Streams in the Desert

April 16

“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed.” (Heb. 11:8)

WHITHER he went, he knew not; it was enough for him to know that he went with God. He leant not so much upon the promises as upon the Promiser. He looked not on the difficulties of his lot, but on the King, eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, who had deigned to appoint his course, and would certainly vindicate Himself. O glorious faith! This is thy work, these are thy possibilities; contentment to sail with sealed orders, because of unwavering confidence in the wisdom of the Lord High Admiral; willinghood to rise up, leave all, and follow Christ, because of the glad assurance that earth’s best cannot bear comparison with Heaven’s least.
—F. B. M.

It is by no means enough to set out cheerfully with your God on any venture of faith. Tear into smallest pieces any itinerary for the journey which your imagination may have drawn up.

Nothing will fall out as you expect.

Your guide will keep to no beaten path. He will lead you by a way such as you never dreamed your eyes would look upon. He knows no fear, and He expects you to fear nothing while He is with you.
The day had gone; alone and weak
I groped my way within a bleak
And sunless land.
The path that led into the light
I could not find! In that dark night
God took my hand.
He led me that I might not stray,
And brought me by a new, safe way
I had not known.
By waters still, through pastures green
I followed Him—the path was clean
Of briar and stone.
The heavy darkness lost its strength,
My waiting eyes beheld at length
The streaking dawn.
On, safely on, through sunrise glow
I walked, my hand in His, and lo,
The night had gore.
—Annie Porter Johnson.

365 days with Newton


A living hope

‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.’ 1 Peter 1:3

The knowledge and appearance: a lively or a living hope, or enlivening. They are heirs, but at present under age and therefore under restraint, but they know what they are born to. A king’s son while very young has but faint thoughts of his state and rank, but as he grows up, and the nearer he comes to possession, his views enlarge. So believers grow in hope. From the first there is a pleasure to know what they are born into. This hope is lively, the object great, the ground sure, being the promise of God and the resurrection of Christ, who has said, Because I live, ye shall live also [John 14:19]. It is living hope because it springs from a living faith—and it is enlivening, comforting and supporting them under all the griefs and troubles of life (1 Corinthians 15:19). What could we do without it?
The inheritance:
(i) incorruptible, cannot waste or come to nothing. The soul is immortal and must be miserable except its portion was enduring.
(ii) undefiled, uncrossed with trouble, disappointment, temptation and sin.
(iii) unfading. A flower is the emblem of all worldly good—if it looks fair it is but for a season, and soon withers. Such are our pleasures. They always end in weariness and if not plucked from us fade of themselves. But not so hereafter. O for a manifestation of the Spirit, that we may receive an impression of this glory that shall be revealed.

FOR MEDITATION: The frame of mind to which these thoughts should raise us:
(i) Praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; to us the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and thus he is our God and Father. This is the language of faith, love, trust and joy.
(ii) Praise to Jesus by whom we have access to God. We had continued strangers if he had not brought us nigh.

SERMON: 1 PETER 1:3 [2/2]


God’s Wings

An article in National Geographic several years ago provided a penetrating picture of God’s wings.

After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno’s damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree.

Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he gently struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother’s wings.

The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown to safety but refused to abandon her babies.

When the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, the mother had remained steadfast. Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings would live.

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.” (Psalm 91:4)

— Author Unknown


The True Meaning of “The 12 Days of Christmas”


The following article appeared in my hometown newspaper, The Daily Commercial, on Sunday, December 27, 1998, and was written by Marci Elliot, and copied here with her permission.

The real Christmas began Friday

Merry Christmas, everyone. What? It’s over, you say? It ended on Friday, Christmas Day?

No, no, no. The Christmas that ended Friday was the commercial christmas.

The Real Christmas began Friday. Today is the third day of Christmas.

People who believe in the Real Christmas understand this, of course. The rest of you have me to explain it, so hold on. Here’s my Real Christmas gift to you.

The 12 days of Christmas are the 12 days between Christmas Day, Dec. 25, the birth of Jesus, and the Epiphany, Jan. 6, the day Christians celebrate the arrival of the magi and the revelation of Christ as the light of the world.

The Christmas song, “The 12 Days of Christmas” may sound silly and contrived to many of us. But it actually had its origins in religious symbolism – and with a serious purpose.

Here’s the background: From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not allowed to worship and practice their faith openly. The song, “The 12 Days of Christmas,” was written by one of them as a kind of secret catechism they could sing in public without getting persecuted.

The song has two levels of interpretation – the surface meaning, plus a hidden meaning known only to members of the church. Each element is a code word for a religion reality.

The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus.

The two turtle doves are the Old and New Testaments.

Three French hens stand for faith, hope and love.

The four calling birds are the four Gospels.

The five gold rings recall the Hebrew Torah (Law), or the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament.

The six geese a-laying stand for the six days of creation.

The seven swans a-swimming represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The eight maids a-milking are the eight Beatitudes.

Nine ladies dancing are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.

The ten lords a-leaping are the Ten Commandments.

Eleven pipers piping represent the 11 faithful Apostles.

Twelve drummers drumming symbolize the 12 points of doctrine in the Apostles Creed.

If you think Jesus being symbolized as a partridge in a pear tree sounds blasphemous, listen to this: He is represented as a mother partridge in memory of His sadness over the fate of Jerusalem in the verse, Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered thee under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but thou wouldst not have it so..(Luke
13: 34 and Matthew 23: 34).

