Streams in the Desert - April 17
"Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and, let us run with patience the race that is set before us" (Heb. 12:1).
There are weights which are not sins in themselves, but which become distractions and stumbling blocks in our Christian progress. One of the worst of these is despondency. The heavy heart is indeed a weight that will surely drag us down in our holiness and usefulness.
The failure of Israel to enter the land of promise began in murmuring, or, as the text in Numbers literally puts it, "as it were murmured." Just a faint desire to complain and be discontented. This led on until it blossomed and ripened into rebellion and ruin. Let us give ourselves no liberty ever to doubt God or His love and faithfulness to us in everything and forever.
We can set our will against doubt just as we do against any other sin; and as we stand firm and refuse to doubt, the Holy Spirit will come to our aid and give us the faith of God and crown us with victory.
It is very easy to fall into the habit of doubting, fretting, and wondering if God has forsaken us and if after all our hopes are to end in failure. Let us refuse to be discouraged. Let us refuse to be unhappy. Let us "count it all joy" when we cannot feel one emotion of happiness. Let us rejoice by faith, by resolution, by reckoning, and we shall surely find that God will make the reckoning real.
The devil has two master tricks. One is to get us discouraged; then for a time at least we can be of no service to others, and so are defeated. The other is to make us doubt, thus breaking the faith link by which we are bound to our Father. Lookout! Do not be tricked either way.
Gladness! I like to cultivate the spirit of gladness! It puts the soul so in tune again, and keeps it in tune, so that Satan is shy of touching it--the chords of the soul become too warm, or too full of heavenly electricity, for his infernal fingers, and he goes off somewhere else! Satan is always very shy of meddling with me when my heart is full of gladness and joy in the Holy Ghost.
My plan is to shun the spirit of sadness as I would Satan; but, alas! I am not always successful. Like the devil himself it meets me on the highway of usefulness, looks me so fully in my face, till my poor soul changes color!
Sadness discolors everything; it leaves all objects charmless; it involves future prospects in darkness; it deprives the soul of all its aspirations, enchains all its powers, and produces a mental paralysis!
An old believer remarked, that cheerfulness in religion makes all its services come off with delight; and that we are never carried forward so swiftly in the ways of duty as when borne on the wings of delight; adding, that Melancholy clips such wings; or, to alter the figure, takes off our chariot wheels in duty, and makes them, like those of the Egyptians, drag heavily.
In Touch - Apr. 17, 2012
What Is Your True Purpose
What do you live for each day? A pay raise? Retirement? Then perhaps you've discovered the reality that basing aspirations on getting ahead in this world typically ends in disappointment. People with a misguided sense of direction often wonder why they feel unfulfilled.
Maybe you've already realized a goal of saving for the future or moving up the corporate ladder. You give to charity and volunteer at church, but somehow still feel a sense of insignificance or aimlessness. If so, there is a truth you need to hear: God gives each of us life for a very specific reason: to serve Him. Nobody finds inner peace without reconciling this fact. Our society teaches us that pleasure, prosperity, position, and popularity will make us happy--but living in the service of self always leaves an emptiness no earthly reward can fill.
Besides, worldly philosophy won't stand the test of time. Few of us are going to live even 100 years. So whatever we'll become in this life, we're in the process of becoming that right now. Consider David: he was anointed king long before actually assuming the role (1 Sam. 16:12). He spent many years serving the purpose of God in insignificant places while developing into a great man. As his story shows, discovering God's purpose for your life is the surest path to success.
Our heavenly Father's purpose for our lives comes from His heart of love--which is perfect. None of us can foretell the great things He has in store for us, but we can trust His plan completely. Surrender to Him today and say, "Not my will, Lord, but Yours be done."
For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit www.intouch.org.
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