The Romance of the Christian Faith, Pt 1

We sometimes meet Christians who use scriptural words and thoughts with no more feeling than if they were licking stamps. They seem to belong to a religious world whose citizens live always north of the Arctic circle of emotion. Their spiritual affections are buried beneath yards of ice and snow.

When they venture to talk about the things of God, they use good words and express sound ideas, but they are evidently in compete control of their own emotions at all times. In such company, the doctrines of God’s Word have the fascination of an ice-crystal or a snow flake–the truth of Scripture look beautiful, but feel icy cold. One senses that it would be an impertinence to breathe a sigh in their presence or to utter a stifled sob. To shed a tear would be unpardonable.

No doubt emotion can be overdone in religion, as in all other areas. Not everything we say on biblical subjects needs to be said in a gush of tears or punctuated with a solemn ‘amen’. We concede readily that some people spoil our appetite for holy emotions by their working too hard at them. We remember hearing of a preacher whose every sentence almost was greeted by an ‘amen’ from someone. But the voice gave itself away at one point in the service by shouting ‘amen’ when the number of the next hymn was announced. Thus, their zeal was artificial. For false emotions of this kind we make no appeal here. But we plead for more expressions of genuine emotion both in the pulpit and out of it.

It is not difficult to show from Scripture that outward expressions of emotion are proper and right at times. Saintly men whose calling in life involved them in great responsibility and self-control are occasionally represented in the Bible as overcome with profound feelings, either of sorrow or of joy. No-one who has read the story of Joseph’s self-disclosure to his brothers could ever forget the power which this passage possesses:

Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them who stood by him . . . And he wept aloud, and the Egyptians and the house of
Pharoah heard . . . And he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept . . . Moreover, he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon
them. (Gen. 45:1,2,14,15)

Nothing in this lavish outpouring of emotions has any connection with emotionalism. It is a scene of holy and spontaneous affection, the springs of which are both earthly and heavenly: love of his own family so long parted from him; delight at seeing Benjamin, pleasure at hearing that his father is still alive, his inability to do anything else other than forgive his brothers’ conduct toward him and the realization that his brothers were better men than they once were, and above all else, a sublime realization that God had fulfilled his earlier dreams by giving him pre-eminence over his brothers. Never do our feelings rise so high as when we come to some great crisis or climax in life. When God’s hand of providence becomes visible, we must have a sense of destiny which stirs us to the depths. If we are not so stirred, we must be either little men or men of stone.

David’s emotional experience must be safe for us to learn from, not least because he was ‘a man after God’s own heart’. The various inflections in David’s feelings are worthy of more study than they have received. His affections were as capable of variation as the melodies he played on his well-tuned harp. To our information in the books of Samuel must be added all we learn out of the Psalms. The emotional life of this holy man was played out on an instrument of ten strings, now soaring to the heights and now plunging to the depths.

We may select one incident out of many to illustrate this emotional side of the Psalmist: ‘O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would to God that I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!’ (2 Sam. 18:33). Again, as with Joseph above, we must see here spontaneous and profound feeling. David’s emotional outburst is more violent than Joseph. This is partly because he was a man of war, but also because the occasion of his emotions was much darker. He saw the sin of Absalom, his beloved son, as the immediate cause of death. But David perceived the hand of God to be pointing also at his own prior sin with Bathsheba. It was one of those moments in life which possess a high sense both of drama and destiny. The sword would never depart from David’s house (2 Sam. 12:10). God was pursuing his quarrel with David, and the recent dramatic death of Absalom was a powerful reminder to the king that every syllable of God’s Word is right and inescapable. The tears which flowed down the face of that noblest of men were salted by thoughts of self-reproach more than by anything else. It is those who love God greatly who smite most violently their own breast when they see what their folly has brought on other men’s heads.

– to be continued

Maurice Roberts

The Blessedness of Christian Friendships: Remembering Mike Morrow

(I was reflecting recently on missing my friend, Mike Morrow, beloved Kentucky pastor, who went to be with the Lord one year ago this past April. I wrote this the week of his death, and it reminds me afresh to appreciate friendships we have.)
A delightful man’s body was buried under a beautiful tree in a lovely country cemetery in rural Kentucky this past Tuesday. Mike Morrow’s soul had taken its heavenly flight the previous Friday, and his earthly ‘tent’ was laid to rest in Union Cemetery, immediately beside the Union Baptist Church building, where Mike had pastored for sixteen years.

