Archive for the ‘Step 3’ Category

Are You in His Loving Arms?

Sunday, June 4th, 2017

“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms!” Deuteronomy 33:27

The picture suggested, is that of a little child, lying in the strong arms of a father who is able to withstand all storms and dangers.

At the two extremes of life, childhood and old age–this promise comes with special assurance.

“He shall gather the lambs in His arms, and carry them in His bosom” (Isaiah 40:11), is a word for the children.

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He; I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you!” (Isaiah 46:4), brings its blessed comfort to the aged.

The thought of God’s embracing arms is very suggestive. What does an arm represent? What is the thought suggested by the arm of God enfolded around His child?

One suggestion, is protection. As a father puts his arm about his child when it is in danger–so God protects His children. Life is full of peril. There are temptations on every hand! Enemies lurk in every shadow–enemies strong and swift! Yet we are assured that nothing can separate us from the love of God. “Underneath are the everlasting arms!”

Another thought, is affection. The father’s arm drawn around a child–is a token of love. The child is held in the father’s bosom, near his heart. The shepherd carries the lambs in his bosom. John lay on Jesus’ bosom. The mother holds the child in her bosom, because she loves it. This picture of God embracing His children in His arms–tells of His love for them–His love is tender, close, intimate.

Another thought suggested by an arm, is strength. The arm is a symbol of strength. His arm is omnipotence. “In the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength” (Isaiah 26:4). His is an arm that can never be broken! Out of this clasp–we can never be taken. “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish–ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!” (John 10:28)

Another suggestion is endurance. The arms of God are “everlasting.” Human arms grow weary even in love’s embrace; they cannot forever press the child to the bosom. Soon they lie folded in death.

A husband stood by the coffin of his beloved wife after only one short year of wedded happiness. The clasp of that love was very sweet–but how brief a time it lasted, and how desolate was the life that had lost the precious companionship!

A little baby two weeks old–was left motherless. The mother clasped the child to her bosom and drew her feeble arms about it in one loving embrace; the little one will never more have a mother’s arm around it.

So pathetic is human life with–its broken affections, its little moments of love, its embraces that are torn away in one hour. But these arms of God–are everlasting arms! They shall never unclasp!

There is another important suggestion in the word “underneath.” Not only do the arms of God embrace His child–but they are underneath–always underneath! That means that we can never sink–for these arms will ever be beneath us!

Sometimes we say the waters of trouble are very deep–like great floods they roll over us. But still and forever, underneath the deepest floods–are these everlasting arms! We cannot sink below them–or out of their clasp!

And when death comes, and every earthly thing is gone from beneath us, and we sink away into what seems darkness–out of all human love, out of warmth and gladness and life–into the gloom and strange mystery of death–still it will only be–into the everlasting arms!

This view of God’s divine care is full of inspiration and comfort. We are not saving ourselves. A strong One, the mighty God–holds us in His omnipotent clasp! We are not tossed like a leaf on life’s wild sea–driven at the mercy of wind and wave. We are in divine keeping. Our security does not depend upon our own feeble, wavering faith–but upon the omnipotence, the love, and the faithfulness of the unchanging, the eternal God!

No power in the universe can snatch us out of His hands! Neither death nor life, nor things present, nor things to come–can separate us from His everlasting arms!

(J. R. Miller, “A Life of Character”)

God Cuts and Polishes His Jewels

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

“They will be Mine in the day when I make up My jewels!” Malachi 3:17

God has many sharp-cutting instruments and rough files for the polishing of His jewels. Those He especially loves and means to make the most resplendent–He most often uses His tools upon! (Robert Leighton, 1611-1684)


Jewels are polished for the sake of removing specks and blemishes from them. They are often cut and polished on purpose to make them look more beautiful. If a large diamond is to be put on the crown of some great king, it is only by cutting and polishing that it can be made to shine with all its brilliance.

When you look at a diamond, you see that it has many faces or sides. These don’t belong to diamonds naturally. When they are found in the mines, they have none of these smooth faces. They are then like little pebble-stones, without any particular shape. These smooth, even sides are made by the jeweler, by grinding and polishing. And they are made on purpose to make the diamond look more beautiful.

In the same way, God cuts and polishes His jewels in order to make them shine more brightly and beautifully in the crown of His glory in Heaven.

Sometimes we see good Christian people who have very heavy trials which they are obliged to bear for many years. And when we see them bearing those trials, we often wonder what it is all for.

God is using those trials just as the jeweler uses the files and wheels–to polish His jewels so as to make them brighter and more beautiful in Heaven.

