Thursday, March 29, 2012

Rest in Christ

 I have been discouraged of late over my own weakness, weariness, and unfaithfulness to our precious Lord. Isn't this quote below lovely?
 "Beloved, now are we the sons of God." That is easy to read; but it is not so easy to feel. "Now are we the sons of God." How is it with your heart this morning? Are you in the lowest depths of sorrow and suffering? "Now are you a son of God." Does corruption rise within your spirit, and grace seem like a poor spark trampled under foot? "Beloved, now are you a son of God." Does your faith almost fail you? and are your graces like a candle well nigh blown out by the wind! Fear not, beloved; it is not your graces, it is not your frames, it is not your feelings, on which you are to live: you must live simply by naked faith on Christ. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God." With all these things against us, with the foot of the devil on our neck, and the sword in his hand ready to slay us—beloved now in the very depths of our sorrow, wherever we may be—now, as much in the valley as on the mountain, as much in the dungeon as in the palace, as much when broken on the wheel of suffering as when exalted on the wings of triumph—"beloved, now are we the sons of God." "Ah!" but you say, "see how I am arrayed! my graces are not bright; my righteousness does not shine with apparent glory." But read the next: "It doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him." We are not so much like him now, but we have some more refining process to undergo, and death itself, that best of all friends, is yet to wash us clean. "We know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."
    "And every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
    "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law for sin is the transgression of  the law.
"And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin."
     Believer, read these words in two senses. He was manifested to take away thy sins that thou hast committed; and that he accomplished, when "the just for the unjust," he sustained the penalties of them. And he was manifested to take away the power of thy sins; that is to say, to conquer thy reigning lusts, to take away thine evil imaginations, to purify thee, and make thee like himself. Well, beloved, what a mercy it is that some one was manifested to take away our sins from us! for some of us have been striving a long, long while, to conquer our sins, and we cannot do it. We thought we had driven them out, but they had "chariots of iron," and we could not overcome them; they lived "in the hill country," and we could not get near them. As often as we worsted them in one battle, they came upon us thick and strong, like an army of locusts; when heaps and heaps had been destroyed they seemed as thick as ever. Ah! but there is a thought—they shall all be taken away. "Ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins;" and so he will. The time will come when you and I shall stand without spot or blemish before the throne of God: for they are "without fault before the throne of God" at this moment, and so shall we be ere long.

 - Charles Spurgeon, Exposition on 1 John 3:1-10

What precious rest for my soul today!

Friday, March 23, 2012


An online discussion I have been reading lately has been dealing with teaching our children beauty, truth, and virtue. It has caused me to think carefully about how I teach my children and what materials I use. It has caused me to think about my own heart and what beauty and virtue I have there. More than anything, it has reminded me of the goal of education in our family. It is not to get a college degree but my privileged is to attempt to show them God Himself through His Word and the truth presented there. He alone is fully of beauty, virtue, and truth. The quote below is lovely:

"Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us!" Psalm 90:17

When Charles Kingsley was dying, he seemed to have a glimpse of the heavenly splendor into which he was going, and of God in His brightness and loveliness, and he exclaimed, "How beautiful God is!"

Every revelation of God that is made to us—is a revelation of beauty. Everywhere in nature, in the flower that blooms, in the bird that sings, in the dewdrop that sparkles, in the star that shines, in the sunset that burns with splendor—we see reflections of God's beauty. "He has made everything beautiful in its time!" (Ecclesiastes 3:11). In the holy Scriptures, every revelation of the divine character presents God to us in surpassing loveliness. Christ was "God manifest in the flesh" (1 Timothy 3:16), the beauty of the invisible God made visible to human eyes, and such enrapturing beauty has never been seen, except in that one blessed life.

