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The Wednesday Word: God’s Hidden Face

By Pastor Joseph Terrell

Grace Community Church of Rock Valley, IA

I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding His face from the descendants of Jacob. I will put my trust in him. ~Isaiah 8.17

Child of God, do you not find that your most difficult times are those in which the Lord “hides His face”? When God leads a child of His into some deep sorrow of life – some sickness, reversal of fortune or some great loss – such sorrow is bearable if his child can say with confidence, “Even if He leads me through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for my God is with me!” If we sense that God is present with us, we fear no harm even if thousands upon thousands are opposed to us.

But God purposefully hides His face from His people. He withdraws the tokens of His presence. He lets our minds become clouded with doubts. He allows a fog of emotional distress to hide His presence with us. We cannot see Him for He has hidden Himself. The thought that God would hide himself from us only serves to strengthen our distress for we conclude that He would not do so if He loved us.

We surmise that any gracious thought of God toward us would certainly lead to His bestowing rich temporal blessings upon us – “smiling down from heaven” so to speak. But our experience teaches us differently. Sometimes at the very point at which it would seem most helpful to us for God somehow to affirm His presence with us He becomes invisible. He hides. We call out, yet it seems no one is listening. We read His Word yet it seems no one is speaking. We feel horribly closed off and alone

We are all familiar with lighthouses. They serve to warn ships of the location of the shoreline so as to prevent them from crashing on the rocks. But, what of foggy nights when the light cannot be seen? A lighthouse is useless in a dense fog until the ship is too close to avoid danger. At such times, a fog horn is sounded. It may not be as cheering as the light on a clear night. But it tells the captain of the ship all that the light could tell him. It assures him that those concerned for the safety of the ship are still there. And it provides him with the information necessary to avoid the shallow waters of destruction.

The Lord Jesus did not say, “My sheep see my face and they follow me.” He said, “My sheep HEAR MY VOICE, and they follow me.” His voice is the gospel. It is the gospel to which we must ever be attentive. Who knows, our seeking to “see Him” may be the very reason He has hidden His face. We have sought subjective experience rather than objective truth. So He hides His face so that we will be forced to listen to His voice. When we cannot see, let us listen carefully.

When the light is obscured by the fog of our natural selves or even by providential circumstances, let us listen. And as we listen, let us wait, knowing that the face of the Lord will once again appear to our hearts. His voice assures us that He is near and this gives us hope that, in time, He shall appear. And as we wait, let us trust. Sometimes, we do not “see His face” for very long stretches of time. In this our faith is tested. We walk by faith, not by sight. We must simply trust His word – His voice – or we will despair of His goodness and seek our safety elsewhere. God grant that in seasons of no sight, we will content ourselves with the sound of His voice.

(Joseph Terrell)

www.miles mckee.com 

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Happy Thanksgiving 2016

November 24, 2016 2 comments

Reformedontheweb would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

With that said, I will leave you with a quote by Spurgeon:

“But how shall we give crowning thanksgiving for this crowning mercy of the year? We can do it, dear friends, by the inward emotions of gratitude. Let our hearts be warmed; let our spirits remember, meditate, and think upon this goodness of the Lord. Meditation upon this mercy may tend to nourish in you the tenderest feelings of affection, and your souls will be knit to the Father of spirits, who pitieth his children. Again, praise him with your lips; let psalms and hymns employ your tongues to-day: and tomorrow, when we meet together at the prayer-meeting, let us turn it rather into a praise-meeting, and let us laud and magnify his name from whose bounty all this goodness flows. But I think, also, we should thank him by our gifts. The Jews of old never tasted the fruit either of the barley or of the wheat-harvest, till they had sanctified it to the Lord by the feast of ingatherings. There was, early in the season, the barley-harvest. One sheaf of this barley was taken and waved before the Lord with special sacrifices, and then afterwards the people feasted. Fifty days afterwards came the wheat-harvest, when two loaves, made of the new flour, were offered before the Lord in sacrifice, together with burnt offerings, peace-offerings, meat-offerings, drink-offerings, and abundant sacrifices of thanksgivings, to show that the people’s thankfulness was not stinted or mean. No man ate either of the ears, or grain, or corn ground and made into bread, until first of all he had sanctified his substance by the dedication of somewhat unto the Lord. And shall we do less than the Jew? Shall he, for types and shadows, express his gratitude in a solid manner, and shall not we? Did he offer unto the Lord whom he scarce knew, and bow before that Most High God who hid his face amidst the smoke of burning rams and bullocks? And shall not we who see the glory of the Lord in the face of Christ Jesus come unto him and bring to him our offerings? The Old Testament ordinance was, “Ye shall not come before the Lord empty;” and let that be the ordillance of to-day. Let us come into his presenoe, each man bearing his offering of thanksgiving unto the Lord. But enough concerning this particular harvest. It has been a crowning mercy this year, so that the other version of our text might aptly be applied as a description of 1863, “Thou crownest the year of thy goodness.””

