“And after the earthquake a fire; and after the fire a sound of gentle stillness” (1Ki_19:12, RV margin.)
A soul, who made rapid progress in her understanding of the Lord, was once asked the secret of her easy advancement. She replied tersely, “Mind the checks.” And the reason that many of us do not know and better understand Him is, we do not give heed to His gentle checks, His delicate restraints and constraints. His is a still, small voice. A still voice can hardly be heard. It must be felt. A steady, gentle pressure upon the heart and mind like the touch of a morning zephyr to your face. A small voice, quietly, almost timidly spoken in your heart, but if heeded growing noiselessly clearer to your inner ear. His voice is for the ear of love, and love is intent upon hearing even faintest whispers. There comes a time also when love ceases to speak if not responded to, or believed in. He is love, and if you would know Him and His voice, give constant ear to His gentle touches. In conversation, when about to utter some word, give heed to that gentle voice, mind the check and refrain from speech. When about to pursue some course that seems all clear and right and there comes quietly to your spirit a suggestion that has in it the force almost of a conviction, give heed, even if changed plans seem highest folly from standpoint of human wisdom. Learn also to wait on God for the unfolding of His will. Let God form your plans about everything in your mind and heart and then let Him execute them. Do not possess any wisdom of your own. For many times His execution will seem so contradictory to the plan He gave. He will seem to work against Himself. Simply listen, obey and trust God even when it seems highest folly so to do. He will in the end make “all things work together,” but so many times in the first appearance of the outworking of His plans,
“In His own world He is content
To play a losing game.”
So if you would know His voice, never consider results or possible effects. Obey even when He asks you to move in the dark. He Himself will be gloriously light in you. And there will spring up rapidly in your heart an acquaintanceship and a fellowship with God which will be overpowering in itself to hold you and Him together, even in severest testings and under most terrible pressures.-- Way of Faith
CHOOSING GOD’S CHOICE
God has his plan for each life. He needs us in his plan for the world. He asks for the use of our lives. He proposes a working agreement. It’s something quite apart from salvation. It’s the use of our lives in his great purpose in the earth. And the one condition that he requires is that we follow fully, not only in our choice of right, but in our choice of his plans
Contrasting Results for Self-Exaltation and Humility
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men” . . . everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luk_18:11, Luk_18:14)
The importance of Jesus’ teaching in our present verse can be seen in its being repeated on various occasions (Mat_23:12 and Luk_14:11). The instruction sets forth the universal inevitability of contrasting results for self-exaltation and humility. “Everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
This particular proclamation of the message was given in a parable that warns against self-righteousness and encourages humility. “He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others” (Luk_18:9). The contrasting examples in the parable are the prayers of a self-assured religious leader and a repentant publican. “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector” (Luke 18:10). When the self-righteous Pharisee prayed, he was actually having a personal dialogue with himself, even though he vainly addressed his prayer to God?! “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself” (Luk_18:11). He then appears to begin his prayer in a biblical manner, with an expression of thanksgiving. “In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Php_4:6). However, his gratitude was based upon the ungodly assumption that he was innately better than others, particularly, this nearby publican. “God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector” (Luk_18:11). Then, he proceeded to elaborate upon his own virtues by reviewing his religious performance, which obviously seemed very impressive to him. “I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess” (Luk_18:12).
This self-righteous Pharisee was so assured of his good standing with God. Yet, he was measuring himself by his own eyes and in comparison to others. The scriptures that he would claim as his guide condemned such self-righteousness. “There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, yet is not washed from its filthiness” (Pro_30:12). Although man may have been impressed with his external behavior, God saw the abomination of his godless heart. “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God” (Luk_16:15).
Dear Lord, I am so grateful that the blood of Christ washes away the times when I have talked or thought—or, even prayed—like this self-righteousness Pharisee. Help me to humbly embrace Your perspective, not man’s, in Jesus name, Amen.
