Answers to Life's Questions

May 30, 2006 at 17:52 o\clock

Secret Prayer

How much do we talk to God in prayer ?

Title: Secret Prayer

Author: Mrs. Charles E. Cowman
Source: Streams in the Desert
Scripture Reference: John 15:15 

"I have called you friends" (John 15:15).

Years ago there was an old German professor whose beautiful life was a marvel to his students. Some of them resolved to know the secret of it; so one of their number hid in the study where the old professor spent his evenings.

It was late when the teacher came in. He was very tired, but he sat down and spent an hour with his Bible. Then he bowed his head in secret prayer; and finally closing the Book of books, he said,

"Well, Lord Jesus, we're on the same old terms."

To know Him is life's highest attainment; and at all costs, every Christian should strive to be "on the same old terms with Him."

The reality of Jesus comes as a result of secret prayer, and a personal study of the Bible that is devotional and sympathetic. Christ becomes more real to the one who persists in the cultivation of His presence.

Speak thou to Him for He heareth,
And spirit with spirit will meet!
Nearer is He than breathing,
Nearer than hands and feet.
--Maltbie D. Babcock

This classic devotional is the unabridged edition of Streams in the Desert. This first edition was published in 1925 and the wording is preserved as originally written. Connotations of words may have changed over the years and are not meant to be offensive.

May 27, 2006 at 14:08 o\clock

Satisfying our Soul

What can truly satisfy us ?

Title: He Satisfies Our Soul

Author: Mrs. Charles E. Cowman
Source: Streams in the Desert
Scripture Reference: Matthew 14:18 

"Bring them hither to me" (Matt. 14:18.).

Are you encompassed with needs at this very moment, and almost overwhelmed with difficulties, trials, and emergencies? These are all divinely provided vessels for the Holy Spirit to fill, and if you but rightly understood their meaning, they would become opportunities for receiving new blessings and deliverances which you can get in no other way.

Bring these vessels to God. Hold them steadily before Him in faith and prayer. Keep still, and stop your own restless working until He begins to work. Do nothing that He does not Himself command you to do. Give Him a chance to work, and He will surely do so; and the very trials that threatened to overcome you with discouragement and disaster, will become God's opportunity for the revelation of His grace and glory in your life, as you have never known Him before. "Bring them (all needs) to me." --A. B. Simpson

"My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:19).

What a source--"God!" What a supply--"His riches in glory!" What a channel--"Christ Jesus!" It is your sweet privilege to place all your need over against His riches, and lose sight of the former in the presence of the latter. His exhaustless treasury is thrown open to you, in all the love of His heart; go and draw upon it, in the artless simplicity of faith, and you will never have occasion to look to a creature-stream, or lean on a creature-prop. --C. H. M.

"MY CUP RUNNETH OVER"

There is always something over,
When we trust our gracious Lord;
Every cup He fills
o'erfloweth,
His great rivers all are broad.
Nothing narrow, nothing stinted,
Ever issues from His store;
To His own He gives full measure,
Running over, evermore.

There is always something over,
When we, from the Father's hand,
Take our portion with thanksgiving,
Praising for the path He planned.
Satisfaction, full and deepening,
Fills the soul, and lights the eye,
When the heart has trusted Jesus
All its need to satisfy.

There is always something over,
When we tell of all His love;
Unplumbed depths still lie beneath us,
Unsealed heights rise far above:
Human lips can never utter
All His wondrous tenderness,
We can only praise and wonder,
And His name forever bless.
--Margaret E. Barber

"How can He but, in giving Him, lavish on us all things" (Rom. 8:32).

This classic devotional is the unabridged edition of Streams in the Desert. This first edition was published in 1925 and the wording is preserved as originally written. Connotations of words may have changed over the years and are not meant to be offensive.

May 26, 2006 at 18:20 o\clock

Little Things

How much importance do we give to details ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: 1 Samuel 17:1-27 

Little Things

And David rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and took and went, as Jesse had commanded him; and he came to the trench, as the host was going forth to the fight, and shouted for the battle.

Occasionally it is necessary to remind ourselves that success in life often depends upon little things. Little people, little tasks and little responsibilities often loom large in the eyes of God.

The Philistines waged frequent raids on Israel. The leader of the Philistines, a giant of tremendous stature named Goliath of Gath, was probably one of the Anakim (Numbers 13:33; Joshua 11:22), a strain of huge men that Joshua drove out of Hebron and who took refuge among the Philistines. No Israelite was a match for Goliath, especially not little David, who was sent to the battlefield to inquire of the welfare of his three elder brothers, Eliab, Abinadab, and Shammah. David's task was a small one; he was entrusted with very little. Told to take his brothers an ephah of parched corn, ten loaves and ten cheeses for the captain of the army, David set out to the battlefield. This day began with a small task, but it was to be a momentous day in the history of Israel.

"David rose up early in the morning, and left his sheep with a keeper" and engaged in the small chore his father had commissioned to him (1 Samuel 17:20). As he talked with his brothers, behold the Philistine champion came out again to challenge the Israelites. The armies of Israel stood by, trembling in their sandals; but David was appalled and amazed at the fear that paralyzed the Israelite warriors. Not willing to see his nation shamed or his God embarrassed, he inquired why someone did not stand up to the godless Goliath. "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?" Immediately his eldest brother whisked him away to quiet him. Someone entrusted with such a small task as bringing bread and cheese to his soldier-brothers should not be so vocal about the cowardice of the Israelite army.

