The Fiery Furnace – Streams in the Desert 01/18

“Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ” (2 Cor. 2:14).
God gets His greatest victories out of apparent defeats. Very often the enemy seems to triumph for a little, and God lets it be so; but then He comes in and upsets all the work of the enemy, overthrows the apparent victory, and as the Bible says, “turns the way of the wicked upside down.” Thus He gives a great deal larger victory than we would have known if He had not allowed the enemy, seemingly, to triumph in the first place.
The story of the three Hebrew children being cast into the fiery furnace is a familiar one. Here was an apparent victory for the enemy. It looked as if the servants of the living God were going to have a terrible defeat. We have all been in places where it seemed as though we were defeated, and the enemy rejoiced. We can imagine what a complete defeat this looked to be. They fell down into the flames, and their enemies watched them to see them burn up in that awful fire, but were greatly astonished to see them walking around in the fire enjoying themselves. Nebuchadnezzar told them to “come forth out of the midst of the fire.” Not even a hair was singed, nor was the smell of fire on their garments, “because there is no other god that can deliver after this sort.”
This apparent defeat resulted in a marvellous victory.
Suppose that these three men had lost their faith and courage, and had complained, saying, “Why did not God keep us out of the furnace!” They would have been burned, and God would not have been glorified. If there is a great trial in your life today, do not own it as a defeat, but continue, by faith, to claim the victory through Him who is able to make you more than conqueror, and a glorious victory will soon be apparent. Let us learn that in all the hard places God brings us into, He is making opportunities for us to exercise such faith in Him as will bring about blessed results and greatly glorify His name. –Life of Praise

“Defeat may serve as well as victory
To shake the soul and let the glory out.
When the great oak is straining in the wind,
The boughs drink in new beauty, and the trunk
Sends down a deeper root on the windward side.
Only the soul that knows the mighty grief
Can know the mighty rapture. Sorrows come
To stretch out spaces in the heart for joy.”

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Another Year For Thee by Frances Ridley Havergal

Another Year Is Dawning
Another Year is dawning!
Dear Master let me be,
In working or in waiting,
Another year with thee.
Another year in leaning,
Upon Thy loving breast,
Of ever-deepening trustfulness
Of quiet, happy rest.

Another year of mercies,
Of faithfulness and grace;
Another year of gladness,
In the shinning on thy face,
Another of praise;
Another year of proving
Thy presence “all the days.”

Another year of service,
Of witness for thy love;
Another year of training
For holier works above.
Another year is dawning!
Dear Master, let it be
On earth, or else in heaven
Another year for thee!

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The Living God – Streams in the Desert 01/17

“O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee” (Dan. 6:20).
How many times we find this expression in the Scriptures, and yet it is just this very thing that we are so prone to lose sight of. We know it is written “the living God”; but in our daily life there is scarcely anything we practically so much lose sight of as the fact that God is the living God; that He is now whatever He was three or four thousand years since; that He has the same sovereign power, the same saving love towards those who love and serve Him as ever He had and that He will do for them now what He did for others two, three, four thousand years ago, simply because He is the living God, the unchanging One. Oh, how therefore we should confide in Him, and in our darkest moments never lose sight of the fact that He is still and ever will be the living God!
Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him and expect help from Him, He will never fail you. An older brother who has known the Lord for forty-four years, who writes this, says to you for your encouragement that He has never failed him. In the greatest difficulties, in the heaviest trials, in the deepest poverty and necessities, He has never failed me; but because I was enabled by His grace to trust Him He has always appeared for my help. I delight in speaking well of His name. –George Mueller

Luther was once found at a moment of peril and fear, when he had need to grasp unseen strength, sitting in an abstracted mood tracing on the table with his finger the words, “Vivit! vivit!” (“He lives! He lives!”). It is our hope for ourselves, and for His truth, and for mankind. Men come and go; leaders, teachers, thinkers speak and work for a season, and then fall silent and impotent. He abides. They die, but He lives. They are lights kindled, and, therefore, sooner or later quenched; but He is the true light from which they draw all their brightness, and He shines for evermore. –Alexander Maclaren

“One day I came to know Dr. John Douglas Adam,” writes C. G. Trumbull. “I learned from him that what he counted his greatest spiritual asset was his unvarying consciousness of the actual presence of Jesus. Nothing bore him up so, he said, as the realization that Jesus was always with him in actual presence; and that this was so independent of his own feelings, independent of his deserts, and independent of his own notions as to how Jesus would manifest His presence.
“Moreover, he said that Christ was the home of his thoughts. Whenever his mind was free from other matters it would turn to Christ; and he would talk aloud to Christ when he was alone–on the street, anywhere–as easily and naturally as to a human friend. So real to him was Jesus’ actual presence.

