Posts Tagged ‘hardship’

The Key to Understanding

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

“The eyes of our understanding are opened when we surrender our human sight.”
~R. J. Rushdoony

One of the interesting facets of human history has been the attempt of man to find a key to understanding. Man has, age after age, tried, both philosophically and scientifically, to understand all things in terms of a master concept. One of the things which made Albert Einstein of such central significance to our generation was the contribution he made to a master concept. His unified field theory gave an interpretation to the time, length, breadth, and width of this universe which enabled man to make vast strides towards the understanding and control of material energy. And yet, important as Einstein’s contribution was, it was no true master concept. It indeed comprehended to an extend the meaning of material energy, but there is more to man and creation than material energy, and a master concept which goes no further is no true key to understanding.

In Proverbs 28:5 we have, very simply expressed, a master concept, a key to understanding, which goes beyond matter to interpret the very essence of man’s life. This is what Solomon said, “Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the Lord understand all things.”

The first point made by this proverb is that there is a relationship between faith and understanding. A man’s life and character is an index to the capacity of his understanding. The wicked man cannot fathom the meaning of judgment or justice. God’s dealings with man are beyond him and only confuse and bewilder him. In other words, spiritual confusion involves also intellectual and moral confusion. There is a measure to which we fall short of the Lord’s requirements of us, we are to that same extent incapable of understanding His dealings with us. We are bewildered and rebellious.

The second point made by Solomon is that “they that seek the Lord understand all things.” When the end of our lives is living in terms of faith in the one living God, we gain the knowledge, in every situation of life and in the face of all things, of the meaning of all things. When our personal life has a divine foundation, we are able to understand the workings of God. It is the judgment or justice of God which is the stumbling block to the natural man; but it is this very same thing, the judgment and justice of God, which provides a key of understanding to the faithful. What naturally makes us rebellious, by the grace of God serves also to open the eyes of our understanding. That which alienates the world from God, draws us closer to Him. What to the natural man is a curse, becomes to the believer a blessing. In faithfulness and trust, we are blessed, and the eyes of our understanding opened. Thus it is that Scripture declares that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Our Lord declared, “If any man will do his (i.e., God’s) will, he shall know of the doctrine” (John 7:17).

This is our key to understanding, faith and trust in the Lord. Of such believers, John wrote, “Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things” (1 John 2:20). In other words, all believers, the whole church, by virtue of its faith, its indwelling Holy Spirit, has spiritual knowledge which enables it to meet and interpret the events of life and become victorious in the face of adversity.

Faith, therefore, is the key to understanding. Men who try to walk by sight are men who walk blindly. They cannot see one step ahead or one hour into the future. But men, who walk instead by faith, walk with confidence in the dark, knowing they have a guide and knowing that all things are under the providential rule and purpose of their Lord and guide. The eyes of our understanding are opened when we surrender our human sight. In the words of Moffatt’s translation of Ephesians 1:17–23:

May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, grant you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation for the knowledge of himself, illuminating the eyes of your heart so that you can understand the hope to which He calls us, the wealth of his glorious heritage in the saints, and the surpassing greatness of his power over us believers—a power which operates with the strength of the might which he exerted in raising Christ from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavenly sphere, above all the angelic Rulers, Authorities, Powers, and Lords, above every Name that is to be named not only in this age but in the age to come—he has put everything under his feet and set him as head over everything for the church, the church which is his Body, filled by him who fills the universe entirely.

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

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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A Bag, a Book, and a Bottle!

Friday, April 7th, 2017

God takes great care to comfort His people in their many trials and sorrows in this world. One of the goals which He commands His preachers to have, is the comfort of His people. He says, “Comfort, comfort My people.” Here are three things described in the Word of God that should be of great comfort to every believer.

1. God has made A BAG FOR OUR SINS. Job said, “My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and you sew up my iniquity.”  In ancient times when men died at sea, their bodies were placed in a weighted bag which was sewn together and sealed. Then they were cast into the depths of the sea.

That is what God has done with our sins. They are cast “into the depths of the sea.” When Christ died for our sins which were imputed to Him, He put them all away. They were buried in the sea of God’s infinite forgiveness, put away never to be brought up again. God almighty will never charge us with sin, impute sin to us, remember our sins against us, or treat us any less graciously because of our sin. That is the forgiveness of God! “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”

2. The Lord has written A BOOK FOR OUR NAMES. Take heart child of God. Your name is written in the book of God! Before the worlds were made, the Lord God inscribed the names of His elect in the Lamb’s book of life. In that book God has recorded, not only the names of the chosen heirs of Heaven, but also all things pertaining to them. The Lamb’s book of life is the book of God’s eternal purpose of grace, predestination, and election. The fact that our names are written in that book means that our salvation is a matter of absolute certainty, and that all things work together for our good by God’s arrangement to secure our predestined end, which is perfect conformity to Christ. When our Lord says, “Rejoice because your names are written in Heaven,” He is telling us that we have nothing to fear. All is well with those whose names are written in Heaven.

3. Moreover, the Lord God keeps A BOTTLE FOR OUR TEARS. “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book.” It was customary at ancient Egyptian funerals for mourners to have a small cloth or sponge to wipe away their tears. Then they were squeezed into a small vial, a tear bottle, and placed in the tomb with the dead, symbolizing the care the mourners had for the one who had died. Even so, the Lord our God, our heavenly Father, our almighty Savior, and our holy Comforter tenderly cares for us. We are the very apple of His eye.

The Lord our God has . . .
put our sins in a bag and buried them,
written our names in a book to remember them, and
placed our tears in a bottle to show His tender care for us.

Could anything be more comforting in this world of sin, sorrow, and death?

~Don Fortner

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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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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

Are You Envious?

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

A canary and a goldfish had their allotment together in the same room.

One hot day the master of the house heard the fish complaining of his silent condition, and envying the sweet song of his companion overhead. “Oh, I wish I could sing as sweetly as my friend up there!”

Meanwhile the Canary was eyeing the inhabitant of the globe, “How cool it looks! I wish my lot were there.”

“So then it shall be!” said the master, and forthwith placed the fish in the air–and the bird in the water.

Immediately they saw their folly, and repented of their discontent and grumbling.

The moral of this little fable is this: Let every man be content in the state in which Divine Providence has placed him, and believe that it is what is best fitted for him!

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:11-12

(author unknown)

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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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