Your Suffering

Posted by Jerry White on Mar 29, 2012

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons [and daughters].

Hebrews 12:7 ESV

~~~

“Christian endurance…means living lovingly, joyfully, peacefully, and patiently under conditions that we wish were different. There is an umbrella-word that we use to cover the countless variety of situations that have this character, namely the word suffering. Suffering is in the mind of the sufferer, and may conveniently be defined as getting what you do not want while wanting what you do not get. This definition covers all forms of loss, hurt, pain, grief, and weakness—all experiences of rejection, injustice, disappointment, discouragement, frustration, and being the butt of others’ hatred, ridicule, cruelty, callousness, anger, and ill-treatment—plus all exposure to foul, sickening, and nightmarish things that make you want to scream, run, or even die. Suffering in some shape or form is everyone’s lot from earliest days, though some know far more of it than others….

The way to deal with suffering in any form—from the mildest irritation to the mental and physical agony that so absorbs and overwhelms you that you groan and scream—is to offer it to the God who has permitted it, telling him to make what he wills of it, and of us through it. Contemplative prayer is often pictured as the loving look Godward, without at that moment either spoken words or active thoughts. It is contemplative prayer also when the Godward look is submissive, at a time when all power of thought and speech has been swamped by pain. Jesus on the cross is the model for this. The Father, we learn, sanctified Jesus’ suffering as a ransom-price for us (Mt 20:28; 1 Cor 6:20), as our example of innocence victimized (1Pt 2:20-23), and as the experience of our forerunner learning in practice what obedience costs (Heb 5:8). In a similar way the Father now sanctifies our suffering, as we have seen, for the ripening and refining of our Christian character, for a demonstration in us of the reality of supernatural empowering, and for our actual fruitfulness in serving others. One facet of Jesus’ holiness was his willingness to suffer all kinds of pain for his Father’s glory and others’ good. One facet of holiness in Jesus’ disciples is willingness to be led along a parallel path.”

J. I. Packer

Rediscovering Holiness, 249, 265-266




Contentment

Posted by Jerry White on Mar 25, 2012

Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment.

1 Timothy 6:6 ESV

~~~

“Contentment is one of the most distinguishing traits of the godly person, because a godly person has his heart focused on God rather than on possessions or position or power. As William Hendriksen has observed so well, ‘The truly godly person is not interested in becoming rich. He possesses inner resources which furnish riches far beyond that which earth can offer.’

The words that are rendered as ‘content’ or ‘contentment’ in our English Bibles actually mean ‘sufficiency.’ The same word translated ‘contentment’ in 1 Timothy 6:6 is rendered ‘all that you need’ or ‘all sufficiency’ in 2 Corinthians 9:8. When God said to Paul, ‘my grace is sufficient for you’ (2 Corinthians 12:9), he used the same word translated elsewhere as ‘be content’ (see Luke 3:14, 1 Timothy 6:8, Hebrews 13:5).

The contented person experiences the sufficiency of God’s provision for his needs and the sufficiency of God’s grace for his circumstances. He believes God will indeed meet all his material needs and that he will work in all his circumstances for his good. That is why Paul could say, ‘godliness with contentment is great gain.’ The godly person has found what the greedy or envious or discontented person always searches for but never finds. He has found satisfaction and rest in his soul.

The idea of contentment in the Bible is most often associated with possessions or money, but there are other areas of life in which we need to be content. After possessions, probably the most common need is to learn contentment with our place in society or in the body of Christ. Still a third area that demands our practice of contentment is the providence of God in such varied circumstances as physical limitations and afflictions, privations, unpleasant neighbors or living situations, trials, and even persecutions. These circumstances often cause the natural man to murmur and complain and to question the goodness of God in his life.

The very first temptation in the history of mankind was the temptation to be discontent. God had provided for Adam and Eve far beyond all they needed. Genesis states, ‘God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.’ God withheld only one tree from Adam and Eve as a test of their obedience to him. And Satan used that one tree to tempt Eve by sowing seeds of discontent in her heart. He questioned the goodness of God to Eve, and that is exactly what discontent is—a questioning of the goodness of God.”

