Storms

(I received the following yesterday evening via email and wanted to pass it along. It is an excerpt from the devotional book, “Streams in the Desert” by Mrs. Charles Cowman.)

“In fierce storms,” said an old seaman, “we must do one thing; there is only one way: we must put the ship in a certain position and keep her there.” This, Christian, is what you must do.

Sometimes, like Paul, you can see neither sun nor stars, and no small tempest lies on you; and then you can do but one thing; there is only one way. Reason cannot help you; past experiences give you no light. Even prayer fetches no consolation. Only a single course is left. You must put your soul in one position and keep it there.

You must stay upon the Lord; and come what may–winds, waves, cross-seas, thunder, lightning, frowning rocks, roaring breakers–no matter what, you must lash yourself to the helm, and hold fast your confidence in God’s faithfulness, His covenant engagement, His everlasting love in Christ Jesus. –Richard Fuller

~ Rachel ~

Losing the Dross

A few months back, when reading Proverbs 25, my mind settled on verse 4 as I thought about the meaning of the word “dross”. The Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines dross as:

“Waste matter; refuse; any worthless matter separated from the better part; impure matter.”

How often do we, as Christians, try to cling to the “waste matter; refuse; impure matter” from which God desires to separate us?

Losing the Dross

Jesus keep me near the cross; familiar hymn we sing.

If God did grant this one desire,

Just what loss would it bring?

Our “rights”? Our pride? Own strength relied?

The weights to which we cling?

To lose the dross may seem great loss,

While drawing us nearer, nearer to the cross.

In the cross, in the cross, be my glory ever.

If God did grant this one desire,

Just what ties would He sever?

Our dreams? Our plans? Selfish demands?

Our own life-long endeavors?

The severed dross may seem great loss,

While drawing us nearer, nearer to the cross.

Sometimes, when loss we suffer,

We oft’ need this reminder.

To lose the dross, we shall come forth

A vessel for the finer!

“Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.”  Proverbs 25:4

~ Rachel ~

If We Were a Bible Character – The Virtuous Woman

If we were a Bible character; our life, men had read.

From the pages of Scripture, just what would be said?

If God were writing our profile today,

To record in His Word; just what would it say?

The Virtuous Woman – “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.  Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.”  Proverbs 31:10-31

With today being March 31, our “Proverbs for the day” included reading of the virtuous woman. No doubt, many books and articles have been written about this woman. No doubt, she has been the topic of many ladies’ meetings…all with the intent to inspire women and girls to become more like this lady of great value. If we are not careful, however, we could become overwhelmed while reading this passage. As a result, instead of being inspired we could actually develop an attitude of “What’s the use…I could NEVER be like this ‘perfect woman’ so why even try”?  But, if we are going to have that mindset, should we not be consistent by saying concerning Christ-likeness, ”What’s the use…I could NEVER be like Christ, so why even try”? We know that would not be a right attitude for, although we will fail often, our desire as believers should always be one of becoming more like HIM!  “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. I John 2:6

Today is March 31 and 2014 is now one-fourth over. As ladies and girls, why not take the remaining three-fourths of this year and challenge ourselves to study and strive to grow in this area of becoming a virtuous woman – a woman of great value. No matter where any of us are spiritually, there is always room for growth and whether married or unmarried, each of us can learn much from this passage in God’s Word. Below are comments taken from Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary. In the weeks ahead, I may be sharing short excerpts from his complete commentary on this passage of Scripture.

From Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary – originally written in 1706. (This would be something great to print and give out and/or keep!) –

“This is the description of a virtuous woman of those days, but the general outlines equally suit every age and nation. She is very careful to recommend herself to her husband’s esteem and affection, to know his mind, and is willing that he rule over her.

1. She can be trusted, and he will leave such a wife to manage for him. He is happy in her. And she makes it her constant business to do him good.

2. She is one that takes pains in her duties, and takes pleasure in them. She is careful to fill up time, that none be lost. She rises early. She applies herself to the business proper for her, to women’s business. She does what she does, with all her power, and trifles not.

3. She makes what she does turn to good account by prudent management. Many undo themselves by buying, without considering whether they can afford it. She provides well for her house. She lays up for hereafter.

4. She looks well to the ways of her household, that she may oblige all to do their duty to God and one another, as well as to her.

5. She is intent upon giving as upon getting, and does it freely and cheerfully.

6. She is discreet and obliging; every word she says, shows she governs herself by the rules of wisdom. She not only takes prudent measures herself, but gives prudent advice to others. The law of love and kindness is written in the heart, and shows itself in the tongue. Her heart is full of another world, even when her hands are most busy about this world.

7. Above all, she fears the Lord. Beauty recommends none to God, nor is it any proof of wisdom and goodness, but it has deceived many a man who made his choice of a wife by it. But the fear of God reigning in the heart, is the beauty of the soul; it lasts for ever.

8. She has firmness to bear up under crosses and disappointments. She shall reflect with comfort when she comes to be old, that she was not idle or useless when young. She shall rejoice in a world to come. She is a great blessing to her relations. If the fruit be good, the tree must have our good word. But she leaves it to her own works to praise her.

