Prayer Update March/April 2010

Hi there,

For those of you following on Facebook, you’ll know it’s been a busy time for us the last couple of months and that we’re writing this from France, so I hope you didn’t mind the delay in our update 😉

After much prayerful deliberation, we’ve made the decision to move back to Scotland.  We both love Kosova and the people here and will be sad when we finally depart (probably early July), but we both feel it is the right time to head back to Scotland. We’ve been blessed to have had this time post-Smile as a sabbatical to enjoy living in Gjakova and getting to know our Kosovan friends better.  We plan on returning to Kosova to visit in the future, but we feel we would both benefit personally from further training and time at home.  So in order to return to the UK, the two important things we’ll need (apart from jobs and a home!) would be a vehicle for our stuff and an EU passport for Ari the dog.

March

I began March with travelling to the UK for a job interview with the UCCFThe job was for a staff worker position working with the University Christian Unions in Glasgow. The job ticked the three boxes we’re looking for: ministry, paid, and continual training in ministry.  When I applied they said that the interviews would be at their head office in Leicester between 9-11th March, but unfortunately didn’t tell me which specific day it would be until the week before.  At this point, I’d already booked my flights back to Glasgow in order to get the cheaper flights.  They also informed me that they’d like us to bring our wives too, but we couldn’t afford the extra £300 to fly Angela back to the UK too.  As Angela wasn’t travelling with me, I had also booked to return on the Friday (12th) so as not to leave her too long on her own. This meant that my week consisted of travelling Kosova-Glasgow on the Monday, train Glasgow-Leicester for my interview on Tuesday, and flight back to Kosova from Glasgow Friday.

In addition, we were hit with a pretty fierce blizzard as we were driving to the Kosovan airport, resulting the vehicle spinning off the road into a ditch.  You can see pictures hereI was being driven to the airport by our friends who now work for Smile International, Klodi and Shkelzen (Angela was not with us), as they were on their way to the airport to pick up Mike and Diana Seeney.  Thankfully, we survived with a few bumps (I had a mild concussion) but unfortunately the Smile vehicle was not able to be repaired in Kosova.  It has a twisted chassis (among other things) and because, as we were told last year, the Kosovan government will no longer be allowing right-hand drive vehicles to be registered, Smile flew our friends Gordon and Val Carr to Kosova to drive it back to the UK.  Thankfully, both they, and the vehicle, survived the journey back through Europe and arrived in the UK where Smile have been able to get it repaired and MOT’d.

The day after my journey, I had the interview for the UCCF, which I thought went well even though I was quite tired and still shaken from the accident.  Unfortunately, I found out at the end of March that I didn’t get the job so we’re back to the drawing board, looking to see what our options are for coming home.

Angela writing:  Meanwhile, I have restarted my Albanian lessons, which I am really enjoying.  My teacher, Klodi, is fantastic; I walk up to the Smile Centre once a week during Klodi’s lunch break for my lesson.  Ari enjoys coming with me as he gets to play outside while I learn!  I was asked if I could go into one of the local high schools to visit a couple of French and English classes, which I ended up teaching – which was fairly daunting but actually a lot of fun!  I also love getting out and about with Ari, and love taking him up to Qabrati hill where we can both run about and play! 

Sadly, we’ve lost two friends during this time. Our dear friend, Raymond Shaw, passed away in Holland, leaving behind his wife and 3 children.  Raymond worked for the Child Evangelical Fellowship in Albania and Kosova and was a regular guest at the Smile Centre and became a great friend to us during our time there.  My step-father’s father, Bill Moss, also died and was given a great memorial service at the church that he loved in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Please pray for the families of these two saints as they deal with the loss of their loved ones who have gone to be with the Lord.