Yes, David had slain the lion and the bear, but he was still slight in the sight of those around him. Those were but small feats; silencing the giant Goliath would be a gargantuan task. Besides, even if David accepted the challenge, he was too small to wear the armor necessary to enter battle with Goliath. His weapon, a sling, was likewise a small implement. Everything about David was small, including his chances of success against the giant. But as we all know, David's God was victorious; the slight shepherd of Israel slew the giant Goliath.

Horatius Banal, reflecting on God's use of that which is small, realized that little things can frequently be used by God to be great things. He wrote, "A holy life is made up of a multitude of small things. It is the little things of the hour and not the great things of the age that fill up a life like that of the Apostle Paul or John or David Brainard or Henry Martyn. Little words, not eloquent speeches or sermons, little deeds, not miracles or battles or one great heroic effort or martyrdom, make up the true Christian life. It's the little constant sunbeam, not the lightning, the waters of Siloam that go softly in their meek mission of refreshment, not the waters of the rivers great and main rushing down in torrent, noise, and force that are the true symbols of the holy life."

There are no small people, small tasks or small responsibilities in the service of God. You can be small only if you fail to take the bread and cheese as God has commanded. How much happier Goliath would have been if little David had stayed home that day.

MORNING HYMN
Little is much, when God is in it!
Labor not for wealth or fame;
There's a crown and you can win it,
If you'll go in Jesus' name.

May 25, 2006 at 18:30 o\clock

Come and Dine

How important is it to us to walk with God ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: John 21:1-25 

Come and Dine

But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.

Have you ever noticed that the most difficult time to serve the Lord is immediately after a defeat in your life? When we are on a spiritual high, serving the Lord comes almost naturally. But when we experience the roller-coaster ride to the depths of despair after some spiritual tragedy, we have a tendency to become complacent. While activity tends to produce additional activity, inactivity also reproduces itself.

The popularity of Jesus Christ had been building throughout His earthly ministry. Thousands of people followed Him through the hills of Galilee, watching His miracles and listening to His teachings. The disciples had become an intimate group, well known for their association with Jesus. As His popularity grew, so did their own.

The culmination of their intimate relationship with the Lord came the night of His betrayal. He had gathered the disciples in the upper room to keep the Passover. They were all there. They ate with the Lord, prayed with Him, sang hymns with Him, pledged their loyalty to Him. Around this meal, the institution of the Lord's supper, the disciples reached a spiritual high. Their heightened spirits, however, were soon to be dashed. Jesus was led away from the garden, He endured a cruel and illegal trial, and the disciples were dispersed. Even though Jesus again and again had told them that He must suffer the cruelty of the cross, the disciples still did not assimilate this tenet of His teaching. With His death and burial the disciples' balloon had burst. Even the resurrection of the Lord and the immediate post-resurrection appearances did not do much to reassure the disciples.

As instructed by the Lord Himself, the disciples returned to Galilee. Their meeting with Jesus on the mountain of Galilee, where He had appointed them, must have been subsequent to the account of our Scripture for today. Seven of the apostles had returned to their vocation as fishermen. How easy it was to be a follower of the Lord when He was present; how easy it was to return to their occupation in His absence.

It was Peter who first suggested that he would go fishing. This does not necessarily imply that he intended to renounce his apostleship in favor of the fishing trade. This is what he knew best; this is what he would do until the Lord commanded him otherwise. Hence Peter and the others entered into a ship and fished all night, but caught nothing. How could this be? Had they lost the knack of fishing during their years with the Messiah? Why were they so unsuccessful at a business in which they had been extremely successful before Jesus called them to discipleship? Throughout the night they fished without any success at all.

"But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore" (John 21:4). For some providential reason the disciples did not recognize the stranger standing on the shore. As He called to them and inquired how successful they had been, they had to answer that they were extremely unsuccessful in fishing that night. It was the resurrected Lord, keeping His rendezvous with them in Galilee. But they did not recognize this until He commanded them to cast their nets on the other side of the ship. This was reminiscent of a similar but earlier command of the Lord with the same result (Luke 5:1-11).

When the disciples had hauled in an incredible number of fish, they came to the shore at Jesus' invitation to "Come and dine" (John 21:12). It was almost as if the Lord was reigniting the fire of intimacy and love that had cooled since their last supper together. Jesus Christ did not want His disciple band to become complacent, for complacency is kin to disobedience.

After we have once served the Lord well and lived in intimate relationship with Him, it is easy to become complacent, to drift from Him and not to sit at His table. However, the Lord calls to each of us to "come and dine"; and if we are to be an effective and useful tool in the Master's hand, we must find our feet under His table frequently.

MORNING HYMN
Revive us again fill each heart with Thy love;
May each soul be rekindled with fire from above.
Hallelujah, Thine the glory! Hallelujah, amen!
Hallelujah, Thine the glory! Revive us again.

May 24, 2006 at 19:23 o\clock

Consistency in Prayer

What is the quality of our prayers ?