The beauty of God is frequently referred to in the Scriptures. In one of his Psalms David declared that the supreme desire of his heart, was to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life, to behold the beauty of the Lord.
Then, in the prayer of Moses, we have the petition, "Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us." This was a prayer that the charm of God's excellence, might be given to His people, that the divine beauty might shine in them, in their lives, in their faces, in their souls. We think of the face of Moses himself, when he came down from the mountain after his forty days communing with God. He had been so long wrapped in the divine glory—that his very body was as it were, saturated with its brightness. Or we think of Stephen, before his martyrdom, when a window of heaven was opened and a ray of the glory from the holy place fell on him, so irradiating his features that even to his enemies, they appeared like the features of an angel.
 There is a beauty of soul which makes the plainest face radiant, and the homeliest features lovely; which shines like a star in this world of sin. It is for this beauty that we are taught to pray, "Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us." It is not the beauty which fades—when sickness smites the body; or which is lost in the withering touch of years; or which blanches when death's pallor overspreads the features. But this is a beauty which grows lovelier in pain or suffering, which shines out in sorrow like a star in the night, which transfigures the wrinkled and faded features of old age—and which bursts out in death into the full likeness of Christ!

Every Christian life is beautiful—so far as it fairly and truly represents Christ. Anything in religion that is not beautiful, is not a just or adequate expression of the divine thought. Holiness of character is simply the reproduction in human life—of the likeness of Christ, and any feature that is not lovely and winning, is not truly Christlike, and hence misrepresents Christ. It is not the Christian religion itself that is unlovely in any case—but the human interpretation of it in disposition and conduct.
 There are certain qualities that belong to the beauty of the Lord whenever it appears in any life. One of these is spiritual thirst. The eyes look upward and beyond the things of earth. The heart is fixed on things above. The aspiration is for more holiness, and finds expression in such yearnings as "Nearer, my God, to Thee," and "More love, O Christ, to Thee," and in the prayer, "Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us."
 A faith that is satisfied with any ordinary attainments, or that is ever satisfied at all, is not a living faith. The Master's benediction is upon those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. The longing soul is the healthy soul. Spiritual longing is the heart's cry which God always hears and answers with more and more of His fullness. Such longing is the ascending angel that climbs the starry ladder, to return on the same radiant stairway, with ever new blessings from God. It is nothing less than the very life of God in the human soul, struggling to grow up into the fullness of the stature of Christ. It is the transfiguring spirit in us—which cleanses these dull earthly lives of ours and changes them little by little into the divine image.

But the beauty of the Lord in a human life, is not merely a heavenly yearning. It is intensely practical. It is more than religious sentimentality, more than devout feeling, more than holy aspiration. True spiritual longing draws the whole life upward with it. Joan of Arc said that her white standard was so victorious because she followed it herself. We must have our spiritual aspirations—but we must follow them ourselves if we would make our lives beautiful. True holiness does not make people unsuitable for living well in this world. It has its visions of Christ—but it brings them down to brighten its daily path and to become inspirations to beautiful living. It has its joyful emotions—but they become impulses to self-denial and patient work for the Master.

One of the first results of grace in the heart—is sweeter, kindlier, truer, more helpful living, in all life's common relations. It makes a man a kinder neighbor, a more thoughtful husband, a gentler father. A Christian girl, whose religion does not make her a better daughter and a more loving, patient sister—does not have the right concept of Christ. A wife and mother shows the beauty of holiness, not only in her earnestness in prayer and church work—but in her devotion to the interests of her home. Mrs. Prentiss said: "A mother can pray with a sick child on her lap more acceptably, than if she left it alone in order to go and pray by herself."
 In was said of Francesca, that though unwearied in her devotions, yet if, during her prayers she was called away by her husband or by any domestic duty, she would close the book cheerfully, saying that a wife and a mother, when called upon, must cease to serve God at the altar—to serve Him in her domestic duties.
 Heavenly contemplation must not draw us away from earthly duty. When we get to heaven, we shall find heavenly work to do—but for the present our duty is here on earth, and he is the best Christian who does it best. We do not want a religion that will lift us up into a seventh heaven of rapture, making us forget our duties to those about us—but a religion that will bring God down to walk with us on all the hard paths of toil and struggle, and that will lead us out into a gentle and patient ministry of love."
J.R. Miller- The Beauty of the Lord

I know that I will be thinking and praying through all of this a lot more in the coming weeks. I am so grateful that the Lord allowed me to find these lovely thoughts just now.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Delightful Prayer

"I have called upon Thee, for Thou wilt hear me, O God: incline Thine ear
unto me, and hear my speech" .
--PS. xvii. 6.

