VIDEO The Cleft of the Rock

The Cleft of the Rock

For You are my rock and my fortress; therefore, for Your name’s sake, lead me and guide me. Psalm 31:3

 

Northern General Robert McAllister is chiefly remembered for the nine hundred letters he wrote home describing his experiences in the American Civil War. On April 11, 1864, he wrote his wife, Ellen: “One day I was riding out to hunt a safe place to fire at a target. I rode up on a little bluff; and as I reached the summit, I heard a voice. On looking down into a stone quarry I saw two of our boys earnestly engaged in prayer. I turned away as quietly as possible, thinking how delightful it was to find such deep religious feeling in my regiment.”

We’re in a spiritual battle every day, but nothing is more powerful than a quiet faith that finds a stone quarry in which to pray, perhaps with a fellow believer. The Bible says: “From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2).

I bowed down by the root of a tree and thanked God for His protecting care over me and my regiment that day and asked continuance of it through the day that was about to dawn upon us. General Robert McAllister at Chancellorsville


Psalm 31 • My times are in Your hands

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Only a Gypsy Boy

You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession. 1 Peter 2:9

 

“Oh, it’s only a gypsy boy,” someone whispered with disgust when Rodney Smith walked to the front of the chapel to receive Christ during a service in 1877. Nobody thought much of this teenager, the son of uneducated gypsy parents. Yet, Rodney didn’t listen to those voices. He was certain that God had a purpose for his life so he bought himself a Bible and an English dictionary and taught himself how to read and write. He once said, “The way to Jesus is not by Cambridge, Harvard, Yale, or the poets. It is . . . an old-fashioned hill called Calvary.” Against all odds, Rodney became an evangelist who God used to bring many to Jesus in the UK and US.

Peter too was just a simple man—untrained in the religious rabbinic schools (Acts 4:13), a fisherman from Galilee—when Jesus called him with two simple words: “Follow me” (Matthew 4:19). Yet the same Peter, despite his upbringing and the failures he experienced along the way, later affirmed that those who follow Jesus are “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession” (1 Peter 2:9).

Through Jesus Christ all people—whatever their education, upbringing, gender, or ethnicity—can be a part of the family of God and be used by Him. Becoming God’s “special possession” is for all who believe in Jesus.

By Estera Pirosca Escobar

Reflect & Pray

What does it mean for you to be part of a chosen people, a royal priesthood, God’s special possession? How are you encouraged by the fact that God can use you for His honor?

God, I thank You that my identity is found in You.

The Origin of Unmet Needs

Romans 5:6-8

Emotional needs can be every bit as acute as physical ones. That’s because the Lord has hardwired into human beings the desire for love, acceptance, and a sense of safety. These necessities are what cause us to seek out friendships, marriage, and, ultimately, a relationship with God. And at the root of all of our “heart needs” is the longing to feel valued.

Without a solid sense of self-worth, a person cannot fully receive love and acceptance. Nor can he feel safe or at rest. The uncertain man projects onto family and friends the God-sized job of proving his value. From them, he seeks constant verbal assurance and displays of their loyalty. The problem is that no human can be an inexhaustible emotional resource.

Inevitably, basing worth on people’s judgments and acts of love can have a “yo-yo” effect on self-image—it’s down, it’s up, it’s down again. Besides, no one can build an adequate collection of good opinions to substitute for God’s faithfulness and dedication to us. On the cross, Jesus Christ gave the only accurate measure of our significance: He considered every single person worth dying for. We can’t buy or earn God’s unconditional love. It is ours to receive with an open heart. Jesus’ sacrifice stands as proof that we are of infinite value to the Sovereign of the universe.

God desires to be our unlimited emotional resource. In fact, if our self-worth is based upon anything but Him, then it is unstable. A rock-solid self-image is rooted in the recognition of who we are in Christ—beloved, redeemed, and holy children. Nothing changes His opinion.

How He Loves You and Me

“That ye . . . may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)

The theme of the inspiring hymn “O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus” is the infinite love Christ displayed for us through His gracious life, sacrificial death, and victorious resurrection from the grave, followed by His present ministry on our behalf.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne!

His love cannot be earned but was freely extended to us. Even greater than that, it was given when we were sinners by choice and nature. “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

His love for us never fails and never changes: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He was willing to die so that our death penalty would be paid and to adopt us into His family. Even now He rejoices over us. “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).

He now oversees us from His place at the right hand of His Father, making intercession for us. “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). Such love is deep indeed. JDM

Honor His Purpose

And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

—Genesis 17:1

Without argument, most things are at their best when they are fulfilling their purpose and design.

For instance, a piano is made with a specific purpose: to produce music. However, I happen to know that someone once stood on a piano in order to put a fastener of some kind in the ceiling. Some artistic women have used piano tops as family picture galleries. I have seen piano tops that were cluttered filing cabinets or wide library shelves.

There is an intelligent design in the creation of a piano. The manufacturer did not announce: “This is a good piano. It has at least nineteen uses!” No, the designer had only one thought in mind: “This piano will have the purpose and potential of sounding forth beautiful music!”…

Do not miss the application of truth here. God was saying to Abraham, “You may have some other idea about the design and purpose for your life, but you are wrong! You were created in My image to worship Me and to glorify Me. If you do not honor this purpose, your life will degenerate into shallow, selfish, humanistic pursuits.”   MMG023

Lord, so many lives today have indeed degenerated into “shallow, selfish, humanistic pursuits.” Work through me this week to help people with whom I come in contact to see the one purpose for which You created us. Amen.

 

The Lord God is a sun and shield

The Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He with-hold from them that walk uprightly.—Psalm 84:11.

 

Just to trust Him, this is all!

Then the day will surely be

Peaceful, whatsoe’er befall,

Bright and blessed, calm and free.

Frances R. Havergal.

 

What we should do is really, very often, to be still. And if we want something to make us more active and energetic, watchful and holy, I know but one thought, that is faith,—faith producing love. More trust and confidence and joy in God would be the secret—the only true or successful secret-of more goodness. And this should come quietly and calmly, not in great effort; this kingdom of God has come not with observation. Rest and quiet growth are what you want.

James Hinton.

 

Open wide every avenue of your being to receive the blessed influences your Divine Husbandman may bring to bear upon you. Bask in the sunshine of His love. Drink in of the waters of His goodness. Keep your face upturned to Him. You need make no efforts to grow. But let your efforts instead be all concentrated on this, that you abide in the Vine.

Hannah Whitall Smith.

 

Your Divine Cultivation

“I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.” Isa. 27:3

When the Lord Himself speaks in His own proper person rather than through a prophet, the word has a peculiar weight to believing minds. It is Jehovah Himself who is the keeper of His own vineyard; He does not trust it to any other, but He makes it His own personal care. Are they not well kept whom God Himself keeps?

We are to receive gracious watering, not only, every day and every hour, “but every moment. How we ought to grow! How fresh and fruitful every plant should be! What rich clusters the vines should bear!

But disturbers come; little foxes and the boar. Therefore, the Lord Himself is our Guardian, and that at all hours, both “night and day.” What, then, can harm us? Why are we afraid? He tends, He waters, He guards; what more do we need?

Twice in this verse the Lord says, “I will.” What truth, what power, what love, what immutability we find in the great “I will” of Jehovah! Who can resist His will? If He says “I will,” what room is there for doubt? With an “I will” of God we can face all the hosts of sin, death, and hell. O Lord, since thou sayest, “I will keep thee,” I reply, “I will praise thee!”

Faith’s Checkbook.