From Every Stormy Wind That Blows

From ev’ry stormy wind that blows,
From ev’ry swelling tide of woes,
There is a calm, a sure retreat,
‘Tis found beneath the mercy seat.

There is a place where Jesus sheds
The oil of gladness on our heads,
A place than all besides more sweet;
It is the blood-stained mercy seat.

There is a spot where spirits blend,
Where friend holds fellowship with friend,
Tho’ sundered far; by faith they meet
Around the common mercy seat.

Ah, whither could we flee for aid,
When tempted, desolate, dismayed,
Or how the hosts of hell defeat,
Had suff’ring saints no mercy-seat?

There, there on eagle wings we soar,
And time and sense seem all no more,
And heav’n comes down our souls to greet,
And glory crowns the mercy seat.

O may my hand forget her skill,
My tongue be silent, cold, and still,
This bounding heart forget to beat,
If I forget the mercy seat.

-Hugh Stowell (1828), revised.

Strengthened Faith

“It may be that the reaction of some to the re-telling of the Müller story will be to wish that they themselves were similarly gifted with faith. And to be sure, Müller was a great man of faith. But in his lifetime, he used to deny that he had been given a special gift of faith.

‘My faith,’ he said, ‘is the same faith which is found in every believer. Try it for yourself and you will see the help of God, if you trust in Him.’

‘But what can we do to have our faith strengthened?’ people used to ask him.

1. ‘First,’ he would reply, ‘read the Bible carefully and thoughtfully. Then you will learn more and more about God’s character – how kind, loving, merciful, wise and faithful He is. Then when difficulties come, you will be able to rest on God’s ability and willingness to help you.’

2. ‘Second,’ said Müller, ‘try to keep your conscience clear. Otherwise when your faith is tested, you will have no confidence in God because of your guilty conscience.’

3. ‘Third, don’t try to avoid situations where your faith may be tested. Naturally we don’t like trusting in God alone but it is when we do this that our faith is strengthened.’

4. ‘Finally, remember that God won’t test you more than you are able to bear. Be patient, and He will prove to you how willing He is to help and deliver, the moment it is good for you.’”

“The living God is with us, whose power never fails, whose arm never grows weary, whose wisdom is infinite and whose power is unchanging. Therefore today, tomorrow and the next month, as long as life is continued, He will be our helper and friend. Still more, even as He is through all time, so He will be through all eternity.”

-Roger Steer writing on George Müller in Delighted in God (Christian Focus Publications, 1997), 242-243.

How to Question God

By Wyatt Graham

“Mary and Zechariah share much on common in the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel. Both are visited by the angel Gabriel. Both receive blessed news from him. Both learn they will have a child through miraculous or out of the ordinary means—Zechariah and Elizabeth are greatly advanced in years (1:7, 18) as the narrative constantly reminds us, while Mary is a virgin as the narrative also reminds us. Both children fulfill a significant Old Testament prophecy (John = Elijah and Jesus = Davidic Messiah). Both question God’s message from Gabriel.

At this point, a chasm of difference arises. One the one hand, because of Zechariah questions how he can have a child, he is silenced until God fulfills his word.  On the other hand, when Mary questions how she can have a child, she is re-assured that God will work through his Spirit to make it happen.

What’s the deal? Is God arbitrary in how he treats his people? Not at all. Listen to these questions:

ZECHARIAH

After Gabriel told him his wife would bear a son named John who will come in the spirit and the power of Elijah, Zechariah said, “ “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years” (Lk 1:18). Now, this is a rather odd response for a number of reasons. First, Zechariah was a man of God (1:6). Second, he was burning incense in the temple of the Lord alone, probably near the holy of holies (1:9). This is a significant role as he was close to God. Third, a divine and famous messenger from God is speaking to him (1:11, 19). For all these reasons, one would think Zechariah would immediately believe on account of the miraculous nature of the events transpiring.

Not only that, but if he (and his wife) was “righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord” (1:6), then he would know that Sarah was barren and her body was old when she gave birth to Isaac. He would have known that Isaac’s wife Rachel was barren but God blessed her with a child. He would have known that Hannah was barren until God opened her womb and she bore Samuel. In truth, the theme of Miraculous pregnancies or of God opening the womb of the extremely old or of the extremely barren in order to bring about a child of promise was prevalent in the Old Testament. How could Zechariah miss this?