I use the word ‘delight’ about Mike Morrow. It might sound like a strange word to those who knew him to describe him as ‘delightful’, because he was a serious-minded, spiritually-minded, tested, deep Christian gentleman who had suffered deeply in life over the years. But I use that word intentionally simply because it was spiritually delightful and spiritually rich to be with him.

I cannot even remember the very first time I met Mike. It must have been around 2003 or 2004 when several of us went to Eastern Europe to do conferences for Heartcry Missionary Society in Romania and Ukraine. This began a deep and lasting friendship and bond of fellowship among the various preachers who began to labor together in Eastern Europe for a number of years. The times together there were tremendous, and the more we returned there over the years, and the more we saw the Lord do wonderful things in Eastern Europe, we developed a feeling well-expressed by Charles Leiter: “We somehow felt that those times [in Romania, Ukraine, and Moldova] would always continue.”
Mike Morrow’s last trip to Eastern Europe was last year, when he and Charles Leiter ministered there together again. It proved to be the last time they ever preached together, and the last time they saw one another on earth.

It was in 2005 that Mike preached one of the greatest sermons I ever heard. It was at the Heartcry Missions Conference in Metropolis, Illinois. And it was one of the finest conferences Heartcry ever had. The conference theme was the attributes of God, and each sermon dealt with a different attribute of God or Christ. Mike’s message was the greatest sermon I have ever heard on the love of God in my 42 years as a Christian. There was a powerful movement of the Holy Spirit during the conference, with a long period of brokenness, tears, repentance, and confession of sin by many in the conference.

Mike’s preaching was always devotional, deep, theological, experiential, and pastoral. It was the presence of Christ upon him and his loving pastoral heart that made his ministry so edifying. But his heart of love and interest in people one-on-one was exceptional as well; some preachers, the more they are used of God, grow more aloof and unapproachable. But Mike never evidenced any of that. He was always humble; he loved people, was interested in anyone who approached him, and had a loving and kind heart, especially in nurturing, mentoring, and encouraging young preachers who would gather around him with questions.

Mike had a gift of speaking with spiritual authority on various subjects, whether when preaching or talking personally with a small group. When he spoke, wisdom was communicated and people listened. He was at his finest when gathered with a group of men who were talking about the things of God and the Bible. He was a man of the Holy Spirit; he knew what it meant to walk in the Spirit, commune with the Spirit, and preach in the power of the Spirit.

In the 2015 Fellowship Conference in Denton, Texas, Mike preached on gospel conversion and genuinely coming to Christ. That morning, he passionately exhorted everyone to make sure they had truly come to know the Saviour. It was one of the finer messages of the conference.
Five months later, in August, 2015, four of us had the privilege of preaching together in Maine at the Fellowship Conference New England, held annually in Portland, Maine. Tim Conway of San Antonio, Jesse Barrington of Dallas, preached the three-day conference with Mike Morrow during that first week of August. Mike preached three marvelous sermons: The Sovereignty of God and the Choices of Men, Seeing Him who is Invisible and Don’t Doubt in the Darkness what God Promised You in the Light. I sat on the front row, loving and soaking up his rich preaching that week, which was as good as any series I ever heard by him. Even toward the end of his life, his preaching was getting better and better.

While making plans for New England, we decided we would spend some extra time together after the conference, so we planned a three day drive to various parts of New England, not only to see some church history sites, but also to share 3 days of friendship. If one doesn’t plan such times, they will not happen. So we planned and set aside three days after the conference was over.
Tim, Mike, and I had three days of relaxed time, sharing long conversations, driving through the New England countryside, relaxing meals together, times of prayer, and visiting church history sites. It began on Sunday afternoon, as we drove south from Portland one hour to Newburyport, Massachusetts, to the Old South Church, founded in 1746 by George Whitefield. Here we saw the vault crypt in the basement under the pulpit where Whitefield is buried, and we discussed the great revival that occurred under Whitefield’s ministry in the First Great Awakening.

