Sunday, December 25, 2011

Too Proud For the Low Gate

If it is our habit to demand of God answers, solutions, explanations, we may find ourselves traveling a broad intellectual highway that leads to destruction.  If it is really life we want, we must accept the narrow way and the very low gate.  The questions, the problems not solved, the mystery not explained will be for the one who would press on to know the Lord.  He is called by a still, small voice to humility and poverty of spirit --- only by that road will he be allowed to see God.  He must believe Him even when carrying in his heart the unanswered question.  The problem he desperately wants solved is God’s means of getting his attention –not necessarily that He may reveal its solutions but most certainly that He may reveal Himself to him.  But let him not forget – it is the pure in heart who see God (see Matt. 5:8).

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Too Busy to Be Quiet

If we are bent on a mad tear through life, God will allow us that liberty, but He was not tear madly about with us.  He will wait for us until we quiet down and wait on Him.  Sometimes we are not interested in quietness until things have suddenly fallen apart or come to a screeching halt, and then, in the ensuing silence we know that we cannot cure our evils and neither is God going to cure them.  What He has been waiting for is our attention, our eyes turned to Him who is the very Life of All the Ages, the Light that our darkness can never overcome, Christ Himself, with us, in us, suffering, loving, and transforming us into the same image.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Way Appointed

It was at the supper with Jesus’ disciples, on the night before He was crucified, that He told them He was going “the way appointed.”  That meant betrayal, by one of the very men sharing the same meal with Him, and crucifixion, at the hands of others who had arranged to pay this man.  Yet in and through those terrible things that were to happen to Him, Jesus never for a moment thought of Himself as solely in their hands, at their mercy.  He was held in the will of the Father.  There was sovereign purpose in it all; the way He must travel was no accident of fate.  It was appointed, assigned, a date with destiny.  He accepted it as such.
What agonies we would spare ourselves if we would remember that ours, too, is a way appointed.  We need not ever imagine that our circumstances are in any other hands than those that held the beloved Son obedient unto death.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Same Old Routine

It is sometimes supposed that the Holy Spirit is stifled by order, planning, or routine, and can work only in the context of spontaneity, and the “unstructured.”

The story of the birth of John the Baptist is an important one in the New Testament.  It is worth noting that God’s preparations for this event embraced a strictly ordered set of religious routines.  The priest Zechariah, to whom this unusual child was to be given, was doing what the rules prescribed.  It was the turn of his division to take part (a clearly defined part) in divine service.  There was nothing “unstructured” here.  “It fell to his lot by priestly custom to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer the incense” (Luke 1:9).

It is not unlikely that Zechariah, like the rest of us, sometimes felt wearied by the sameness of his duties and wondered if the ritual was not perhaps empty and meaningless.  Was it really worthwhile to go through the routine in the same way, day after day?  But this time an angel was waiting for him at the altar!  Suppose he had not shown up for his part?

So the Lord meets us ---not by our going out of our way and neglecting the usual responsibilities laid upon us, but in the middle of our most repetitive task.  There He is, expecting us to come as faithfully as ever, waiting to give us something. 
Make me faithful, Lord. Make me humble enough to keep on doing what I know I’m supposed to be doing, and joyfully expectant of finding You close by while I work. 

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Rejection of Sacrifice

Obedience to God very often appears to us, at first glance, to mean sacrifice.  We shrink from it.  Sacrifice always involves death, and we reject death.  But the divine paradox, the one we find running throughout all of Scripture, is that this sacrifice ---the offering of ourselves in obedience to God--- always means life.  It is life, nothing less than life, that God offers us, so when we disobey, what we are actually doing is choosing death.

“The Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes and to fear the Lord our God; it will be for our own good at all times, and he will continue to preserve our lives”  (Deut 6:24).

We balk at something our conscience tells us we must do--- “I don’t see how that could be for my ‘good’” ---but God does not discuss with us the how or the why.  He simply makes clear what it is we must do.  Then we must take His word for it that it will mean life to us.  Every day He sets two things before us –life and death.  Every day we choose sacrifice, which leads to life, or selfishness, the rejection of sacrifice, which leads to death.  We can count on it, for we have the Word of the Lord that it is so.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Price of Life

“He saved others, but he cannot save Himself” (Matt. 27:42).  This was a joke among the chief priests and lawyers.  If they had comprehended the profound truth of their jest it would have died on their lips.  If He had saved Himself He would have saved no one else.  The principle is true for us as well:  self-giving is the price of Life ---of eternal life, of course, for it was Christ who first gave His life, and if we want eternal life we must give ourselves to Him completely.  But if we would help another toward finding real Life, we must lay down our lives.  If we ourselves want to live, let us “lose” it all ---and then, miraculously, find.

Help me, Lord, to bring this principle down to where I live today.  Is there some fear of loss?  Some unwillingness to relinquish?  Some determination to have it my way?  Some insistence on what I “deserve”?   May I, by Your strength, let it go, and thus find a greater freedom and a more fulfilling life.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Prerequisite for Discernment

It is not reasonable to talk of wanting to know God’s will unless we have first offered ourselves to Him.  Why should He show us what to do if we have not yet made up our minds as to whose we are?  The will of God is for those who trust Him ---those, that is, who commit themselves totally, who offer their “very selves to Him as a living sacrifice, dedicated and fit for His acceptance” (Rom.12:1).  This must always be the first step, followed by the refusal to allow the world to dictate thought patterns.  The mind must be “remade” ---shaped according to a radically different pattern.   Then and only then can we discern the will of God.  Then we will understand that it is, contrary to the view that comes naturally, “good, acceptable, and perfect.”

