Joy

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You put me on the stretch, O God.

You do me the honor of putting me to the test

as You once tested our Father Abraham.

You bid me do the impossible:

not only to endure

the tempering heat of trial

but to rejoice in it–impossible!

 

But Your Son did not find it impossible

when You tried Him with failure.

He rejoiced in the Holy Spirit

and gave thanks to You

when You took from Him

the wise and understanding

and revealed Him only to babes,

to the inconsequential little ones

in whom Your love delights.

 

Your servant Paul found it possible.

Your servant James found it possible.

And You are my Father just as You are theirs.

I thank You for all proofs of Fatherhood.

I thank You for the trials I meet.

Give me the heart to meet them unafraid,

to joy in them as I rejoice in You.  Amen.

Prayer by Martin H. Franzmann, Pray For Joy

 

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”  James 1:2-4

Remembering on this day the trials that began in New York 15 years ago….

 

 

 

 

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Spirit Search

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

“I consider the days of old, the years long ago.  I said, “Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.”  Then my spirit made a diligent search:

“Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable?

Has his steadfast love forever ceased?

Are his promises at an end for all time?

Has God forgotten to be gracious?

Has he in anger shut up his compassion?”

* * * * *

“Then I said, I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”

I will remember the arm of the Lord;

Yes, I will remember your wonders of old.

You are the God who works wonders;

you have made known your might among the peoples.

You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph.”

Psalm 77:5-11, 14-15

* * * * *

When trouble deep surrounds me,

When sleepless I lie in bed

Search, my soul, for Jesus

Listen to what He’s said:

“I will never leave nor forsake you,”

I’m here for you always

Though it might not seem

to be, you

 I’ll not deny

 my love and tender mercy

that will see you through the day

or my comfort and compassion

to guide you through the night.

Lean on me, my dear one,

I can bear the weight

of all your worries

and your fears

and get you to the Gate

that opens up to

Peace.

* * * * *

“I heard the voice of Jesus say,

“Come unto Me and rest;

Lay down, thou weary one, lay down

Thy head upon My breast.”

I came to Jesus as I was,

So weary, worn and sad;

I found in Him a resting place,

And He has made me glad.”

~ Horatius Bonar

Thank you Lord Jesus, for the gift of your presence in my life in good times and in bad; for seeing me through those challenging times; for giving me your strength to carry on.  Help me to remember, to ponder, to consider all of the mighty deeds you have done and for the faithful day to day providences that sustain me.  Above all, help me to remember your game changing move–your death and resurrection that put an end to sin’s power over me, to Satan’s free reign, and to death’s curse.  Praise and thank you, Lord, you have made me glad!  In your name I pray, Amen.

April 29 Holding On!

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Devotion taken from Streams In The Desert compiled by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman

“Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are.”

James 5;17

Thank God for that!  He got under a juniper tree, as you and I have often done; he complained and murmured, as we have often done; was unbelieving, as we have often been.  But that was not the case when he really got into touch with God.  Though “a man subject to like passions as we are” “he prayed praying.”  It is sublime in the original–not “earnestly,” but he “prayed in prayer.”  He kept on praying.  What is the lesson here?  You must keep praying.

Come up on the top of Carmel, and see that remarkable parable of faith and sight.  It was not the descent of the fire that now was necessary, but the descent of the flood; and the man that can command the fire can command the flood by the same means and methods.  We are told that he bowed himself to the ground with his face between his knees; that is, shutting out all sights and sounds.  He was putting himself in a position where, beneath his mantle, he could neither see nor hear what was going forward.

He said to his servant, “Go and take an observation.”  He went and came back, and said–how sublimely brief! one word–“Nothing!”

What do we do under such circumstances?

We say, “It is just as I expected!” and we give up praying.  Did Elijah?  No, he said, “Go again.”  His servant again came back and said, “Nothing!”

“Go again.”

“Nothing!”

By and by he came back, and said, “There is a little cloud like a man’s hand.”  A man’s hand had been raised in supplication, and presently down came the rain; and Ahab had not time to get back to the gate of Samaria with all his fast steeds.  This is a parable of faith and sight—faith shutting itself up with God; sight taking observations and seeing nothing; faith going right on, and “praying in prayer,” with utterly hopeless reports from sight.

Do you know how to pray that way?  How to pray prevailingly?  Let sight give as discouraging reports as it may, but pay no attention to these.  The living God is still in the heavens and even to delay is part of His goodness. ~ Arthur T. Pierson

* * * * *

Each of three boys gave a definition of faith which is an illustration of the tenacity of faith. The first boy said, “It is taking hold of Christ!”; the second, “Keeping hold”; and the third, “Not letting go.”