Inconsistent Prayer

"Blessed be God, which hath nor turned away my prayer."
--Psalm 66:20

In looking back upon the character of our prayers, if we do it honestly, we shall be filled with wonder that God has ever answered them. There may be some who think their prayers worthy of acceptance--as the Pharisee did; but the true Christian, in a more enlightened retrospect, weeps over his prayers, and if he could retrace his steps he would desire to pray more earnestly. Remember, Christian, how cold thy prayers have been. When in thy closet thou shouldst have wrestled as Jacob did; but instead thereof, thy petitions have been faint and few--far removed from that humble, believing, persevering faith, which cries, "I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me."

Yet, wonderful to say, God has heard these cold prayers of thine, and not only heard, but answered them. Reflect also, how infrequent have been thy prayers, unless thou hast been in trouble, and then thou hast gone often to the mercy-seat: but when deliverance has come, where has been thy constant supplication? Yet, notwithstanding thou hast ceased to pray as once thou didst, God has not ceased to bless.

When thou hast neglected the mercy-seat, God has not deserted it, but the bright light of the Shekinah has always been visible between the wings of the cherubim. Oh! it is marvellous that the Lord should regard those intermittent spasms of importunity which come and go with our necessities. What a God is He thus to hear the prayers of those who come to Him when they have pressing wants, but neglect Him when they have received a mercy; who approach Him when they are forced to come, but who almost forget to address Him when mercies are plentiful and sorrows are few. Let His gracious kindness in hearing such prayers touch our hearts, so that we may henceforth be found "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit."

-- C.H. Spurgeon

May 23, 2006 at 18:28 o\clock

Give Up or Give it to Him ?

Do you give up or go to the Lord for help ?

Title: At Wit's End

Author: Mrs. Charles E. Cowman
Source: Streams in the Desert
Scripture Reference: Psalm 107:27-28 

"At their wit's end, they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out" (Ps. 107:27, 28).

Are you standing at "Wit's End Corner,"
Christian, with troubled brow?
Are you thinking of what is before you,
And all you are bearing now?
Does all the world seem against you,
And you in the battle alone?
Remember--at "Wit's End Corner"
Is just where God's power is shown.

Are you standing at "Wit's End Corner,"
Blinded with wearying pain,
Feeling you cannot endure it,
You cannot bear the strain,
Bruised through the constant suffering,
Dizzy, and dazed, and numb?
Remember--at "Wit's End Corner"
Is where Jesus loves to come.

Are you standing at "Wit's End Corner"?
Your work before you spread,
All lying begun, unfinished,
And pressing on heart and head,
Longing for strength to do it,
Stretching out trembling hands?
Remember--at. "Wit's End Corner"
The Burden-bearer stands.

Are you standing at "Wit's End Corner"?
Then you're just in the very spot
To learn the wondrous resources
Of Him who faileth not:
No doubt to a brighter pathway
Your footsteps will soon be moved,
But only at "Wit's End Corner"
Is the "God who is able" proved.
--Antoinette Wilson

Do not get discouraged; it may be the last key in the bunch that opens the door. Stansifer

This classic devotional is the unabridged edition of Streams in the Desert. This first edition was published in 1925 and the wording is preserved as originally written. Connotations of words may have changed over the years and are not meant to be offensive.

May 19, 2006 at 18:09 o\clock

Reasonable Service

Is the Lord not worthy of all of our devotion ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Exodus 24:1-18 

Reasonable Service

And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.

Consecration to the Lord requires separation from evil, devotion to God, and the endless pursuit of holiness. Although the Lord would have all His children be fully consecrated to His service, He requires of us "reasonable" service (Romans 12:1). Consecration made under the influence of emotion or the excitement of the moment is not to be trusted. The believer must carefully, prayerfully and reasonably count the cost of discipleship before committing his life in service to the Lord.

After the great law was given to Moses on Mount Sinai, God sought ratification of the covenant He had made with the Israelites. Once again Moses ascended the holy mountain, this time with Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and 70 of the elders of Israel. When they descended again, Moses relayed to the people all the ordinances of God's covenant. As soon as the terms of the covenant were known, "the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do" (Exodus 24:3). Immediately Moses sensed that the people were too readily consecrating themselves to the ordinances of God's covenant and had not counted the cost. Thus Moses maneuvered to make their consecration more reasonable.

First Moses purposely prolonged the process of consecration. He did not permit the people to ratify the covenant at once. Instead, this great man of God wrote down all the words of the Lord and went to bed. He "rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel" (Exodus 24:4). The altar was built in preparation for the sacrifice without which no covenant was considered binding. By making the people wait one day before they could officially ratify the covenant, Moses reduced the emotional influence of the Israelites' hasty acceptance of the covenant.

Secondly, Moses surrounded the ratification of the covenant and the consecration with impressive ceremonies. He sent the young men, perhaps the firstborn of the families--since the Levitical order had not yet been instituted--and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the Lord. This was to be a solemn occasion, one that the Israelites would not soon forget.

Thirdly, great pains were taken to insure that the people understood the terms of the covenant. They could not properly consecrate themselves to God if they did not fully comprehend what their consecration meant. Not only did Moses relay the words of the Lord to the people when he descended from the mountain, but now, a day later, he read from the book of the covenant in the hearing of all the people. Moses wanted to be absolutely convinced that the people were making a rational decision to give their lives in service to the Lord.

Finally, Moses took the blood of the sacrifice and sprinkled it on the people, saying, "Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words." It was the blood that sealed the covenant. It was the symbol of the covenant. The blood of the sacrifice was placed upon the people to etch in their minds that they were chosen of God and now consecrated to Him.

