THE CROSS BEFORE THE CROWN

“In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him” (Ecc 7:14 ESV).

“There are some things that must be taken in order, and if we want to gain the second, we must secure the first. Heaven does not come first but second, and only by persevering to the end can we gain a share in it. The cross must be carried before the crown can be worn. We must follow our Lord in His humiliation, or we will never rest with Him in glory. [T]ake the difficult things for the sake of the sweet love of Jesus, which will compensate you for everything. In such a spirit, laboring and suffering, you will find that bitter things grow sweet, and hard things easy” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Nov 14th PM).

“Spiritually prosperous is the man who remains steadfast under trial, because after he has met the test and has been approved, he shall receive the crown” (James 1:12 Wuest).

“[A] Christian has his best things last, and, in this world, he receives his worst things first. But even his worst things are ‘afterward’ good things; harsh plowings yield joyful harvests. Even now he grows rich by his losses, he rises by his falls, he lives by dying, and he becomes full by being emptied. [T]he rest is not for today, nor the triumph for the present, but ‘afterward.’ Wait, O soul, and ‘let patience have her perfect work’ (James 1:4)” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, May 18th PM).

“[W]e truly reap advantage from the discipline of the cross only, when we learn that this life, taken by itself, is full of unrest, trouble, and misery, and not really happy from any point of view; and that all its so-called blessings are uncertain, passing, vain, and mixed with endless adversity” John Calvin (ref#313, p69).

“[W]hen the house begins to shake, and the clay falls away, we see Christ through the openings; and between the rafters, the sunlight of heaven comes streaming in” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Nov 16th PM).

BENEFITS OF TRIALS

“Why did Jesus send his disciples into that storm? [Mark 6:45-52] He did it for the same reason he sometimes sends you into storms—because he knows that sometimes you need the storm in order to be able to see the glory. For the believer, peace is not to be found in ease of life. Real peace is only ever found in the presence, power, and grace of the Savior, the King, the Lamb, the I am. That peace is yours even when the storms of life take you beyond your natural ability, wisdom, and strength. You can live with hope and courage in the middle of what once would have produced discouragement and fear because you know you are never alone. The I am inhabits all situations, relationships and locations by his grace. He is in you. He is with you. He is for You. He is your hope” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Feb 26th).

Welcome Cross

Trials must and will befall;

But with humble faith to see

Love inscribed upon them all,

This is happiness to me.

Trials make the promise sweet;

Trials give new life to prayer;

Trials bring me to his feet,

Lay me low and keep me there.

William Cowper (ref#224, song #282).

“You may be walking in darkness, or in light; you may be mourning in the valley, or rejoicing on the mount; now conquering, now foiled; now weeping, now rejoicing; yet it is still well with you as a pardoned, justified, saved sinner. Nothing can touch your interest in the Savior” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Feb 27th).

“Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind! Blow upon my garden, let its spices flow” (Song 4:16 ESV). “Anything is better than the dead calm of indifference. He makes both affliction and consolation draw forth the grateful fragrances of faith, love, patience, hope, resignation, joy, and the other fair flowers of the garden” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, March 1st AM).

“Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever” (2 Cor 4:16-18 MSG).

“The straight way of the Lord is this: Not only has God changed me profoundly in this crucible of affliction, but He is also going to deliver me in His time and way” Bob Sorge (ref#197, p16).

“All outward distress, to a mind at peace, is but as the rattling of the hail upon the tiles to him that sits within at a sumptuous feast” Robert Leighton (ref#333, p188).

AFFLICTION IS DISGUISED BLESSINGS

“[So Paul] wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become” (2 Cor 12:7-10 MSG).

“When we see that you’re just as willing to endure the hard times as to enjoy the good times, we know you’re going to make it, no doubt about it” (2 Cor 1:6-7 MSG).

“[T]he love of God changes the aspect of everything! Afflictions are then seen to be ‘disguised blessings’; trials [as] proofs of divine faithfulness” Octavius Winslow (ref#256, p32).

