Dying but Living

(Taken from God is Enough, Hannah Whithall Smith, p. 271)

Christ died to give me actual holiness as well as judicial; He died to make me really dead to sin and really alive to God in Him.  He died in order that He might become my life — the only life I have — and , living as one, He might work in me that which is pleasing in His sight.  I therefore die voluntarily that I may be alive in Him.  I lay down my own life and declare myself to be dead in order that Christ may become my life.  With Paul I say,

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I life; yet not I but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20)

So I am abiding in Christ and He is living in me.  All I have to do now is yield myself to Him as one alive from the dead and allow Him to do with me whatever He pleases!

I do not always abide in Him.  Alas, no!  Satan sometimes succeeds in enticing me out and making me take up my old life in the flesh again.  But thanks be to my might Savior, His blood avails to atone for even this, and again and again He forgives me and cleanses me afresh from all unrighteousness.  I find that daily I learn more and more to hang on to Christ by a naked unfaltering faith, and as a result I find myself more and more confirmed in abiding in Him.

Any why should not the time come even for me, when I will be so established and settled there as to go out no more?

 

Hannah Whitall Smith (1832-1911) was converted in 1868, age 36.  She and her husband were birthright Quakers and lived in a time of spiritually barrenness in the Quaker movement. America was experiencing what is now known as the Third Great Awakening (1867-1868), and the Smiths were among the many that found true conversion.

This excerpt was written nine year after Mrs. Smith’s conversion; she lived another forty-four years.  Did she ever reach that level of perfection which she questions at the end of the devotion?  Can we reach a point where the flesh has absolutely no control over us, and Satan is completely defeated in our lives?

Consider Joseph, one of my favorite Bible heroes.  We never read of any shortcomings or character faults in Joseph.  Does that mean he didn’t have any?  I seriously doubt it.  There is only one Man who ever lived on the face of this earth, who was completely sinless!  To think otherwise sounds a bit Popeish!

The Bible certainly teaches us that we can sin less, praise God; but we will not be sinless until we see our dear Savior face to face. and the “old man” (2 Cor. 5:17) is once and for all truly gone!

Mrs. Smith gives us such a wonderful challenge.  I choose to take it and leave the rest with God!  (Deut. 29:29)

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin,

when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
Do not err, my beloved brethren. James 1:14-16

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Trusting His Keeping

Picture1“If we trust for ourselves, we must trust for our loved ones also, especially for our children.  God is more their Father than their earthly fathers are, and if they are dear to us they are far dearer to Him.  We cannot, therefore, do anything better for them than to trust them in God’s care, or do hardly anything worse for them than to try to keep them in our own care.

I knew a Christian mother who trusted peacefully for her own salvation but was racked with anxiety about her sons, who seemed entirely indifferent to all religious subjects.  One evening she heard about putting those we love into the fortress of God by faith and leaving them there.  Like a flash of heavenly light, she saw the inconsistency of hiding herself in God’s fortress and leaving her beloved sons outside.  At once her faith took them into the fortress with her, and she abandoned them to the care of God.

She did this so fully that all her anxiety vanished and perfect peace dawned on her soul.  She told me she felt somehow that her sons were God’s sons now and no longer hers.  He loved them far better than she could and would care for them far more wisely and effectually.  She held herself in readiness to do for them whatever the Lord might suggest, but she felt that He was the One who would know what was best, and she was content to leave the matter in His hands.”   God is Enough – Hannah Whithall Smith p. 246

Quite the challenge: only trust Him – the One who fills the universe and knows every second our our future!  Why is it so hard to do so when it comes to our children?  🙂

It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. (especially ourselves!)  Psalm 118:8

God’s Ultimate Creation – Our Ultimate Sacrifice

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.  Psalm 19:1-4

What would you name as God’s ultimate creation?  Many of you know how I love the stars. If I go down behind the house, the lights from the church street sign and the business next door is shadowed, and I can see a slice of the evening sky in total darkness.  If you stay out there long enough allowing your eyes to adjust, more and more stars appear; and when looking through binoculars – the sight is breath-taking: literally billions of stars dot the sky like something out of an astronomy textbook!  Are the heavens God’s ultimate creation?  Or is it the beauties of our earth: crashing waterfalls, breathtaking summits, or the myriad of unique creatures in the animal kingdom?

Although all these are wonderful creations which shout of their Creator’s existence, God’s ultimate creation is man.  Though he cures God, denies His existence, and goes his own way, man is made in the image of God; and only man carries a living soul within his body. (Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.)

At times, this ultimate creation requires the ultimate sacrifice on our part: the death of a loved one.  This summer, we witnessed the amazing faith of Dr. and Mrs. Phelps and others in their congregation as they were interviewed by the local press concerning the loss of their son, daughter-in-law and unborn grandchild in a horrific bus accident.  Other lives were lost as well, but because of their loss, many souls of God’s ultimate creation were saved.