We then drove one hour further south for the evening, sharing dinner at a New England inn. The next morning, we drove west to Northfield, Mass., the home and ministry site of D. L. Moody, the 19th century American evangelist. At Northfield, we saw his birth home and museum, the summer conference buildings, and the graves of Dwight and Emma Moody, which sit on a hill on the beautiful grounds. Our visit was approximately 2 hours long, spent with pleasure in looking at the history and museum of the anointed Moody, who pledged to be a man who was totally surrendered to God.

Next we drove another hour southwest to Northampton, Mass., and stood at the graves of Solomon Stoddard, grandfather of Jonathan Edwards, and also those of David Brainerd and Jerusha Edwards, Jonathan’s daughter. As we lingered in the cemetery, we reflected on the sacrificial and holy lives of Brainerd and the Edwards’ family.

We then made our way southeast toward Boston, arriving mid-afternoon, and drove directly to Harvard University in the suburb of Cambridge, Mass. Harvard was founded through the financial gift of John Harvard in 1636. Harvard, a young British minister who came to the new world, lived only 31 years, and left his earthly means to be used for the establishment of the college for the purpose of training gospel preachers, which became Harvard College.

Our visit at Harvard was brief, but heart-felt, as we thought of its gospel foundation and early heritage, as well as the powerful revivals that took place in past centuries locally, not only in the greater Boston area, but on that very campus, when during certain years of the 17th and 18th centuries, movements of the Holy Spirit swept across such colleges as Harvard and Yale. Oh, for God to do it again in our day!
We then shared our evening meal at a diner on the Harvard campus, famous for its Boston burgers, and then retired to our accommodations, for a relaxed visit until bedtime prayers.

The next day, we toured Boston by trolley car, getting off and on all day around town, seeing what we wanted to see, including a boat ride around Boston Harbor, and some historic Boston churches. We were reminded that George Whitefield preached in Boston to at least 12 thousand or more people, at a time when the city’s population was only 14 thousand.

I have vivid memories of Mike, standing or sitting in the center of historic Boston one afternoon, and I remember thinking at the time how much he was taking in and enjoying it, and how thankful I was that we were there together. We then enjoyed a lunch down near Boston harbor, and hopped back on the trolley for another 4 hours of seeing more of the city’s history.

The final evening on Tuesday, we settled in earlier to enjoy a relaxed time to review and reflect on our entire week together and talk about how much we had enjoyed being together. We spoke of living life fully, and finishing well our Christian pilgrimage, regardless of what amount of time we had left. The next morning, on Wednesday, we then headed to the Boston airport, and parting ways for different flights home, we expressed love and appreciation for each other.

That was in August. Little did any of us know that eight quick months later, Mike would be in heaven. He had eight months still to live when we enjoyed New England together. After that week, he and I spoke on the phone and prayed together regularly, and we always remembered our New England time together. Now that he is gone, I miss him even more and am so thankful that we planned a time to enjoy friendship.
When I realized in those recent weeks that Mike might not make it through his sickness, I felt more grateful for our friendship, sensing we were losing a great preacher and a dear friend; I also felt more thankful for the time we had planned to spend together. Then on a Friday, when I received the call telling me of his home going, I treasured him all afternoon, his life and ministry, and the memories even more. And I felt great peace and appreciation that we had not neglected our friendship. How I praise God for the life and legacy of Michael Morrow. Paul Washer said at the funeral: “Mike Morrow was one of the greatest men in the world.” Those who knew and love Mike Morrow feel the same.

We should make time to spend with those we love. It is a great lesson to learn and a great truth to realize, that life is not meant to be lived by rushing from one responsibility to another, rushing so much that we are always under pressure in our schedules and can never plan to be with dear friends. Such times have to be planned, and when they are, and when we have special times together, we will never regret that we took time to enjoy and treasure such friendships.

Someone has said, “Give flowers to the living, so they can enjoy them, not to the dead, when they are already gone.” Leonard Ravenhill, in the same vein, used to say, “Do your giving while you’re living, so you’re knowing where it’s going.” Now is the time to choose the best and choose to show love to friends. At one point, three friends wanted to spend some time together in New England, so we planned it. I am so glad today that we made that choice then. O, the blessedness of Christian friendships.