Jerry Bridges

The Practice of Godliness, 105-107




Posted in Contentment

The Humility Of God

Posted by Jerry White on Mar 22, 2012

And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him.

Matthew 3:16 ESV

~~~

What a suggestive picture we have here—the dove descending upon the Lamb and resting herself upon Him! The Lamb and the Dove are surely the gentlest of all God’s creatures. The Lamb speaks of meekness and submissiveness and the Dove speaks of peace (what more peaceful sound than the cooing of a dove on a summer day). Surely this shows us that the heart of Deity is humility. When the eternal God chose to reveal Himself in His Son, He gave Him the name of the Lamb; and when it was necessary for the Holy Spirit to come into the world, He was revealed under the emblem of the Dove. Is it not obvious, then, that the reason why we have to be humble in order to walk with God is not merely because God is so big and we so little, that humility befits such little creatures—but because God is so humble?

The main lesson of this incident is that the Holy Spirit, as the Dove, could only come upon and remain upon the Lord Jesus because He was the Lamb. Had the Lord Jesus had any other disposition than that of the Lamb—humility, submissiveness and self-surrender—the Dove could never have rested on Him. Being herself so gentle, she would have been frightened away had not Jesus been meek and lowly in heart.

Here, then we have pictured for us the condition upon which the same Holy Spirit can come upon us and abide upon us. The Dove can only abide upon us as we are willing to be as the Lamb. How impossible that He should rest upon us while self is unbroken! The manifestations of the unbroken self are the direct opposite of the gentleness of the Dove. Read again in Galatians 5 the ninefold fruit of the Spirit (‘love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control’) with which the Dove longs to fill us! Then contrast it with the ugly works of the flesh (the N.T. name for the unbroken self) in the same chapter. It is the contrast of the snarling wolf with the gentle dove!”

Roy Hession

The Calvary Road, 37-38




Posted in Humility

Humble Dependence

Posted by Jerry White on Mar 19, 2012

“The meekness and lowliness of Jesus eliminated self-sufficiency from His life. The meek and lowly Jesus was dependent. Though conscious of eternal Sonship He accepted a position of subordination to His Father and lived in humble dependence upon Him. He made statements like this: ‘I can of mine own self do nothing. The words that I speak, I speak not of myself. The Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works.’ If Jesus knew nothing of self-interest, neither did He of self-sufficiency. He was dependent.

That was an important feature of our Lord’s adjustment to life. He went confidently to every task in an attitude of dependence upon God, His Father. Such an adjustment inevitably lightened life’s burden for Him, for dependence is always restful. When, by love and trust, we are able to place ourselves and our affairs in the hands of one who is entirely dependable, we at once find relief from the burden of responsibility. How much more restful is dependence when it leans upon the strength and loving care of the Almighty Father. It proved to be so in the case of the Lord Jesus: So, also, it will prove to be in our case.

Let me tell you what I find when I seek to learn from Jesus how to live dependently. I find that He wants me to treat God very simply. He Himself did so. He talked to His Father naturally. When anything occurred that prompted Him to prayer, He at once raised His eyes towards heaven using words of the simplest kind, such as these: ‘Father, glorify Thy name,’ ‘Father, all things are possible to Thee,’ Father, the hour is come,’ ‘Father, forgive them.’ I find, too, that men who have been long in the School of Jesus become simpler and simpler in their attitude towards the Heavenly Father. I find that they become as little children. Late in life Daniel Webster, as he prepared for sleep, used to offer the child’s prayer beginning:

Now I lay me down to sleep;

I pray Thee, Lord, my soul to keep.”

G. H. Morling (1893-1973)

The Quest For Serenity, 44-46 [1965 edition]

~~~

Whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Hebrews 4:10 ESV




Posted in Faith

Without Strength

Posted by Jerry White on Mar 15, 2012

I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.