He Called for Lights
Then he (the Philippian jailer) called for lights (R. V.), and sprang in, and came trembling — Act_16:29
The Human Heart Protests Darkness
That call of the Philippian jailer is the deepest call of every human heart. It distinguishes man from the dumb beasts. Give a beast its food, it is content. It asks for nothing more; it never questions. It never tries to understand its instincts. Its farthest horizon is present satisfaction. But man is always calling out for light. What is history but the call for light? What is science but the call for light? What is philosophy, with all its groping, but the call for light in the darkness of the prison? On every problem, on every unsolved riddle, on every mystery of earth and heaven, we call for light like the Philippian jailer. Why do men risk their life to reach the Poles— what lures them to the top of Everest— why does the thought of a place unexplored draw men as a magnet draws the steel? It is the human heart protesting against darkness as something alien from its deepest being It is the call for light of the Philippian jailer.
The Call for Light Came After the Earthquake
It should be noted that this call for light came after the moment of the earthquake. The jailer called when everything was shaken. At midnight, generally, men are content with darkness. They are weary; their craving is for sleep. Look down the street when the clock is striking midnight, and well-nigh every window is in shadow. But let there come the rumbling of explosion, or the cry of fire, or uproar in the street, and lights are flashing from a hundred windows. So was it in the jail at Philippi. On ordinary midnight’s no one wanted lights. It was when things were shaken, and solid walls were rocking, that the Philippian jailer called for light. And never is the call for light so urgent in the lives of men and in the tale of history as when familiar things begin to reel and tremble. Do you remember the last great war? It was an earthquake worse than that of Philippi. It broke suddenly into our ordered life like some terrific catastrophe of nature. And instantly, from a thousand human hearts, as from the lips of the Philippian jailer, there was a call for light. Why did God permit the war? Could He be sovereign and suffer this to be? Was progress a chimera? Was Christianity only a veneer? Such questions were scarcely vital questions in the quiet and settled years before the war—but after the earthquake came the call for light.
The Call for Light Comes at the Time of Death
You will remember, too, this call was made by a man who was within an inch of death. A moment before he was on the point of suicide. Death was very near to him that night. He had been standing on the margin of the grave. He thought to shuffle off this mortal coil. He faced the grim extremity. And it is when death is near and knocking at the door, or when the open sepulchre is at our feet, that we call for light like the Philippian jailer. What mother did not call for light when her dear boy went off to war? What father did not call for light when his beautiful child was lying in its coffin? More than anything— more than the heaviest cross or the bitterest reverse of fortune— it is the fact of death that inspires the call for light. What does it mean, this silence and this darkness—this borne from which no traveler returns? Are powers given never to be perfected? Are we never to look on our dear dead again? The ceaseless questionings, the dim surmising; these, of which dumb animals are ignorant, are the crown and title of humanity. We are great because we call for light. We are better than dumb, driven cattle. We want to know; we yearn to understand; we crave to penetrate the mystery. If from darkness we came, darkness would content us. Gloom and shadow would be our native air. But God has made us, and we call for light, and so tell of the Light which is our home.
The Servant Who Brings Light
I close by noting in this thrilling story that when the jailer called for lights, he got them. Cannot you see them flashing through the corridors? Who brought them we are not informed. It is one of the ministries of nameless people. Nameless people may do far more good than those whose names come ringing down the centuries. He called, and he was given. He called, and in the darkness torches flashed. He called, and servants heard the call and answered. Now, did you never hear of One who took on Him the form of a servant? Who willingly came down into our prison-house and was among the prisoners as one who serveth? And do you think, if these Philippian servants heard the call for lights and flashed their torches, that this Servant would not do the same? He flashed His torch on suffering He flashed His torch on sin. He flashed it on the hidden heart of God and on the age-long mystery of death. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid; in My Father’s house are many mansions. He who has that light wants no other light. It casts its radiance on the murkiest passages. He may still tremble like the Philippian jailer, but in that light he has the power to spring. He has light for duty and for disappointment now; light on the heart of God and on the grave. “I am the Light of the world; he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness.”
The Trouble with a Warped Head (Part 1)
“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (Jas_1:19-20, NIV)
Several years ago we bought a Chevy Astro Van; with captain’s seat from front to back, tinted windows, and a cassette deck. Belinda and I, along with our four kids, were stylin’ in the Mile High City.