– Mack Tomlinson

What Happens to Christians when They Die

Here’s a comforting word for the Christian believer. At the moment you breathe your last breath, your soul will leave your body and you will enter into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures, to myriads of angels, to the general assembly, the church triumphant, and your soul will be made perfect. On top of this, you will enter into your rest. You will rest from your labors.

Perhaps you were sexually molested as a child. Perhaps this went on for many years. I cannot even imagine the pain with which you have lived all of this time. No one can, unless they have suffered similarly. You probably live with a continual sense of shame, guilt, pain, and self-loathing. You may even have a litany of broken relationships, both in failed marriages and with children or friends. Maybe you now are a Christian, and you now know that you are not responsible for these horrible things which were done to you, but knowing this intellectually and applying it comfortingly and productively in everyday living are two different things. You may have attempted suicide to end it all, reasoning that your life is not worth living, that you can no longer endure the pain of your past. Perhaps you have tried Christian counselors and for a season you appeared to do better, but you always seem to come back to the same self-loathing and shame.
Or maybe when you were in your late teens or early twenties you became sexually promiscuous and reveled in it for a season. Maybe you were given over to homosexuality. And then, God reached down by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit and saved you and changed you, giving you the ability to hate your sin and to love and obey God. You know you are forgiven but there are certain trigger points which arise from time to time and you are tempted to fall back into your former lifestyle. You feel horribly guilty and defeated when these thoughts come. Maybe you have even fallen into the actual sexual sins of your past. You feel like the fight gets more and more difficult from time to time, and you are tired of fighting.

Or maybe, after many years of drug or alcohol addiction, God reached down and delivered you from this bondage. You had been clean for many years but then one day, something triggered a relapse and you fell off the wagon again. God was gracious to restore you but it has happened many times in your life. You have paid dearly for your sin, losing your spouse, your children, and your good paying job. Your loved ones believe you when you say you are clean again, but they have experienced the back-sliding too many times. They simply cannot live with you any longer, so you find yourself living alone, coming home each night from a job for which you are over qualified, to a small apartment.
Or maybe you have long been in the fight for propagating the gospel to your community, nation, and world. You believe God has called you to this ministry, but there have been many lean times. Your financial support has been minimal. Some have actively opposed you in your ministry. It is one thing for the world to oppose you. You kind of expected that, but it really hurts when fellow believers have dismissed you as too narrow, too rigid, too zealous. You are tired of the fight. You would like to quit, but you know God has called you and you must continue.

Or maybe you have a special needs child who was born to you later in life, after your other children were grown. You know you will care for this child the rest of his life. You long ago settled this in your heart and mind, and you have made provision for him after you leave this earth, but nonetheless the process is tiring, exhausting, and unrelenting. The same can be said for your care for your spouse or parent with Alzheimer’s.

But my dear Christian friend, I have some very good news for you. Upon the last beat of your heart, you will be absent from the body and at home with the Lord. Your soul will enter into the presence of Jesus and you will have your eternal rest. Jesus promised you long ago that if you came to Him as one weary and heavy laden, He would give you rest. You have experienced something of it on earth, but then you will have it in its fullness.

No more pain, no more sorrow, no more sickness, no more death. The first things have passed away.
No more fear, shame, guilt, or self-loathing. You will totally forget the sexual abuse you encountered.
You will be gazing into the eyes of the One who loved you and gave His life for you. You will be done with your propensity to return to your formal life of sexual immorality or drug or alcohol addiction. You will be released from this temptation and battle immediately. Your seemingly perpetual battle for the truth of God’s word and His gospel will be over. No more maligning by friend or foe. No more rejection by the brethren who thought you were ‘over the top’. No more loneliness. You will be with all the great saints of all the ages, others who battled similarly, who also have entered their eternal rest. And your long, faithful service to your special needs child is completed. You have made provision for him, and God will care for him. You will then be at rest. No sorrow, no fear, no apprehension, no anxiety.
Perfect peace forever.

Comfort yourself with these precious truths, dear believer. These magnificent gifts await you. If, however, you are not yet a Christian, you must soberly understand that none of these things are awaiting you. Instead you should expect a certain, terrifying judgment in hell where the fire is never quenched and the worm never dies. Your only hope, my friend, is to flee from the certain, terrifying judgment of God which hangs over your head this very moment and run in repentance and faith to Jesus, the great lover of your soul. He will save you if you humble yourself before Him and cry out to Him for mercy. Wait no longer. Come to Him now. Ask Him this very moment to save you.

