Posted by Jerry White on Jun 20, 2016
Grief. Loneliness. Suffering. Rejection. Betrayal. Disability. False accusation. Pain comes to us through many avenues, but for God’s children it only comes with the Father’s permission. Whatever comes has God’s fingerprints on it because He is molding His chosen vessel for His eternal glory. The clay on the potter’s wheel must be kneaded, pressed, shaped and refined for His use. It is painful—sometimes deeply painful—but the sufferings now are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed to us in the final day (Romans 8:18). Self wants to focus on the pain. One’s heart must focus on the Potter who is molding the clay with tenderest love. In the midst of pain God’s promises are our anchor, His love our comfort, and His faithfulness our hope. These are steadfast, true, and sure.
B. J. Hoff wrote:
Pain, you are a terrible deceiver…
parading yourself as an angry foe,
pretending to be unyielding.
You shadow me, hound me, taunt me,
as if by your mere presence
you could conquer my spirit.
But I have learned to measure
your ultimate strength,
not by how much hurt you can inflict,
but by how much of God’s grace
you call forth.
not by how deeply you can wound,
but by how frail you really are
when put in perspective by His power…
And I have learned at last,
to believe that, even at your worst,
you can never outlast a promise of God…
you can never outlive his love.
Posted by Jerry White on Nov 2, 2015
This is from our first born grandchild. It is his honest confession while facing a difficult challenge. It is God fashioning one of His servants to understand what is truly important. Each of us must learn these core truths through our own struggles. Even the Lord Jesus had to learn obedience through what He suffered (Hebrews 5:8).
In my church’s denomination, there is an examination process for being allowed to preach regularly (licensing), and there is a more extensive process for getting ordained as a pastor.
Licensure is three written and oral exams covering English Bible, Church government, and theology, as well as a written and preached sermon. Ordination is the same trials plus exams in Sacraments and Church History, in addition to Theology, Greek, and Hebrew papers.
Before graduating from seminary, I thought either of those processes would be simple and straight forward: “Give me material to study. I’ll regurgitate it back to you. Hand me a certificate of ordination and presto chango–I’ll be all grown up and ready to be a pastor.”
Not so fast, Ben.
After graduating from seminary it took me twenty months to get licensed. I have friends that were a year behind me in seminary, had graduated, and were ordained sooner than that.
Those twenty months were rough on my family and me. I was watching other men finish their exams and have joy-filled ordination services while I couldn’t seem to pass an oral exam in basic Bible content.
I tossed out every excuse imaginable: “The committee is too demanding.” “I’m not smart enough.” “They just can’t seem to understand me and how I communicate.” Every pitiful little excuse you can imagine I claimed.
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
It took twenty months for me to realize that the Lord doesn’t want me to be licensed–He wants me to grow in holiness. The Lord doesn’t want me to be good at Bible outlines–He wants me to love His Word. The Lord doesn’t want me to beat all my peers to ordination–He wants me to love His Church.
Tonight I have my first oral exams for ordination. If I pass all five exams, I will be examined by the entire Presbytery in a couple of weeks. If I pass there, I will be ordained before the end of this year.
If I don’t pass, the Lord will be continuing his process of teaching me to “kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.” (Charles H. Spurgeon)
Benjamin Ratliff (first posted on morningjoy.com)
Posted by Jerry White on Oct 13, 2014
Uncertainty shrouds our future. An afternoon can bring what morning never expected. Our tomorrow can introduce us to news that shocks our soul. Our next year can be the most difficult and trying we have ever experienced. When this happens doubt bombards us with questions, and our mind swirls with fears. We are shaken to the core and lose our footing that had seemed so peaceful and sure. How can this be happening to me? Why?
The Lord Jesus spoke that our house should be built upon the rock before the floods come (Matthew 7:24-27). When rains pour forth, it is not the time to try to find a rock foundation on which to build. It is too late. In Noah’s day, once the heavens opened and the fountains of the deep were unleashed, the monumental task of preparation could never happen. Severe consequences were already on the way.
Sometimes when one enters a serious crisis, the immediate response is to request prayer from those he or she knows that pray. A sense of spiritual inadequacy in self wants others to help in their deficiency. It is vital we pray for one another, but intercession by others cannot be a substitute for one’s own faith. If such a one has neglected personal time with the Lord in His Word, when the storm threatens, anxiety rules their soul and worry crowds their mind. Five virgins waiting for the bridegroom were not prepared with enough oil and wanted to borrow oil from the other five who came prepared (Matthew 25:1-13). Casual and careless believers want to live off another’s faith, and this cannot happen. Each must trust for himself. Waiting until the unexpected crisis occurs, and then hoping to suddenly have faith, or use another’s faith, is futile.