“[M]y Lord Jesus has fully recompensed my sadness with His joyS, my losses with His own presence. I find it a sweet and rich thing to exchange my sorrows with Himself” Samuel Rutherford (ref#225, Dec 30th).

“In the middle of domestic trials, family changes, thwarted designs, and shattered hopes, God has made an everlasting covenant with you in the hands of Jesus, its Surety and Mediator. [U]ncertainty is a fundamental component of everything temporal. Let, then, the covenant be your comfort and your stay, your anchor in the storm” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, April 30th).

“Scripture praises the saints for their patience when they are severely afflicted by their adversities, but not broken and overcome by them; when they are bitterly distressed, but nevertheless filled with spiritual joy; when they are weighed down by anxiety and become exhausted, and yet leap for joy because of the divine consolation” John Calvin (ref#313, p61-62).

“[Y]our suffering, losses, and persecution will be a platform from which you can witness for Christ Jesus even more vigorously, and with greater power. Study your great Exemplar, and be filled with His Spirit” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Nov 7th PM).

FAITH IN SUFFERING

Discouragement focuses more on the broken glories of creation than it does on the restoring glories of God’s character, presence, and promises. [The Israelites heading for the promise land] had been promised a land of their own, but what they got was a place filled with people who didn’t want them there. What they saw as being in the way of God’s plan was actually part of his plan; what caused their faith to weaken was actually God’s tool to build their faith. He knows just how he will use what makes you afraid in order to build your faith. He is not surprised by the troubles you face, and he surely has no intention of leaving you to face those things on your own. He stands with you in power, glory, goodness, wisdom and grace. He can defeat what you can’t, and he intends these troubles to be not enemies that finish you but tools of grace that transform you” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, June 25th).

“[L]et those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator” (1 Pet 4:19 NASB).

“I did not know I was so unbelieving until the Lord tried my faith. I never imagined that I was so impatient, self-willed, and restless until God led me to wear the yoke and wait His will. I never supposed that my strength was so small until the Lord laid the burden on me. Little did I know how limited was my knowledge of Christ, how deficient was my acquaintance with divine truth, and how far my heart was from true prayer, until the affliction of my God set me examining my resources to meet it. Then I discovered how shallow was my experience, and how low and meager was my Christianity” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Feb 26th).

“[It] would be a very sharp and trying experience to me to think that I have an affliction which God never sent me, that the bitter cup was never filled by his hand, that my trials were never measured out by him, not sent to me by his arrangement of their weight and quantity. If you drink of the river of affliction near its outfall, it is brackish and offensive to the taste, but if you will trace it to its source, where it rises at the foot of the throne of God, you will find its waters to be sweet and health-giving” Charles Spurgeon (“The Anguish and Agonies of Charles Spurgeon” [Christian History, Issue 29], p25).

“[W]here there is faith in the Lord Jesus, there is love; and where there is love, there is obedience; and where there is obedience, there is happiness; and where there is happiness, the soul can rejoice even in tribulation and sit and sing sweetly and merrily in adversity. [A]ll things in your history are for your good, and this calamity, this affliction, this loss, is among those things” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Sept 21st).

“Rejoice in the LORD always; again I will say, rejoice. [B]y prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:4, 6 ESV).

TESTS OF FAITH

“If you possess real faith, even in the smallest degree, expect faith’s conflict and trial. The existence of faith seems to necessarily imply the endurance of suffering—not because of an intrinsic defeat in faith, but in consequence of impurity of the heart in which that faith is lodged. The trials and temptations, therefore, with which God visits His people are designed as tests of faith” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, March 26th).

“You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way” (James 1:2-4 MSG).

GOD constrains us but that doesn’t mean the thing will be easy to do. We’ll have to be very sensitive to the situations He puts in our lives to bolster our faith enough that we will be willing to do the thing.

[A] person because of the conscious sense of his relation to God bears up under pain, suffering unjustly. [T]o this very thing were you called [namely, to patient endurance in the case of unjust punishment], because Christ also suffered on your behalf, leaving behind for you a model to imitate, in order that by close application you might follow in His footprints” (1Peter 2:19, 21 Wuest).