In my opinion, I don’t think Zechariah missed either the miraculous nature of the events around him or the Old Testament examples of miraculous births. It was simply a case of unbelief. Gabriel declares that Zechariah will be unable to speak, “because you did not believe my words” (1:19).

MARY

So what about Mary? Gabriel visits her in another unlikely manner, revealing an even greater fulfillment through her seed—the divine, spirit filled Son of God who will fulfill all the Davidic promises and redeem Israel will come through her! Like Zechariah, she also questions God’s messenger and says, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (1:34). The big difference here is that her question is not one of unbelief but of misunderstanding. She does not understand how she should obey orbelieve this message from God.

She might not understand how this will happen, since she is only betrothed and not married to Joseph, the descendent of David (1:27). If her child is a son of David, would she need to have him through Joseph a descendent of David? But what did the angel mean, then, when he said, “you will conceive in your womb and bear a son” (1:31)? For these reasons, Mary asks in order to clarify or to better understand how she should believe. Gabriel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God” (1:35).

In this way, both Zechariah and Mary question God. While one questions God in unbelief, the other questions God to believe.

HOW TO QUESTION GOD

Belief seeks understanding when it turns to God in ignorance or misunderstanding. On the other hand, unbelief asserts that something is impossible and turns to God only in skepticism. It is right to question God when you do not understand something; but it is wrong to question that God will do what he says. He is faithful to do what he has promised. You may not know how this will happen but be assured that it will happen. Seek understanding and do not think you understand what is and what is not impossible with God.

Ask in order to understand–not because you already do understand.”

-Wyatt Graham, http://thecripplegate.com/how-to-question-god/

Poem on the Death of the Child of a Godly Man

There was a blameless man who was so godly he would pray
For the sins of all his children at the dawning of the day”
“Perhaps these ones I love have cursed the ever-blessed God;
So I slay this lamb and beg that You withhold Your gracious rod.”
 
Still, God saw fit to bruise him in His dark, mysterious grace,
But behind a frowning providence He hid a smiling face.
For the Lord is not so simple as to strike without an aim;
The brightly burning furnace is a purifying flame.
 
There was a tested man who lost his all and then some more.
He buried his face into his hands and bowed upon the floor.
The he cried, “Shall we receive so much that’s good from God above,
But reject His hard calamity that strikes with equal love?”
 
There was a weeping man who said that God was to be blessed
Both in poverty and riches, both in safety and distress.
So the Lord received His praises both in honor and in shame,
For this broken man found strength to say: “Lord, blessed be Your name.”
 
There is a throbbing man who is so very dear to me.
And just like the shattered Job of Uz, he’s picking up debris.
His life is now bereft of one that he had so adored.
Still, I hear him say with quivering voice, “Oh blessed be the Lord.”
 
The Lord is always giving, yet He sometimes takes away.
But the Sun still shines as brightly in the night as in the day.
Dr. Varner, please keep saying, as you feel the piercing sword:
“Oh, blessed be our sovereign God. Oh, blessed be the Lord.”
 

-David Gunderson, poem on the death of Dr. William Varner’s daughter Lynda Joy in 2005 at the age of  26. David Gunderson wrote this in response to hearing Dr. Varner mention at her funeral Job’s statement: “The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

http://dribex.tumblr.com/post/16886997117/lynda

The Testimony of John & Betty Stam

John & Betty Stam were American missionaries to China, with the China Inland Mission, during the Chinese Civil War. The missionary couple was murdered by Communist Chinese soldiers in 1934.

 

A poem written by Betty Stam at age 10:

“I cannot live like Jesus
Example though He be
For He was strong and selfless
And I am tied to me.

I cannot live like Jesus
My soul is never free
My will is strong and stubborn
My love is weak and wee.

But I have asked my Jesus
To live His life in me.
I cannot look like Jesus
More beautiful is He
In soul and eye and stature
Than sunrise on the sea.

Behold His warm, His tangible
His dear humanity.
Behold His white perfection
Of purest deity.
Yet Jesus Christ has promised
That we like Him shall be.”

 

Another poem written by Betty Stam, this time at age 18

“Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes
All my own desires and hopes
And accept Thy will for my life.
I give myself, my life, my all
Utterly to Thee to be Thine forever.
Fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit
Use me as Thou wilt, send me where Thou wilt
And work out Thy whole will in my life at any cost now and forever.”