April

We made the journey to France to visit Angela’s parents and obtain a European passport for Ari. We hitched lift with our friends, Alastair and Anke, who are missionaries in Peje, Kosova.  They’re taking their motorhome back to Scotland to get MOT’d and visit Alastair’s family.  They’re a great couple who generously offered to drive us to France as it could be on their way home (with a slight detour).  So together we did 7 countries (Kosova, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia (& Croatia again!), Slovakia, Italy, France), over 3 days.  We arrived at her parent’s caravan near Bourg St Maurice safely and continued to look for a car online to transport us back to Scotland in the summer.  After much searching on Autotrader and many friends help, Val and Gordon in London were able to assist us in buying a Renault Laguna diesel estateSo between ash clouds(!),  Angela was able to fly to England to pick up the vehicle and give it a run-around before heading back to France. 

Angela says: In order to bring Ari home with us to Scotland, we need to get his European Passport (to avoid paying more than £2000 for quarantine if we brought him directly home), so we’ve been busy in France with his paperwork for that.  He is now able to travel freely in Europe, but needs to wait 6 months until we can bring him home to Scotland with us.  Because of this, we will need to leave him with friends in France from July – October/November until we can return to collect him, and we’re trying to find people to take him at the moment – it’s a really big thing to ask, so we’re praying that we will find a solution. This will however, give us the time to stay with friends and find some place dog-friendly to rent in Glasgow before we retrieve him from France.

Job wise, Angela and I haven’t had much luck as yet.  As many of you know (and have hinted at!) I’ve had fulltime ministry at the back of my mind for the past couple of years and was intending on exploring that option post-UCCF job.  Since I didn’t get that one, I’ve been encouraged to start exploring what my options are for further training and opportunities in fulltime ministry now.  The more I read the Bible, the more “Reformed” and “Charismatic” I become.  So I’m looking to see where I “fit” in ministry terms.

Angela again:  I have been looking for an opportunity within the universities in either teaching or research (or both) in law.  However, in order to keep all options open, I have also applied for a place on the Diploma in Legal Practice at Glasgow University, which, along with two years of traineeship, I would need to complete in order to become a qualified solicitor in Scotland.  This would only be possible if I can to find sponsorship through a law firm, as the fees alone for the one year course are nearly £6,000!

Now

We had planned to return home to Kosova before the beginning of May, however, we have decided to stay on for another week or two in France at the campsite in order to support Angela’s parents.  Angela’s mum, Di, has been recovering well from her ACL (knee) operation 5 weeks ago.  However, she has been experiencing severe back pain for the last 2 weeks and has been diagnosed with a spinal hernia.  We are waiting to hear from the neurosurgeon about when/if they will need to operate on her spine here in France and how long it will be before she and Dougie can travel back to the UK.  Their original intention was to leave the campsite on the 3rd of May when it closes for a month, but the owners have agreed to let us stay for as long as we need.

Prayer Points:

  • Thank Christ for his provision of good friends who have enabled us to travel to France and find a car in the UK;
  • Thank Christ for Angela’s folks, Di and Dougie, who have been housing us in their caravan in Bourg St. Maurice;
  • Pray for continued healing for Di’s knee and spine, as well as for their travel plans back to the UK once Di is able to travel;
  • Pray for the families of Raymond Shaw and Bill Moss;
  • Pray for our God’s provision on our travel plans both back to Kosova and the UK;
  • Pray for the provision of someone to look after Ari for us at the end of the summer;
  • Pray for Angela and my ongoing job hunting for our future return to Glasgow before our savings run out!

Well done if you reached this far – sorry that it was such an epistle, but with every attempt to write an update, our plans changed at least a couple of times!

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True Contemplation of the Cross

Adapted fromJesus, Keep Me Near the Cross: Experiencing the Passion and Power of EasterChapter 1:

“True Contemplation of the Cross”

by Martin Luther

 

 “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”

Hebrews 12:2–3

 

Let us meditate a moment on the passion of Christ. Some do so falsely in that they merely rail against Judas and the Jews. Some carry crucifixes to protect themselves from water, fire, and sword, and turn the suffering of Christ into an amulet against suffering. Some weep, and that is the end of it. The true contemplation is that in which the heart is crushed and the conscience smitten. You must be overwhelmed by the frightful wrath of God who so hated sin that he spared not his only begotten Son. What can the sinner expect if the beloved Son was so afflicted? It must be an inexpressible and unendurable yearning that causes God’s Son himself so to suffer. Ponder this and you will tremble, and the more you ponder, the deeper you will tremble.

