Answers to Life's Questions

Jun 29, 2006 at 17:58 o\clock

Divine Direction

How much are we looking to God for guidance ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Numbers 9:2-23 

Divine Direction

And so it was, when the cloud abode from even unto the morning, and that the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they journeyed: whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed.

Each of us who is active and aggressive in our service for the Lord finds one aspect of the Christian life more difficult than any other. We find it almost impossible just to sit and not to move when God is not moving us. The best antidote for anxiety is to trust in God and wait patiently on Him.

The movement of the nation of Israel through the wilderness graphically illustrates the need for God's people to wait on Him. Numbers 9 gives God's program for Israel's progression. The Jews were not on a steady march for forty years in the wilderness, neither were they at permanent rest. In fact, their journey was a long series of stops and goes. Both were at the command of God.

God never leaves His people alone, without a witness or guide. Living by faith sometimes means walking in the dark, it never means living without a light. God would provide the natural phenomena of a cloud and fire. On the day that it was erected, a cloud covered the Tabernacle so that it was entirely enshrouded during the day. At night fire appeared in the sky and prohibited Israel from losing sight of the abode of God. Numbers 9:21 summarizes, "And so it was, when the cloud bode from even unto the morning, and that the cloud was taken in the morning then they journeyed: whether it was by day or night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed." Since the length of the stay at any one place in the wilderness could vary from two days, to a month, to a year, Israel's only obligation was to trust God and watch for the movement of the cloud.

Many are the occasions that we find ourselves awaiting direction from the Lord and wondering if it will ever come. But if we let Him be our guide, we will not only "Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him" (Psalm 37:7), but when He does move us we will be certain that our direction is the correct one.

Some years ago a party of fisherman took their small boat into the Gulf of Mexico. They came to their favorite spot, a place they had been many times before. The weather was balmy, the fish were biting, and they completely lost themselves in the hours of the afternoon. By nightfall a dense fog had moved in and they found themselves completely engulfed in the "soup" and could see only a few feet ahead of them. Their hearts raced with excitement. Then one of the fishermen remembered that he had a small compass in his pocket. They had already determined which direction they should go, but the compass pointed in the opposite direction. Now they were faced with a dilemma. Would they follow their own instincts, or the sure rule of the compass? All the men agreed to follow the direction of the compass. After what seemed an endlessly long time, they saw the shadowy outline of the shore emerging through the fog. They found themselves only a few yards from the dock where they started earlier in the day. The reliable compass had told them which direction to go, they trusted it, and they returned home safely.

Let us not be guilty today of attempting to move ahead of God when He says to "sit still." Likewise, when through the Word of God we are moved in a particular direction, let us not question that direction, but do the will of God. The clouds of concern may completely encircle us today but God will remove them in His own good time and will provide direction for us if we simply trust Him and wait upon Him.

MORNING HYMN
Lord, I would clasp Thy hand in mine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine,
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since 'tis my God that leadeth me!

Jun 27, 2006 at 01:24 o\clock

All Glory must be to God

Who deserves credit for the blessings & victories in your life ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Judges 7:1-25 

Glory to God

Then Jerubbaal who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.

Natural man has a penchant for trying to explain away God. The theory of evolution was developed in an attempt to remove God from the arena of creation. Liberal theologians have attempted to demythologize the Bible in order to remove the miraculous works of God from it. Man does all he can to explain naturally the divinely originated phenomena in our world.

God has always been aware of man's desire to usurp His position and authority. Frequently in Scripture can be found accounts where God places men in deliberate situations so they must recognize that their deliverance is solely of Him. When God removes the possibility of any natural explanation, man is left with the inevitable conclusion that God is in the miracle business. Such was the case in our Scripture today.

Israel was assembled and ready for battle. Already the fight had been stayed two days by the dewy and dry fleece so that Gideon could receive a token of God's presence with them. Now the fight was to be delayed again.

On the morning following the second test with the fleece, Gideon and all the people with him "rose up early and pitched beside the well of Harod" (Judges 7:1). Anxious for the battle, they had already moved into military position when God told Gideon he had too many people in His army. Jehovah wanted to be certain that Gideon, as well as Israel and the nations watching, would understand that Israel had won the battle by the hand of God. Therefore he instructed Gideon to command any of the 32,000 troops who were afraid to return home from the front. Much to the surprise of Gideon, 22,000 admitted their fear and retreated. Surely if a battle was won by 10,000 Israeli troops against 135,000 Midianites (Judges 8:10), this would indicate that the victory was the Lord's. But again Jehovah surprised Gideon by indicating that these 10,000 troops were still far too many.

Gideon was to take the troops to the spring of Harod for a strange and severe test. The soldiers were divided into two groups, those who lapped water as a dog and those who dropped to their knees to drink. Whatever the purpose of the test, only 300 soldiers were selected for Gideon's army.

Next God instructed Gideon to go with his servant, Phurah, down to the perimeter of the Midianite encampment and eavesdrop on the Midianites. They overheard one soldier telling another of his dream about a cake of barley bread that rolled into the Midian camp, against the king's tent, and flattened it. His fellow soldier interpreted the dream that this was none other than the sword of Gideon and that God was about to deliver Midian into Gideon's hands. So evident was it that this dream and the interpretation had both come from God that Gideon immediately returned to the host of Israel and said, "Arise; for the LORD hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian." Three hundred men defeated the entire Midianite army and the glory belonged entirely to God.

We must never shy away from impossible situations. When the odds seem least favorable for our success, that is when God can gain the greatest glory from our success. Large armies are not as admirable as dedicated ones. The recruiting slogan of the United States Marine Corps includes the words, "A few good men." God is looking for the same. Will you be one today?

MORNING HYMN
On ev'ry hand the foe we find
Drawn up in dread array;
Let tents of ease be left behind,
And onward to the fray!
Salvation's helmet on each,
With truth all girt about:
The earth shall tremble 'neath our tread
And echo with our shout.

Jun 26, 2006 at 18:30 o\clock

Best Friend

What kind of friends do we have ?
 
Our Best Friend

One there is above all others,
Well deserves the name of friend;
His is love beyond a brother’s,
Costly, free, and knows no end:
They who once His kindness prove,
Find it everlasting love!

Which, of all our friends, to save us,
Would consent to shed His blood?
But our Jesus died to have us
Reconciled in Him to God:
This was boundless love indeed!
Jesus is a friend in need.