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Amid the Fears that Oppress Our Day by Margaret Clarkson

Amid the fears that oppress our day,
Across the clouds that obscure our way,
One golden truth sheds its shining ray—
Our God is sovereign still.

Refrain

His holy purpose unchanging stands,
The stars still turn at their Lord’s commands;
He holds the world in His mighty hands—
Our God is sovereign still!
Our God is sovereign still!

Though wars may rise, and though kingdoms fall,
Though ills may threaten, and fears enthrall,
Our God still lives, and He hears our call—
Our God is sovereign still.

Refrain

Though fierce the fight ’gainst the hosts of wrong,
His Word is sure, and His arm is strong;
The day is His: raise His triumph song—
Our God is sovereign still.

Refrain

When Christ shall come to receive His own,
When His the kingdom, the pow’r, the throne,
Eternal King He shall reign alone—
Our God is sovereign still.

Refrain

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The Breaking of the Storm – Streams in the Desert 01/16

“And there arose a great storm” (Mark 4:37).
Some of the storms of life come suddenly: a great sorrow, a bitter disappointment, a crushing defeat. Some come slowly. They appear upon the ragged edges of the horizon no larger than a man’s hand, but, trouble that seems so insignificant spreads until it covers the sky and overwhelms us.
Yet it is in the storm that God equips us for service. When God wants an oak He plants it on the moor where the storms will shake it and the rains will beat down upon it, and it is in the midnight battle with elements that the oak wins its rugged fibre and becomes the king of the forest.
When God wants to make a man He puts him into some storm. The history of manhood is always rough and rugged. No man is made until he has been out into the surge of the storm and found the sublime fulfilment of the prayer: “O God, take me, break me, make me.”
A Frenchman has painted a picture of universal genius. There stand orators, philosophers and martyrs, all who have achieved pre-eminence in any phase of life; the remarkable fact about the picture is this: Every man who is pre-eminent for his ability was first pre-eminent for suffering. In the foreground stands that figure of the man who was denied the promised land, Moses. Beside him is another, feeling his way–blind Homer. Milton is there, blind and heart-broken. Now comes the form of one who towers above them all. What is His characteristic? His Face is marred more than any man’s. The artist might have written under that great picture, “The Storm.”
The beauties of nature come after the storm. The rugged beauty of the mountain is born in a storm, and the heroes of life are the storm-swept and the battle-scarred.
You have been in the storms and swept by the blasts. Have they left you broken, weary, beaten in the valley, or have they lifted you to the sunlit summits of a richer, deeper, more abiding manhood and womanhood? Have they left you with more sympathy with the storm-swept and the battle-scarred? –Selected

The wind that blows can never kill
The tree God plants;
It bloweth east, it bloweth west,
The tender leaves have little rest,
But any wind that blows is best.
The tree that God plants
Strikes deeper root, grows higher still,
Spreads greater boughs, for God’s good will
Meets all its wants.
There is no storm hath power to blast
The tree God knows;
No thunderbolt, nor beating rain,
Nor lightning flash, nor hurricane;
When they are spent, it doth remain,
The tree God knows,
Through every tempest standeth fast,
And from its first day to its last
Still fairer grows. –Selected

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All things bright and beautiful by Cecil F. Alexander

Refrain:
All things bright and beautiful,
all creatures great and small,
all things wise and wonderful,
the Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens,
each little bird that sings,
he made their glowing colors,
he made their tiny wings. Refrain

The purple-headed mountain,
the river running by,
the sunset, and the morning
that brightens up the sky. Refrain

The cold wind in the winter,
the pleasant summer sun,
the ripe fruits in the garden,
he made them every one. Refrain

He gave us eyes to see them,
and lips that we might tell
how great is God Almighty,
who has made all things well. Refrain

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All the World for Jesus by Carrie Breck

Take up the battle cry all along the line;
You shall gain the victory, victory divine,
With your Commander nigh, foes in vain combine;
Raise aloft the banner, let it bear the sign.

Refrain

“All the world for Jesus,” let the chorus ring;
“All the world for Jesus,” crown Him King;
“All the world for Jesus,” let the watchword be
“Forward go in Jesus’ Name to victory.”

Truth’s armor you may claim, faith will be your shield;
Fighting on in Jesus’ Name, mighty power you wield;
Glory for God your aim, naught can make you yield;
Shout aloud the triumph sure to be revealed.

Refrain

Soldiers, with courage go, go forsaking all;
Onward, then, to meet the foe, soon the foe shall fall;
Send mighty blow on blow—let no fear appall;
In the Name of Jesus, sound afar the call.

