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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Quote of the Day

"How happy is that state of a believer, to have a sure promise that all shall work together for good in the end, and, in the mean time sure refuge where to find present relief, support, and protection! How comfortable is it, when trouble is near, to know that the Lord is near likewise, and to commit ourselves and all our cares simply to Him, believing that His eye is upon us, and His ear open to our prayers. Under the conduct of such a Shepherd, we need not fear, although we are called to pass through fire and water, through the valley of the shadow of death, He will be with us, and will show Himself mighty on our behalf!"
                         - John Newton

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Quote of the Day

"Hide yourself under the shadow of His wings; rely upon His care and power; look upon Him as a physician who has graciously undertaken to heal your soul of the worst of sicknesses, sin. Yield to His prescriptions, and fight against every thought that would represent it as desirable to be permitted to choose for yourself. When you cannot see your way, be satisfied that He is your leader. When your spirit is overwhelmed within you, He knows your path: He will not leave you to sink. He has appointed seasons of refreshment, and you shall find that He does not forget you. Above all, keep close to the throne of grace. 
I pray that you may be enabled more and more to honor the Lord, by believing His promise: for He is not like a man, that should fail or change, or be prevented by anything unforeseen from doing what He has said...
Here is the mercy - that His ways are above ours as the heavens are higher than the earth. Though we are foolish and unbelieving, He remains faithful; He will not deny Himself. I recommend to you especially that promise of God, which is so comprehensive that it takes in all our concernments, I mean, that all things shall work together for good. How hard it is to believe, that not only those things which are grievous to the flesh, but even those which draw forth our corruptions and discover to us what is in our hearts, and fill us with guilt and shame, should in the issue work for our good! Yet the Lord has said it! All your pains and trials, all that befalls you in your own person, or that affects you upon the account of others, shall in the end prove to your advantage. And your peace does not depend upon any change of circumstances which may appear desirable, but in having your will bowed to the Lord's will, and made willing to submit all to His disposal and management."
                         - John Newton

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Grace To Fail

 I was up at 3am the other morning and couldn't sleep. I've battled a health issue for several months that makes it hard for me to sleep through the night sometimes, so I took the opportunity to pray and read a little. 
 Lately, I've been living in the writings of John Newton - his words give me permission to be okay with not being okay and to accept all my failings as opportunities for God's grace to drive deeper in my life. I'm currently working through a book that highlights this truth called Extravagant Grace by Barbara Duguid. My eyes fell the other night on a paragraph with a powerful (and convicting) statement. As she details a struggle she'd be having with sin in her life, she talks about a conversation she had with her counselor, Margaret: 

"I sat in Margaret's home and poured out my heart to her. I went on for quite awhile as she listened compassionately and jotted down some notes. After our first session ended, she looked calmly into my puffy, reddened eyes and gave me a peculiar kind of hope. She said, 'Barbara, God is going to pour His grace into you. He will either give you grace to change and to grow in these two areas of great struggle with sin, or He will give you the grace to stay the same and survive your failure." 

While I embrace the fact that I know God wants us all to be improving in our lives and facing our fears and weaknesses with faith and dependence upon Him, I am also beginning to realize that much of our discontentment in our lives stems from the simple fact that we think we should be further along than we are. We cannot live with ourselves. We cannot be okay with the fact that we are not okay. And we just can't ever seem to entertain the thought that God sometimes doesn't fix us completely so that we'll have greater reminders of our need for His grace. We carry with us the remnants of a fallen sin nature that, while it doesn't rule us eternally anymore, still rears its ugliness and keeps us in a constant state of humility. But perhaps the key to combatting such failures in the spiritual life isn't trying harder, doing more, aiming higher, and striving for ultimate victory but rather in simply getting close to ourselves and realizing that we can't become who we ideally would like to be. "The model Christian" doesn't actually exist. And the only way we can find ourselves further along than before is by the gradual disciplines of a gracious God who scourges for our benefit and allows us to be tried and tested for our growth and His eventual glory. 
 So...this week...whatever it is you're struggling with, know this: God may or may not remove that thing in your life you've been battling, but He will give you grace either way. Grace to change, or grace to deal with ongoing failure. But regardless of how He sees fit to deal with your failings, be comforted that His forgiveness will forever run full and free on your behalf!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Quote of the Day

"Whatever believers may be separated from, enough remains. None can take Christ from the believer: none can take the believer from Him; and that is enough." 
                    - Matthew Henry

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Quote of the Day

"If we desire our faith to be strengthened, we should not shrink from opportunities where our faith may be tried, and therefore, through trial, be strengthened."
                          - George Mueller 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Quote of the Day

"The innumerable comforts and mercies with which He enriches even those we call darker days, are sufficient proofs that He does not willingly grieve us: but when He sees a need-be for chastisement, He will not withhold it because He loves us; on the contrary, that is the very reason why He afflicts."
                           - John Newton

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Counting the Cost

 It's been a difficult few weeks. So much has happened recently that has led me to greater depths of knowledge over my own need, sorrow for the brevity of human life, deeper conviction that Christ is the cure for all our soul's diseases - if only we will let Him mend us in all our broken pieces. As a result of what's gone on lately, I have come to a place of realizing that the cost is great when you surrender to the leading of God. He will take you places where you will often find yourself uncomfortable, lonely, struggling, afraid, and fearful as your human heart fights His direction. You may even find yourself abandoned by others who do not desire the same holiness as you. But with every adversity He allows, He brings with it a fuller understanding of who we are and why He is always the answer. Our place isn't to question Him, it's to obey - willingly, and with open hands. That's so easier said than done. I love my comfort zone, and I do everything I can to stay there. But that's not what following Jesus is about. It's stepping out in faith and facing your biggest uncertainties, your greatest fears, with the assurance and peace that only He can give. His paths will likely lead you to situations that cross your own desires...but whoever said that following Him was about us and our happiness anyway?!? 
 I don't know what He's asking you to let go of or what change is ahead for you, but I do want to encourage you that in your wilderness moments, you will see God. If you keep your heart open, He will show you hidden blessings and miracles that you will miss otherwise. Following Him won't always be the most pleasant thing because you'll find yourself treading difficult paths for His sake. But don't run from His plan simply because you don't like it...run toward it because you'll discover it was the best plan all along!