When He lived on earth abased,
Friend of sinner was His name;
Now above all glory raised
He rejoices in the same:
Still he calls them brethren, friends,
And to all their wants attends.

Could we bear for one another,
What He daily bears for us?
Yet this glorious friend and brother
Loves us, tho’ we treat Him thus:
Tho’ for good we render ill,
He accounts us brethren still.

O, for grace our hearts to soften!
Teach us, Lord, at length, to love;
We, alas! forget too often,
What a friend we have above;
But when home our souls are brought,
We shall love thee as we ought.
—John Newton

Jun 23, 2006 at 18:30 o\clock

Morning Guidance from God

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Psalm 143:1-12 

Morning Marching Orders

Cause me to hear Thy lovingkindness in the morning, for in Thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk for I lift up my soul unto Thee.

In today's modern, rushing world, many of us have all we can do to get out of bed in the morning and get to work on time. Often our schedule appears to preclude the possibility of morning devotions. Yet under the old dispensation of the law it was the duty of the priestly tribe of the Levites to rise at dawn and give thanks and praise the Lord (1 Chronicles 23:30). We are not under the dispensation of the law, but as New Testament priests (1 Peter 2:5,9) we too should begin the day with God. If we do, we will have a keen sense of His presence with us throughout the busy hours that follow.

This great truth was obviously known by David. One of the most enjoyable verses to come from his pen is Psalm 143:8, "Cause me to hear Thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in Thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto Thee." In this morning prayer David made two requests: to hear the lovingkindness of God in the morning, and to know the way in which he should walk throughout the day. These two requests bear a definite relationship.

David wanted the lovingkindness of God to engage his thoughts and affections early in the morning. If other thoughts get into our hearts in the morning, we may not be able to burn them away throughout the day. Prayer and praise, reading and meditation will influence our minds for hours throughout the day. Lovingkindness is a favorite theme of David. Simply, lovingkindness is love that shows kindness. By deeds and words it is God living through us to a hurting world. That's the kind of life David wanted to live. The Lord's lovingkindness is our all-sufficient source of joy. Such joy can be sought elsewhere but found only here. It is the divine joy that sweetens every bitter experience of life and makes even those that are sweet, sweeter still. It binds every wound and is the balm for every hurt. It is little wonder that David sought such an experience early in the morning. With that kind of start, what must the rest of the day be like?

The old expression is here very applicable, "Well begun; half done." David began his day well by seeking the Lord and His lovingkindness. Half the battle of a successful day was already won. He continued to ask the Lord to show him the way he should walk throughout the day. Frequently the path we determine to be logical for our daily walk is not the path designed by God. We must keep the same close touch with Him hour after hour that we began with Him in the morning.

Speaking of his mountain-climbing experience, nineteenth century preacher George Barrell Cheever commented on this verse: "The whole valley is surrounded by ranges of regal crags, but the mountain, apparently absolutely inaccessible, is the last point which you would turn for an outlet. A side gorge that sweeps up to the glaciers and snowy pyramids flashing upon you in the opposite direction is the route that you suppose your guide is going to take. So convinced was I that the path must go in that direction that I took a shortcut, which I conceived would bring me again into the mule path at a point under the glaciers; but after scaling precipices and getting lost in a wood of firs in the valley, I was glad to rejoin my friend with the guide and to clamber on in pure ignorance and wonder."

We are tempted to walk our own way when we have no other resource. But as Christians we have a higher resource than our mind. We have the resource of the lovingkindness of God, which can be ours every morning if we but seek it. We should never attempt to walk alone throughout the day and to chart our own course when we have the ability to tap the resources of heaven in the morning and receive our marching orders for the day, marching orders that are always designed to lead to victory. How foolish it is to neglect to seek the Lord in the morning and have to walk without Him the rest of the day.

MORNING HYMN
Thou my everlasting portion,
More than friend or life to me;
All along my pilgrim journey,
Saviour, let me walk with Thee.

Jun 22, 2006 at 00:20 o\clock

Summer

Postings between now and the end of the summer may be more sporadic.  Please click on http://www.backtothebible.org/devotions/ to read some useful daily answers to life's questions.

Jun 22, 2006 at 00:12 o\clock

Thinking of Others

How much do we consider others during our daily lives ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference: Genesis 19:15-29 

Thinking of Others

And Abraham got up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD.

SELFISHNESS is innate to man's being. Human philosophy says, “Look out for number one for if you don't, no one else will.” The question of the first murderer, “Am I my brother's keeper?” is still being asked in society today. This is indeed unfortunate. When we live self-centered lives we are denied the joy of delighting in others.

Abraham was a man little given to such selfishness. When he and nephew Lot came to a parting of the ways, Abraham gave his kin first pick of the land. Looking eastward on the fertile plain of the Jordan, Lot fell prey to temptation and chose the valley thick with vegetation. Abraham then withdrew to the oaks of Mamre, near Hebron, in the center of the south hill country. Willing to obey the stern inward call of duty, Abraham quietly received the less desirable terrain.

The picturesque valley of the lower Jordan was dotted with five “cities of the plain.” They were Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim, and Bela, which was later renamed Zoar. Sodom, the chief city of this pentapolis, was so wicked that a particularly abnormal sin still bears its name. Here the worldly Lot chose to settle and even become prominent. The men of this city were especially wicked and sinned exceedingly before the Lord. How it must have grieved the genuinely pious Abraham to see his nephew choose these surroundings.

In the course of time three angelic guests stopped at the door of Abraham's tent in Mamre. Abraham greeted them hospitably and made ready a feast. As the men prepared to leave, Abraham accompanied them a short distance toward Sodom. Two of the strangers went on ahead while the third, who was actually the Lord, lingered awhile with Abraham. It was then that Abraham received the crushing news. The Lord had come with His two angels to destroy the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The sins of these two cities were so heinous and abundant that God could no longer tolerate their existence. They must be destroyed.

Immediately Abraham thought of Lot. He began to intercede with the Lord in Lot's behalf. After a typically oriental bargaining session, Abraham pled with the Lord not to destroy Sodom if ten righteous people could be found in it. The Lord agreed. However, there could not be found ten righteous citizens in this horribly wicked city and its destruction was certain. The angels prompted Lot to take his wife and two daughters and escape to the mountains. Lot fled, not to the mountains, but to the city of Zoar and as soon as he arrived the Lord rained fire and brimstone down upon Sodom and Gomorrah.

