Streams in The Desert

It Must Be Bought

 

You will say to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’ and to those who are in dark dungeons, ‘Emerge.’ They will graze beside the roads; on all the slopes they will find pasture.

[Isa 49:9 NET]

Toys and trinkets are easily won, but the greatest things are greatly bought. The top-most place of power is always bought with blood. You may have the pinnacles if you have enough blood to pay. That is the conquest condition of the holy heights everywhere. The story of real heroisms is the story of sacrificial blood. The chiefest values in life and character are not blown across our way by vagrant winds. Great souls have great sorrows.

“Great truths are dearly bought, the common truths,
Such as men give and take from day to day,
Come in the common walk of easy life,
Blown by the careless wind across our way.

“Great truths are greatly won, not found by chance,
Nor wafted on the breath of summer dream;
But grasped in the great struggle of the soul,
Hard buffeting with adverse wind and stream.

“But in the day of conflict, fear and grief,
When the strong hand of God, put forth in might,
Plows up the subsoil of the stagnant heart,
And brings the imprisoned truth seed to the light.

“Wrung from the troubled spirit, in hard hours
Of weakness, solitude, perchance of pain,
Truth springs like harvest from the well-plowed field,
And the soul feels it has not wept in vain.” 

The capacity for knowing God enlarges as we are brought by Him into circumstances which oblige us to exercise faith; so, when difficulties beset our path let us thank God that He is taking trouble with us, and lean hard upon Him.

Streams in The Desert

Waiting is Hard

When the cloud remained over the tabernacle many days, then the Israelites obeyed the instructions of the Lord and did not journey.

[Num 9:19 NET]

This was the supreme test of obedience. It was comparatively easy to strike tents, when the fleecy folds of the cloud were slowly gathering from off the Tabernacle, and it floated majestically before the host. Change is always delightful; and there was excitement and interest in the route, the scenery, and the locality of the next halting-place. But, ah, the tarrying.

Streams in The Desert

Grow in His Strength

Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that hovers over its young, so the Lord spread out his wings and took him, he lifted him up on his pinions. The Lord alone was guiding him, no foreign god was with him.

[Deut 32:11-12 NET]

Our Almighty Parent delights to conduct the tender nestlings of His care to the very edge of the precipice, and even to thrust them off into the steeps of air, that they may learn their possession of unrealized power of flight, to be forever a luxury; and if, in the attempt, they be exposed to unwonted peril, He is prepared to swoop beneath them, and to bear them upward on His mighty pinions. When God brings any of His children into a position of unparalleled difficulty, they may always count upon Him to deliver them.

[The Song of Victory]

“When God puts a burden upon you He puts His own arm underneath.”

There is a little plant, small and stunted, growing under the shade of a broad-spreading oak; and this little plant values the shade which covers it, and greatly does it esteem the quiet rest which its noble friend affords. But a blessing is designed for this little plant.

Once upon a time there comes along the woodman, and with his sharp axe he fells the oak. The plant weeps and cries, “My shelter is departed; every rough wind will blow upon me, and every storm will seek to uproot me!”

“No, no,” saith the angel of that flower; “now will the sun get at thee; now will the shower fall on thee in more copious abundance than before; now thy stunted form shall spring up into loveliness, and thy flower, which could never have expanded itself to perfection shall now laugh in the sunshine, and men shall say, ’How greatly hath that plant increased! How glorious hath become its beauty, through the removal of that which was its shade and its delight!’”

See you not, then, that God may take away your comforts and your privileges, to make you the better Christians? Why, the Lord always trains His soldiers, not by letting them lie on feather-beds, but by turning them out, and using them to forced marches and hard service. He makes them ford through streams, and swim through rivers, and climb mountains, and walk many a long march with heavy knapsacks of sorrow on their backs. This is the way in which He makes them soldiers—not by dressing them up in fine uniforms, to swagger at the barrack gates, and to be fine gentlemen in the eyes of the loungers in the park. God knows that soldiers are only to be made in battle; they are not to be grown in peaceful times. We may grow the stuff of which soldiers are made; but warriors are really educated by the smell of powder, in the midst of whizzing bullets and roaring cannonades, not in soft and peaceful times. Well, Christian, may not this account for it all? Is not thy Lord bringing out thy graces and making them grow? Is He not developing in you the qualities of the soldier by throwing you into the heat of battle, and should you not use every appliance to come off conqueror?

