Writings of Elizabeth A. Fenley – Part3

What is the effective personal attitude towards sin? The answer is “Repentance and Faith”. Sin-sickness is worse than any bodily ailment. Jesus is our teacher today. He will reveal man to Himself by telling a story that pictures Him in His true relationship. The word picture is of the son who, though still living with his father, was far from that father’s heart in his eagerness to act without restraint. According to the rule set forth in Deuteronomy 21:17, the lad received one-third while two-thirds remained for the elder brother. The “far country” quickly devoured patrimony, robbed him of most that the home had helped to build into his character during the previous years, and left him destitute, even of daily bread. The most menial task was accepted as a necessity to maintain life itself.

There had been many regrets in the wanderer’s heart in recent days. His efforts had never been satisfying. Even the pleasure had been so tainted that it was revolting. Nothing that he thought
would prove worth while had matured as he had expected. Heart-strings had begun to call “Home, Sweet Home!” Conscience was active. Thoughts of the old home held him steady while quick decisions were made. He had come to himself and was able to calculate values, as he had failed to do before.

Struggles are often greatest when we are alone. In the midst of action and with the world looking on, there is nothing else to do but go forward along the line of duty. Previously the young man had been sorry for outcomes, but now he repented. This began with a change of heart. He would stop the sinning and at once place a distance between himself and where sin had overcome him. He must toil for his daily living, and choose to do this under the gracious supervision of his father. Nothing would be asked for himself except pardon and any place of toil at home.

Repentance is indicated as we listen to the outcry of the heart. “I have sinned against heaven and in Thy sight.” This challenge of the soul was worse than anything that had come to him in the body. But every step homeward was just that much out of the slough and despond. There was no question about being taken on as a servant, and he would prove, by his fidelity in any task, that his sorrow was genuine. How does God treat the one who has sinned against Him?

The returning Prodigal’s father indicates the action of the heart of Love. Our Father always yearns over us, and is eager to restore us into full fellowship with Himself. The ring in the parable is a token of full pardon. The garment is akin to the robe of righteousness taken literally from the back of the soul who did not go astray, but Who became sin for us. Instead of seeking to
render menial service, there was full opportunity of filling a high office, for the name of introductions, publicly spoken, was “My Son”.

It was on the day of Pentecost, when Peter preached in the power of the Holy Spirit, that the people had sinned grievously in rejecting their Messiah, after which they had full part in crucifying Him. Prophecy was rehearsed, and facts that had recently transpired were shown to be in accord with promises spoken in the past. Hearts were pricked as the people came under conviction. In their distress they cried out, “What shall we do?” Our loving Father always has a clear answer for such an appeal. Peter voiced it as he said, “Repent ye.” The people were ex-horted to give evidence of their change of heart by seeking the right of baptism “In the name of Jesus Christ.”

It is by faith that we take Him at His word, that His work of grace may be wrought in us. It is stated as one of the essential facts in our Golden Text: “Repent ye, and believe in the Gospel.”(Mark 1:15) We exercise faith almost with each breath, day by day. Both simple and complex matters in the business world are carried out in faith. There is sufficient basis for our faith in the evidences from God for us to accept and act on the blessed teachings and revelations in the Scriptures. Paul’s reply at Philippi is still the complete answer: “Believe on the Lord Jesus and thou shalt be saved.” (Acts 16:31)

“Who is he that will harm you, if ye be zealous of that which is good?” The best cure for worrying is to do good. Call in the angels of hard work for blessed objects, and the demons of gloom and doubt and discontent and fear will find no room in your life. The man whose heart is full of love fears no foe. No harm comes to him who does no harm. Heap only benefits on the world, and the world will not heap cruelties on you.

Prayer. Our Father who art in heaven, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Keep us from the paths of the wicked. Uphold every barrier which prevents us from walking in the way of evil men. Be Thou to us the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Amen.

Prayer. Our Father and our Judge, we do not deserve Thy favor. We should be so much better than we are. Our best is so very poor. We will not plead our best, we will plead Christ’s best, freely offered to us. Accept us, we pray Thee, for His sake. Amen.