This fierce fire and brimstone that fell from Heaven not only destroyed the cities and their inhabitants but even the soil around them. The entire valley was burned out and utterly destroyed. It is likely that either the Dead Sea originated with this catastrophic event or that the existing sea was greatly enlarged to the south by engulfing this destroyed valley.

And what of Abraham? Is he resting comfortably in his tent while all this is going on? Not at all. Genesis 19:27 records, “And Abraham got up early in the morning” and viewed the smoke rising from the plain. He was genuinely interested in the welfare of Lot and his family and eagerly awaited news of them. The foolish nephew was spared from this devastation because God remembered the concern of Abraham.

Lot had slapped Abraham in the face by choosing the best land for himself. He had broken the heart of God's friend by settling in a center of wickedness. Abraham had every right to care nothing about Lot's welfare, yet he did care. He arose early, unselfishly, for he had learned not to seek his own but the good of others (1 Corinthians 10:24; Philippians 2:4). If you want to be happy today, why not spend the day helping others? Be interested in them; pray for them; bring good cheer to them. It will do a lot for you, too.

MORNING HYMN
Others, Lord, yes, others,
Let this my motto be.
Help me to live for others,
That I might live like Thee.

Jun 20, 2006 at 18:22 o\clock

The Way to Victory

Do we always seek for our victory through Christ ?

Author: Theodore Epp
Source: Strength for the Journey
Scripture Reference Joshua 23:9-13 Hebrews 12:1 1 John 5:4 

The Way to Victory

Joshua 23:9-13

We learn in Joshua 23:9,10 that nothing can stand before the person who will dare to trust God. Everything is in the favor of those who trust Him. With God on their side, total victory is assured.

This is true with regard to us in our spiritual warfare. The enemies are great and more powerful than we are, but they are helpless when we go in the strength of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Admonition was added to these assurances as Joshua spoke to the people. He warned them that they must be careful how they conducted themselves and that they, above all, must love the Lord.

This positive and then negative approach would serve to alert the Israelites to their blessings and also to their dangers.

We, too, must not turn back in defeat but go forward in Christian victory. There are evil things that will entangle us and ensnare us, so we must get rid of them. These may be but little things in our lives, but the little things can destroy us.

We are warned in Hebrews 12:1 to "lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us."

Nothing is to be allowed to hinder us. The weights spoken of in this passage may not be sins, but they could lead to sin or at least they could hinder us.

There is a danger of losing what we have gained. We can be sure of this: Our sin will find us out.

"For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" (1 John 5:4).

Jun 19, 2006 at 17:30 o\clock

Circumstances Allowed of God

Can we accept what happens as "allowed of God" for a purpose ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Job 7:1-21 

The Hidden Hammer

And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be.

The bottom had fallen out of Job's life. All his possessions had been destroyed. His family had been slaughtered, and any hope for a posterity was gone. God had delivered Job into Satan's hand. Those associated with Job could not understand why this had happened. Even his wife counseled him to "curse God and die" (Job 2:9). But Job was fully convinced that if God had permitted this evil to come to him, the evil would ultimately turn to good.

Job's friend Eliphaz expressed surprise that Job, who in the past comforted others, was now giving way to sorrow. His friend wrongly judged that if Job had nothing to be ashamed of, he had no reason to be sorrowful. Theologically he understood misfortune always to be the result of sin. Therefore there was no other explanation than that Job had sinned and the route of escape was not a bitter complaint but a bold confession of sin to receive the fruit of blessing. Understandably Job was offended at the speech of his friend. Eliphaz had magnified Job's complaint and minimized his condition. Just think of it. Life had collapsed around him and Job could think of no specific cause for that. He knew Eliphaz was wrong in his assessment of the situation.

In chapter 7 Job is philosophical about the brevity of life. He knows that the days of man upon the earth are numbered. He likens them to the cloud that is consumed and vanishes away. Since life is so brief and his life is now so filled with anguish, why does Jehovah even bother with Job? Why does He reveal Himself to Job every morning and try him every moment (Job 7:18)? He thought that in his condition, life is worth less than death, and Job desires that "thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be" (Job 7:21). The blows that God permitted Satan to land on Job appear to have been merciless. His life had been upright and just. How could God allow this to happen?

Samuel Chadwick relates that when he was a boy, he often went to the local blacksmith shop to watch the smithy work. He remembers how the smith would take a large piece of iron and place it in the fire with tongs and then work the bellows to make it white-hot. Then after removing the piece of iron from the fire and laying it upon the anvil, he would take a small hammer and begin to tap on the iron. No sooner would the smith tap the iron with the small hammer than a big man on the other side of the anvil would come crashing down hard with a large sledge hammer, hitting the iron on the exact same spot that the blacksmith had just tapped. Inquisitively, Chadwick once commented to the blacksmith, "You don't do much good with that little hammer, do you?" The gentle blacksmith laughed and replied, "No, my boy, but I show that big fellow where to place the blow."

When the bottom fell out of Job's life and his friends came to comfort him, none of them was aware of all that had transpired in heaven before these calamities began. None of them knew that God had given Satan permission to afflict Job. They were totally unaware that while Satan was pounding away at Job with his unholy sledge hammer, each blow was being carefully guided by a loving Heavenly Father. God would show Satan where he could deliver his blows on Job, just as the blacksmith defined for his large friend where he could hit the iron with his sledge hammer.

If you are today experiencing unjust criticism, undue persecution, or sorrow because love is not returned, please remember that as a child of God you can never be afflicted beyond what God, your loving Heavenly Father, gives him permission to do. God is still in control; and though friends may unrighteously condemn us, as long as we live a life clean before Him, we need not be concerned about what Satan can do to us.

MORNING HYMN
Day by day and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment,
I've no cause for worry or for fear,
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best,
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Jun 17, 2006 at 19:18 o\clock

Asking Help from the Lord

A Prayer Frequently Used

"Help, Lord."

--Psalm 12:1

The prayer itself is remarkable, for it is short, but seasonable, sententious, and suggestive. David mourned the fewness of faithful men, and therefore lifted up his heart in supplication--when the creature failed, he flew to the Creator. He evidently felt his own weakness, or he would not have cried for help; but at the same time he intended honestly to exert himself for the cause of truth, for the word "help" is inapplicable where we ourselves do nothing. There is much of directness, clearness of perception, and distinctness of utterance in this petition of two words; much more, indeed, than in the long rambling outpourings of certain professors. The Psalmist runs straight-forward to his God, with a well-considered prayer; he knows what he is seeking, and where to seek it. Lord, teach us to pray in the same blessed manner.