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Music of His Promises

On dark days when the only song we feel like singing is a dirge, we can pray, “Let the music of thy promises be on my tongue” (Ps. 119:172).  This is no tear-jerking ballad of how I’m feeling.  The promises of God will lift me right out of sad sentimentality and put music in my mouth if I will think steadily on them.  Here’s one to sing:  “Unfailing love enfolds him who trusts in the Lord” (Ps. 32:10).
Do you feel nothing of the kind?  When did the validity of the Eternal Word rest on the mood of one of His poor children?

Let the promise be the song you sing.  He will hear it and make it true for you.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Eye of the Needle

A husband and wife came seeking counsel for their marriage.  As they told their story, fear and pride were revealed as the root causes of strife.  The healing of that fear and the renunciation of that pride seemed utter impossibilities----just as impossible as for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven, weighed down as he is with much baggage.  This man and woman are weighed down too, yet wanting very much to rescue their home, to do God’s will, to enter the Kingdom.  It is, quite simply, impossible---“with men.”  But it is possible with God.  He who calls us higher, beckons us in the direction of holiness and joy, is able to restore us, able to save, able to do more than we can ask or think, able to make even a camel go through the eye of a needle.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Cross....Day After Day

Lord, could you possibly let me off the hook for a weekend or so?” is what an energetic old woman I knew sometimes felt like saying to her Master.  I, too, get tired of obeying.  He asks me then, “Do you want to be My disciple?”
“Yes, Lord, You know all things ---You know I want to.”
“The conditions have not changed.  Leave self behind.  Day after day take up your cross.”  (See Luke 9:23.)
“Does this mean the same rigorous routine every day of my life?”
“It means the cross I give you.  It means unhesitating obedience to whatever I ask on any given day, at any moment.  Remember that, for the disciples, following Me meant coming apart from the ‘routines’ at times to rest and pray, and learn of Me.  Trust Me to provide respite when respite is needed.”

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Such Cowards

There is much emphasis today on empathizing with others’ feelings, and on the candid confession or expression of those feelings.  Jesus was “touched with the feeling of our infirmities” (Heb 4:15).  He was not a high priest, “unable to sympathize with our weaknesses” (Heb 4:15).  But we need to be reminded of what His responses were to people’s feelings.  For example, when the disciples panicked because a storm was sending waves right over the boat they were in, Jesus’ first response to their desperate, “Save us, Lord, we’re sinking!” was, “Why are you such cowards?”  Cowardliness reveals faithlessness.  “Why is it that you have no faith?” was Jesus’ next question.

Medical science has discovered many connections between psychological stress and physical maladies.  Fear is perhaps one of the most destructive emotions.  The knowledge that Jesus is in the boat with us ought to put us at rest – even if waves are breaking right over us.  Let’s not be such cowards!  Let’s trust Him.  He’s got the whole world and even the wind, even the waves, even my problems –in His hand!

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Strength For Anything

Paul writes to the Christians in Philippi about his prison experience, but without any descriptive detail.  He might have dwelt on how dreadful the place was and how uncomfortable to be in stocks or chained to two guards.  His letter is filled with joy, with loving concern, with gratitude.  He cheers those who were probably trying to think of ways to cheer him.  He has been “very thoroughly initiated into the human lot with all its ups and downs” (Phil 4:12), and assures his friends, “I have strength for anything through him who gives me power” (v.13). 

Think of those words!  Strength for anything.  They are for us today.  Something, perhaps, looms ominously in our imagination.  “I’ll never be able to do that,”  “What will we do if….,”  “She won’t be able to stand it if…,”  “I can’t take it.”   For any such threat, remember who it was who gave Paul strength.  He stood by him in his cell.  He stands by you today.  He will give you strength for anything ---if you ask Him for it.  Don’t be afraid.  It is always possible to do God’s will.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Something Much Smaller

Has it ever happened with you that you have asked God to show you what He wants done about a certain matter, and His answer seems to be, “I am concerned now with something much smaller”?  He sometimes shows me that the thing that looms large in importance to me is not nearly so important to God just now.  He would rather I please Him in some “minor” thing.  This is the thing that matters at the moment.

A husband or wife may be thinking of some special occasion when he or she can demonstrate love, but what the other longs for is something much smaller----some word or touch or look of tenderness.  The big occasion, the expensive gift, may appear empty of meaning unless the love is evident in little ways day by day. 
The life of Christ, if it is not be lived daily, is lived out in love.  This love will manifest in our desire to offer up every least thing to Him, to do the smallest task faithfully, confess the “little” sins quickly, be strict with our minutes as well as our hours.
          “Do your love me?”  Jesus asks.
          “Why, of course, Lord ---look what I did for you last Sunday at church!”
          “But child ---I am looking for something much smaller.”

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, September 25, 2011

So High and So Low

We are prone to consider ourselves too busy (with important things, of course), too qualified (we have gifts, training, experience, responsibilities that few others have), too intelligent, to bother with small things.  We exercise ourselves in matters too high for us, thus missing some of the “low”” things God would teach us.  Who are we, anyway?  What is this pride of ours?  Consider Him, “Who sets his throne so high but deigns to look down so low”  (Ps. 113:6).
This is what Love does.  It never considers its own greatness or another’s weakness.  Forgetting itself, it gives freely, and gives and gives and gives again. 

