Archive for the ‘Ability to Overcome’ Category

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)

We need a lot of chipping!

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

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

We need a lot of chipping!” So said a saint as we were talking about the Lord’s gracious dealings with His people. The saying suggested to my mind–the Lord Jesus as the loving Sculptor at work upon the marble of our fallen humanity. There is an angel in the marble–because the pierced hand of the Sculptor has it in His mind, and brings it out by His skill. But there is a “lot of chipping” to be done before the beautiful image of His holy character stands out, displaying the perfection of His work.

The hard stone of unbelief,
the rough points of self-will,
the prominence of worldly ambition,
the sharp angles of pride,
the ugly faults of temper,
the stubborn marks of bad habits,
and the dark veins of selfishness
are some of the things He removes!

“Those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son!” Romans 8:29

“God cuts and polishes His jewels in order to make them shine more brightly and beautifully in the crown of His glory in Heaven. All of God’s jewels need polishing!” (Richard Newton)

“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

~Frederick Marsh

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A Higher End in Life

Monday, February 27th, 2017

“A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things that he possesses.” Luke 12:15

“Implanted within us is a desire for amusement — the entire suppression of which is as injurious, as it is unauthorized. The Christian religion is antagonistic only to that which is hurtful to spiritual life. It is not opposed to wholesome amusements. It does not rob us of any pleasures which are consistent with our eternal welfare.”

“Healthy recreation should be encouraged, with one proviso — that it never be forgotten that there is a higher end in life than to be amused. Care should be taken, not to suppress the desire for amusement — but to moderate and rightly direct it. The limitation which devotion to Christ imposes, must ever be observed, lest pleasure be made the business of life, instead of life’s relaxation.”

“The selection of fitting sources of amusement should not be difficult. There are many such, without tampering with questionable ones, which may prove detrimental and even destructive to spiritual life. The question requiring settlement is: “Am I, by the amusement in which I indulge, being spiritually helped or hindered? Is my soul being lifted up — or more heavily weighted down?”

“The Christian should find pleasure not only in the world’s confectionery — but chiefly in the strong meat of the Word.”

“All things are yours. Take them and use them; but never let them interfere with the higher life which you are called on to lead.”

“A ship is all right in the sea — so long as the sea is not in the ship. In the same way, a Christian is all right in the world — so long as the world is not in the Christian.”

J.C. Pittman, 1917

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Are You Making a Cross for Yourself?

Monday, February 13th, 2017

Father, if You are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from Me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not Mine.” Luke 22:42

A cross is composed of two pieces of wood. The shorter piece represents your will–and the longer piece represents God’s will. Lay the two pieces side by side–and there is no cross; but lay the shorter piece across the longer one–and you have a cross.

Just so, whenever our will falls across God’s will–there is a cross in our life. We make a cross for ourselves . . .
— every time we do not accept Christ’s way,
— every time we murmur at anything He sends,
— every time we will not do what He commands.

But when we quietly accept what He gives, when we yield in sweet acquiescence to His will, though it shatters our fairest hopes, when we let our will lie alongside His–there are no crosses in our life, and we have found the peace of Christ.

“My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it–may Your will be done.” Matthew 26:42

I delight to do Your will, O my God!” Psalm 40:8

God is your refuge – and underneath are the everlasting arms!

Monday, February 6th, 2017

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

If we are held in the clasp of the everlasting arms — we need not fear that we shall ever be separated from the enfolding. “Underneath.” They are always underneath us. No matter how low we sink in weakness, in fainting, in pain, in sorrow — we never can sink below these everlasting arms. We can never drop out of their clasp!

God’s love is deeper than human sorrow. Sorrow is very deep, but still and forever, in the greatest grief — these arms of Divine love are underneath the believing sufferer.

God’s love is deeper than death. When every earthly support is gone from beneath us, when every human arm unclasps and every face fades from before our eyes, and we sink away into what seems darkness and the shadow of death — we shall only sink into the everlasting arms!

Drop your plummet into the deepest sea of sorrow, and at the end of your soundings: “Underneath are the everlasting arms!”

What abiding consolation! What all-embracing, never-failing strength!

~J.C. Pittman, 1917

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Be Thankful in All Circumstances

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

One day, Johann Tauler of Strosbourg met a peasant and greeted him, “God give you a good day, my friend!”

The peasant answered briskly, “I thank God that I never have a bad day!”

Tauler, astonished, kept silent for a moment. Tauler then added, “God give you a happy life, my friend.”

The peasant replied composedly, “I thank God that I am never unhappy!”

“Never unhappy!” cried Tauler bewildered, “What do you mean?”

“Well,” came the reply, “When it is sunshine — I thank God; and when it rains — I thank God. When I have plenty — I thank God; and when I am hungry — I thank God. Since God’s will is my will, and whatever pleases God pleases me — I am never unhappy.

Tauler looked upon him with awe. “Who are you?” he asked.

“I am a king!” said the peasant.

“A king?” Tauler asked, “Where is your kingdom?”

The peasant smiled and whispered softly, “In my heart!”

“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

In all circumstances! This comes as a surprise when one considers the vicissitudes of human life. Sickness and health, poverty and wealth, joy and sorrow — are all ingredients of the cup placed to human lips — so all must come within the scope of thanksgiving. Why be thankful for everything? Because God causes everything to work together for good to those who love Him.

J.C. Pittman, 1917

What is Truly Important?

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Over the triple doorways of a European Cathedral, there are three inscriptions spanning the splendid arches.

Over one is carved a beautiful wreath of roses, and underneath is the lettering:
“All which pleases us — is but for a moment.”

Over the other arch is sculptured a cross, and there are the words:
“All which troubles us — is but for a moment.”

But on the great central entrance to the main aisle, is the inscription:
“That alone is important, which is eternal.”

If we always realize these three truths, we would not let small things trouble us; nor would we be so much interested in the passing pageants of the hour. We would live, as we do not now — for the permanent and the eternal.

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.
For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal!” 2 Corinthians 4:18

J.C. Pittman, 1917