Today is the time to learn God’s Word so you trust Him, whom you cannot see, to keep His promises. By daily experience of trust you become fully assured that this invisible God is real, a loving Father who can be fully trusted in the darkest of nights and the stormiest of days. This is why the Bible speaks often about meditating on God’s Word day and night (regularly). Your sinful flesh will give you a hundred reasons not to spend time in God’s Word, and the devil knows exactly which excuses to plant in your thinking to keep you from it. The ones who neglect this Jesus calls foolish. A million people praying for you will not give you faith to live by or to die by. Faith comes from believing God’s Word and trusting Him as your loving Father—-daily.
Posted by Jerry White on Jun 22, 2014
“When God has a plan for an individual, He often begins with discipline in the form of affliction and sorrow. Just as a good farmer cuts down the trees and clears the land before planting, God cuts down our trees of pleasure and pride, that our hearts may be plowed, broken, raked, and prepared to receive the good seed of the word.
Sometimes a storm brings people to their senses and arouses their consciences until they cry to the Lord. At other times, serious business losses bring such distress that people are driven to seek riches that are more enduring than gold, a competence that is more reliable than profits, and a comfort that is more genuine and lasting than wealth. Yes, and without these the Holy Spirit has frequently been pleased to convict of sin and reduce individuals to total despondency and abject self-abhorrence.
Submit cheerfully. there is no affliction that comes by chance. We are not left to the misery of believing that things happen independent of a divinely controlling power. Not a drop of bitter ever falls into our cup unless the heavenly Father’s wisdom places it there. We dwell where everything is ordered by God. Whenever adversity must come, it is alway with a purpose. And if it is God’s purpose, should I wish to escape it?
We have this blessed assurance. ‘All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose’ (Rom. 8:28). Adversity is a healing medicine and not a deadly poison. Thus without a murmur, drink it all and say with your Savior, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will’ (Matt. 26:39).”
C. H. Spurgeon
Beside Still Waters, 244
Roy H. Clarke, Editor
“Faith is not some weak and pitiful emotion, but is strong and vigorous confidence built on the fact that God is holy love. And even though you cannot see Him right now and cannot understand what He is doing, you know Him.”
My Utmost for His Highest, May 8
Posted by Jerry White on Mar 24, 2014
“Sorrow can be greatly alleviated if we give serious thought to the Word. Evidently, this is what Job did when he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD’ (Job 1:21). Here the patriarch recalls at least four subjects for serious consideration, and he draws great comfort from them.
Use Job as your example. Do no merely sit still and say, ‘I shall be comforted.’ Look for themes on which to meditate profitably. Get an anchor-hold on some great and clearly ascertained truth, a truth in which you can have no possible doubt. Then you may begin to be comforted.
Do you remember how David talked to himself as if he were another person? ‘Why are you cast down, O my soul? And Why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance’ (Ps. 42:5). You see, there are two Davids talking and cheering one another. We should always be good company with ourselves. We should always be able to interrogate ourselves, and in deep sorrow we should be able to comfort ourselves.
When you have learned this lesson, you will have learned the art of comforting others.”
C. H. Spurgeon
Beside Still Waters, 81
Roy H. Clarke, Editor
And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.
1 Samuel 30:6 (ESV)
The Bible speaks of the Holy Spirit strengthening us, and indeed this is true (Ephesians 3:16). The Psalmist testified, I am severely afflicted, give me life, O LORD, according to your word (Psalm 119:107, ESV) ! We strengthen and comfort ourselves in the LORD by feeding on God’s Word and by trusting His Spirit to be all we need in our affliction. The Spirit and the Word work together. Our part is to cling to specific promises and to wholly rely on His indwelling life.
Posted by Jerry White on Mar 17, 2014
“His permission and His appointments are equally His will. Job thought so, for though Satan blasted his prosperity he said: ‘The Lord hath taken away.’ Joseph thought so, for he said: ‘It was not you that sent me down here, but God.’ David thought so, because he said, ‘God hath let Shimei curse; let him curse.’ Jesus thought so, because when Judas came into the garden to arrest Him He said, ‘The cup that My Father giveth Me to drink, shall I not drink it?’ Though it had been brought to His lips by a Judas, it had been mixed by His Father.
Now it seems to me as if you and I are enclosed in God. An arrow comes from the enemy’s bow. A man that hates me writes an anonymous letter. Someone defrauds me. Some woman sets an unkind story afloat about me. The evil travels towards me. If God liked, He could let the arrow pass this way or that. But if my God opens and permits the evil to pass through His encompassing power to my heart, by the time it has passed through God to me, it has become God’s will for me. He permits it, and that is His will for my life. I do not say that the man will escape his just doom. God will deal with him. I am not going to worry myself about him. In early days I would have taken infinite pains to avert the evil that men wished to do me, or perhaps to repay them, or to show that the evil was perfectly unwarranted. I confess that I have ceased to worry about it. If you silence one man you will start twenty more. It is ever so much better for peace of mind to accept the will of God, to accept His permission and His appointment, to look up into His face, and say ‘Even so, Father.’”