"Ye people, pour out your heart before Him: God is a refuge for us."
--PS. lxii. 8.

"Whate'er the care which breaks thy rest,
Whate'er the wish that swells thy breast;
Spread before God that wish, that care,
And change anxiety to prayer."


"Trouble and perplexity drive us to prayer, and prayer driveth away trouble
and perplexity."


"Whatsoever it is that presses thee, go tell thy Father; put over the matter
into His hand, and so thou shalt be freed from that dividing, perplexing
care that the world is full of. When thou art either to do or suffer
anything, when thou art about any purpose or business, go tell God of it,
and acquaint Him with it; yea, burden Him with it, and thou hast done for
matter of caring; no more care, but quiet, sweet diligence in thy duty,
and dependence on Him for the carriage of thy matters. Roll thy cares, and
thyself with them, as one burden, all on thy God."


What encouragement to bring all before the Lord today! "No more care, but quiet, sweet diligence in thy duty, and dependence on Him for the carriage of thy matters". It is my prayer that today (and every other day too!) my life would exhibit this, especially to my children. I am hoping to find some precious time alone today to come before the Lord in prayer.

This selection is taken from the book "Daily Strength for Daily Needs" by Mary Tileston for March 14th. You can find this book free online.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Silver Key

 "Before you can teach children, you must get the silver key of kindness to unlock their hearts, and so secure their attention."
- Charles Spurgeon

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

    "And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach..."
-2 Timothy 2:24
"And so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled."
- Titus 2:3-4

 "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."
- Ephesians 4:32

I find myself convicted today of my own impatience and unkindness towards my precious children. In repentance I have come before the Lord.and have asked Him to allow my heart to be so set on Christ that His love may overflow in my voice and actions towards my children."

What a beautiful and wonderful Lord we serve- He forgives all of our sin.

"As God in Christ forgave you"

Thursday, March 15, 2012

She Does Him Good

 Photo: From Anne Pratt at Blue Letter Bible

A wise woman once told me that the best thing I can do for my children is to love and honor their father. As I have prayed and labored to do this, God has blessed our home so much. I have been pondering this again today and a lovely reminder for me is this commentary on Prov. 31:12-

