Sweet Like Honey

our family's journal of God at work

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Holding on with Confidence

During one of my baby’s feeding times in the early morning I was praying for a friend going through cancer treatment. Sometime in my prayer I said to the Lord something along the lines of “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” I have been through much with the Lord and I shouldn’t struggle with my faith because He has proven His faithfulness time and again, but the reality is that I am tempted to doubt just as much as anyone. When I woke up later in the morning the Lord reminded me of these passages in Hebrews and they encouraged me. The people Hebrews was written to had also suffered, and had faithfully endured, but at the time the letter was written they were being tempted to shrink back. So I am not alone in this temptation to shrink back, but I do not want to give in and I do not have to. The Lord is faithful! Let us keep pressing on in the Lord!

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that He opened for us through the curtain, that is through His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. . . .

Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For,

Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay, but My righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.

But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation.

By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. . . .And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.”
~Hebrews 10:19-25, 35-11:3, 6~

“But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. . . .Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time an dnow and forever. Amen.”

~Jude 20-21, 24-25~


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The Power of the Blood of Christ to Sanctify

I have been reading Andrew Murray’s book the Practice of God’s Presence. The first section of the book is on the Power of the Blood of Jesus.   He goes through redemption, reconciliation, cleansing, and sanctification by the blood of Jesus.
I have been in Chapter 5 on sanctification for a while now.   Having read the chapter, I was going back through the scriptures in the chapter and praying. Murray really focuses in on the idea that sanctification is about God imparting Himself to us.

Amen, may it be so, more and more, as He has promised.

At the end of the chapter he summarizes the work of sanctification in this way:

“Through the Holy Spirit, the soul’s intimacy is in the living experience of God’s abiding nearness, accompanied by the awakening of the tenderest carefulness against sin, guarded by caution and the fear of God.

But to live in watchfulness against sin does not satisfy the soul. The temple must not only be cleansed, but it must be filled with God’s glory. All the virtues of divine holiness, as manifested in the Lord Jesus, are to be sought and found in fellowship with God. Sanctification means union with God, fellowship in His will, sharing His life, conformity to His image.

…”Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (Heb 13:12-13) Yes, it is He who sanctifies His people. “Let us go forth to Him.” Let us trust Him to make known to us the power of the blood. Let us yield ourselves wholly to its blessed power. This blood, through which He sanctified Himself, has entered heaven to open it for us. It can make our hearts also a throne of God, so that the grace and glory of God may dwell in us….He who is willing to lose and say farewell to everything, in order that Jesus may sanctify him, will not fail to obtain the blessing. He who is willing at any cost to experience the full power of the precious blood can confidently know that he will be sanctified by Jesus Himself, through that blood.

“May the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely” (I Thess. 5:23). Amen.”
[Emphasis is mine]

God has been doing an amazing work in giving my heart a “tenderest carefulness against sin”.   But He is also teaching me that life is found in the abundance of His presence in my life.
I highly recommend the book.   When you know the history of Andrew Murray’s life his words take on even more weight.   I also highly recommend this book on his life, Andrew Murray(Men of Faith) by Dr. William Linder Jr.

– Rob

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The Wilderness is the Good Place

In my heart burns the cry, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.”  I stand in the wilderness and call out to you, “Come out to the wilderness with me.  Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

The wilderness is the good place.  Jesus is there, outside the camp.  If we would follow Him then we must go out to Him in the wilderness and bear His reproach with Him (He suffered for us outside the camp).

What your wilderness will look like I do not know, but I can tell you that it is good; though at first you may not think so.  There are so many voices calling to us, vying for our attention.  Endless amusements and distractions drown out His precious voice, and so He leads us to the wilderness where all we have left is Him and we find He is all we  want and need.  He draws us with His cords of love to the quiet place so we can hear His tender, life giving words.  He is the only treasure that will last.  He is the giver of the only thing which satisfies forever: Himself.  He wants to pour out His love on us and He will do whatever it takes to make us want His love more than we want anything else.

“A voice says, ‘Cry.”  And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’ “All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flowers of the field.  The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.  Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not, say the cities of Judah, ‘Behold your God!  Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and His arm rules for Him; behold, His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him.”  Isaiah 40

I have only just begun to know the Lord.  I have only begun to taste and see His goodness.  But what I know makes me want to go up on the rooftops, and shout out for all to hear, “God is GOOD!!!”  Only I could not shout it loudly enough.  There are no words to describe the little I know of God.  You must taste His goodness for yourself.