The occasions for the use of this prayer are frequent. In providential afflictions how suitable it is for tried believers who find all helpers failing them. Students, in doctrinal difficulties, may often obtain aid by lifting up this cry of "Help, Lord," to the Holy Spirit, the great Teacher. Spiritual warriors in inward conflicts may send to the throne for reinforcements, and this will be a model for their request. Workers in heavenly labour may thus obtain grace in time of need. Seeking sinners, in doubts and alarms, may offer up the same weighty supplication; in fact, in all these cases, times, and places, this will serve the turn of needy souls. "Help, Lord," will suit us living and dying, suffering or labouring, rejoicing or sorrowing. In Him our help is found, let us not be slack to cry to Him.

The answer to the prayer is certain, if it be sincerely offered through Jesus. The Lord's character assures us that He will not leave His people; His relationship as Father and Husband guarantee us His aid; His gift of Jesus is a pledge of every good thing; and His sure promise stands, "Fear not, I WILL HELP THEE."

-- C.H. Spurgeon

Jun 16, 2006 at 18:28 o\clock

His Claim on Us

How do we respond to what Jesus did for us ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Revelation 22:1-21 

Jesus First

I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

Just as Genesis, the first book of the Bible, is a book of beginnings, Revelation, the last book of the Bible, is a book of new beginnings. Before these new beginnings can occur, however, a series of endings must transpire. Thus the book of Revelation represents numerous "finals" in the Word of God.

Genesis 3:9 is God's initial call to man: "And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?" Revelation 22:17 is God's final call to man: "And the Spirit and the bride say, come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." Somewhere between Genesis 3:9 and Revelation 22:17 everyone who would enjoy eternity in heaven with Christ must answer one of God's calls. Perhaps you have answered Jesus' call in Matthew 11:28, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Or maybe it was the call of Christ in John 4:14, "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." But if you have not responded to the call of Christ, if you have never received Jesus Christ as your Saviour, you must respond to His call in order to receive eternal life.

Once we have responded positively to the Lord's call to salvation, we have a whole new outlook on the future. Our destiny is brighter. Our lives are sunnier. The birds' songs are sweeter. We look forward to serving Jesus every day and anticipate the day we shall live with Him in glory.

Just before God's final call in Revelation 22:17, Jesus verifies that He is indeed the one to whom we are called in salvation. He says, "I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star" (Revelation 22:16). These titles are applied to Him elsewhere in Scripture (cf. Isaiah 11:1; Numbers 24:17), but nowhere do they take on more meaning than just prior to the final call in the Bible. When we come to God in salvation, we come to the offspring of David. When we leave the darkness of sin, we enter the light of the Bright and Morning Star. It is the shining face of Jesus, the one who died for us, that we will first want to see when we enter the brightness of heaven. After all, being with our Savior is what makes heaven heavenly.

When Fanny Crosby, the hymn writer who wrote more than 8,000 gospel songs even though she was blinded at the age of six weeks, was pitied by a friend because she could not see, Miss Crosby replied, "Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I would have been born blind?" The friend was puzzled by this answer and asked her for further explanation. "Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior!" We too will want to see our Savior first of all.

There is a story about Cyrus, the founder of the Persian Empire, who once captured a prince and his entire family. When they came before the monarch, Cyrus asked the prisoner, "What will you give me if I release you?" The prince replied, "The half of my wealth." "And if I release your children?" The prince replied, "Everything I possess." Finally Cyrus said, "And what will you give me if I will release your wife?" The prince replied, "Your Majesty, I will give myself." So moved was Cyrus by the devotion of this young prince that he freed him and his entire family. As the prince, his wife and children returned to their home, the prince said to his wife, "Wasn't Cyrus a handsome man!" With a tender look of love in her eyes, the wife said to her husband, "I did not notice. I could only keep my eyes on you the one who was willing to give himself for me."

Morning by morning we arise to give praise to the one who saved us. Day by day we serve the one who saved us. Evening by evening we rejoice in the one who saved us. Let's concentrate today on loving the Lord Jesus and adoring no other face than the one who loved us so much that He died for us (John 3:16).

MORNING HYMN
All hail the pow'r of Jesus' name!
Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown Him Lord of all.

Jun 15, 2006 at 18:35 o\clock

Using our House for God

How do we use what God has given us ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Psalm 127:1-5 

Relying on God

It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so He giveth His beloved sleep.

The theme of this delightful little psalm is the folly of human effort apart from God. Anything we attempt in life is doomed to failure unless we rely on the power of God. The psalmist shows us this is true in four aspects of human life: social (verse la); civic (verse 1b); business (verse 2); and domestic (verses 3-5). In each of these there is an unmistakable emphasis on the necessity for reliance on God.

"Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it." Regardless if it is a private dwelling or the house of God, it is useless to undertake building unless we seek the prosperity of God. The psalmist does not say that unless the Lord consents that the house should be built, he says unless the Lord builds the house. We supply the materials; He does the work in our social lives.

"Except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain." Turning from social to civic life, the psalmist knows the unseen watchman of every city is Jehovah Himself. The constant vigilance of a sentinel is without reward if he watches alone. It does little good for us to stand watch unless the Lord stands with us. Not to set a watch when the enemy is at hand is foolish, but to set a watch in our own strength is just as foolish.

"It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows." Here the psalmist does not counsel us against rising early. His intent is to show us that nothing is accomplished by rising early or staying up late if all we do is fret about our problems. Here too we must have absolute dependence upon God.

Finally, the psalmist turns his attention to reliance on God in domestic matters. He begins with a statement about children that is diametrically opposed to the philosophy of the world today. In a day in which children are frequently viewed as a bother, an infringement on personal freedom, and are therefore aborted before they are born, the psalmist counters, "Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD." Children come to us from God and are another means of building a house. In fact, in the Hebrew, the word for son (ben) and daughter (bath) both come from the same root word for house (beth). Although building a house is akin to building sons and daughters, building sons and daughters is more important than building a house around them.

A preacher once was entertained by a couple who had two teenage boys. When he entered the house, he noticed immediately a sense of warmth. He also noticed that the living room carpet was very tattered. Before he left, the mother related that one day several boys from the neighborhood were having a good time in her living room. Perhaps they were being a little too rough, and she asked them to play elsewhere. They responded, "But where will we go?" Nodding to one of them she asked, "How about your place?" "Not a chance," replied the boy. "We're not allowed to invite kids into our house." Others questioned gave similar replies. The mother soon sensed that her home was the only one where the boys felt free to come and have fun. From then on they were always welcome.