 

Take this to heart and doubt not that you are the one who killed Christ. Your sins certainly did, and when you see the nails driven through his hands, be sure that you are pounding, and when the thorns pierce his brow, know that they are your evil thoughts. Consider that if one thorn pierced Christ you deserve one hundred thousand.

 

The whole value of the meditation of the suffering of Christ lies in this, that man should come to the knowledge of himself and sink and tremble. If you are so hardened that you do not tremble, then you have reason to tremble. Pray to God that he may soften your heart and make fruitful your meditation upon the suffering of Christ, for we of ourselves are incapable of proper reflection unless God instills it.

 

But if one does meditate rightly on the suffering of Christ for a day, an hour, or even a quarter of an hour, this we may confidently say is better than a whole year of fasting, days of psalm singing, yes, than even one hundred masses, because this reflection changes the whole man and makes him new, as once he was in baptism.

 

If, then, Christ is so firmly planted in your heart, and if you are become an enemy to sin out of love and not fear, then henceforth the suffering of Christ, which began as a sacrament, may continue lifelong as an example. When tribulation and sickness assail you, think how slight these are compared to the thorns and the nails of Christ. If you are thwarted, remember how he was bound and dragged. If pride besets you, see how the Lord was mocked and with robbers despised. If unchastity incites your flesh, recall how his flesh was scourged, pierced, and smitten. If hate, envy, and vengeance tempt you, think how Christ for you and all his enemies interceded with tears, though he might rather have avenged himself. If you are afflicted and cannot have your way, take heart and say, “Why should I not suffer when my Lord sweat blood for very anguish?”

 

Astounding it is that the cross of Christ has so fallen into forgetfulness, for is it not forgetfulness of the cross when no one wishes to suffer but rather to enjoy himself and evade the cross? You must personally experience suffering with Christ. He suffered for your sake, and should you not suffer for his sake, as well as for your own?

 

Two texts in the Old Testament apply to Christ. The first is, “Thou art fairer than the children of men” (Ps. 45:2), and the second is, “He hath no form nor comeliness” (Isa. 53:2). Evidently these passages must be understood in differing sense. To the eyes of the flesh, he was the lowest among the sons of men, a derision, and to the eyes of the spirit there was none fairer than he. The eyes of the flesh cannot see this. What, then is the nature of this beauty? It is wisdom and love, light for the understanding, and power for the soul, for in suffering and dying Christ displayed all the wisdom and the truth with which the understanding can be adorned. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in him, and they are hidden because they are visible only to the eye of the spirit.

 

The greater and the more wonderful is the excellence of his love by contrast with the lowliness of his form, the hate and pain of passion. Herein we come to know both God and ourselves. His beauty is his own, and through it we learn to know him. His uncomeliness and passion are ours, and in them we know ourselves, for what he suffered in the flesh, we must inwardly suffer in the spirit. He has in truth borne our stripes. Here, then, in an unspeakably clear mirror you see yourself. You must know that through your sins you are as uncomely and mangled as you see him here.

 

If we consider the persons, we ought to suffer a thousand and again a thousand times more than Christ because he is God and we are dust and ashes, yet it is the reverse. He who had a thousand and again a thousand times less need, has taken upon himself a thousand and again a thousand times more than we. No understanding can fathom nor tongue can express, no writing can record, but only the inward feeling can grasp what is involved in the suffering of Christ.

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Prayer Update Feb 2010

Hi there,

So we made it to Scotland in the end!  The flight got us through to Glasgow with only one item of luggage left behind in London (it caught us up the next day).  BA were kind enough to let us extend our departure dates to the next return flight so were able to stay in Scotland for nearly three weeks.  Ari the dog was being looked after by our friend Berti, who has a large garden for him to play in.

While we were in Glasgow we spent most of our time catching up with friends old and new.  We caught up with our housegroup from St Silas as well as helping a friend build some “sound-muffling” boards for the church.  We were also able to catch up friends at two growing church plants in Glasgow Re:Hope and Harvest Bible Chapel.