– Al Baker

As a Man Thinketh: The Importance of a Renewed Mind, Pt 2

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on these things (Philippians 4:9).

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your affection (mind) on things above, not on things that are on earth (Colossians 3:1-2).

For God has not given us a spirit not of fear but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13).

This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds (Hebrews 10:16).

How central a place man’s mind has in the Bible! My intent is not to weary you with an overload of scriptures, but only to show the major emphasis the Bible’s places on this area of our lives. In our unending battle with sin, a renewed mind is essential. In our ongoing need of comfort and encouragement, a renewed mind only will receive God’s comforts. For true perseverance in the faith year after year, a renewed mind will keep us on the right path, not allowing us to stray from the narrow way. In spiritual warfare, a renewed mind is not an option.
The only means and source of our minds being renewed is God’s Word. Truth is the only thing we are to believe. In any situation, we will either believe a lie, a half-truth, or the truth. A renewed mind is one that has been transformed in its thinking and views to see reality for what it truly is, to believe what God has said in any situation, and to walk in that light. This is the renewed mind.
It is significant that Paul, in Romans 12:1-2, says that renewing of the mind follows two things: 1) presenting our bodies (our entire beings or all of us) as a living sacrifice to God, and 2) not being conformed to this world–consecration and transformation! Full yieldedness to Christ produces within the believer a transformation of the mind, rather than allowing the world to squeeze us into its mold. We are not to be conformed to this world, but the only alternative to conformity to this world is transformation out of the world’s unregenerate way of thinking into Christ’s way of thinking according to God’s truth.
I can now look back and reflect on forty-four years of Christian experience and realize that my choices in living the Christian life were always based on what I believed at the moment. Reading a bad book as a new Christian, I suddenly felt and believed it was a bad book and I chose to throw it in the trash can. Good choice! I was moving toward marriage to a Christian young lady, and came to see it was not God’s will for me, and chose to not continue the relationship, and that choice resulted in my marriage of 39 years to Linda. My, what a difference our belief at any moment can make for the future! Over the years, I have increasingly loved the doctrinal standards of historic Presbyterianism, and the stalwarts of the faith among that communion, such as B. B. Warfield, Charles Hodge, J. Gresham Machen, and others. But as much as I love their history and theology, I could never come to believe they were correct on pedo-baptism (infant baptism). That conviction, flowing out of a renewed mind to what the Bible reveals, has kept me a Baptist all these years, though I have loving relationships with godly Presbyterians to this day.
What we believe in our hearts and minds is what we are, and determines what we choose and do. What we believe shapes all decisions and choices. Yes, ‘tis true–as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he! Our constant prayer and goal should be a renewed mind and heart. That will keep us walking on the Lord’s highway of holiness all the days of our lives.

– Mack Tomlinson

As a Man Thinketh: The Importance of a Renewed Mind, Pt 1

The longer one lives in this world as a Christian, the more he or she becomes aware of the significance of their words and thoughts. The mind of the believer plays a far more central role that we often realize. ‘As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he’, says the scriptures. We realize more and more that the battle in the Christian life really is a battle for the mind to be renewed and controlled by God’s truth. As a person “thinketh” in their heart, so they are and will be.

One of the primary reasons the Christian’s mind is so important is because all of life’s experiences, good or bad, flow out of the choices we make daily as a believer. All choices are the fruit of what we believe and think, whether words or choices. Everything related to what we do and how we live flows out of our heart and mind, which are really the same thing in the Bible. This is why the Bible says, ‘As a man thinketh in his heart . . .’ Thinking with the heart? Don’t we think with our mind? Here the inspired writer of Scripture makes it clear that the heart of a person is so intertwined with the mind, that man is pictured as thinking with his heart. Jesus put it the same way when he said, ‘Out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts’ (Mark 7:21). When we think of the believer’s journey in grace, we must never separate our heart and spirit from our minds and our thoughts.