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Small Change

We have promised the Lord our loyalty and lifelong obedience, “at any cost.”  We imagine perhaps having to pay the high price of death itself ---losing our loved ones, or losing our own lives in the line of service.  We are not prepared for the “low” costs of the spiritual life, the petty sacrifices we must make daily (according to the wish of another in some simple thing, saying no to ourselves about a piece of cake, for example), if we are to follow faithfully.  We keep the small change in our pockets, as it were, instead of gladly turning it over to Him who can multiply even a widow’s “mite” for blessing.  She who gives is blessed as well as ---no, even more than ---the ones who receive. 
Lord, if I overlook the “pennies” You give me to give back to You, You will never be able to ask me to give You the dollars.  Make me faithful every hour of every day in that which looks trivial a the moment.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sit Quietly

Of the two sisters whom Jesus visited often, it seems that Martha was the take-charge one.  Perhaps she was the older. She was the one who made Jesus welcome (Luke 10:38) and felt responsible for the meal, while Mary sat herself down to listen to Jesus.  Martha fretted and fussed.  This called forth a rebuke from Jesus.  Nobody needs to fret and fuss about anything. 
The Israelites were rebuked for “turmoil and tumult and all their restless ways” (Ezekiel 7:11).  It had caused all sorts of abominations--- insolence, injustice, violence.
Pascal once observed that most of man’s troubles resulted from his inability to sit quietly in his room.  It is worth thinking about.  Today’s turmoil and trouble may be seen in God’s perspective if we will take time, go into a room and shut the door, and be quiet before Him.  He is God.  He is in charge.  Be still and know that.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, September 4, 2011


The temptation comes at us daily in some form or other to stand on our so-called rights, to desire to be appreciated for what we think we are, and to be given our “proper” place.  This was what the mother of James and John was looking for---not for herself, but (for a mother this comes to almost the same thing) for her sons.  She asked Jesus to assign them seats in heaven (see Matt. 20).  Jesus answered that the privilege was not His to grant.  He used the incident to teach the lesson we need every day: don’t bother about making the weight of your “authority” felt.  Forget about “who you are.”  Don’t give a moment’s thought to rights if you are in earnest about following Me, for I am the one, remember, who came to serve and to give up---not only My position with the Father, not only all My “rights” and My very glory, but My life.  Do you feel you deserve to be first?   Be a servant.  Give up everything.  Together, then, we will enter into joy!

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Radiant With Hope

May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in your faith, that by the power of the Holy Spirit, your whole life and outlook may be radiant with hope” (Romans 15:13, PHILLIPS).
This was Paul’s prayer for the Romans, a group of Christians he had not yet met, but he knew they were a mixed bag---Jews and non-Jews ---and were tempted to look down on one another.  It was always the prayer of my dear spiritual mother for me.  She knew my nature---not a hopeful one.  Faith raises the Christian’s sights from the conflicts and discouragements that are our routine experiences in a broken world to Him who holds out the very real hope of triumph.  It is not a forlorn hope.  It is assured, for by His Cross and passion Christ has overcome the world.  This confidence is enough reason for joy and peace.  It is enough, if I dwell on it by faith, and by the Spirits power, to make even my whole life and outlook radiant with hope.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Prayer Unites the Heart to God

When we come to God as the humble publican, asking His mercy on us because we are sinners, we are agreeing with God’s estimate of us and asking for His remedy.  Thus at the onset we are at one with God.  Julian of Norwich wrote, “Prayer oneth the soul to God.  It is a witness that the soul willeth as God willeth.”

Learning to pray has been a lifelong course for me, taking me ever deeper into the mind of Christ, where I find how in need of revision are the patterns of my own thinking.  Often the things I have been praying about, things I thought needed to be changed, having remained as they were.  But my praying about them has drawn me to the Father, who then has another “chance” (if so I may speak) to change me into the image of His Son.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Power and Love

The most powerful people are not often the most loving, and the most loving people often seem quite powerless in human terms.  When the great question is raised:  Why does God permit suffering?  It is answered by some that He is powerless to prevent it, even though He may love us, and by others that He cannot possibly be loving, for surely He does have the power to prevent evil.

When Lazarus died the crowd of mourners was divided when Jesus wept.  Some took it as evidence of how greatly He had loved the man.  Others thought it a hypocritical gesture, since one who could heal a blind man certainly could have prevented this man’s death.

Jesus did indeed love Lazarus, and Mary and Martha.  He could have prevented his death.  But certain things, in a broken world, must be allowed to happen.  None of them, however, in the hands of a loving and powerful God and Savior, are beyond redeeming.  Resurrection is a far greater evidence of the power and the love of God than the mere aborting of catastrophes.  God, help us to remember this triumphant hope when we, too, stand weeping hopelessly.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Plunged Into Grief...For Your Good

This is a strange succession of words, isn’t it? What sort of person wants to see another plunged into grief? Jesus spoke these words to His disciples about His own departure from them. He understood their human feelings, and mentioned them matter-of-factly. He did nothing to spare their feelings. Nothing could change the fact that His going would cause grief to the ones He loved best. Nothing could change the necessity of His going. He would leave, and they would sorrow. It was inexorable.

