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Posts Tagged ‘Hannah Smith’

Life is full of sore testings of our willingness 

to follow the Good Shepherd. (1)  

The greatest of these testings is forgiveness.

We have a limited understanding of forgiveness.  We believe it is grace to be offered only after confession and regret have been spoken.  We believe forgiveness is necessary and possible after only after someone has apologized for hurting us.

This is not God’s way.  

Scripture reminds us that God chose us, loved us, and forgave us while we were still yet sinners. Paul reaffirms God’s love for us and His way of forgiveness in Romans 5:8:

“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (2)

This is where God’s way tests us.  

We believe that forgiveness is an earned grace.  

Instead, God’s forgiveness is an unearned grace.

Even if we understand the meaning of this truth in our heads, our hearts find it to be alien material.  This is why we have a hard time forgiving others, extending to them the unearned grace of forgiveness.

We cannot offer forgiveness as unearned grace by our own strength.

If we are to be obedient to God’s way and offer others forgiveness as unearned grace, we need God’s help, His strength.  We need Him working within us.

My Jesus is dwelling in me; and now I have only to let Him work there to will and to do of His good pleasure, in order to experience all the glorious fullness of His mighty salvation! (3)

Let Christ Jesus reign within you.  Only then will He be able to rule all the motions of your heart.  Only then will extending forgiveness as unearned grace be possible.

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  1. Quote of J. R. Miller found in Samuel G. Hardman and Dwight Lyman Moody, Thoughts for the Quiet Hour (Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing, 1998).
  2. he Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Romans 5:8.
  3. Hannah Whitall Smith and Melvin Easterday Dieter, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life : The Unpublished Personal Writings of Hannah Whitall Smith (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).
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If God is slow in coming, wait!

He is on His way!

He will be right on time! (1)

There are times when we endure want, need, loneliness, absence, and pain. In these times we are likely to cry out to God either questioning His absence or demanding His presence with us.

During these difficult seasons we may be surrounded by Christian friends, immersed in the Word, and receiving compassionate care from our Pastor, yet we find these gifts of grace inadequate.  While each is valuable, none of them satisfy our deep longing for God Himself.

For these difficult times, this analogy by Hannah Smith is most helpful:

If a child cries, its father does not always go himself at first, but waits to see if it will quiet down without him.  If it continues to cry, he may send someone else in the family to comfort it, or give it something to cheer it up, and if it is satisfied with this, he himself may not have to take care of it himself.  But if it still continues to cry for its father and will not be satisfied with anything else, then that the father himself goes and takes care of the child and lets it know his love. (2)

God has provided for our comfort.  He frequently uses others and His Word to bring us comfort and hope during trials and seasons of suffering.

Through these instruments of His peace, God woos us to Himself.  In the darkness and through the maze of confusion, God draws us to Him in our time of need.  

Yet, if we cannot find our way to Him, He will come to us.

The only way to live an abundant life is to depend upon God, to live by His side, and not to let worldly comforts become the source of your comfort.  

So often, we are miserable, not because God has abandoned us, but because we seek comfort from a world which cannot provide it.

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. … 

When God is with me … 

He comforts me … (3)  

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  1. Habakkuk 2:3.  Exegetical note: I have revised this verse by replacing the impersonal pronoun it with God. Habakkuk is waiting on a Word from God.  God promises that His vision, i.e., Himself, will come.
  2. Hannah Whitall Smith and Melvin Easterday Dieter, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life : The Unpublished Personal Writings of Hannah Whitall Smith (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).
  3. Psalm 23:1 and 4

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“Confession is one of God’s ways

of strengthening us in our faith.” (1)

I have always found confession to be a humbling experience.  Thus, when I read Hannah Smith’s declaration that confession strengthens our faith, I took pause.

My aversion to confession is natural, as I assume it is for all.  Three childhood sins remain vivid in my memory.

