Sunday, December 26, 2010
There are times in our lives when we need miracles to take place. Even among Christians, though, there's often a sense that God is no longer in the miracle business. Many people complain that God doesn't answer prayers. At least, if He answers, He says, "No," a lot. If God is not a liar and He loves us, then, why doesn't He answer our prayers? What are we doing wrong? Do we just not have enough faith? First of all, God does answer prayers. He answers prayers all the time.
Sometimes He doesn't do exactly what we want Him to do in our timing. He does things His way in His timing. But, we also make some errors in the way we pray, and we need to understand those errors so that we can pray in the kind of faith that God honors. Mistake #2 - Putting Faith in Faith: We often make the mistake of putting faith in faith itself. Our faith isn't supposed to be in how great our faith is. Our faith isn't in us, it's in God. In Matthew 17:20, Jesus said, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."A mustard seed is small, the smallest of seeds. The point is, our faith doesn't have to be huge. It just has to be. We need to stop being afraid and doubting, thinking our faith is too small.
We need to trust our God that He can take our small faith offering, and He can work with it. Example - Filling A Fridge: Sheri Munson stared into her empty refrigerator in Rathdrum, Idaho that autumn afternoon in 1997 and told the Lord simply, "I trust You." That was it. That was her great display of faith.Regardless of the magnitude of Sheri's faith, God moved. "I had to pick up my son Tyler from the bus station in Spokane," Sheri told us. Tyler was 17 and a big eater, and there was no food in the house for the four kids already at home. What's more, Sheri had no money for gas to drive to get Tyler. "So, I asked my 9-year-old, Max, for the four dollars he had. He said, 'Mom! I wanted to buy jerky with that four dollars!' I said, 'Max, I have to have gas. We'll buy jerky with one dollar, and with three dollars I can get enough gas to get to the bus station.'"
So, Max sacrificed his three bucks. Just before she left to get Tyler, Sheri's friend Kathy Spackman called and invited Sheri and the kids to come to a barbeque – and not a barbeque in three weeks, a barbeque that evening. "Can I bring something?" Sheri asked, (having nothing to bring but a bowl of rice). "No," Kathy said. "Just come!" That was a relief. At least Tyler would have something to eat when he got in! Then, they lost the three dollars. When Sheri and Max got to the gas station, the money set aside for gas was missing. They looked all over the car for it. "Finally, we just went in to get Max's one dollar's worth of jerky," Sheri sad. That was it. They had nothing left. Sheri didn't want to think about how they were going to go pick up Tyler.
When they came out, though, twenty dollars had appeared on the front seat. "I started crying," Sheri said. "Max said, 'Mom. It's okay. Don't cry. It's a miracle. Let's buy gas!'" So, they put ten dollars into the gas tank. Off they headed to get Tyler and go to the barbeque.Tyler ate at Kathy Spackman's gathering as only a growing young man can. It was the only meal Sheri had to offer her son. After the meal, though, Kathy approached Sheri and asked her to PLEASE take some of the leftovers home with her. There was so much food, Kathy told Sheri, and the food would just go to waste if she and the boys didn't take it. "There were steaks!" Sheri told us, "And chicken and salads and potatoes and corn on the cob. There was so much food! They just loaded my car up."
On top of the leftover food, a man at the barbeque had a truck full of bread from the bread store. Normally he got the old bread to feed to his pigs, but the store had just gotten a truckload of fresh bread in and had taken perfectly good bread off the shelves to give to him. He asked Sheri if she wanted any. Sheri told us, "So, then we got bread and doughnuts and little wheat rolls and pastries – all kinds of bread – and put them in the car too." "Wow Mom," Max said. "God is sure a good shopper with just three bucks!" "Then we got home," Sheri said, "and there was a ham the kids' father had sent us.
And somebody had left us a box of oranges and a box of apples. I still don't know who left the apples and the oranges. And a voice whispered in my heart, 'See, I can take care of you.'" That wasn't the end of it. The next day, Sheri's friend Cheryl called and said, "Hey, Sheri. We had a moving sale, and I have all this food I couldn't sell that I don't want to move it to the new house. Would you like some of it?" It turned out that Cheryl had an extensive pantry. "There was peanut butter and packages of oatmeal and canned food and dried food and, there was just so much!" Sheri exclaimed. "The best part of it," Sheri told us, "Was when Tyler said, 'You know, Mom. You're poor, but whenever I come to see you, I always eat really well!'"
On Saturday, Sheri had simply told the Lord, "I trust You," while facing an empty refrigerator and empty cupboards and kids to feed. By Sunday, her cupboards were full, her refrigerator was full and her freezer was full. Her faith wasn't in how good she was or in how much faith she had. She just trusted God not to drop her. She hadn't told people she needed help, but God knew, and God provided for her - pressed down, shaken together, and overflowing. When we come to God, we must approach Him in Truth, trusting Him and trusting His character. We need to put our faith in His goodness and not our own. That's the beginning of the kind of faith that can move mountains, or fill refrigerators.
Related Links: • Faith and Miracles Part I: Faith In What? - Koinonia House
I am from a family of six. I am the eldest son and for the first time I stand alone on this planet this Christmas as the last representative - Mom, Dad and three brothers have passed the threshold of this life into the eternal. I have good memories of Christmas as a small child. Although our presents were not extravagant because of my father's income (he was a minister), Christmas was always a special time of year.
I remember as a child us four boys being given memory verses to memorize and recite in the Christmas plays in Dad's churches. The atmosphere of those days gone by still linger during this special season. I still have some of the ceramic angel's my brother's and I made during those Christmas season's of old.
I am reminded quite often of what a dear minister said many years ago that " life on this earth is just a dressing room for eternity" the main play has not even begun! If we can keep an eternal frame of mind the heartache of the present world is not as difficult to endure.
I was recently reading the prophecies that were given regarding the birth of Jesus. Mary was full of gladness, the Holy Spirit, and great hope of her Son Jesus. In His short life He ended up on a cruel cross with the sins of the world laid upon His back. How broken hearted Mary must have been! I consider the visit she had with John the Baptist' mother just a few short years earlier when they were both with child. The day of the cross must have made those days seem like an eternity ago to Mary. Consider the baby John the Baptist leaping in his mother's womb when Jesus' mother came into her home when these two Jewish girls were with child! What an end for the both of them.
What must have been seen as great hope! What great promise! What honor that was bestowed upon these two innocent ladies to carry in their womb and give birth to two of the greatest men who ever walked the earth. Both suffered greatly in the unending and uncompromising calls to repentance of their sons. John the Baptist lost his head; Christ ended up on the cross. I wonder if the two mother's would have given birth if they had known this was going to happen?
But look at the end result of their actions! Because of these two men the course of the entire planet was changed for all time. Satan, the great adversary of all that is good used everything within his power to stop the message. He failed miserably!
Also, what we do has great effect on both the spiritual and the physical world. Our prayers continually ascend to the heavens to be recorded for all eternity. We are born with eternity in our hearts. From our first heartbeat we are destined to spend forever and ever with Christ our Bridegroom, or the region of despair and torment without Him.
I have the first Bible my father gave me as a child. He wrote on the first page that "The experiences of life will either make you bitter or better..." I choose better as I remember that God says He knew us before the foundations of the earth were laid. He saw each of us form in our mother's womb. We must continue to have great hope that such a God, our King of King's and the LORD of LORD'S has always been, is right now, and will always have our welfare in mind. He says He has carved us onto His hand and He will never leave or forsake us.
This Christmas season I am developing a deeper and more intimate understanding of the concept of being a remnant. I now identify with this word on a first hand basis. But I can say without evasion or mental gymnastics; Jesus is truly a Friend that sticks closer than a brother. I have a Father in the Heaven of Heavens who is not that distant at all. Christ said He is with us always; not someday, but right now.
As we face 2011 let us never forget that the desire of Christ's heart according to John 17 is that we be One with Him and the Father. His prayers are always answered!!
Have a great 2011 thinking on Him; the small baby with no place to sleep but in a manger, the One who gave His all on our behalf, the Father in heaven who loves us so much that He gave of Himself for our salvation. Christ Jesus, the soon coming King of Israel who will renew, restore and reinvigorate planet earth!
Born is the King of Israel
©12/26/2010 Asher Intrater
There are several theories as to the date of Yeshua's birth, but there is no solid proof for any of them. In addition, there are many cultural aspects of the celebration of Christmas which are ungodly. Despite those problematic issues, the birth of Messiah into this earth is a watershed moment of human history and biblical revelation.
The Son of God became flesh in a human body in a lowly stable. The King of Israel was born to a virgin maiden of the house of David. It is majestic, humbling and awe-inspiring. The name "Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14; 8:8, 10) means: "Im" – With; "Anu" – Us; "El" – God. "God with us" – God came to be with us in the form of a little baby.