So it is very often in this sorrowing, broken world. Certain things must happen and certain people must suffer, and God does not intervene at the moment to exempt them from suffering. But He does do something. He is not oblivious up there, doing nothing. He has a plan which is also fitting together. He will give us something better. Unimaginable? Of course, as it was unimaginable for the poor disciples who didn’t want the Holy Spirit ---they wanted their Master.

Choose for us, God, nor let our weak preferring
Cheat us of good Thou hast for us designed.
Choose for us, God, Thy wisdom is inerring,
And we are fools and blind.
From “Still Will We Trust”

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Our Daily Bread

We are used to praying “Give us today our daily bread” (Matt 6:11) but we are not used to recognizing the answer and giving thanks for it. Most of us say grace at the table, perhaps, but daily bread includes all that we really need in this world. Do we believe God can and does provide that? Or are we like the Israelites who, when a “mixed company of strangers” came along, developed a whole new set of expectations? They were “greedy for better things” (Num 11:4).

Sometimes God wants to give us better things. Those who really have trusted Him receive His gifts with thanksgiving. The spirit of greed is not in them. Rather they ask for and accept “daily” bread ---in abundance, if God sees that to be good for them, or in sufficiency alone, according to His loving-kindness.

Help me, Lord, to take today’s portion of food, possessions, joys, pain, and Your presence, believing that it is enough for me.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Not By Mere Strength

The songs of both Hannah and Mary for the blessing of motherhood celebrate the sovereignty of a God who can put down the proud and raise the humble. Both recognize that it was not natural gifts or social position or worldly advantages that gained them such blessing and happiness, but the High God Himself, who, as Hannah said, “thunders out of heaven” (1 Sam. 2:10).

It was an unexpected lesson given me from this passage this morning. I was fretting about a disagreement with someone yesterday because, in the light of a new day, I still felt that “my way was best.”

The Lord seemed to be saying “So what? Granted, of two ways of doing a thing, yours is the more efficient. I am not nearly so concerned with efficiency as I am with your conformity to My Son. Holiness requires that you lay down your ‘excellence’ sometimes and learn what Hannah learned: not by mere strength shall a man prevail. You must be put down, silenced, immobilized ---but only in order to see how I can work. I will guard the footsteps of my saints (see 1 Sam. 2:9). Trust Me!”

Sunday, July 17, 2011

No Wagons Provided

For the transportation of the tabernacle in Old Testament times wagons and oxen were provided, to the Gershonites and the Merarites. But Moses gave none to the Kohathites, “because the service laid upon them was that of the holy things: these they had to carry themselves on their shoulders” (Num. 7:9).

It is well to remember that economy and efficiency are not necessarily important to God. We can hardly think in any other terms. “Get the job done with as little effort as possible. Don’t strain yourself!” Some jobs, it seems, require individual sacrifice. It is not because they are of less value to God that He does not provide “wagons” (any modern methods or means to facilitate things) but because the job is specially important. He wants people. He wants consecration. He wants shoulders willing to bend.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

No Reservations

Obedience to the call of God must be wholehearted. That is, we can lay down no conditions, withhold no part of ourselves from Him.

“Show me the way that I must take; to thee I offer all my heart” (Ps. 143:8).

It is right and proper to ask for the Lord’s clear direction about what to do, but it does not make sense to ask it if we offer only some of our heart. God will open a way for us when we open our hearts to Him.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

No Death Wish

The willingness to be “crucified with Christ” is nothing like the “death wish” that indicates a pathological condition. It is not the desire to be annihilated, but the desire to live ---to live, that is, as Christ lives. Far from a wish to escape from life, it is in fact the wish to escape into life, from the chained self. It is Christ I want, Christ who fills my life with His glorious vitality, Christ living in me, Christ before me, behind me, beside me. The strongest willing of which my will is capable is to align myself with God, as Christ, in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, finally aligned Himself with His Father. In doing so ----in willing His Father’s will---- Jesus saved the world. That victory, the “Not I but Christ,” conquers the self and conquers the world.

I do not often feel anything like a conqueror. I am a woman, full of womanly fears and concerns and hopes. But my Fortress is a mighty one, a Helper who prevails, “Amid the flood of mortal ills.” I trust Him, not myself. I live in Him, not in myself. In His name, not mine, I conquer.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

More Toward The Light

Last night I talked with a woman in trouble. Her troubles are complex, but there is one simple thing she could do. She simply doesn’t want to do it.

This morning I flew out of Boston’s Logan International Airport. As often, the airport was shrouded in fog which rolls in from the sea. The plane rose quickly from the dim, wet runway, passed through thick clouds to thin, and suddenly was in sunshine, with brilliant blue sky above, and all the clouds and fog far below. The plane had moved toward the lights.
Christ is the Light of the World. His truth shines like the sun. But we must adore Him. We must learn to move to the direction of the light, no matter how dim and obscure the situation in which we find ourselves. If I adore Him who is all light, in whom “there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5), then darkness (even the least shading of the truth) will be intolerable.

Lord, how often I prefer the fog! I am preoccupied with my troubles when I could be occupied with adoration –moving up into His Sunshine.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Looking At Graves

Matthew tells us in the last chapter of his Gospel that the two Marys came early in the morning, “to look at the grave.” We can picture the sorrowful scene –two women in the gray dawn standing helplessly, contemplating the tomb. There was nothing left to hope for, nothing to see but a rock. We can see their drawn faces, bowed heads, the sag of their shoulders. Can we possibly picture those faces when there came a sudden earthquake, the descent of an angel, and the stone was rolled away from the grave? The angel was so dazzling, the guards (tough men, surly, and not the least sorrowing like the women) collapsed in terror. The angel addressed the women: “You ..have nothing to fear… He has been raised…” (Matt. 28:5,7). A few minutes later Jesus suddenly stood in their path.

