CHRIST IS RISEN! AMEN

Christ the Lord is Risen Today!

But the fact is that Christ has been raised from the dead. He has become the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again.

1 Corinthians 15:20 NLT

Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia! Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia! Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia! Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia! Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia! Death in vain forbids Him rise, Alleluia! Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia! Following our exalted Head, Alleluia! Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia! Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Christ the Lord is Risen Today
Charles Wesley (1707-1788) and others

Christ has won the final victory

The grave has been “boasting” of its power since Eden. But now it has finally met its match. It wraps Jesus up at the Cross and “forbids him to rise,” but our Champion, Jesus Christ, fought and won. Where is your sting now, O Death? Christ has won the final victory.

We know that whatever boasting we do is not in ourselves, but in the power of Christ. He has won the victory, and now we’re just soaring where Christ has led. We bask in the benefits of the Cross, and we look past the grave to our heavenly reunion with Him. Alleluia!

Our Easter Week readings are adapted from The One Year® Book of Hymns by Mark Norton and Robert Brown, Tyndale House Publishers (1995). Today’s is taken from the entry for April 3.

Digging Deeper/Telling Others: For more on the meaning of Easter, read Why the Resurrection by Greg Laurie (Tyndale, 2005), also available in 6-pack for distribution.

Content is derived from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation and other publications of Tyndale Publishing House

 

Numbered For Our Transgressions

Morning

“He was numbered with the transgressors.”
Isaiah 53:12

Why did Jesus suffer himself to be enrolled amongst sinners? This wonderful condescension was justified by many powerful reasons. In such a character he could the better become their advocate. In some trials there is an identification of the counsellor with the client, nor can they be looked upon in the eye of the law as apart from one another. Now, when the sinner is brought to the bar, Jesus appears there himself. He stands to answer the accusation. He points to his side, his hands, his feet, and challenges Justice to bring anything against the sinners whom he represents; he pleads his blood, and pleads so triumphantly, being numbered with them and having a part with them, that the Judge proclaims, “Let them go their way; deliver them from going down into the pit, for he hath found a ransom.” Our Lord Jesus was numbered with the transgressors in order that they might feel their hearts drawn towards him. Who can be afraid of one who is written in the same list with us? Surely we may come boldly to him, and confess our guilt. He who is numbered with us cannot condemn us. Was he not put down in the transgressor’s list that we might be written in the red roll of the saints? He was holy, and written among the holy; we were guilty, and numbered among the guilty; he transfers his name from yonder list to this black indictment, and our names are taken from the indictment and written in the roll of acceptance, for there is a complete transfer made between Jesus and his people. All our estate of misery and sin Jesus has taken; and all that Jesus has comes to us. His righteousness, his blood, and everything that he hath he gives us as our dowry. Rejoice, believer, in your union to him who was numbered among the transgressors; and prove that you are truly saved by being manifestly numbered with those who are new creatures in him.

Evening

“Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord.”
Lamentations 3:40

The spouse who fondly loves her absent husband longs for his return; a long protracted separation from her lord is a semi-death to her spirit: and so with souls who love the Saviour much, they must see his face, they cannot bear that he should be away upon the mountains of Bether, and no more hold communion with them. A reproaching glance, an uplifted finger will be grievous to loving children, who fear to offend their tender father, and are only happy in his smile. Beloved, it was so once with you. A text of Scripture, a threatening, a touch of the rod of affliction, and you went to your Father’s feet, crying, “Show me wherefore thou contendest with me?” Is it so now? Are you content to follow Jesus afar off? Can you contemplate suspended communion with Christ without alarm? Can you bear to have your Beloved walking contrary to you, because you walk contrary to him? Have your sins separated between you and your God, and is your heart at rest? O let me affectionately warn you, for it is a grievous thing when we can live contentedly without the present enjoyment of the Saviour’s face. Let us labour to feel what an evil thing this is–little love to our own dying Saviour, little joy in our precious Jesus, little fellowship with the Beloved! Hold a true Lent in your souls, while you sorrow over your hardness of heart. Do not stop at sorrow! Remember where you first received salvation. Go at once to the cross. There, and there only, can you get your spirit quickened. No matter how hard, how insensible, how dead we may have become, let us go again in all the rags and poverty, and defilement of our natural condition. Let us clasp that cross, let us look into those languid eyes, let us bathe in that fountain filled with blood–this will bring back to us our first love; this will restore the simplicity of our faith, and the tenderness of our heart.

A Man Of Sorrows

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded

He was despised and rejected — a man of sorrows, acquainted with the bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by.

Isaiah 53:3 NLT

O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down, now scornfully surrounded with thorns Thine only crown; how pale Thou art with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How does that visage languish which once was bright as morn!

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest Friend, for this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end? O make me Thine forever; and should I fainting be, Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded
attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153)

A profoundly personal and awesome vision

Although Bernard was one of the most influential Christians of the Middle Ages, settling disputes between kings and influencing the selection of popes, he remained a devout monk, single-minded in his devotion to Christ.

