Remembering Our Father’s Words

I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You have given me life. —Psalm 119:93

Jim Davidson was climbing down Mount Rainier when he fell through a snow bridge and into a crevasse (a pitchblack, ice-walled crack in a glacier). As Jim stood bloodied and bruised in that dark ice cave, he reflected on his childhood and recalled how his father had repeatedly reminded him that he could accomplish great things if he pressed through adversity. Those words helped to sustain Jim as he spent the next 5 hours climbing out of that dark ice cave to safety with very little gear and under extremely difficult circumstances.

The psalmist seemed to climb out of his own crevasse of affliction and pain by recalling his heavenly Father’s words. He admitted that if God and His Word had not sustained him with joy, he would have died in his misery (Ps. 119:92). He expressed full confidence in the Lord’s eternal Word (v.89) and in the faithfulness of His character (v.90). As a result of God’s faithfulness, the psalmist made a commitment never to forget God’s words to him because they had a central part in rescuing his life and bringing him strength.

In our darkest caves and moments of affliction, our souls can be revived by our Father in heaven when we recall and fill our minds with His encouraging words. by Marvin Williams

THINKING IT OVER

What crevasse of discouragement are you currently in?
How can you use this time as an occasion to revive your
soul by filling your mind and heart with God’s Word?

Remembering God’s words revives our soul.

Dare to Ask

God wants to restore us, even when our wounds are self-inflicted.

A friend of mine suffered serious burns on her arm during an accident. The pain was excruciating. She broke out in a sweat, her vision blurred, and she could think of nothing but getting immediate help. God gave the human body a pain response for just those moments. Without it, we would not seek attention for the wound. But there’s one pain that many of us prefer to hide, and it comes from the wound of failure. Like Adam and Eve, when we’ve sinned or blundered in some important way, we choose to hide. We don’t seek out the healing attention of our Great Physician.

The Old Testament hero Joshua would challenge us to rethink that decision. You may know him best by the miracle he was granted. During a raging battle, he asked the Lord to hold back the sun so the fighting could continue. Scripture says, “So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped . . . There was no day like that before it or after it, when the Lord listened to the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel” (Josh. 10:13-14).

This was a miracle, but unless we understand the context it occurred in, we miss the greater gift. You see, Joshua and his men never should have been in that battle. Earlier, God had commanded them to refuse all covenants of peace with nearby nations, including the Gibeonites. But the Gibeonites were afraid of the Israelites and desperate for a pact. So they decided to try a trick.

Dressed as weary travelers from distant lands—complete with rotting sandals and moldy bread—the Gibeonites approached the Israelites. In this disguise, they asked for a treaty of peace. The decision to grant it was probably easy: God’s people had no quarrel with those who lived so far away. Joshua offered the covenant without asking the Lord for wisdom. Perhaps he assumed God wanted to be bothered only for the hard questions, not ones with such obvious answers.

When the true identity of the Gibeonites was revealed, his failure as a leader was made public. Everyone now knew that this covenant was a major mistake. Scripture tells us the Israelites complained, which may be an understatement. Public opinion is never kind when a leader fails. But the pain of failing was about to get worse.

The Israelites were now obligated to protect the Gibeonites if danger ever came calling, and when it did, it came shouting and screaming, with arrows and swords. Five kings summoned their armies to attack. Israel had to fight.

Surrounded—literally—with the shrieking evidence of his foolishness, how could Joshua dare ask God for help? Perhaps he recalled the words his mentor Moses had spoken to him: “The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deut. 31:8).

Joshua, it seems, took those words to heart. He did not creatively add any “fine print” or exclusions. He did not add or remove one word of the promise. So when he failed (and God surely knew he would), he did not run and hide. Joshua faced his people, with those awful looks of disappointment in their eyes. He faced his enemy, with their swords drawn for blood. And, against all human instincts, he faced God. Although we do not have the details of their conversation, we know that the Lord offered a startling redemption: God promised to deliver all the enemy kings into Joshua’s hands. From his public failing as a leader came a national victory for his people. And because it’s God’s nature to be generous, Joshua was granted the miracle we still talk about today: “Then Joshua spoke to the Lord . . . and he said in the sight of Israel, ‘O sun, stand still . . . ’” (Josh. 10:12).

We marvel that the sun halted in the middle of that battle, but perhaps the greater miracle is that a prominent leader, having failed publicly, humbled himself and dared to ask God for help. The Lord’s grace is more than sufficient for us, too—for all our weaknesses, failings, and mistakes (2 Cor. 12:9). We can seek God’s wisdom for all our choices, even ones that seem “pleasing to the eye” (Gen. 3:6 NIV). And when we do fall, we can remember Joshua’s courageous faith. Though he failed in front of thousands, he was granted abundant favor and honor in front of millions, continuing even to this day.

by Ginger Garrett
http://intouch.org/magazine/content/topic/Dare_to_Ask

Filled and Fulfilled

“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” (Colossians 1:9)

In this precious prayer, Paul sought for the Colossian Christians the full knowledge of the will of God. For the Christians at Rome, he prayed that they might be filled “with all joy and peace in believing” (Romans 15:13). For the Ephesians, he prayed that they “might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:19), and then urged them to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). He wrote to the Philippians, “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; . . . Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11). For the Colossians, he also prayed for their “full [same as ‘filled with’] assurance of understanding” (Colossians 2:2).