Sometimes our circumstances produce a wilderness in our lives, and at other times we simply hear the invitation to come out to the Lord, to withdraw from the things that distract us, with the intention of seeking Him diligently.  If you sense Him calling you, do not hold back, do not be afraid.  Go; run with abandonment and full surrender to the the will of the Lord.  Let go of the things that weigh you down.  You don’t need them.  You need Him.

These two quotes describe so well what God has been working in my heart in the wilderness:

“I have sometimes heard of spells and charms to excite love and have wished for them, as a boy, that I might cause others to love me.  But how much more do I now wish for some charm which would lead men to love the Saviour.  Could I paint a true likeness of Him methinks I should rejoice to hold it up to the view and admiration of all creation, and be hid behind it forever.  It would be heaven enough to hear Him praised and adored.  But I cannot paint Him, I cannot describe Him, I cannot make others love Him.  Nay I cannot love Him a thousandth part so much as I ought myself.  O, for an angel’s tongue, O for the tongues of ten thousand angels to sound His praises.”  Edward Payson

“O what a blessed thing it is to lose one’s will.  Since I have lost my will I have found happiness.  There can be no such thing as disappointment to me, for I have no desires but that God’s will might be accomplished.  Christians might avoid much trouble if they would only believe what they profess, viz., that God is able to make them happy without anything but Himself.  They imagine that if such a dear friend were to die, or such and such a blessing removed, they should be miserable, whereas God can make them a thousand times happier without them.  To mention my own case, God has been depriving me of one blessing after another, but as every one was removed He has come in and filled up its place, and now, when I am a cripple and unable to move, I am happier than ever I was in my life before or expected to be, and if I had believed this twenty years ago I might have been spared much anxiety.”  Edward Payson

Put in the Fire for the Sake of Prayer is a good message by John Piper regarding suffering leading to fellowship with the Lord.

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I must die. . .

The other morning I was angry at my husband. I apologized to him and after he left for work I sang this to myself, trying to correct my thinking:

You must die
You must deny
You must say, “No” to yourself
You are not the center of it all

When I wrote this in my journal I added these thoughts:

There is only One in the center of it all
And He gave up His glory
He came to serve
He laid down His life
He said, “No” to Himself and “Yes” to His Father

He did not demand His own way
He never reviled in return for evil
He was like a lamb before the shearers
He was not caught up in claiming His rights as the Creator of the universe

We are called to follow in His steps so
We must die
We must deny
We must say, “No” to ourselves
Give ourselves for Jesus, the center of it all

I want to be like Jesus
And one day I will reign with Him in glory
But I must die
I must deny
I must say, “No” to myself
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Jim Elliot

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Where is the Life we have lost in living?

Yesterday I listened to a message by Dr. Bruce Waltke called Proverbs and Culture. It was very good. I recently started listening to Dr. Waltke after hearing him on Michael Card’s radio program, where he talked about the book of Proverbs. He seemed to be a very soft-spoken and wise man, not surprising since he spent many years specializing in wisdom literature in the Bible. The message is at the following link:

Dr. Waltke quoted these lines from T.S. Eliot’s Choruses From the Rock:

Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

I have heard the name T.S. Eliot, have known that he was enjoyed and respected, but I had not once read anything by him. These lines intrigued me, so I found what I thought was the complete poem online and very much enjoyed it.

This morning I gave it to Rob and suggested he read the first two verses, which had been my favorite. He read them aloud at the breakfast table and kept going because he enjoyed them so much, though he does not usually like poetry. This poetry reading inspired the boys to write some of their own. . .maybe not quite on the same level, but good for them. 🙂

We had some errands to run and I asked Rob if we could stop at the used bookstore on the way, so I could “just run in” to see if they had any Elizabeth Gaskell books, which my sister in law, Lydia, had recommended as being similar to and even better than Jane Austen. I have been reading Wives and Daughters on the computer, because our library doesn’t have it, but I HATE reading off the computer screen. I much prefer to curl up with a good book.