While the mother did not allow the children to be disrespectful to her property, she nonetheless recognized that the rug was only property, but that children were an heritage from the Lord. She knew if she were to raise a family she would have to show a lot of love and rely on the Lord.

To whatever endeavor God calls you today, whether it be social, civic, business, or domestic, reliance on Him is a prerequisite to success. You cannot build a house fruitfully without the labor of God. You cannot watch a city successfully without the protection of God. You cannot engage in business tirelessly without the strength of God. You cannot raise children lovingly without the wisdom of God. All human activity is but folly unless you rely upon God for success. Ask Him to make you successful today.

MORNING HYMN
If God build not the house, and lay
The groundwork sure whoever build,
It cannot stand one stormy day.
If God be not the city's shield,
If He be not their bars and wall,
In vain is watchtower; men, and all.

Jun 14, 2006 at 19:19 o\clock

Consequences of Pride

Are we trusting in ourselves or in God ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: 2 Samuel 24:1-25 

Pride

For when David was up in the morning, the word of the Lord came unto the prophet Gad, David's seer.

Have you ever noticed that you make your greatest mistakes immediately after your greatest victories? Why is that? The answer is likely pride. The Bible frequently warns us about the penalty of pride. Proverbs 16:18 says, "Pride goeth before destruction and an haughty spirit before a fall." The pages of the Holy Scriptures are filled with people who have met their defeat, not because of their inferiority, but because of their haughty and arrogant spirit.

A graphic illustration of the penalty of pride is seen in the life of King David. A man after God's own heart, David early won favor with Jehovah for his faithfulness and purity of life. He rose above the usurpation of his throne by two of his sons. He lived down the shame of his sin with Bathsheba. Now he had come to the end of his life, a valiant warrior and a victor.

Following the catalog of David's mighty men is the statement, "And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah" (2 Samuel 24:1). The wrath of God was upon His people at this time, not so much for a specific offense as for the general deterioration of their faithfulness to Him. First Chronicles 21:1 indicates that it was Satan who incited David to take this census. Although the penalty for this sin affected all people, David accepted it as the result of his own personal sin. Why? Because the numbering of the people was done in pride, for the purpose of self-glory, and pride always pays a penalty.

Immediately after David learned the strength of his army, he recognized the basis for his need to know their number. "And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done . . . for I have done very foolishly." As soon as David was up in the morning (2 Samuel 24:11), God offered three potential punishments for this pride. David's options were not good: the people could endure seven years of famine; David could flee three months from his enemies; Israel could experience three days of the worst pestilence they had ever seen. David preferred to receive punishment from God rather than from his enemies. Thus the Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel in the morning. Because of Israel's continued sin and David's pride, 70,000 men died during the next three days in Israel.

There is an old fable about two ducks and a frog that played together in a small pond. Each summer, when the days got long and hot, the pond shrank to a small puddle, and the ducks and frog were forced to move. The ducks could fly to another place, but not the frog. As the fable goes, the frog finally suggested that the ducks put a stick in their bills so he could cling to it with his mouth and thus fly away with them. The frog was very proud of his brilliant idea. As the ducks took off for a nearby lake, the stick between their bills and the frog clinging tightly, they passed over a farmer, who seeing this strange sight questioned, "Well, isn't that a clever stunt! I wonder who thought of it?" Swelling with pride, the frog said, "I did!" and with that he lost his grip and went crashing to the ground. His own pride had done him in.

Let us beware of our pride today, for it may lead to the same kind of painful end that the frog experienced. Even worse, it may lead to pain inflicted upon others, as was experienced in the life of David. Remember, "Pride goeth before destruction" (Proverbs 16:18).

MORNING HYMN
Lord Jesus, look down from Thy throne in the skies
And help me to make a complete sacrifice.
I give up myself and whatever I know
Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.

Jun 13, 2006 at 18:27 o\clock

Praise to God

For what have we given the Lord thanks and praise today ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Psalm 113:1-9 

Morning Praise

From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD'S name is to be praised.

Like the two psalms preceding it, this one is without title. Some commentators have ascribed it to Samuel, others to David. However the authorship is unknown. Whoever the author was, in his best journalistic style he answers the five key questions that any young reporter would ask when writing a story. He answers the five W's: who, what, when, where and why. Let's notice what excited this young reporter to write in such a way.

Who. To whom does the writer speak? To all of us. Anyone who reads this psalm is included in the "ye" of verse 1, most specifically, "O ye servants of the LORD." More than anyone else, the servants of the Lord ought to be involved in the exalted activity of praising God. Each of us who claims to serve the Lord must publicly discharge his or her responsibility. We are best acquainted with the reasons for praising Him, and we are also the best instruments to declare His praise.

What. The responsibility of the servants of the Lord is simply, "Praise ye the LORD . . . praise the name of the LORD." The repetition of this phrase in a single verse is not without significance. You would think that we who have been saved by His grace would automatically and consistently praise His name. However this is not the case, for we are frequently slow in praising God for His blessings. Therefore the psalmist finds it necessary to stimulate us, to cajole us; and the repetition of the stimulus calls us to perseverance in sounding forth the praises of God.

When. To indicate when the servants of the Lord are to be engaged in praising the Lord, the psalmist uses an _expression that is more characteristic of the old Greek poets than of the Hebrew prophets. He says, "From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD'S name is to be praised" (Psalm 113:3). This poetic _expression indicates that there is never a time of the day, never a waking hour, never an inappropriate moment, when the servant of the Lord cannot praise His name. We are to begin His praise at the very rising of the sun, early in the morning, and we are to continue that praise until sunset. Praising the name of the Lord is a daylong, lifelong privilege.

Where. If we are to praise the Lord from the rising of the sun until the going down of the same, where is it that we shall engage in this exalted activity? Since "the LORD is high above all nations, and His glory above heaven," and yet He "humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth," it is incumbent upon us to see that His name is praised wherever His presence is known. Therefore we are to praise His name in the highest heavens and the lowest earth. Just as there is not a waking hour that is inappropriate to praise His name, there is not the slightest place on earth that is inappropriate to the praising of His name. As servants of the Lord, we are to praise Him continually, wherever we find ourselves.