Choosing a life of consecration to the Lord should be a sensible, reasonable, thoughtful act. The decision to give yourself to God and His service is a solemn act based in reason, not in emotion. It is indeed praiseworthy for a believer to consecrate his life to the Lord, but he must never do so lightly or thoughtlessly. Before committing your life in service to God today, count the cost, for "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62).

MORNING HYMN
All for Jesus, all for Jesus!
All my being's ransomed pow'rs:
All my tho'ts and words and doings,
All my days and all my hours.

May 18, 2006 at 19:19 o\clock

Pressing Forward

Are we willing to face & overcome the stresses in life ?

Title: Pressing Forward

Author: Mrs. Charles E. Cowman
Source: Streams in the Desert
Scripture Reference: 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 

"I was crushed...so much so that I despaired even of life, but that was to make me rely not on myself, but on the God who raises the dead" (2 Cor. 1:8, 9).

"Pressed out of measure and pressed to all length;
Pressed so intensely it seems, beyond strength;
Pressed in the body and pressed in the soul,
Pressed in the mind till the dark surges roll.
Pressure by foes, and a pressure from friends.
Pressure on pressure, till life nearly ends.

"Pressed into knowing no helper but God;
Pressed into loving the staff and the rod.
Pressed into liberty where nothing clings;
Pressed into faith for impossible things.
Pressed into living a life in the Lord,
Pressed into living a Christ-life outpoured."

The pressure of hard places makes us value life. Every time our life is given back to us from such a trial, it is like a new beginning, and we learn better how much it is worth, and make more of it for God and man. The pressure helps us to understand the trials of others, and fits us to help and sympathize with them.

There is a shallow, superficial nature, that gets hold of a theory or a promise lightly, and talks very glibly about the distrust of those who shrink from every trial; but the man or woman who has suffered much never does this, but is very tender and gentle, and knows what suffering really means. This is what Paul meant when he said, "Death worketh in you."

Trials and hard places are needed to press us forward, even as the furnace fires in the hold of that mighty ship give force that moves the piston, drives the engine, and propels that great vessel across the sea in the face of the winds and waves. --A. B. Simpson

"Out of the presses of pain,
Cometh the soul's best wine;
And the eyes that have shed no rain,
Can shed but little shine."

This classic devotional is the unabridged edition of Streams in the Desert. This first edition was published in 1925 and the wording is preserved as originally written. Connotations of words may have changed over the years and are not meant to be offensive.

May 17, 2006 at 23:59 o\clock

Spiritual Battles

How much does purity matter to us ?

Author: Mary Wilder Tileston
Source: Joy and Strength
Scripture Reference Psalm 51:10 Psalm 60:12 

We Shall Do Valiantly

Through God we shall do valiantly, for He it is that shall tread down our enemies.
PSALMS 60:12

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
PSALMS 51:10

IF any man compares his own soul with the picture drawn in the New Testament of what a Christian ought to be; if any man fixes his eye on the pattern of self-sacrifice, of purity, of truth, of tenderness, and measures his own distance from that standard, he might be ready to despair. But fear not, because you are far from being like the pattern set before you; fear not because your faults are painful to think of: continue the battle and fear not.

If, indeed, you are content with yourself, and are making no endeavor to rise above the poor level at which you now stand, then there is reason to fear. But if you are fighting with all your might, fear not, however often you may have fallen, however deeply, however ungratefully, however inexcusably. This one thing we can give, and this is what He asks, hearts that shall never cease from this day forward, till we reach the grave, to strive to be more like Him; to come nearer to Him; to root out from within us the sin that keeps us from Him. To such a battle, brethren, I call you in His name.
FREDERICK TEMPLE

May 16, 2006 at 18:40 o\clock

Opposition for the Believer

Do we know who our Enemy is ?

Title: We Wrestle Not Against Flesh and Blood

Author: Mrs. Charles E. Cowman
Source: Streams in the Desert
Scripture Reference: Daniel 10:12-13 

"Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days" (Dan. 10:12, 13).

We have wonderful teaching here on prayer, and we are shown the direct hindrance from Satan.

Daniel had fasted and prayed twenty-one days, and had a very hard time in prayer. As far as we read the narrative, it was not because Daniel was not a good man, nor because his prayer was not right; but it was because of a special attack of Satan.

The Lord started a messenger to tell Daniel that his prayer was answered the moment Daniel began to pray; but an evil angel met the good angel and wrestled with him, hindering him. There was a conflict in the heavens; and Daniel seemed to go through an agony on earth the same as that which was going on in the heavens.

"We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers… against wicked spirits in high places" (Eph. 6:12, margin).

Satan delayed the answer three full weeks. Daniel nearly succumbed, and Satan would have been glad to kill him; but God will not suffer anything to come above that we "are able to bear."

Many a Christian's prayer is hindered by Satan; but you need not fear when your prayers and faith pile up; for after a while they will be like a flood, and will not only sweep the answer through, but will also bring some new accompanying blessing. --Sermon

Hell does its worst with the saints. The rarest souls have been tested with high pressures and temperatures, but Heaven will not desert them. --W. L. Watkinson

This classic devotional is the unabridged edition of Streams in the Desert. This first edition was published in 1925 and the wording is preserved as originally written. Connotations of words may have changed over the years and are not meant to be offensive.