There was that poor beggar at the gate of the rich man, of whom we read in the New Testament. He was left to be so poor, and to have all those dreadful sores, not because God could not help it; He could easily have made him a rich man and have kept him from having any sores at all, if He had so pleased. But Lazarus was one of God’s jewels, and God was making use of his poverty and beggary and sores–in order to polish that jewel and make it shine more beautifully in Heaven!

All of God’s jewels need polishing!

“I have refined you in the furnace of suffering!” Isaiah 48:10

(Richard Newton, “Bible Jewels”)

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The day after Easter

Monday, April 17th, 2017

The day after Easter brings us a simple word-of-the-week…

AND

Most of us read some version of this passage over the weekend.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” (Mark 16:6-7)

I’ve likely read the account a hundred times without noticing it. The “and.” Read it again.

“…tell his disciples and Peter…”

Peter was one of the disciples, so why the and?  I think they all knew, and the angel knew they knew. Knew that Peter had denied Jesus, not once but three times! I think they wondered if denying Jesus in that terrible moment was too much. I think they wondered if Peter was still welcomed by Jesus, and the angel knew they wondered.

The angel left no doubt. Peter was still on the team.

Peter messed up pretty badly. Not only was he not kicked out, he got a special invitation. God’s angel made sure everyone knew grace and forgiveness were still part of the deal.

That’s good news for you and me.

It’s Monday. He’s risen. He’s going ahead. We’ve got an engraved invitation. Let’s follow.

You may also want to read: Easter: The Big Event, and then—what?

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Heaven’s Answer

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

The joyful news that He is risen does not change the contemporary world. Still before us lie work, discipline, sacrifice. But the fact of Easter gives us the spiritual power to do the work, accept the discipline, and make the sacrifice. ~ Henry Knox Sherrill

This is not the first time that I have created a post titled, “Heaven’s Answer.” The first was done a few years back to commemorate Christmas, written from the perspective that the birth of Christ was indeed a blessing of divine origin, the beginning.

From that particular newsletter, my thought: “And so, from this point, here in the tiny space that I occupy in the universe, it is through my belief in the Holy Spirit and the seed of his worth that is placed in our hearts that I rejoice and fear not.”

There would be no Christmas if there was no Easter. And now, it is Easter, the most important festival of the Christian church and we are celebrating completion; the fulfillment of all the promise inherent in the beginning; the resurrection of the Word in Heaven’s reply.

And he departed from our sight that we might
return to our heart, and there find Him.
For He departed, and behold, He is here.
~St Augustine

The great gift of Easter is hope, the Apostle Peter wrote that it is our “new birth into a living hope.”

Recently we found a movie on Netflix titled ‘A Man Called Peter’, the life of Peter Marshall, the pastor from Scotland who became the chaplain of the Senate in the 1940’s. His sermons and prayers are as relevant and inspiring today as they were then.

To wit, “Our father’s God, to Thee who are the author of our liberty, and under whom we have our freedom, we say our prayer. Make us ever mindful that we are the heirs of a great heritage, and the trustees of priceless things, lest we forget the price that was paid for them–or the cost that may yet have to be met to keep them. Make us strong, O God, in conviction with the insight of our perilous times and in the courage for our testing.”

May you have a joyful Easter!

Remember to count your blessings and express the hope in your heart.

~*~
Becky and Jim Gabriel

Since 1980, Jim and Becky Gabriel have helped multiple numbers
of patients in Georgia and Sarasota and graduated a thousand
massage therapists from ASHA, the Academy of Somatic Healing Arts,
their Atlanta massage school.Their mission is to provide innovative, effective health care services,
educational materials and classes as well as holistic health and wellness
products for the entire community. They may be contacted via:
The Gabriel Center for Massage Therapy

Hardship and Divine Providence

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

A merchant was one day returning from market. He was on horseback, and his saddlebag was filled with money. The rain fell with violence, and the good old man was wet to his skin. At this he was vexed, and murmured because God had given him such bad weather for his journey.

He soon reached the borders of a thick forest. What was his terror on beholding on one side of the road a robber, with leveled gun, aiming at him, and attempting to shoot him! But the gunpowder being wet by the rain, the gun did not go off–and the merchant, giving spurs to his horse, fortunately had time to escape.

As soon as he found himself safe, he said to himself: “How wrong was I, not to endure the rain patiently, as sent by Divine Providence! If the weather had been dry and fair, I probably would not have been alive at this hour, and my little children would have expected my return in vain. The rain, which caused me to murmur, came at a fortunate moment to save my life and preserve my money!”

And thus it is with a multitude of our afflictions. By causing us slight and short sufferings–they preserve us from others far greater and of longer duration.

