Passing The Tests

God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able” – (1Co_10:13)

An unusual trial befell me several years ago. It started on the Tuesday before Christmas, which came on Sunday that year. I woke up into what I can only call the absence of the Lord. Now I know He said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” But at that moment I could not find Him anywhere; not in the Scripture, nor in prayer; not in song, nor in confession of faith.

He was gone.

I made it through the day thinking that this was a test of some kind, and that it would pass rather quickly. But the next morning when I woke, the feeling of emptiness had intensified and I was deeply troubled at the thought that this may be for real…and for ever.

By the following morning my fears were strengthened, as the problem grew even worse. Each day seemed to multiply my sense of being totally lost. By Saturday morning I groped about as a man who had never known the Lord at all. There was no discernable trace of His Spirit, His grace, or the power of His Word in my life. I was alarmed, to say the least.

To make matters worse, Sunday was coming. I was frantic in my search for some meaningful sermon to preach on Christmas Day, but could find nothing — a preacher’s worst nightmare. I covered my tracks by having the children take the morning service and sing to the congregation a variety of carols and hymns. As for myself, I left the church before the service ended and raced home to hide in my bedroom!

Monday morning dawned and my greatest fears were realized. The ordeal was relentless, and my sense of emptiness was more intense than ever. I dreaded the thought of what my future held, for I clearly would not be able to continue as a pastor in this condition.

The next morning when I woke, the Lord was present in a manifest way there in my room. I literally gasped like a man coming up out of water after almost drowning. With the exhale of that breath of life I blurted out a tangled prayer that sounded something like, “Lord, Where have You…What was this…and, please, don’t ever do that again!”

The Lord opened my heart to understand what He had been doing. In my mind the phrase came, “The Lord is taking me from the minor leagues to the major leagues.” In other words, He showed me that He was about to increase His anointing in my life and with that would come greater influence and responsibility in ministry. The dark ordeal was a portal of testing that led from one level to the next.

I wrote a little poem to commemorate that moment. May I share it with you?

T’ was the Week Before Christmas

’was the week before Christmas and all through my house Lord was not moving; I felt like a louse! prayers were like cement, my faith was like mud; spirit was sinking; my life was a dud!

So with desperate endeavor I hastened to see what in the world was happening to me! called on the Name of the Lord God Most High! with speed like molasses He finally replied…

“This week is a test I’m passing you through; I’m weighing your heart to see what you’ll do. I’ve purposed to use you in ways I think best, I only can do so if you pass this test!”

Prayer

Father we thank you, Holy Ghost we thank you, Lord Jesus we thank you. That you care for us that we may not fall beyond what we cannot bare.

Our Lord’s Prayer

“Holy Father, keep through Thine own Name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as we are.”–Joh_17:11.

THIS MARVELLOUS seventeenth chapter of St. John’s Gospel has been called the Incense Altar of the New Testament. It is full of the sweet fragrance of our Lord s intercession for His own. Let us linger over it for a little, that its wondrous depths may unfold before our eyes. It is a window into His inner consciousness, from which we may read some of the thoughts that habitually filled His soul.

Christ’s self-obliteration. The motives that animated our Lord’s earthly ministry were all for the Father’s glory. He anticipated, in fact, those great words of the Apostle: “Of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever” (

Rom_11:36). In this we have an example, that we should follow His steps. We also must find our fresh springs in Him, as He found them in God; we also must be willing to forsake and surrender all things to Him, holding them as His stewards; we also must appropriate, moment by moment, His unsearchable wealth; If any glory should ever fall to our lot, we must lay it at His feet, and share it with those entrusted to our charge.

Christ’s self-assertion. Though our Lord obliterated His own interests, there were many things which were inalienable and of which He could not dispossess Himself. He knew that He had ever been One with God, and ever would be, that the love which had existed between the Father and Himself was to be shared by a multitude that no one could number. It is ours to know that we are loved with an unchanging love, that in Christ we are enriched into the measure of God’s unchangeable fullness. Oh, why do we not more deeply share the self-obliteration of Christ for others, that we may stand with Him on these glorious heights, beyond the reach of doubt and fear?

Christ’s self-realization. Listen to His joyous words: “I am glorified in them.” “I in them, Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one.” It is only as He sees His joy glowing in myriads of redeemed souls, and finds His love reproduced in their lives, that He is fulfilled and satisfied.