“[F]or a little while [I have been] grieved by various trials so that the tested genuineness of [my] faith may be found to result in praise and glory and honor” (1 Pet 1:6-7 ESV).

Of My Own Understanding

The mysteriousness of God’s designs are purposed to move and stir His children to seek him earnestly in prayer and submit to His wise and loving providences with faith-filled meekness. It is most natural for man, however, to scan His work and lean on his own understanding. Our heavenly Father has lovingly tailored each affliction to remove with careful precision the props we place under our hearts – that we may lean completely upon Him. It is He, who “knows all our ways” (Psalm 139:3) and “holds all our times” (Psalm 31:15).

God’s servant must not stubbornly resist His pruning work, or despise his discipline – but instead, surrender the tight grasp of our own fair designs, that we may joyfully embrace God’s will for us. May God teach us to seek Him as David did in Psalm 27, that in the face of great armies and false witnesses, he desired most to inquire in God’s temple and gaze upon His beauty. The stillness of our souls in waiting upon Him reflects a deep trust that God “does all things well” (Psalm 119:65). 

Of My Own Understanding

__________________________________

Anger, frustration, confusion, and despair

Roll overhead like dark clouds.

I attempt to lean

On the unstable crutch

Of my own understanding,

Leaving me painfully reaping

The consequences of placing trust

In what is seen.

Tailored affliction

Knocks the makeshift props

I had carefully placed under my heart,

That I may lean completely on

The Rock of Ages –

Who holds all my times,

And knows all my ways.

Seeming instability and insecurity

Cause me to deeply know

The anchor of my soul.

by Emily Burrows

GRACE MUST BE TRIED

“If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword he must be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints” (Rev:13:10 ESV).

The Trial of Faith

Jehovah has said, ‘tis left on record,

‘The righteous are one with Jesus the Lord;’

At all times he loves them; ‘twas for them he died;

Yet ofttimes he proves them, for grace must be tried.

When faint in the way, or lifeless and cold,

Or sunk in dismay, and none to uphold;

Yet firm to his promise thy God shall abide;

But grace, though the smallest, shall surely be tried.

[Temptations and sins in legions shall rise,

As spears in thy side or thorns in thy eyes;

And oft, to thy sorrow, his face he shall hide,

For God has determined his grace shall be tried.]

With him on the mount today thou shalt be,

Indulged by thy Lord his glory to see;

There he may caress thee, and call thee his bride,

Yet grace, though he bless thee, shall surely be tired.

[The tempest shall blow, the billows shall swell,

Thy soul, full of woe, shall pass as through hell;

And all this to prove thee, to stain thy cursed pride;

Yet still he will love thee; but grace must be tried.]

He’ll ne’er thee forsake, but surely perform

His word though he take his way in the storm;

Yea, oft in the clouds of dejection he’ll ride,

For he has determined his grace shall be tried.

As gold from the flame, he’ll bring thee at last,

To praise him for all through which thou hast past;

Then love everlasting thy griefs shall repay,

And God from thy eyes wipe all sorrows away” J. Kent (ref#224, song#297).

“Count if all joy when you meet trials of various kinds, for the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4 ESV).

IN FAITH WE WAIT

“Faith listens neither to Presumption, nor to Despair, nor to Cowardice, nor to Hastiness, but it hears God say, ‘Stand still”; and immovable as a rock, it stands. ‘Stand still.’ Keep the posture of an upright man; ready for action, expecting further orders, cheerfully and patiently awaiting the directing voice. It will not be long before God will say to you, as distinctly as He told Moses to say it to the people of Israel, ‘Go forward’ (Exod. 14:15)” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, July 24th AM).

In faith we wait. “For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness” (Gal 5:5 ESV).

So, instead of following the commandments of the law we wait—by just waiting we obtain righteousness. If you have never waited for righteousness, waiting sounds too simple but it is the hardest thing anyone does.

While we wait GOD orchestrates affliction upon affliction into our lives. Challenges, temptations, everyday uncomfortable situations—He presses us as much as we can take and even more, to the point He may have to come and save us (1 Cor 10:13).