Rob let me go in alone, and it was delightful to have even 10 minutes to browse in the classics section all by myself! I found North and South and Mary Barton by E. Gaskell, so I got those, and I also picked up Don Quixote. As I was looking for more Gaskell books I noticed lying on the same shelf was a copy of Selected Poems by T.S. Eliot. I laughed because it had been misplaced by a customer, and I think God must have put it there for me.

I came out of the bookstore with a big smile on my face, and Rob commented to the children, “It is dangerous to let a Hoke alone in a used bookstore, and even more dangerous to let one in who is a Hoke and Tynan combination!”

Choruses From the Rock is in the Selected Poems, and I read through that on the way home–parts that had been unclear became clear in their context. It is kind of a poem play and I wonder if it has been acted out and recorded? Do any of you know? We enjoyed his thought provoking and witty sayings. One of my favorite:

And the wind shall say: ‘Here were decent godless people:
Their only monument the asphalt road and a thousand lost golf balls’.

I appreciate how he contrasts people being creative because we are made in God’s image with people who work and create in the “Church” of progress and humanism–men who don’t worship gods or God. All is vanity unless our lives are built by and for God.

The whole poem is good, with especially memorable lines interwoven. Our culture certainly hasn’t changed since he wrote it. I recommend it. I was not able to find an unabridged version online, so you will probably have to find it in a book instead, which is better anyway!

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Not What My Hands Have Done by Horatius Bonar

Not what my hands have done can save my guilty soul; Not what my toiling flesh has borne can make my spirit whole. Not what I feel or do can give me peace with God; Not all my prayers and sighs and tears can bear my awful load.

Your voice alone, O Lord, can speak to me of grace; Your power alone, O Son of God, can all my sin erase. No other work but Yours, no other blood will do; No strength but that which is divine can bear me safely through.

Thy work alone, O Christ, can ease this weight of sin; Thy blood alone, O Lamb of God, can give me peace within. Thy love to me, O God, not mine, O Lord, to Thee, Can rid me of this dark unrest, And set my spirit free.

I bless the Christ of God; I rest on love divine; And with unfaltering lip and heart I call this Savior mine. His cross dispels each doubt; I bury in His tomb Each thought of unbelief and fear, each lingering shade of gloom.

I praise the God of grace; I trust His truth and might; He calls me His, I call Him mine, My God, my joy and light. ’Tis He Who saveth me, and freely pardon gives; I love because He loveth me, I live because He lives.

Horatius Bonar
Listen to the tune at CyberHymnal.

Nathan Clark George has a moving guitar version on his CD Rise In The Darkness (the whole CD is worth buying. Rob listens to it over and over again as he works on our remodel).

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Looking for my true home

During family worship tonight, I was telling God how tired I am, how much I need His wisdom and how my mind and body groans along with creation and longs for the day when I will see Him face to face and be perfected: no more lack of wisdom, no more struggle against sin, energy. . .I had a good day, but at the same time I sensed the constant struggle to obey the Lord in every area of my life as I serve my family, etc.  God reminded me that this struggle, while not necessarily enjoyable, is good because it forces me to depend on His strength, wisdom and grace just to get through each day. 

After the children went to bed I was able to do a little reading.  This quote jumped out at me because it expressed what my heart had been feeling earlier:

“The regenerate man loves God, loves holiness, loves the Bible, loves the godly, because it is his nature to do so.  He now delights in the law of God written on his heart, and looks to heaven as the world where he will love with all his being.  While the difference between this person and the temporary convert (parable of the sower) may not immediately appear, it is profound.  Of the latter, Joseph Alleine wrote: ‘When they have as much as will save them, as they suppose, they look no further, and so show themselves to be short of true grace, which always sets men aspiring to perfection (Philippians 3:13; Proverbs 4:18).'”  Iain Murray

And this quote from J.C. Ryle seems to fit with Iain Murray’s so I repost it here:

“Sanctification does not prevent a man from having a great deal of inward spiritual conflict.  By conflict I mean a struggle within the heart between the flesh and the Spirit, which are to be found together in every believer.  A deep sense of that struggle, and a vast amount of healthy discomfort from it, are no proof that a man is not sanctified.  Nay, rather, I believe, they are healthy symptoms of our condition and prove we are not dead, but alive.  A true Christian is one who has not only peace of conscience, but war within.  He may be known by his warfare as well as by his peace.”  J.C. Ryle