Charles H. Spurgeon- Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, September 27th, 1863 (Text that Spurgeon preached from: “Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy paths drop fatness.” —Psalm 65:11.)

Contentment

Heavenly Father, if I should suffer need, and go unclothed, and be in poverty, make my heart prize Thy love, know it, be constrained by it, though I be denied all blessings. It is Thy mercy to afflict and try me with wants, for by these trials I see my sins, and desire severance from them. Let me willingly accept misery, sorrows, temptations, if I can thereby feel sin as the greatest evil, and be delivered from it with gratitude to Thee, acknowledging this as the highest testimony of Thy love.

When thy Son, Jesus, came into my soul instead of sin He became more dear to me than sin had formerly been; His kindly rule replaced sin’s tyranny. Teach me to believe that if ever I would have any sin subdued I must not only labour to overcome it, but must invite Christ to abide in the place of it, and He must become to me more than vile lust had been; that His sweetness, power, life may be there. Thus I must seek a grace from Him contrary to sin, but must not claim it apart from Himself.

When I am afraid of evils to come, comfort me by showing me that in myself I am a dying, condemned wretch, but in Christ I am reconciled and live; that in myself I find insufficiency and no rest, but in Christ there is satisfaction and peace; that in myself I am feeble and unable to do good, but in Christ I have ability to do all things. Though now I have His graces in part, I shall shortly have them perfectly in that state where Thou wilt show Thyself fully reconciled, and alone sufficient, efficient, loving me completely, with sin abolished. O Lord, hasten that day.

 

Taken from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, edited by Arthur Bennett. Reformatted by Eternal Life Ministries.

Happy New Year 2014

January 1, 2014 5 comments

Reformedontheweb would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year!

 

Here is a thought to meditate on as we go into the New Year.

 “God Richly Blesses Us”

 All the year round, every hour of every day, God is richly blessing us; both when we sleep and when we wake, his mercy waits upon us. The sun may leave off shining, but our God will never cease to cheer his children with his love. Like a river his lovingkindness is always flowing, with a fullness inexhaustible as his own nature, which is its source. Like the atmosphere which always surrounds the earth, and is always ready to support the life of man, the benevolence of God surrounds all his creatures; in it, as in their element they live, and move, and have their being. Yet as the sun on summer days appears to gladden us with beams more warm and bright than at other times, and as rivers are at certain seasons swollen with the rain, and as the atmosphere itself on occasions is fraught with more fresh, more bracing, or more balmy influences than heretofore, so is it with the mercy of God: it hath its golden hours, its days of overflow, when the Lord magnifieth his grace and lifteth high his love before the sons of men.

Charles H. Spurgeon-A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, September 27th, 1863

Happy Thanksgiving 2013

November 28, 2013 4 comments

Reformedontheweb would like to wish everyone a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving Day.

 

THANKSGIVING AND PRAYER

 

“Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy paths drop fatness.” — Psalm 65:11.