It is much in the power of all who dwell in the same household to benefit each other. Hourly opportunities occur of showing kindness, of lending aid, of practising forbearance, and of constantly doing mutual good. But this is most especially the case with husbands and wives. If we except the strongest of all earthly influences—that of the mother on her child, there is none which can equal that of the conjugal relation. Time and eternity are connected with it. Happiness or misery is dependent on the way in which it is exercised; so important is it, that the wise and inspired man said, “A good wife is from the Lord” (Pro 18:22).
“See that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently” (1Pe 1:22), said the apostle Peter, when enjoining on the early converts the duties of the Christian life; and if this is commanded to all, how much more is it to be cultivated by those who are attached by the strongest domestic tie! And as no marriage should be contracted without mutual love, so the principle of love should guide a woman in all her married life, and lead her always to do good to her husband.
A wife can do much good to her husband, by promoting his domestic comfort. This is, indeed, placed almost wholly in her hands; it rests with her to see that the fireside is the place of attraction, that home is the brightest spot on earth. And love will teach ingenuity to the faithful wife, and show to her a thousand ways by which she may endear the home circle. If she wish to enjoy her husband’s society, she must be a keeper at home; and so arrange her family, as that he, when he returns from the care, and noise, and contention of the world, shall find a retreat, in which sweet converse shall beguile him of his cares, and peace, and love, and order, and gentle welcome, and soothing sympathy, shall form a striking contrast to the scenes he has just quitted.
Another way in which we may feel certain that the matron of the text did good to her husband, was by sharing his cares. On many, in modern times, the charge is not incumbent, of labouring with the hands to provide food and raiment for the family, as did this eminent example of female virtue. The different constitution of modern society has placed upon men the duty of maintaining a family, and left to woman the sweeter privilege of ordering the charities of home. Yet, even now, a wife may do much to lessen the cares of a husband. She may not fully understand the nature of his employments, she cannot exactly enter into the details of his business: but she can give the attentive ear; she can endeavour to comprehend his difficulties; she can forbear the mention of any irritating domestic circumstances; she can soften down annoyances. Sometimes she can cheer him by reminding him of some consoling promise of God’s word. She can show him the command of holy writ, to cast his care upon God. She can tell him that “they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing” (Psa 34:10), and perhaps lead him to say with David, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee” (Psa 56:3). And when all these fail, and her anxious eye sees the cloud still darken over his brow, then she can pray, with a firm, unwavering faith, that God would indeed “lift up the light of his countenance upon him, and give him peace” (Num 6:26).
Nor is it less her duty to share in his joys. If her husband have succeeded in some pursuit, with what heartiness should the wife enter into his pleasure. Never should the wandering eye betray that she listens with indifference to the details which interest him. She should value his pursuits, if for no other reason than because they are his; and by an ever ready sympathy should “do him good, and not evil, all the days of her life” (Pro 31:12). Never should the depressing fear, or the ardent hope, be thrown coldly back again on him who utters it. One such repulsion will do more to alienate the love of a sensitive mind, than many little acts of neglect or annoyance.
A wife will also do her husband good by encouraging him to holiness and virtue, and warning him against sin. In the intimacy of domestic life, the first tendency to evil is sometimes evident to the wife, and it is her duty to rebuke with all gentleness, and to plead with all earnestness, against conduct which may be displeasing to God and man. Abigail’s reproof and counsel of David, is a beautiful instance of womanly tact and delicacy thus employed. When Nabal, in return for David’s kindness and protection, had contemptuously refused refreshments to the warrior shepherd, how does Abigail propitiate David’s wrath, and dissuade him from revenge! “And it shall come to pass, when the Lord shall have done to my lord according to all the good that he hath spoken concerning thee, and shall have appointed thee ruler over Israel; that this shall be no grief unto thee, nor offence of heart unto my lord, either that thou hast shed blood causeless, or that my lord hath avenged himself” (1Sa 25:30-31). And in like manner, how often may the wife expostulate with her husband, and thus keep him from evil that it may not grieve him; and in after days, he may look back with gratitude and affection for the warning voice which checked his onward course, and bade him pause and consider.
The wife of the text did her husband no evil. She neither wasted his wealth, nor neglected his comfort, nor was careless of his reputation, nor provoked him to anger. She loved him with a steady love all the days of her life; in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health. Years passed on and saw it fixed, while all around was changing. It was not like the vapoury cloud upon the blue sky, driven about by every wind of heaven, and skimming lightly over the surface; but as the rock in the midst of the waters, against which the waves might dash and bring no change, and on which all the alternations of sun and wind fell harmlessly, and which stood unshaken by all things. Seldom is love like this—love which can bear the test of time, and the shock of adversity—love which can flourish even amid infirmities: seldom is it found but in the home of the loved and loving.
They who love us till we die,
Who in sorrow have been tried,
Who will watch our closing eye
When all grows cold beside:
Where shall friends like these he found,
Search the earth and ocean wide;
On what hallowed spot of ground
Save our own fireside?
~ The Excellent Woman of Proverbs 31 by Anne Pratt, (1806-1893)

The picture and the commentary are found here at Blue Letter Bible. The entire book by Anne Pratt on Proverbs 31 can be found for free at the link above. It is truly a wonderful resource and I highly recommend reading it if you can.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Grace Upon Grace

I have been pondering a quote from Jeremiah Burroughs on God's precious grace in our lives. It has really stuck with me in the day to day work of motherhood. "All our works are begun, continued, and ended in him." That puts a whole new slant on dirty diapers, piles of laundry, or grumpy children- doesn't it! What a wonderful God we serve, who lavishes grace upon grace on us.

