame and rested upon each disciple.

The world is perishing for lack of the knowledge of God, and the church is famishing for want of His Presence.  The instant cure of most of our religious ills would be to enter the Presence in spiritual experience, to become suddenly aware that we are in God and that God is in us.  This would lift us out of our pitiful narrowness and cause our hearts to be enlarged.  This would burn away the impurities from our lives as the bugs and fungi were burned away by the fire that dwelt in the bush.  — A. W. Tozer, in The Pursuit of God, as quoted in How Great is Our God, 3/25/16

Wait

Here are more great quotes from my journal:

God does as He pleases, only as He pleases; He works out every event to bring about the accomplishment of His will…Because we know God is directing our lives to an ultimate end and because we know He is sovereignly able to orchestrate the events of our lives toward that end, we can trust Him.  We can commit to Him not only the ultimate outcome of our lives, but also all the intermediate events and circumstances that will bring us to that outcome.  –Jerry Bridges, in Trusting God, as quoted in How Great is Our God, 3/23/16

In times of trouble, may the LORD answer your cry.  May the name of the God of Jacob keep you safe from all harm.  May he send you help from his sanctuary and strengthen you from Jerusalem.  May he remember all your gifts and look favorably on your burnt offerings.  May he grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed.  May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory and raise a victory banner in the name of our God.  May the LORD answer all your prayers.  — Psalm 20:1-5

It is resting in the Lord, in His will, His promise, His faithfulness, and His love, that makes patience easy.  And the resting in Him is nothing but being silent unto Him, still before Him.  Having our thoughts and wishes, our fears and hopes, hushed into calm and quiet in that great peace of God which passeth all understanding.  That peace keeps the heart and mind when we are anxious for anything.  The rest, the silence, the stillness, and the patient waiting–all find their strength and joy in God Himself.  ‘Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him (Psalm 37:7).  Yes.  For Him.  Seek not only the help, the gift, thou needest; seek Himself; wait for Him.  Give God His glory by resting in Him, by trusting Him fully, by waiting patiently for Him.  –Andrew Murray, in Waiting On God, as quoted in How Great is Our God, 3/22/16