We travelled through to Dundee to visit my Dad and his family and surprised my Grandmother in Dundee for her 80th birthday.  Visiting at my Gran’s was like being back in Kosova – full of European accents (Italian) and women trying to feed me and not taking no for an answer!

Angela and a friend spoiled each other with a spa day, before she travelled to France for six days to visit her family and do some skiing.  While Ang was in France, I continued to meet with friends and pick up some supplies for our return to Kosova.

The highlight of our trip to Scotland was an excellent conference held at Charlotte Chapel in Edinburgh.  The main conference speaker was Mark Dever from the 9Marks networkThe two day conference comprised of talks going through the9 Marks of a Healthy Church”:

1.  Expositional Preaching
2.  Biblical Theology
3.  Biblical Understanding of the Good News
4.  Biblical Understanding of Conversion
5.  Biblical Understanding of Evangelism
6.  Biblical Understanding of Membership 
 7.  Biblical Church Discipline
8.  Promotion of Christian Discipleship and Growth
9.  Biblical Understanding of Leadership

These marks are not exhaustively everything you’d want in a church, obviously there are other things to discuss, but they do seem to be necessary for the core of a church regardless of denomination.  As they went through them, they demonstrated what a healthy, but not perfect, church would look like from a biblical perspective.  They convincingly showed the scriptural need for a church which “is a people, not a place or a statistic. It’s a body, united into him who is the head. It’s a family, joined together by adoption though Christ.” 

The first three are the essential ones, and the others are “just” important for a healthy church.
However, they all flow out of the first mark, expositional preaching (making the point of the verse the point of your sermon – not the other way around). You get that right, you will “naturally” have the second mark, biblical theology (Christ is the Centre of (every) Scripture), and therefore, the third mark, getting the gospel right, will come from the first two.

The convicting things for me are:
1) these are all backed up by Scripture and early church history leading up to the Reformers; not having these can only be backed up using non-scriptural arguments;
2) it is therefore not a Baptist thing or a Presbyterian thing, nor an Anglican thing, nor even a Reformed “way of doing church”, but a core scriptural understanding of what the church is, should have and be doing.
3) with that said, if we get these core things right, it still leaves us with so much creative room for doing church in terms of styles of dress, buildings, music, orders of service, meeting times, meeting places, languages, etc, that it should be truly freeing instead of feeling like “we’re closing off options”.

I highly recommend you go to the links and work your way through the 9 Marks to see how healthy your church is, and how best you can serve your fellow church members.

Prayer points:

Job Interview –I’m heading back to the UK for a job interview in March (more details in our next newsletter);

Val and Howard – our friends from Samaritan’s Purse are in Haiti at the moment, so please continue to pray for God’s work through the aid and churches there;

St Silas – the church is seeking it’s vision for the future, please pray that they would be guided by God’s Word as they deal with the Liberal rot which has taken root within the Episcopal denomination;

Re:Hope & Harvest – pray that these churches would be continue to be guided by God’s Word and grow as they minister in Glasgow;

Kosova – continue to pray for God’s provision to the churches around Kosova.

Thank you for your prayers and your emails, it’s always great to hear from you.

In Christ,

Paul and Angela

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Prayer Update January 2010

Gezuar vitin e ri 2010!

Dear friends,

We hope you had an excellent Christmas and New Year. Angela and I have been making the most of our time off to relax (lots of books and dvds!) and spend time with our friends here in Kosova.  In December we had visits from Jess & Pete (our gap year students from last year) in our new home, and spent Christmas with friends in a village called Krushe Vogel.  We have some pictures up on facebook of the new home here and Christmas here.  We spent New Year’s Eve in Gjakova (our town) on Qabrati Hill, where we had an excellent panoramic view of the fireworks released from every garden in Gjakova. Click on the pictures here.  We’re benefitting greatly from having this time off and having our own home, and are still seeking God’s guidance for the next stage in our lives.

We praise God for healing Clive Doubleday, the director of Smile International.  He has just been given the all clear after 6 months of cheomotherpay.  More information can be found here.