Prayer

We thank Thee, our heavenly Father, for the gift of Jesus our Lord to be our Saviour and Friend. Draw us into closer union with Him, that we may know Thee better through Him, and be conformed to Thine image, Thank you Lord Jesus that you LOVE me this much. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

THE ROLL OF FAITH

“Time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah… who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises.”– Heb_11:32-33 (R.V.).

FAITH IS the link between our souls and God. It is the capacity of entering into fellowship with the Eternal Love and Power, so that we are able to do all things with the sense that it is not we who do them, but God in us and with us. Faith is the open door and window towards God. In faith our heart goes out towards God in clinging dependence, and God comes in to strengthen us with His Divine fullness.
In human life, when we trust a man, we draw from him all that he is able to supply; in the Divine life, faith draws upon the resources of God, so that they flow freely into our nature, and the results of our life-work are immensely increased. Faith is possible amid a great deal of ignorance. It is clear that Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah were ignorant of the truth which the Gospel has revealed, and yet we learn that their work was largely due to their faith. Dispensations come and go; the revelation of God grows from less to more; but the attitude of faith is always the same–in the simple woman that touched the hem of Christ’s garment, as in St. John the beloved disciple, who had years of training in Christ’s School.
Faith achieves very different results. In some, it produces the heroic strength that turns the battle from the gate; in some, the passive suffering that endures the long ordeal of pain. Here, it turns the edge of the sword; there, shuts the mouths of lions. We know how electric force may be applied to all the various machinery of human life. In one place used for the beaming light, in another to drive the motor car, or to flash the message of music and speech from one continent to another. So Faith is able to appropriate God’s might for any purpose that lies within the compass of the life-task, whether active or passive. (See Heb_11:32-34, Heb_11:35-39.)
God bears a witness to all who trust Him. He never fails us in the hour of need. His response is the echo of our appeal. As soon as the uplifted arm of the tramcar touches the overhead wire, there is the spark, and the immediate entrance of electric power. So God answers faith.

PRAYER
O God, we are full of need, but we have learnt that Thou givest power to the faint and to those that have no right. Change our weakness into Thy strength; our ignorance into Thy wisdom; our changefulness into Thine everlasting constancy. AMEN.

Cure of the Lame Man

And a certain man, lame from his mother’s womb, was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple—Act_3:2

The Conversion of a Soul as Great a Miracle as Physical Healing

It is perhaps wrong to call this the first miracle after Pentecost, though it is generally thought of in that way. The boldness of the disciples after the fiery baptism, the conviction wrought upon the hearts of thousands, and the adding to the church, after one sermon, of a great multitude of men and women— all these, for such as have the eyes to see, are as truly miraculous and supernatural as the healing of the lame man. We are very apt to confine the word miracle to things that we can see and touch and hear. We forget that the conversion of a soul is as truly miraculous as the curing of an ailment. It takes the power of God to change a life as surely as to make a lame man leap. This miracle, then, was not the first after Pentecost. But it was so remarkable, so unexpected, so fully in line with the ministry of Jesus, that it made an instant and profound impression. Everyone of us knows the story well. There is not a more graphic chapter in the Bible. It will be best then to leave the scene alone and to find one or two lessons in the verses.

The Beautiful Gate

First, then, let us note the contrast between the beggar and the Beautiful Gate. The Beautiful Gate was of Corinthian brass. Like the wonderful gates of the Baptistery at Florence (that Michael Angelo said might have served for Paradise), it was adorned with perfect skill. It represented all that art could do. It was the masterpiece of the workmanship of man. When the sun glanced on it the people would cry “Beautiful,” until at last it got that as its name. Yet here beside it was a lame man begging,. He lay in the shadow of the finest art. He was lame and helpless, poor and needy, and the wonderful gate was not a yard away. Are there no contrasts like that in our great cities? Is there nothing like that in New York or in London? Beautiful gates opening on beautiful homes, and very near to them outcasts such as this?

Due to Illness, the Sufferer Was Near the Gate

Or we might view it quite another way: the Beautiful Gate was very near the sufferer. Of all the gates into the sanctuary, this gate was the finest and the fairest, and just because this man was poor and helpless he found himself beside that fairest gate. Had he been strong, he would never have been there. He would have been out in the streets earning his livelihood. Who knows but he might have been an idle rioter had he been vigorous and whole like other men. But he was lame— the hand of God had touched him. He had a heavy cross to carry every day. And just because he had that cross to bear, his life was spent close to the Beautiful Gate. Have you a lame brother or a weak sister? There is a beautiful gate very near that sufferer, too.