Every one ought to desire this honour that cometh from God; and according to this standard we all ought to regulate our judgments. This description let all women daily study, who desire to be truly beloved and respected, useful and honourable. This passage is to be applied to individuals, but may it not also be applied to the church of God, which is described as a virtuous spouse? God by his grace has formed from among sinful men a church of true believers, to possess all the excellences here described.”

~ Rachel ~

Burden Bearing

“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.  For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9,10

Recently, I found myself sitting across from a young mother and, as the conversation turned toward her unsaved dad, her feelings of despair were quite evident. As she shared how the situation had seemed to go from bad to worse, I began, with much confidence in MY GOD, to assure her of the Lord’s ability to bring conviction to the hardest of hearts and save her father!  The very next morning brought my own “storm” and as my first reactions were my own feelings of despair, the Lord quickly brought to my memory my boldness…my confidence in HIS ABILITY just the afternoon before! Had God died overnight??  Absolutely not, but my 180 degree turn of emotions would seem to indicate otherwise. About that time, God allowed me to receive a word of encouragement from a dear friend and once again, my focus was back where it should be…on the GOD of our storms instead of the storm. While thinking about all of this, I realized how much easier it can be at times to have complete confidence in God’s ability when we are an observer of the storm and not actually experiencing the tsunami-like waves. I was also reminded that there will be times in each of our lives when, although we KNOW what God’s Word says, our current trial may require a loving reminder from a fellow believer. “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”  Galatians 6:2

In Colossians 4, Paul mentions several fellow laborers and of them he says in verse 11, “…which have been a comfort unto me.” Trials come to all and when they do, how very thankful I am for those whom the Lord has place in my life to lift me up and be an encouragement when the waves are raging high. So often, God has sent a word of comfort at just the right time…one that has given me strength to go on!  Praise the Lord!  May each of us not only be thankful for the “encouragers” that God has placed in our lives, but may we also continually strive to grow in this area of ministry.  “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.”  I Thessalonians 5:11   

P.S. – Perhaps you are reading this post and feel you are in the middle of a storm in which you have no one to turn. May I sit across from you for a moment and assure you that, as a Christian, we are never alone. As in the Apostle Paul’s life, although there may be times when men forsake us, the Lord’s presence will always be with us. – “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me…”  II Timothy 4:16,17   No matter what our situation is, not only are we assured of the Lord’s presence but of His power as well. HE truly is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think…”  Ephesians 3:20  AMEN!!!

~ Rachel ~

Faith – George Mueller

“Faith has nothing to do with feelings or with impressions, with improbabilities or with outward experiences. If we desire to couple such things with faith, then we are no longer resting on the Word of God, because faith needs nothing of the kind. Faith rests on the naked Word of God. When we take Him at His Word, the heart is at peace.”  George Mueller

Speaking the Truth

“He that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit.Proverbs 12:17 

Wow! Did you ever think about it this way? Every time the truth is spoken, righteousness is exemplified. By the same token, every “false witness” portrays deceit. That is a sobering thought right there. Not only that, when we as Christians tell a lie, not only are we symbolizing deceit but we are putting our stamp of approval on it as well. “They that forsake the law praise the wicked:……” Proverbs 28:4  How do you think it looks to the world when a “Christian” is dishonest? Would they be shocked to hear that a “Christian” lied or would it be just another “typical” person? People have to deal with enough lying in the world already. Why follow the “norm” and have this unbiblical mindset that defines lies as big, small, or a WHOPPER; a lie is a lie, no matter how big or small it may seem. As Christians, we should be different from the world. The Bible says in I Peter 2:9, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people;…” A “peculiar people” means different. You know, the well-known phrase, “You can’t trust anyone these days” doesn’t have to be true. I don’t know about you, but I want to be known as someone who can be trusted…I want to be different. To be able to gain this respect is going to take telling the truth in everything. And, in doing this, righteousness will be exalted.

“Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.” Proverbs 12:22 

~ Bethany ~

Familiarity Breeds Acceptance

If familiarity breeds an acceptance of sin,

Should we not take care of what we let in?

Accepting of sin is rejecting God’s Word,

All Scripture we’ve read, All Truth we have heard.

Take heed therefore; I dare to repeat,

Guard our mind, ears and eyes from Satan’s deceit.

For familiarity breeds an acceptance of sin,

So, let’s all take great care of what we let in.

~~~

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.  For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”  Psalm 1

~ Rachel ~

Following Christ

“And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord…”  I Thessalonians 1:6

Reading in I Thessalonians this morning was a good reminder of where a believer’s focus should be. As Christians, we are to follow Christ. If others who are further in their walk with the Lord happen to “line up” with Christ as well, then we would naturally be following them also…as they follow Christ. But, our focus must always look beyond men to CHRIST – for men (and women) may fail us, but Christ will NEVER lead us astray. This is why it is so very crucial that we be as the Bereans were –
“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”  Acts 17:11  
The heart-breaking times, when a leader may indeed stray, are the very times when it is revealed where the focus of the follower was. If the focus was where it should be…on Christ…then the follower will continue following Truth from God’s Word no matter what.

“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”  I Corinthians 11:1

Follow! follow! I would follow Jesus!
Anywhere, everywhere, I would follow on!
Follow! follow! I would follow Jesus!
Everywhere He leads me I would follow on!

(William Cushing)

~ Rachel ~