May 11, 2006 at 19:25 o\clock

Joy in Courage

What is the source of our courage in life ?

Joy in Courage

"Only be thou strong and very courageous."
--Joshua 1:7

Our God's tender love for His servants makes Him concerned for the state of their inward feelings. He desires them to be of good courage. Some esteem it a small thing for a believer to be vexed with doubts and fears, but God thinks not so. From this text it is plain that our Master would not have us entangled with fears. He would have us without carefulness, without doubt, without cowardice. Our Master does not think so lightly of our unbelief as we do. When we are desponding we are subject to a grievous malady, not to be trifled with, but to be carried at once to the beloved Physician.

Our Lord loveth not to see our countenance sad. It was a law of Ahasuerus that no one should come into the king's court dressed in mourning: this is not the law of the King of kings, for we may come mourning as we are; but still He would have us put off the spirit of heaviness, and put on the garment of praise, for there is much reason to rejoice. The Christian man ought to be of a courageous spirit, in order that he may glorify the Lord by enduring trials in an heroic manner. If he be fearful and fainthearted, it will dishonour his God. Besides, what a bad example it is.

This disease of doubtfulness and discouragement is an epidemic which soon spreads amongst the Lord's flock. One downcast believer makes twenty souls sad. Moreover, unless your courage is kept up Satan will be too much for you. Let your spirit be joyful in God your Saviour, the joy of the Lord shall be your strength, and no fiend of hell shall make headway against you: but cowardice throws down the banner. Moreover, labour is light to a man of cheerful spirit; and success waits upon cheerfulness. The man who toils, rejoicing in his God, believing with all his heart, has success guaranteed. He who sows in hope shall reap in joy; therefore, dear reader, "be thou strong, and very courageous."

-- C.H. Spurgeon

May 11, 2006 at 00:09 o\clock

Effective Prayer

How do we approach prayer to God ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: 2 Kings 19:1-37 

Effective Prayer

And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand; and when they arose early in the morning behold, they were all dead corpses.

King Hezekiah was in a jam. Although he had trusted God, and did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, nonetheless his Assyrian enemy was knocking at his door. Sennacherib had sent three of his lieutenants to Jerusalem with a great host of Assyrian soldiers. Rab-shakeh, the spokesman for this terrible trio, taunted the Israelites, ridiculing their faith in Jehovah. He stood before the wall of Jerusalem shouting obscenities to the Jews and counseling them, "Let not Hezekiah deceive you. . . Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD. . . hearken not to Hezekiah. . . . Make an agreement with me" (2 Kings 18:29-31).

When the king heard that the Assyrians were outside the city walls, he rent his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord. Here Isaiah, the prophet, encouraged Hezekiah that God had the situation well in control. Soon Hezekiah received a letter from the king of Assyria demanding that he surrender the city. What Hezekiah did next is characteristic of a man of faith. Hezekiah prayed unto the Lord God, and in his prayer we can see the elements of all righteous prayer.

  1. His prayer was instinctively spontaneous (verse 14). When Hezekiah received the threatening letter, he immediately spread it before the Lord. There was no thought of calling a committee or seeking the advice of others; Hezekiah knew what to do, as did Elisha (2 Kings 4:33) and Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:4) in similar situations.
  2. His prayer was praisefully reverent (verse 15). He addressed Jehovah as, "O LORD God of Israel which dwellest between the cherubims, Thou art the God, even Thou alone." The Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9) indicates the same kind of reverence.
  3. His prayer was intimately personal (verse 16). After he addressed God in a reverent fashion, Hezekiah said, "LORD, bow down Thine ear and hear." He had recognized God as sovereign; now he addresses Him as friend.
  4. His prayer was respectfully informative (verses 17-18). Hezekiah did not demand of God what should be done. He was reminding himself in prayer of what God had promised. When we inform God of our situation in prayer, it is not because He is unaware of how desperate we are; we do it so we are aware of how desperate we are.
  5. His prayer was purposefully direct (verse 19a). The time had come to get down to business. He pointedly made his request known unto the Lord. "O LORD our God, I beseech thee, save Thou us out of his hand." Hezekiah did not mince words; he was direct and forthright in his request to God.
  6. His prayer was properly motivated (verse 19b). Hezekiah prayed for deliverance from the Assyrians, "that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD God, even Thou only." Anything that happens to God's people reflects on God's purpose. Our prayers ought to be motivated so that the world sees the grace of God in our deliverance from desperate situations.
  7. His prayer was powerfully effective and 2 Kings 19:35-36 shows the powerful effect of the righteous man's prayer: "And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses." Early the next morning Hezekiah and the Jews found their enemy routed and 185,000 dead soldiers. God had performed what He promised.

Prayer is the power that gets a hold of God. Each of us would be wise to study carefully Hezekiah's prayer and see how these seven characteristics of his prayer can be applied to our prayer lives. Let's be like Hezekiah and believe that "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16).

MORNING HYMN
I must tell Jesus all of my trials,
I cannot bear these burdens alone;
In my distress He kindly will help me,
He ever loves and cares for His own.

May 9, 2006 at 18:39 o\clock

Friend of God

Who are our friends with whom we spend time ?

Title: The Friend of God

Author: Mrs. Charles E. Cowman
Source: Streams in the Desert
Scripture Reference: Genesis 18:22 

"Abraham stood yet before the Lord" (Gen. 18:22).