POSSIBLY objections might have been raised to a day of thanksgiving for the abundant harvest if it had been ordered or suggested by Government. Certain brethren are so exceedingly tender in their consciences upon the point of connection between Church and State, that they would have thought it almost a reason for not being thankful at all if the Government had recommended them to celebrate a day of public thanksgiving. Although I have no love to the unscriptural union of Church and State, I should on this occasion have hailed an official request for a national recognition of the special goodness of God. However, none of us can feel any objection arising in our minds if it be now agreed that to-day we will praise our ever-bounteous Lord, and as an assembly record our gratitude to the God of the harvest. We are probably the largest assembly of Christian people in the world, and it is well that we should set the example to the smaller Churches. Doubtless many other believers will follow in our track, and so a public thanksgiving will become general throughout the country. I hope to see every congregation in the land raising a special offering unto the Lord, to be devoted either to his Church, to the poor, to missions, or some other holy end. Yes, I would have every Christian offer willingly unto the Lord as a token of his gratitude to the God of providence……….

All the year round, every hour of every day, God is richly blessing us; both when we sleep and when we wake, his mercy waits upon us. The sun may leave off shining, but our God will never cease to cheer his children with his love. Like a river his lovingkindness is always flowing, with a fullness inexhaustible as his own nature, which is its source. Like the atmosphere which always surrounds the earth, and is always ready to support the life of man, the benevolence of God surrounds all his creatures; in it, as in their element they live, and move, and have their being. Yet as the sun on summer days appears to gladden us with beams more warm and bright than at other times, and as rivers are at certain seasons swollen with the rain, and as the atmosphere itself on occasions is fraught with more fresh, more bracing, or more balmy influences than heretofore, so is it with the mercy of God: it hath its golden hours, its days of overflow, when the Lord magnifieth his grace and lifteth high his love before the sons of men.

Charles H. Spurgeon-A Sermon Delivered on Sunday Morning, September 27th, 1863

Earthly blessings foreshadowed or pointed to heavenly blessings

Arthur Pink

What is true of the Old Testament precepts (generally speaking, for there are, of course, exceptions to every rule) holds equally good to the Old Testament promises—believers today are fully warranted in mixing faith therewith and expecting to receive the substance of them. First, because those promises were made to saints as such, and what God gives to one He gives to all (2 Peter 1:4)—Christ purchased the self-same blessings for every one of His redeemed. Second, because most of the Old Testament promises were typical in their nature: earthly blessings adumbrated heavenly ones. That is no arbitrary assertion of ours, for anyone who has been taught of God knows that almost everything during the old economies had a figurative meaning, shadowing forth the better things to come. Many proofs of this will be given by us a little later. Third, a literal fulfillment to us of those promises must not be excluded, for since we be still on earth and in the body our temporal needs are the same as theirs, and if we meet the conditions attached to those promises (either expressed or implied), then we may count upon the fulfillment of them: according unto our faith and obedience so will it be unto us.

Arthur W. Pink The Application of Scriptures-A Study of Dispensationalism

Happy Thanksgiving 2012

November 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Col 2:6-7 As therefore ye received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and builded up in him, and established in your faith, even as ye were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

 

William Bradford was governor of the Plymouth colony at the first American thanksgiving in 1621.

He wrote the following in “Of Plimoth Plantation”

“They begane now to gather in ye small harvest they had, and to fitte up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health & strenght, and had all things in good plenty; fFor as some were thus imployed in affairs abroad, others were excersised in fishing, aboute codd, & bass, & other fish, of which yey tooke good store, of which every family had their portion. All ye somer ther was no want. And now begane to come in store of foule, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besids water foule, ther was great store of wild Turkies, of which they tooke many, besids venison, & c. Besids, they had about a peck a meale a weeke to a person, or now since harvest, Indean corn to yt proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largly of their plenty hear to their freinds in England, which were not fained, but true reports.”

Pilgrim Edward Winslow described the Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving in these words:

“Our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling [bird hunting] so that we might, after a special manner, rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as… served the company almost a week… Many of the Indians [came] amongst us and… their greatest King, Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted; and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought… And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet BY THE GOODNESS OF GOD WE ARE… FAR FROM WANT.”

 

Proclamation of Thanksgiving by the President of the United States of America

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the field of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than theretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

In testimony wherof I have herunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

[Signed]

A. Lincoln