Romans 7:18-19 ESV

~~~

“If souls would be honest, many would confess that this has been their condition for years—a condition which brings no glory to God and no happiness to themselves.

What is the cause? Simply the mistake of thinking that all depends upon their own efforts instead of accepting the truth that they are utterly without strength, and that, therefore, everything depends upon God.

You have fought with your foes again and again with undaunted courage, but you have never gained the victory. Pause, for a moment, and ask this simple question, What am I to learn by this sorrowful experiment?…It is that the enemy is too strong for you, and that you cannot cope with his power…

If you continue upon the present line of effort it is only to court defeat in the future as in the past. Your case is, as far as your own strength is concerned, hopeless.

If, on the other hand, you come to the end of your own strength, it will bring rest to your soul, because you will understand that your help, strength and succor come from Christ and not from yourselves.

Oh, the unspeakable blessedness of such a discovery! Ceasing henceforward to struggle, you will know what it is to rest in Another, and to take up the song of David, ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation.’”

Edward Dennett (1831-1914, England)

His Victorious Indwelling, 99

Nick Harrison, Editor

~~~

Our journey with Christ uncovers our helplessness apart from Him. With all sincerity we make diligent effort to be and to do what we think we should, but in time we learn through repeated failures that we must depend on Him for everything—everything.




Meditating Before God

Posted by Jerry White on Mar 11, 2012

“How can we turn our knowledge about God into knowledge of God? The rule for doing this is demanding, but simple. It is that we turn each truth that we learn about God into matter for meditation before God, leading to prayer and praise to God.

We have some idea, perhaps, what prayer is, but what is meditation? Well may we ask; for meditation is a lost art today, and Christian people suffer grievously from their ignorance of the practice. Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God. It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God. Its purpose is to clear one’s mental and spiritual vision of God, and to let His truth make its full and proper impact on one’s mind and heart. It is a matter of talking to oneself about God and oneself, reasoning oneself out of moods of doubt and unbelief into a clear apprehension of God’s power and grace. Its effect is ever to humble us, as we contemplate God’s greatness and glory, and our own littleness and sinfulness, and to encourage and reassure us—‘comfort’ us, in the old, strong, Bible sense of the word—as we contemplate the unsearchable riches of divine mercy displayed in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