The friend of God can plead with Him for others. Perhaps Abraham's height of faith and friendship seems beyond our little possibilities. Do not be discouraged, Abraham grew; so may we. He went step by step, not by great leaps.

The man whose faith has been deeply tested and who has come off victorious, is the man to whom supreme tests must come.

The finest jewels are most carefully cut and polished; the hottest fires try the most precious metal. Abraham would never have been called the Father of the Faithful if he had not been proved to the uttermost. Read Genesis, twenty-second chapter:

"Take thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest." See him going with a chastened, wistful, yet humbly obedient heart up Moriah's height, with the idol of his heart beside him about to be sacrificed at the command of God whom he had faithfully loved and served!

What a rebuke to our questionings of God's dealings with us! Away with all doubting explanations of this stupendous scene! It was an object lesson for the ages. Angels were looking.

Shall this man's faith stand forever for the strength and help of all God's people? Shall it be known through him that unfaltering faith will always prove the faithfulness of God?

Yes; and when faith has borne victoriously its uttermost test, the angel of the Lord--who? The Lord Jesus, Jehovah, He in whom "all the promises of God are yea and amen"--spoke to him, saying, "Now I know that thou fearest God." Thou hast trusted me to the uttermost. I will also trust thee; thou shalt ever be My friend, and I will bless thee, and make thee a blessing.

It is always so, and always will be. "They that are of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham." --Selected

It is no small thing to be on terms of friendship with God.

This classic devotional is the unabridged edition of Streams in the Desert. This first edition was published in 1925 and the wording is preserved as originally written. Connotations of words may have changed over the years and are not meant to be offensive

May 8, 2006 at 18:27 o\clock

Resisting God

Do we seek compromise or to do God's will ?

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference Exodus 10:12-29 Ecclesiastes 9:3 

Resisting God

Exodus 10:12-29

When the judgment of darkness came on Egypt, Pharaoh called for Moses and told him, "Go, serve the Lord; only let your flocks and your herds be detained. Even your little ones may go with you" (Ex. 10:24, NASB)."Go, serve the Lord; only let your flocks and your herds be detained. Even your little ones may go with you" (Ex. 10:24, NASB).

This was Pharaoh's fourth and final compromise offer. Pharaoh wasn't dumb; he realized that people are attached to their property and that if the Egyptians could keep the property of the Israelites, then they could be assured that the Israelites would return. "Go, serve the Lord; only let your flocks and your herds be detained. Even your little ones may go with you" (Ex. 10:24, NASB).

But Moses was not about to accept a compromise offer. He said, "Not a hoof will be left behind" (v. 26, NASB).

Pharaoh was now past feeling, and the omniscient God also knew that he was unchangeable. Thus, the Bible says again, "But the Lord made Pharaoh's heart stronger and more stubborn, and he would not let them go" (v. 27, Amplified).

Then the proud king, unchanged by all of these judgments, said to Moses, "Get away from me! See that you never enter my presence again, for the day you see my face again you shall die!" (v. 28, Amplified).

Moses answered Pharaoh, "Thou hast spoken well, I will see thy face again no more" (v. 29).

What terrible grief results when people set their wills against God as Pharaoh did.

"This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun.... yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live" (Eccles. 9:3).

May 7, 2006 at 20:53 o\clock

Sin and God's Will

Do we desire God's permissive will or His perfect will ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: 1 Samuel 9:1-10:1 

Haunting Sin

And they arose early: and it came to pass about the spring of the day, that Samuel called Saul to the top of the house, saying, Up, that I may send thee away. And Saul arose, and they went out both of them, he and Samuel, abroad.

Samuel had been a judge for many years and was yielding to advanced age. Who would lead the people after his death? Like the sons of Eli before him, both of Samuel's sons, Joel and Abiah, had disqualified themselves for they had "turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment" (1 Samuel 8:3). If Israel did not choose a king and Samuel died, anarchy would once again prevail as it had in the days of the judges, when everyone did "that which was right in his own eyes" (Judges 17:6).

Besides, without a king Israel was missing out on all the pomp and ceremony that the other royal courts of the ancient Near East enjoyed. While the Jews were wandering nomads, unsettled and without a homeland, they cared little about what other nations did or had. But now they had become firmly established in the Promised Land, and all the surrounding nations had a king. Why not Israel?

In the permissive will of God, Saul was to be that king. The son of Kish, a wealthy and influential Benjamite, Saul, as choice for king, may appear to the untrained eye as a matter of pure chance. Sent by his father to round up some stray donkeys and failing to locate them, Saul decided to appeal to Samuel the prophet for assistance in locating the strays. The day before, God had forewarned Samuel that on the morrow a Benjamite, whom he should anoint to be captain over Israel, would approach him. When Saul arrived, there was little question in the priest's mind about his identity. Blessed with natural graces and talents, not to mention that he was head and shoulders taller than any of the other Jews, Saul was the natural selection for king of Israel. But more than this, in the permissive will of God his was also the supernatural selection. Jehovah had decided to give Israel her wish, for better or for worse, and Saul was His selection for the man who would be king.