Our second car, which I drove, was a Volkswagen squareback; custom-painted a metallic cobalt blue, and fitted with silver tinted windows. Yeah, that’s right — it was cool.
But anyway — one day as we are cruising in our Astro I noticed the meter indicating that the engine was running hot. Hmmmm. What could that mean, I wondered. Then it began to lose power, and felt like it was lurching along the road — all the while continuing to over-heat even more. Then, white smoke started billowing out everywhere — and I managed to make it to the dealership just in the nick of time.
And for the record — I made a scene once I got there. In fact, you might say that there was as much steam coming out of my ears as was previously coming out of my van. I was angry — and it was all their fault!
They rolled the van into the bay and did a full exam, and brought the news to me in the waiting room — where I was drinking car dealership coffee and scanning old copies of Reader’s Digest for some news jokes to use on Sunday morning.
“Mr. Ryle,” the grease-stained fellow said with a polite smile, “You have a warped head.”
I don’t really remember much else of what he said, or what we did to get it all corrected — for in that otherwise ordinary moment, the Lord used the man’s comment to speak to me about my problem with anger.
I’ll tell you what He said tomorrow.
Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" — Heb_1:14
Angels are the unseen attendants of the saints of God; they bear us up in their hands, lest we dash our foot against a stone. Loyalty to their Lord leads them to take a deep interest in the children of his love; they rejoice over the return of the prodigal to his father’s house below, and they welcome the advent of the believer to the King’s palace above. In olden times the sons of God were favoured with their visible appearance, and at this day, although unseen by us, heaven is still opened, and the angels of God ascend and descend upon the Son of man, that they may visit the heirs of salvation. Seraphim still fly with live coals from off the altar to touch the lips of men greatly beloved. If our eyes could be opened, we should see horses of fire and chariots of fire about the servants of the Lord; for we have come to an innumerable company of angels, who are all watchers and protectors of the seed-royal. Spenser’s line is no poetic fiction, where he sings-
“How oft do they with golden pinions cleave
The flitting skies, like flying pursuivant
Against foul fiends to aid us militant!”
To what dignity are the chosen elevated when the brilliant courtiers of heaven become their willing servitors! Into what communion are we raised since we have intercourse with spotless celestials! How well are we defended since all the twenty-thousand chariots of God are armed for our deliverance! To whom do we owe all this? Let the Lord Jesus Christ be for ever endeared to us, for through him we are made to sit in heavenly places far above principalities and powers. He it is whose camp is round about them that fear him; he is the true Michael whose foot is upon the dragon. All hail, Jesus! thou Angel of Jehovah’s presence, to thee this family offers its morning vows.
“He himself hath suffered being tempted.” — Heb_2:18
It is a common-place thought, and yet it tastes like nectar to the weary heart-Jesus was tempted as I am. You have heard that truth many times: have you grasped it? He was tempted to the very same sins into which we fall. Do not dissociate Jesus from our common manhood. It is a dark room which you are going through, but Jesus went through it before. It is a sharp fight which you are waging, but Jesus has stood foot to foot with the same enemy. Let us be of good cheer, Christ has borne the load before us, and the blood-stained footsteps of the King of glory may be seen along the road which we traverse at this hour. There is something sweeter yet-Jesus was tempted, but Jesus never sinned. Then, my soul, it is not needful for thee to sin, for Jesus was a man, and if one man endured these temptations and sinned not, then in his power his members may also cease from sin. Some beginners in the divine life think that they cannot be tempted without sinning, but they mistake; there is no sin in being tempted, but there is sin in yielding to temptation. Herein is comfort for the sorely tempted ones. There is still more to encourage them if they reflect that the Lord Jesus, though tempted, gloriously triumphed, and as he overcame, so surely shall his followers also, for Jesus is the representative man for his people; the Head has triumphed, and the members share in the victory. Fears are needless, for Christ is with us, armed for our defence. Our place of safety is the bosom of the Saviour. Perhaps we are tempted just now, in order to drive us nearer to him. Blessed be any wind that blows us into the port of our Saviour’s love! Happy wounds, which make us seek the beloved Physician. Ye tempted ones, come to your tempted Saviour, for he can be touched with a feeling of your infirmities, and will succour every tried and tempted one.