Just this morning, I heard of another death: a retired missionary in Mexico.  After a weeklong visit with her grandchildren, the wife came home to find that her husband had been bound and beaten to death.  My first reaction was, “Why, Lord,” especially because he was the brother of my dear mentor who just lost her husband several weeks ago.  “It’s too much, Lord,” my heart cried.

How do we square the idea, that God is always good and always does what is best when we face the ultimate sacrifice?

Years ago, while visiting in a nearby neighborhood for our church in Greenville, SC, we finished a newer development and then started walking down a dirt road that led out of the back of the development.  We literally crossed over the tracks into what I can only describe as a shanty town: a row of ramshackle houses lined both sides of the road.  As we walked up onto the porch of the first place, we were careful to miss the holes in the flooring and knocked on the two-room shack.  From inside, we were called to come in.  A black man who looked to be as old as time itself spoke to us awhile before he motioned us to the other room. “She’d like to hear what you have to say,” he said.

In the adjoining room lay his wife on a bed.  The sheets were gray, and although it was warm outside, the place was stifling because of the wood stove that was burning in the living room.  As she beckoned us in, the first thing I noticed was her missing teeth, but then I noticed that both her arms were missing as well.  It was one of the hardest visits I ever made, but it was also one of the most rewarding.  As we spoke to her, she became the one with the “Good News” that ministered to our spirits.  I can still hear her quoting Job 1:21: “…the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

How can these people “stay the course” in the face of such difficulties?  Once again God gives us the answer through His Word and His Spirit working in and through His people. Hannah Whitall Smith states:

“We may make out of each event in our lives either a Juggernaut (a very large, heavy truck) to crush us or a chariot of God in which to ride to heights of victory.  It all depends on how we take things – whether we lie down under our trials and let them roll over and crush us or whether we climb up into them as into a chariot and make them carry us triumphantly onward and upward.” (God is Enough, October 2)

The ache is still there, the vacant place still haunts us, and there are times of defeat and discouragement; but our anchor WILL hold if we don’t let go of the chain!

Totally Consecrating

ID-100145358Hannah Whitall Smith lived at the end of the nineteenth century (1832-1911), and her writings still bless Christians today.

This passage from a daily devotional called God is Enough (August 29) was taken from her dairies dating back to 1859, one year after her conversion.  Her sensed of consecration is an inspiration to any Christian no matter where he or she may be on the path of faith.

Lord, I am Yours. Yours wholly and Yours forever!  I am Yours by the purchase of Your blood, and I give myself to You now as a living sacrifice – body, soul, and spirit – to be as clay in Your hands.

I give You my heart, Lord, to love only what You love, to hate what You hate [that is any excellent definition of the fear of God], to endure all things, to suffer long and be kind, to be not easily provoked.  To think no evil, not to seek my own, help me, oh my God!

I give You my mind to be wholly devoted to Your service and perfectly under Your control, to think only those thoughts that will please You, to devise only such plans as You suggest, to yield the management of all its affairs to You.  To bring every thought to the obedience of Christ, help me, oh my God!

I give You my body to be used by You – my eyes to see only what You would have them see, my ears to hear only what You would have them hear, my feet to go only where You lead, my hands to do such work only as can be done in fellowship with You, my tongue to speak only words that please You, Lord, to be all Yours. Help me, oh my God!

I give you my children, my husband, and all whom I love, to be disposed of according to your will.  I leave to your the ordering of my whole life, and with Your help will follow You wherever You lead. I will give You the control of my feelings and of my prejudices.  I submit in short my whole being and life – all that I am, and have, and will be, to Your control; and ask only that Your will may be perfectly done in me, through me, and by me!  Take me and keep me, oh my God!

So easy to read and write – so difficult to do day after day – only by His grace!  She now sits at Jesus’ feet.  Her race is complete!  I am certain that if she lived by this prayer, she has already heard those words we all desire to hear: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

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Wooing Not Demanding

ID-100159550The law says, This do and you will live.

The gospel says, Live, and then you will do.

The law says, Pay me what you owe me.

The gospel says,I freely forgive you everything.

The law says, Make yourself a new heart and new spirit.

The gospel says, A new heart will I gave you, and a new spirit will I put within you.

The law says, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.

The gospel says, Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loves us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

The law ways, Cursed is everyone who doesn’t continue in all things written in the book of the law to do them.

The gospel says, Blessed is the man whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.

The law says, The wages of sin is death.

The gospel says,The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The law demands holiness.

The gospel gives holiness.

The law says, Do.

The gospel says, Done.

The law extorts the unwilling service of a slave.

The gospel wins the loving service of a son and friend.

The law makes blessings the result of obedience.

The gospel makes obedience the results of blessings.

The law places the day of rest at the end of the weeks’s work.

The gospel places it at its beginning.

The law says, If.

The gospel says, Therefore.

The law was given for the restraint of the old man.

The gospel was given to bring liberty to the new man.

Under the law, salvation was wages.

Under the gospel, salvation is a gift.

God is Enough – Hanna Whitall Smith

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