In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
“The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.
Things That Test You
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;
Abraham’s Life of Faith
In the Old Testament, a person’s relationship with God was seen by the degree of separation in that person’s life. This separation is exhibited in the life of Abraham by his separation from his country and his family. When we think of separation today, we do not mean to be literally separated from those family members who do not have a personal relationship with God, but to be separated mentally and morally from their viewpoints. This is what Jesus Christ was referring to in Luke 14:26.
Living a life of faith means never knowing where you are being led. But it does mean loving and knowing the One who is leading. It is literally a life of faith, not of understanding and reason— a life of knowing Him who calls us to go. Faith is rooted in the knowledge of a Person, and one of the biggest traps we fall into is the belief that if we have faith, God will surely lead us to success in the world.
The final stage in the life of faith is the attainment of character, and we encounter many changes in the process. We feel the presence of God around us when we pray, yet we are only momentarily changed. We tend to keep going back to our everyday ways and the glory vanishes. A life of faith is not a life of one glorious mountaintop experience after another, like soaring on eagles’ wings, but is a life of day-in and day-out consistency; a life of walking without fainting (see Isaiah 40:31). It is not even a question of the holiness of sanctification, but of something which comes much farther down the road. It is a faith that has been tried and proved and has withstood the test. Abraham is not a type or an example of the holiness of sanctification, but a type of the life of faith— a faith, tested and true, built on the true God. “Abraham believed God…” (Romans 4:3).
|MARCH 19, 2015From: Crosswalk.com
3 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Was Single
“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.” Matthew 6:34a (MSG)
I remember the hardest day of the week for me when I was single was Sunday. Specifically, Sunday right after church.
Many of my other single friends would have plans with their families that day, but not me. My family lived nine hours away.
So, I’d walk through the parking lot, watching young moms ooh and ahh over Sunday school artwork and I’d think, Their lives seem so blissfully full.
I’d walk past an older couple holding hands and think, They are so lucky to have such an easy, breezy life.
I’d walk past a gal walking arm in arm with her boyfriend and think, She is so fortunate to feel loved.
And then I’d get in my car and decide happiness, fulfillment and contentment were something to hope for in the future, when I found the life I desperately wanted. I was focusing on what could be instead of looking for evidence of what God was doing right in that moment, like our key verse Matthew 6:34 instructs us to do.
Boy, do I wish I could go sit in that car beside my single self and tell her some life-giving truths I now know:
1. Loneliness isn’t fixed by surrounding yourself with more people.
Sure, having people to go grab lunch with you after church is great. And having the built-in companionship of your own family is wonderful. But it hasn’t fixed my struggles with loneliness like I thought it would.
Some of the loneliest women I know wear wedding rings.
I had to learn to enjoy life without being dependent on someone else to create the fun for me. That way I could bring the fun. I could bring the interesting conversation starters. And I could start to better discern the kinds of people who would get me.
What are those things you truly love spending time doing, creating or researching? Invest your lonely moments there. Create life-giving experiences around your unique passions. After all, people are attracted to others who are full of life.
2. Learn from the pitfalls in friendships.
If only I would have dared to really look, I could have seen patterns of pitfalls in my relationships. Some of the same relationship struggles I had in my single friendships quickly popped up in my marriage.
Being a little more self-aware of how I contributed to frustrations in friendships would have helped me work on having a healthier marriage even before I met my husband.
I could have learned valuable self-improvements like taming my spontaneity a tad, remembering that not everyone likes to talk before the sun comes up and working to not interpret everything with way more emotion than necessary. Just to name a few.
I absolutely would have encouraged my single self to make good use of those hard friendship moments by learning … really learning … from them.
3. Stop expecting perfection.
All those people I was watching those Sunday afternoons weren’t living perfect lives. They were having a moment of perfection in the midst of very imperfect relationships.
None of those moms were perfect moms. None of those couples were perfect couples. None of those families were perfect families.
I obviously know this with my head. But sometimes my heart gets tripped up looking for perfection and missing what’s really good.
Single self, realize perfection doesn’t exist on this side of eternity, and it’s exhausting to chase something that doesn’t exist.
So, look at relationships through the lens of grace. Instead of asking, “Is this the perfect relationship I’ve dreamed about?” ask yourself, “Is this a person with whom I can both give and receive grace?”
Sundays are no longer the hardest days of the week for me. But it wasn’t because I got married and had kids.
It’s because I finally learned how to bring the joy I wanted to experience, became a healthier version of me and stopped chasing perfection.
Things Will Come To Test You
From: Streams in the Desert
Beloved, do not be surprised at the ordeal that has come to test you… you are sharing what Christ suffered; so rejoice in it (1 Peter 4:12-13).
