THE STRENGTH OF GOD’S LOVE

God shows his great love for us in this way: Christ died for us while we were still sinners. ROMANS 5:8

“Can anything make me stop loving you?” God asks. “Watch me speak your language, sleep on your earth, and feel your hurts. Behold the maker of sight and sound as he sneezes, coughs, and blows his nose. You wonder if I understand how you feel? Look into the dancing eyes of the kid in Nazareth; that’s God walking to school. Ponder the toddler at Mary’s table; that’s God spilling his milk.

“You wonder how long my love will last? Find your answer on a splintered cross, on a craggy hill. That’s me you see up there, your maker, your God, nail-stabbed and bleeding. Covered in spit and sin-soaked.

That’s your sin I’m feeling. That’s your death I’m dying. That’s your resurrection I’m living. That’s how much I love you.”

from IN THE GRIP OF GRACE

A Raging Fire

Since God has shown us great mercy, I beg you to offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him. ROMANS 12:1

Resentment is the cocaine of the emotions. It causes our blood to pump and our energy level to rise. But, also like cocaine, it demands increasingly large and more frequent dosages. There is a dangerous point at which anger ceases to be an emotion and becomes a driving force. A person bent on revenge moves unknowingly further and further away from being able to forgive, for to be without the anger is to be without a source of energy.

Hatred is the rabid dog that turns on its owner.

Revenge is the raging fire that consumes the arsonist.

Bitterness is the trap that snares the hunter.

And mercy is the choice that can set them all free.

The Applause of Heaven

“I Am” in the Pentateuch

“And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.” (Genesis 15:7)

There are seven “I am’s” in the book of Genesis. The first is a beautiful figure of speech (“I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward” |Genesis 15:1|), but the others are all names and titles of God. The first of these is in our text above, identifying Jehovah Himself (the LORD) with the “I am.”

The next is Genesis 17:1: “I am the Almighty God.” The Hebrew here is El Shaddai (“God the nourishing sustainer”), also found in 35:11. Next is in 26:24: “I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee.” Then, “I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac” (28:13). “I am the God of Bethel” (31:13). Beth-el means “the house of God.” Finally, God says: “I am God, the God of thy father” (46:3).

In Exodus, there are 21 places where God says “I am.” Most of these are merely variations of the different names of God as noted above in the “I am’s” of Genesis, but six do give new insight. The first, of course, is the great assertion of Exodus 3:14 where God identifies Himself as “I AM THAT I AM.” The others: “I am the LORD in the midst of the earth” (8:22); “I am the LORD that healeth thee” (15:26); “I the LORD thy God am a jealous God” (20:5); “For I am gracious” (22:27); “I am the LORD that doth sanctify you” (31:13).

In the remaining books of the Pentateuch, the phrase “I am the LORD your God” occurs very frequently, but there are two important new “I am’s.” “I am holy” occurs six times (e.g., Leviticus 11:45), and “I am thy part and thine inheritance” is recorded in Numbers 18:20. The great theme of all these claims and names of God is that the mighty God of time and space is also a caring, personal God. We can trust Him, and He cares for us. HMM

Quit you like men, be strong

“Quit you like men, be strong.” (1 Cor. 16:13)

DO not pray for easy lives! Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be a miracle. —Phillips Brooks.

We must remember that it is not in any easy or self-indulgent life that Christ will lead us to greatness. The easy life leads not upward, but downward. Heaven always is above us, and we must ever be looking up toward it. These are some people who always avoid things that are costly, that require self-denial, or self-restraint and sacrifice, but toil and hardship show us the only way to nobleness. Greatness comes not by having a mossy path made for you through the meadow, but by being sent to hew out a roadway by your own hands. Are you going to reach the mountain splendors? —Selected.

Be strong!
We are not here to play, to dream, to drift;
We have hard work to do, and loads to lift.
Shun not the struggle; face it.
‘Tis God’s gift.

Be strong!
Say not the days are evil—Who’s to blame?
And fold the hands and acquiesce—O shame I
Stand up, speak out, and bravely,
In God’s name.

Be strong!
It matters not how deep entrenched the wrong,
How hard the battle goes, the day how long,
Faint not, fight on!
Tomorrow comes the song.
—Maltbie D. Babcock.

But as He went

“But as He went.” Luke 8:42

Jesus is passing through the throng to the house of Jairus, to raise the ruler’s dead daughter; but He is so profuse in goodness that He works another miracle while upon the road. While yet this rod of Aaron bears the blossom of an unaccomplished wonder, it yields the ripe almonds of a perfect work of mercy. It is enough for us, if we have some one purpose, straightway to go and accomplish it; it were imprudent to expend our energies by the way. Hastening to the rescue of a drowning friend, we cannot afford to exhaust our strength upon another in like danger. It is enough for a tree to yield one sort of fruit, and for a man to fulfil his own peculiar calling.

But our Master knows no limit of power or boundary of mission. He is so prolific of grace, that like the sun which shines as it rolls onward in its orbit, His path is radiant with lovingkindness. He is a swift arrow of love, which not only reaches its ordained target, but perfumes the air through which it flies. Virtue is evermore going out of Jesus, as sweet odours exhale from flowers; and it always will be emanating from Him, as water from a sparkling fountain. What delightful encouragement this truth affords us! If our Lord is so ready to heal the sick and bless the needy, then, my soul, be not thou slow to put thyself in His way, that He may smile on thee. Be not slack in asking, if He be so abundant in bestowing.

Give earnest heed to His word now, and at all times, that Jesus may speak through it to thy heart. Where He is to be found there make thy resort, that thou mayst obtain His blessing. When He is present to heal, may He not heal thee? But surely He is present even now, for He always comes to hearts which need Him. And dost not thou need Him? Ah, He knows how much! Thou Son of David, turn Thine eye and look upon the distress which is now before Thee, and make Thy suppliant whole.

The Lamb is the Light

“The Lamb is the light thereof.” Revelation 21:23

Quietly contemplate the Lamb as the light of heaven. Light in Scripture is the emblem of joy. The joy of the saints in heaven is comprised in this: Jesus chose us, loved us, bought us, cleansed us, robed us, kept us, glorified us: we are here entirely through the Lord Jesus. Each one of these thoughts shall be to them like a cluster of the grapes of Eshcol. Light is also the cause of beauty. Nought of beauty is left when light is gone. Without light no radiance flashes from the sapphire, no peaceful ray proceedeth from the pearl; and thus all the beauty of the saints above comes from Jesus.

As planets, they reflect the light of the Sun of Righteousness; they live as beams proceeding from the central orb. If He withdrew, they must die; if His glory were veiled, their must expire. Light is also the emblem of knowledge. In heaven our knowledge will be perfect, but the Lord Jesus Himself will be the fountain of it. Dark providences, never understood before, will then be clearly seen, and all that puzzles us now will become plain to us in the light of the Lamb. Oh! what unfoldings there will be and what glorifying of the God of love! Light also means manifestation. Light manifests. In this world it doth not yet appear what we shall be. God’s people are a hidden people, but when Christ receives His people into heaven, He will touch them with the wand of His own love, and change them into the image of His manifested glory.

They were poor and wretched, but what a transformation! They were stained with sin, but one touch of His finger, and they are bright as the sun, and clear as crystal. Oh! what a manifestation! All this proceeds from the exalted Lamb. Whatever there may be of effulgent splendour, Jesus be the centre and soul of it all. Oh! to be present and to see Him in His own light, the King of kings, and Lord of lords!