John Piper says, ‘Paul said in Romans 12:2 to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. The word Paul uses here for transform is the word we use for the metamorphosis of a butterfly. The change in the end is something completely different than was there before. This is how total the transformation should be when it comes to our thinking. And remember, our thoughts determine our actions.’
One author tells the story that in 1952 Florence Chadwick wanted to swim California’s shoreline. She had already been the first woman to swim the English Channel. Once she began her journey across the ocean water, her fear got the best of her. Scared of sharks, fighting the fog and the chilly water, she told the boat beside her she wanted to quit. She had already been swimming for 15 hours, was exhausted and ready to throw in the towel. Her mother tried to encourage her, telling her she was close, but panicking, Chadwick gave up. It all had to do with her outlook and mindset. Even on the human level within the experience of common grace, Chadwick’s mind was not renewed to believe the truth that she could have made it all the way.

Chadwick’s experience pictures the Christian often adjusting our choices to what we believe to be the truth. Within the process of our salvation, the mind is a major battlefield, the major place where victories are won or lost in the Christian life. Just consider a moment a few of the many places where the Bible emphasizes the place of the mind and how primary its place is in the scriptures:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14).
My mouth shall speak wisdom; the meditation of my heart shall be understanding (Psalm 49:3).

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).

My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life (Proverbs 4:20-23).

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee (Isaiah 26:3).

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Mark 12:30).

But I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members (Romans 7:23).

In their case, the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Cor. 4:4).

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24).

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5).

As a man thinks, so is he! . . . . to be continued

– Mack Tomlinson

The Arrows of God’s Discipline

“O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore. There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin.” (Psalm 38:1-3)
Saints are not sinners, but they sin. Sinning is not the tenor or bent of their lives. Rather it is holiness. But we yet abide in the flesh and are susceptible to being turned aside from the ways of God to the ways of depraved men.

As we grow in grace, God removes certain sins from our lives through divine chastisement. This is not punishment, but God’s means of teaching and correcting His children. We suffer from His scourging rod and learn to put out of our lives those things that displease Him.
A child of God under chastisement realizes he is being rebuked by His heavenly Father. He does not ask that he not be rebuked, for that is necessary for his spiritual growth. But he asks that the rebuke be not in God’s “hot displeasure,” that God will be merciful and gentle. Notice also there is no pleading of innocence, no complaining that he does not deserve what he is suffering. None of that. A Christian knows he deserves much more affliction than he gets.

There is nothing more grievous to a child of God than to experience God’s heavy hand of displeasure on him. The whole man suffers, physically, psychologically and spiritually. The sensibility of God’s anger will not permit rest.

The arrows of God’s chastisement are aimed at, and hit a particular object. The object is sin, a particular sin. It is not the believer’s only sin, but it is the sin which God wants out of his life now. It is the sin that causes us the most problem, that besets us from the race we must run, the one thing we love so much we are loathe to part with it. We know what it is. And as soon as we agree with our righteous Lord about its offensiveness and put it away, the affliction will cease and we can again rest in the love and favor of God that is merited by our Lord Jesus Christ.

– Conrad Murrell

Stand Still and See

“Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” – Exodus 13:14

These words contain God’s command to the believer when he is reduced to great straits and brought into extraordinary difficulties. He cannot retreat; he cannot go forward; he is shut up on the right hand and on the left; what is he now to do? The Master’s word to him is, “Stand still.” It will be well for him if at such times he listens only to his Master’s word, for other and evil advisers come with their suggestions. Despair whispers, “Lie down and die; give it all up.” But God would have us put on a cheerful courage, and even in our worst times, rejoice in his love and faithfulness. Cowardice says, “Retreat; go back to the worldling’s way of action; you cannot play the Christian’s part, it is too difficult. Relinquish your principles.”

But, however much Satan may urge this course upon you, you cannot follow it if you are a child of God. His divine fiat has bid you go from strength to strength, and so you shall, and neither death nor hell shall turn you from thy course. What, if for a while thou art called to stand still, yet this is but to renew thy strength for some greater advance in due time. Impulsiveness cries, “Do something! Stir yourself; to stand still and wait, is sheer idleness.” We must be doing something at once–we must do it so we think–instead of looking to the Lord, who will not only do something but will do everything. Presumption boasts, “If the sea be before you, march into it and expect a miracle.” But Faith listens neither to Presumption, Despair, nor to Cowardice, 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; and it will not be long ere God shall say to you, as distinctly as Moses said it to the people of Israel, “Go forward.”

– C. H. Spurgeon