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:17

Lord God, in prayer, You take hold of us and You never let go.  Thank You for keeping us near to You through prayer; for hearing our prayer; for knowing our heart’s desire; for knowing exactly what we need; for answering in Your time and in Your way.  Grant us a faith that will not cease praying for what is on our hearts and minds.  And may we, in full faith, pray “Lord, Your will and not mine be done.”  For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

April 23 In The Eye Of The Storm

Photo by Brandon Doss

Photo by Brandon Doss

Devotion taken from Streams In The Desert compiled by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman

“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive.”

Psalm 138:7

The Hebrew word rendering of the above is “go on in the center of trouble.”  What descriptive words!  We have called on God in the day of trouble; we have pleaded His promise of deliverance but no deliverance has been given; the enemy has continued oppressing until we were in the very thick of the fight, in the center of trouble.  Why then trouble the Master any further?

When Martha said, “Lord, if you had been here my brother had not died,” our Lord met her lack of hope with His further promise, “Thy brother shall rise again.”  And when we walk
“in the center of trouble” and are tempted to think like Martha that the time of deliverance is past, He meets us too with a promise from His Word.  “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me.”

Though His answer has so long delayed, though we may still continue to “go on” in the midst of trouble, “the center of trouble” is the place where He revives, not he place where He fails us.

When in the hopeless place, the continued hopeless place, is the very time when He will stretch forth His hand against the wrath of our enemies and perfect that which concerneth us, the very time when He will make the attack to cease and fail and come to an end.  What occasion is there then for fainting?  ~ Aphra White

The Eye of the Storm

Fear not that the whirlwind shall carry thee hence,

Nor wait for its onslaught in breathless suspense,

Nor shrink from the whips of the terrible hail,

But pass through the edge to the heart of the tale,

For there is shelter, sunlighted and warm,

And Faith sees her God through the eyes of the storm.

* * * * *

The passionate tempest with rush and wild roar

And threatenings of evil may beat on the shore,

The waves may be mountains, the fields battle plains,

And the earth be immersed in a deluge of rains,

Yet, the soul, stayed on God, may sing bravely its psalm,

For the heart of the storm is the center of calm.

* * * * *

Let hope be not quenched in the blackness of night,

Though the cyclone awhile may have blotted the light,

For behind the great darkness the stars ever shine,

And the light of God’s heavens, His love shall make thine,

Let no gloom dim thine eyes, but uplift them on high

To the face of thy God and the blue of His sky.

* * * * *

The storm is thy shelter from danger and sin,

And God Himself takes thee for safety within;

The tempest with Him passeth into deep calm,

And the roar of the winds is the sound of a psalm.

Be glad and serene when the tempest clouds form;

God smiles on His child in the eye of the storm.

Lord God, thank you for meeting us in the eye of the storm; for sheltering us, protecting us, preserving us when the tempests of our souls rage with doubts and fears.  Thank you for your peace that passes all understanding.  We give you all of our thanks and praise.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

April 22 Even Though…Yet Will I Trust Him

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Devotion taken from Streams In The Desert compiled by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman

“He knoweth the way that I take.”  Job 23:10

Believer!  What a glorious assurance!  This way of thine—this, it may be, a crooked, mysterious, tangled way—this way of trial and tears.  “He knoweth it.”  The furnace seven times heated–He lighted it.  There is an almighty Guide knowing and directing our footsteps, whether it be to the bitter Marah pool, or to the joy and refreshment in Him.

That way, dark to the Egyptians, has its pillar of cloud and fire for His own Israel.  The furnace is hot; but not only can we trust the hand that kindles it, but we have the assurance that the fires are lighted not to consume, but to refine; and that when the refining process is completed (no sooner–no later) He brings His people forth as gold.

When they think Him least near, He is often nearest.  “When my spirit was overwhelmed, then thou knew my path.”

Do we know of One brighter than the brightest radiance of the visible sun, visiting our chamber with the first waking beam of the morning; an eye of infinite tenderness and compassion following us throughout the day, knowing the way that we take?

The world, in its cold vocabulary in the hour of adversity, speaks of “Providence“–“the will of Providence–“the strokes of Providence.”  Providence!  What is that?

Why dethrone a living, directing God from the sovereignty of His own earth?  Why substitute an inanimate, deathlike abstraction, in place of an acting, controlling, personal Jehovah?