Here are some impressions from pastor, apostle and spiritual father Don Finto:
"I wonder how many Christians really understand what we are singing in many of the songs about the birth of Jesus. These particular words struck me as we sang "Noel" together in last Sunday's gathering. "Born is the King of Israel!"
King of Israel! Not only was He born to be the Redeemer of all mankind, but He was born to be Israel's King, He is still the King of Israel, and will return to earth to sit on David's throne in Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:9, Acts 1:6-11).
"Are you the king of the Jews?" Jesus was asked by Pilate just hours before His execution (John 18:33). To which Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world."
"The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end," were the words spoken to Mary on the night of Jesus/Yeshua's conception (Luke 1:32-33).
This Christ, this Messiah, this Anointed One who came to earth as World Redeemer, is Israel's soon-coming King. A Jewish man sits now at the right hand of the Father, awaiting the time of His return. He will rule over the earth in a thousand-year reign of peace before ushering in a completely restored earth in which God and man live together through all eternity (Ephesians 1:19-20, Isaiah 65:18-25, Revelation 20-22)."
Friday, December 24, 2010
By Elizabeth Kendal
Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin (RLPB)
Interposed as the smallest of beings (an infant);
He was born in a most humble abode (a stable);
laid in a most unbecoming crib (an animal's feed trough);
in a most insignificant little town (Bethlehem);
observed by the meekest of witnesses (shepherds).
Yet Jesus Christ was heralded by angels - visited by wise men and His presence truly terrified the king Herod.
Truths stand in tension:
He is Servant, yet he is Sovereign;
He is humble, yet he is holy;
The Lamb of God is the Lion of Judah.
It should come as no surprise therefore, that prayer and promise, not power and politics;
divine covenant and compassion, not human conspiracy and connivance;'returning and rest . . . in quietness and in trust' (Isaiah 30:15),
not arrogant independence and fearful travail are God's appointed means for deliverance.
When we contemplate the meekness of the infant Christ-child this Christmas, may we who know the awesomeness of what Jesus Christ achieved (2 Timothy 1:10), and the sovereign majesty which he attained (Philippians 2:9-11; 1 Peter 3:22), find our faith enlightened, encouraged, emboldened.
For truly, it is not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the LORD (Zechariah 4:6b) that we shall see deliverance.
By faith . . . by faith . . . by faith . . . by faith . . . (Hebrews 11).
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Israeli News Update ©December 19, 2010
by Asher IntraterKay Wilson
Saturday afternoon, (Dec. 18), Israeli Messianic sister Kay Wilson (46), tour guide for Shoresh Tours, went on a hike with Christian tourist friend, Christine Logan. They sat down on a hill off the trail near Kibbutz Mata. Two Arab men jumped them.
Kay reports that they removed her "Magen David" necklace and stabbed her 12 times with a long serrated kitchen knife. She pretended to be dead. Christine panicked and started screaming. She was also stabbed. All their money was stolen. Kay passed out briefly; then awoke with her mouth gagged and hands tied behind her back. She heard Christine moaning in death throes.
Kay managed to stumble down to a nearby parking area and was found by a group of Israeli children. Police searched the area throughout the night. Christine's corpse was found Sunday morning. At the time of this writing, the murderers have not yet been found. Miraculously, Kay is recovering well in the hospital.
Ahavat Yeshua Congregation
Our home congregation in Jerusalem was started with the vision of the Acts 2 community in mind. We believe in the fullness of Holy Spirit power, committed relationships of love, sharing the gospel boldly, speaking Hebrew, and living within the cultural context of the greater Jewish community around us.
The Acts 2 community had a sense of mission for world evangelism. We share that same heart. This week alone we are sending Eddie, Jackie, Mati, and Alex to India, Youval to London, and Liat to Switzerland. Our vision is to send Israeli believers on short trips to preach the gospel in nations all over the world.
Our heart is to be witnesses of Yeshua first "in Jerusalem," and then in "all Judea, Samaria and even to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8)." Pray for "D" and "Y" two local Israeli "not-yet-believers" who have been coming recently.
Song of Moses and of the Lamb
This week at Ahavat Yeshua, Ophir was leading us in the powerful modern worship chorus of "Who is like Thee, O Lord, among the Gods." (The words are taken from Exodus 15 at the crossing of the Red Sea, known as "the song of Moses.") In the middle of the song, I sensed a "window" opened in heaven above us.
We read from Revelation 15:3, "They sing the song of Moses… and the song of the Lamb." Then we read what follows in Revelation 15:5, "I looked and behold the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened." We realized that the combining of modern Spirit-filled worship with the ancient covenant worship was a key to opening the heavens.
Chaim came forward and began to lead us in the traditional Hebrew cantorial of "Who is like Thee…" Spontaneously we began to weave the modern charismatic version with the ancient covenant version. The Holy Spirit fell upon us and filled the congregation in a moment of holy awe.
The Holy Spirit is available to anyone at any time. However, when the presence of the Holy Spirit is combined with the promises to Israel and the prophecies of the End Times, a special power is released that opens the heavens to prepare us for the Second Coming and the establishment of Yeshua's kingdom on earth.
One New Man WorshipBy Ariel Blumenthal
In Revelation 7:9-10 and 14:6 we see another piece of the End Times puzzle: Distinct peoples from “every tribe, tongue, and nation” worshipping God and the Lamb. God’s will is not for Gentiles to abandon their culture in favor of Jewish customs, or vice-versa (1 Corinthians 7:17-24).
Together as the One New Man Church from the nations and from Israel, we can redeem and sanctify all cultures to bring before the Lord a beautiful tapestry of creative, Spirit-led worship to the Father and Creator of all! In so doing, we deal a decisive blow to the principalities and powers that rule every people group (Ephesians 3:10), ushering in a great harvest and the return of the Lord.
Lutheran Church and IsraelBy Tal Haroni and Ludwig Benecke
The Lutheran Church normally separates itself from Messianic Jews, in order not to get in conflict with the Central Council of the Jews in Germany. Last week, one of the chairmen in the Lutheran Church, Nikolaus Schneider, gave an interview in Christian magazine "Idea Spektrum.
"Question: In one of your first comments as chairman of the EKD (Evangelical Church of Germany) you voted for more Christian-Jewish dialogue and for confessing Jesus to the Jews. What do you think about Messianic Jews?Schneider: They are a great gift to the church. They make it possible that we - as mentioned in Ephesians - become a church of Jews and Gentiles. We (the gentile church) have a lack of Messianic Jews; we are an only-gentile church. They complete our church.Evangelizing the Jews is still something, with which I have problems: The covenant with the Jews is still valid, so we don't have to explain God to the Jews.
However, we have to witness Jesus to the Jews - even as the Messiah of Israel. For the Jews the way to God doesn't circumvent Jesus. It may circumvent the church, but not Jesus.This might be some kind of entrance. If the gentile church acknowledges Messianic Jews as brothers and sisters in the Lord, it can be not only a big blessing to Israel and the Jews, but also to the church itself.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
It is so important for us to remind ourselves daily of our position in Christ the Messiah. He is a man, in a glorified Body (one that we will also receive), sitting at the right hand of the Father on high. He is our advocate, our representative in the heavens. We can go to Him 24 hours a day with our problems and issues; and most important of all our praise and worship for who He is and what He has done for us.
There are some thoughts from JB Stoney, Volumn 7 that I was reading this morning that succinctly put this who concept in a form that ministered to me today and set my course for the day. When I read things like this I know that it is like fresh concrete being poured into my spirit and as I meditate on the new concept, the new depth, it gives added depth for the foundation and knowledge I will take with me into eternity when the real me leaves this body of clay and goes into the new world, His Kingdom which will never end!
JB Stoney (1840)
" Christ is raised from the dead, and now there is a Man in glory! He met all the righteous demands of God, not only in Himself personally, but on account of me;"
" and therefore I have now a Saviour in the glory. I have a Saviour, not a law now but a Saviour in glory. That is exactly the difference. This was what so astonished Saul of Tarsus (Paul). He had gloried in the Law, but now he sees a Saviour in the glory."
This fact is now in the eternal. It is a sure as the rising of the sun and the setting of the same. Revelation 1:5 further confirms our position in Christ the Messiah:
" Grace and peace from Him which is, and was and which is to come = and from the seven Spirits which are before His throne - And from Jesus Christ, who is the Faithful Witness, and the first begotten from the dead (never to die again!) and the Prince of the kings of the earth - unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood." Revelation 1:5.
Remind yourself daily that our position is secure! His promises are true! Do not believe the lies of the enemy when he and the spirits of Antichrist bombard in our mind and spirit with lies and deceptions.
One of Christ's prayers to the Father before He died for our sins is recorded in John 17. His prayer was, and will always be, that we may be one with Him and the Father.