Why. The reasons for praising the Lord are manifold. He is high above all nations, and His glory is above the heavens. Still He humbleth Himself to observe our affairs on earth. He raiseth the poor out of the dust and the needy out of the dunghill. He makes princes out of paupers and makes the barren woman a homemaker and the mother of children.

Today would be a good day for us to make a praise list. Just as we have a prayer list, Christians ought to have a praise list, a list of reasons for praising the Lord. Begin with His love for you, His death for you, and His salvation of you, and keep listing things for which to praise the Lord from morning to night. Don't be surprised if you have to make a second list, for we have much for which to praise the Lord. A praise list it's an idea worth consideration.

MORNING HYMN
O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer's praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace.

Jun 12, 2006 at 18:13 o\clock

God's Providence

Do we acknowledge the hand of God in our lives ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: 1 Samuel 29 

God's Providence

Wherefore now rise up early in the morning with thy master's servants that are come with thee: and as soon as ye be up early in the morning, and have light, depart.

When we live lives that are pleasing before the Lord, godly lives, righteous lives, we may always be assured that no matter where our steps take us, we have been led there by the Lord God Himself. Indeed, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD" (Psalm 37:23).

By this time in his life the madness of King Saul had become so notable that he had nearly destroyed himself and his nation as well. His hatred for David and his jealousy of this young Bethlehemite caused David to be resigned to a life of wandering. Once David learned that the Philistines were besieging the city of Keilah, he immediately hurried to rescue the city. Successful in his rescue, he drove off the enemy and scattered them, making this for a short time his headquarters (1 Samuel 23:1-6).

However, whenever Saul learned of the whereabouts of David, he was sure to be persistent in his pursuit of him; again David was forced to flee (1 Samuel 23:7-14). Although during his wanderings David attracted to his side 600 soldiers in support of his cause, nevertheless these were days of hardship and grief for David. Finally he had to leave the kingdom entirely and seek refuge among his former enemies, the Philistines.

Although the enemy clearly remembered that David slew the giant Goliath, now he was an enemy of Israel's king; and so the Philistines made an unlikely alliance with David and his men. With the consent of Achish, king of Gath, David made his headquarters at Ziklag for more than a year (1 Samuel 27:1-7). Because he supported the Philistine king in raids on the tribes to the south of the wilderness of Shur (1 Samuel 27:8-12), David gained the respect and friendship of Achish. Things were fine as long as the Philistines were fighting someone other than the Israelites. But that situation was about to change.

The Philistine armies assembled at Aphek to encounter the Israelites in Jezreel. David was now in a desperately ticklish situation. He was with the armies of the Philistines, arrayed in preparation for battle against his own people, Israel. What would he do? How would God get him out of this jam?

David didn't have to wait long for a resolution to the problem. The princes of the Philistines began to wonder whether or not they could trust David fighting against his own people. If he were to win the favor of King Saul again, what better way than to kill the Philistines. Therefore, Achish commanded, "Wherefore now rise up early in the morning with thy master's servants that are come with thee: and as soon as ye be up early in the morning, and have light, depart" (1 Samuel 29:10). Once again, through the suspicions of the Philistines, God had spared David from fighting against his own people.

Rowland V. Bingham, founder of the Sudan Interior Mission, was once seriously injured in a terrible automobile accident. Rushed to the hospital in critical condition, he did not regain consciousness until the next day. When he asked the nurse what he was doing there, she replied, "Don't try to talk now, just rest. You have been in an accident."

"Accident? Accident?" exclaimed Dr. Bingham. "There are no accidents in the life of the Christian. This is just an incident in God's perfect leading." Our attitude toward the Lord's leading our steps ought to be the same. When we live righteously before Him, free from known sin, there are no accidents in our lives, only incidents in His perfect leading. Let Him lead you today.

MORNING HYMN
In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
God leads His dear children along,
Where the water's cool flow bathes the weary one's feet,
God leads His dear children along.
Some thru the waters, some thru the flood,
Some thru the fire, but all thru the blood;
Some thru great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.

Jun 9, 2006 at 18:35 o\clock

Faith in any Situation

Are we looking to God in everything ?

Title: Faith Can Change Any Situation

Author: Mrs. Charles E. Cowman
Source: Streams in the Desert
Scripture Reference: 1 John 5:4 

"For every child of God overcomes the world: and the victorious principle which has overcome the world is our faith" (1 John 5:4, Weymouth).

At every turn in the road one can find something that will rob him of his victory and peace of mind, if he permits it. Satan is a long way from having retired from the business of deluding and ruining God's children if he can. At every milestone it is well to look carefully to the thermometer of one's experience, to see whether the temperature is well up.

Sometimes a person can, if he will, actually snatch victory from the very jaws of defeat, if he will resolutely put his faith up at just the right moment.

Faith can change any situation. No matter how dark it is, no matter what the trouble may be, a quick lifting of the heart to God in a moment of real, actual faith in Him, will alter the situation in a moment.

God is still on His throne, and He can turn defeat into victory in a second of time, if we really trust Him.

"God is mighty! He is able to deliver;
Faith can victor be in every trying hour;
Fear and care and sin and sorrow be defeated
By our faith in God's almighty, conquering power.

"Have faith in God, the sun will shine,
Though dark the clouds may be today;
His heart has planned your path and mine,
Have faith in God, have faith alway."

"When one has faith, one does not retire; one stops the enemy where he finds him." --Marshal Foch

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.

Jun 7, 2006 at 19:13 o\clock

Trial of Faith

How do we react to difficulties in our life ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Job 24:1-25 

The Trial of Faith

The murderer rising with the light killeth the poor and needy, and in the night is as a thief.

Throughout Job's long ordeal one concern continually raced through his mind. He was fully aware that all men are sinners and therefore are justly deserving of divine punishment. His concern was, however, that he had always dealt with sin in an open manner. He had sacrificed daily to the Lord God and had conducted his life in such a way that it was pleasing to God. Throughout the ordeal the so-called comfort afforded him by his three friends was generated by the belief that Job's suffering was the result of secret sin and that if he would confess that sin, God would surely remove the suffering. Job, however, knew of no secret sin in his life and believed that his suffering must be due to his piety. Job's mind was characterized by bewilderment, not by the suppression of known sin.

