Here is the rest of the sermon to which the link would take you if it had worked in the above post:
Is there no other way, Oh God,
Except through sorrow, pain and loss,
To stamp Christ’s likeness on my soul,
No other way except the cross?
And then a voice stills all my soul,
As stilled the waves of Galilee:
“Can’st thou not bear the furnace,
If midst the flames I walk with thee?
I bore the cross, I know its weight;
I drank the cup I hold for thee.
Can’st thou not follow where I lead?
I’ll give thee strength, lean hard on Me!”
My friend, God loves us
most when He is operating on us, “for whom the Lord loves He
chastens …” (Hebrews 12:6). The Lord Jesus presents it this way
when He says to His disciples in the Upper Room:
I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch
in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch
that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
–John 15:1, 2
The Father reaches into our lives and prunes out that which is
not fruit-bearing—and it hurts! But as some Puritan writer said
years ago, “The husbandman is never so close to the branch as
when he is trimming it.” The Father is never closer to you, my
friend, than when He is reaching in and taking out of your heart
and life those things that offend Him.
Charles Spurgeon once noticed a weather vane on a barn. It
was unusual, because on it the farmer had the words GOD IS
LOVE. Spurgeon asked him, “Do you mean by this that God’s
love is as changeable as the wind?” The farmer shook his head.
“No,” he said, “I mean that whichever way the wind blows, God
Today it may be the soft wind from the south that He brings
to blow across your life, for He loves you. And tomorrow He may
let the cold blasts from the north blow over your life—and if He
does, He still loves you.
A favorite poem of mine expresses this in a way I never could:
God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.
God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain, rocky and steep,
Never a river, turbid and deep.
But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the laborer, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.
-Annie Johnson Flint
Beloved, if you are in a place of suffering and you know you are
a child of God, be assured God loves you, regardless of how it
The Full Picture
of God’s Love
Few of us ever heard a sermon on Zephaniah. Since it presents
the dark side of God’s love, I can well understand how it would
It opens with rumblings of God’s coming judgment on this
earth. Three verses in the first chapter are often the reason many
put the book down and never pick it up again:
“I will utterly consume everything from the face of the land,” says
the Lord …. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and
distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness
and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of
the trumpet and alarm against the fortified cities and against the
high towers. –Zephaniah 1:2, 15, 16
See what I mean?
You might get the impression that God hates His people. That
He is vindictive in His judgment. Cruel. Brutal and unfeeling as
He moves forward against mankind. But keep reading and you’ll
find the God of the Old Testament is not a big bully, but that
Zephaniah simply shows us the dark side of God’s love.
GOD IS JEALOUS
In Zephaniah 3 we see the Great Physician getting ready to operate:
“Therefore wait for Me,” says the Lord, “until the day I rise up
for plunder; My determination is to gather the nations to My
assembly of kingdoms, to pour on them My indignation, all My
fierce anger; all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of My
jealousy.” –Zephaniah 3:8
Many Bible teachers try to break down the expression “the
jealousy of God” and make it say something other than jealousy.
My beloved, it means jealousy! God is jealous for you.
Sometimes you hear a wife say, “Oh, my husband isn’t jealous.”
I have news for her. When a woman and a man fall in love, he
ought to say, “I want you for myself. You belong to me.” And she
should be able to say, “He’s mine; you keep your hands off of
him.” When you love someone you want the world to know you
belong to each other.
There is an idea that jealousy is a terrible, awful thing today.
But jealousy in the Word of God is not looked upon as something
wrong. Exodus 20:5 says, “You shall not bow down to them nor
serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God ….” God
says Himself that He’s jealous for us. We belong to Him alone.
Then Exodus 34:14 tells us one of God’s names is Jealous.
God is jealous. He said to His people, “I don’t want you to serve
these other gods because I’m jealous. I love you. I have made a
way for you to come to Me, provided My Son who is going to die
God proved His love to us because He wants you, and He wants
you to Himself. I can’t think of anything more wonderful than
that. This is jealousy of One who loves us and wants nothing to
come into our lives that is going to hurt or harm us. He will do
anything in the world to protect us.
In Zephaniah 3:2 we read:
She has not obeyed His voice, she has not received correction;
she has not trusted in the Lord, she has not drawn near to her God.
This is the diagnosis of the Great Physician. He is saying the
nation whom He loves needs to be put on the operating table.
Even in judgment, beloved, God is love!
GOD RESTS IN HIS LOVE
The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He
will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with [rest in]
His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. –Zephaniah 3:17
This verse is so broad in its description of God’s love that it
reaches down into the very end of the age in which we are living.
However, it’s not Zephaniah’s prophetic message we focus on
now; it is this: God wants to rejoice over you. He wants to rest in
His love for you.
This poses the question: Can God rejoice over and rest in His
love for you and me today?
Isaiah 53:11 refers to Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for the sin of
He shall see of the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His
knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall
bear their iniquities.
God is satisfied with what Jesus did for the sins of this world,
and if you trust in Him, you are complete in Him. But wait a
minute! Is He satisfied with your life right now?
Here’s a story to put this in a practical way.
On a recent Mother’s Day I did something I haven’t done in
years: I sat down and let someone else preach. As I listened
to the sermon, I got to look at the listening congregation in a
comfortable sort of way.