We sometimes find ourselves looking at a “grave” –the end of all our hopes. We are helpless, defeated. Our faces are long, our shoulders droop. What difference it would make then if, by faith, we would lift up our eyes to see the bright angel and the risen Savior. We really have nothing to fear – He has risen, exactly as He said. What a defeat His crucifixion seemed. What a triumph His resurrection was – and is, forever.

Don’t look at the grave. Look up. Jesus stands risen beside you, alive forever! Then think of His comforting word: “And be assured, I am with you always, to the end of time” (Matt. 28:20).

Sunday, June 12, 2011


The word lifestyle has become a tricky and dangerous one for Christians, implying that an unlimited range of choices is open to us, from which we may select anything that happens to suit our fancy. We must remember first that the Incarnate Word entered into human life, ”dwelt among us,” and showed us glory, grace, and truth. We in turn, as those in whom Christ dwells now, are to live out His life wherever we are, whatever our gifts, temperament, or necessities. But this is what places a limitation on “lifestyle” –it is His life that we are to live. Paul’s prayer for the Colossian Christians is “that your manner of life may be worthy of the Lord and entirely pleasing to Him” (Col 1:10). This is to be our rule in the bedroom and kitchen; in the garden, shop, grocery store; in the office, the classroom, the subway, or on the ski slopes; whether we are old or young, sick or well, happy or sad, married or single, “advantaged” or “disadvantaged,” First World or Third World. The “secret hidden for long ages” is to be revealed in and through your “lifestyles,” my “lifestyle” –“the secret is this: Christ in you, the hope of a glory to come” (Col. 1:27).

What does He look like to those who watch you and me?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Life and Peace

To most of us, I suppose, life and peace are the two most precious things, for without them the love of friends and family, the pleasures of God’s world, the possessions we have been given, cannot be enjoyed. Life, in the spiritual sense, is given in exchange for selfishness. Peace also is given when we stop doing only what we please. It never seems possible that life and peace will be ours if we let go ----the enemy sees to that, relentlessly trying to persuade us how necessary it is to hang onto our rights, to keep control. Have we ever, even once in our lives, found deep and lasting peace by that method?

God draws us always away from “Egypt,” land of bondage, of self-will, and idolatry, to what He calls “a place of rest.”

“You shall not act as we act here today,” Moses told Israel, “each of us doing what he pleases, for till now you have not reached the place of rest” (Deut. 12:8).

Sunday, May 29, 2011


“We are indeed the incense offered by Christ to God.” We? That’s what the Book says. We who believe, whose sins are under the blood, we are actually a pure and fragrant offering which the Son presents to His Father. How is it possible? “Who is equal to such a calling?” (2 Cor. 2:15,17). Not one of us possesses in himself the least qualification. It is Christ who, by offering Himself, qualifies us to become an offering acceptable to God. Then and only then can we present our bodies as a living sacrifice to Him. Then and only then---- because Christ has first been offered and has offered us ---are we “holy,” “acceptable to God.”
I write this just after having sinned greatly against someone I love. What I did I had meant for good, but it turned into an offense. I am a sinner, and deeply aware of it this morning ----yet, having confessed it, I am, through Christ, fragrant incense. What mercy and what grace!

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Impossible Situation

Thou hast caught us in a net,

Thou has bound our bodies fast;

Thou hast let men ride over our heads.

We went through fire and water (Ps. 66:11-12).

We all know the feelings the psalmist described here. Our contexts of experience differ greatly, but the same Lord rules our world now and works through what seems to us insoluble. He is “tremendous in His dealings with mankind,” (v.5), or, as an older translation has it, “terrible in His doings with the children of men.” Whether it looks tremendous or terrible to us just now, we can take our peace from the knowledge that it is our God who has “caught us,” “bound our bodies,” allowed men to “ride over our heads” ---because He has a loving purpose. As in ancient myths and fairy tales, the prize is always gained through some fearful ordeal, some dark and dangerous passage, some encounter with fire, water, or dragons.
“But Thou hast brought us out” (He is bringing us, every minute. He is not off somewhere else, but beside us, protecting, leading) “into liberty.” That is what he wants for us: Freedom at last, release from ourselves, entrance into the broad meadows of His love.
“Blessed is God who has not withdrawn His love and care from me” (v.20).