“We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose!” Romans 8:28

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The Purposes of God Stand

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

Those who reject the doctrine of the total depravity of man must skim over many parts of Scripture, which is unique among the holy books of all religions in that it does not shy away from revealing the evils of even its most prominent characters. The Bible is a book about sin, in fact. It addresses the origin of sin and its only resolution. Heaven is in view, but only as the full restoration of the redeemed man. The Biblical picture of heaven is a place of victory over sin made possible by the atonement for sins by Jesus Christ.

Because it is a book about man’s sin problem, the Bible does not hesitate to point out sin, even when it is in God’s covenant people. We are not presented with a religion of positive thinking, but one with real sinners who often fail their God. Thus, we are shown Noah’s drunkenness, as well as that of Lot. We are shown the disobedience of Moses, the apostasy of Saul, the adultery and murder by David, and the excesses of Solomon.

Sometimes these accounts are so familiar to us they fail to shock us. Take, for instance, the selling of Joseph into slavery by his own brothers. This was perhaps a crueler act then if they had murdered him outright. God may have intended it for good, as Joseph later told his brothers, but their action was no less evil. This, the earlier incest of Reuben, and the murders by Simeon and Levi reveal the nature of Israel’s sons. No virtue can be ascribed to them; all that comes through is the grace of God. Nothing else could have made such men leaders of the covenant people.

All too often, we see only the evil in men and in cultures and fail to see God’s grace at work. Such a perspective leads to cynicism and a defeatist attitude. We ought to remember that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph saw great evil in their day but never saw the fulfillment of the promises in terms of which they lived. Likewise, Christ has made us more than conquerors, but we often personally know only what seems to us defeat. The purposes of God stand, however, and our walk must not be by sight, but by faith. Even our death, the “last enemy” (I Cor. 15:26) will, in the end, be defeated. Like watching a replay when we know the good outcome, our perspective should be one of joy and delight in the certainty of the resolution of all things by a righteous God.

~Mark R. Rushdoony

~ * ~
Reprinted by permission of the Chalcedon Foundation.
Copyright by the Chalcedon Foundation. All rights reserved.

What is True Repentance?

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.” Luke 15:18-20

Notice the spirit of deep self-abasement in the resolution which the prodigal made.

True repentance is intensely personal. The prodigal felt it was his own sin. I have sinned!” He can scarcely see any sin but his own. He sees his own sin in the very worst colors. Study the fifty-first Psalm. See how David again and again speaks. It is my transgression, my iniquity, my sin ever before me.

True repentance beholds the wrong done to God by sin. The prodigal felt that his sin was primarily against God. It was a breach of His holy law. It was opposition to His holiness. It was sin against His goodness, and against redeeming love. So David cries in his bitter sorrow, forgetting for the moment the wrong he had done to Uriah–in the far greater wrong which his sin had done to God: “Against You, You only have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight!”

True repentance makes no excuses.
The prodigal seeks for no palliation, no covering, no cloak. He says nothing of the circumstances which led him to do evil, or of companions who had drawn him aside. He does not attempt to shift the burden from his own shoulders to that of others. He makes no self-justifying pleas–he has too much sorrow, too much true brokenness of spirit, to desire or attempt it. One thing, and one thing only, he sees–his own terrible fall, and his own exceeding guilt.

True repentance takes the very lowest place. Once to be a son was not enough for him–but now he will be content even to be a slave or a hired servant! He feels utterly unworthy. As Jacob felt: “I am not worthy of all the mercies You have showed me.” As the centurion felt when he sent to Jesus: “I am not worthy that You should come under my roof.” So did the young prodigal esteem himself: “I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”

Be sure that God delights in the humble and contrite soul.
Lift yourself up in pride and self-satisfaction–and God will assuredly cast you down.
Cast yourself down in humble confession of your sin–and God will assuredly lift you up.
“God resists the proud–but gives grace unto the humble.”

But we see here the purpose of the heart accomplished. The young man not only made the resolution, but he kept it, So he got up and went to his father.” He turned his back forever on that far country and his old companions–and turned his face homeward. Doubtless it was with many a tear, with many a bitter feeling of regret for all that had passed–since in so different a spirit he had trodden that path before. Yet onward he trudges with weary heart and weary footstep, in the hope that a place may still be found for him in his father’s house.

Do you ask, What is repentance? I can scarcely better describe it than from the path of this wanderer. It is turning the back . . .
on sin,
on the ways of the world,
on the lusts of the flesh,
on the service of the devil.

And it is turning the face God-ward, Heaven-ward, confessing all that is past, looking upward for grace to live holier, with one single desire–to abide in the fear and love of God.

