GOD IS WITH US

“She will have a son, and she will name him Immanuel.” ISAIAH 7:14

God’s treatment for insignificance won’t lead you to a bar or dating service, a spouse or social club. God’s ultimate cure for the common life takes you to a manger. The babe of Bethlehem. Immanuel. Remember the promise of the angel? “ ‘The virgin will be pregnant. She will have a son, and they will name him Immanuel,’ which means ‘God is with us’ ” (Matthew 1:23).

Immanuel. The name appears in the same Hebrew form as it did two thousand years ago.

“Immanu” means “with us.” “El” refers to Elohim, or God. Not an “above us God” or a “somewhere in the neighborhood God.” He came as the “with us God.” God is with us.

Not “God is with the rich” or “God is with the religious.” But God is with us. All of us. Russians, Germans, truck drivers and taxi drivers, librarians. God is with us.

from CURE FOR THE COMMON LIFE

Blessed Are the Focused

Each of you has received a gift to use to serve others. 1 PETER 4:10

There is only so much sand in the hourglass. Who gets it?

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? …

“The PTA needs a new treasurer. With your background and experience and talent and wisdom and love for kids and degree in accounting, YOU are the perfect one for the job!”…

It’s tug-of-war, and you are the rope.…

“Blessed are the meek,” Jesus said. The word meek does not mean weak. It means focused. It is a word used to describe a domesticated stallion. Power under control.…

Blessed are those who recognize their God-given responsibilities. Blessed are those who acknowledge that there is only one God and have quit applying for his position. Blessed are those who know what on earth they are on earth to do and set themselves about the business of doing it.

In the Eye of the Storm

Bearing and Helping to Bear

“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. . . . For every man shall bear his own burden.” (Galatians 6:2, 5)

This is one of the most commonly cited Bible “contradictions.” The apostle Paul commanding us, almost in the same breath, to bear other people’s burdens and yet to bear our own burdens. There is, however, no real contradiction, and both commands are equally valid and important.

The problem is partly one of translation. There are two Greek words used here, baros and phortion, respectively. The first means “heavy load,” the second, “responsibility.”

When a Christian friend has been stricken with a great burden—whether sickness, financial need, death of a loved one, or even a grievous sin in his life which he has been unable to overcome by his own strength (see verse 1)—he needs desperately the love and support of his Christian brethren. The Scripture assures us that when we help relieve this burden, we “fulfill the law of Christ.” The previous chapter also notes this: “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Galatians 5:14).

At the same time, the privilege of having Christian friends who will share and help with an otherwise unbearable load does not at all absolve us from the responsibility of doing our own part in carrying out our God-given responsibilities. There is no place in the Christian warfare for Christian beggars or Christian crybabies. “Study to be quiet, and to do your own business. . . . That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).

The preceding verse (Galatians 6:4) had urged that “every man prove his own work.” Since God has both created and redeemed us, we can be sure He is concerned about us and will not allow trials, or place upon us duties, which are greater than we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). HMM

Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress

“Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress.” (Psalm 4:1.)

THIS is one of the grandest testimonies ever given by man to the moral government of God. It is not a man’s thanksgiving that he has been set free from suffering. It is a thanksgiving that he has been set free through suffering: “Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress.” He declares the sorrows of life to have been themselves the source of life’s enlargement.

And have not you and I a thousand times felt this to be true? It is written of Joseph in the dungeon that “the iron entered into his soul.” We all feel that what Joseph needed for his soul was just the iron. He had seen only the glitter of the gold. He had been rejoicing in youthful dreams; and dreaming hardens the heart. He who sheds tears over a romance will not be most apt to help reality; real sorrow will be too unpoetic for him. We need the iron to enlarge our nature. The gold is but a vision; the iron is an experience. The chain which unites me to humanity must be an iron chain. That touch of nature which makes the world akin is not joy, but sorrow; gold is partial, but iron is universal.

My soul, if thou wouldst be enlarged into human sympathy, thou must be narrowed into limits of human suffering. Joseph’s dungeon is the road to Joseph’s throne. Thou canst not lift the iron load of thy brother if the iron hath not entered into thee. It is thy limit that is thine enlargement. It is the shadows of thy life that are the real fulfillment of thy dreams of glory. Murmur not at the shadows; they are better revelations than thy dreams. Say not that the shades of the prison-house have fettered thee; thy fetters are wings—wings of flight into the bosom of humanity. The door of thy prison-house is a door into the heart of the universe. God has enlarged thee by the binding of sorrow’s chain.—George Matheson.

If Joseph had not been Egypt’s prisoner, he had never been Egypt’s governor. The iron chain about his feet ushered in the golden chain about his neck.—Selected.

In the resurrection of Christ is Devine Power

“The exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead.” Ephesians 1:19,20

In the resurrection of Christ, as in our salvation, there was put forth nothing short of a divine power. What shall we say of those who think that conversion is wrought by the free will of man, and is due to his own betterness of disposition? When we shall see the dead rise from the grave by their own power, then may we expect to see ungodly sinners of their own free will turning to Christ. It is not the word preached, nor the word read in itself; all quickening power proceeds from the Holy Ghost. This power was irresistible.

All the soldiers and the high priests could not keep the body of Christ in the tomb; Death himself could not hold Jesus in his bonds: even thus irresistible is the power put forth in the believer when he is raised to newness of life. No sin, no corruption, no devils in hell nor sinners upon earth, can stay the hand of God’s grace when it intends to convert a man. If God omnipotently says, “Thou shalt,” man shall not say, “I will not.” Observe that the power which raised Christ from the dead was glorious. It reflected honour upon God and wrought dismay in the hosts of evil. So there is great glory to God in the conversion of every sinner. It was everlasting power. “Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him.”

So we, being raised from the dead, go not back to our dead works nor to our old corruptions, but we live unto God. “Because He lives we live also.” “For we are dead, and our life is hid with Christ in God.” “Like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Lastly, in the text mark the union of the new life to Jesus. The same power which raised the Head works life in the members. What a blessing to be quickened together with Christ!

From Me is thy fruit found

“From Me is thy fruit found.” Hosea 14:8

Our fruit is found from our God as to union. The fruit of the branch is directly traceable to the root. Sever the connection, the branch dies, and no fruit is produced. By virtue of our union with Christ we bring forth fruit. Every bunch of grapes have been first in the root, it has passed through the stem, and flowed through the sap vessels, and fashioned itself externally into fruit, but it was first in the stem; so also every good work was first in Christ, and then is brought forth in us. O Christian, prize this precious union to Christ; for it must be the source of all the fruitfulness which thou canst hope to know. If thou wert not joined to Jesus Christ, thou wouldst be a barren bough indeed.

Our fruit comes from God as to spiritual providence. When the dew-drops fall from heaven, when the cloud looks down from on high, and is about to distil its liquid treasure, when the bright sun swells the berries of the cluster, each heavenly boon may whisper to the tree and say, “From me is thy fruit found.” The fruit owes much to the root—that is essential to fruitfulness—but it owes very much also to external influences. How much we owe to God’s grace-providence! in which He provides us constantly with quickening, teaching, consolation, strength, or whatever else we want. To this we owe our all of usefulness or virtue.

Our fruit comes from God as to wise husbandry. The gardener’s sharp-edged knife promotes the fruitfulness of the tree, by thinning the clusters, and by cutting off superfluous shoots. So is it, Christian, with that pruning which the Lord gives to thee. “My Father is the husbandman. Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” Since our God is the author of our spiritual graces, let us give to Him all the glory of our salvation.