Job's understanding of the foolish heart of man is theologically correct. He knows that sin can never be successfully hidden from God. So wicked is the heart of man that he will confiscate the property of the fatherless and deny charity to the poor; and as wild asses rising with the light, they kill the poor and needy, assuming that no one will discover their crime (Job 24:14). "The morning is to them even as the shadow of death" (Job 24:17), for the rising of the sun brings to light the wickedness in which they have been engaged throughout the dark hours of the night. Yet Job knows that he has not conducted himself in this manner. It is understandable that God would punish with affliction those who have lived in the way Job has described, but it is not understandable why the righteous should suffer in the same manner. Job was upright before the Lord. How could the Lord allow this to happen to him?

A similar circumstance once occurred in the life of William Carey, the pioneer missionary to India. After his work was established, those who supported him in England sent a printer to assist him in the work. Together they began producing portions of the Bible for distribution in India. One day while he was away from his station, a fire broke out and completely destroyed everything Carey had accomplished. The building, the presses, the Bibles, and worst of all, the manuscripts, grammars, and dictionaries on which he had spent many years of his life were all burned and destroyed. When Carey returned, his servant met him and tearfully relayed the news of the dreadful fire. How would Carey react? Without a word of despair or anger, William Carey knelt and thanked God that he still had strength enough to do that work all over again. Immediately he began, not wasting his time or licking his wounds. Before Carey died, under the direction of the Spirit of God he had not only duplicated his earlier achievements but produced far better grammars, dictionaries, and translations of the Scripture than the first time.

William Carey had learned what Job had learned. Disaster does not necessarily mean the presence of secret sin. Sometimes God allows the pious to suffer just as He allows the impious. It is the trial of our faith that worketh patience, and without this trial the legendary patience of Job would not be such a comfort to us today.

May each of us view those disasters that enter our lives through the godly glasses of courage and patience. May our lives be free from known sin so that with Job we may say of the Lord, "But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:10).

MORNING HYMN
I would be true, for there are those who trust me;
I would be pure, for there are those who care
I would be strong, for there is much to suffer;
I would be brave, for there is much to dare.

Jun 6, 2006 at 18:30 o\clock

Mysterious Ways

Can God work even in the unexpected, unusual circumstances ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Numbers 22:1-35 

Mysterious Ways

Balaam rose up in the morning, and said unto the princes of Balak, Get you into your land: for the LORD refuseth to give me leave to go with you.

The famous English hymnist William Cowper once wrote, "God moves in mysterious ways His wonders to perform." Nowhere in the pages of Scripture is this more evident than in the story of Balak, the king of Moab, and Balaam, the false prophet of Pethor in Mesopotamia.

With the conquest of the Amorites the people of Israel neared their goal, the promised land. They descended into the valley of Jordan, opposite Jericho, on the plains of Moab. Such a bold move by Israel aroused the Moabites. Seeing that Israel was too strong for him in the field, Moabite king Balak made a confederacy with the sheiks of Midian. But even the combined strength of Moab and Midian was of doubtful value in the face of mighty Israel. It was evident to Balak that supernatural help must be sought.

The prophet Balaam, son of Beor, was one of those who still retained some knowledge of the true God. It is obvious, however, that he practiced the more questionable arts of divination as well and in fact believed that Jehovah was simply one of many gods. He found it quite to his advantage to believe in all the gods of oriental society. The emissaries from Balak came to Balaam with a strange request. There was a people come out of Egypt who covered the face of the earth. They were a threat to the very existence of Moab, or so the Moabite king believed. If Balaam would curse the intruders, the emissaries were empowered to give him the rewards of divination.

Balaam consulted the God of Heaven as to the advisability of cursing the people who had come out of Egypt. The answer of Jehovah left no room for variant interpretations. "Thou shalt not go with them: thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed" (Numbers 22:12). Balaam rose up in the morning and reported to the princes of Balak that Jehovah had directly forbidden him to curse their enemy Israel.

When the princes returned to Balak with this unexpected news, the Moabite king was undaunted. He sent to Balaam more numerous and more honorable envoys. The king promised the prophet that he would promote him to very great honor and give him any desire of his heart. The greed of Balaam was too much for his loyalty to the God of Heaven, and consequently he wavered in his stand against cursing Israel. Instead of resting confidently on the clear word of the Lord, Balaam hedged on that clarity in order to feed his lustful desire for fame and honor. Thus God gave him his desire and delivered him to the destruction that he courted. Despite the evident will of God to the contrary, Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab (Numbers 22:21).

This Old Testament account features the miraculous happening of a dumb animal speaking to his master in order that the plan of God might be fulfilled. But an even more mysterious way in which God moved to perform His wonders was that He chose a false prophet, one who thought more of himself than he did of God, to advance one of the greatest prophecies of the Old Testament. It was Balaam the son of Beor who brought the message of Christ in the book of Numbers. His messianic prophecy was, "I shall see Him, but not now: I shall behold Him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth" (Numbers 24:17).

No greater prophecy concerning the messianic kingdom can be found anywhere in Scripture and, in the mysterious plan of God, this prophecy came from the lips of a self-seeking prophet. We may never fully be able to understand the methods or motives of God, but we are not required to understand them, simply to trust them.

MORNING HYMN
Praise to the Lord
Who o'er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under
His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen
All that is needful hath been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Jun 5, 2006 at 18:24 o\clock

Character

How much do we value a godly character ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Psalm 73:1-28 

Character

For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.

This is the second psalm ascribed to Asaph and the first of eleven consecutive psalms that bear his name. In 2 Chronicles 29:30 King Hezekiah invites the Levites to sing "the words of David, and of Asaph the seer." Asaph was not only a writer but a prophet as well. This psalm deals with the same perplexing subject as that of Psalm 37, curiously the transposition of Psalm 73. It is the subject of Psalm 49 and the entire book of Job. How can an infinitely powerful God be good and still allow the wicked to appear to prosper and the righteous to be in want? Perhaps you have asked the same question of God. If so, your answer is given in Psalm 73.

The way to heaven is an afflicted way, a perplexed, a persecuted way, crushed close together with crosses, as was the Israelites' way in the wilderness. This was true of Asaph the psalmist when his feet were almost gone and his steps had well nigh slipped. He was envious when he looked around and saw the prosperity of the wicked. There were no pangs or pains in their death. The eyes of the wicked ever gloat on the luxuries around them. They increase in prosperity and riches while they curse God, and the Almighty appears to do nothing about it.

