Friday, March 31, 2017

A Bit of Wisdom from Spurgeon

Evening meditation

"Afterward." - Hebrews 12:11

How happy are tried Christians, afterwards. No calm more deep than that which succeeds a storm. Who has not rejoiced in clear shinings after rain?

Victorious banquets are for well-exercised soldiers. After killing the lion we eat the honey; after climbing the Hill Difficulty, we sit down in the arbour to rest; after traversing the Valley of Humiliation, after fighting with Apollyon, the shining one appears, with the healing branch from the tree of life. Our sorrows, like the passing keels of the vessels upon the sea, leave a silver line of holy light behind them "afterwards."

It is peace, sweet, deep peace, which follows the horrible turmoil which once reigned in our tormented, guilty souls. See, then, the happy estate of a Christian! He has his best things last, and he therefore in this world receives his worst things first. But even his worst things are "afterward" good things, harsh ploughings yielding joyful harvests. Even now he grows rich by his losses, he rises by his falls, he lives by dying, and becomes full by being emptied; if, then, his grievous afflictions yield him so much peaceable fruit in this life, what shall be the full vintage of joy "afterwards" in heaven?

If his dark nights are as bright as the world's days, what shall his days be? If even his starlight is more splendid than the sun, what must his sunlight be? If he can sing in a dungeon, how sweetly will he sing in heaven! If he can praise the Lord in the fires, how will he extol him before the eternal throne! If evil be good to him now, what will the overflowing goodness of God be to him then?

Oh, blessed "afterward!" Who would not be a Christian? Who would not bear the present cross for the crown which cometh afterwards?

But herein is work for patience, for the rest is not for today, nor the triumph for the present, but "afterward." Wait, O soul, and let patience have her perfect work.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Perfect in Weakness

So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king's table; and was lame on both his feet. 2 Samuel 9:13 KJV

The richness and fullness of the Gospel, the GOOD News, is so poignant in this historical account of King David's kindness to a son of his beloved friend Jonathan.

Helplessness is not a trait admired by the world, and sadly, not much by the Church, but without it, we may have no part in the Kingdom of God, for time and again, He uses the "weak to put the strong to shame" (1 Corinthians 1:27).

Indeed, the humble king who is returning as King of kings says most emphatically, "unless you become as little children, you will miss My kingdom" (Matthew 18:3, emphasis mine).

The name Mephibosheth means "destroying shame," and he was found in Lo-Davar (literally, "the place of no promise") when King David sent for him.

The exiled son of a deposed prince had no cause to expect mercy, yet he found not only mercy, but grace...he was adopted as one of the kings own sons and as such, reinstated to the title of prince and in fellowship with the very king who had every legal right to have Mephibosheth executed.

It's a lovely and true historical account, but also a prophetic illustration of our condition and story - not only before receiving King Jesus as our Saviour, but ever after.

Always. Ever after.

Dieu d’Abraham, Dieu d’Isaac, Dieu de Jacob,
non des philosophes et des savants.
Certitude, certitude, sentiment, joie, paix.
Dieu de Jésus‑Christ.
Deum meum et Deum vestrum.
...Joie, joie, joie, pleurs de joie... 
Je m’en suis séparé.


God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of philosophers and scholars. Certitude, heartfelt joy, peace. 
God of Jesus Christ.
My God and your God.
...Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy...
Jesus Christ... 
May I never be separated from him.  
- Blaise Pascal

C.S. Lewis likened sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to "one beggar showing another where to find bread," and how amazing it is that when we receive such mercy from the King - when we know that we have a place at His table, He empowers us by this gracious knowledge to be such grace-givers and life-speakers. 

He uses the weak to confound the mighty.

I will never forget, in the not-so-distant past, visiting a local church that had a guest speaker whom I'd never met or heard of before. This dear man had a body suffering the ravages of MS and was recovering broken ribs from a recent fall, but he had such a loveliness to him - a fragrance of having been with Jesus.

After speaking, he had us bow our heads in prayer, and there with my head bowed, feeling quite invisible, I heard a gentle

"Tap, shuffle, tap, shuffle."

Aided by his cane, this precious pastor slowly made his way down the aisle.

Even though my eyes were closed and my head was bowed, I held my breath...somehow I just knew...

Then I felt a warm hand on my lowered head, and a gentle fatherly blessing,

Don't be afraid. Everything is going to be okay.