“In one word, God is the author of all good, by his grace working it; the permitter of all evil, by his patience enduring it; the orderer and disposer of both, by his mercy rewarding the one, by his justice revenging the other, and by his wisdom directing both to the ends of his eternal glory.
This serves to discover the free and sole working of grace in our first conversion and the continued working of grace in our further sanctification. Whatsoever is good in us habitually, as grace inhering, or actually, as grace working, is from him alone as its author. For though it be certain, that when we will and do ourselves are agents, yet it is still under and from him. By grace we are what we are and do what we do in God’s service.
1. By grace our minds are enlightened to know and believe him; for spiritual things ‘are spiritually discerned’ (Jer. 31:33, Matt. 11:27, 1 Cor. 2:12-14).
2. By grace our hearts are inclined to love and obey him; for spiritual things are spiritually approved. He only, by his almighty and ineffable operation, works in us both right perceptions and good desires (Jer. 32:39, John 6:44).
3. By grace our lives are enabled to work what our hearts love; without which, though we should will, yet we cannot perform, no more than the knife which has a good edge is able actually to cut, till moved by the hand (Rom. 7:18, Phil. 2:13, Heb. 13:20-21).
4. By grace our good works are carried on to perfection. Adam, wanting [lacking] the grace of perseverance, fell from innocence itself. It is not sufficient for us that he prevent and excite us to will, that he cooperate and assist us to work, except he continually follow and supply us with a residue of spirit to perfect and finish what we set about. All our works are begun, continued, and ended in him (1 Thes. 5:23, 1 Pet. 5:10, Jude 1:24, John 17:15).
5. Lastly, by grace our perseverance is crowned; for our best works could not endure the trial of justice, if God should enter into judgment with us (Ps. 143:2, Isa. 64:6). Grace enables us to work, and grace rewards us for working. Grace begins and grace finishes both our faith and salvation (Phil. 1:6, Heb. 12:2). The work of holiness is nothing but grace, and the reward of holiness is nothing but grace for grace.”
- Jeremiah Burroughs in An Exposition of the Prophecy of Hosea (RHB: 2006) p. 624.

I have copied this quote in its entirety from this wonderful blog by Tony Reinke. (He has no clue who I am but his blog is chock full of godly encouragement!)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


On some days weakness and weariness seem overwhelming. But, Christ is more than enough.

"He will feed His flock like a shepherd. He will carry
 the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His
 heart." Isaiah 40:11

Dwell upon the love and tenderness of our Lord Jesus!

Notice who are the objects of His care--"the lambs,"
which means not only those of tender age--but also
those who have been newly converted; those who are
young in Christian experience; and also those whose
temperament is naturally timid, whose strength is
feeble, and whose danger is great.

Yes, you are the objects of Christ's special attention,
care, and solicitude! You are those whom He takes up
in the arms of His power--and lays on the bosom of His
love! He knows . . .
  your weakness,
  your timidity,
  your dangers!

He will exert for you . . .
  His tenderest sympathy,
  His greatest vigilance,
  His mightiest power.

This expression however not only conveys the idea of
great care of the weak--but the exercise of that care
with a view to their preservation and growth. It means
not only that He cordially receives them, will provide
for their safety, be concerned for their comfort, and
will accommodate His conduct to their needs--but He
will also nourish them through their infant existence,
and raise them up to maturity and strength.

Let every lamb of the flock of Christ, therefore, go to
Him by faith and prayer, and say, "Blessed Jesus, I
come to you as a poor, weak, and trembling creature,
doubtful of my own continuance, and alarmed at my
numerous difficulties and enemies. I am but a lamb,
and often fear I shall never be anything better. But
was it not in regard to such weakness that You have
been pleased to utter these gracious and tender words?
I flee to you as the helpless lamb to its shepherd--when
hungry, to feed it--or when pursued by wild beasts, that
he may defend it. Lord, take me in the arms of Your power
and lay me on the bosom of Your love--though I am so
poor and helpless a creature. I will hope in your nurturing
power and love, that I shall continue to grow, and that
You will one day rejoice in me, as one of the flock which
You have purchased with Your own blood!"

John Angell James, "Christian Progress" 1853

What precious truth! I hope it blesses you as well.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A special day

Today my youngest son is six months old! We will be celebrating with chocolate cake of course!