God hears and answers the prayers of His Son!
He hears and answers our prayers as they ascend into the heavens! Faithful and True is His very nature. What a Father we have!
Monday, December 13, 2010
" The heavens declare the glory of God;
and the firmament shows forth His handiwork.
Day after day uttereth speech,
and night unto night shows knowledge..."
The heavens declare ( Hebrew is SAPHAR)
the heavens recount, the heavens mark as a tally or a record, or the heavens inscribe as a writer the handiwork of God.
Every time we look up into the heavens, whether it is a beautiful cloud, sunrise, sunset or storm, His glory is being declared for all of His creation to behold. Psalm 75:1 says, " Unto Thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto Thee do we give thanks; for that Thy Name is near Thy wondrous works declare."
He is an all encompassing God. He inhabits eternity and every aspect of His creation. We are surrounded by His presence; it does not matter how we feel at any given moment, He is near.
Job 12:7-10 gives a very appropriate picture of God's all encompassing presence. He says, " But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the birds of the air, and they shall tell thee; Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee, and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these (the fish, birds, beasts and the very earth we walk upon) that the hand of the LORD has wrought this? "
Truly - the heavens, the sky, the earth and everything therein declare the glory of God.
The firmament, the sky shows God's handiwork in creation - The Hebrew description for this concept, this fact, is that the firmament stands out, it boldly manifests and certifies His work. Each day utters speech, it gushes forth, belches out, pours out and abundantly declares His glory.
Psalm 78:1,2 says, " I will open my mouth in a parable, I will utter dark sayings of old - which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. "
The nights show knowledge - Dakes Annotated Reference Bible (page 624) describes this well ~
If the heavens number out the glory of God and inscribe the infinite works of the Creator; if the firmament manifests His handiwork and certifies His existence;
If days constantly pour forth teaching; and if nights declare the knowledge of God - then God's existence is everywhere confirmed!
He is with us always; we are surrounded by His Presence. Even unto the ends of the earth!
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Christ instructed us to pray "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven..." Do we mean it? Jesus told us what the beginning of sorrows would be like and we are here; what is our mindset? If these things must happen before He sits up His glorious kingdom of righteousness centered in His City, Jerusalem, from where He will rule and reign, what are we thinking? What are we praying?
Do we cheer and look with anxious hearts for His return? If not, then are we prepared for what He will do as an act of mercy and graciousness to make us anxious for His return? He said He is coming for those who are looking for His return. He knows how to make us anxious, and looking! I would rather be in that condition without having the heartache, heart break and fear. I know the mindset of anticipation and expectation comes from the Spirit of God and I am starting to pray daily that His return be first and foremost in my mind every hour of the day.
Most planet earth is in turmoil; tens of millions are in abject poverty; unable to even meet the basic human needs of food and shelter. Tens of millions only make perhaps a dollar a day in wages. Tens of millions are imprisoned and suffering for their belief in Christ. The turmoil and uncertainty has just started in what we consider to be civilized Western nations. This condition will continue to roll out of of control. This will bring untold millions into the Kingdom of God. Salvation and judgment work hand in hand. It is His purpose. From a Believer's perspective we must remember that He already inhabits eternity. Events are already written in concrete what will happen tomorrow, next year and ten thousand years from now. He is God of all!
I want ISAIAH 41:10 - 16 to be my confidence and assurance. I want this principal to be the cornerstone of the rest of my existence while on planet earth; come what may, He is here continually ~
" Fear not, for I AM with you! Do not be dismayed for I AM your God! I WILL strengthen you and I WILL help you and I WILL uphold you with My mighty right hand. All those who were incensed against you shall be confounded and shall be as nothing; those who strive against you will perish. "
" You will seek for them and they will not be there! They shall be as nothing, as if they never existed in the first place! Because I AM the LORD your God and I WILL hold your right hand, saying unto you, Fear not, for I WILL help you..."
What else does He need to say?
From where do our questions and uncertainty come?
What more do we need?
He will make us a new sharp threshing instrument that has teeth. We will thresh the mountains we face and beat them small and the hills and mountains will be as dust blown away by the wind of His Spirit working through us.
We will and must rejoice in the LORD and glory in the Holy One of Israel in the process. ALL honor, ALL praise, ALL glory be to the God of our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ. He is King of both heaven and earth and He is riding atop the flood in these last days. We must rejoice with His angels as He finally begins this last phase of preparing planet earth for His return. Do it daily.
What a day that will be!!
Friday, December 10, 2010
©December 5, 2010
by Asher Intrater
These past few weeks we have reported on several urgent situations. The forest fire in Carmel continues at this moment and is reaching to 50,000 dunams. The danger of nuclear weapons in the hands of irrational regimes, such as North Korea and Iran, continues.
This week the JerusalemYediot newspaper reported an interview with Israeli military, archaeological, and engineering experts of the danger of a collapse in the walls of the Mosques and the foundations of the courtyards on the Temple Mount area.
This week also one of the largest cell phone networks in Israel shut down inexplicably for 24 hours. The collapse of worldwide information, communication, or banking networks could happen one day.
Revelation 8:7 – The first angel sounded: hail and fire mixed with blood were thrown to the earth. A third of the trees were burned up…
Obviously we haven't reached the level of disasters as noted even in the first trumpet. However we are moving in that direction. World disasters will become increasingly more intense. One day there will be a war that will kill one third of the world population.
Revelation 9:15-16 - …were released to kill a third of mankind. Now the number of the army of the horsemen was 200,000,000. I heard the number.
A third of mankind would be approximately two billion people. An army of two hundred million will attack. Numbers for an army that size and the numbers killed of that size could potentially be fulfilled by an Islamic Jihad war against India-China-South East Asia. (Interestingly, the passage speaks of the origin of the army in the Euphrates area – verse 14.)
Revelation 3:10 - … I will protect you from the hour of trial which will come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth.
This verse does not mean that God will remove us from the planet, but that He will protect us during trials and tribulations. There is a specific time coming of worldwide disaster. The word "hour" does not mean 60 minutes; it does mean that the time will be relatively short, and it will be controlled and limited. Worldwide disaster is coming; it will be limited in time; God will protect us.
God does not call crises "disaster," but "testing." Despite the hardship and suffering, there will be a hidden purpose of God. There is one purpose toward "non-believers" and another for "believers." Although most unbelievers will not respond correctly, God's purpose is to convince them to repent of wickedness.
Revelation 9:20 - …the rest of mankind did not repent …
Revelation 9:21 - … they did not repent …
Revelation 16:9 - … they did not repent …
God's purpose for the faithful believers is to forge them and refine them for their special destiny.
Revelation – 5:9-10 – You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation; and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.
The scroll of God contains His plan. The seals mean that this plan is hidden to most people. Yeshua, who opens the seals, brings God's plan to come to pass. He reveals that plan to those who serve Him. This verse explains several key elements:
God has a plan. Things are not "going out of control." God's plan is not a spontaneous reaction to circumstances, but one that is prepared before hand. The plan is so concrete that it is written down.
Yeshua is the victor. He opens the seals. He conquers sin and Satan; death and hell. He is the leader of the kingdom. He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah (verse 5).
We have a destiny. God is using the end times difficulties to purify and strengthen the heart of the righteous to be a special people, as priests and kings (spiritual and government leaders).
We will reign with Him. Our destiny is to rule in the world to come together with Yeshua. It is difficult now, but it will be worth it in the end.
Our destiny as a special chosen people to rule in the world to come together with Yeshua is repeated:
Revelation 20:4 - … They lived and reigned with Messiah for a thousand years.
We face times of increasing tribulation in the end times. Those tribulations are a judgment against the world; a purification of the Church; a preparation of a special people for God; and a warning for people of every nation to repent. The tribulations of the end times culminate in a massive world war in which all the nations attack Israel (Zechariah 14). At that time Yeshua will return as the head of the Church, the king of Israel, and the commander of Heaven's army.
At that time the dead will be raised; the devil will be incarcerated; and the kingdom of God set up on earth for a thousand years, with its capital in Jerusalem. After that there will come an even better world, the New Creation and New Jerusalem.
Revelation 21:3-4 – The tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them… God will wipe away every tear… There will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.
There will be a perfect world for eternity. The Garden of Eden will be restored. There will be no pain or evil. Tribulation is temporary; while paradise is permanent. Let us be strong in our faith and endure to end.
Please pray for the fire fighters in the north to gain control of the blaze and prevent further destruction.
Please pray for the national Katzir youth conference this week, for spiritual breakthroughs for our teens.