And you know, I would have taken those words less to heart had they not come from the lips of one who "dined at the king's table...and was lame in both his feet."

Thus saith the Lord , Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:  But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord .
Jeremiah 9:23‭-‬24 KJV

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

True Sabbath Rest

Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 NLT)
What did He mean? The burden of the law was upon the people, indeed, it was a heavy burden for them. The Pharisees gave more than two thousand interpretations to the law of Moses, and said: "The law of Moses does not mean that you have only to keep ten commandments; it means that you have to keep two thousand." There was not a point in all their human life where this law was not applied and made their lives difficult. And all this was gathered up into the Sabbath: "You must not make your bed on the Sabbath! You must not carry your bed on the Sabbath! You must not poke your fire on the Sabbath! You must do nothing on the Sabbath – you may not even walk more than three miles." Two thousand regulations for their lives! The one thing that they were meeting every day, and especially on the Sabbath, was "You may not."

"Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). What has happened? Jesus has appropriated the Sabbath to Himself. It is no longer a day of the week – it is a divine Person. (If the Seventh Day Adventists saw that, the whole of their system would go in five minutes!) No, Jesus is God's Sabbath. He is the end of God's works, and in Him God has entered into His rest. This is the "rest which remaineth for the children of God" – not a day of the week or on the calendar, but a divine Person, the Son of God. In Him we come to rest, and that which was our bondage is now our servant. In Him, that against which we were always struggling is now our victory. Oh yes, Jesus is the Sabbath, and if we live in Him we shall not spoil the Sabbath. Every day should be a day of rest to our souls. Oh, this is a mighty thing that the Lord Jesus has done! 

- TA Sparks

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Saturday in between

"We had hoped..." - two on the road to Emmaus, Luke 24:21 (NLT)
"I AM the Resurrection and the Life..." - Jesus, John 11:25

"But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on – and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same – like old Mr. Bilbo. But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we’ve fallen into?”

“I wonder,” said Frodo. “But I don’t know. And that’s the way of a real tale. Take any one that you’re fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don’t know. And you don’t want them to.” - J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Abraham asked to offer up Isaac.

Hannah after talking to Eli.

The three Hebrews in the fiery furnace. 

Ruth waiting to know if Boaz could redeem her. 

Esther after fasting.

Though we have the privilege of knowing their outcomes, none of these "heroes" knew that they were such, nor what "sort of tale they had fallen into."

And there come seasons to our lives where we are sitting on the ash-heap amongst the shards of shattered dreams, broken in spirit and desperately desiring to turn back a few pages, or to skip ahead...anything to get out of this chapter that we find ourselves in.

Yet, that's what makes the best stories, isn't it?  As one of my pastors shared this morning (see the Sunday 3/19/2017 webcast archive with Pastor Trevor O'Keefe): "the journey is as important as the destination, because it is the journey that makes the man."

I remember as a young girl hearing a family friend always say, during times of trial, "It's Friday, but Sunday is coming!"

But what about when you are living in the Saturday in between?  Suspended somewhere between faith and surrender?

"I and the lad will go and worship, and then we will return..." (Gen. 22:5) 

"Hannah went her way, and did eat, and her face was sad no more..." (1 Samuel 1:18) 

"Our God is able to deliver us, and He will deliver us, but if not..." (Daniel 3:17-18) 

"Sit still my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out..." (Ruth 3:18) 

"...and after three days I will go to the king...and if I perish, I perish..." (Esther 4:16) 

While the "Saturday in between" sure makes for a suspenseful story from the outside - when we are on the inside of the painful pages, it can be tearful reading. 

It's heartbreaking, isn't it...the "we had hoped" of a dead vision that seems a rather bewildering end to a faithfully-trodden trail of obedience?

If, like me, you find yourself brokenhearted in the "not-yet," then take courage - the One who mingled drops of blood with His tears in Gethsemane's garden understands - and He was the only One who actually knew the end of His story! 

Nevertheless, He wept. 

And as our faithful High Priest, Jesus has empathy for our sorrows, but He loves us too much to leave us there. 

Joy will come in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

He will turn the page.

Sunday is coming!

A peek through the wardrobe

After a long hiatus, and with no clue as to how to link my old blog with my new, I'm just starting afresh.

  Hmmm...may be a theme here! ☺

May our Loving Heavenly Father use new beginnings to bring beauty from ashes. (Isaiah 61:1-3)