God First

Am I ready to love God above everything else? Above my passions, my possessions, even my own family? Here is an excellent devotion written by
Hannah Whitall Smith. It reminds me of the story when God ask Abraham to offer his own son Isaac (Genesis 22).

The Lord has shown me another step. Today the question has been presented to me whether I would be willing to lose my darling child, my little daughter Mary, for the sake of the revelation of the Lord Jesus Himself to me. It was a battle, but my Saviour has triumphed. It came simply to this point, Would I keep my daughter, and remain a cold and lukewarm Christian all my life, living at a distance from my Saviour, and unbaptized by His Spirit; or, would I give her up, that I might see Him in His beauty, and know Him to dwell in my heart in all His fullness.
Thanks be unto His Name, He has worked in me to choose the latter! I desire Him even more than I desire my precious, my darling daughter! And now surely the last link to earth is broken, for, without my daughter, life would be desolate indeed. I am wholly the Lord’s now.
Oh what hinders Him from blessing me! Still I wait and pray that He will reveal Himself that He will baptize me with the Holy Ghost!
—Journal, April 22, 1868

Hannah Whitall Smith and Melvin Easterday Dieter, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life: The Unpublished Personal Writings of Hannah Whitall Smith (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

You could also leave your comments at john@cafegospel.me

Unchangeably Faithful

Hannah Whitall Smith was a young woman when the Civil War was raging. Here faith in a difficult time is exemplary.

Our prosperous nation has been plunged into a civil war, the horrors of which we are just beginning to feel. The state of money matters is distressing and Robert has suffered great losses so that we have been obliged in every way to reduce our expenditures. We rented our Germantown house for the summer and moved to a place belonging to Robert’s father. But as it was not healthy there, we have left it, and are now entirely unsettled as regards our future.
It does not distress me in the least for I know that the “Lord is my Shepherd” and therefore “I shall not want,” and I am perfectly content to leave all my future in His care. I feel indeed that it is my greatest privilege that I may thus leave it with Him, for who or what am I that He should care for my welfare? A poor sinner saved by grace, this is what I am and what I love to be! And after all I well know it is not what I am, but what Christ is that is of any importance. For the safety and well being of the flock depends not upon what they are, but altogether upon what the Shepherd is. And the Lord is my shepherd! well, may I say therefore that “I shall not want!”
As to my spiritual life, I hardly know what to say. I am still just what I was a year ago, and what I was two years ago “a poor sinner and nothing at all and Jesus Christ is my all in all.” What more could I say than that? Yet while I can write to His praise that my Saviour has been unchangeably faithful to me during all this past year, I must confess to my bitter shame that oftentimes I have been very faithless to Him. Oh, how could I, how can I! It is good for me that He is just the Saviour He is, or there would be no hope for me. No other one could have borne with me, no other could continue to love me! But He does! This is His blessedness! “He is the same yesterday today and forever,” and in Him is no variableness nor even shadow of turning. He is just exactly the Saviour I need, and is all I need! No words can even begin to tell what He is! Oh, that I were a more faithful disciple!
—Journal, August 6, 1861
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).

Giving Freely

Hannah Whitall Smith wrote this meditation on GIVING.

Lately, my Father has revealed to me a depth selfishness in myself that I never even so much as suspected. I find that all my kindness to others, my benevolence, and what seemed to be the most unselfish acts of my life, all have had their root in a deep and subtle form of self-love. My motto has for a long time been “Freely ye have received, freely give” and I dreamed that in a certain sense I was living up to it, not only as regards physical blessings, but spiritual as well.
But I find now that I have never really given one thing freely in my life. I have always expected and demanded payment of some kind for every gift, and where the pay has failed to come, the gifts have invariably ceased to flow. If I gave love, I demanded love in return; if I gave kindness I demanded gratitude as payment; if I gave counsel, I demanded obedience to it, or if not that, at least an increase of respect for my judgment on the part of the one counseled; if I gave the gospel I demanded conversions or a reputation of zeal and holiness; if I gave consideration, I demanded consideration in return. In short, I sold everything and gave nothing. I know nothing of the meaning of Christ’s words “Freely ye have received, freely give.” But I did it ignorantly.
Now however the Lord has opened my eyes to see something of the nature and extent of this selfishness, and I believe He is also giving me the grace to overcome it in a measure. I have been taking home to myself the lesson contained in Matt. 5:39–48. I desire to do everything now as to the Lord alone and to receive my pay only from Him. His grace must carry on this work in me for I am utterly powerless to do one thing toward it, but I feel assured that He will.
And I feel have to thank Him for what He has already done. He has conquered a feeling of repugnance which was growing in me towards someone with whom I am brought into very close contact and enabled me to give freely, without even wanting any return. Oh, how great He is in strength and wisdom!
—Journal, January 16, 1860
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).

Surprised by Love

How do you see religion? Burden or blessing! From this morning quiet time with the Lord. Written by Hannah Whitall Smith from her book “The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life”.

I  am surprised at the lowliness though happiness of religion. I can see now that my ideas of it were too gloomy as if the Redeemer were a hard taskmaster and His servants became unwilling slaves, working only for the sake of the reward or because of the fear of the punishment. And now when I find such love, such joy, such beauty it astonishes me. I trust I am grateful for it but the remains of the old fears still cause me to be expecting the crosses and the unhappiness. Perhaps it is the way with many young Friends (Quaker) to look upon Christ’s religion as one of austerity and gloom, but how different the truth is. His service is a service of love. His yoke is easy. His burden is indeed light—lightened and made easy, even if hard and heavy, by the help of love.
I have read that the Shepherd first carries His sheep in His arms while they are weak and trembling—but afterward, when their strength increases, He sets them down to walk amid the thorns and rocks of the way. Surely He is carrying me in His arms now, weak, unworthy to be called one of His lambs, yet trusting in Him. I am deeply and peacefully happy, believing that “he is my Shepherd, and I shall not want.”
—Journal, 1851
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).

