Streams In The Desert: May 18th, 2016

I was crushed…so much so that I despaired even of life, but that was to make me rely not on myself, but on the God who raises the dead” 2 Corinthians 1:8, 9

“Pressed out of measure and pressed to all length;
Pressed so intensely it seems, beyond strength;
Pressed in the body and pressed in the soul,
Pressed in the mind till the dark surges roll.
Pressure by foes, and a pressure from friends.
Pressure on pressure, till life nearly ends.

“Pressed into knowing no helper but God;
Pressed into loving the staff and the rod.
Pressed into liberty where nothing clings;
Pressed into faith for impossible things.
Pressed into living a life in the Lord,
Pressed into living a Christ-life outpoured.”

The pressure of hard places makes us value life. Every time our life is given back to us from such a trial, it is like a new beginning, and we learn better how much it is worth, and make more of it for God and man. The pressure helps us to understand the trials of others, and fits us to help and sympathize with them.

There is a shallow, superficial nature, that gets hold of a theory or a promise lightly, and talks very glibly about the distrust of those who shrink from every trial; but the man or woman who has suffered much never does this, but is very tender and gentle, and knows what suffering really means. This is what Paul meant when he said, “Death worketh in you.”

Trials and hard places are needed to press us forward, even as the furnace fires in the hold of that mighty ship give force that moves the piston, drives the engine, and propels that great vessel across the sea in the face of the winds and waves.

Streams In The Desert: May 14th, 2016

In the selfsame day, as God had said unto him   Genesis 17:23

Instant obedience is the only kind of obedience there is; delayed obedience is disobedience. Every time God calls us to any duty, He is offering to make a covenant with us; doing the duty is our part, and He will do His part in special blessing.

The only way we can obey is to obey “in the selfsame day,” as Abraham did. To be sure, we often postpone a duty and then later on do it as fully as we can. It is better to do this than not to do it at all. But it is then, at the best, only a crippled, disfigured, half-way sort of duty-doing; and a postponed duty never can bring the full blessing that God intended, and that it would have brought if done at the earliest possible moment.

It is a pity to rob ourselves, along with robbing God and others, by procrastination. “In the selfsame day” is the Genesis way of saying, “Do it now.”
–Messages for the Morning Watch

Luther says that “a true believer will crucify the question, ‘Why?’ He will obey without questioning.” I will not be one of those who, except they see signs and wonders, will in no wise believe. I will obey without questioning.

“Ours not to make reply,
Ours not to reason why,
Ours but to do and die.”

Obedience is the fruit of faith; patience, the bloom on the fruit.
–Christina Rossetti

Streams In The Desert: May 7th, 2016

He spoke a parable unto them… that men ought always to pray, and not to faint  Luke 18:1

No temptation in the life of intercession is more common than this of failure to persevere. We begin to pray for a certain thing; we put up our petitions for a day, a week, a month; and then, receiving as yet no definite answer, straightway we faint, and cease altogether from prayer concerning it.

This is a deadly fault. It is simply the snare of many beginnings with no completions. It is ruinous in all spheres of life. The man who forms the habit of beginning without finishing has simply formed the habit of failure. The man who begins to pray about a thing and does not pray it through to a successful issue of answer has formed the same habit in prayer. To faint is to fail; then defeat begets disheartenment, and unfaith in the reality of prayer, which is fatal to all success.

But someone says, “How long shall we pray? Do we not come to a place where we may cease from our petitions and rest the matter in God’s hands?” There is but one answer. Pray until the thing you pray for has actually been granted, or until you have the assurance in your heart that it will be. Only at one of these two places dare we stay our importunity, for prayer is not only a calling upon God, but also a conflict with Satan. And inasmuch as God is using our intercession as a mighty factor of victory in that conflict, He alone, and not we, must decide when we dare cease from our petitioning. So we dare not stay our prayer until the answer itself has come, or until we receive the assurance that it will come.

In the first case we stop because we see. In the other, we stop because we believe, and the faith of our heart is just as sure as the sight of our eyes; for it is faith from, yes, the faith of God, within us.

More and more, as we live the prayer life, shall we come to experience and recognize this God-given assurance, and know when to rest quietly in it, or when to continue our petitioning until we receive it.
–The Practice of Prayer

Tarry at the promise till God meets you there. He always returns by way of His promises.
–Selected

Streams In The Desert: April 30th, 2016

And the ill favored and lean-fleshed kine did Eat up the seven well favored and fat kin…and the thin, ears swallowed up the seven rank and full ears   Genesis 41:4, 7

There is a warning for us in that dream, just as it stands: It is possible for the best years of our life, the best experiences, the best victories won, the best service rendered, to be swallowed up by times of failure, defeat, dishonor, uselessness in the kingdom. Some men’s lives of rare promise and rare achievement have ended so. It is awful to think of, but it is true. Yet it is never necessary.

S. D. Gordon has said that the only assurance of safety against this tragedy is “fresh touch with God,” daily, hourly. The blessed, fruitful, victorious experiences of yesterday are not only of no value to me today, but they will actually be eaten up or reversed by today’s failures, unless they serve as incentives to still better, richer experiences today.

“Fresh touch with God,” by abiding in Christ, alone will keep the lean kine and the ill favored grain out of my life.
–Messages for the Morning Watch

Streams In The Desert: April 23rd, 2016

“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me” (Psalm 138:7).

The Hebrew rendering of the above is “go on in the center of trouble.” What descriptive words! We have called on God in the day of trouble; we have pleaded His promise of deliverance but no deliverance has been given; the enemy has continued oppressing until we were in the very thick of the fight, in the center of trouble. Why then trouble the Master any further?