The “true love” in the song refers to God Himself. The “me” receiving the gifts is every baptized person, i.e., the church.

Now you know.

So that “silly” song we sing at Christmas time has more meaning than we thought. Since the song sounded like rhyming nonsense, the persecutors never caught on.

They never knew it was a religious song used to serve as a memory aid to teach religion.

As a matter of fact, the song’s message was rather ecumenical – so Catholics could even claim to be Protestant if by some chance they were cornered by the authorities.

The point here is that Christmas has just begun. There really are 12 days of Christmas, partridges or not. So have a happy, merry, meaningful Christmas.

And may you all receive lots of real “gifts” from your real True Love.

— Author Unknown


Your Invitation To A Birthday Party!

Hello dear friend! Well, as you know, it’s time for my birthday again. Last year, they had a real big party for me and it seems like they will again this year. After all, they’ve been shopping and preparing for it for months now, and there have been announcements and advertisements almost everyday about how soon it’s coming! They really do go overboard about it, but it’s nice to know that at least on one day of the year some people are thinking about me a little.

You know, it’s been many years now since they first started celebrating my birthday. Back then they seemed to realize and appreciate how much fun it is for the little children. Just the same, it seems that most folks are missing the point of it all. Like last year, for example: When my birthday came around, they threw a big party, but can you believe it?… I wasn’t invited! Imagine! The guest of honor, and they forgot all about me! Here they had begun preparing for the festivities two months in advance, but when the big day came, I was left out in the cold! Well, it happened so many times in recent years, I wasn’t even surprised. Even though I wasn’t invited, I thought I’d just quietly slip in anyway.

So I came in and stood off to the side. Everyone was drinking, laughing and having a grand time, when all of the sudden, in came this fat fellow in a bright red suit, wearing a phony white beard and shouting, Ho Ho Ho! He looked like he had more than enough to drink, but he somehow managed to weave his way running the floor while everyone cheered. When he collapsed into a big armchair, all the children went running over to him excitedly yelling, Santa!! Santa!! I mean, you’d have thought he was the guest of honor and the whole holiday was in his honor! Then he began telling them the most ridiculous stories you’ve ever heard … that he lived at the North Pole with a crew of dwarfs and that every year on my birthday he rides in his sleigh pulled by a bunch of flying reindeers, delivering presents to children all over the world!! I mean there wasn’t a word of truth in anything he said! Imagine telling such poor, little, impressionable kids such far-fetched fables! Finally I just had to leave, I walked out of the door, and it was hardly surprising that no
one even noticed that I had gone.

As I walked on the street afterward, I felt about as lonely and forlorn as stray dogs! I could hardly remember the last time I’d felt that low. Maybe you do not think I cry………..That little manger scene you had put in the corner of your living room was really touching!! It’s sweet of people to commemorate my birthday like that. But did you know that nowadays, in some countries, the authorities won’t even allow manger scenes to be displayed in the parks, streets, or public places anymore! Not to mention their schools! And I’m not talking about Communist countries! I’m talking about the good USA, Imagine!! What could be more
innocent than a manger scene to remind people of my birthday?…. And yet they ban it! They’ve actually passed laws against it and made it illegal! What’s this world coming to?

Another thing that amazes me is how, on my birthday, instead of giving me presents, most people give presents to each other! And to top it all off, it’s usually all kinds of stuff they don’t even need! Let me ask you, wouldn’t you find it odd if, when your birthday came along, all your friends decided to celebrate it by giving each other presents and never gave you a thing? Someone once told me, well, it’s because you’re not around like other people are, so how can we give you a present? You know my answer to that one: Then give gifts of food and clothing to the poor, help those who need it. Go visit the lonely! I said, Listen, any
gift you give to your needy fellowmen, I’ll count as if you gave it to me personally! (See Matthew 25:34-40)

Well sad to say, things are getting worse each year. You can just imagine my shock a few years ago when I began seeing them taking my name out of my birthday greeting and replacing it with an X What an insult!!

Think of it!…X-mas!! What if I wrote you a birthday card and said Happy Birthday X! You’d probably never talk to me again! And that’s just about how I feel, I mean what more could they do to push me right out of the picture on my own birthday? It reminds me of what happened recently to a friend of mine, a sweet elderly fellow. He’s from the poorer side of town and he’s been trying unsuccessfully for years to join the church. But it was a very exclusive church for the proper kind of folks, and they just did not think he was good enough to be a member, I found him one day sitting by the church steps with his head on his
hands bowed and I asked him what was wrong. He told me about it. I put my arm around his shoulder and told him I knew how he felt. I’ve been wanting to enter that same church for twenty years and they’ve never let me in either!

Well, there’s an end even to my patience. So I’m going to let you in on a secret……… Now this is something I’ve been planning on doing for quite sometime, but the way things are going, I think I’m planning of holding my own party! How about that? It’s going to be the biggest most fantastic feast you could possibly imagine! It might not happen this year, but I’m sending out invitations now anyway because I know you’ll want to come. There’s going to be room for billions, for everyone who wants to come! Some really famous old timers and celebrities are going to be there and I’ll reserve you seat of honor right with them! (Matthew 8:11)

So hold on to your hat because when everything is ready, I’m going to spring it as a big surprise and a lot of people are going to be left out in the cold, because they didn’t answer my invitation!! Let me know right away if you’d like to come, and I’ll reserve you a place and, write your name in large golden letters in my BIG GUEST BOOK!!

Much Love,

— Author Unknown

Author Scott Austin Tirrell

Maker of fine handcrafted novels!


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