Wishing you a blessed week of remembering the sacrifice Christ made for us and celebrating our risen Savior! “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all!” – Isaac Watts
“Thank God for purpose in life. So many purposes come into existence when one works the will of God, that there is no excuse for the laziness or wasted time. He is redeeming our lives, as well as our souls.” – Jim Elliot
It’s a very simple thing to think of, really, but the simplicity of it is what makes it sparkle in the sunshine of life. There was a pile of firewood to move: not dirty firewood, but very clean, attractive looking firewood. It had been left behind on a site at the RV Park and it was time for it to go. Rather than walk 1/4 mile around the Park to the usual storage area, why not carry it through the creek? It would be a little shorter and much more interesting. So we did. It was a sisterly adventure, and the lovely feeling of water around our ankles, mud between our toes, and a field of blooming bugle to cross made the afternoon one to remember. Spring is here, and opportunites of every species and variety abound!
Have you ever felt like the weight of life was bending you low, wearing you down, and discouraging you?
As I was wandering around the property a few days ago, I noticed the daffodils. They were bright, yellow, and fully bloomed, yet they were weighed down and bent over from the storm the night before. Water drops remained on their leaves.
Do you ever feel like that ~ weighed down, blown over? Like one more little circumstance, perhaps as small as a water drop is to a daffodil, will make you completely bend? Or like one more gust of wind will break you?
The Psalmist had experiences and feelings like this. But what did he do? Read Psalm 119:81-88.
My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word. Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, When wilt thou comfort me? For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget thy statutes. How many are the days of thy servant? when wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me? The proud have digged pits for me, which are not after thy law. All thy commandments are faithful: they persecute me wrongfully; help thou me. They had almost consumed me upon earth; but I forsook not thy precepts. Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth.
“All thy commandments are faithful: they persecute me wrongfully; help thou me.” Amidst the persecution, affliction, and distress, he did two things. He chose to think on truth (“I hope in Thy word… I do not forget Thy statutes…All Thy commandments are faithful.”) and prayed (“help thou me… quicken me after Thy loving kindness”).
So whatever the trial you may be wrestling through, take the Psalmist’s example ~ focus on the truth of God’s Word, and pray. These two things are just what the enemy of our souls does not want us to do. But the Lord will strengthen you to endure and persevere!
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. – John xv.viii
The North Carolina Family Encouragement Weekend has been a highlight for many families for several years now. By God’s gracious leading and provision, this year was no exception as we gathered for a short but packed 1.5 days to fellowship together around the Word of God.
The conference began with a charge to meditate on Scripture. This small but significant exhortation to obey Joshua 1.8 truly set the tone for a sweet and precious weekend with God’s people. To Him be the glory!
Sessions were an immense blessing as speakers expounded on Biblical truths flavored with personal testimony to our Lord’s mercy, grace, and love.
Families from all regions and stages of life came together to encourage one another in the ways of righteousness.
Children’s Hour was a delight!
Hungry souls were fed from the Scriptures.
Discipleship Gametime! We saw God clear up the rain for this day, just as He has kindly and faithfully done for years past.
Music, food, fellowship, and hearts overflowing.
To God be the glory, great things HE hath done.
Christ’s finished work on earth and Calvary are still bearing marvelous, incomprehensible fruits in the lives of believers. All we have and are we owe to the blessed Trinity and to Christ Himself, who, “though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8)
Oh the sweetness, oh the rest
Of leaning on the Father’s breast,
Of lisping “Abba,” precious name:
To give me this my Jesus came.
When nought but tears are like to flow
And to my Father I would go,
But weakness hinders, folly blights:
Christ dwells with me on these dark nights.
When I see the Word so clear
That speaks to me of One so dear
I call to mind: ’twas Christ that sent
The Holy Spirit down to men.
And when I fall at Jesus’ feet
Rejoice in hope of heaven sweet
That “God is love” comes soon to mind:
He sent His Son to save mankind.
Lord, You know the sins of my heart, my rebellion. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.- Isaiah 1:18
Lord, You know the unbelief that keeps plaguing me. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. – Isaiah 26:3
Lord, You know the fear I have when thinking of Your return; the fear of failure or of not having a “repentant enough” heart. Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. -Psalm 25:8 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: – Philippians 1:6
Does He really care about the small details in my life? Oh, Yes! What about that final math test which had a score of one hundred percent? Does that not count for a Creator and Savior who walks beside me as my faithful Friend? Will He not stay by me all the way? He has promised to never leave nor forsake. What about the time my family went into a church to sing, and on the wall was the very verse that had been my anchor to overcome the struggle I was in? Or the time I was struggling in the car and He brought that same verse back to me? Or the time I woke up with tempting thoughts on my mind and my dad quoted that same verse to me? The Lord is so good. These are a few of the ways in which the Holy Spirit has dealt with me, bringing me to Himself. But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; – Philippians 1:12
Stay in the Word of God. Its truth is precious, and the more one stays in it, the more they find it so. The Lord is faithful. His Word is true. Jesus will be enough for you. Only turn to Him. Trust Him. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that He himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted. – Hebrews 2:17-18 [emphasis added] This makes me want to praise Him.