What a lovely blessing children are! God is so gracious to give us this gift- just for the sheer pleasure of smelling a baby's sweet aroma or watching a child jump around in exuberant excitement over a small thing. It reminds me of this lovely quote I have taped in my journal:

" Here is a little mouth to kiss; here are two more feet to make music with their patterings about my nursery. Here is a soul to train for God, and the body in which it dwells is worth all it will cost, since it is abode of a kingly tenant. I may see less of friends, but I have gained one dearer than them all. Yes, my precious baby, you are welcome to your mother's heart, welcome to her time, her strength, her health, to her most tender cares, to her life-long prayers! Oh how rich I am, how truly, how marvelously blest!"  Elizabeth Prentiss- Stepping Heavenward

And now I am off to kiss my sweet little boys and cover our kitchen in chocolate.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hudson Taylor

Weakness is a gift from God. Below is an incredible quote about Hudson Taylor that refreshes and reminds us that this is true. 

The setting of this quote is that Hudson Taylor arrived in China to serve the Lord as a missionary. When he arrived, the country was war-torn and he was unable to find a place to live. He was forced to rely upon and live with other missionaries. New missionaries from his organization were due to come and he needed to find a new house for himself and for the new missionaries. Thus, he takes the matter to the Lord:

"And to his sister Amelia he added, two days later:

I have been puzzling my brains again about a house, etc., but to no effect. So I have made it a matter of prayer, and have given it entirely into the Lord's hands, and now I feel quite at peace about it. He will provide and be my guide in this and every other perplexing step.

    "Quite at peace about it"- with such serious difficulties ahead? A situation he could not meet, needs for which he had no provision and no possibility of making any, a problem he has puzzled over until he was baffled, and to no effect! "So I have made it a matter of prayer," is the simple, restful conclusion, "and have given it entirely into the Lord's hands. He will provide and be my Guide in this as in every other perplexing step."
     Yes, this is how it ever has been, ever must be with  the people of God. Until we are carried quite out of our depth, beyond all our own wisdom and resources, we are not more than beginners in the school of faith. Only as everything fails us and we fail ourselves, finding out how poor and weak we really are, how ignorant and helpless, do we begin to draw upon abiding strength. "Blessed is the man whose strength is in Thee"; not partly in Thee and partly in himself. The devil often makes men strong, strong in themselves to do evil-great conquerors, great acquirers of wealth and power. The Lord on the contrary makes His servant weak, puts him in circumstances that will shew him his own nothingness, that he many lean upon the strength that is unfailing. It is a long lesson for most of us; but it cannot be passed over until deeply learned. And God Himself thinks no trouble too great, no care too costly to teach us this.

 Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord Thy God led Thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble Thee and to prove thee and to know what was in thine heart,...that He might make thee know...

     Yes, "all that long, wearisome, painful experience, infinitely well worth while in sight of the Eternal, if it produced one moral, spiritual trait in the people He was educating:- what a scale of values!"
     At which point in our meditation, fresh light was thrown upon this from the eighty-fourth Psalm, by an aged saint drawing upon the fulness of his own experience.

     "Speaking to my students one day," he said, "I asked them: 'Young men, which is the longest, widest, most populous valley in the world?' And they began to summon up all their geographical information to answer me.
 "But it was not the valley of the Yangtze, the Congo, or the Mississippi. Nay, this Jammerthal, as it is in our German, this valley of Baca, or weeping, exceeds them all. For six thousand years we trace it back, filled all the way with an innumerable multitude. For every life passes at some time into the Vale of Weeping.
 "But the point for us is not what do we suffer here, but what do we leave behind us? What have we made of it, this long, dark Valley, for ourselves and for others? What is our attitude when we pass through its shadows? Do we desire only, chiefly, the shortest way out? Or do we seek to find it, to make it, according to His promise, 'a place of springs': here a spring and there a spring, for the blessing of others and the glory of Our God?
 "Thus it is with a man 'whose strength is in Thee.' He has learned the preciousness of this Jammerthal, and that these dry, hard places yield the springs for which the hearts are thirsting the wide world over.
 "So St. Paul in his life. What a long journey he had to make through the Valley of Weeping!
 "'In labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times I received forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and day have I been in the deep. In journeys often, in perils of water, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils among false brethren. In weariness and in painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Besides those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
 "A long journey indeed through the Valley of Weeping; but oh, what springs of blessing! What rain filling the pools! We drink of it still today."