Please pray for the Ahavat Yeshua day trip tomorrow to Ein Gedi – for a time of fun, relaxation, and relationship building within our congregation
Thursday, November 25, 2010
The Practice Of The Presence Of God
Brother Lawrence's Conversations and Letters Light Heart Edition
Contents Editor's Preface Conversations Letters
Editor's Preface Brother Lawrence was born Nicholas Herman around 1610 in Herimenil, Lorraine, a Duchy of France. His birth records were destroyed in a fire at his parish church during the Thirty Years War, a war in which he fought as a young soldier. It was also the war in which he sustained a near fatal injury to his sciatic nerve. The injury left him quite crippled and in chronic pain for the rest of his life.
He was educated both at home and by his parish priest whose first name was Lawrence and who was greatly admired by the young Nicholas. He was well read and, from an early age, drawn to a spiritual life of faith and love for God. In the years between the abrupt end of his duties as a soldier and his entry into monastic life, he spent a period of time in the wilderness living like one of the early desert fathers. Also, prior to entering the monastery, he spent some time in private service. In his characteristic, self deprecating way, he mentions that he was a "footman who was clumsy and broke everything".
At mid-life he entered a newly established monastery in Paris where he became the cook for the community which grew to over one hundred members. After fifteen years, his duties were shifted to the sandal repair shop but, even then, he often returned to the busy kitchen to help out. In times as troubled as today, Brother Lawrence, discovered, then followed, a pure and uncomplicated way to walk continually in God's presence. For some forty years, he lived and walked with Our Father at his side. Yet, through his own words, we learn that Brother Lawrence's first ten years were full of severe trials and challenges. A gentle man of joyful spirit, Brother Lawrence shunned attention and the limelight, knowing that outside distraction "spoils all".
It was not until after his death that a few of his letters were collected. Joseph de Beaufort, counsel to the Paris archbishop, first published the letters in a small pamphlet. The following year, in a second publication which he titled, 'The Practice of the Presence of God', de Beaufort included, as introductory material, the content of four conversations he had with Brother Lawrence. In this small book, through letters and conversations, Brother Lawrence simply and beautifully explains how to continually walk with God - not from the head but from the heart. Brother Lawrence left the gift of a way of life available to anyone who seeks to know God's peace and presence; that anyone, regardless of age or circumstance, can practice -anywhere, anytime. Brother Lawrence also left the gift of a direct approach to living in God's presence that is as practical today as it was three hundred years ago.
Brother Lawrence died in 1691, having practiced God's presence for over forty years. His quiet death was much like his monastic life where each day and each hour was a new beginning and a fresh commitment to love God with all his heart.
Light Heart www.PracticeGodsPresence.com
Conversations Introduction: At the time of de Beaufort's interviews, Brother Lawrence was in his late fifties. Joseph de Beaufort later commented that the crippled brother, who was then in charge of the upkeep of over one hundred pairs of sandals, was "rough in appearance but gentle in grace". This comment was originally made by another church official who had taken note of Brother Lawrence's simple and gentle approach to living in God's presence.
The first time I saw Brother Lawrence was on the 3rd of August, 1666. He told me that God had done him a singular favor in his conversion at the age of eighteen. During that winter, upon seeing a tree stripped of its leaves and considering that, within a little time, the leaves would be renewed and, after that, the flowers and fruit appear; Brother Lawrence received a high view of the providence and power of God which has never since been effaced from his soul. This view had perfectly set him free from the world and kindled in him such a love for God, that he could not tell whether it had increased in the forty years that he had lived since. Brother Lawrence said he had been footman to M. Fieubert, the treasurer, and that he was a great awkward fellow who broke everything. He finally decided to enter a monastery thinking that he would there be made to smart for his awkwardness and the faults he would commit, and so he would sacrifice his life with its pleasures to God.
But Brother Lawrence said that God had surprised him because he met with nothing but satisfaction in that state. Brother Lawrence related that we should establish ourselves in a sense of God's presence by continually conversing with Him. It was a shameful thing to quit His conversation to think of trifles and fooleries. We should feed and nourish our soul with high notions of God which would yield us great joy in being devoted to Him. He said we ought to quicken and enliven our faith. It was lamentable we had so little. Instead of taking faith for the rule of their conduct, men amused themselves with trivial devotions which changed daily. He said that faith was sufficient to bring us to a high degree of perfection. We ought to give ourselves up to God with regard both to things temporal and spiritual and seek our satisfaction only in the fulfilling of His will. Whether God led us by suffering or by consolation all would be equal to a soul truly resigned. He said we need fidelity in those disruptions in the ebb and flow of prayer when God tries our love to Him. This was the time for a complete act of resignation, whereof one act alone could greatly promote our spiritual advancement.
He said that as far as the miseries and sins he heard of daily in the world, he was so far from wondering at them, that, on the contrary, he was surprised there were not more, considering the malice sinners were capable of. For his part, he prayed for them; but knowing that God could remedy the mischief they did when He pleased, he gave himself no further trouble. Brother Lawrence said to arrive at such resignation as God requires, we should carefully watch over all the passions that mingle in spiritual as well as temporal things. God would give light concerning those passions to those who truly desire to serve Him. At the end of this first conversation Brother Lawrence said that, if my purpose for the visit was to sincerely discuss how to serve God, I might come to him as often as I pleased; and without any fear of being troublesome. If this was not the case, then I ought visit him no more.
Brother Lawrence told me he had always been governed by love without selfish views. Since he resolved to make the love of God the end of all his actions, he had found reasons to be well satisfied with his method. He was pleased when he could take up a straw from the ground for the love of God, seeking Him only, and nothing else, not even His gifts. He said he had been long troubled in mind from a certain belief that he should be damned. All the men in the world could not have persuaded him to the contrary. This trouble of mind lasted four years, during which time he suffered greatly. Finally he reasoned: I did not engage in a religious life but for the love of God. I have endeavored to act only for Him. Whatever becomes of me, whether I be lost or saved, I will always continue to act purely for the love of God. I shall have this good at least that until death I shall have done all that is in me to love Him. From that time on Brother Lawrence lived his life in perfect liberty and continual joy. He placed his sins between himself and God and told Him that he did not deserve His favors, yet God still continued to bestow them in abundance. Brother Lawrence said that in order to form a habit of conversing with God continually and referring all we do to Him, we must, at first, apply to Him with diligence.
Then, after a little care, we would find His love inwardly draw us to Him without any difficulty. He expected after the pleasant days God had given him, he would have his turn of pain and suffering. Yet he was not uneasy about it. Knowing that, since he could do nothing of himself, God would not fail to give him the strength to bear them. When an occasion of practicing some virtue was offered, he addressed himself to God saying, "Lord, I cannot do this unless Thou enable me". Then he received strength more than sufficient. When he had failed in his duty, he only confessed his fault saying to God, "I shall never do otherwise, if You leave me to myself. It is You who must hinder my failing and mend what is amiss." Then, after this, he gave himself no further uneasiness about it. Brother Lawrence said we ought to act with God in the greatest simplicity, speaking to Him frankly and plainly, and imploring His assistance in our affairs just as they happen.
God never failed to grant it, as Brother Lawrence had often experienced. He said he had been lately sent into Burgundy to buy the provision of wine for the community. This was a very unwelcome task for him because he had no turn for business and because he was lame and could only move around the boat by rolling himself over the casks. Yet he gave himself no uneasiness about it, nor about the purchase of the wine. He said to God, it was His business he was about, and that he afterwards found it very well performed. He mentioned that it had turned out the same way the year before when he was sent to Auvergne. So, likewise, in his work in the kitchen (to which he had, at first, a great aversion), having accustomed himself to do everything there for the love of God and asking for His grace to do his work well, he had found everything easy during the fifteen years he had been employed there. He was very well pleased with the post he was now in. Yet, he was as ready to quit that as the former, since he tried to please God by doing little things for the love of Him in any work he did.
With him the set times of prayer were no different from other times. He retired to pray according to the directions of his superior, but he did not need such retirement nor ask for it because his greatest labor did not divert him from God. Since he knew his obligation to love God in all things, and as he endeavored to do so, he had no need of a director to advise him, but he greatly needed a confessor to absolve him. He said he was very aware of his faults, but not discouraged by them. He confessed them to God and made no excuses. Then, he peaceably resumed his usual practice of love and adoration. In his trouble of mind, Brother Lawrence had consulted no one. Knowing only by the light of faith that God was present, he contented himself with directing all his actions to Him.
He did everything with a desire to please God and let what would come of it. He said that useless thoughts spoil all - that mischief began there. We ought to reject useless thoughts quickly and return to our communion with God. In the beginning he had often passed his time appointed for prayer in rejecting wandering thoughts and falling right back into them. He could never regulate his devotion by certain methods as some do. At first, he had practiced meditation but, after some time, that went off in a manner of which he could give no account. Brother Lawrence emphasized that all physical and mental disciplines and exercises were useless, unless they served to arrive at the union with God by love. He had well considered this. He found that the shortest way to go straight to God was by a continual exercise of love and doing all things for His sake.