Prayer. Dear Lord, we will walk in Thy name and according to Thy will. If Thou dost say Go, we will go. If Thou dost sayest Stop, we will stop. We will not let our desires or our sloth govern our progress, but will listen only for Thy word. It may send us backward or forward, may bid us take our stand. In any case, Thy will be done. Amen.

Prayer. How can we become like Thee, our infinite Friend? How can we learn to love as Thou lovest, with the love which is sacrificial, complete and exulting? Be our Teacher. Be our Exemplar. Be our Inspirer. And cast envy out of our souls forever. For the sake of the Redeemer. Amen.

A manger was His cradle bed,
His home a mountain cave,
He had not where to lay His head,
He borrowed e’en His grave.

In fact the most unlettered nation has established prayer habits in approaching its deity. The Christian approaches the Throne of Grace for spiritual fellowship rather than to placate an angered god. Thus, as we talk things over with our personal God, we indicate our confidence in Him. Knowing Him as “Our Father”, who is able and eager to grant our right requests, we “ask and receive”. Have in mind, that prayer is much more than petition. There should be some complimentary approach of adoration, even as Jesus indicated in the very simple but profound address, “Our Father which art in heaven.” We are communing with a Person as the Savior
told the woman at Jacob’s well, and He must always be very real in our thinking as we address Him. His perfection of being is indicated in “Hallowed be thy name.” It is orderly to confess our sins before we ask for aught. Jesus relates this petition for pardon to our having forgiven every one of our “debtors”, no matter what the circumstances may have been.

There is no limit to the scope of our petitions. We are fully in accord with the Son when we pray for the Kingdom that He came to establish. His will is to be done here on earth, in every-day items of life, even as the holy angels and the redeemed spirits do His will in the heavenly home. Every detail is His concern and so we pray for our “daily bread” and that our pathway be safe from overcoming temptations, all of which are related to man’s arch enemy, even the evil one.

Do we say we have no time to read the Bible and meditate on its precepts, no time to commune with the Lord and receive His messages through daily prayer? We have the time before sunrise. There is no time like that for quiet, for clarity, for freshness and beauty. O God save me from the world I comprehend not, the world of fatality and fearful Shadows. Lead me into Thy luminous realm, where all is clear through trust in Thee. Let not my living soul fall into the grasp of necessities insensible and dead. What though I be afflicted, if Thou knowest it – that Thou art its beginning and its end! What though I walk in the dark, if Thou art there! Give me inward calm, and if not joy, then such surrender as benefits a son. When the whirlwind passes, hide me underneath Thy wing, and make my weakness strong by Thy presence. If I am lost, find me; If I fall, stay Thou nearby.

Every man can be saved if he will but turn his face toward the cross of Calvary. Martin Luther, in one of his conflicts with the devil, asked by the arch enemy if he felt his sins forgiven. “No”, said the great reformer, “I don’t feel that they are forgiven, but I know they are, because God says so in His Word.” Paul did not say, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt feel saved,” but “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”

We can only know from others the facts of our birth and infancy, yet we believe the absolutely because our parents would not practice deception on us. So also we only know from Almighty God, our beneficent Father, the facts about the origin of the world, and the human soul, and its destiny, but we believe Him absolutely because truthful Father that He is, He would not
practice deception on us.

Science deals with this world. Religion deals with the next world. I believe in the existence of God, whom I do not see, just as I believe in the existence of electricity, which I do not see. I believe that Jesus Christ is God, although I never saw Him; just as I believe that Napoleon was Emperor of the French, yet I never saw him. You cannot see your blood circulate, yet you have not the least doubt about it, simply because physicians who would not deceive you tell you it does. So also you cannot see Heaven, yet you believe it exists because Christ the Son of God, who would not deceive you, has told you it does. But in no case could the human soul have come into existence through evolutionary processes. The human soul owes its origin to the direct creative act of God.

God Loves You. With an infinite love. His great heart longs that you may spend eternity with Him. But He is holy, and nothing but that which is absolutely perfect and spotless can ever enter His presence. You and I have sinned. God says that every thought and imagination of our hearts is only evil continually, that our best deeds are as filthy rags in His sight. Thus to believe God is to be assured that nothing that we are, or ever can do, will be acceptable to Him. Being holy and just He must punish sin, and every sin. But thanks to God, He has punished sin. He sent His beloved Son into the world and to the cross of Calvary, and there laid on Him the sin of the whole world. He suffered and died in our place, and made complete satisfaction to God for the sins of the whole world. God raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His own right hand in proof to us that God is perfectly satisfied, and our sins are all gone.

But He did more than this. He shed His precious blood to cleanse us from the guilt of sin and fit us for His presence. This He is longing to do for you now, but He cannot do it against your will. He promises to give rest and life to every one who comes to Him, to cleanse them from all sin. He solemnly declares that every one who does not trust Him alone for salvation is condemned already, and except he be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. Do you believe God? If you do you know that you are nothing but sin in His sight. You know that God requires perfection. You know that the Lord Jesus Christ alone has ever satisfied Him. This same Jesus is in longing to receive you and make you perfect and spotless before His Father if you will cease from all efforts of your own and let Him have His way. It is your privilege to be saved now and forever, and to know it, and then live daily in conscious enjoyment of His love. May God open your eyes to see His way and your heart to accept it.

Timely Advice.

If you are unpatient, sit down quietly and talk with Job.
If you are just a little head strong go and see Moses.
If you are getting weak, kneel, take a good look at Elijah.
If there is no song in your heart, listen to David.
If you are a policy man read Daniel.
If you are getting sordid, spend a while with Isaiah.
If you feel chilly, get the beloved disciple to put his arms around you.
If your faith is below par, read Paul.
If you are getting lazy watch James.
If you are loosing sight of the future, climb up the stairs of
Revelation and get a glimpse of the Promised Land!

Character is made by two small words – “yes” and “no”.
Lord help me live from day to day,
In such a self-forgetful way,
That even when I kneel to pray,

My prayers shall be for others.
Help me in all the work I do,
To ever be sincere and true,
And know that I’d do for you,
Must needs be done for others.
Let “Self” be crucified and slain,
And buried deep and all in vain,

May efforts be to rise again,
Unless to live for others.
And when my work on earth is done,
And my new work in heaven’ begun,
May I forget the crown I’ve won,
While thinking still of others.
Others, Lord yes others,
Let this my motto be,
Help me to live for others,
That I may live like Thee.

All the cruelty in the world can’t take God away from us if we hold on. We all make mistakes. You know terrible mistakes sometimes. People with the kindest, truest hearts sometimes do cruel things without thinking. Why I suppose those who crucified Jesus were kind and good in their way. Only they didn’t understand what they were doing, you see. You will learn by and by to feel sorry for these people, just as Jesus wept over those who He knew were going to torture and kill Him.

When we stop thinking or caring about ourselves, with our gluttonies, our lusts, our envies, our hidden covetousness, and transfer our thought to God then comes the difference. There are some to whom a sense of a divine presence irradiating the soul is one of the most obvious things of experience. In their view a man without this sense is to be regarded as we regard a man without a sense of humor. the absence is a kind of mental deficiency.

That is exactly the way I feel about it, with one reservation; for I don’t regard the absence of this sense as a mental deficiency in others at all. As God as my witness, I do not believe that I am superior to these others at all! On the contrary, I believe that they have it as much as I have it or more, but they don’t know it. How can this be otherwise? Christ is not like somebody who never
was, or like somebody who is just for me and you, but He is for everybody, and He lives through everybody. How shall I put this? I am not separate from you except in what I may -falsely – think about you. There is no difference between us, except in our “darkness”, that is our spiritual unawareness.

I have known, in my actual life experience, to many violent skeptics! Let us see what the Master Teacher said about it. “But thou, when thou prayest enter into the closet and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret.” Did Jesus mean that we should enter into a material closet and shut a material door? If so would He not have set the example for in this
as He did in so many other ways? What did He do? He went apart by Himself and shut out all material interests, all worldly distractions.

I said, “I will walk in the fields.” God said, “Nay, walk in the town.” I said, “There are no flowers there.” He said, “No flowers, but a crown.” I said, “But the fogs are thick, and the clouds are veiling the sun.” He answered, “But hearts are sick, and souls in the dark undone.” I said, “But the skies are black; there is nothing but noise and din.” And He wept as He led me back, “There is more.” He said: “there is sin.” I said, “I shall miss the light. And friends miss me, they say.” He answered, “Choose ye tonight, if I must miss you or they.” I pleaded for time to be given. He said, “Is it hard to decide? It will not seem hard in Heaven to follow the steps of your Guide.”

Submission Essential to Prayer.

If you have any trial which seems intolerable, pray-pray that it be relieved or changed. There is no harm in that. We may pray for anything, not wrong in itself, with perfect freedom, if we do
not pray selfishly. One disabled from duty by sickness may pray for health, that he may do his work; or one hemmed in by internal impediments may pray for utterance, that he may serve better the truth and the right. But the answer to the prayer may be, as it was to Paul, not the removal of the thorn, but, instead, a growing insight into its meaning and value.

The voice of God in our soul may show us, as we look up to Him, that His strength is enough to enable us to bear it. (J. F. Clarke) In other words being on God’s side, He faced Calvary for the redemption of the world. John Wesley said, “The best of all is, God is with us.” He could say that because he knew that he was with God. And to come back to Lincoln, was it not he who said, “I am not concerned whether God is on our side, but I am concerned whether we are on God’s side.” When man forms partnership with God, he is on the side of the winning party.

Prayer.

Prayer is a privilege obtained for us through the merits of Jesus Christ. When ought we to pray? “Watch ye, praying at all times.”(Luke 21:36) We can pray “without ceasing”, as Saint Paul puts it, by offering to God all our thoughts, words, good actions and our daily works. Thus everything, our whole life, will become meritorious before God and will be a prayer. However, we ought to pray at stated times: On rising in the morning; at retiring in the evening; more so on Sundays and holy days; when preparing and giving thanks for the reception of the sacraments; in time of temptation; in the hour of death, when the devil will make a last hard struggle to get our soul. How ought we to pray? With any simple words, that come to your mind, just like you would ask anything from a kind loving father or mother or friend: “Blessed be the name of Jesus.” “God have mercy on me.” “God forgive me my sins.” “Jesus help me.” “Jesus grant me thy love.” “Mother Mary pray for me.” The best and greatest prayer of all prayers is the “Our Father”, commonly called the “Lord’s Prayer”, which Jesus taught us.

Do Good.

Do Good! Do Good! There’s ever a way,
A way where there’s a will;
Don’t wait till tomorrow but do it today,
And today, when the morrow comes still.
If you’ve money you’re armed, you can find work enough,
In every street, alley, and lane;
If you’ve bread, cast it off, and the waters, though rough,
Will be sure and return it again.
If you’ve only old clothes, an old blanket or hat,
A kind word, or a smile true and soft,
In the name of a brother, confer it, and that
Shall be counted as gold up aloft;
God careth for all, and His glorious Son
Shines alike on the rich and the poor,
Be thou like Him, and bless everyone,
And thou’lt be rewarded sure.
Do Good! Do Good! There’s ever a way,
A way where there’s a will;
Don’t wait till tomorrow, but do it today,
And today when the morrow comes still.

The city of Happiness is located in the state of mind. Those who have thought that Jesus Christ came to bring only a cross have quite misapprehended His spirit and word. He came to ransform crosses from ugly trees into symbols of beauty. When His own cross already cast its shadow across His life, He said, “My joy I leave with you.” The beautitudes are only rules for being happy in spite of adverse circumstances. Though one is persecuted he may find compensations. Though one be spiritually hungry and thirsty, this is the door into new and wonderful experiences. Jesus Christ is this door.

Kenneth D. Davis

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Last modified 22 Jun 2005