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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The Place of Humiliation

If You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us. —Mark 9:22

After every time of exaltation, we are brought down with a sudden rush into things as they really are, where it is neither beautiful, poetic, nor thrilling. The height of the mountaintop is measured by the dismal drudgery of the valley, but it is in the valley that we have to live for the glory of God. We see His glory on the mountain, but we never live for His glory there. It is in the place of humiliation that we find our true worth to God— that is where our faithfulness is revealed. Most of us can do things if we are always at some heroic level of intensity, simply because of the natural selfishness of our own hearts. But God wants us to be at the drab everyday level, where we live in the valley according to our personal relationship with Him. Peter thought it would be a wonderful thing for them to remain on the mountain, but Jesus Christ took the disciples down from the mountain and into the valley, where the true meaning of the vision was explained (see Mark 9:5-6, Mark 9:14-23).

“If you can do anything….” It takes the valley of humiliation to remove the skepticism from us. Look back at your own experience and you will find that until you learned who Jesus really was, you were a skillful skeptic about His power. When you were on the mountaintop you could believe anything, but what about when you were faced with the facts of the valley? You may be able to give a testimony regarding your sanctification, but what about the thing that is a humiliation to you right now? The last time you were on the mountain with God, you saw that all the power in heaven and on earth belonged to Jesus— will you be skeptical now, simply because you are in the valley of humiliation?

– Oswald Chambers, 1874-1917, My Utmost for His Highest (October 2)

Looking for Blessings

Do we take the blessings that the common days bring to us? Do we extract the honey from every flower which grows by our path? Do not angels come to us unawares in homely or unattractive disguise, walk with us, talk with us, and then only become known to us when they have flown away—when their places are empty? Shall we not learn to see the goodness and the beauty in the gifts which God sends to us? Their very commonness veils their blessedness. Let us seek for the good in everything. Then, though we see it not, let us never doubt that a blessing lies hidden in every gift of God to us. Every moment brings us some blessing—even the rough hand of trial holds in its clasp, some treasure we love.

 – J. R. Miller, 1840-1912, In Green Pastures

Character

Character is the product of daily, hourly actions, words and thoughts:
daily forgiveness,
daily unselfishness,
daily kindnesses,
daily sympathies,
daily charities,
daily sacrifices for the good of others,
daily struggles against temptation,
daily submissiveness under trial.
It is these, like the blending of colors in a picture–which constitute a person’s character.

– John MacDuff, 1818-1895

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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Afflictions

My heart feels for you, my dear friend, in your deep, deep trial. This present world is a world of sadness; but when we think of that world which is to come, into which sorrow never enters, and how soon we may be there, we may well “rejoice in tribulation.” Our “light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” In all your sorrows, pour out your heart to the Man of sorrows. He will bow down His ear and listen to all you say, and will either remove or moderate your trial, and give you strength to bear it. Even this bitter draught He has given you to drink shall result both in your good and His own glory. Remember, not a sparrow falls upon the ground without His guidance, and that the very hairs of your head are all numbered. How much more has this trying event been ordered and arranged by Him who loves you! Infinite wisdom has appointed the whole! Never doubt that He loves you when He the most deeply afflicts. “When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” May He lift up upon you the light of His countenance, drawing you nearer to Himself, that you may see what a tender, loving heart He has for you, and how deeply and tenderly and considerately He cares for you, as if there were not another poor sorrowful one to care for on the face of the whole earth!

Mary Winslow, 1774-1854, Walking with Jesus

Published in: on April 17, 2016 at 1:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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