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I Can't Take It

Some of us think this quite often, and some of us go right ahead and say it out loud: I can’t take it! I’ve had more than enough of this Lord ---could You let me off the hook for awhile?
Timothy was a young minister who, Paul knew, would have to bear more than seems humanly bearable. “Now therefore, my son, take strength from the grace of God which is ours in Christ Jesus…. Take your share of hardship, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:1,4).
Whether you can take what life dishes out, and the difficult people life puts you into contact with, depends on what you take first. If you take from the grace of God the strength offered, you will find it absolutely sufficient to cover any need. You will find yourself quite amazingly able to bear the hardship of life’s bitter battle as a good soldier. But the soldier has to be trained, prepared, and equipped first. Don’t rush into the fray and try to “take it” without first taking strength.
Lord, for the needs of hardships of today, I come for Your strength. I receive it with thanks in Jesus’ name. You, Lord, are my Strength.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I Cannot Act By Myself

These are startling words, coming from the lips of Jesus (John 5:30). We tend to think of Him as all-powerful, yet here He is, telling us He is all-helpless. His authority and power were not His own, but given by His Father. His aim was not His own will (see John 5:30) but the will of Him who sent Him. It is a piece of huge arrogance in us to think we can manage by ourselves. We’ll manage, all right, but all we shall ever succeed in doing by ourselves is making a mess of our lives. If our aim is the same as our Master’s, to do the will of the Father, we cannot act by ourselves. This means we must be consistently asking for help and accepting whatever help God sends.
“Lord, this is not quite what I meant,” is sometimes our response to His answer.
“What is your aim?” He asks us then, “Your will or Mine?”
“Then remember: you cannot act by yourself.”

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, May 1, 2011

He Will Find A Place

Uncertainty is surely, for most of us, one of the harder lessons in faith. We look ahead and see only darkness, or what may seem more frightening ---possibilities we’re convinced we can’t cope with.
This is where I am this morning as I write ---the possibilities of what may happen are daunting. Asking the Lord for some help in resting my case with Him, I found these words: “You saw ….how the Lord your God carried you all the way to the place, as a father carries his son. In spite of this you did not trust the Lord your God, who went ahead on the journey to find a place for your camp” (Deut. 1:31-33).
Has He, in fact, carried me all the way to this place? Of course He has.
Did He look after my needs as attentively as a father his son’s?
Of course He did.
Have I reason to doubt that He is even now going ahead of me on my journey, to find a place for me?
No reason whatever.
Shall I trust Him then? Lord, forgive my fears. I will trust, and not be afraid. The place You find will certainly be a place of peace.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He Stood His Ground

Two of the men called “David’s heroes,” Eleazar and Shammah, are remembered because they stood their ground. Eleazar was with David at Pas-Dammim in battle with the Philistines. “When the Israelites fell back, he stood his ground and rained blows on the Philistines until, from sheer weariness, his hand stuck fast to his sword” (2 Sam. 23:10).

Shammah, in a battle which took place in a lentil field, also “stood his ground, saved it, and defeated the Philistines.” The significant thing is that in each case the story says, “So the Lord brought about a great victory.” Another case of how God and man cooperate --- the man doing what he could do, and God therefore doing what the man could not do.

So it is when we pray. We have taken ground for God, and there we stand --- sometimes so tired of praying for something that it becomes almost automatic --- the hand sticks to the sword --- and yet we stand. We will see the Lord arise in response to our prayer. He will give victory because we have done the only thing we could do --- held the ground for Him in prayer.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Having Done All, Stand

There are times when we want desperately to tear into a situation and do something. We wish God would do something, and when He seems to be paying no attention to the mess that we are worried about, we are tempted to take things into our own hands. “Stand still” is what He says to us. This morning He reminded me of David’s word to Goliath, “The battle is the Lord’s” (1 Sam. 17:47). We are to be ready to do anything the Lord our God directs, but if direction is not given, or if we have done all He has said and still the battle is unresolved, then we are simply to stand. Standing our ground in prayer means standing by faith against “cosmic powers, against the authorities and potentates of this dark world, against the superhuman forces of evil in the heavens” (Eph. 6:12). It means standing strong with Christ for His victory.

Mighty Captain, show us our part today in Your battle. Make us strong to stand.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Gods Message or Satans

It is not always clear to us, living down here in the murk of a fallen world, whether thing comes from God or from Satan, whether “God did it” or “the devil did it.” Let us be very clear about one thing ---God never does evil, but any evil that touches us can be turned to His own good purpose. He is sovereign. He’s got the whole world in His hands. Nothing can ever happen to separate us from His love.

The “thorn” or “sharp pain” given to Paul was a messenger of Satan to bruise him ---but he goes right on to show why God permitted it: “to save me from being unduly elated” over a certain thrilling spiritual experience (see 2 Cor. 12:7).

Satan is given leeway in the lives of Christians. Make no mistake about that. But God is always setting limits, always in control, always drawing us toward holiness. Trust Him for that. Believe in the Love that will never let go.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, April 3, 2011

God's Hands or Men's

Most of us at some time have felt ourselves to be helpless and at the mercy of people who are “out to do us in.” We cry “Help!” and help doesn’t come. Has God forgotten us? Panic sets in, and we shiver and shake like captive animals. Our faith seems to be of no use anymore because these people have us where they want us and prayer seems a mockery.

Remember when Jesus was a captive, and at the mercy of the Judean procurator, Pilate? Pilate claimed that he had authority to release Jesus or to crucify Him, whichever he happened to choose. Was Jesus intimidated? He knew there was not a single second when He was not held secure in His Father’s hands. “You would have no authority at all over me…. If it had not been granted to you from above” (John 19:11).