How it would take the sting from many a goading trial, to see what Job saw (in his hour of aggravated woe, when every earthly hope lay prostrate at his feet)–no hand but the divine.  He saw that hand behind the gleaming swords of the Sabeans–he saw it behind the lightning flash–he saw it giving wings to the careening tempest–he saw it in the awful silence of his rifled home.

The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away;  blessed be the name of the Lord!”

Thus, seeing God in everything, his faith reached its climax when this once powerful prince of the desert, seated on his bed of ashes, could say, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.”   ~ Macduff

Lord God, On this side of Heaven we encounter trials of all kinds.  We may be experiencing a “goading” trial right at this very moment.  And in this very moment, you are with us.  Thank you for your faithful presence, comfort and strength.  Grant us grace to live out this day by faith and before we close our eyes this night may we say, “blessed be the name of the Lord!”  May we give thanks for our Savior, Jesus Christ, who endured the greatest trials for us so that we may always have hope.  In His dear name we pray, Amen.

April 16 By Faith

Image by Marie Hagarty

Image by Marie Hagarty

Devotion taken from Streams In The Desert compiled by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman

“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed.”  Hebrews 11:8

Whither he went, he knew not;  it was enough for him to know that he went with God.  He leant not so much upon the promises as upon the Promiser.  He looked not on the difficulties of his lot, but on the King, eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, who had deigned to appoint his course, and would certainly vindicate Himself.  O glorious faith! This is thy work, these are thy possibilities; contentment to sail with sealed orders, because of unwavering confidence in the wisdom of the Lord High Admiral; willinghood to rise up, leave all, and follow Christ, because of the glad assurance that earth’s best cannot bear comparison with heaven’s least. ~F.B. M.

It is by no means enough to set out cheerfully with your God on any venture of faith.  tear into smallest pieces any itinerary for the journey which your imagination may have drawn up.

Nothing will fall out as you expect.

Your guide will keep to no beaten path.  He will lead you by a way such as you never dreamed your eyes would look upon.  He knows no fear, and He expects you to fear nothing while He is with you.

The day had gone; alone and weak

I groped my way within a bleak

And sunless land.

The path that led into the light

I could not find! In that dark night

God took my hand.

He led me that I might not stray,

And brought me by a new, safe way

I had not known.

By waters still, through pastures green

I followed Him–the path was clean

Of briar and stone.

The heavy darkness lost its strength,

My waiting eyes beheld at length

The streaking dawn.

On, safely on, through sunrise glow

I walked, my hand in His and lo,

The night had gone.

~ Annie Porter Johnson

March 24 Pointed Prayers

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Devotion taken from Streams In The Desert compiled Mrs. Charles E. Cowman

“And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord which said to me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee:  Deliver me, I pray thee.”  Genesis 32:9, 11

There are many healthy symptoms in that prayer.  In some respects it may serve as a mold into which our own spirits may pour themselves, when melted in the fiery furnace of sorrow.

He began by quoting God’s promise: “Thou saidst.”  He did so twice (9 and 12).  Ah, he has got God in his power then!  God puts Himself within our reach in His promises; and when we can say to Him, “Thou saidst,” He cannot say nay.  He must do as He has said.  If Herod was so particular for his oath’s sake, what will not our God be?  Be sure in prayer, to get you feet well on a promise;  it will give you purchase enough to force open the gates of Heaven, and to take it by force.  ~ Practical Portions for the Prayer-Life.

* * * * *

Jesus desires that we shall be definite in our requests, and that we shall ask for some special thing.  “What shall I do unto you?” is the question that He asks of every one who in affliction and trial comes to Him.  Make your requests with definite earnestness if you would have definite answers.  Be definite in your petition.  Fill out your check for something definite, and it will be cashed at the bank of heaven when presented in Jesus’ name.  Dare to be definite with God. ~ Selected

* * * * *

Miss Havergal has said: “Every year, I might almost say every day, that I live, I seem to see more clearly how all the rest and gladness and power of our Christian life hinges on one thing; and that is, taking God at His Word, believing that He really means exactly what He says, and accepting the very words in which He reveals His goodness and grace, without substituting others or altering the precise modes and tenses which He has seen fit to use.”  Bring Christ’s Word–Christ’s promise, and Christ’s sacrifice–His blood, with you, and not one of Heaven’s blessings can be denied you.  ~ Adam Clarke

And Father, when we can’t find the words to say we know that Jesus our Intercessor is praying for us;  that the Holy Spirit conveys our hearts’ deepest longings in words that escape us.  We entrust all of ourselves to You, dear Lord.  Thank you for your great love and compassion!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

March 23 A Cemetery Or Praise?