We must live on faith that what is happening to us is good. We understand that our glorious FATHER afflicts in love for He must put an end to our self who loves unrighteousness—who loves to tote self above everything.

He makes us righteous by reminding us that He has put our old way of life to death. We learn to run to CHRIST who is the One who saves us from the overwhelming affliction. Our goal is to learn to depend entirely on CHRIST, shunning self.

And, our waiting for righteous is a constant; we never arrive—we never graduate out of affliction on this earth for our old self, at any moment, can rise up threatening to rule us again plummeting us back into unrighteousness by convincing us we can be righteous by following rules.

“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the over, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith” (Luke 12:27-28 ESV).

JESUS! In Word and Song

I have written a book.

Today’s popular Christian songs favor lyrics that are “me” centered and music that stirs the emotions instead of magnifying the Triune GOD. This book changes that.

Vol. 1 addresses the history of JESUS’ time on earth. The subjects of the songs follow the Church Calendar spanning the anticipation of His birth (Advent) until Pentecost.

Vol. 2 contains songs that emerged with the study of JESUS’ heavenly life described by the Apostles’ writings in the Epistles. It spans the time of His Ascension up to the start of Advent. The song lyrics accentuate the Biblical facts found in the page of prose before each song and also follow the Church Calendar.

With less scriptural emphasis in our churches now days, JESUS! In Word and Song is a resource to teach essential Christian doctrine and highlight those facts in song. The book contains 53 songs and 53 pages of information. Target audience is church and worship leaders, Sunday school and Bible study leaders, and anyone who desires a devotional containing music.

See “BOOK” in the main menu bar above for more facts, downloads, and ordering information.

GOING THROUGH AFFLICTION SPIRIT LED

“Without [God] all within me is terror and dismay, in him every accusation is charmed into joy and peace” The Valley of Vision (ref#76, p158).

“Suffering brings discouragements, because of our impatience. But if God brings us into the trial he will be with us in the trial, and at length brings us out, more refined. We shall lose nothing but dross (Zech 13:9). From our own strength we cannot bear the least trouble, but by the Spirit’s assistance we can bear the greatest. The Spirit will add his shoulders to help us to bear our infirmities. The Lord will give his hand to heave us up (Ps 37:24)” Richard Sibbes (ref#311, p54-55).

“If we do a thing in order to overcome depression, we deepen the depression; but if the Spirit of God makes us feel intuitively that we must do the thing, and we do it, the depression is gone” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, Feb 17th).

“You carry a hell around with you. Although you are regenerate, there is much of the old man in the new man. [O]ne reason why God has left original sin in us, so that it can be a thorn in our side to humble us. Under our silver wings of grace are black feet. Let the sense of this make us daily look up to heaven for help. Beg Christ’s blood to wash away the guilt of sin, and His Spirit to mortify the power of it. Beg further degrees of grace. [T]hough grace cannot make sin not to be, yet it makes it not to reign; though grace cannot expel sin it can repel it” Thomas Watson (ref#225, Aug 1st).

“”[T]he Spirit sanctifies the soul through the medium of God’s afflictive dispensations. They deepen the work of grace in the heart, awaken the soul from its spiritual drowsiness, empty it, humble it, and lay it low, and thus lead to prayer, to self-examination, and to the atoning blood once more. In this way, and by these means, the believer advances in holiness ‘through sanctification of the Spirit.’ [W]e are being made perfect through suffering. The heart has been emptied of its self-confidence. The affections that were seduced from God have returned to their rest; the ties that bound us to the vanities of a world, perishing in its very use, have become loosened; the engagements that absorbed our sympathies and secularized our minds have lost their fascination and their power; the beguiling and treacherous enjoyments that wove their spell around us have grown tasteless and insipid. And thus by all these blessed and hallowed results of our trial, the image of the earthly has become more entirely effaced and the image of the heavenly more deeply engraved and more distinctly legible” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Dec 8th).

“All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too” (2 Cor 1:3-5 MSG).