Also, he noted that there was a great difference between acts of the intellect and acts of the will. Acts of the intellect were comparatively of little value. Acts of the will were all important. Our only business was to love and delight ourselves in God. He then said that all possible kinds of self-sacrifice, if they were void of the love of God, could not efface a single sin. Instead, we ought, without anxiety, expect the pardon of our sins from the blood of Jesus Christ, endeavoring only to love Him with all our heart. He noted that God seemed to have granted the greatest favors to the greatest sinners as more proof of His mercy. Brother Lawrence said the greatest pains or pleasures of this world were nothing compared to what he had experienced of both kinds in a spiritual state. As a result he feared nothing, desiring only one thing of God - that he might not offend Him.
He said he carried no guilt because, "When I fail in my duty, I readily acknowledge it, saying, I am used to do so. I shall never do otherwise if I am left to myself. If I do not fail, then I immediately give God thanks, acknowledging that it comes from Him."
Brother Lawrence told me that the foundation of the spiritual life in him had been a high notion and esteem of God in faith. When he had once well established his faith he had no other care but to reject every other thought so he might perform all his actions for the love of God. He said when sometimes he had not thought of God for a good while he did not disquiet himself. Having acknowledged his wretchedness to God, he simply returned to Him with so much the greater trust.
He said the trust we put in God honors Him and draws down His great grace. It was impossible not only that God should deceive but that He should long let a soul suffer which is perfectly resigned to Him and resolved to endure everything for His sake. Brother Lawrence often experienced the ready succors of Divine Grace. Because of his experience of grace, when he had business to do, he did not think of it beforehand. When it was time to do it, he found in God, as in a clear mirror, all that was fit for him to do. When outward business diverted him a little from the thought of God, a fresh remembrance coming from God invested his soul and so inflamed and transported him that it was difficult for him to contain himself.
He said he was more united to God in his outward employments than when he left them for devotion in retirement. Brother Lawrence said that the worst that could happen to him was to lose that sense of God which he had enjoyed so long. Yet the goodness of God assured him He would not forsake him utterly and that God would give him strength to bear whatever evil He permitted to happen to him. Brother Lawrence, therefore, said he feared nothing. He had no occasion to consult with anybody about his state. In the past, when he had attempted to do it, he had always come away more perplexed. Since Brother Lawrence was ready to lay down his life for the love of God, he had no apprehension of danger.
He said that perfect resignation to God was a sure way to heaven, a way in which we always have sufficient light for our conduct. In the beginning of the spiritual life we ought to be faithful in doing our duty and denying ourselves and then, after a time, unspeakable pleasures followed. In difficulties we need only turn to Jesus Christ and beg His grace with which everything became easier. Brother Lawrence said that many do not advance in Christian progress because they stick in penances and particular exercises while they neglect the love of God which is the end. This appeared plainly by their works and was the reason why we see so little solid virtue. He said there needed neither art nor science for going to God, but only a heart resolutely determined to apply itself to nothing but Him and to love Him only.
Brother Lawrence spoke with great openness of heart concerning his manner of going to God. He told me that all consists in one hearty renunciation of everything which we know does not lead to God. We might accustom ourselves to a continual conversation with Him with freedom and in simplicity. We need only recognize God intimately present with us and address ourselves to Him every moment. We need to beg His assistance for knowing His will in things doubtful and for rightly performing those things which we plainly see He requires of us, offering them to Him before we do them, and giving God thanks when we have completed them. In our conversation with God we should engage in praising, adoring, and loving Him incessantly for His infinite goodness and perfection.
Without being discouraged because of our sins, we should pray for His grace with perfect confidence, relying on the infinite merits of our Lord. Brother Lawrence said that God never failed offering us His grace at each action. It never failed except when Brother Lawrence's thoughts had wandered from a sense of God's presence, or he forgot to ask His assistance. He said that God always gave us light in our doubts when we had no other design but to please Him. Our sanctification did not depend upon changing our works. Instead, it depended on doing those things for God's sake which we commonly do for our own.
He thought it was lamentable to see how many people mistook the means for the end, addicting themselves to certain works which they performed very imperfectly because of their human or selfish regard. The most excellent method he had found for going to God was that of doing our common business without any view of pleasing men but purely for the love of God. Brother Lawrence felt it was a great delusion to think that the times of prayer ought to differ from other times. We are as strictly obliged to adhere to God by action in the time of action, as by prayer in its time.
His own prayer was simply a sense of the presence of God, his soul being at that time aware of nothing other than Divine Love. When the appointed times of prayer were past, he found no difference, because he still continued with God, praising and thanking Him with all his might. Thus his life was a continual joy. Brother Lawrence said we ought, once and for all, heartily put our whole trust in God, and make a total surrender of ourselves to Him, secure that He would not deceive us. We ought not weary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.
We should not wonder if, in the beginning, we often failed in our endeavors, but that at last we should gain a habit which will naturally produce its acts in us without our effort and to our great delight. The whole substance of religion was faith, hope, and charity. In the practice of these we become united to the will of God. Everything else is indifferent and to be used as a means that we may arrive at our end and then be swallowed up by faith and charity. All things are possible to him who believes. They are less difficult to him who hopes. They are more easy to him who loves, and still more easy to him who perseveres in the practice of these three virtues. The end we ought to propose to ourselves is to become, in this life, the most perfect worshippers of God we can possibly be, and as we hope to be through all eternity. We must, from time to time, honestly consider and thoroughly examine ourselves. We will, then, realize that we are worthy of great contempt.
Brother Lawrence noted that when we directly confront ourselves in this manner, we will understand why we are subject to all kinds of misery and problems. We will realize why we are subject to changes and fluctuations in our health, mental outlook, and dispositions. And we will, indeed, recognize that we deserve all the pain and labor God sends to humble us. After this, we should not wonder that troubles, temptations, oppositions, and contradictions happen to us from men. We ought, on the contrary, submit ourselves to them and bear them as long as God pleases as things highly advantageous to us.
The greater perfection a soul aspires after, the more dependent it is upon Divine Grace. Being questioned by one of his own community, to whom he was obliged to respond, by what means he had attained such an habitual sense of God; Brother Lawrence told him that, since his first coming to the monastery, he had considered God as the aim and the end of all his thoughts and desires. In the beginning he spent the hours appointed for private prayer in thinking of God, so as to convince his mind and impress deeply upon his heart the Divine Existence. He did this by devout sentiments and submission to the lights of faith, rather than by studied reasonings and elaborate meditations.
By this short and sure method he immersed himself in the knowledge and love of God. He resolved to use his utmost endeavor to live in a continual sense of His presence, and, if possible, never to forget Him more. When he had thus, in prayer, filled his mind with that Infinite Being, he went to his work in the kitchen where he was then cook for the community. There, having first considered the things his job required, and when and how each thing was to be done; he spent all the intervals of his time, both before and after his work, in prayer. When he began, he said to God with a filial trust, "O my God, since Thou art with me, and I must now, in obedience to Thy commands, apply my mind to these outward things, grant me the grace to continue in Thy Presence; and prosper me with Thy assistance. Receive all my works, and possess all my affections."
As he proceeded in his work, he continued his familiar conversation with his Maker, imploring His grace, and offering Him all his actions. When he was finished, he examined how he had performed his duty. If he found well, he returned thanks to God. If not, he asked pardon and, without being discouraged, he set his mind right again. He then continued his exercise of the presence of God as if he had never deviated from it. "Thus," said he, "by rising after my falls, and by frequently renewed acts of faith and love, I have come to a state where it would be as difficult for me not to think of God as it was at first to accustom myself to the habit of thinking of Him."
As Brother Lawrence had found such an advantage in walking in the presence of God, it was natural for him to recommend it earnestly to others. More strikingly, his example was a stronger inducement than any arguments he could propose. His very countenance was edifying with such a sweet and calm devotion appearing that he could not but affect the beholders. It was observed, that even in the busiest times in the kitchen, Brother Lawrence still preserved his recollection and heavenly-mindedness. He was never hasty nor loitering, but did each thing in its turn with an even, uninterrupted composure and tranquility of spirit. "The time of work," said he, "does not with me differ from the time of prayer. In the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great a tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the Blessed Supper."
Brother Lawrence's letters are the very heart and soul of what is titled 'The Practice of the Presence of God'. All of these letters were written during the last ten years of his life. Many of them were to long-time friends, a Carmelite sister and another nun at a nearby convent. One or both of these friends were from his native village, perhaps relatives. The first letter was probably written to the prioress of one of these convents. The second letter was written to Brother Lawrence's own spiritual adviser. Note that the fourth letter is written in the third person where Brother Lawrence describes his own experience. The letters follow the tradition of substituting M_ for specific names.