I forged a school note, twice, once with my Dad’s signature and then with my Mom’s.  After the second attempt at my crime, the school called home.  Since Dad was at work and Mom could not hear, my oldest brother had the delight of reporting the news of my sin to Mom.  I still remember my tears and shame when I had to confess to Mom face-to-face.  She responded with tender grace.

After a heated discussion with my other brother, I accidentally caused a sharp object to tear through a painting my Mom had been working on for months.  I waited in wretched fear of having to tell my Mom what happened.  To have died first would have been easier.  Surprisingly, she was thrilled to hear the news.  The painting had been a pain-in-the-_____ to her and she was glad to be done with it.  At least that is what she told me.

The third sin has yet to be confessed, unless a childhood buddy broke our blood-vow not of silence.  I was for confession, but my buddies were not.  Even then I knew secret sins eventually became known.  The sin?  My buddies and I caused a fire inside of a friend’s playhouse, burning the furnishings.  My buddies lived in fear that if we confessed, we would have been dead meat.  Thus the blood-vow which, I confess I just broke.

My Mom covered my sin and shame with her grace.  It was not what expected.  I still carry the shame of the third sin. Perhaps this is why I now more easily confess my sins.

I prefer grace to shame, even punishment is better than shame.

In his first letter, John writes:

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (2)

God greets our confessed sin with grace.

Confession does not lessen the severity of sin, but it does lighten the load of sin.  God, in His grace, removes the dead weight of our sin and restores us to life, temporal and eternal.

Sin does affects us, as this bit of poetry suggests:

Sin has been hammering my heart

Unto a hardness, void of love … (3)

Hannah Smith knew what she is talking about.  Sin confessed in shame finds strength when it is placed on the cross of God’s grace.

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(1) Hannah Smith, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life  (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).
(2)  The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Jn 1:8–9.
(3)  Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening : Daily Readings, Complete and unabridged; New modern edition. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006).

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Touch Fouls

All sin and fall short of the glory of God

Romans 3:23

The Lord has been teaching me about my utter weakness in the presence of temptation. I have grown significantly in knowledge, but I have not grown in grace and feel that I actually don’t have any more power over sin than when I was first converted.

Hannah Smith, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

Is Hannah Smith alluding to the fact that she is committing a growing number of hideous sins?  I doubt it.  Most likely, she has recognized that despite her best effort to be a faithful Christian, she still sins on a regular basis.  Her sins, rather than hideous and blatant, would be best described as touch fouls in a basketball game.

Touch fouls are those minor bumps between basketball players, while technically a foul, do not affect the play of the game.  This is why commentators refer to them as play on fouls – no harm, no whistle, keep playing.

Every Christian, no matter how devout, commits touch foul sins daily.  If we remember Romans 3:23, then we should not be surprised by them.  Neither should they frighten us.

Charles Spurgeon wrote: “Once saved, sin will never get the upper hand so as to be absolute monarch of our nature.”  (Morning and Evening: Daily Readings, Peabody, MA, Hendrickson Publishers, 2006)

If we are committing flagrant fouls over and over, then we should be alarmed that sin, not God, has dominion over us.

Hannah Smith is correct, we do not have power over sin.  But God does.  This is why Christians pray, “Lead us not into temptation.”  We deal with sin by calling upon God’s power, rather than relying upon our own.

If Jesus reigns in your heart, your sin is on-the-ropes.


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I pray that you, being rooted and established in love

may grasp the love of Christ. 

Ephesians 3:17, 18

Love is the very heart and essence of God, not only for the lovely but for the vilest of sinners.  If the New Testament teaches us anything, it teaches us about God’s love in searching for lost men.

As we mature in the Christian faith, we begin to realize that every situation that comes our way is an opportunity for God’s love to be made more evident in our lives.

Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace : 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1990), 44.