When Martha said, “Lord, if thou hadst been here my brother had not died,” our Lord met her lack of hope with His further promise, “Thy brother shall rise again.” And when we walk “in the center of trouble” and are tempted to think like Martha that the time of deliverance is past, He meets us too with a promise from His Word. “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me.”

Though His answer has so long delayed, though we may still continue to “go on” in the midst of trouble, “the center of trouble” is the place where He revives, not the place where He fails us. When in the hopeless place, the continued hopeless place, is the very time when He will stretch forth His hand against the wrath of our enemies and perfect that which concerneth us, the very time when He will make the attack to cease and fail and come to an end.

What occasion is there then for fainting?
–Aphra White

THE EYE OF THE STORM

Fear not that the whirlwind shall carry thee hence,
Nor wait for its onslaught in breathless suspense,
Nor shrink from the whips of the terrible hail,
But pass through the edge to the heart of the gale,
For there is a shelter, sunlighted and warm,
And Faith sees her God through the eye of the storm.
The passionate tempest with rush and wild roar
And threatenings of evil may beat on the shore,
The waves may be mountains, the fields battle plains,
And the earth be immersed in a deluge of rains,
Yet, the soul, stayed on God, may sing bravely its psalm,
For the heart of the storm is the center of calm.
Let hope be not quenched in the blackness of night,
Though the cyclone awhile may have blotted the light,
For behind the great darkness the stars ever shine,
And the light of God’s heavens, His love shall make thine,
Let no gloom dim thine eyes, but uplif t them on high
To the face of thy God and the blue of His sky.
The storm is thy shelter from danger and sin,
And God Himself takes thee for safety within;
The tempest with Him passeth into deep calm,
And the roar of the winds is the sound of a psalm.
Be glad and serene when the tempest clouds form;
God smiles on His child in the eye of the Storm.


Streams In The Desert: April 17th, 2016

The hand of the Lord hath wrought this   Job 12:9

Several years ago there was found in an African mine the most magnificent diamond in the world’s history. It was presented to the King of England to blaze in his crown of state. The King sent it to Amsterdam to be cut. It was put into the hands of an expert lapidary. And what do you suppose he did with it?
He took the gem of priceless value, and cut a notch in it. Then he struck it a hard blow with his instrument, and lo! the superb jewel lay in his hand cleft in twain. What recklessness I what wastefulness! what criminal carelessness!
Not so. For days and weeks that blow had been studied and planned. Drawings and models had been made of the gem. Its quality, its defects, its lines of cleavage had all been studied with minutest care. The man to whom it was committed was one of the most skillful lapidaries in the world.
Do you say that blow was a mistake? Nay. It was the climax of the lapidary’s skill. When he struck that blow, he did the one thing which would bring that gem to its most perfect shapeliness, radiance, and jewelled splendor. That blow which seemed to ruin the superb precious stone was, in fact, its perfect redemption. For, from those two halves were wrought the two magnificent gems which the skilled eye of the lapidary saw hidden in the rough, uncut stone as it came from the mine.
So, sometimes, God lets a stinging blow fall upon your life. The blood spurts. The nerves wince. The soul cries out in agony. The blow seems to you an apalling mistake. But it is not, for you are the most priceless jewel in the world to God. And He is the most skilled lapidary in the universe.
Some day you are to blaze in the diadem of the King. As you lie in His hand now He knows just how to deal with you. Not a blow will be permitted to fall upon your shrinking soul but that the love of God permits it, and works out from its depths, blessing and spiritual enrichment unseen, and unthought of by you.
–J.H. McC.
In one of George MacDonald’s books occurs this fragment of conversation: “I wonder why God made me,” said Mrs. Faber bitterly. “I’m sure I don’t know what was the use of making me!”
“Perhaps not much yet,” said Dorothy, “but then He hasn’t done with you yet. He is making you now, and you are quarrelling with the process.”
If men would but believe that they are in process of creation, and consent to be made–let the Maker handle them as the potter the clay, yielding themselves in resplendent motion and submissive, hopeful action with the turning of His wheel–they would ere long find themselves able to welcome every pressure of that hand on them, even when it was felt in pain; and sometimes not only to believe but to recognize the Divine end in view, the bringing of a son unto glory.
“Not a single shaft can hit,
Till the God of love sees fit.”

Streams In The Desert: April 5th, 2016

Thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons” (2 Kings 4:4).

They were to be alone with God, for they were not dealing with the laws of nature, nor human government, nor the church, nor the priesthood, nor even with the great prophet of God, but they must needs be isolated from all creatures, from all leaning circumstances, from all props of human reason, and swung off, as it were, into the vast blue inter-stellar space, hanging on God alone, in touch with the fountain of miracles.

Here is a part in the programme of God’s dealings, a secret chamber of isolation inprayer and faith which every soul must enter that is very fruitful.

There are times and places where God will form a mysterious wall around us, and cut away all props, and all the ordinary ways of doing things, and shut us up to something Divine, which is utterly new and unexpected, something that old circumstances do not fit into, where we do not know just what will happen, where God is cutting the cloth of our lives on a new pattern, where He makes us look to Himself.

Most religious people live in a sort of treadmill life, where they can calculate almost everything that will happen, but the souls that God leads out into immediate and special dealings, He shuts in where all they know is that God has hold of them, and is dealing with them, and their expectation is from Him alone.

Like this widow, we must be detached from outward things and attached inwardly to the Lord alone in order to see His wonders.  –Soul Food

In the sorest trials God often makes the sweetest discoveries of Himself.  –Gems

“God sometimes shuts the door and shuts us in,
That He may speak, perchance through grief or pain,
And softly, heart to heart, above the din,

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