     And is not this the meaning, dear reader, of your life and mine in much that is hard to be understood? The Lord loves us too well to let us miss the best. He has to weaken our strength in the way, to bring us to the Valley of Weeping, to empty, humble, and prove us, that we too may know that our strength, every bit of it, is in Him alone, and learn as Hudson Taylor did to leave ourselves entirely in His hands.
     So your Valley of Weeping shall become "a place of springs." Many shall drink of the living water, because you have suffered, trusted, conquered through faith in God. You go on your way as He has promised, to appear at last in Zion, rejoicing before God; and in the Valley of Weeping remains for those that follow many a well, still springing up in blessing where your feet have trod."

Hudson Taylor: In Early Years, the Growth of a Soul by Mrs Hudson Taylor, pg. 226-228

What a precious reminder for us!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Christ Altogether Lovely

There is an excellent article by John Flavel that describes the loveliness of Christ. This is the inspiration for the title of this blog. Here is a lengthy but worthwhile excerpt:

What is meant by Christ being 'altogether lovely'
He is "Altogether Lovely!" Here it is said of Jesus Christ, which cannot be said of any mere creature, that he is "altogether lovely." Let us consider this excellent expression, and particularly reflect on what is contained in it, and you shall find this expression "altogether lovely."

1. It excludes all unloveliness and disagreeableness from Jesus Christ. As a theologian long ago said, "There is nothing in him which is not loveable." The excellencies of Jesus Christ are perfectly exclusive of all their opposites; there is nothing of a contrary property or quality found in him to contaminate or devaluate his excellency. And in this respect Christ infinitely transcends the most excellent and loveliest of created things. Whatever loveliness is found in them, it is not without a bad aftertaste. The fairest pictures must have their shadows. The rarest and most brilliant gems must have dark backgrounds to set off their beauty; the best creature is but a bitter sweet at best. If there is something pleasing, there is also something sour. if a person has every ability, both innate and acquired, to delight us, yet there is also some natural corruption intermixed with it to put us off. But it is not so in our altogether lovely Christ, his excellencies are pure and unmixed. He is a sea of sweetness without one drop of gall.

2. There is nothing unlovely found in him, so all that is in him is wholly lovely. As every ray of God is precious, so everything that is in Christ is precious. Who can weigh Christ in a pair of balances, and tell you what his worth is? "His price is above rubies, and all that you can desire is not to be compared with him," Proverbs 8:11.

3. Christ embraces all things that are lovely. He seals up the sum of all loveliness. Things that shine as single stars with a particular glory, all meet in Christ as a glorious constellation. Col. 1:19, "It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell." Cast your eyes among all created beings, survey the universe: you will observe strength in one, beauty in a second, faithfulness in a third, wisdom in a fourth; but you shall find none excelling in them all as Christ does. Bread has one quality, water another, clothing another, medicine another; but none has them all in itself as Christ does. He is bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, a garment to the naked, healing to the wounded; and whatever a soul can desire is found in him.

4. Nothing is lovely in opposition to him, or in separation from him. If he truly is altogether lovely, then whatever is opposite to him, or separate from him can have no loveliness in it. Take away Christ, and where is the loveliness of any enjoyment? The best creature-comfort apart from Christ is but a broken cistern. It cannot hold one drop of true comfort, Psalm 73:26. It is with the creature– the sweetest and loveliest creature– as with a beautiful image in the mirror: turn away the face and where is the image? Riches, honors, and comfortable relations are sweet when the face of Christ smiles upon us through them; but without him, what empty trifles are they all?

5. Christ transcends all created excellencies in beauty and loveliness. If you compare Christ and other things, no matter how lovely, no matter how excellent and desirable, Christ carries away all loveliness from them. "He is before all things," Col. 1:17. Not only before all things in time, nature, and order; but before all things in dignity, glory, and true excellence. In all things he must have the pre-eminence.

The entire text of the articles can be found at Grace Gems.