You so earnestly desire that I describe the method by which I arrived at that habitual sense of God's presence, which our merciful Lord has been pleased to grant me. I am complying with my request that you show my letter to no one. If I knew that you would let it be seen, all the desire I have for your spiritual progress would not be enough to make me comply. The account I can give you is: Having found in many books different methods of going to God and diverse practices of the spiritual life, I thought this would serve rather to puzzle me than facilitate what I sought after, which was nothing but how to become wholly God's. This made me resolve to give the all for the All. After having given myself wholly to God to make all the satisfaction I could for my sins, I renounced, for the love of Him, everything that was not God; and I began to live as if there was none but He and I in the world.
Sometimes I considered myself before Him as a poor criminal at the feet of his judge. At other times I beheld Him in my heart as my Father, as my God. I worshipped Him the oftenest I could, keeping my mind in His holy presence and recalling it as often as I found it wandered from Him. I made this my business not only at the appointed times of prayer but all the time; every hour, every minute, even in the height of my work. I drove from my mind everything that interrupted my thoughts of God. I found no small pain in this exercise. Yet I continued it notwithstanding all the difficulties that occurred.
I tried not to trouble or disquiet myself when my mind wandered. Such has been my common practice ever since I entered religious life. Though I have done it very imperfectly, I have found great advantages by it. These, I well know, are due to the mercy and goodness of God, because we can do nothing without Him; and I still less than any. When we are faithful to keep ourselves in His holy presence, and set Him always before us, this hinders our offending Him and doing anything that may displease Him.
It also begets in us a holy freedom, and, if I may so speak, a familiarity with God, where, when we ask, He supplies the grace we need. Over time, by often repeating these acts, they become habitual, and the presence of God becomes quite natural to us. Please give Him thanks with me for His great goodness towards me, which I can never sufficiently express, and for the many favors He has done for so miserable a sinner as I am. May all things praise Him. Amen.
Not finding my manner of life described in books, although I have no problem with that, yet, for reassurance, I would appreciate your thoughts about it. In conversation some days ago, a devout person told me the spiritual life was a life of grace, which begins with servile fear, is increased by hope of eternal life, and is completed by pure love; that each of these states had its different phases, by which one arrives, at last, at that blessed consummation. I have not followed these methods at all. On the contrary, I instinctively felt they would discourage me. Instead, at my entrance into religious life, I took a resolution to give myself up to God as the best satisfaction I could make for my sins and, for the love of Him, to renounce all besides.
For the first years, I commonly employed myself during the time set apart for devotion with thoughts of death, judgment, hell, heaven, and my sins. I continued, for some years, applying my mind carefully the rest of the day, and even in the midst of my work, to the presence of God, whom I considered always as with me, often as in my heart. At length I began to do the same thing during my set time of prayer, which gave me joy and consolation. This practice produced in me so high an esteem for God that faith alone was enough to assure me. Such was my beginning.
Yet I must tell you that, for the first ten years, I suffered a great deal. During this time I fell often and rose again presently. It seemed to me that all creatures, reason, and God, Himself, were against me and faith alone for me. The apprehension that I was not devoted to God as I wished to be, my past sins always on my mind, and the great unmerited favors which God did for me, were the source of my sufferings and feelings of unworthiness. I was sometimes troubled with thoughts that to believe I had received such favors was an effect of my imagination, which pretended to be so soon where others arrived with great difficulty.
At other times I believed it was all a willful delusion and that there was no hope for me. Finally, I considered the prospect of spending the rest of my days in these troubles. I discovered this did not diminish the trust I had in God. In fact, it only served to increase my faith. It then seemed that, all at once, I found myself changed. My soul, which, until that time was in trouble, felt a profound inward peace, as if she was in her center and place of rest. Ever since that time I walk before God simply, in faith, with humility, and with love. I apply myself diligently to do nothing and think nothing which may displease Him.
I hope that when I have done what I can, He will do with me what He pleases. As for what passes in me at present, I cannot express it. I have no pain or difficulty about my state because I have no will but that of God. I endeavor to accomplish His will in all things. I am so resigned that I would not take up a straw from the ground against His order or from any motive but that of pure love for Him. I have ceased all forms of devotion and set prayers except those which my state requires. I make it my priority to persevere in His holy presence, wherein I maintain a simple attention and a fond regard for God, which I may call an actual presence of God. Or, to put it another way, it is an habitual, silent, and private conversation of the soul with God. This gives me much joy and contentment.
In short, I am sure, beyond all doubt, that my soul has been with God above these past thirty years. I pass over many things that I may not be tedious to you. Yet, I think it is appropriate to tell you how I perceive myself before God, whom I behold as my King. I consider myself as the most wretched of men. I am full of faults, flaws, and weaknesses, and have committed all sorts of crimes against his King. In deep regret I confess all my wickedness to Him. I ask His forgiveness. I abandon myself in His hands that He may do what He pleases with me. My King is full of mercy and goodness. Far from chastising me, He embraces me with love. He makes me eat at His table. He serves me with His own hands and gives me the key to His treasures. He converses and delights Himself with me incessantly, in a thousand and a thousand ways. And He treats me in all respects as His favorite. In this way I consider myself continually in His holy presence.
My most usual method is this simple attention, an affectionate regard for God to whom I find myself often attached with greater sweetness and delight than that of an infant at the mother's breast. To choose an expression, I would call this state the bosom of God for the inexpressible sweetness which I taste and experience there. If, at any time, my thoughts wander from this state from necessity or infirmity, I am presently recalled by inward emotions so charming and delicious that I cannot find words to describe them.
Please reflect on my great wretchedness, of which you are fully informed, rather than on the great favors God does one as unworthy and ungrateful as I am. As for my set hours of prayer, they are simply a continuation of the same exercise. Sometimes I consider myself as a stone before a carver, whereof He is to make a statue. Presenting myself thus before God, I desire Him to make His perfect image in my soul and render me entirely like Himself. At other times, when I apply myself to prayer, I feel all my spirit lifted up without any care or effort on my part. This continues as if my soul was suspended yet firmly fixed in God like a center or place of rest. I know that some charge this state with inactivity, delusion, and self-love. I confess that it is a holy inactivity. And it would be a happy self-love if the soul, in that state, were capable of it.
But while the soul is in this repose, she cannot be disturbed by the kinds of things to which she was formerly accustomed. The things that the soul used to depend on would now hinder rather than assist her. Yet, I cannot see how this could be called delusion, because the soul which enjoys God in this way wants nothing but Him. If this is delusion, then only God can remedy it. Let Him do what He pleases with me. I desire only Him and to be wholly devoted to Him. Please send me your opinion as I greatly value and have a singular esteem for your reverence, and am yours.
We have a God who is infinitely gracious and knows all our wants. I always thought that He would reduce you to extremity. He will come in His own time, and when you least expect Him. Hope in Him more than ever. Thank Him with me for the favors He does you, particularly for the fortitude and patience which He gives you in your afflictions. It is a plain mark of the care He takes of you. Comfort yourself with Him, and give thanks for all. I admire also the fortitude and bravery of M_. God has given him a good disposition and a good will; but he is still a little worldly and somewhat immature. I hope the affliction God has sent him will help him do some reflection and inner searching and that it may prove to be a wholesome remedy to him.
It is a chance for him to put all his trust in God who accompanies him everywhere. Let him think of Him as much as he can, especially in time of great danger. A little lifting up of the heart and a remembrance of God suffices. One act of inward worship, though upon a march with sword in hand, are prayers which, however short, are nevertheless very acceptable to God. And, far from lessening a soldier's courage in occasions of danger, they actually serve to fortify it. Let him think of God as often as possible. Let him accustom himself, by degrees, to this small but holy exercise. No one sees it, and nothing is easier than to repeat these little adorations all through the day.
Please recommend to him that he think of God the most he can in this way. It is very fit and most necessary for a soldier, who is daily faced with danger to his life, and often to his very salvation. I hope that God will assist him and all the family, to whom I present my service, being theirs and yours.
I am taking this opportunity to tell you about the sentiments of one of our society concerning the admirable effects and continual assistance he receives from the presence of God. May we both profit by them. For the past forty years his continual care has been to be always with God; and to do nothing, say nothing, and think nothing which may displease Him. He does this without any view or motive except pure love of Him and because God deserves infinitely more. He is now so accustomed to that divine presence that he receives from God continual comfort and peace. For about thirty years his soul has been filled with joy and delight so continual, and sometimes so great, that he is forced to find ways to hide their appearing outwardly to others who may not understand. If sometimes he becomes a little distracted from the divine presence, God gently recalls Himself by a stirring in his soul.
