Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sublime Intimacy

Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?  " — John 11:40
Every time you venture out in the life of faith, you will find something in your common-sense circumstances that flatly contradicts your faith. Common sense is not faith, and faith is not common sense; they stand in the relation of the natural and the spiritual. Can you trust Jesus Christ where your common sense cannot trust Him? Can you venture heroically on Jesus Christ's statements when the facts of your common-sense life shout - "It's a lie?" On the mount it is easy to say - 'Oh, yes, I believe God can do it'; but you have to come down into the demon-possessed valley and meet with facts that laugh ironically at the whole of your mount-of-transfiguration belief. Every time my programme of, belief is clear to my own mind, I come across something that contradicts it. Let me say I believe God will supply all my need, and then let me run dry, with no outlook, and see whether I will go through the trial of faith, or whether I will sink back to something lower.
Faith must be tested, because it can be turned into a personal possession only through conflict. What is your faith up against just now? The test will either prove that your faith is right, or it will kill it. "Blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in Me." The final thing is confidence in Jesus. Believe steadfastly on Him and all you come up against will develop your faith. There is continual testing in the life of faith, and the last great test is death. May God keep us in fighting trim! Faith is unutterable trust in God, trust which never dreams that He will not stand by us.
                                                                                       -My Utmost for His Highest 
The final thing is confidence in Jesus. Believe steadfastly on Him and all you come up against will develop your faith.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Our Strength

PD Photo.0rg

"You are my strength; I wait for you to rescue me, for you, O God, are my fortress.
In his unfailing love, my God will stand with me. He will let me look down in triumph on all my enemies.
But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love.
For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress.
O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love."
                                                                Psalm 59:9-10 &16-17 NLT
"There is no promise of calm waters for any mariner. But our Lord can give the faith that can ride out against any high and proud winds and waves. And He can come to our succor though our sea seemeth all to be on fire." (Amy Carmichael A Chance to Die p. 335)

O Lord, our strength and confidence
Our eyes are unto Thee
Thou art the rock of our defense
Our song of victory
Thou who dost still the violence
Of any raging sea

Thou at the flood didst sit as King
What are our floods to Thee
To whom it is a little thing 
To walk upon the sea?
We wait to hail Thee conquoring
King of eternity

Only, O Lord our God, we pray
Teach us to do Thy will
Through windy hours and flying spray
Thy purposes fulfill
Until the word of yesterday
Thou speakest -- "Peace, be still."
Thou speakest -- "Peace, be still."
                                  - Amy Carmichael

"The Lord sat enthroned at the flood,
And the Lord sits as King forever.
The Lord will give strength to His people
The Lord will bless His people with peace." 
                                        Psalm 29:10-11

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Power of touch

Hudson Taylor said of touch, "There is a mighty power in contact...They are not clean, and sometimes we are tempted to draw our skirts together; but I believe there is no blessing when this is the case...There is much power in drawing near to this people. A poor woman in Cheng-tu, when she heard of Mrs. Riley's death said 'what a loss to us! She used to take hold of my hand, and comfort me so'...if you put your hand on the shoulder of a man there is power in it...there is something in contact. It is a real power we may use for God."

     I've been pondering myself of late how powerful touch is in the lives of each one of us. It's been said "A loving touch creates a world of difference."  And even secular studies show that affectionate human touch is vital for humans of all ages to lead healthy and secure lives. Lack of positive human touch can foster a host of negative results and has been linked with both a wasting away of the brain (resulting in brain damage) and a number of other social and emotional issues. Lack of touch has even proven fatal in the case of a number of infants who have died simply because they lacked the touch of a caring person. So human touch is vital. How much more vital in this dying world is the touch of Jesus Christ on the lost souls around us?
     As we read through the gospels we see Christ over and over again reaching out to touch a person who came to him in need. And He didn't limit His touch to the humanly desirable either. He stooped to touch the lowest of the low. The outcasts who all others counted dead. In Israel it was illegal to touch a leper. They were unclean and had been given up for dead both spiritually (since they could no longer enter the temple) and physically. They were outcasts in every sense of the word. Cut off from the world of the living and from all hope. Yet Jesus did not stop for laws, He did not stoop to the pettiness of human standards. Instead He incorporated the highest standard of love and those around Him must have gaped and gawked in shock as He reached out to the leper who had come to Him and touched his disease infested skin and broken spirit with the tenderest hands of loving acceptance. It was in this touch that healing came and the man was made whole.
Even in His moments of greatest agony Jesus reached out and touched the slashed off ear of one of those in His arrest party. Even when others were out to get Him He used the power of contact to heal and restore.
     Jesus is no longer here on this earth. He now lives in us and He reaches the world through our hands, our feet, our voice and our eyes turned in love and compassion on the soul of another. Too often we get so caught up in our busy lives that we forget why we are here. Forget to stop and take the time to reach out to the needy souls all around us. But if we'll only ask for His eyes we will begin to see them. Maybe it's that struggling mother in the grocery store who would be so blessed by an encouraging word or a helping hand, or the discouraged gas station attendant who could use a bright smile and a warm handshake, or that smelly neglected child that lives next door, longing for someone to reach out and touch the hurting heart hidden beneath the grime. Perhaps it's the homeless man that sits on the corner street bench hungry and forlorn, wishing someone would simply take the time to notice. Perhaps it's the world's lowest outcasts who sit in prison cells, locked away behind bars of self hatred and hated by the world, shackled by the hopelessness of their own crimes of murder, rape, theft or harlotry...These too need the touch of Jesus on their lives. Perhaps it's simply our own family members, that little sibling that seems just a little less secure than normal. Cuddling up for a story often does wonders. Or maybe it's an exhausted Dad after a hard day of work, or a discouraged spouse who could use a hand on their shoulder and some words of affirmation. The need is all around us and in a very tangible way we have been called to be the hands of Christ to those He sends our way. Are we willing to reach out beyond ourselves and our own comfort zones to reach them? And if we are willing, in reaching out to those around us we will touch the very heart of God for Christ Himself has said "Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me." ( Matt 25:40 ASV)