As the Benjamite approached Samuel, the word of Jehovah came to the priest and he said, "Behold the man." Led to the banquet chamber of the high place, Saul and his servant were seated above the 30 guests who had assembled there. Samuel instructed the cook to bring the best portion of the meat from the sacrifice and place it before Saul. More than this, something that is rarely done, Samuel invited Saul to stay with him that night and sleep upon the top of the house. They arose early, after communing through the night, and made their way through the city, where Samuel took a vial of oil, poured it upon Saul's head, gave him the kiss of homage and anointed him as captain over the Lord's inheritance, the nation Israel (1 Samuel 9:26).

To live in God's permissive will is but to receive temporary blessing. Saul is one of the great tragic figures of Old Testament history. Although selected by God at the cries of the people, he degenerated into a psychopathic condition in which his powers were sapped and his kingdom was rent from his hands. Rejection, defeat and suicide were the inevitable results.

Perhaps it is a mere coincidence, but it is nonetheless striking that when the priest encountered the man who in God's permissive will would become king of the Jews, he said, "Behold the man" (1 Samuel 9:17). Centuries later, when Pilate encountered the man who in God's perfect will would become King of the Jews, he likewise said, "Behold the man!" (John 19:5). Saul's reign was immediately accepted by the people because he was handsome, and they anticipated he would lead Israel successfully into battle against her enemies. Jesus' reign was immediately rejected by the people, for He had "no form nor comeliness" and He never intended to lead His people victoriously against Israel's enemy. Saul was Israel's choice; Jesus is God's choice. How much better off we are to live in His perfect will rather than to settle for His permissive will.

MORNING HYMN
Simply trusting ev'ry day,
Trusting through a stormy way;
Even when my faith is small,
Trusting Jesus that is all.

May 5, 2006 at 17:55 o\clock

God's Guidance

How do we find direction in our life ?

The Guidance of God

"He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he."
--Proverbs 16:20

Wisdom is man's true strength; and, under its guidance, he best accomplishes the ends of his being. Wisely handling the matter of life gives to man the richest enjoyment, and presents the noblest occupation for his powers; hence by it he finds good in the fullest sense. Without wisdom, man is as the wild ass's colt, running hither and thither, wasting strength which might be profitably employed.

Wisdom is the compass by which man is to steer across the trackless waste of life; without it he is a derelict vessel, the sport of winds and waves. A man must be prudent in such a world as this, or he will find no good, but be betrayed into unnumbered ills. The pilgrim will sorely wound his feet among the briers of the wood of life if he do not pick his steps with the utmost caution. He who is in a wilderness infested with robber bands must handle matters wisely if he would journey safely. If, trained by the Great Teacher, we follow where He leads, we shall find good, even while in this dark abode; there are celestial fruits to be gathered this side of Eden's bowers, and songs of paradise to be sung amid the groves of earth.

But where shall this wisdom be found? Many have dreamed of it, but have not possessed it. Where shall we learn it? Let us listen to the voice of the Lord, for He hath declared the secret; He hath revealed to the sons of men wherein true wisdom lieth, and we have it in the text, "Whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he." The true way to handle a matter wisely is to trust in the Lord. This is the sure clue to the most intricate labyrinths of life, follow it and find eternal bliss.

He who trusts in the Lord has a diploma for wisdom granted by inspiration: happy is he now, and happier shall he be above. Lord, in this sweet eventide walk with me in the garden, and teach me the wisdom of faith.

-- C.H. Spurgeon

May 4, 2006 at 18:27 o\clock

Personally Known by God

Who really knows you the best ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Psalm 88:2-18 

Personally Known

But unto Thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer precede Thee.

We have today as our Scripture the darkest, most mournful psalm in the Psalter. This psalm is unique in that it is the only psalm in which the outpouring to God of a burdened heart fails to bring relief or consolation.

Yet, as terrible as the despair of the psalmist is, he is not in utter despair. No one who utterly despairs will pray, for prayer is the proof of lingering hope. Even in the midst of despair, the psalmist recognizes that, should there be any hope, it will be found only in God (Psalm 88:1,2,9,13).

Have you ever felt alone? Have you ever felt abandoned, even by God? Have you ever felt you have been left to face the world and its trials all by yourself? If so, you can join the rest of us and the writer of this psalm. He felt he had been abandoned by God, that he was all alone. The psalmist was concerned that he was not getting through to God, that his prayers were not being heard. God appeared to be unmoved by his prayers.

With a trouble-filled soul, the psalmist was convinced that his "life draweth nigh unto the grave" and that he was numbered "with them that go down into the pit." He had been afflicted with waves of the wrath of God. Night and day he wept because of his affliction. He says, "But unto Thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer precede Thee" (Psalm 88:13). Day after day he arose before the dawn and began to pray before the sun was up. He was consistent in seeking the face of the Lord early in the morning. Still no resolution was given to his problem. No answer came from God.

Perhaps the psalmist felt that God did not know who he was. Perhaps he was just another face in the crowd, unknown to the Lord of heaven. Perhaps he was just too insignificant for God to take time to hear his prayer. All of these were a "perhaps" in his mind. None of them was true.

There is a small arctic seabird called the guillemot that lives on the rocky cliffs of northern coastal regions. These birds flock together by the thousands in comparatively small areas. Because of the extremely crowded conditions the females must lay their pear-shaped eggs side by side in a long row on a narrow ledge. All the eggs look alike, but the mother bird knows exactly which one is hers. If someone disturbs the eggs and moves one of them, the mother guillemot is able to find her egg among the thousands and return it to its original location. To the human eye the eggs appear as if they have been mass produced on an assembly line. To the guillemot, each egg is known personally, identified personally, and attended personally.