This often happens when he is most engaged in his outward chores and tasks. He answers with exact fidelity to these inward drawings, either by an elevation of his heart to God, or by a meek and fond regard for Him, or by such words as love forms on these occasions. For instance, he may say, "My God, here I am all devoted to You," or "Lord, make me according to Your heart." It seems to him (in fact, he feels it) that this God of love, satisfied with such few words, reposes again and rests in the depth and center of his soul. The experience of these things gives him such certainty that God is always in the innermost part of his soul that he is beyond doubting it under any circumstances.
Judge by this what content and satisfaction he enjoys. While he continually finds within himself so great a treasure, he no longer has any need to search for it. He no longer has any anxiety about finding it, because he now has his treasure open before him and may take what he pleases of it. He often points out our blindness and exclaims that those who content themselves with so little are to be pitied. God, says he, has infinite treasure to bestow, and we take so little through routine devotion, which lasts but a moment. Blind as we are, we hinder God, and stop the current of His grace. But when He finds a soul penetrated with a lively faith, He pours into it His grace and favors plentifully. There they flow like a torrent, which, after being forcibly stopped against its ordinary course, when it has found a passage, spreads itself with impetuosity and abundance.
Yet we often stop this torrent by the little value we set upon it. Let us stop it no more. Let us enter into ourselves and break down the bank which hinders it. Let us make way for grace. Let us redeem the lost time, for perhaps we have but little left. Death follows us close; so let us be well prepared. We die but once and a mistake there is irretrievable. I say again, let us enter into ourselves. The time presses. There is no room for delay. Our souls are at stake. It seems to me that you are prepared and have taken good measures so you will not be taken by surprise. I commend you for it. It is the one thing necessary. We must always work at it, because not to persevere in the spiritual life is to go back.
But those who have the gale of the Holy Spirit go forward even in sleep. If the vessel of our soul is still tossed with winds and storms, let us awake the Lord who reposes within. He will quickly calm the sea. I have taken the liberty to impart to you these good sentiments that you may compare them with your own. May they serve to re-kindle them, if at any time they may be even a little cooled. Let us recall our first favors and remember our early joys and comforts. And, let us benefit from the example and sentiments of this brother who is little known by the world, but known and extremely caressed by God. I will pray for you. Please pray also for me, as I am yours in our Lord.
Today I received two books and a letter from Sister M_, who is preparing to make her profession. She desires the prayers of your holy society, and yours in particular. I think she greatly values your support. Please do not disappoint her. Pray to God that she may take her vows in view of His love alone, with a firm resolution to be wholly devoted to Him. I will send you one of those books about the presence of God; a subject which, in my opinion, contains the whole spiritual life. It seems to me that whoever duly practices it will soon become devout. I know that for the right practice of it, the heart must be empty of all other things because God will possess the heart alone.
As He cannot possess it alone without emptying it of all besides, so, neither can He act there and do in it what He pleases, unless it be left vacant to Him. There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God. Only those can comprehend it who practice and experience it. Yet I do not advise you to do it from that motive. It is not pleasure which we ought to seek in this exercise. Let us do it from a principle of love, and because it is God's will for us. Were I a preacher, I would, above all other things, preach the practice of the presence of God.
Were I a director, I would advise all the world to do it, so necessary do I think it, and so easy too. Ah! knew we but the want we have of the grace and assistance of God, we would never lose sight of Him, no, not for a moment. Believe me. Immediately make a holy and firm resolution never more to forget Him. Resolve to spend the rest of your days in His sacred presence, deprived of all consolations for the love of Him if He thinks fit. Set heartily about this work, and if you do it sincerely, be assured that you will soon find the effects of it. I will assist you with my prayers, poor as they are. I recommend myself earnestly to you and those of your holy society.
I have received from M_ the things which you gave her for me. I wonder that you have not given me your thoughts on the little book I sent to you. Set heartily about the practice of it in your old age. It is better late than never. I cannot imagine how religious persons can live satisfied without the practice of the presence of God. For my part I keep myself retired with Him in the depth and center of my soul as much as I can. While I am with Him I fear nothing; but the least turning from Him is insupportable. This practice does not tire the body. It is, however, proper to deprive it sometimes, nay often, of many little pleasures which are innocent and lawful. God will not permit a soul that desires to be devoted entirely to Him to take pleasures other than with Him. That is more than reasonable.
I do not say we must put any violent constraint upon ourselves. No, we must serve God in a holy freedom. We must work faithfully without trouble or disquiet, recalling our mind to God mildly and with tranquility as often as we find it wandering from Him. It is, however, necessary to put our whole trust in God. We must lay aside all other cares and even some forms of devotion, though very good in themselves, yet such as one often engages in routinely. Those devotions are only means to attain to the end. Once we have established a habit of the practice of the presence of God, we are then with Him who is our end. We have no need to return to the means. We may simply continue with Him in our commerce of love, persevering in His holy presence with an act of praise, of adoration, or of desire; or with an act of resignation, or thanksgiving, and in all the ways our spirit can invent.
Be not discouraged by the repugnance which you may find in it from nature. You must sacrifice yourself. At first, one often thinks it a waste of time. But you must go on and resolve to persevere in it until death, notwithstanding all the difficulties that may occur. I recommend myself to the prayers of your holy society, and yours in particular. I am yours in our Lord.
I pity you much. It will be a great relief if you can leave the care of your affairs to M_ and spend the remainder of your life only in worshipping God. He requires no great matters of us; a little remembrance of Him from time to time, a little adoration. Sometimes to pray for His grace, sometimes to offer Him your sufferings, and sometimes to return Him thanks for the favors He has given you, and still gives you in the midst of your troubles. Console yourself with Him the oftenest you can. Lift up your heart to Him at your meals and when you are in company. The least little remembrance will always be pleasing to Him. You need not cry very loud. He is nearer to us than we are aware.
We do not always have to be in church to be with God. We may make an oratory of our heart so we can, from time to time, retire to converse with Him in meekness, humility, and love. Every one is capable of such familiar conversation with God; some more, some less. He knows what we can do. Let us begin then. Perhaps He expects but one generous resolution on our part. Have courage. We have but little time to live. You are nearly sixty-four, and I am almost eighty. Let us live and die with God. Sufferings will be sweet and pleasant while we are with Him. Without Him, the greatest pleasures will be a cruel punishment to us. May He be praised by all.
Gradually become accustomed to worship Him in this way; to beg His grace, to offer Him your heart from time to time; in the midst of your business, even every moment if you can. Do not always scrupulously confine yourself to certain rules or particular forms of devotion. Instead, act in faith with love and humility. You may assure M_ of my poor prayers, and that I am their servant, and yours particularly.
You tell me nothing new. You are not the only one who is troubled with wandering thoughts. Our mind is extremely roving. But the will is mistress of all our faculties. She must recall our stray thoughts and carry them to God as their final end. If the mind is not sufficiently controlled and disciplined at our first engaging in devotion, it contracts certain bad habits of wandering and dissipation. These are difficult to overcome. The mind can draw us, even against our will, to worldly things. I believe one remedy for this is to humbly confess our faults and beg God's mercy and help. I do not advise you to use many words and long discourses in prayer, because they are often the occasions of wandering. Hold yourself in prayer before God, like a dumb or paralytic beggar at a rich man's gate.
Let it be your business to keep your mind in the presence of the Lord. If your mind sometimes wanders and withdraws itself from Him, do not become upset. Trouble and disquiet serve rather to distract the mind than to re-collect it. The will must bring it back in tranquility. If you persevere in this manner, God will have pity on you. One way to re-collect the mind easily in the time of prayer, and preserve it more in tranquility, is not to let it wander too far at other times. Keep your mind strictly in the presence of God. Then being accustomed to think of Him often, you will find it easy to keep your mind calm in the time of prayer, or at least to recall it from its wanderings. I have told you already of the advantages we may draw from this practice of the presence of God. Let us set about it seriously and pray for one another.
The enclosed is an answer to that which I received from M_. Please deliver it to her. She is full of good will but she would go faster than grace! One does not become holy all at once. I recommend her to your guidance. We ought to help one another by our advice, and yet more by our good example. Please let me hear of her from time to time and whether she is very fervent and obedient. Let us often consider that our only business in this life is to please God, that perhaps all besides is but folly and vanity. You and I have lived over forty years in the monastic life. Have we used those years in loving and serving God, who by His mercy has called us to this state and for that very end? I am sometimes filled with shame and confusion when I reflect, on the one hand, on the great favors God has done and continues to do for me; and, on the other, on the ill use I have made of them and my small advancement in the way of perfection.