In his own day Bernard was known as a preacher and churchman; today he is remembered for his hymns of praise. “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” comes from a poem originally having seven sections, each focusing on a wounded part of the crucified Savior’s body — His feet, knees, hands, side, breast, heart, and head. The text of this hymn compels us to gaze at the cross until the depth of God’s love overwhelms us. Bernard’s hymn pictures God’s love, not as an abstract theological statement, but as a profoundly personal and awesome vision of the suffering Christ.

Our Holy Week readings are adapted from The One Year® Book of Hymns by Mark Norton and Robert Brown, Tyndale House Publishers (1995). Today’s is taken from the entry for March 28.

Content is derived from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation and other publications of Tyndale Publishing House

Store Not Up Earthly Treasures-But Heavenly Ones

Rewards by Grace

Mark 10:28-31

Jesus, says stewardship theologian T. A. Kantonen (1900-1993), is pointing out in this passage and in the parallel passage in Matthew 19:28-30 that the disciples will have a reward in heaven. He tells the disciples that they will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Mt 19:28).

The Lord first directs the attention of the disciples away from the expectation of an immediate earthly recompense and places the thought of reward in the context of the final consummation of the kingdom.  steward of the kingdom, a partner of the Messiah, is not [like a hired laborer waiting to be paid]  (Job 7:2). His eye is upon the glorious fulfillment of the divine purpose in which he is privileged to share. The point of this phrase of the reply may be illustrated by the replies of three men engaged in a building project to the question of what they were doing. One said, I am laying bricks.  Another said, I am making twenty dollars a day.  But the third replied, I am building a church.

While the ultimate goal is the heavenly kingdom, Mark’s version indicates that there is also to be recompense in this present age (Mk 10:30) ”but with persecutions”.  Kantonen remarks:

The joys of the kingdom are experienced here and now, not merely in some distant future. But they do not provide a carefree utopia, but strength with which to face the hardships of a hostile world. To emphasize the unique character of the reward as a sovereign gift of God, which does not depend on mens own efforts, both Matthew and Mark conclude with the Lord’s words, But many [who] are first will be last, and the last first.  Matthew then proceeds to record the parable of the laborers in the vineyard, in which every trace of merit disappears altogether, and everything, the reward as well as the opportunity to work, is a matter of divine grace. In the light of this teaching it is obvious that the gospel gives the concept of reward a new meaning quite different from its ordinary connotation of compensation or remuneration for services rendered.

Author and personal wealth adviser Alan Gotthardt maintains that this is a vital issue for the Christian steward of material resources: Without question, the rewards for Christians who are faithful in this life will be great. This includes faithfulness with their material possessions.  But Gotthardt also asks another question worthy of reflection: Is it selfish for a Christian to seek eternal rewards?  It is certainly possible to have wrong motives related to giving or anything else we do as Christians, for that matter.   [However Paul] was clear in his writings that salvation is by faith alone. Crowns and other rewards result from our actions here on earth.

Think About It

  • Do you think it is selfish for a Christian to seek eternal reward?
  • How does knowing you have a reward in heaven affect your actions here and now?
  • How easy is it for you to keep your divine purpose in mind?

Pray About It

Thanks for mercies past receive,

Pardon of our sins renew;

Teach us, henceforth, how to live

With eternity in view.

 

The Tree That Keeps On Giving!

The Shameful Tree

Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.

Luke 23:46 NLT

Behold the Savior of mankind nailed to the shameful tree! How vast the love that Him inclined to bleed and die for thee!

‘Tis done! the precious ransom’s paid! “Receive my soul!” He cries; see where He bows His sacred head! He bows His head and dies!

Behold the Savior of Mankind
Samuel Wesley (1662-1735)

Saved from the fire

On February 9, 1709, a fire ripped through a rectory in the village of Epworth, England. The Wesley family lost nearly everything. Miraculously, their six-year-old boy named John (who would later found the Methodist church) was saved from the fire, as was a piece of paper bearing this hymn, written by the rector, Samuel Wesley.

Samuel Wesley, father of John and Charles (and seventeen other children), was scholarly and stern. His major academic project was a study of the book of Job. And he faced a great deal of suffering himself. Nine of his children died at birth or in infancy. He was frequently in debt (even spending three months in debtors’ prison). Of course, there was also that devastating fire.

This hymn, however, shows us a slightly different side of Samuel Wesley. The theme of suffering is strong, but there’s an attitude of love, of devotion. Apparently he taught his famous sons more than just discipline, but also a deep appreciation for what Christ accomplished through His suffering.

Our Holy Week readings are adapted from The One Year® Book of Hymns by Mark Norton and Robert Brown, Tyndale House Publishers (1995). Today’s is taken from the entry for March 22.

For more reflection on Holy week, see The Passion, Tyndale’s companion book to Mel Gibson’s powerful movie about the last twelve hours of Jesus’ life.