F. B. Meyer (1847-1929)
The Christ-Life for the Self-Life, 120-121, (1965)
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3, ESV).
This being true, by the time a difficult circumstance, relationship, or an attack reaches you it has come through your Father and Christ your Savior to be used as His instrument to reshape you into the image of Jesus Christ. Quiet acceptance with trust and obedience is the way we cooperate with Him for this trial to have its intended effect.
Posted by Jerry White on Jul 29, 2013
It is for discipline that you have to endure.
“The ‘harvest’ analogy of the writer of Hebrews should help us remember that God’s husbandry will not destroy us (v.11). To make the plants that he cherishes produce as they should, God will sometimes prune. But he knows the effects of pruning and never loses sight of his purposes. For this reason he does not always prune. Rather, he also abundantly waters and nourishes our growth. God’s corrective discipline mercifully stops when he knows it has accomplished the growth and training he desires.
The fact that God’s discipline will stop—despite the punishment our sins deserve—evidences his mercy and our status as his children. Neither the discipline nor our acceptance of it makes us God’s children. Still, faith in the good purpose of whatever God’s hand brings allows us to experience the benefits of his fatherly love even when we face this world’s harshest realities. Such realities include the discipline that ends only when we enter Christ’s heavenly presence.
During China’s Boxer Rebellion at the beginning of the last century, a young American woman named Lizzie Atwater demonstrated the power of such faith to sustain us in life’s harshest trials. She wrote with childlike confidence in her heavenly Father’s love while awaiting her own execution:
‘Dear Ones, I long for the sight of your dear faces, but I fear we shall not meet on earth….I am preparing for the end very quietly and calmly. The Lord is wonderfully near, he will not fail me. I was very restless and excited while there seemed to be a chance of life, but God has taken away that feeling, and now I just pray for grace to meet the terrible end bravely. The pain will soon be over, and oh the sweetness of the welcome above….
I cannot imagine the Savior’s welcome. Oh, that will compensate for all these days of suspense. Dear ones, live near to God and cling less closely to earth. There is no other way by which we can receive the peace that passeth understanding.’
In the expanse of eternity, those who have suffered long on this earth will still rejoice that their discipline was so brief relative to their embrace by the Savior. Knowledge of his timeless affection enables us to experience temporal discipline with peace.”
Holiness By Grace, 176-177
Posted by Jerry White on Jun 13, 2013
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations.
1 Peter 1:6 (KJV)
“Three gracious words, ‘If need be.’ Not one of all my tears has been shed for nothing! Not one stroke of the rod has been unneeded, or that might have been spared.
Your heavenly Father loves you too much and too tenderly, to bestow harsher correction than your case requires. Is it loss of health or loss of wealth or loss of beloved friends? Be still, there was a ‘need be.’ We are no judges of what that ‘need be’ is; often though, in spite of aching hearts we are forced to exclaim, ‘Your judgments are greatly deep.’
God here pledges Himself, that there will not be one unnecessary thorn in the believer’s crown of suffering. No burden too heavy will be laid on him; and no sacrifice too great exacted from him. He will ‘temper the wind to the shorn lamb.’ Whenever the ‘need be’ has accomplished its end, then the rod is removed — the chastisement suspended — the furnace quenched.
‘If need be’! Oh, what a pillow on which to rest your aching head — that there is not a drop in all your bitter cup but what a God of love saw to be absolutely necessary.”
Fill Me With Hope, September 16
It is difficult to remember when we are in the midst of trial or tribulation that our heavenly Father has pre-measured it and appointed for us to go through it in order to transform us. It is equally hard to remember that the same love that blesses us richly has purposed the painful time as well. Our hearts must firmly grip two truths if we will live with peace and joy through necessary trials: Our sovereign Father orders our path; our loving Father measures our every burden. The Lord Jesus walked this way before us and understands what it means to learn obedience through suffering (Hebrews 5:8).
Posted by Jerry White on Apr 18, 2013
“God’s people have no assurance that the dark experiences of life will be held at bay, much less that God will provide some sort of running commentary on the meaning of each day’s allotment of confusion, boredom, pain, or achievement. It is no great matter where we are, provided we see that the Lord has placed us there, and that He is with us.”
“We are moved by the act of God. Omniscience holds no conference. Infinite authority leaves no room for compromise. Eternal love offers no explanations. The Lord expects to be trusted. He disturbs us at will. Human arrangements are disregarded, family ties ignored, business claims put aside. We are never asked if it is convenient.”
Samuel Chadwick, quoted by J. Oswald Sanders
Enjoying Intimacy With God, 97
In your darkest night the Lord of love has not forgotten you. The hand that guides you is nail scared because He loves you. Your Father who directs your steps sacrificed His all for you in His Son. When you have unanswered questions and heaven seems silent you can know your Shepherd is tending you. Jesus said to a father in a dark time of receiving word of his daughter’s death, “Do not fear, only believe” (Luke 8:50, ESV).
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