We are being prepared for Heaven

In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began. – Titus 1:2

LOOK upon all the Lord’s covenant dealings with you as but preparatory to your approaching emancipation from all sin, suffering, and sorrow. Welcome your trials—they are sent by your Father. Welcome the stroke of His rod—it is a Parent smiting. Welcome whatever detaches you from earth, and wings your spirit heavenward. Welcome the furnace that consumes the dross and the tin, and brings out the precious gold and silver, to reflect in your soul, even now, the dawnings of future glory. Oh! be submissive, meek, and quiet, under God’s chastening and afflicting hand, and receive all His dispensations as only tending to fit you more perfectly for “the inheritance of the saints in light.” Let his “hope of eternal life” cheer and comfort the bereaved of the Lord, from whose hearts have fled the loved and sanctified ones of earth, to the eternal heaven. Oh! how full of consolation is this prospect! Where have the departed fled, who sleep in Jesus? They have but exchanged the region of darkness and shadow for the regions of light and glory. They have gone from the scene of impurity, defilement, and sin, to the place of perfect holiness, complete sanctification, and eternal love.

– Octavius Winslow, 1808-1878, Morning Thoughts

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He lived poor and died poor

“Jesus replied—Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” Matthew 8:20

Jesus does not say, Kings have palaces—but I have none. Nor does He say that rich men have houses and lands and mansions to entertain their followers—but I have none; but, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but I have no place to lay My head.”

Your outward condition is not worse than Christ’s was, when He was in the world. Christ’s condition was low, yes, very low and humble in this world. He was born in a stable, lived on the charity of others, and did not have enough money to pay His taxes. The great Architect of the world had no place to lay His head—but emptied Himself of all, and became poor to make us rich, not in goods—but in grace; not in worldly wealth—but in the treasures of the eternal world. He lived poor and died poor.

Are you houseless, are you penniless, are you poor, and low, and base in this world? So was Christ! Remember “the servant is not greater than his Lord!”

It is unfitting to see the Head all begored with blood and crowned with thorns—and the members to be decked with roses and jewels, and to smell of rich spices, and perfumes!

Are you in a worse condition than Christ was, in this world? Oh no, no! Why then do you murmur and complain? Why do you say there is no sorrow like your sorrow, nor any suffering compared to your suffering? O sirs! it is honor enough for the disciples of Christ to fare as Christ fared in this world. Why should the servant be in a better condition than His Lord? Did you but seriously and frequently meditate and ponder upon the poverty and low estate of Christ while He was in this world, your hearts would be more calm and quiet under all their crosses and losses!

Thomas Brooks, London’s Lamentations, 1670

Looking at our afflictions through the eyes of faith

“I was silent; I would not open my mouth–for You are the one who has done this!” Psalm 39:9

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

This stillness and silence befits us, when God lifts up His arm to afflict us. It is of little use at such times to struggle against His almighty power–to be restless and complaining when His heavy hand is laid upon us. Our wisdom is . . .
to bear the burden which oppresses us with patience,
to submit cheerfully to the will of God, and
to kiss the painful rod which scourges us.

We should remember that our Father does not afflict His children willingly, that is, for His own pleasure–but for their profit. He loves them; and when He punishes them, it is for their discipline, and to make them what He would have them to be–partakers of His holiness.

We should look at our afflictions in this light–and not let a murmur escape our lips! Our language should be, “It is the Lord–let Him do what seems good to Him!” 1 Samuel 3:18

It is often our duty, in the hour of trial or of difficulty, to be still, to lie passive in God’s hands, “to hope, and quietly to wait for the salvation of the Lord.”

Ashton Oxenden, “The Christian Life” 1882

This was not the pleasant life which they dreamed of on their wedding day…

Yet man is born to trouble, As the sparks fly upward. – Job 5:7

In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. – John 16:33

There are many crucial lessons which Christians cannot learn in the sunshine of prosperity. So the great Teacher calls us apart and shuts the doors, to keep out the light and exclude the world’s noises–and then He teaches us the songs . . .
of peace,
of joy,
of trust,
of love.
Thus the painful things of life have their place in the divine training of our lives.

Many of the things our Master calls us to do or to endure, do not seem to our eyes at the time, to be the best things. Much of our life is disappointment. Sorrow comes ofttimes with . . .
its hot tears,
its emptyings of the heart,
its pain,
its bitterness.

We do not know when we set out on any bright, sunny path–into what sorrowful experiences we shall be led. A noble young man married a sweet, beautiful girl. They were very happy. Life began for them in a garden of roses. Only three bright years had passed, however, when the young wife broke down in health. Then she became an invalid, much of the time unable to leave her room. The burden has been a very heavy one for the husband, requiring continual self-denial and sacrifice, besides the grief and anxiety it has brought.

This was not the pleasant life which they dreamed of on their wedding day! They thought only of gladness and prosperity. It never occurred to them that adversity or any trouble could break into their sweet paradise.

But the Master has made no mistake. To those who have watched their lives and noted the fruit of the suffering in them, it is becoming apparent that divine love and kindness are written in all the painful lines of the long story. The young man has been growing all the years . . .
in strength,
in gentleness,
in purity of spirit,
in self-control,
in the peace of God,
in all manly virtues.
It seemed a strange place to make him cast his nets–into the deep waters of affliction and disappointment–but he is now drawing them full of rich and noble blessings.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28

J. R. Miller, 1840-1912, The Glory of the Commonplace

Published in: on June 6, 2016 at 11:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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Why am I afflicted?

The effect (of affliction) has been to recall me from my wanderings, and to turn me to paths of duty and holiness. This is an effect often — very often — experienced; this is language which can be used by many a child of God. Of those who are the children of God it may be said that they are “always” benefited “sooner” or “later” by afflictions. It may not be at the time of the affliction, but the “ultimate” effect is in all cases to benefit them. Some error is corrected; some evil habit changed; some mode of life not consistent with religion is forsaken; pride is humbled; the heart is quickened in duty; habits of prayer are resumed or formed; the affections are fixed on a better world; the soul is made more gentle, calm, humble, spiritual, pure.

Afflictions are among the most precious means of grace. They are entirely under the direction of God. They may be endlessly varied, and adapted to the case of every individual. God knows every heart, and the best way to reach any heart. By sickness; by disappointment; by loss of property; by bereavement; by blighted hopes; by the ingratitude of others; by the unkindness of professed friends, and the malice of enemies; by domestic troubles; by the misconduct of children — perhaps the most severe of all human ills, and the hardest to bear; in ten thousand ways God can reach the heart, and break and crush it, and make it ready for the entrance of truth — as the farmer breaks and pulverizes the soil by the plow and the harrow, so that it shall be prepared to receive the seed.

Among those things for which good men have most occasion for thankfulness are afflictions; and when we lie down on the bed of death, and look over life and the divine dealings with us through life, as the glories of heaven are about to open upon us, we shall feel that among the chiefest mercies of God are those dealings of his holy hand, trying at the time, which kept us from going astray, or which recalled us when we had wandered from him — and “that in our life, now closing, there has not been one trial too much.”

– Albert Barnes, 1872-1951, Barnes Notes

Published in: on May 31, 2016 at 1:09 am  Leave a Comment  
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