We are always held by those same strong hands. Never mind, then, why power is granted to others to do you wrong ----that is God’s affair, not yours. Mind only the fact that they couldn’t possibly touch you if God didn’t permit it, and then trust Him. He will see you through.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, March 27, 2011

God's Delays

I suppose no one, however long he has lived a life of prayer, is immune to the enemy’s attack on his confidence that prayer “works.” Again and again we are tempted to feel that God is not paying attention, our prayers are futile, why should we keep on praying? Jesus told a story about a widow who made such a nuisance of herself that even a judge who cared nothing for her or for God was finally moved to action. He used this to teach us never to lose heart. “Will not God vindicate His chosen, who cry out to Him day and night, while He listens patiently to them?” (Luke 18:7). A note says that that last phrase may also be translated “While He delays to help them.” It is worth remembering, when the delays tempt us to quit praying, that He is listening patiently ---paying attention when we feel He has forgotten all about our prayer, biding His time. And He Himself is the very One, remember, who commanded us to keep on praying and never lose heart. He is listening. He will act. Do not doubt His promise.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Find Joy

When Paul was in prison he wrote a very happy letter to the Christians in Philippi. He used the word joy over and over. How did he manage to find joy in such a dark place? Was he some sort of plaster saint, immune to human misery? He was not. He found joy, I believe, because he was always looking for it. Many people are always looking for misery, and it is not hard to find. When they’ve found it, they tell everybody about it----much more about it than anybody wants to know. Others are continually looking for joy. This is not the same thing as pursuing happiness, which depends on happenings. Joy depends on Christ living in us, and being allowed to make us joyful. This can happen in the worst of earthly circumstances. From prison Paul wrote, “I wish you joy in the Lord! I will say it again: all joy be yours” (Phil 4:4). Look for joy in God and you’ll find it.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fiery Ordeals: Nothing Extraordinary

There are certainly many different kinds of suffering and degrees of intensity, but the one we happen to be facing now always seems particularly severe. Never mind. Even if it is a fiery ordeal, Peter reminds us that there is nothing “extraordinary” about it. We often refer to the “mystery” of suffering and talk as though God has provided no clues whatsoever to His purposes –if He has a purpose. He has. And His book gives a number of clues. “It gives you a share in Christ’s suffering, and that is cause for joy” (1 Peter 4:13).

Is your suffering physical? Christ knows about that.

Has a friend betrayed you? Christ knows about that.

Did someone you love break your heart? Christ knows about that.

Have you suffered a serious loss? Christ knows about that.

Is it false accusation, misrepresentation, the refusal to believe in your love? Christ knows very well what that is like.

Then in all of these things, you enter a little bit deeper into the knowledge of Christ and the fellowship of His sufferings. What are those privileges worth to you? Be joyful, then! Be thankful! Alleluia!

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, February 27, 2011

False Conclusions

When the children of Israel received the report of the tall men of Eshcol they were terrified, they refused to go up, and immediately concluded that God hated them. How could He love them if He had taken them out of Egypt only to deliver them over to giants to be wiped out? (see Deut. 1:27.)

It looked like a logical deduction, based on what little human evidence they had. But of course they were totally ignoring far more important and trustworthy evidence: the promise of God. He had promised a rich land, a Father’s care, and everything they would need en route.

We look backwards at the “good old days,” and bemoan our losses; we look around us to the many threats to our security, and tremble with fear. Our conclusions are false. God has not forgotten us. He does not hate us. He is taking us to a rich land if we will only trust and obey instead of making things complicated for ourselves.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Even In Temptation

It is easy to feel that God has left us alone or turned His attention elsewhere when we are being tempted. The reality of the enemy’s presence can dim the sense of God’s. But Scripture tells us that Jesus was “led by the Spirit up and down the wilderness and tempted by the devil” (Luke 4:2). I imagine the presence of Satan seemed at times nearly overpowering to Jesus (remember, He was a man, tempted exactly as we are tempted), and He summoned against him the Sword of the Spirit: “Its is written.” The Spirit had not left Him for a moment, even though the enemy was terribly present, and when the wilderness experience was over, we are told, “Jesus, armed with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee” (Luke 4:14).

I do most desperately need that assurance today ---the assurance that no matter how powerful the temptation of the enemy may be, and no matter how watery-weak I know myself to be (e.g., I can’t concentrate in prayer, or I react with sudden anger to something somebody does), the Holy Spirit has not left me alone. He is here to guide me through my “wilderness,” and to arm me, as He armed Jesus, with His power.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Choose To Be Strong and Resolute

When the Lord commissioned Joshua to take over from Moses the leadership of His people, these were the words of the commission: Be strong, be resolute.

God appealed directly to the man’s will. When a man’s will lines up with God’s, that is faith. Joshua could have chosen to disobey, but the choice was to be strong or to be weak, to be resolute or to vacillate. Obedience would mean, for Joshua and for all of Israel, what it always means for any of us: Life, Nothing less than Life. God was not asking an impossible thing. He never does, for what He asks (or what He commands) He will certainly enable us to do. He was not appealing to Joshua’s temperament or moods or natural inclinations, but to his will. Would he obey? Would he accept the charge to be strong and resolute? He would and he did.

The task God has for us today is not the leadership of a great tribe, but, whatever it is, we must choose to be strong----in His strength----and to be resolute-----by His grace. When we bring our wills, wholly under the divine strength and that amazing grace, who can estimate the possibilities of such a union?

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Choose the Better

Mary and Martha had made choices. It seems that Martha may have chosen a menu that was too elaborate. A simple one would have sufficed, and left her time to sit down with Jesus and Mary. Mary’s choice was better.

Sometimes our difficulty arises from unreasonable expectations ---of ourselves, of what we can accomplish in a given time, or of others, of their abilities and temperaments. We stew over failure (again ---ours or others’) instead of quietly giving it over to Christ, thanking Him for His strength in place of our weakness, and then simply going on in peace.