One Small Kindness Brings Great Results

Once more observe what the kindness of friends can do. It was friends who brought him to the spot where he was healed. The man was helpless. He could not move a step. He would have lain in his garret all his days, unaided. But the poor are very kind to the poor and every morning he got a friendly lift. You see they were doing far more than they ever thought of. We always do more than we think, when we kind. They carried their poor comrade to beg a few coins, but the are day came when thanks to them the man got healed. Did you ever give anyone a hand towards a gate beautiful? Did you ever bring any lonely neighbor to your beautiful home or to your beautiful church? It seems a small and simple thing to do, yet who can tell what the results shall be?

Our Choicest Opportunities Come Unsought

Again, this shines out clearly in the story, our choicest opportunities come unsought Peter and John were not bustling through Jerusalem saying, “I wonder if we can find anyone to help.” Peter and John were quietly going to pray as they had been taught to do long since at home. Had they neglected church that afternoon, they would have lost a great deal more than an hour’s worship. They would have lost the glorious opportunity of finding what an ascended Lord could do. The fact is, God takes us by surprise. Our great hours come when we never look for them. We are busy toiling at an ordinary task, when out of the infinite the angel comes. If you want to be famous, never think of fame. It you wish to be great, forget all about greatness. Like Peter and John, hold fast to common duty (even in the dull and sleepy afternoon), and some day you shall find your lame man at the gate.

Jesus Will Do More than We Expect

Then note, Christ gives us more than we expect. There is an overflow in all His gifts. One of the great words of the Bible is abundantly, and in Christ’s dealings there is great abundance This poor man at the gate looked for an alms. He would have been perfectly satisfied with a few coins. But instead of a few coins, he got health and strength, and that is the generous way of Jesus Christ. The man who was let down through the cottage roof got his sins forgiven as well as his palsy healed. The prodigal would have lived contentedly in the kitchen; but instead of that he had the robe and ring. One thing let every one of us be sure of Jesus will do more for us than we expect, and none knew that better than the lame man here when he begged for a little coin and got a cure.

Emotion Will Become Strength of Character

Then, lastly, it is quite natural to leap at first. The man went walking and leaping praising God. It takes a little time to find one’s feet after a great experience like that. Give the man ten or twenty years of city life, and he will walk as sedately as any other citizen. First they shall mount up with wings as eagles, says the prophet; then they shall run (as children always do); and then, when time and experience have wrought their sobering work, they shall walk and (thank God) shall not faint. Do not object to preliminary leaping Do not be hard on a little wild enthusiasm in the man who has really been healed by Christ. Time will convert that spiritual electricity into a driving and illuminating power Emotion will be translated by the years into the strength of action and of character.

Prayer

Lord Jesus Thank you for what you are about to do in our lives. Thank you for what you are doing, Thank holy spirit for what have done and what you will ever more do for those who love. For they have chosen the best course of life. In Jesus’ name, thank you Father.

David Urging You & I To Trust In The Lord

Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.  (Psa_37:3-5)

Those who live by grace trust in God to work in their lives. We can see David’s heart to live this way, as he urges others to trust in the Lord. “Trust in the LORD . . . feed on His faithfulness . . . Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him.”

God wants His people to be characterized by goodness. Yet, David affirmed that no one does good on their own. “There is none who does good, No, not one” (

Psa_14:3). So, for anyone to do good, the Lord must do a good work in and through their lives. Those who place their trust in the Lord find the will and the strength to do that which is good in the sight of God. “Trust in the LORD, and do good.” To be faithful in doing good, God’s people must be nurtured in God’s faithfulness. “Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.” Those who place their trust in a faithful God become increasingly faithful servants of God. 

Of course, the work of God in lives is centered in the heart of man. David prayed for an undivided heart of reverential trust toward the Lord. “Unite my heart to fear Your name” (

Psa_86:11). Everyone who is willing to let the Lord be the captivating joy of their inner man will have God Himself planting godly desires within their heart. “Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” These implanted desires are then worked outward unto godly living. 

As this godliness is developing, we desire that the Lord’s path for our lives would become increasingly evident. We have a growing interest in walking in the ways of the Lord. David had such a desire in his heart toward the Lord. “Show me Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me” (

Psa_25:4-5). The Lord teaches those who are willing to entrust their lives into His directing. “Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.” Those who do place their lives under the sovereign care of God enjoy the great privilege of having the Lord God almighty governing the very steps that they take day by day.

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, I want to trust in You that I might see Your goodness developing in my life. I want to have You as the ultimate joy of my heart that You might have free rein to plant Your desires deep within me. I want to entrust my life into Your hands that I might have You controlling my daily path, in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord, Amen.