Many a waiting hour was needful to enrich the harp of David, and many a waiting hour in the wilderness will gather for us a psalm of “thanksgiving, and the voice of melody,” to cheer the hearts of fainting ones here below, and to make glad our Father’s house on high.
What was the preparation of the son of Jesse for the songs like unto which none other have ever sounded on this earth? The outrage of the wicked, which brought forth cries for God’s help. Then the faint hope in God’s goodness blossomed into a song of rejoicing for His mighty deliverances and manifold mercies. Every sorrow was another string to his harp; every deliverance another theme for praise.
One thrill of anguish spared, one blessing unmarked or unprized, one difficulty or danger evaded, how great would have been our loss in that thrilling Psalmody in which God’s people today find the expression of their grief or praise!
To wait for God, and to suffer His will, is to know Him in the fellowship of His sufferings, and to be conformed to the likeness of His Son. So now, if the vessel is to be enlarged for spiritual understanding, be not affrighted at the wider sphere of suffering that awaits you. The Divine capacity of sympathy will have a more extended sphere, for the breathing of the Holy Ghost in the new creation never made a stoic, but left the heart’s affection tender and true.
“He tested me ere He entrusted me” (1 Tim. 1:12, Way’s Trans.)
“I have written to him the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing.”Hosea 8:12
Suggested Further Reading: 2 Peter 1:16-21
Who is the author of it? Do these men jointly claim the authorship? Are they the compositors of this massive volume? Do they between themselves divide the honour? Our holy religion answers, No! This volume is the writing of the living God: each letter was penned with an Almighty finger; each word in it dropped from the everlasting lips, each sentence was dictated by the Holy Spirit. Albeit, that Moses was employed to write his histories with his fiery pen, God guided that pen. It may be that David touched his harp and let sweet psalms of melody drop from his fingers, but God moved his hands over the living strings of his golden harp. It may be that Solomon sang canticles of love, or gave forth words of consummate wisdom, but God directed his lips, and made the preacher eloquent. If I follow the thundering Nahum when his horses plough the waters, or Habbakuk when he sees the tents of Cushan in affliction; if I read Malachi, when the earth is burning like an oven; if I turn to the smooth page of John, who tells of love, or the rugged fiery chapters of Peter, who speaks of the fire devouring God’s enemies; if I turn to Jude, who launches forth curses upon the foes of God, everywhere I find God speaking: it is God’s voice, not man’s; the words are God’s words, the words of the Eternal, the Invisible, the Almighty, the Jehovah of this earth. This Bible is God’s Bible; and when I see it, I seem to hear a voice springing up from it, saying, “I am the book of God: man, read me. I am God’s writing: open my leaf, for I was penned by God; read it, for he is my author, and you will see him visible and manifest everywhere.”
For meditation: We all have our favourite Bible writers and passages, but we must never limit ourselves to them, otherwise we will miss some of the great things God has said.
Sermon no. 15
19 March (Preached 18 March 1855)
A warning against hardness of heart
‘But exhort one another daily, while it is called to-day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.’ Hebrews 3:13
Suggested Further Reading: Titus 2:1–10
This duty belongs primarily to the pastor and to church officers. We are set in the church to see after the good of the people, and it is our business both in public and in private, as far as we have opportunity, to exhort daily; and especially where we see any coldness creeping over men, where there begins to be a decline in the ways of God, it is our duty to be most earnest in exhortation. The duty belongs to you all. ‘Exhort one another daily.’ Parentsshould be careful concerning their children in this matter. You act not the part of a true father unless you see to your son whether he be in church membership or not, that upon the slightest inconsistency he receives a gentle word of rebuke from you. Sunday school teachers, this is peculiarly your work with regard to your own classes. Watch over your children, not only that they may be converted, but that after being converted they may be as watered gardens, no plants withering, but all the graces of the Spirit coming to perfection through your care. Here is work for the elders among us. You whose grey heads betoken years of experience, and whose years of experience ought to have given you wisdom and knowledge, you may use the superiority which age affords you to offer a word of exhortation, lovingly and tenderly to the young. You can speak as those of us who are younger cannot speak, for you can tell what you have tasted and have handled; perhaps you can even tell where you have smarted by reason of your own faults and follies. All of you without exception, whether you be rich or poor, see to each others’ souls; say not, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ but seek your brother’s good for edification.
For meditation: The exhortations God gives us in his Word (Joshua 1:6–9; Hebrews 10:19,22) should be the pattern for our mutual exhortations (Joshua 1:18; Hebrews 10:24–25). Beloved, if God so exhorts us, we ought also to exhort one another.
Sermon no. 620
19 March (1865)