Sunday, January 19, 2014

Purified in God's Love

By Mary Wilder Tileston

I will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried.

AS the purifying process is carried on, "the refiner watches the operation, with the greatest earnestness, until the metal has the appearance of a highly polished mirror, reflecting every object around it: even the refiner, as he looks upon the mass of metal, may see himself as in a looking-glass, and thus he can form a very correct judgment respecting the purity of the metal. When he is satisfied, the fire is withdrawn, and the metal removed from the furnace." 

See Jesus, as the Refiner, watching "with the greatest earnestness" the purifying of thy soul in the furnace of earth. His hand has lighted the fire which is now separating the pure metal of holiness from the dross of sin in thee. His loving eye is ever eagerly watching for the moment when the purifying work is done. Then, without a moment's delay, He withdraws the fire, and the purified soul is removed from the furnace. See, again, when it is that the purification is completed; it is when the Image of Christ is reflected in us, so that He can see Himself in us as in a mirror. Raise your eyes, then, amidst the flames, and see the Face of Jesus watching you with the tender pity and intense interest of His love.

Pressing Forward

By Mrs. Charles E. Cowman

"I was much so that I despaired even of life, but that was to make me rely not on myself, but on the God who raises the dead" (2 Cor. 1:8, 9).

"Pressed out of measure and pressed to all length;
Pressed so intensely it seems, beyond strength;
Pressed in the body and pressed in the soul,
Pressed in the mind till the dark surges roll.
Pressure by foes, and a pressure from friends.
Pressure on pressure, till life nearly ends.

"Pressed into knowing no helper but God;
Pressed into loving the staff and the rod.
Pressed into liberty where nothing clings;
Pressed into faith for impossible things.
Pressed into living a life in the Lord,
Pressed into living a Christ-life outpoured."

The pressure of hard places makes us value life. Every time our life is given back to us from such a trial, it is like a new beginning, and we learn better how much it is worth, and make more of it for God and man. The pressure helps us to understand the trials of others, and fits us to help and sympathize with them.

There is a shallow, superficial nature, that gets hold of a theory or a promise lightly, and talks very glibly about the distrust of those who shrink from every trial; but the man or woman who has suffered much never does this, but is very tender and gentle, and knows what suffering really means. This is what Paul meant when he said, "Death worketh in you."

Trials and hard places are needed to press us forward, even as the furnace fires in the hold of that mighty ship give force that moves the piston, drives the engine, and propels that great vessel across the sea in the face of the winds and waves. --A. B. Simpson

"Out of the presses of pain,
Cometh the soul's best wine;
And the eyes that have shed no rain,
Can shed but little shine."

The Disease of Misplaced Hope

By A.W. Tozer

In a previous piece I said that hope is unique in being at once the most precious and the most treacherous of all our treasures. I have shown that, as Goldsmith says, "Hope, like the gleaming taper's light, Adorns and cheers our way." 

But we do not listen long to the voice of the keen and experienced teachers of the race until we detect a note of bitterness when they speak of hope. Dryden says bluntly, "When I consider life, 'tis all a cheat. Yet fooled with hope, men favour the deceit."

And the cynical La Rochefoucauld writes: "Hope, deceitful as it is, serves at least to lead us to the end of life along an agreeable road."

Why this contradiction? Why is hope thought to be both good and bad, both cheerful and deceitful? A little observation will show us why.

Hope has sustained the spirit of many a shipwrecked sailor by painting for him a tender picture of rescue and reunion with loved ones, only to leave him at last to die of thirst and exposure on the vast bosom of the sea. Hope has kept many a prisoner believing he could not hang, that a pardon would surely come, and then stood calmly by and watched him die at the end of a rope. Hope has cheered a thousand victims of cancer and tuberculosis with whispered promises of returning health who were never again to know one single day of health till they died. Hope has told the mother that her son missing in action was surely alive, and kept her watching till the end of her days for the letter that never came and that never could come because the boy that might have written it had long been sleeping in an unmarked grave on a foreign shore.

Surely for the fallen sons of men, the Hindu proverb is true: "There is no disease like hope." Hope that has no guarantee of fulfillment is a false friend that comforts us a while with flattery and leaves us to our enemies. Expectation of a bright tomorrow when no such tomorrow can be ours will be bitterness compounded by despair in the day of the great reckoning.