Catch! Live! Impart!

 

Want to change your world for Christ? Then consider this:

CATCH the passion for God and the knowledge of the Holy from extended time alone with Him, or from people who are infected with Jesus Christ. Get around those who are impassioned with being used of God to make a difference in this tired world. Keep in mind that “it is easier to cool down a fanatic than to liven up a corpse.”

You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.” (1 Thessalonians 1:5b-7)

LIVE — Prayerfully delve into the Scriptures with the anticipation and trust of a child at Christmas time. Dare to unconditionally live out the truth God reveals to you from His Word. Respond sensitively to the conviction and leading of the Spirit. Claim and appropriate God’s promises to release you from life’s bondages: The fear of man, the love of money, the lust of the flesh, the desire to impress others; a wounded or embittered spirit; the ruts, the familiar, the safe… perhaps even the traditional. (James 1:22; Romans 8:14; Hebrews 6:11, 12; Romans 8:2; Psalm 34:4; Proverbs 29:25; 1 Timothy 6:6-10; 1 John 2:15-17; Hebrews 12:15; Matthew 15:8, 9)

If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you freeIf the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:31b, 32, 36b)

Allow the Spirit to lead you into areas that demand trust and stretching. Be prepared to be surprised by the goodness of God upon your life. That is because God loves to bless those who dare to take Him seriously! (Acts 4:31; 1 Corinthians 2:10-12; 1 Samuel 3:9; Psalm 30:5)

The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him… ” (2 Chronicles 16:9b)

IMPART — As Biblical truth becomes living reality, pass it on to others. That is fish for men. Engage and infect people’s lives with yours. Take it a step further by making a sustained investment of your life into theirs. Embrace missionary martyr Jim Elliot’s impassioned heart-cry, “Lord, make my life a crossroad in the life of everyone I encounter.” (Matthew 4:19; 2 Timothy 2:2; 1 Corinthians 16:14)

QUESTION: Today, is your life “business as usual,” or is there a fire burning in your soul? If the fire is flickering close to extinction, ask yourself what root issues need to be reexamined? What changes need to be made? Jesus’ word of encouragement may be timely:

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” (Matthew 12:20a)

 

The Next Time You Are Down In The Dumps

The last few days were rather gray days in my mind, I felt like I was down in the valley. On the outside, everything seemed fine to others, but I knew another reality. Then this delightful meditation came along. Hope it will benefit some else and brighten your day.


Struggling with your worth as a person…

Or despairing of life…

Or nursing your wounds over being hurt, shunned, or put down,

Do a reality check as to just who you are in the eyes of God:

  • GOD HAS ALWAYS LOVED YOU – FROM ALL ETERNITY:

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3b) (See Psalm 103:17; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; James 1:18)

  • GOD HAS ALWAYS PLANNED TO CHOSE YOU FOR HIMSELF:

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” (Ephesians 1:4) (See 1 Peter 2:9; Deuteronomy 7:6, 7; 14:2)

  • GOD THOUGHT ENOUGH OF YOU TO SPILL HIS SON’S BLOOD TO RESCUE YOU:

You were redeemed from the empty way of lifewith the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (1 Peter 1:18b, 19) (See Psalm 74:2; Hebrews 9:12-14)

  • GOD CONSIDERS YOU HIS SOLE POSSESSION:

(He) gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:14) (See Acts 15:14; Deuteronomy 4:20; 14:2)

  • GOD HAS INVITED YOU INTO HIS FAMILY TO BE A JOINT-HEIR WITH HIS SON, JESUS:

We areheirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Romans 8:17b) (See Luke 12:32; Galatians 3:29; 4:7)

So take heart, my fellow struggler – and heir. True, “we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22) But take comfort in knowing that Jesus is returning to take you with Him:

They will see the Son of Man comingwith power and great glory. When these things begin to take placelift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:27b, 28)

By Dwight Hill, Facts of the Matter: Daily Devotionals.

Intimacy And Immediacy

INTIMACY – Cultivating the practice of moment-by-moment communion with Christ.  Sensitivity to His prompting, sensitivity to sin, dependency upon Him in the littlest of things, humility, gentleness, perhaps even brokenness.

I am the vine itself, you are the branches. It is the man who shares my life and whose life I share who proves fruitful. For the plain fact is that apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 – Phillips)

IMMEDIACY – The antennas are up, aware, utilizing every opportunity to lovingly and graciously share the love of Christ with others. Reflective indeed of Paul’s mind-set:

So, naturally, we proclaim Christ! We warn everyone we meet, (evangelism) and we teach everyone we can, all that we know about Him, (discipleship) so that, if possible, we may bring every man up to his full maturity in Christ Jesus. This is what I am working at all the time, with all the strength that God gives me.” (Colossians 1:28, 29 – Phillips)

Perhaps their motto is: “if not you – who? If not now – When?”

Notice the guidelines Paul gives, derived from Colossians 4:5, 6; 2 Timothy 2:24-26:

  • Wise. Clever and skilled.
  • Utilizing every opportunity. Immediacy.
  • Gracious: Gentle, meek, humble, mild. Patient, enduring evil or ill-will.
  • Salty: Pointed; not insipid; “an edge of liveliness” (Knox Translation)
  • Correcting: Chastening, educating, teaching and training.
  • Not quarrelsome: Not disputing or striving.

SUGGESTION: Can you take a moment and ask God, “Lord, if I am not walking intimately with you, why? And if I lack a sense of immediacy in getting the Gospel to others, why?