~ George Everard, “Welcome home! Plain teachings from the story of the Prodigal” 1871

Suffering from Perpetual Frustration?

Monday, March 27th, 2017

This morning I saw that the house needed cleaning in a very big way. And I created this little hell inside my own head. I made an issue of the fact that the house is a mess allowing myself to get upset and let the adrenaline roll. This, in turn, lead to physically getting into a tither. The mess in the house was the trigger but I created the hell inside of me and it exploded to an outward physical tornado. This is an example of what I think the author was getting at in the article Self-created Hells.

This quote from the article struck me: “entitlement plus unrealistic demand equals perpetual frustration.” Now I do not think of myself as an entitled person but I feel I am entitled to some form of “normalcy” in life. Of course, God always tosses in valleys, mountains, storms….

Life is not normal. There is no such thing as normal. But I do feel entitled to this “normalcy” whatever that is. When my life is turned upside down I have a choice on how I react to it. But my choices have ramifications. If I choose badly that self-created hell springs up.

Bad choices = self-created hells

Sometimes I am forced into making choices by circumstances, people, places etc. and I do not have the luxury of time to think things over and make the best choice. A choice just has to be made. And under pressure, wrong choices are made thus resulting in self-created hells.

But I can’t allow myself to get into a trap with this…. or an endless cycle of:
choice > hell > choice > hell

Jesus is there to break the cycle…..He is peace….. He is serenity……The last thing he wants is for you or I to be in some form of hell. He leadeth me beside the still waters…..He maketh me to lay down in green pastures…He restoreth my soul…..That is Christ…. So when I feel myself slipping into a hell i have to put on the breaks and seek Him.

Too often I am trying to climb straight to the top of the mountain (I am talking about a huge, boulder encrusted peak). But God provides those switch-back paths that wind their way back and forth for us to trod upon. The way is far longer but the grade is gradual and manageable. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. God can reduce any mountain to a gradual path. The summit is still attained.

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~ * ~
Copyright by S. O. Brennan.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.
S.O. Brennan is the Director of
Christians in Recovery and Alcoholics Victorious

So Much to do Every Day…

Friday, March 17th, 2017

A story is told of an old man who lived long ago. A friend asked him the cause of his struggles, since in the evening he so often had great weariness. “Alas,” answered he, “I have so much to do every day; I have . . .
two falcons to tame,
two hares to keep from running away,
two hawks to manage,
a serpent to confine,
a lion to chain, and
a sick man to tend and wait upon.”

“Why, this is only folly,” said the friend, “no man has all these things to do at once.”

“Yet indeed,” he answered, “it is with me just as I have said.

The two falcons are my two eyes, which I must diligently guard, lest something should please them which may be hurtful to my soul.

The two hares are my feet, which I must hold back, lest they should run after evil objects, and walk in the ways of sin.

The two hawks are my two hands, which I must train and keep to work, in order that I may be able to provide for myself and for my brethren who are in need.

The serpent is my tongue, which I must always keep in with a bridle, lest it should speak anything unfitting.

The lion is my heart, with which I have to maintain a continual fight, in order that vanity and pride may not fill it, but that the grace of God may dwell and work there.

The sick man is my own body, which is ever needing my watchfulness and care. All this daily wears out my strength!”

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him!” James 1:12 

George Everard, “Daily Warfare!” 1866

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Surviving the Furnace of Affliction

Monday, March 6th, 2017

“I have tested you in the furnace of affliction!” Isaiah 48:10

I stood once in the test room of a great steel mill. All around me were little partitions and compartments. Steel had been tested to the limit, and marked with figures that showed its breaking point. Some pieces had been twisted until they broke, and the strength of torsion was marked on them. Some had been stretched to the breaking point, and their tensile strength indicated. Some had been compressed to the crushing point, and also marked. The master of the steel mill knew just what these pieces of steel would stand under strain. He knew just what they would bear if placed in a great ship, or building, or bridge. He knew this, because his testing room revealed it.

It is often so with God’s children. God does not want us to be like fragile vases of glass or porcelain. He would have us like these toughened pieces of steel–able to bear twisting and stretching and crushing to the uttermost, without collapse.

He wants us to be, not hot-house plants–but storm-beaten oaks. He wants us to be, not sand dunes driven with every gust of wind–but granite rocks withstanding the fiercest storms! To make us such, He needs to bring us into His testing room of suffering.

Many of us need no other argument than our own experiences to prove that suffering is indeed God’s testing room of faith. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds–because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” James 1:2-3

“When He has tested me–I will come forth as gold!” Job 23:10

(John MacDuff)