Since, by His mercy, He gives us yet a little time, let us begin in earnest. Let us repair the lost time. Let us return with full assurance to that Father of mercies, who is always ready to receive us affectionately. Let us generously renounce, for the love of Him, all that is not Himself. He deserves infinitely more. Let us think of Him perpetually. Let us put all our trust in Him. I have no doubt that we shall soon receive an abundance of His grace, with which we can do all things, and, without which we can do nothing but sin.
We cannot escape the dangers which abound in life without the actual and continual help of God. Let us pray to Him for it constantly. How can we pray to Him without being with Him? How can we be with Him but in thinking of Him often? And how can we often think of Him, but by a holy habit which we should form of it? You will tell me that I always say the same thing. It is true, for this is the best and easiest method I know. I use no other. I advise all the world to do it. We must know before we can love. In order to know God, we must often think of Him. And when we come to love Him, we shall then also think of Him often, for our heart will be with our treasure.
I have had a good deal of difficulty bringing myself to write to M_. I do it now purely because you desire me to do so. Please address it and send it to him. It is pleasing to see all the faith you have in God. May He increase it in you more and more. We cannot have too much trust in so good and faithful a Friend who will never fail us in this world nor in the next. If M_ takes advantage of the loss he has had and puts all his confidence in God, He will soon give him another friend more powerful and more inclined to serve him. He disposes of hearts as He pleases. Perhaps M_ was too attached to him he has lost. We ought to love our friends, but without encroaching upon the love of God, which must always be first. Please keep my recommendation in mind that you think of God often; by day, by night, in your business, and even in your diversions.
He is always near you and with you. Leave Him not alone. You would think it rude to leave a friend alone who came to visit you. Why, then, must God be neglected? Do not forget Him but think of Him often. Adore Him continually. Live and die with Him. This is the glorious work of a Christian; in a word, this is our profession. If we do not know it, we must learn it. I will endeavor to help you with my prayers, and am yours in our Lord.
I do not pray that you may be delivered from your pains; but I pray earnestly that God gives you strength and patience to bear them as long as He pleases. Comfort yourself with Him who holds you fastened to the cross. He will loose you when He thinks fit. Happy are those who suffer with Him. Accustom yourself to suffer in that manner, and seek from Him the strength to endure as much, and as long, as He judges necessary for you. Worldly people do not comprehend these truths. It is not surprising though, since they suffer like what they are and not like Christians.
They see sickness as a pain against nature and not as a favor from God. Seeing it only in that light, they find nothing in it but grief and distress. But those who consider sickness as coming from the hand of God, out of His mercy, and as the means He uses for their salvation, commonly find sweetness and consolation in it. I pray that you see that God is often nearer to us and present within us in sickness than in health. Do not rely completely on another physician because God reserves your cure to Himself. Put all your trust in God. You will soon find the effects in your recovery, which we often delay by putting greater faith in medicine than in God. Whatever remedies you use, they will succeed only so far as He permits.
When pains come from God, only He can ultimately cure them. He often sends sickness to the body to cure diseases of the soul. Comfort yourself with the Sovereign Physician of both soul and body. I expect you will say that I am very much at ease, and that I eat and drink at the table of the Lord. You have reason. But think how painful it would be to the greatest criminal in the world to eat at the king's table and be served by him, yet have no assurance of pardon. I believe he would feel an anxiety that nothing could calm except his trust in the goodness of his sovereign. So I assure you, that whatever pleasures I taste at the table of my King, my sins, ever present before my eyes, as well as the uncertainty of my pardon, torment me. Though I accept that torment as something pleasing to God. Be satisfied with the condition in which God places you.
However happy you may think me, I envy you. Pain and suffering would be a paradise to me if I could suffer with my God. The greatest pleasures would be hell if I relished them without Him. My only consolation would be to suffer something for His sake. I must, in a little time, go to God. What comforts me in this life is that I now see Him by faith. I see Him in such a manner that I sometimes say, I believe no more, but I see. I feel what faith teaches us, and, in that assurance and that practice of faith, I live and die with Him. Stay with God always. He is the only support and comfort for your affliction. I shall beseech Him to be with you. I present my service.
If we were well accustomed to the practice of the presence of God, bodily discomforts would be greatly alleviated. God often permits us to suffer a little to purify our soul and oblige us to stay close to Him. Take courage. Offer Him your pains and pray to Him for strength to endure them. Above all, get in the habit of often thinking of God, and forget Him the least you can. Adore Him in your infirmities. Offer yourself to Him from time to time. In the height of your sufferings, humbly and affectionately beseech Him, as a child to his father, to make you conformable to His holy will. I shall endeavor to assist you with my poor prayers. God has many ways of drawing us to Himself. He sometimes seems to hide Himself from us. But faith alone ought to be our support. Faith is the foundation of our confidence. We must put all our faith in God. He will not fail us in time of need. I do not know how God will dispose of me, but I am always happy. All the world suffers and I, who deserve the severest discipline, feel joys so continual and great that I can scarcely contain them. I would willingly ask God for a part of your sufferings.
I know my weakness is so great that, if He left me one moment to myself, I would be the most wretched man alive. Yet, I do not know how He could leave me alone because faith gives me as strong a conviction as reason. He never forsakes us until we have first forsaken Him. Let us fear to leave Him. Let us always be with Him. Let us live and die in His presence. Do pray for me, as I pray for you.
I am sorry to see you suffer so long. What gives me some ease and sweetens the feeling I have about your griefs, is that they are proof of God's love for you. See your pains in that view and you will bear them more easily. In your case, it is my opinion that, at this point, you should discontinue human remedies and resign yourself entirely to the providence of God. Perhaps He waits only for that resignation and perfect faith in Him to cure you. Since, in spite of all the care you have taken, treatment has proved unsuccessful and your malady still increases, wait no longer. Put yourself entirely in His hands and expect all from Him. I told you in my last letter that He sometimes permits bodily discomforts to cure the distempers of the soul.
Have courage. Make a virtue of necessity. Do not ask God for deliverance from your pain. Instead, out of love for Him, ask for the strength to resolutely bear all that He pleases, and as long as He pleases. Such prayers are hard at first, but they are very pleasing to God, and become sweet to those that love Him. Love sweetens pain. When one loves God, one suffers for His sake with joy and courage. Do so, I beseech you. Comfort yourself with Him. He is the only physician for all our illnesses. He is the Father of the afflicted and always ready to help us. He loves us infinitely more than we can imagine. Love Him in return and seek no consolation elsewhere. I hope you will soon receive His comfort. I will help you with my prayers, poor as they are, and shall always be yours in our Lord.
I give thanks to our Lord for having relieved you a little as you desired. I have often been near death and I was never so satisfied as then. At those times I did not pray for any relief, but I prayed for strength to suffer with courage, humility, and love. How sweet it is to suffer with God! However great your sufferings may be, receive them with love. It is paradise to suffer and be with Him. If, in this life, we might enjoy the peace of paradise, we must accustom ourselves to a familiar, humble, and affectionate conversation with God. We must hinder our spirits' wandering from Him on all occasions. We must make our heart a spiritual temple so we can constantly adore Him.
We must continually watch over ourselves so we do not do anything that may displease Him. When our minds and hearts are filled with God, suffering becomes full of unction and consolation. I well know that to arrive at this state, the beginning is very difficult because we must act purely on faith. But, though it is difficult, we know also that we can do all things with the grace of God. He never refuses those who ask earnestly. Knock. Persevere in knocking. I answer for it, that, in His due time, He will open His grace to you. He will grant, all at once, what He has deferred during many years. Pray to Him for me, as I pray to Him for you. I hope to see Him soon.
God knows best what we need. All that He does is for our good. If we knew how much He loves us, we would always be ready to receive both the bitter and the sweet from His Hand. It would make no difference. All that came from Him would be pleasing. The worst afflictions only appear intolerable if we see them in the wrong light. When we see them as coming from the hand of God, and know that it is our loving Father who humbles and distresses us, our sufferings lose their bitterness and can even become a source of consolation.
Let all our efforts be to know God. The more one knows Him, the greater one desires to know Him. Knowledge is commonly the measure of love. The deeper and more extensive our knowledge, the greater is our love. If our love of God were great we would love Him equally in pain and pleasure. We only deceive ourselves by seeking or loving God for any favors which He has or may grant us. Such favors, no matter how great, can never bring us as near to God as can one simple act of faith. Let us seek Him often by faith. He is within us. Seek Him not elsewhere. Are we not rude and deserve blame if we leave Him alone to busy ourselves with trifles which do not please Him and perhaps even offend Him? These trifles may one day cost us dearly. Let us begin earnestly to be devoted to Him. Let us cast everything else out of our heart. He wants to possess the heart alone. Beg this favor of Him. If we do all we can, we will soon see that change wrought in us which we so greatly desire. I cannot thank Him enough for the relief He has given you. I hope to see Him within a few days. Let us pray for one another.
Brother Lawrence died within days of this last letter.