 

Letter written by John after capture by the communists in China:

“Dear Brethren,

My wife, baby, and myself are today in the hands of the Communists, in the city ofTsingteh. Their demand is twenty thousand dollars for our release.

All our possessions and stores are in their hands, but we praise God for peace in our hearts and a meal tonight. God grant you wisdom in what you do, and us fortitude, courage, and peace of heart. He is able and a wonderful Friend in such a time.

Things happened so quickly this a.m. They were in the city just a few hours after the ever-present rumors really became alarming, so that we could not prepare to leave in time. We were just too late.

The Lord bless and guide you, and as for us, may God be glorified whether by life or by death.”

 

A Letter sent by by John Stam’s father to friends and acquaintances shortly after receiving word of John and Betty’s martyrdom.

“Our dear children, John Stam and Elisabeth Scott Stam, have gone to be with the Lord. They loved him, they served him, and now they are with him. What could be more glorious? It is true, the manner in which they were sent out of this world was a shock to us all, but whatever of suffering they may have endured is now past, and they are both infinitely blessed with the joys of heaven.

As for those of us who have been left behind, we were once more reminded of our sacred vows by a telegram received from one of John’s schoolmates in the Midwest—“Remember, you gave John to God, not toChina.” Our hearts, though bowed for a little while with sadness, answered “Amen!” It was our desire that he, as well as we, should serve the Lord, and if that could be better done by death than by life, we would have it so. The sacrifice may seem great now, but no sacrifice is too great to make for him who gave himself for us.

We are earnestly praying that it will all be for God’s glory and the salvation of souls. How glad we shall be if through this dreadful experience many souls shall be won for the Lord Jesus! How glad we shall be if many dear Christian young people shall be inspired to give themselves to the Lord as never before, for a life of sacrifice and service!

We were honored by having sons and daughters minister for our Lord among the heathen, but we are more signally honored that two of them have won the martyr’s crown. We are sure that our dear brother and sister, Dr. and Mrs. Charles Scott, both join us in saying, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

The Bible vs. Science and History

“If you can’t fully trust the Bible when it discusses science and history (secondary matters that can be verified), how can you trust it when it talks about God and salvation (supremely important matters that we can’t verify in the same way)? If you can’t trust the Bible, then you can’t trust God.”

-Kevin DeYoung ed., Don’t Call It A Comeback, 63

Quench Your Thirst

“There is no royal road to rest of soul. Let that never be forgotten. There is only one way to the Father—Jesus Christ; one door into heaven—Jesus Christ; and one path to heart-peace—Jesus Christ. By that way all “laboring and heavy-laden” ones must go, whatever be their rank or condition. Kings in their palaces and paupers in the workhouse, are all on a level in this matter. All alike must come to Christ, if they feel soul-weary and thirsty. All must drink of the same fountain, if they would have their thirst relieved.”

-J.C. Ryle, Old Paths, “Christ’s Invitation”, 371, 372.

Confidence in Christ

I know not why God’s wondrous grace

To me He hath made known,

Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love

Redeemed me for His own.
 
I know not how this saving faith

To me He did impart,

Nor how believing in His Word

Wrought peace within my heart.
 
I know not how the Spirit moves,

Convincing us of sin,

Revealing Jesus through the Word,

Creating faith in Him.
 
I know not what of good or ill

May be reserved for me,

Of weary ways or golden days,

Before His face I see.
 
I know not when my Lord may come,

At night or noonday fair,

Nor if I walk the vale with Him,

Or meet Him in the air.
 
But I know Whom I have believed,

And am persuaded that He is able

To keep that which I’ve committed

Unto Him against that day.
 
-Daniel W. Whittle, Gospel Hymns No. 4, 1883.
 
“…for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” 2 Timothy 1:12 KJV

Faith and Trust

“If God has given His Son to die for us, let us beware of doubting His kindness and love in any painful providence of our daily life. Let us never suppose that He can give us anything that is not really for our good. Let us remember the words of Paul, ‘He who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all—how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things.’ (Rom. 8:32.) Let us see in every sorrow and trouble of our earthly pilgrimage, the hand of Him who gave Christ to die for our sins. That hand can never smite us except in love. He who gave us His only begotten Son, will never withhold anything from us that is really for our good. Let us lean back on this thought and be content. Let us say to ourselves in the darkest hour of trial, ‘This also is ordered by Him who gave Christ to die for my sins. It cannot be wrong. It is done in love. It must be well.’”

J.C. Ryle, Faith