God’s Redemptive Love vs Moral Love

When a merely moral man or woman comes in contact with baseness and immorality and treachery, the recoil is so desperately offensive to human goodness that the heart shuts up in despair. The marvel of the Redemptive Reality of God is that the worst and the vilest can never get to the bottom of His love.

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest : Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 1993).

The Soul where Love Reigns

God’s love … causes us to act in respect to God continually, without hesitation, straight forward, without reflections; and supremely, without complicated intentions, motives or designs with a single eye to the good pleasure of God.

Love …  towards a neighbor, is to act with frankness, without affectation; with sincerity without disguise, and with liberty, without constraint. As an infant loves mother.

Hannah Whitall Smith and Melvin Easterday Dieter, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life : The Unpublished Personal Writings of Hannah Whitall Smith (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

Love the World, for God

Love the world to do it good, giving your tears to its sufferings, your pity to its sorrows, your wealth to its wants, your prayers to its miseries, and to its fields of charity, and philanthropy, and Christian piety, your powers and hours of labor. You cannot live without affecting it, or being affected by it. You will make the world better, or it will make you worse.

God help you by His grace and Holy Spirit so to live in the world as to live above it, and look beyond it; and so to love it that when you leave it, you may leave it better than you found it.

Samuel G. Hardman and Dwight Lyman Moody, Thoughts for the Quiet Hour (Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing, 1998).

My Debt of Love is Paid from the Paid Debt of  My Sin

I am a debtor to God’s grace and forgiving mercy; but I am no debtor to his justice, for he will never accuse me of a debt already paid.

Christ, to the uttermost, has satisfied divine justice; the account is settled; the handwriting is nailed to the cross; the receipt is given, and we are debtors to God’s justice no longer.

Because we are not debtors to our Lord in that sense, we become ten times more debtors to God than we should have been otherwise. Thou art as deep in debt as thou canst be to every attribute of God. To God thou owest thyself, and all thou hast—yield thyself as a living sacrifice, it is but thy reasonable service.

Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening : Daily Readings, Complete and unabridged; New modern edition. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006).

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Everything exists for the purpose of glorifying God.

 What is the chief end and purpose of mankind?

To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.


He cannot bless us unless He has us.

For it is not so much of our time and so much of our attention that God demands; it is not even all our time and all our attention; it is ourselves. For each of us the Baptist’s words are true: “He must increase and I decrease.”

He will be infinitely merciful to our repeated failures; I know no promise that He will accept a deliberate compromise. … What cannot be admitted, what must exist only as an undefeated but daily resisted enemy, is the idea of something that is “our own,” some area in which we are to be “out of school,” on which God has no claim. For He claims all, because He is love and must bless

C. S. Lewis (2009-03-17). A Year with C. S. Lewis (p. 38). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition

 

The Master never used a more unfit and wretched instrument 

to do His work than when He used me

In fact I know He never did; and I don’t wonder that He has laid me aside. If He needs me He will use me again someday, and meanwhile I trust He will fashion me into a vessel a little better fitted for His service.

Self has a thousand voices that assume the appearance of divine ones, and the heart that has any regard left for it is easily deceived. But let the soul lose absolutely all concern for self; let it be indifferent to its reputation; careless of its honor; inattentive to its ease.

Hannah Smith Hannah Whitall Smith and Melvin Easterday Dieter, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life : The Unpublished Personal Writings of Hannah Whitall Smith (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

 

God makes us broken bread and poured-out wine to please Himself.

Discipleship has an option with it—“IF any man …”  Paul’s words have to do with being made a servant of Jesus Christ, and our permission is never asked as to what we will do or where we will go.

God makes us broken bread and poured-out wine to please Himself. To be “separated unto the gospel” means to hear the call of God; and when a man begins to overhear that call, then begins agony that is worthy of the name. Every ambition is nipped in the bud, every desire of life quenched, every outlook completely extinguished and blotted out, saving one thing only—“separated unto the gospel.” … Beware of competitors when God does grip you.

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest : Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 1993).

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