We are pleased that our friends Klodiana and Shkelzen Halilij have been hired as Smile Centre Managers, and Albert (Berti) Frroku has been hired as their Project Coordinator.  We know that they will be a blessing to Smile in their work here in Kosova.  Also, Smile have created the position of paid, fulltime director of Smile’s work in Kosova for Astrit Morina, the Kosovar pastor who married Clive’s daughter (Emily, now an unpaid volunteerin Kosova) just after we arrived in Kosova.  They still have no nurse for their planned Palliative Care project.

We pray that the work that they do as Smile will continue to be a blessing to all the ministries in Kosova and hope that they will be able to expand that work, now that there are 5 people doing the job that Angela and I were doing ourselves.

At the moment, we are hoping to get to Scotland, having tried unsuccessfully yesterday.  Our flight was cancelled due to weather but BA have put on an extra flight today (normally, only Monday, Wednesday, Friday to London).  So, God willing, we will be in Scotland tonight until mid-February.  While we are away, Angela is heading to France for 6 days to join her family for some skiing.  There is also a conference in Edinburgh we wish to attend.

Our prayer points are as follows:

  • We are thankful for God’s provision of this time to spend together seeking Him;
  • We are continuing to seek God’s guidance for our future whether at home or abroad;
  • Pray for our friends as they adapt to working for Smile;
  • Pray that Smile’s work in Kosova will continue to work with and be a blessing to ALL of the ministries in Gjakova;
  • Pray for God’s provision of a nurse for their planned Palliative Care project;
  • Pray for Hannah and Linda, Smile’s gapper and career breaker who are part-way through their placements.

Thank you again for your prayers, and we look forward to seeing some of you when we are back in Scotland (God willing!).

With love in Christ,

Angela and Paul

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Prayer Update December 09

Dear friends,
 
We have been overwhelmed by the emails of support and encouragement that we received following our last email, and want to say how appreciative we are of your prayers. 
 
After a very busy few weeks, we are pleased to say that we have made some decisions about our immediate future.  Today we finish our 18 month contract with Smile International, and are feeling mixed emotions regarding this.  We are thankful for the time that we have had in the Smile Centre and the friends we have made through working for Smile, and we will continue to pray for the development of the work that Smile is doing in Kosova.  But we know too that God has a plan for us and we are waiting with excitement as He reveals it to us day-by-day!
 
As of this last week, we are renting a little house just 5 minutes walk from the centre of Gjakova with 2 bedrooms (guests are welcome!), a kitchen, a small balcony and an open plan living/dining area, and best of all our pup Ari can live with us too!  We have kitted it out with a washing machine, stove + enough wood for the winter, tv and internet, pots and pans, etc – and are feeling very grown up!  This is our first home together as a married couple, as we were only married 2 weeks when we moved into the Smile Centre.
 
Now that our time with Smile is finished, we feel that it is too soon to be leaving Kosova. We are eager to see if God has any other opportunities for us to be in a supporting role for our Kosovar brothers and sisters and the international missionaries here.  Our time in Gjakova has shown us that there is not a need for any new ministries here, but there is a need for the existing ministries to be supported and encouraged as they mature. We are looking forward to restarting our Albanian lessons (which were stopped by Smile due to their finance issues), and having the time to be with our new friends here.  Having had medium-term experience living in the field, there is scope for investigating employment with EULEX, OSCE or other international organisations in Kosova, so we will keep our eyes open for opportunities in that area; but we are open to returning to Scotland, or moving on somewhere else, as the Lord leads. 
 
Our prayer points are as follows:
 
  • Give THANKS for God’s provision of the perfect house for us, for the right price, in the right place, and at the right time;
  • Pray for rest and relaxation during the transition period as we get used to not working;
  • Pray for our language skills so that we can communicate our faith to those around us (in particular our landlords);
  • Pray for Smile as they seek to appoint local Christian Centre Managers, a Project Manager and a Nurse;
  • Pray for Hannah and Linda, Smile’s gapper and career breaker who are part-way through their placements.
Thank you again for your prayers, and we look forward to having the time to reply to your emails as of the end of the week when we have time on our side again!
 