On the other hand, Asaph had cleansed his heart and had washed his hands before God. He had lived uprightly and yet he was afflicted and distressed. Why would God allow him to be afflicted when he had lived as God desired? Although God does not daily bring a man to his bed, breaking his spirit and his bones, nevertheless seldom a day passes without some rebuke or chastening from God. It is as much a part of the Christian's life to know afflictions as it is to know mercies, to know when God smites as to know when He smiles.

Still Asaph complains, "For all day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning" (Psalm 73:14). Every morning it appears to the psalmist that he arose after having been whipped by God. His breakfast was the bread of sorrow; his juice was the water of adversity. Morning after morning he would arise only to feel the affliction of God that day. Asaph began to question whether or not it was worth living a godly life, a life pure and unspotted from the world, when those around him refused to do so and prospered. Perhaps this question has crossed your mind as well.

In the forests of northern Europe lives the ermine, a small animal that we know best for its snow-white fur. Instinctively the ermine protects its white coat lest it become soiled. European hunters often capitalize on this trait. Instead of setting a mechanical trap to catch the ermine, they find its home in the cleft of a rock and daub the entrance with tar. A chase ensues and the frightened ermine flees toward its home. When it arrives at the cleft of the rock and finds it covered with dirt, the animal spurns its place of safety. Rather than soil itself and its white fur, it courageously faces the hunters. That's character. To the ermine, purity is dearer than life itself.

Whenever we feel we are being chastised by God unjustly and are tempted to cast off our righteous lifestyle, let's remember the ermine. To keep ourselves "unspotted from the world" (James 1:27) should be as important to the Christian as life itself. Affliction tests character; and character tested, with the right response, is character strengthened. Rejoice today that God loves you enough to afflict you.

MORNING HYMN
In the hour of trial, Jesus, plead for me;
Lest by base denial I depart from Thee;
When Thou see'st me waver, with a look recall;
Nor thro' fear or favor suffer me to fall.

Jun 3, 2006 at 18:50 o\clock

Firm in Faith

Can we trust God despite our problems ?

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference: Mark 16:1-20 

Firm in Faith

And very early in the morning the first day of the week they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.

Faith is not always a champion which marches alone. Sometimes faith is accompanied by fear. Faith is not the absence of questioning; it is the presence of action in the midst of those questions. Faith does not provide all the answers; it provides a basis for confidence in the midst of unreasonable circumstances.

We do not fully understand how God takes oxygen and hydrogen, both of them odorless, tasteless, and colorless, and combines them with carbon, which is insoluble, black, and tasteless, to produce a beautiful, white, sweet substance we call sugar. Although we do not have all the answers as to how God accomplishes this, in the midst of our circumstances we accept God's product on faith. Real faith is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is trusting God when you cannot see through the fog.

It was early Easter Sunday morning when Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome set out on a mission of faith. These women had covenanted among themselves to purchase spices that were needed to embalm the body of Jesus. They could not do so until after dusk on Saturday. So when the Sabbath was passed, the women purchased the sweet spices that they might come to the tomb of Joseph and there make the body of the Lord Jesus ready for burial.

It was very early in the morning the first day of the week that they came to the sepulcher, at the rising of the sun (Mark 16:2). With the spices that they had purchased the previous evening in hand, the women made their way through the dark streets of Jerusalem just before the sunrise of Sunday morning. As they approached the garden in which the tomb was located, they chattered among themselves, questioning how they would gain access to the tomb. Here is a grand example of faith amid questions. The women could not themselves roll away the stone, for it was simply too cumbersome to do so. Yet they did not stay at home and attend a seminar on stone-rolling, argue the pros and cons of gaining entrance to the tomb, or form a committee to study the problem. In the midst of their concerns about how they would gain entrance to the tomb, they steadily progressed toward the tomb in faith. Faith is not the absence of questions; it is the presence of action amidst those questions.

Once an ocean liner was engulfed in a dense fog off the coast of Newfoundland. It was Wednesday evening and the captain had been on the bridge for more than 24 hours, when he was startled by someone tapping him on the shoulder. As he turned, he saw the great man of prayer and faith, George Mueller. The concerned Mueller stated, "Captain, I must be in Quebec on Saturday afternoon." Expressing his dismay, the captain replied, "That's impossible!" The fog was so dense and the progress of the ship so slow that the captain knew they would never make it to shore on time. He mumbled, "I'm helpless!" Being a man of faith, George Mueller suggested, "Let's go down to the chart room and pray." The captain, who could see only his circumstances, replied, "Do you know how dense the fog is?"

"No," Mueller said, "My eye is not on the density of the fog, but on the living God who controls every circumstance of my life." The captain and Mueller left the bridge and went below where Mueller fell to his knees and prayed. Within a matter of minutes the fog lifted, the ocean liner progressed rapidly, and Mueller was in Quebec before Saturday.

If we are to live a life of faith, we must get our eyes off the stone before the tomb and on the God who does the impossible. The women knew the stone would keep them from their Lord, and yet they purchased their spices, readied themselves early in the morning, and made their way in the darkness toward the garden tomb. Faith is not being free from questions; faith is being firm in commitment to the power of God. How will you demonstrate your faith today?

MORNING HYMN
May Thy rich grace impart
Strength to my fainting heart,
My zeal inspire;
As Thou hast died for me,
O may my love to Thee
Pure, warm and changeless be
A living fire!

Jun 2, 2006 at 18:33 o\clock

Gain or Loss

Are we willing to have a temporary loss for an eternal gain ?

Author: Mary Wilder Tileston
Source: Joy and Strength
Scripture Reference 2 Thessalonians 1:5 

Gain or Loss

That ye may be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God.
2 THESSALONIANS 1:5

FEAR not, for He hath sworn;
Faithful and true His name;
The glorious hours are onward borne;
'Tis lit, th'immortal flame;
It glows around thee; kneel, and strive, and win
Daily one living ray--'twill brighter glow within.
JOHN KEBLE

COUNT that day lost (though thou mayest have despatched much business therein) in which thou hast neither gained some victory over thine own evil inclinations and thy self-will, nor returned thanks to thy Lord for His mercies.
LORENZO SCUPOLI

Between dawn and dark there is time enough for the collisions of disinterestedness with selfishness in our dealings with our fellow-creatures, in the life of our own homes; time enough to meet or to evade the demands of homely faithfulness in our several work, time enough to confront the sturdy rebellion of passions and besetting sins against our spiritual nature, time enough to win or to lose heaven in.
HENRY WILDER FOOTE

It is no small matter to lose or to gain the Kingdom of God.
THOMAS À KEMPIS