The Bible is clear that our heavenly Father is even more intimately acquainted with His own children than the mother guillemot is with her egg. He knows us, He knows us personally. He even knows the number of hairs on our heads. He can tell identical twins apart. He knows every thought and emotion we have, and He understands all the decisions we make. He gives personal attention to each of us in all our affairs from morning until night.

So great is our Lord's loving concern for our lives that Jesus told His disciples the Father knows when a single sparrow falls upon the ground. Since human beings are of much greater value than the fowls of the air, we can certainly be assured that He knows all about us. We are the object of His constant care and attention. We have not been abandoned by God, nor as His children will we ever be abandoned.

MORNING HYMN
Be not dismayed whate'er betide,
God will take care of you;
Beneath His wings of love abide
God will take care of you.

May 2, 2006 at 18:30 o\clock

Ability for God's Calling

Are you afraid to follow God's commands ?

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference Exodus 4:1-17 Philippians 1:6 

God Enables Whom He Calls

Exodus 4:1-17

Moses gave seven reasons why he wasn't the man for God's task: lack of capability, lack of message, lack of authority, lack of eloquence, lack of fitness or adaptation, lack of previous success and lack of previous acceptance.

Instead of receiving God's approval, the excuses Moses gave only kindled God's anger. The Bible says, "The anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses" (Ex. 4:14).

This does not mean that God had a fit of temper; rather, it means that God was not pleased with the excuses Moses offered. In effect, God was saying, "Moses, you have no right to make these excuses, and if your faith were in the right place and Person, you would not be making them."

Just as God became angry with Moses because of his excuses, so He becomes angry with any believer who limits Him by a lack of faith. Actually, the excuses Moses gave were the exact reasons why God had selected him for the task.

For each lack that Moses expressed, God had a satisfying and abundant provision. What Moses failed to understand at this time was that when God calls, He always guarantees and furnishes all that is needed to accomplish His will.

This is also true of believers today. When God calls you to do something, He always guarantees and furnishes all you need to do what He asks.

"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6).

May 1, 2006 at 18:34 o\clock

Wisdom and Riches

From where do we find wisdom to live each day ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Proverbs 8:1-36 

Wisdom and Riches

I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

Proverbs belongs to that segment of the Old Testament designated as "wisdom literature." Such proverbial teaching represents one of the most ancient forms of instruction. The wisdom literature of Israel was the chief storehouse of moral and practical instruction for the Jews. It guided the head of state as well as the head of the home. It embodied the difference between right and wrong, righteousness and unrighteousness. But most of all, Israel's wisdom literature taught the Jews how to live before Jehovah. It contrasted the wisdom of the world, a wisdom of possessions, with the wisdom of God, a wisdom of piety.

Proverbs teaches us that all who would live godly must seek the wisdom of God and forsake the wisdom of the world. To seek divine wisdom, therefore, is to seek to know God better and to possess less. Wisdom is God; and speaking as wisdom, God says, "I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me" (Proverbs 8:17). God is to be sought early in life and early in each day of life. When we show Him we love Him in this way, He shows us He loves us by filling our day with His wisdom.

Seeking the wisdom of God and the God of wisdom does not necessarily mean we will be paupers on this earth. God says, "Riches and honor are with me; yea durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yea than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver" (Proverbs 8:18-19). The revenue paid by seeking this world's wealth is temporal gain and a frequent deterrent to godliness. The revenue gained by seeking divine wisdom is eternal gain and an everlasting aid to godliness. Therefore, the truly wise person in this world will seek God's wisdom instead of the world's wealth. But should God allow us to have both, our attitude toward our possessions will be, "Every man to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God" (Ecclesiastes 5:19).

An English nobleman once visited Josiah Wedgwood to see how he made his legendary china and pottery. A young apprentice was instructed to give the nobleman a tour of the factory. The nobleman didn't believe in God and was sacrilegious and foul-mouthed, and he consistently ridiculed the Bible during the tour. At first the young apprentice was shocked, but after awhile he began to laugh when the man made his cynical remarks. Josiah Wedgwood was greatly disturbed by this, especially when he saw how his young apprentice was being influenced by this wealthy nobleman. Later the atheist asked if he could purchase a particularly expensive vase. As he handed it to the nobleman, Wedgwood deliberately let it crash to the floor. With a vile oath the nobleman angrily said, "That's the one I really wanted and now it's shattered by your carelessness." Josiah Wedgwood replied, "Sir, there are things more precious than any vase things that can never be restored once they are ruined. I can make another vase, but you can never give back to my helper the pure heart you've defiled by your vile language and sacrilegious talk!"

The nobleman was an example of a man who did not seek the Lord early but sought riches all the day. Josiah Wedgwood is a fine example of a man who early sought the Lord and recognized that his wealth was a gift from God. God never intended that we should not have riches; He only intended that riches should not have us. It is vitally important for Christians who possess wealth not to be possessed by it. Seek the wisdom of the Lord early in the day, before earning the wealth of the world. Then use that wealth in a way which will bring eternal reward.

MORNING HYMN
I take, O cross, thy shadow
For my abiding place
I ask no other sunshine than
The sunshine of His face
Content to let the world go by,
To know no gain nor loss,
My sinful self my only shame,
My glory all the cross.