“O Lord, make us, we implore Thee, so to love Thee that Thou mayest be to us a Fire of Love purifying and not destroying” (Christina Rossetti).

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Be Resolute

Another minister of the gospel has left his wife. He seems to have followed a familiar pattern: dedication to god, call to the ministry, difficulties, discouragement, loss of self-confidence which turns to loss of confidence in God, resentment, rebellion, and finally the deliberate choice to “worship other gods.”

“Be resolute!” said Joshua just before he died at 110. “You must hold fast to the Lord….Be on your guard then, love the Lord….worship Him in loyalty and truth…. Choose here and now whom you will worship” (Josh. 23:6, 8, 11; 24:14-15).

Responsibility is laid upon us to exercise the wills God gave us. We cannot let go of our wills and wait passively for God or fate or somebody else to do for us what the will was given us to do. We have choices. We must resolve. We must purpose to obey. There are powerful forces against which we must be on guard. The only defense is the Lord Himself, who is a mighty Fortress, indeed, our Refuge, our Shield against the enemy. Run to Him! Trust Him!

A heart turned to Him will be filled with Him.

Help me, Lord, to resist with all my strength the very first beginnings of evil. Grant me Your strength and grace.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Powerful Advocate

“Their captors hold them firmly and refuse to release them. But they have a powerful advocate, whose name is the Lord of Hosts” (Jer. 50:33-34).

Not many who read this are literal captives of their enemies as Israel and Judah were, but it is possible to be limited and constrained by others in such a way that we feel captive. The One who left heaven for us was put into the hands of sinful men, bound, beaten, and led away to be fastened on a cross. He is our companion and fellow sufferer, understanding well the sense of helplessness that the captive feels.

“Since he himself has passed through the test of suffering, he is able to help those who are meeting their test now” Hebrew 2:18.

Not only does Christ fully understand our test---He can do something about it. He is no longer held by nails on a cross, but stands as our powerful Advocate before God, victor over whatever enemy we face today.

The “captivity” may last a while----He did, too----but He can make it shine for you. Bear it in His name and be glad. It will be transformed into a privilege as you offer it back to Him.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Heart With Skill To Listen

Solomon recognized that he could not fulfill his responsibility as king without the help of the Lord. The assignment came from God (“Thou hast made thy servant king”; 1 Kings 3:7) so the qualifications must also come from Him. “I am a mere child, unskilled in leadership,” Solomon said, but he did not go on to say, “Therefore make me a great leadership.” He prayed rather for a heart with skill to listen (v.9).

What temptation it is, when one is in a position of leadership so that others want to (or must) hear what one has to say ---what a temptation to talk! The skill of listening must begin with the heart, silent and open first to God for His word, then ready to hear others before speaking. Solomon listened to God. He stood ----in silence, I should think---- before the Ark of the Covenant, the place of the Mercy Seat, before he met the people.

God give me a heart with skill to listen. May I have grace to stand silent before You when I am tempted to open my mouth at once. Help me to cultivate in quietness that skilled heart.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Continual Transformation

What is it that makes a Christian “shine”? Paul explains it in his second letter to the Corinthians. As we look steadily to the Lord, “beholding” or “reflecting” His glory, we are being changed into His likeness from one degree of glory to another (see 2 Cor. 3:18). The Greek verb is present tense, showing action going on now ----that is, effective as long as we keep our eyes on the Lord and not on ourselves or anybody else. W.J. Conybeare’s translation is “The glory which shines upon us is reflected by us.” The moon shines steadily with the sun’s glory so long as earth doesn’t get in the way.

Shine on me, Lord of Light, and let no shadow of anything temporal (possessions, people, ambitions, fears, anger, despair, or anything whatsoever) come between us.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Price of Life

“He saved others, but he cannot save Himself” (Matt. 27:42). This was a joke among the chief priests and lawyers. If they had comprehended the profound truth of their jest it would have died on their lips. If He had saved Himself He would have saved no one else. The principle is true for us as well: self-giving is the price of Life ---of eternal life, of course, for it was Christ who first gave His life, and if we want eternal life we must give ourselves to Him completely. But if we would help another toward finding real Life, we must lay down our lives. If we ourselves want to live, let us “lose” it all ---and then, miraculously, find.

Help me, Lord, to bring this principle down to where I live today. Is there some fear of loss? Some unwillingness to relinquish? Some determination to have it my way? Some insistence on what I “deserve”? May I, by Your strength, let it go, and thus find a greater freedom and a more fulfilling life.

The Music of His Promises by Elisabeth Elliot

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Too Rich To Follow Him

In the forests of Ecuador I soon learned that there were journeys I could not make if I wanted to carry baggage.  Traveling narrow, muddy, and often steep trails on foot was impossible if I was heavily loaded.
So it is with the spiritual journey.  We cannot make it if we insist on taking along everything we think indispensable.  A rich young man was attracted to Jesus and contemplated joining His company, but Jesus spoke plainly of the necessary condition:  Sell all you have first.
If he had not had much, perhaps he would have laid it down readily.  But he was too rich to follow Jesus.  He turned away, sorrowful.
We may be willing to part with almost everything God is asking us to relinquish, but perhaps we are clutching one thing tightly—“all but this, Lord.”  “Lay it down,”  Jesus says.  “Let it go.”  If we refuse, too rich to follow Him, we have chosen a greater poverty in the end.