~ Spurgeon ~

Streams in The Desert

After The Frost

I will pray to God, my high ridge: “Why do you ignore me? Why must I walk around mourning because my enemies oppress me?”

[Ps 42:9 NET]

Canst thou answer this, believer? Canst thou find any reason why thou art so often mourning instead of rejoicing? Why yield to gloomy anticipations? Who told thee that the night would never end in day? Who told thee that the winter of thy discontent would proceed from frost to frost, from snow and ice, and hail, to deeper snow, and yet more heavy tempest of despair? Knowest thou not that day follows night, that flood comes after ebb, that spring and summer succeed winter? Hope thou then! Hope thou ever! for God fails thee not.

~ C. H. Spurgeon ~

“He was better to me than all my hopes;

He was better than all my fears;

He made a bridge of my broken works,

And a rainbow of my tears.

“The billows that guarded my sea-girt path,

But carried my Lord on their crest;

When I dwell on the days of my wilderness march

I can lean on His love for the rest.

“He emptied my hands of my treasured store,

And His covenant love revealed,

There was not a wound in my aching heart,

But the balm of His breath hath healed.

Oh, tender and true was the chastening sore,

In wisdom, that taught and tried,

Till the soul that He sought was trusting in Him,

And nothing on earth beside.

“He guided by paths that I could not see,

By ways that I have not known;

The crooked was straight, and the rough was plain

As I followed the Lord alone.

I praise Him still for the pleasant palms,

And the water-springs by the way,

For the glowing pillar of flame by night,

And the sheltering cloud by day.

“Never a watch on the dreariest halt,

But some promise of love endears;

I read from the past, that my future shall be

Far better than all my fears.

Like the golden pot, of the wilderness bread,

Laid up with the blossoming rod,

All safe in the ark, with the law of the Lord,

Is the covenant care of my God.”

Streams in The Desert

God in Everything

So Samuel told him everything. He did not hold back anything from him. Eli said, “The Lord will do what he pleases.”

[1 Sam 3:18 NET]

“See God in everything, and God will calm and color all that thou dost see!” It may be that the circumstances of our sorrows will not be removed, their condition will remain unchanged; but if Christ, as Lord and Master of our life, is brought into our grief and gloom, “HE will compass us about with songs of deliverance.” To see HIM, and to be sure that His wisdom cannot err, His power cannot fail, His love can never change; to know that even His direst dealings with us are for our deepest spiritual gain, is to be able to say, in the midst of bereavement, sorrow, pain, and loss, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Nothing else but seeing God in everything will make us loving and patient with those who annoy and trouble us. They will be to us then only instruments for accomplishing His tender and wise purposes toward us, and we shall even find ourselves at last inwardly thanking them for the blessings they bring us. Nothing else will completely put an end to all murmuring or rebelling thoughts.

~ H. W. Smith ~

“Give me a new idea,” I said,

While musing on a sleepless bed;

“A new idea that’ll bring to earth

A balm for souls of priceless worth;

That’ll give men thoughts of things above,

And teach them how to serve and love,

That’ll banish every selfish thought,

And rid men of the sins they’ve fought.”

The new thought came, just how, I’ll tell:

’Twas when on bended knee I fell,

And sought from HIM who knows full well

The way our sorrow to expel.

SEE GOD IN ALL THINGS, great and small,

And give HIM praise whate’er befall,

In life or death, in pain or woe,

See God, and overcome thy foe.

I saw HIM in the morning light,

HE made the day shine clear and bright;

I saw HIM in the noontide hour,

And gained from HIM refreshing shower.

At eventide, when worn and sad,

HE gave me help, and made me glad.

At midnight, when on tossing bed

My weary soul to sleep HE led.

I saw HIM when great losses came,

And found HE loved me just the same.

When heavy loads I had to bear,

I found HE lightened every care.

By sickness, sorrow, sore distress,

HE calmed my mind and gave me rest.

HE’s filled my heart with gladsome praise

Since I gave HIM the upward gaze.

