Inside Out

I must clean up the inside of the cup and the platter, before I begin to cleanse the outside. I think there is great danger that beginners in the work of salvation, and I in particular, might trust too much to what they do and what they profess, paying no attention to the essential work of inward purification or at least leaving it only partially accomplished, while they forget that God never did, nor ever can, accept offerings He has not required, offerings made in our own will and way and time, proceeding from unsanctified and hardened hearts. John Barclay says, “Obedience is better than sacrifice: and it is not our simply doing what is good that pleases God, but the good that He wills us to do,”
And the prayer of my heart is, “Oh my Father! that You will keep me in the hollow of your holy hand, teaching me just what you want me to do; and giving me enough strength to do what you want me to. You know that it is hard for me to learn to wait until your time for deliverance comes; therefore, don’t withdraw from me until patience has had its perfect work and you see that all murmuring and rebellion are gone forever.
Oh, if I could not trust in you, my Father, my soul would faint under the burden that presses on it. You are able to change every disposition of my heart, and to conform me wholly to your blessed will. Oh! then, I humbly beseech You, lay your hands on me and save me, for truly there is no help, nor hope but in you!
—Journal, 1849
Hannah Whitall Smith and Melvin Easterday Dieter, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life: The Unpublished Personal Writings of Hannah Whitall Smith (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

The Prayer of a Seventeen Year Old Quaker Girl

Oh my Father! stretch out your all powerful arm in mercy and free me from the bonds of sin and death which hold me fast! You see that I am tired of trying to be good, that I don’t really try to resist the temptations of the evil one with all my might. And you know that my whole nature rebels against following you and serving you. But, oh Father! strengthen my feeble knees, put a new and holy faith in my heart and bring down my haughty nature to the very dust. You are my only refuge; therefore, listen, I pray you, to my prayer.
I am haughty and full of pride. I shrink from the suffering which I know is waiting for me. I look almost with disgust on the narrow, narrow path which I see lying out before me. I feel that I can never consent to become nothing for your name’s sake. But you, Oh Lord! are able to drive away all pride from every heart. Oh won’t you purify and wholly sanctify my heart and make me willing to become the very least of your servants that you may have all the glory and honor and praise for ever and ever world without end!
—Journal, 1849
Hannah Whitall Smith and Melvin Easterday Dieter, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life: The Unpublished Personal Writings of Hannah Whitall Smith (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

Slow Down!

I just came from two days away from home for business and visiting a good old friend. Much driving, stress driving in Toronto, sleeping away from home is never the same. This morning I am rather tired. During my Quiet Time this morning I came across a very timely devotion written by John G Butler. The title caught my attention “Slow Down”.

 

God is still in heaven. You are not responsible for doing it all – yourself – right now!

In a few minutes, I am having breakfast with a business executive who is experiencing recurring health problems (heart attack 5 years ago). Unabated work pressure, frequent travel, and little time for himself are taking their toll on his life. Perhaps slowing down is at least part of the solution. Six pointers:

  • Allow yourself some time to be lazy and unproductive. Rest isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity.

Because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.‘” (Mark 6:31)

  • Once in a while, turn down the lights and the volume. Turn down the throttle, and the invitations. Less really can be more.

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet lifeBetter one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.” (1 Thessalonians 4:11a; Ecclesiastes 4:6)

  • Create a place in your home — At your work… in your heart… where you can go for quiet and recollection.

The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence foreverIn quietness and trust is your strength… ” (Isaiah 32:17; 30:15a)

  • Take time just to think — Action is good and necessary, but it’s fruitful only if we muse, ponder, and mull.

Watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!

Dont live carelessly, unthinkingly… ” (Ephesians 5:15, 17b – The Message)

  • Talk and play with children – It will bring out the unhurried little person inside you.

Jesus said, ‘… Whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes meLet the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:5, 14)

  • Take time to wonder — Without wonder, life is merely existence.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3, 4)

Why people grow weary and lose heart?

The little Greek word egkakeo describes a person who no longer is living life in step with the Holy Spirit. Instead, he has grown selfish and self-contained, exhibiting little concern for others.

Seven reasons:

  1. A failure to maintain a vital life of prayer — “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” (Luke 18:1)
  2. A failure to keep in mind the privilege of our divine calling to minister — “Therefore, since through Gods mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.” (2 Corinthians 4:1)
  3. A failure to keep in mind the fact that we will share in Christ’s triumphant resurrection — “We know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presenceTherefore we do not lose heart… ” (2 Corinthians 4:14, 16a)
  4. A failure to keep in mind the immediate task of promoting believers’ spiritual welfare and the glory of God — “All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart… ” (2 Corinthians 4:15, 16a)
  5. A failure to take the long view in reaping the fruit of our efforts — “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
  6. A failure to trust that God has a larger purpose when fellow believers suffer — “I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.” (Ephesians 3:13)
  7. A failure to press on in righteous living, even when you don’t feel like it — “And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.” (2 Thessalonians 3:13)

Questions:

  1. Do you still have that spring in your step?
  2. Do you still look forward to getting up in the morning and getting at it for God?
  3. Or did you allow a dry rot of self-centeredness set in?

1 Corinthians 15:58 (NLT)
So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

Inspire by John G Butler writing

Start living for God early in life

 “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” (Daniel 1:8)

I always admire Daniel determination to stay clean in a very corrupt environment. He was in his teen years when he took such a bold stand in front of the most powerful man of that time. What a great example for today Christian youth.  Lets pray for our own children and grandchildren that they will emulate “Daniel” dedication.

The words of the song, “Dare to be a Daniel,” emphasize this truth. Our verse reports that Daniel did a very daring thing. He made a holy resolve in his heart. We note the calendar in the resolve, the character of the resolve, and the courage in the resolve.

Calendar in the resolve. We often make resolves early in the year. Daniel made this resolve early in his life, for he was no older than a teenager when he made this resolve. You do not have to be up in years before you start living for God. It is better to start living for God when old than never; but when you start living for God early in life, you give a lifetime for God and prevent many wasted and sin-scarred years.

Character of the resolve. “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself.” There are two important notes here about the character of Daniel’s resolve. They concern the site and the subject of the resolve.

First, the site. The resolve was made in his heart. It was not just words to impress people, but it was in his heart which gave it strength. Too much dedication today is only outward. It does not come from the heart and it will not last.

Second, the subject. The resolve had to do with purity, for Daniel would not “defile” himself with the king’s food and drink. Many folk resolve to do a lot of things, but few resolve to live a holy life. But the resolve to holiness is the kind of resolve we need more than anything else.

Courage in the resolve. Daniel had to have much courage when he made this resolve, for he was a captive under the authority and custody of wicked men, and he was going against the king’s wishes. If you are going to live a pure life, you will have to have courage. It will not be popular and many will protest and mock. But stick with your holy resolve, for it will bring you Divine blessings.

Extract from John G Butler, Daily Bible Reading: Sermonettes #1