Together, all these prayer requests constitute an ideal description of a complete Christian—an ideal for which we should all strive and pray—both for ourselves and for others. Summarizing again, the list is as follows:

“Filled with all joy and peace in believing.”

“Filled with the fruits of righteousness.”

“Filled with the knowledge of his will.”

“Filled with the Spirit.”

“Filled with all the fulness of God.”

“Filled with assurance of understanding.”

It is also worth noting that the Greek word for “filled” is the same as for “fulfilled.” When a Christian is “filled” with all these wonderful realities, he becomes a “fulfillment,” as it were, of God’s purpose in creating and redeeming him. His ultimate goal, of course, is to measure up to “the fulness of Christ” Himself (Ephesians 4:13). HMM

Under hopeless circumstances he hopefully believed

“Under hopeless circumstances he hopefully believed.” (Rom. 4:18.) (Weymouth.)

ABRAHAM’S faith seemed to be in a thorough correspondence with the power and constant faithfulness of Jehovah. In the outward circumstances in which he was placed, he had not the greatest cause to expect the fulfillment of the promise. Yet he believed the Word of the Lord, and looked forward to the time when his seed should be as the stars of heaven for multitude.

O my soul, thou hast not one single promise only, like Abraham, but a thousand promises, and many patterns of faithful believers before thee: it behooves thee, therefore, to rely with confidence upon the Word of God. And though He delayeth His help, and the evil seemeth to grow worse and worse, be not weak, but rather strong, and rejoice, since the most glorious promises of God are generally fulfilled in such a wondrous manner that He steps forth to save us at a time when there is the least appearance of it.

He commonly brings His help in our greatest extremity, that His finger may plainly appear in our deliverance. And this method He chooses that we may not trust upon anything that we see or feel, as we are always apt to do, but only upon His bare Word, which we may depend upon in every state. —C. H. Von Bogatzky.

Remember it is the very time for faith to work when sight ceases. The greater the difficulties, the easier for faith; as long as there remain certain natural prospects, faith does not get on even as easily as where natural prospects fail. —George Mueller.

It is enough for the disciple that he be as His Master

“It is enough for the disciple that he be as His Master.” Matthew 10:25

No one will dispute this statement, for it would be unseemly for the servant to be exalted above his Master. When our Lord was on earth, what was the treatment He received? Were His claims acknowledged, His instructions followed, His perfections worshipped, by those whom He came to bless? No; “He was despised and rejected of men.” Outside the camp was His place: cross-bearing was His occupation. Did the world yield Him solace and rest? “Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head.”

This inhospitable country afforded Him no shelter: it cast Him out and crucified Him. Such—if you are a follower of Jesus, and maintain a consistent, Christ-like walk and conversation—you must expect to be the lot of that part of your spiritual life which, in its outward development, comes under the observation of men. They will treat it as they treated the Saviour—they will despise it. Dream not that worldlings will admire you, or that the more holy and the more Christ-like you are, the more peaceably people will act towards you. They prized not the polished gem, how should they value the jewel in the rough? “If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of His household?”

If we were more like Christ, we should be more hated by His enemies. It were a sad dishonour to a child of God to be the world’s favourite. It is a very ill omen to hear a wicked world clap its hands and shout “Well done” to the Christian man. He may begin to look to his character, and wonder whether he has not been doing wrong, when the unrighteous give him their approbation. Let us be true to our Master, and have no friendship with a blind and base world which scorns and rejects Him. Far be it from us to seek a crown of honour where our Lord found a coronet of thorn.

The eternal God is thy refuge

“The eternal God is thy refuge.” Deuteronomy 33:27

The word refuge may be translated “mansion,” or “abiding- place,” which gives the thought that God is our abode, our home. There is a fulness and sweetness in the metaphor, for dear to our hearts is our home, although it be the humblest cottage, or the scantiest garret; and dearer far is our blessed God, in whom we live, and move, and have our being. It is at home that we feel safe: we shut the world out and dwell in quiet security. So when we are with our God we “fear no evil.” He is our shelter and retreat, our abiding refuge. At home, we take our rest; it is there we find repose after the fatigue and toil of the day.

And so our hearts find rest in God, when, wearied with life’s conflict, we turn to Him, and our soul dwells at ease. At home, also, we let our hearts loose; we are not afraid of being misunderstood, nor of our words being misconstrued. So when we are with God we can commune freely with Him, laying open all our hidden desires; for if the “secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him,” the secrets of them that fear Him ought to be, and must be, with their Lord. Home, too, is the place of our truest and purest happiness: and it is in God that our hearts find their deepest delight. We have joy in Him which far surpasses all other joy. It is also for home that we work and labour.

The thought of it gives strength to bear the daily burden, and quickens the fingers to perform the task; and in this sense we may also say that God is our home. Love to Him strengthens us. We think of Him in the person of His dear Son; and a glimpse of the suffering face of the Redeemer constrains us to labour in His cause. We feel that we must work, for we have brethren yet to be saved, and we have our Father’s heart to make glad by bringing home His wandering sons; we would fill with holy mirth the sacred family among whom we dwell. Happy are those who have thus the God of Jacob for their refuge!