With love in Christ,
 
Angela and Paul

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What Next?

 

Kosova August 2008 040 (Small)

Smile Centre, Gjakova, Kosova

Greetings from Kosova,

On Monday 2nd Nov, we were informed that Smile International had decided not to renew our current contract, which ends on December 9th 2009, due to their financial issues and a wish to try to employ local staff.

We will be sad to be leaving the Smile Centre and pray that God will provide replacements that will be willing to put in the same effort, hours and integrity that are necessary to run the Centre efficiently.

So after 18 months of many 17-hour days:

  • wrestling to turn the Smile Centre from a storage-facility-with-beds into a functioning conference-centre-with-storage,
  • overseeing and developing the Smile Widows’ Program,
  • organising teams, visits and projects,
  • hospitality and logistics of conferences,
  • clearing the back log of humanitarian aid which had bottle-necked in the Smile Centre and distributing it to those in most need,
  • forging valuable friendships with both locals and internationals in Kosova,
  • and of course lots of entertaining road trips,

 – it’s time to call it quits here at the Centre.

We’ve had a great time so far in Kosova, through the ups and the downs, but now it’s time to seek after the Lord for guidance as to where He wants us next – Kosova, Scotland, elsewhere? – we’re open to wherever He leads.

We would be grateful if you could pray for us regarding our future.  After working in a position which consumed the majority of our life since getting married, at times even challenging to our own personal relationship, we will be grateful for a time of rest starting from the beginning of December.  During this time we will have more opportunity to fellowship with God and others as we seek His will for our immediate future.  What’s next?  God knows – and we pray He lets us in on the plan sometime soon… 😉

With love in Christ,

Paul and Angela

 

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God Breaks Those He wants to Make Great

Great quote from Charles Spurgeon:

Is it not a curious thing that whenever God means to make a man great, He always first breaks him in pieces? There was a man whom the Lord meant to make into a prince. How did He do it? Why, He met him one night and wrestled with him! You always hear about Jacob’s wrestling. Well, I dare say he did, but it was not Jacob who was the principal wres- tler—“There wrestled a man with Him until the breaking of the day.” God touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh and put it out of joint before He called him “Israel,” that is, “a Prince of God.” The wrestling was to take all his strength out of him and when his strength was gone, then God called him a prince. Now, David was to be king over all Israel. What was the way to Jerusalem for David? What was the way to the throne? Well, it was round by the cave of Adullam. He must go there and be an outlaw and an outcast, for that was the way by which he would be made king. Have none of you ever no- ticed, in your own lives, that whenever God is going to give you an enlargement and bring you out to a larger sphere of service, or a higher platform of spiritual life, you always get thrown down? That is His usual way of working! He makes you hungry before He feeds you! He strips you before He robes you! He makes nothing of you before He makes something of you! This was the way with David. He is to be king in Jerusalem, but He must go to the throne by the way of the cave. Now, are any of you here going to Heaven, or going to a more heavenly state of sanctification, or going to a greater sphere of usefulness? Do not wonder if you go by the way of the cave. Why is that?

It is, first, because if God would make you greatly useful, He must teach you how to pray! The man who is a great preacher and yet cannot pray, will come to a bad end. A woman who cannot pray and yet is noted for the conducting of Bible classes, has already come to a bad end. If you can be great without prayer, your greatness will be your ruin! If God means to bless you greatly, He will make you pray greatly, as He does David who says in this part of his preparation for coming to his throne, “I cried unto the Lord with my voice: with my voice unto the Lord did I make my supplication.”

Next, the man whom God would greatly honor must always believe in God when he is at his wits’ end. “When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then You knew my path.” Are you never at your wits’ end? God has not sent you to do business in great waters, for, if He has, you will reel to and fro and be at your wits’ end, in a great storm, before long! Oh, it is easy to trust when you can trust yourself, but when you cannot trust yourself—when you are dead beat, when your spirit sinks below zero in the chill of utter despair—then is the time to trust in God. If that is your case, you have the marks of a man who can lead God’s people and be a comforter of others.

