by Mike Ratliff
I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me. Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. (Philippians 2:25-3:1 ESV)
God uses our circumstances to shape, prune, and purify our hearts. This is that part of our sanctification that can be quite stressful and even seem as if we are in the flames of God’s wrath at times. However, what is happening to God’s people whom He takes through sickness, painful circumstances, frustrations, or anything that seems at times that is bent on destroying us, is that they are being humbled and trained for service of the King. Only the humble are usable in the Kingdom, but people are naturally full of pride. Sometimes our tests and trials come upon us when we are actually serving God with our all. Think of Job and the great test God allowed in his life at Satan’s hand. A deep study of that book will reveal that troubles in our lives are not always the result of our disobedience. No, God can place us in the fire for any purpose, but it will always be for our best and His glory. Continue reading
by Charles Spurgeon
“My people shall dwell in quiet resting places.”-Isaiah 32:18
Peace and rest belong not to the unregenerate, they are the peculiar possession of the Lord’s people, and of them only. The God of Peace gives perfect peace to those whose hearts are stayed upon Him. When man was unfallen, his God gave him the flowery bowers of Eden as his quiet resting places; alas! how soon sin blighted the fair abode of innocence. In the day of universal wrath when the flood swept away a guilty race, the chosen family were quietly secured in the resting-place of the ark, which floated them from the old condemned world into the new earth of the rainbow and the covenant, herein typifying Jesus, the ark of our salvation. Israel rested safely beneath the blood-besprinkled habitations of Egypt when the destroying angel smote the first-born; and in the wilderness the shadow of the pillar of cloud, and the flowing rock, gave the weary pilgrims sweet repose. At this hour we rest in the promises of our faithful God, knowing that His words are full of truth and power; we rest in the doctrines of His word, which are consolation itself; we rest in the covenant of His grace, which is a haven of delight. More highly favoured are we than David in Adullam, or Jonah beneath his gourd, for none can invade or destroy our shelter. The person of Jesus is the quiet resting-place of His people, and when we draw near to Him in the breaking of the bread, in the hearing of the word, the searching of the Scriptures, prayer, or praise, we find any form of approach to Him to be the return of peace to our spirits.
“I hear the words of love, I gaze upon the blood,
I see the mighty sacrifice, and I have peace with God.
‘Tis everlasting peace, sure as Jehovah’s name,
‘Tis stable as His steadfast throne, for evermore the same:
The clouds may go and come, and storms may sweep my sky,
This blood-sealed friendship changes not, the cross is ever nigh.”
From Spurgeon’s Evening by Evening Devotional for December 9th.