One dear woman in our church body got my attention. I
noticed she was wearing a lovely corsage sent to her by her son.
He is a prominent businessman, high up in government circles,
but he is not a Christian. She is praying for him, and she has
asked others to pray for him. She said to me once, with tears
streaming down her cheeks, “Oh, Dr. McGee, I pray God will save
my boy. Even if He has to put him on a sick bed, even if He has
to kill him—I pray He will save him.” If the FBI heard her plotting
like that, would they arrest her? No! She loves her boy. As I saw
her sitting there, the tears slipping down her cheeks, I knew this:
She is not rejoicing over him with joy; she is not resting in her
love. She loves him with all her heart, and if giving her life would
save that boy, she would give it immediately. Although she loves
him, she cannot rest in her love.
Let’s go back to our question: Is God satisfied with your life right
now? He cannot rest in His love for you and for me until we have
been brought into the likeness of His Son. …And He knows best
how to get this done.
GOD TRAINS HIS CHILDREN
And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as
to sons, “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom
the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He
receives.” –Hebrews 12:5, 6
God treats you today based on the relationship He has with
you. If you are His child, He is your heavenly Father. He wants to
come to the place where He can rest in His love.
Imagine parents who have by work and sacrifice put away
money in order to send their son away to school. After the boy
is in school for a while, he writes home: “Dad, it’s hard here—
the assignments are too heavy and the dorm is too strict. I’m
homesick, and I want to come home!” The father writes back a
stern letter, “You stay on, study hard, and apply yourself.” When
that boy gets the letter from his dad, he could say, “I don’t think
my dad loves me anymore. He couldn’t love me or he wouldn’t
want me to go through this torture.”
In a similar way God is training us.
The word chastening in Hebrews 12 really carries no thought of
punishment at all. Rather it means to child train. God is training
you not for an earthly career, but He is preparing you for eternity.
It is His principle always to deal with His children like this.
An interesting report came from the Palomar Observatory. It
said out yonder in the Milky Way in the constellation Aquarius
they discovered a remarkable doughnut-shaped constellation. It
is unusual because in the center is a dim star. Although that
dim star cannot be seen very well down here, it does not mean
it is not a hot star. Astronomers say the temperature is 270,000
degrees Fahrenheit on that star and it gives off light at such a
cycle our eyes can’t see the light—it is ultraviolet, a dark light.
However, the light that is being given off is “triggering” light to all
of the stars surrounding it. God uses the dark light to bring out
the bright. I do not understand that in astronomy—it is beyond
my thinking—but, my friend, I see God’s principle in operation
there. He disciplines us in order to bring us out into the light.
Thanks in Trouble
While in college I roomed with a boy who had a great deal to say
about how hard his father was on him growing up. He told me
he used to say, “When I get big enough, I am going to run away
from home. I’m not going to stay here under him, he’s cruel and
mean.” The day came when he did run away from home and
joined the Navy. It was several years before he returned home.
When he did, he said, “Dad, I want to thank you for the way you
trained me. I thought you were mean at the time, but I thank God
for it now because it has made me a better man.”
My beloved, note what God says in Hebrews 12:9:
Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and
we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in
subjection to the Father of spirits and live?
You and I are being trained and disciplined so we might have a
place up yonder in Glory.
I hear preachers talk about the golden streets of heaven. I’ll
be honest with you, I don’t think the golden streets of heaven are
going to be the most impressive thing there. I hear people talk
about the gates of pearl and, friend, although the gates of pearl
will be beautiful, I do not think they will be the thrilling thing.
I hear people say God is going to wipe away all tears—that is
wonderful, but that won’t be the most wonderful thing of all.
Rather, I think you and I are going to look back on the brief
life we lived down here and “our light affliction, which [was] but
for a moment” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Then we will go to God and
thank Him for every burden, every trial He gave us down here.
We are going to thank Him even for sickness—not for healing,
but for sickness. We will thank Him for every problem, every
disappointment, every faithless friend, every heartache, every
false accusation that ever has been made against us. I think we
will go to Him and say, “O God, I thank You for putting me on the
operating table and cutting out that which was hindering me.”
Perhaps one of the finest summaries of this essential teaching
is found in these beautiful lines, written by an author whose
name is unknown to me. I assume it comes out of the experience
of a person who had spent some time in the crucible of suffering.
In the Crucible
Out from the mine and the darkness,
Out from the damp and the mold,
Out from the fiery furnace,
Cometh each grain of gold,
Crushed into atoms and leveled
Down to the humblest dust,
With never a heart to pity,
With never a hand to trust.
Molten and hammered and beaten,
Seemeth it ne’er to be done.
Oh! for such fiery trial,
What hath the poor gold done?
Oh! ’twere a mercy to leave it
Down in the damp and the mold;
If this is the glory of living,
Then better be dross than gold.
Under the press and the roller,
Into the jaws of the mint,
Stamped with the emblem of freedom
With never a flaw or a dint;
Oh! what a joy, the refining
Out of the damp and the mold!
And stamped with the glorious image,
Oh, beautiful coin of gold!
Someday, when in the presence of our Savior, we will thank
Him for every burden, every trial, and every heartache. We will
thank Him for dealing with us as a wise Father deals with His
children and for the dark side of His love.