Have You Ever Been Alone with God? (1)

When they were alone, He explained all things to His disciples. —Mark 4:34

Our Solitude with Him. Jesus doesn’t take us aside and explain things to us all the time; He explains things to us as we are able to understand them. The lives of others are examples for us, but God requires us to examine our own souls. It is slow work— so slow that it takes God all of time and eternity to make a man or woman conform to His purpose. We can only be used by God after we allow Him to show us the deep, hidden areas of our own character. It is astounding how ignorant we are about ourselves! We don’t even recognize the envy, laziness, or pride within us when we see it. But Jesus will reveal to us everything we have held within ourselves before His grace began to work. How many of us have learned to look inwardly with courage?

We have to get rid of the idea that we understand ourselves. That is always the last bit of pride to go. The only One who understands us is God. The greatest curse in our spiritual life is pride. If we have ever had a glimpse of what we are like in the sight of God, we will never say, “Oh, I’m so unworthy.” We will understand that this goes without saying. But as long as there is any doubt that we are unworthy, God will continue to close us in until He gets us alone. Whenever there is any element of pride or conceit remaining, Jesus can’t teach us anything. He will allow us to experience heartbreak or the disappointment we feel when our intellectual pride is wounded. He will reveal numerous misplaced affections or desires— things over which we never thought He would have to get us alone. Many things are shown to us, often without effect. But when God gets us alone over them, they will be clear.

by Oswald Chambers

Courage in Troubled Times

Romans 8:28-34

Some time ago, two Chinese women shared their father’s story with me. He was arrested in a roundup of house church members and given a choice—to deny Christ or go to jail. The man spent 20 years imprisoned for his faith.

I was moved to tears by this brother’s godly testimony. He understood that God was in control of his life, and that realization gave him the courage to please his Father regardless of the repercussions.

Romans 8:28 teaches that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love [Him].” But relying on that guarantee gets tough when we’re in the midst of trials. The first few words of the verse—“And we know” (emphasis added)—provide a hint about how Christians are to trust that the Lord will keep His promise. We can face adversity courageously when we make a habit of finding God’s fingerprints on prior situations in our life.

While God causes good to come from our experiences, He doesn’t necessarily initiate trials. Psalm 103:19 says, “His sovereignty rules over all” (emphasis added). Other forces are at work in the world, but the Father’s power reigns supreme. Satan may touch our life with pain, but only because the Lord allows him to do so. And God gives permission only when a situation fits His ultimate purpose.

Regardless of the tragedies we face, God’s commitment remains the same—He makes good out of bad, just as He has always done. Paul knew the promise was true, and so do I. Examine your life for evidence of the Lord at work, and you will be assured as well.

The Bright and Morning Star

“I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” (Revelation 22:16)

The epilogue of Revelation contains many words of comfort to the believer. Our Lord promises, among other things, that “behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me” (v. 12), and “blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (v. 14). Likewise, there are many names for God given, such as “the Lord God of the holy prophets” (v. 6), “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” (v. 13), and “the root and the offspring of David” (text). This rehearsal of names and deeds provides comfort, but why is Christ called the “bright and morning star”?

The analogy is to the planet Venus, so often seen shining brightly in the early morning. The sight of the planet provides a pledge of the coming day during which the light is brighter and the sight clearer.

Likewise, however beautiful and awe-inspiring our perception is now by the light of our Bright and Morning Star, Jesus Christ, we are promised a more complete view. Although He has “shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6), and although Christ appeared as “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person” (Hebrews 1:3), soon we shall see Him “face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:12) and even “be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

Our view now constitutes only the beginning of a clearer sight—a guarantee of the glorious day that has no night, when we shall see the King in all His beauty. There will even be no need of the sun, “for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof” (Revelation 21:23). JDM

The Knowledge of God

For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. —Hebrews 5:12

Probably the most widespread and persistent problem to be found among Christians is the problem of retarded spiritual progress. Why, after years of Christian profession, do so many persons find themselves no farther along than when they first believed?…

The causes of retarded growth are many. It would not be accurate to ascribe the trouble to one single fault. One there is, however, which is so universal that it may easily be the main cause: failure to give time to the cultivation of the knowledge of God….

The Christian is strong or weak depending upon how closely he has cultivated the knowledge of God….

Progress in the Christian life is exactly equal to the growing knowledge we gain of the Triune God in personal experience. And such experience requires a whole life devoted to it and plenty of time spent at the holy task of cultivating God. God can be known satisfactorily only as we devote time to Him.

Lord, I’d like to devote the remaining years of my life and ministry to the “holy task of cultivating God. “Help me to know You first, and then out of the overflow of that growing knowledge can come whatever ministry You choose to bless me with. Amen.

Learn to Love God for Himself Alone

We love him, because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

The phrase, “the love of God,” when used by Christians almost always refers to God’s love for us. We must remember that it can also mean our love for God!

The first and great commandment is that we should love God with all the power of our total personality. Though all love originates in God and is for that reason God’s own love, yet we are permitted to catch and reflect back that love in such manner that it becomes our love indeed!

The Christian’s love for God has by some religious thinkers been divided into two kinds, the love of gratitude and the love of excellence. But we must carry our love to God further than love of gratitude and love of excellence.

There is a place in the religious experience where we love God for Himself alone, with never a thought of His benefits. There is, in the higher type of love, a supra-rational element that cannot and does not attempt to give reasons for its existence—it only whispers, “I love!”

In the perfection of love, the heart does not reason from admiration to affection, but quickly rises to the height of blind adoration where reason is suspended and the heart worships in unreasoning blessedness. It can only exclaim, “Holy, holy, holy,” while scarcely knowing what it means.

If this should all seem too mystical, too unreal, we offer no proof. But some will read and recognize the description of the sunlit peaks where they have been for at least brief periods and to which they long often to return. And such will need no proof!

Love Without Measure

Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love. JEREMIAH 31:3

I once wrote something about how God loves us and how dear we are to Him. I was not sure I should put it down on paper—but God knows what I meant.

I wrote: “The only eccentricity that I can discover in the heart of God is the fact that a God such as He is should love sinners such as we are!”

On this earth a mother will love the son who has betrayed her and shamed her and is now on his way to a life in prison. That seems to be a natural thing for a mother. But there is nothing natural about this love of God. It is a divine thing. It is forced out by the inward pressure within the heart of the God of all grace. That is why He waits for us, puts up with us, desires to lead us on—He loves us!

My brethren, this should be our greatest encouragement in view of all that we know about ourselves: God loves us without measure, and He is so keenly interested in our spiritual growth and progress that He stands by in faithfulness to teach and instruct and discipline us as His own dear children!

Dear Lord, this morning I’m struck with the thought of how much You have put up with me—because of Your endless love. Lord, help me take another baby step toward spiritual maturity today.