’Twas new to me, yet old to some,

This thought that to me has become

A revelation of the way

We all should live throughout the day;

For as each day unfolds its light,

We’ll walk by faith and not by sight.

Life will, indeed, a blessing bring,

If we SEE GOD IN EVERYTHING.”

~ A. E. Finn ~

Streams in The Desert

Scent of The Rose

Awake, O north wind; come, O south wind! Blow on my garden so that its fragrant spices may send out their sweet smell. May my beloved come into his garden and eat its delightful fruit!

[Song 4:16 NET]

Some of the spices mentioned in this chapter are quite suggestive. The aloe was a bitter spice, and it tells of the sweetness of bitter things, the bitter-sweet, which has its own fine application that only those can understand who have felt it. The myrrh was used to embalm the dead, and it tells of death to something. It is the sweetness which comes to the heart after it has died to its self-will and pride and sin.

Oh, the inexpressible charm that hovers about some Christians simply because they bear upon the chastened countenance and mellow spirit the impress of the cross, the holy evidence of having died to something that was once proud and strong, but is now forever at the feet of Jesus. It is the heavenly charm of a broken spirit and a contrite heart, the music that springs from the minor key, the sweetness that comes from the touch of the frost upon the ripened fruit.

And then the frankincense was a fragrance that came from the touch of the fire. It was the burning powder that rose in clouds of sweetness from the bosom of the flames. It tells of the heart whose sweetness has been called forth, perhaps by the flames of affliction, until the holy place of the soul is filled with clouds of praise and prayer. Beloved, are we giving out the spices, the perfumes, the sweet odors of the heart? —The Love-Life of Our Lord.

“A Persian fable says: One day

A wanderer found a lump of clay

So redolent of sweet perfume

Its odors scented all the room.

‘What are thou? was his quick demand,

‘Art thou some gem from Samarcand,

Or spikenard in this rude disguise,

Or other costly merchandise?’

‘Nay: I am but a lump of clay.’

“‘Then whence this wondrous perfume—say!’

‘Friend, if the secret I disclose,

I have been dwelling with the rose.’

Sweet parable! and will not those

‘Who love to dwell with Sharon’s rose,

Distil sweet odors all around,

Though low and mean themselves are found?

Dear Lord, abide with us that we

May draw our perfume fresh from Thee.”

Streams in The Desert

Walk Without Strain

He saw them straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. As the night was ending, he came to them walking on the sea, for he wanted to pass by them.

[Mark 6:48 NET]

Straining, driving effort does not accomplish the work God gives man to do. Only God Himself, who always works without strain, and who never overworks, can do the work that He assigns to His children. When they restfully trust Him to do it, it will be well done and completely done. The way to let Him do His work through us is to partake of Christ so fully, by faith, that He more than fills our life.

A man who had learned this secret once said: “I came to Jesus and I drank, and I do not think that I shall ever be thirsty again. I have taken for my motto, ’Not overwork, but overflow’; and already it has made all the difference in my life.”

There is no effort in overflow. It is quietly irresistible. It is the normal life of omnipotent and ceaseless accomplishment into which Christ invites us today and always.—Sunday School Times

Be all at rest, my soul, O blessed secret,

Of the true life that glorifies thy Lord:

Not always doth the busiest soul best serve Him,

But he that resteth on His faithful Word.

Be all at rest, let not your heart be rippled,

For tiny wavelets mar the image fair,

Which the still pool reflects of heaven’s glory—

And thus the image He would have thee bear.

Be all at rest, my soul, for rest is service,

To the still heart God doth His secrets tell;

Thus shalt thou learn to wait, and watch, and labor,

Strengthened to bear, since Christ in thee doth dwell.

For what is service but the life of Jesus,

Lived through a vessel of earth’s fragile clay,

Loving and giving and poured forth for others,

A living sacrifice from day to day.

Be all at rest, so shalt thou be an answer

To those who question, “Who is God and where?”

For God is rest, and where He dwells is stillness,

And they who dwell in Him, His rest shalt share.

And what shall meet the deep unrest around thee,

But the calm peace of God that filled His breast?

For still a living Voice calls to the weary,

From Him who said, “Come unto Me and rest.”

~ Freda Hanbury Allen ~

“In resurrection stillness there is resurrection power.”