Thursday, January 31

Aching For Heaven?

The following drives to the heart of what God designed for this life. This should be the church's aim as well. Read and re-read these words from William Sangster. They hit home!

At home with the Lord.  —2 Corinthians 5:8

Deep in the human heart there is a homing instinct, profound, persistent, ineradicable, that we often ignore and might even deny.

There is something in us that earth can never satisfy. It is common for people to say and to believe that if they only had this or that thing they would always be happy, and some of them die believing it. But the evidence of those who obtain the treasure does not bear them out. It satisfied for a little while—and then there was the old, persistent hunger again, clamorous as ever.

Earth does not satisfy us. I cannot help but feel that that is an impressive fact. I believe that there is in us a homesickness for heaven, that that ache which earth cannot satisfy can be satisfied by God, that all feel it, but only some understand it.

God has put in the heart of everyone of us a longing for himself. The mass of humanity does not understand it. People just know that there are times when they want to be quiet, times when they want to be alone, times when the calendar or the stars or death speaks to them. They hunger and they thirst—but for what?

It is part of the service of religion to make the hunger of our souls clear to us.

You may have lost your way, but don’t lose your address. Don’t deny that hunger in your soul. Don’t say, “It isn’t there; earth satisfies me; when this life is over I will have had all that I want of life.”

The homesickness for God in your heart is a precious, divine gift. It won’t make you less keen to serve others here below, but it will be a constant reminder to you that the most permanent dwelling earth provides is a tent, and at any time the word may come to draw the pegs. We are, indeed, strangers and pilgrims here below.

Here we sojourn; there we belong. You will work with zest and skill and thoroughness in all that concerns the outworking of God’s purpose on this earth, and you will work the better because, by faith, you have the perfect always in view.

—William E. Sangster

Wallis, D. (2001). Take Heart: Daily devotions with the church's great preachers (40). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.

Tuesday, January 1

Puzzled By Life's Trials? There's Help!

What are you planning to do this year to improve spiritually? I suggest taking in God's Word. No surprise there. Read with the Holy Spirit's help. Read in order to KNOW God more intimately. Last year I read 5 different devotionals in addition to reading through Scripture. As a pastor, I have that luxury. Perhaps your job or schooling prevents such a time constraint. I understand that, having been in the labor force for many years--construction, sales, etc. But we can do something. And certainly more Christians could do more. Well, one devotional I am going to read this year has as its preface the following (in part). Compiled by Diana Wallis, she culled out of the writings of great preachers of the past such teachings as might aid our spiritual examination and improvement. I include the following for your beginning-of-year encouragement. And maybe you'll get your hands on a copy of this or another good and challenging devotional and stick with it throughout the year. God bless you richly!! Here's an excerpt from Wallis' compilation:

The preachers quoted in this volume weren’t of the smile-God-loves-you variety. They didn’t sugarcoat life. Take this, for example, from a sermon preached by Arthur John Gossip shortly after the death of his wife:
I do not understand this life of ours, but still less can I comprehend how people in trouble and loss and bereavement can run away peevishly from the Christian faith. In God’s name, run to what? Have we not lost enough without losing that too? If Christ is right—if, as he says, there are somehow, hidden away from our eyes as yet… wisdom and planning and kindness and love in these dark dispensations—then we can see them through.… Already some things have become very clear to me. This to begin, that the faith works, fulfills itself, is real, and that its most audacious promises are true.… Further, one becomes certain about immortality. You think that you believe in that. But wait till you have lowered your dearest into an open grave, and you will know what believing it means.
 When facing calamities large and small in our own lives, surely we can take heart from such testimony as that.   
That the gospel is clearly proclaimed in these pages may seem superfluous in a book whose audience likely already believes in Christ. But, first, these preachers did, after all, proclaim the gospel. And second, the gospel is the great joy of believers. So be reminded, and meditate on the truths of it.

Wallis, D. (2001). Take Heart: Daily devotions with the church's great preachers (6–8). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.