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Devotion taken from Streams In The Desert compiled by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman

“Out of the spoils won in battles did they dedicate to maintain the house of the Lord.”  1 Chronicles 26:27

Physical force is stored in the bowels of the earth, in the coal mines, which came from the fiery heat that burned up great forests in ancient ages; and so spiritual force is stored in the depths of our being, through the very pain which we cannot understand.

Someday we shall find that the spoils we have won from our trials were just preparing us to become “True Hearts” in the Pilgrim’s Progress, and to lead our fellow pilgrims triumphantly through trial to the city of the King.

But let us never forget that the source of our helping other people must be victorious suffering.  The whining, murmuring pang never does anybody any good.

Paul did not carry a cemetery with him, but a chorus of victorious praise;  and the harder the trial, the more he trusted and rejoiced, shouting from the very altar of sacrifice.  He said, “Yea, and if I be offered upon the service and sacrifice of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all.”  Lord, help me this day to draw strength from all that comes to me!  ~Days of Heaven Upon Earth.

He placed me in a little cage,

Away from gardens fair;

But I must sing the sweetest songs

because He place me there.

Not beat my wings against the cage

If it’s my Maker’s will,

But raise my voice to heaven’s gate

and sing the louder still!

* * * *

Lord God,  we can sing because You freed us from all our sin through Christ’s death on Calvary’s Cross.  Through His life in us we can bear up under the trials and pressures we face this day.  May we do so with thanksgiving on our lips and praise in our hearts for all that You have done for us.  That our songs of praise during the hardest of times bear sweet witness to those around us.  For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

March 19 Testing, Testing

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Devotion taken from Streams In The Desert compiled by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the ordeal that has come to test you…you are sharing what Christ suffered; so rejoice in it.” 1 Peter 4:12

Many a waiting hour was needful to enrich the harp of David, and many a waiting hour in the wilderness will gather for us a psalm of “thanksgiving, and the voice of melody,” to cheer the hearts of fainting ones here below, and to make glad our Father’s house on high.

What was the preparation of the son of Jesse for the songs like unto which none others have ever sounded on this earth?

The outrage of the wicked, which brought forth cries for God’s help; then, the faint hope in God’s goodness blossomed into a song of rejoicing for His mighty deliverance and manifold mercies.  Every sorrow was another string to his harp; every deliverance another them for praise.

One thrill of anguished spared, one blessing unmarked or unprized, one difficulty or danger evaded, how great would have been our loss in that thrilling psalmody in which God’s people today find the expression of their grief or praise!

To wait for God, and to suffer His will, is to know Him in the fellowship of His sufferings, and to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.

So now, if the vessel is to be enlarged for spiritual understanding, be not affrighted at the wider sphere of suffering that awaits you.  The divine capacity of sympathy will have a more extended sphere, for the breathing of the Holy Ghost in the new creation never made a stoic, but left the heart’s affection tender and true. ~ Anna Shipton

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;

my hope comes from Him.”

Trust in him at all times, O people;

pour out your hearts to him,

for God is our refuge.”

Psalm 62:5,8

Lord God, thank you for keeping us dear to your heart in our times of testing.  In Jesus’ Name, who suffered for our sake, Amen.

February 23 Blessing in Disguise

Matt Richardson

“And there came a lion” (1 Samuel 17:34).

     It is a source of inspiration and strength to come in touch the youthful David, trusting God.  Through faith in God he conquered a lion and a bear, and afterward overthrew the mighty Goliath.  When that lion came to despoil that flock, it came as a wondrous opportunity to David.  If he had failed or faltered he would have missed God’s opportunity for him and probably would never have come to be God’s chosen king of Israel. “And there came a lion.”

* * * * *

     One would not think that a lion was a special blessing from God; one would think that only an occasion of alarm.  The lion was God’s opportunity in disguise.  Every difficulty that presents itself to us, if we receive it in the right way, is God’s opportunity.  Every temptation that comes is God’s opportunity.

* * * * *

     When the “lion” comes, recognize it as God’s opportunity no matter how rough the exterior.  The very tabernacle of God was covered with badgers’ skins and goats’ hair; one would not think there would be any glory there.  The Shekinah of God was manifest under that kind of covering.  May God open our eyes to see Him, whether in temptations, trials, dangers , or misfortunes.  C.H.P.

Taken from Streams In The Desert, compiled by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman