A bruised reed…

A bruised reed…

“A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering (dimly burning) wick He will not quench.”(Mt. 12:20, quoting from Isaiah)

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 last spring wildflower in forest behind our home

A slender bulrush, growing by the margin of some tarn or pond; its sides crushed and dented in by some outward  power…The head  is hanging by a thread, but it is not yet snapped or broken off from the stem.” (MacLaren)

To be truthful, I always feel that way.  Do you know what is so amazing about this verse?  Really, please think on this – He DOESN’T say “A bruised reed is a disgrace to Christianity…A bruised reed is bruised by its own fault…A bruised reed is simply an aberration of one’s mind…A bruised reed is a sign one hasn’t walked by faith.” NO!  He simply says “A bruised reed He will not break.” O, take encouragement from this!

I am not making this up.  Listen to Spurgeon on this verse:

God has His Samsons here and there who can pull up Gaza’s gates and carry them to the top of the hill; He has a few mighties who are lion-like men, but the majority of His people are a timid, trembling race.  They are like starlings, frightened by every passer- by; a little fearful flock.  If temptation comes, they are taken like birds in a snare; if trial threatens, they are ready to faint; their frail skiff is tossed up and down by every wave, they are weak things, without strength, without wisdom, without foresight.

Please, if you read nothing else, please read this!

“YET,

weak as they are,

and because they are so weak,

they have the promise

made specially

for them.

How it opens the compassion of Jesus!

So gentle, tender, considerate!

We need  NEVER shrink back from His touch. 

We need NEVER fear a harsh word from Him…”

And so, I say, speaking truth to myself, that indeed I may think Him saying to me,

Yes, My beloved, you ARE weak and timid, taken like a bird in a snare when confronted  with temptation to fret, fear, despair, or lose  hope  in what good IS to come…You are like a starling, frightened of every passing thought; you  are often weak, without mental strength and wisdom, without foresight to  hope and yet hope again,

Yet,

Weak as you are,

YOU  ARE MINE,

And YOU

Have this promise

Made especially

For

YOU.

You need never shrink back from My touch, My plans for you, My plans for those you love…You  are bruised but I WILL  NOT let you break.

 

Selah (pause, think on that)

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Practicing His Presence…pt. 2

note to self: Yesterday’s practice at this proved it is exactly as Bro.  L. said – it is painfully difficult. Most of the day I would have wandered then suddenly aware that I had done so.  It feels so awkward and scripted – so fake… so not doing anything, for God or for me.  One thing interesting: I learned something about my typical prayers through the day – they are rarely a meditation of His character – they are when He brings to mind someone, or I drive past someone, and simply cry to Him “Help them please.” Yes this is good – this is really good and easy for me – but this is nothing new, and it hasn’t brought me any growth (from what I can see) in finding COMFORT in His character – it is more simply a cry then moving on, not expecting any answer anyhow. This whole thing of crying out, then intentionally thinking on His character, was much harder – this is where it felt canned and “not from the heart”.  I am hoping He took me “captive”  to read this book to  gently show me this;. I pray this will be the area the Spirit will grow me – I think this is key somehow  to lots of things I struggle with.

Sadly, since I can’t seem to quickly come up with heartfelt meditations of His character at the spur of the moment, I am taking one for today, from Spurgeon this a.m. – His lovingkindness – that He came for the broken hearted, He loves them so much.  That He can in no way ever cast out one who comes to Him, no matter what their state.  That He makes provision for immediate and complete forgiveness, over and over – that He loves us so much He can’t keep His eyes from us, that is why He spends all His time interceeding for us.

Principles Pt. ll, Brother  Lawrence:

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He really is as near as sitting at this chair across from me...(our dining table in kitchen/dining area,2012)

“Lift up your heart to Him, sometimes even at meals…the least little remembrance will always be acceptable to Him…” (p.48)

Principle #8: “It is not  pleasure which we ought to seek in this exercise; but let us do it from a principle of love, because God would  have us.” (p.44) note to self: it wasn’t pleasurable yesterday but so what – that is no reason to quit or get discouraged

Principle #9: He recognized how badly he needed God’s grace and assistance, so he “kept God in view” –  not focused on seeing Him act, per say, but keeping Him in his view.  (reminds me of “fixing your eyes on Jesus” – Paul)

“Ah! knew we but the want we have of the grace and assistance of God, we should never lose sight of Him – no, not for a moment.” (p.45)

Principle #10: This will feel like a waste of time – worse than that, that you should be engaging your duties and thoughts in other directions – you may feel you get nothing from this.

“Be not discouraged by the repugnance which you may find in it from nature; you must do yourself violence.   At first one often thinks it lost time, but you must go on, and resolve to persevere…notwithstanding all the difficulties that  may occur.” (p.47)

Principle #11: He had realistic expectations of himself in practicing this, AND of what God is pleased with.

“He (God) requires  no great matters of us: a little remembrance of Him from time to time; a  little adoration, sometimes to pray for His grace…” (p.48)  “Everyone is capable of such familiar conversation w ith God, some more, some less.  He knows what we can do…” (p. 48)

Principle #12: He BELIEVED (not necessarily FELT) that God was much nearer to us than we ever even think or experience.

“You need not cry very loud. He is nearer to us than we are aware of.” (p.48)

Principle #13: It can be this simple: “Accustom yourself, then, by degrees…to offer Him your heart from time to time in the  midst of your business....” (p.49)

Principle #14: He recognized that wandering thoughts are nothing new, and that “our minds are extremely roving.”

“…bad habits of wandering…are difficult to overcome, and commonly draw us, even against our wills, to the things of earth…many words and long discourses (in prayer!) being often the occasion of wandering…” (p.50)

Principle #15: interesting, this one: Our desires can move faster than the actual grace He is giving you for this.

“She seems full of good will, but she would  go faster than grace…” (p.51)

Principle #16:( this is from letter #14 – after letter # 15, to the same person, he took to bed and died two days later.)   “Knock, persevere in knocking, and I answer for it that He will open to you  in His due time, and grant you what He has deferred during many years.” (p.61)

Surprising truths that come out of “Practicing the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence…

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                             this is what it usually feels like when I attempt to practice His presence..be encouraged  when  you read  below that Brother Lawrence struggled with this same thing…

Yesterday.  Sunday afternoon.  I have been trying to take every opportunity when  Maggie is at home to “be present” with her – I asked her if she wanted me to read aloud to her – she curled up next to me on my bed while I read aloud “Northanger Abbey” by  Jane Austen.  During a particularly long description of the heroine’s thoughts in one scene, she sighed and fell asleep, her head on my shoulder.  I wasn’t about to move – these times are too rare now.  I reached as far as I could to  my side and was able to find my nightstand – and took the top book, which was the only one I could reach. And this little book was it.  “Drats!  That’s not what I was hoping for – why didn’t I have something jucier to read?” – I  had skimmed through the beginning previously and felt that this guy wasn’t even in my league, from what others who were around him said about him. Maybe the book was a classic because so many wished they could emulate this kind of thing –  I liked the part that talked about how happy he was doing dishes all the time – but it seemed unrealistic for my low level of maturity. Since I now was a captive audience by virtue of Maggie’s head, I decided to go to the back section of the book –  his letters – this is where I find people are more real, vs. when others are praising them to the sky.  And…well,  once again I marvel at the Father’s tender care of me – for there was manna here that was rich and completely satisfying.   I pulled out  16 principles from 15  letters of his – worth thinking on, really.

Principle #1: It was not easy to get to this place.  It was not quick to get to this place.  It was in fact, PAINFULLY DIFFICULT.

Principle #2: His  mind  DID wander, but when it did he didn’t trouble himself about it.

“I  worshiped Him the oftenest that I  could…I found no small pain in this exercise,  and yet I continued it, …without troubling or disquieting myself when my mind had wandered…” (p.31,2)

Principle #3:  After 30 years he still does this imperfectly.

Such has been my common practice (for 30 years), and though I have done it very imperfectly, yet I have found great advantages by it.” (p.36)

Principle #4: Even after all these years, he never stopped feeling he was the worst – the very worst of menHe simply confessed, and confessed, and abandoned himself to “the King”

“I consider myself as the most wretched of men, full of sores and corruption…with a sensible regret, I confess to Him all…I ask for His forgiveness, I abandon myself into His Hands” (p.36)

Principle #5: He, by faith, then CHOSE to view the King as then embracing him with LOVE.  THIS is what he meditated  on – THIS was his secret!  Not how much he meditated, but on WHAT and WHO he meditated on.

“The  King… very far from chastising me, embraces me with love, makes me eat at his table…converses and delights Himself with me incessantly, in a thousand and one ways, and treats me in all respects as His favorite.  It is thus I consider myself from time to time in  His presence.”. (p. 36,7) (note to self: this is not pride – pride is saying, “O, He couldn’t feel that way about me, I don’t deserve it, blah blah blah”.  Pride says, “O, you must earn His favor.” Humility says, “O my, I have His favor,  though I am so wretched!”

Principle #6: He didn’t expect God to instantly answer requests he made, NOR did he judge God’s love for him by whether He responded or not. He recognized God would come in HIS own  time.

“He will come in His own time, and when you least expect it.  Hope in Him more than ever..” (p.39)

The next is one of the MOST  IMPORTANT PRINCIPLES FOR  ME:

Principle #7: Even a little remembrance of God is very acceptable to God – again, it’s not the amount of time or how many times a day, it’s WHAT and WHO that matters.

A  little remembrance of God, one act of inward worship, though upon a march, and a sword in hand, are prayers, which however short, are very acceptable to God; and far from lessening a soldier’s courage in  occasions of danger, they best serve to fortify it.”( p.40)

(I like  this word picture – I can picture marching along, and suddenly I am aware I am marching into serious danger.  Instead of my normal frantic looking around to see when God will show up, I simply believe He is there, and I salute Him as He passes me by, and goes to take  the front command  post.)

O.K., I’ll finish later – family movie night calls…

Dry Bones…

To my friends with prodigals  of varying shapes and sizes…

“He brought me (Ezekiel)…and set me down in the midst of  the valley, and it was full of bones…there were very many human bones…and He said to me, “Can these bones live?”   And I answered, “O Lord God, You know!”

For 36 chapters prior to this, God  has been giving Ezekiel the history of His children and their rebellion.   36 chapters!  What were God’s  children like?

impudent and hard of heart (2:2)

 rebellious whether they hear or refuse to  hear (2:5)

rebellious, who have eyes to see and see not…have ears to hear and          hear not… (12:2)

This type of rebellion was not the “I’m sorry officer, I  didn’t know the speed limit changed.”   This was  not a matter of breaking the cookie jar.  This was a walking towards the  pigs, feeding the pigs, and then laying with the pigs.  This was the prodigal son parable repeated yearly – with the same  prodigal.

These people of God’s were spiritually dead.  Having tasted the Covenant, they chose their own way. “Galvanised corpses may have muscular movements, but they are dead, notwithstanding their twitching.  They that live without God are dead while they live.” (MacLaren)

You can picture this kind of deadness. For some  of you, dear hearts of  my heart, this is a haunting  when you wake up every morning nightmare.

You have reason to despair… as far as you, or they, are concerned.  “As far as outward resources are concerned, despair was rational, and hope was absurd.” (Alexander Maclaren, commentary on Ezekiel)

But we are not concerned with you, or they.  We are concerned with God. “Thus says the Lord God to these bones: ‘Behold, I will cause breath and spirit to enter you, and you shall live…and you shall know, understand, and realize that I am the Lord (calling forth loyalty and obedient service).  ..There was a thundering noise, and behold, a shaking and trembling and rattling, and the bones came together…and the breath and spirit came into the bones, and they lived and stood up on  their feet, an exceedingly great host…”

Did these dead  bones do ANYTHING to bring themselves back to life?  Were they  repentant and therefore deserved to be brought back to life?  Not if the last 36 chapters is an indication.

These dead bones DID  NOT IN ANY WAY hinder God from  making these bones rise up, putting flesh on them, breathing life into them.

God will NEVER EVER let ANYONE, ANYONE, have the last word.  Not even death.

“Faith has the prerogative of seeing possibilities of life in, what looks to sense, hopeless death.”

He asks you  today, “Daughter of Mine.  Can these bones that you’ve fed, read to, loved, hugged, cried over, rent heart over as they walk away, these  bones that  mock God by simply making Him a non issue – can these bones live?”

Well, can they?

Okay then.