Next, in order to greater usefulness, many a man of God must be taught to stand alone. “I looked on my right hand, and behold, but there was no man that would know me.” If you need men to help you, you may make a very decent fol- lower. But if you need no man and can stand alone, God being your Helper, you shall be helped to be a leader. Oh, it was a grand thing when Luther stepped out from the ranks of Rome! There were many good men round him who said, “Be quiet, Martin. You will get burnt if you do not hold your tongue! Let us keep where we are, in the Church of Rome, even if we have to swallow down great lumps of dirt. We can believe the Gospel and still remain where we are.” But Luther knew that he must defy Antichrist and declare the pure Gospel of the blessed God! And he must stand alone for the Truth of God even if there were as many devils against him as there were tiles on the housetops at Worms! That is the kind of man whom God blesses! I would to God that many a young man here might have the courage to feel, in his particular position, “I can stand alone, if need be. I am glad to have my master and my fellow workmen with me, but if nobody will go to Heaven with me, I will say farewell to them and go to Heaven alone through the Grace of God’s dear Son.”

Once more, the man whom God will bless must be the man who delights in God alone. David says, “I cried unto You, O Lord: I said, You are my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.” Oh, to have God as our refuge and to make God our portion! “You will lose your job! You will lose your income. You will lose the approbation of your fellow men.” “Ah,” says the Believer, “but I shall not lose my Portion, for God is my Portion! He is job, and income, and every- thing to me—and I will hold by Him, come what may.” If you have learned to “delight yourself in the Lord, He will give you the desires of your heart.” Now you are come into such a state that God can use you and make much of you—but until you make much of God, He never will make much of you! God deliver us from having our portion in this life, for, if we have, we are not among His people at all!

He whom God would use must be taught sympathy with God’s poor people. Hence we get these words of David, in the sixth verse, “I am brought very low.” Mr. Greatheart, though he must be strong to kill Giant Grim and any others of the giants that infest the Pilgrim path, must be a man who has gone that road himself if he is to be a leader of others. If the Lord means to bless you, my Brother, and to make you very useful in His Church, depend upon it, He will try you. Half, perhaps nine-tenths of the trials of God’s ministers are not sent to them on their own account. They are sent for the good of other people. Many a child of God who goes very smoothly to Heaven, does very little for others. But another of the Lord’s children who has all the ins and outs and changes of an experienced Believer’s life, has them only that he may be better fitted to help others! That he may be able to sit down and weep with them that weep, or to stand up and rejoice with them that rejoice.

So then, dear Brothers who have got into the cave, and you, my Sisters, who have deep spiritual exercises, I want to comfort you by showing you that this is God’s way of making something of you. He is digging you out! You are like an old ditch—you cannot hold any more—and God is digging you out to make more room for more Grace. That spade will cut sharply and dig up sod after sod, and throw it to one side. The very thing you would like to keep shall be cast away and you shall be hollowed out, and dug out, that the word of Elisha may be fulfilled, “Make this valley full of ditches. For thus says the Lord, You shall not see wind, neither shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water.” You are to be tried, my Friend, that God may be glorified in you!

Lastly, if God means to use you, you must get to be full of praise. Listen to what David says, “Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise Your name: the righteous shall compass me about; for You shall deal bountifully with me.” May God give to my Brothers and Sisters here, who are being tried for their good and afflicted for their promotion, Grace to begin to praise Him! It is the singers that go before—they who can praise best shall be fit to lead others in the work. Do not set me to follow a gloomy leader. Oh, no, dear Sirs, we cannot work to the tune of “The Dead March in Saul”! Our soldiers would never have won Waterloo if that had been the music for the day of battle! No, no! Give us a rejoicer—“Sing unto the Lord who has triumphed gloriously; praise His great name again and again.” Draw the sword and strike home! If you are of a cheerful spirit, glad in the Lord and joyous after all your trials and afflictions, and if you can rejoice more because you have been brought so low, then God is making something of you and He will yet use you to lead His people to greater works of Grace!

-C.H. Spurgeon Sermon 2282 David’s Prayer in the Cave(HT TGC)

[HT: Adrian Warnock]

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