“O Lord, by these things men live; and in all these things is the life of my spirit.”
~ Isa 38:16
When Hezekiah said, “By these things men live,” he meant that by these trials and deliverances, by these sinkings and risings, strippings and clothings, emptyings and fillings, “by these things men,” that is, spiritual men, “live.” It is a mystery, but a great truth, that just in proportion as we die to the world, to self, to sense, to nature, and to false religion, the more the life of God is strengthened in our conscience. The Lord, perhaps, has taught some of you this truth through great afflictions. But when these trials came upon you at the first, it seemed as though they would entirely overwhelm you; they took away your standing, and it appeared as though they had destroyed your faith and hope.
But though these floods of temptation passed over the soul, they swept away nothing but rubbish, which until then was mistaken for the inward teachings of God the Spirit. So far then from these afflictions overwhelming your faith, you found that faith was secretly strengthened by the very flood that threatened at first to drown it. True faith is no more destroyed by sharp trials, than the oak is destroyed by cutting away the ivy, or by a storm blowing down some of its rotten branches. And thus, as the oak, the more the winds blow upon it, takes a firmer root in the soil; so the storms and tempests that blow upon the soul, only cause it to take a firmer hold of the truth, and to strike its fibers more deeply into the Person, love, work, and blood of Jesus. So that, “by these things men live,” for through them, the life of God is maintained and kept up in the soul, the Holy Spirit secretly strengthening it by the very things that seemed to threaten it with destruction.
Be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.
Scripture Reading: James 5:7-11
One afternoon a boy planted a package of seeds to start a garden. The next day he returned to look for the new plants, but they hadn’t sprouted yet. So he dug them up to understand what had happened.
We are a lot like that. We expect immediate results. Maybe you have heard the American prayer for patience: “Lord, give me patience …and I want it now!” But only when the fruit of patience is allowed to mature slowly will we ever taste its sweetness.
In The Way of Christian Living, a book on the fruit of the Spirit, John Timmerman relates his discovery of the essence of patience. He grew up in a house with a drafty bedroom, and his parents would close that room in the winter and use it only to store Christmas presents. John would sneak into that room and delicately shake each package to guess the contents. But whenever he went into that room, his mom and dad would notice the rush of cold air in the house, and they would catch him in the act. The presents had to wait until Christmas morning. John learned to wait even though he didn’t feel like it.
Patience involves waiting with anticipation. Just as the farmer waits for the rains to help grow his crops, so we wait with expectation for God’s promises to be fulfilled. Patience involves awaiting God’s time without doubting God’s love. This means waiting without worrying, complaining, or demanding that God should satisfy our time table.
Lord, waiting patiently is hard for us. Spirit, please give us the patience we need for a life of fruitfulness in Jesus. Amen.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
~ 1 John 1:9
Has the Lord made sin your burden? Has he ever made you feel guilty before him? Has he ever pressed down your conscience with a sight and sense of your iniquities, your sins, your backslidings? And does the Lord draw, from time to time, honest, sincere, unreserved confession of those sins out of your lips? What does the Holy Spirit say to you? What has the blessed Spirit recorded for your instruction, and for your consolation? “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.”
Not merely on a footing of mercy; still less because you confess them. It is not your confessing them, but it is thus—your confessing them is a mark of divine light; your confessing them springs from the work of grace upon your heart. If, then, you possess divine life, if you have grace in your soul, you are a child of God, Jesus obeyed for you—Jesus suffered for you—Jesus died for you—Jesus has put away your sin. And, therefore, you being a child of God, and Jesus having done all these things for you, God is now “faithful” to his promise that he will receive a confessing sinner; and “just” to his own immutable and truthful character. And thus, from justice as well as mercy, from faithfulness as well as compassion, he can, he will, and he does—pardon, forgive, and sweetly blot out every iniquity and every transgression of a confessing penitent.