J. I. Packer

Knowing God, 18-19 [1973 edition]

~~~

The spiritual disciplines necessary for spiritual vitality and growth are often crowded out by the rush, noise and distractions of modern society. Our attention becomes occupied with this present world that is at best temporary while robbing us of investing necessary time in those matters that will count for eternity. The Lord Jesus warned us about “the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things” (Mark 4:19). The Lord Jesus as an adult worked as a carpenter and cared for His widowed mother and His brothers and sisters until he was thirty. Then by His Father’s direction He entered into a very demanding ministry for three years. He well understands the demands you face, but He also knows about maintaining what is essential for spiritual health. Gladly He will strengthen and guide you to do as He did by the Holy Spirit. Trust Him.




Posted in Meditation

A New Attitude

Posted by Jerry White on Mar 8, 2012

“Have you ever noticed that when you are with people who accept you, you are free? You like being with them, and it’s easy to love them. So it should be with the heavenly Father. Approach him with anticipation and the glad assurance of his measureless, endless love.

Another attitude adjustment was very helpful to me. The truth that brought liberation was this: God is waiting for fellowship with me. Because there had been times when I ‘felt’ God was present and others when I did not, I measured the success of my quiet time by my feelings. I desired to feel God’s presence in order to know he was there. One day I read Jesus’ words, ‘your Father knows what you need before you ask him’ (Matthew 6:6-8). It was a thought that especially struck me. The Holy Spirit used that truth to illumine my heart. My feelings had nothing to do with what is real and true. I could come to him with that assurance, trusting him and believing his Word. He is present, attentive, and waiting for me in love. Even as I write, that reality wells up within, and I cannot find words to express the grandeur or the wonder of the awesome privilege that God has given us.

Yet another attitude change had a profound impact upon my fellowship with God. It did not come through some dramatic event but from a quiet inward shift in perspective. For years I had entered upon my devotions desiring that they be meaningful to me. I read the Bible searching for new truth and understanding. I prayed, but it was often difficult. Sometimes there was the blessing of his presence, but frequently my devotions seemed just empty routine. It was as if God were in another galaxy, even though I believed in his omnipresence.

One night [1973] the thought came, tomorrow I will spend my quiet time giving pleasure to God, not to get but to give him blessing. I awoke before my alarm went off and eagerly went to my prayer place. What a morning that turned out to be! I was rewarded as never before. No longer seeking personal fulfillment, I was caught up in the desire to please the Lord. My focus had changed from ‘my desire’ to ‘his pleasure.’ The love of the Holy Spirit in me started flowing toward him. I began to learn what it means to commune with him as a person.”

JRW

Fellowship With God, 25-27




Worship—A Necessity

Posted by Jerry White on Mar 4, 2012

“I came across the necessity to worship, as the man in the world would say, ‘by accident’; but it was by God’s appointment. In the early days of my ministry in Australia it was my habit when in the city of Sydney to meet with a number of brothers in Christ for a day of prayer. We would begin about eight o’clock in the morning; and because the afternoon was usually a time of tiredness, we would pray around in our circle. When it came my turn one afternoon, I was very tired and began to quote Psalm 19:1-3:

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.

Suddenly I was quickened by the Spirit of God, and began to pour out my heart in prayer. I had not prayed like that all day. I had offered many prayers, but this was different. When I finished and the others were praying, I did a lot of thinking and waiting upon the Lord. What had I done? I had begun with these verses worshipping God from the Psalms; so the next time around I did the same thing, and the same thing happened. I was quickened by the Spirit of God and there was that outpouring in intercession. I was borne along by the Spirit of God. I knew then that I had been introduced to a priceless key, one that would introduce me to hitherto undreamed of heights of fellowship with my Lord.

The best time, of course, to worship is in the morning, in that time which we call a quiet time. But what is a quiet time to you? To me as a young Christian, in the early years, it was anything but a relaxed, meditative time. In fact it was a time when I had to get through a certain study of the Word of God and certain prayers that I had to pray from my prayer list. This, my quiet time, was not really a quiet time. It was a study time, a time for intercession, a time for petition.”

Joseph S. Carroll

How To Worship Jesus Christ, 5-6

~~~

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.

I Chronicles 16:29 ESV




Posted in Worship

Completely Dependent

Posted by Jerry White on Mar 1, 2012

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing.”

John 5:19 ESV

~~~

“When Jesus tells us to become like little children, he isn’t telling us to do anything he isn’t already doing. Jesus is, without question, the most dependent human being who ever lived. Because he can’t do life on his own, he prays. And he prays. And He prays. Luke tells us that Jesus ‘would withdraw to desolate places and pray.’ (5:16).

When Jesus tells us that ‘apart from me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5), he is inviting us into his life of living dependence on his heavenly Father. When Jesus tells us to believe, he isn’t asking us to work up some spiritual energy. He is telling us to realize that, like him, we don’t have the resources to do life. When you know that you (like Jesus) can’t do life on your own, then prayer makes complete sense.”

Paul E. Miller

A Praying Life, 45

~~~

If you will walk with God then two fundamental lessons must be thoroughly learned through experience: You are completely helpless to please God apart from Christ’s enabling; Christ alone can be your sufficiency. When you know well your total inadequacy, and in child-like faith trust Him in His complete adequacy, then you will experience what He alone can do in you and through you. The biggest hindrance to overflowing with the Holy Spirit is dependence on self’s ability. We must come to the end of our self-confidence and realize that we are desperate for Christ to do what He alone can do. With this knowledge chiseled into your heart, prayer without ceasing will not be a discipline you practice but will become the breathing of your soul. It will spontaneously arise from your spirit because you are profoundly aware of your bankruptcy and equally aware of His full provision through the Spirit of Christ who lives within you. You will consciously and deliberately depend on Him to be who He is through your unique personality. It will be, “no longer I who live, but Christ” (Gal. 2:20).