Trust and Distrust
Distrust thyself, but trust His grace;
It is enough for thee!
In every trial thou shalt trace
It’s all sufficiency.
Distrust thyself, but trust His strength;
In Him thou shalt be strong:
His weakest ones may learn at length
A daily triumph-song.
Distrust thyself, but trust His love;
Rest in its changeless glow:
And life or death shall only prove
Its everlasting flow.
Distrust thyself, but trust alone
In Him, for all – for ever!
And joyously thy heart shall own
That Jesus faileth never.
-Frances Ridley Havergal
There is one group of people in the Scriptures that rarely receives any attention, and when they do, not very much. These people left a small but distinct mark on the pages of our Bibles; we would do well to observe and learn. The example they offer us to follow is profound, and perhaps many Christians today are walking in their footsteps without even realizing it. Who was this obscure band?
They were the disciples of John the Baptist.
By their faith, this group of believers offers encouragement for those who are unsure of their spiritual direction. These men listened to the one who they knew was sent from God to prepare the way for the Messiah. As questions arose, they often came to Christ to seek the answer, and at least once we see the wisdom of John sending them for this purpose, perhaps for his own reassurance, but also likely as a means of increasing his disciples’ understanding and faith. There is one instance that stands out to me stronger than all the rest, and here this lowly group could not have improved their actions.
John the Baptist had recently been killed to meet the demands of an ungodly woman and her daughter. In a final act of esteem for their master, John’s disciples take up his body to give it a respectful resting place. But what happens next?
Matthew 14:12 states it with a quiet simplicity that pierces our hearts with the wisdom of their action.
“And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.” [emphasis added]
With hearts no doubt breaking, minds confused, souls in despair, they went and told Jesus. One simple choice: to rise and go, to tell the Lord what had taken place.
Go to Jesus – tell Him the struggle, the sorrow. Tell Him the hardness of your heart, the lure of the world. Tell Him all. Simply go to Jesus.
Out of my bondage, sorrow, and night, Jesus, I come.
Into Thy freedom, gladness and light, Jesus I come to Thee.
Out of my sickness, into Thy health, Out of my want and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thyself, Jesus I come to Thee.
Out of my shameful failure and loss, Jesus, I come.
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross, Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of earth’s sorrows, into Thy balm, Out of life’s storms and into Thy calm,
Out of distress to jubilant psalm, Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of unrest and arrogant pride, Jesus, I come.
Into Thy blessed will to abide, Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of myself to dwell in Thy love, Out of despair into raptures above,
Upward for aye on wings like a dove, Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of the fear and dread of the tomb, Jesus, I come.
Into the joy and light of Thy home, Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of the depths of ruin untold, Into the peace of Thy sheltering fold,
Ever Thy glorious face to behold, Jesus, I come to Thee.
-William T. Sleeper
This short poem summarizes three key elements of the Christian life: our salvation, our pilgrimage, and life everlasting with the LORD. Though written several years ago, I have found the truths to be just as encouraging now as they were then, for indeed, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
If I would seek for lasting peace on which my soul to rest
I’d run into the Savior’s arms and think myself so blest.
To think on all His love for me of which I’m ignorant
Is but to find completed joy for what I need and want.
To walk along in life’s rough way with naught but work and toil
Would yield but poor reward for pay when my form rests in soil-
But here I may not stop to dwell on all that’s sad and dim,
For work and toil are part of life, and Life is made of Him.
So when someday I cross the tide which mankind doth resist
I’ll seek the One who died for me—in constant praise, persist.
For there on the eternal side I’ll know for once and all
That here is my most perfect rest, my peace and joy, my all.
As the words began to sink in, my heart did a double-flip. I had enjoyed my time away; it really was very refreshing and I was glad the opportunity had come and that I had, in God’s sovereignty, taken it. But three weeks is a long time to be away, especially for a home-body who craves normalcy. Now I was going home and I couldn’t help feeling at least a little ecstatic.
I have very good news for every child of God. We are going home. This world is not our home. We look for a city who’s Builder and Maker is God. That isn’t all there is to it, however.
Probably the best part about being at home is being with those you love most. How is it with you? Who do you love most? Does your heart leap with an uncontrolled and uncontrollable happiness when you think of heaven? Heaven is wonderful, but it is nothing without the Trinity. The best part of heaven will not be the precious stones and gold clear as crystal and the everlasting day. The best part of heaven will not be the jasper walls and the gates of pearl. Dazzling, inconceivable, beyond all imagination these things are. I do not doubt it for an instant. But what would heaven be without the Lord? Actually, it would be hell. Hell is eternal separation from God the Father, God the Son, the God the Holy Spirit. The best part of heaven will be to bask in the Light of the Lamb’s Presence; to be with Him, and to be with Him for ever.
Look for His coming and live like it will be your highest delight, because it will be. Once in heaven, you will surely wish you had longed for it more; longed for Christ more.
Going home. There’s a comforting warmth in the words. There’s a spring beneath the surface that’s gurgling with happiness. Going home… going home… I can’t wait…