Refrain

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Be Still – Streams in the Desert 01/15

“And the Lord appeared unto Isaac the same night” (Gen. 26:24).
“Appeared the same night,” the night on which he went to Beer-sheba. Do you think this revelation was an accident? Do you think the time of it was an accident? Do you think it could have happened on any other night as well as this? If so, you are grievously mistaken. Why did it come to Isaac in the night on which he reached Beersheba? Because that was the night on which he reached rest. In his old locality, he had been tormented. There had been a whole series of petty quarrels about the possession of paltry wells. There are no worries like little worries, particularly if there is an accumulation of them. Isaac felt this. Even after the strife was past, the place retained a disagreeable association. He determined to leave. He sought change of scene. He pitched his tent away from the place of former strife. That very night the revelation came. God spoke when there was no inward storm. He could not speak when the mind was fretted; His voice demands the silence of the soul. Only in the hush of the spirit could Isaac hear the garments of his God sweep by. His still night was his starry night.
My soul, hast thou pondered these words, “Be still, and know”? In the hour of perturbation, thou canst not hear the answer to thy prayers. How often has the answer seemed to come long after I The heart got no response in the moment of its crying–in its thunder, its earthquake, and its fire. But when the crying ceased, when the stillness fell, when thy hand desisted from knocking on the iron gate, when the interest of other lives broke the tragedy of thine own, then appeared the long-delayed reply. Thou must rest, O soul, if thou wouldst have thy heart’s desire. Still the beating of thy pulse of personal care. Hide thy tempest of individual trouble behind the altar of a common tribulation and, that same night, the Lord shall appear to thee. The rainbow shall span the place of the subsiding flood, and in thy stillness thou shalt hear the everlasting music. –George Matheson

Tread in solitude thy pathway,
Quiet heart and undismayed.
Thou shalt know things strange, mysterious,
Which to thee no voice has said.
While the crowd of petty hustlers
Grasps at vain and paltry things,
Thou wilt see a great world rising
Where soft mystic music rings.
Leave the dusty road to others,
Spotless keep thy soul and bright,
As the radiant ocean’s surface
When the sun is taking flight.
–(From the German of V. Schoffel) H. F.

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Put Forth – Streams in the Desert 01/14

“He putteth forth his own sheep” (John10:4).
Oh, this is bitter work for Him and us–bitter for us to go, but equally bitter for Him to cause us pain; yet it must be done. It would not be conducive to our true welfare to stay always in one happy and comfortable lot. He therefore puts us forth. The fold is deserted, that the sheep may wander over the bracing mountain slope. The labourers must be thrust out into the harvest, else the golden grain would spoil.
Take heart! it could not be better to stay when He determines otherwise; and if the loving hand of our Lord puts us forth, it must be well. On, in His name, to green pastures and still waters and mountain heights! He goeth before thee. Whatever awaits us is encountered first by Him. Faith’s eye can always discern His majestic presence in front; and when that cannot be seen, it is dangerous to move forward. Bind this comfort to your heart, that the Saviour has tried for Himself all the experiences through which He asks you to pass; and He would not ask you to pass through them unless He was sure that they were not too difficult for your feet, or too trying for your strength.
This is the Blessed Life–not anxious to see far in front, nor careful about the next step, not eager to choose the path, nor weighted with the heavy responsibilities of the future, but quietly following behind the Shepherd, one step at a time.

Dark is the sky! and veiled the unknown morrow;
Dark is life’s way, for night is not yet o’er;
The longed-for glimpse I may not meanwhile borrow;
But, this I know, HE GOETH ON BEFORE.
Dangers are nigh! and fears my mind are shaking;
Heart seems to dread what life may hold in store;
But I am His–He knows the way I’m taking,
More blessed still–HE GOETH ON BEFORE.
Doubts cast their weird, unwelcome shadows o’er me,
Doubts that life’s best–life’s choicest things are o’er;
What but His Word can strengthen, can restore me,
And this blest fact; that still HE GOES BEFORE.
HE GOES BEFORE! Be this my consolation!
He goes before! On this my heart would dwell!
He goes before! This guarantees salvation!
HE GOES BEFORE! And therefore all is well.
–J. D. Smith

The Oriental shepherd was always ahead of his sheep. He was down in front. Any attack upon them had to take him into account. Now God is down in front. He is in the tomorrows. It is tomorrow that fills men with dread. God is there already. All the tomorrows of our life have to pass Him before they can get to us. –F. B. M.

“God is in every tomorrow,
Therefore I live for today,
Certain of finding at sunrise,
Guidance and strength for the way;
Power for each moment of weakness,
Hope for each moment of pain,
Comfort for every sorrow,
Sunshine and joy after rain.”

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Abide In Christ! By Magdalene Klinksiek Jenkins

Philippians 1:6 “… being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

He who began His work in you
will bring it to an end.
He has given His life for you
So never try in your own strength
to master your own way.
Abide in Christ, hold onto Him
and trust Him day by day.
He has a purpose for your life,
and He will guide you through.
Just claim the promises He gave,
have faith what He can do.
Obey His word, ask for His will,
and tell Him all your need.
And by the grace of God you grow,
to be His precious seed.

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