Content is derived from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation and other publications of Tyndale Publishing House

YESHUA

YESHUA

Morning

“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.”
Hebrews 5:8

We are told that the Captain of our salvation was made perfect through suffering, therefore we who are sinful, and who are far from being perfect, must not wonder if we are called to pass through suffering too. Shall the head be crowned with thorns, and shall the other members of the body be rocked upon the dainty lap of ease? Must Christ pass through seas of his own blood to win the crown, and are we to walk to heaven dryshod in silver slippers? No, our Master’s experience teaches us that suffering is necessary, and the true-born child of God must not, would not, escape it if he might. But there is one very comforting thought in the fact of Christ’s “being made perfect through suffering”–it is, that he can have complete sympathy with us. “He is not an high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” In this sympathy of Christ we find a sustaining power. One of the early martyrs said, “I can bear it all, for Jesus suffered, and he suffers in me now; he sympathizes with me, and this makes me strong.” Believer, lay hold of this thought in all times of agony. Let the thought of Jesus strengthen you as you follow in his steps. Find a sweet support in his sympathy; and remember that, to suffer is an honourable thing–to suffer for Christ is glory. The apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to do this. Just so far as the Lord shall give us grace to suffer for Christ, to suffer with Christ, just so far does he honour us. The jewels of a Christian are his afflictions. The regalia of the kings whom God hath anointed are their troubles, their sorrows, and their griefs. Let us not, therefore, shun being honoured. Let us not turn aside from being exalted. Griefs exalt us, and troubles lift us up. “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.”

Evening

“I called him, but he gave me no answer.”
Song of Solomon 5:6

Prayer sometimes tarrieth, like a petitioner at the gate, until the King cometh forth to fill her bosom with the blessings which she seeketh. The Lord, when he hath given great faith, has been known to try it by long delayings. He has suffered his servants’ voices to echo in their ears as from a brazen sky. They have knocked at the golden gate, but it has remained immovable, as though it were rusted upon its hinges. Like Jeremiah, they have cried, “Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through.” Thus have true saints continued long in patient waiting without reply, not because their prayers were not vehement, nor because they were unaccepted, but because it so pleased him who is a Sovereign, and who gives according to his own pleasure. If it pleases him to bid our patience exercise itself, shall he not do as he wills with his own! Beggars must not be choosers either as to time, place, or form. But we must be careful not to take delays in prayer for denials: God’s long-dated bills will be punctually honoured; we must not suffer Satan to shake our confidence in the God of truth by pointing to our unanswered prayers. Unanswered petitions are not unheard. God keeps a file for our prayers–they are not blown away by the wind, they are treasured in the King’s archives. This is a registry in the court of heaven wherein every prayer is recorded. Tried believer, thy Lord hath a tear-bottle in which the costly drops of sacred grief are put away, and a book in which thy holy groanings are numbered. By and by, thy suit shall prevail. Canst thou not be content to wait a little? Will not thy Lord’s time be better than thy time? By and by he will comfortably appear, to thy soul’s joy, and make thee put away the sackcloth and ashes of long waiting, and put on the scarlet and fine linen of full fruition.

All rights belong to the collection of Charles Spurgeon(C)

Prayer:

Father God, thank you for your Son, Jesus Christ1  Thank you, Jesus for loving to the point of death on a tree! Holy Spirit thank you being our life line of Truth to Father God and our Mediator, Jesus our Savior!  We praise your Holy Name that is above All names.  Our souls cry to the heavens, Maranatha!  Come Lord Jesus quickly.  Keep your loving hand of protection upon Israel and her children.  Turn our nation, “America” back to you Father.  You have shown me in the spirit what is coming-grant me your strength, Father God, to stand til the end!!!  Allow me your grace and mercy to love others as your Son loves us.  Protect my family, friends, brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ(here on the internet) and abroad.  I am here, Lord, use me.  Praise be to the Lord and for His grace and mercy to His children for His love, daily bread, physical health, finances, jobs and homes.  Allow us to serve you mightily and stand strong in your strength and not of ourselves. Amen

Video Postcard From the Snowy Alps – March 2013 – relaxdaily

Video Postcard From the Snowy Alps – March 2013 – relaxdaily

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EXCELLENCE OF CHRIST AND PERFECT SAVIOR

Morning

“The love of Christ which passeth knowledge.”
Ephesians 3:19

The love of Christ in its sweetness, its fulness, its greatness, its faithfulness, passeth all human comprehension. Where shall language be found which shall describe his matchless, his unparalleled love towards the children of men? It is so vast and boundless that, as the swallow but skimmeth the water, and diveth not into its depths, so all descriptive words but touch the surface, while depths immeasurable lie beneath. Well might the poet say,

“O love, thou fathomless abyss!”

for this love of Christ is indeed measureless and fathomless; none can attain unto it. Before we can have any right idea of the love of Jesus, we must understand his previous glory in its height of majesty, and his incarnation upon the earth in all its depths of shame. But who can tell us the majesty of Christ? When he was enthroned in the highest heavens he was very God of very God; by him were the heavens made, and all the hosts thereof. His own almighty arm upheld the spheres; the praises of cherubim and seraphim perpetually surrounded him; the full chorus of the hallelujahs of the universe unceasingly flowed to the foot of his throne: he reigned supreme above all his creatures, God over all, blessed forever. Who can tell his height of glory then? And who, on the other hand, can tell how low he descended? To be a man was something, to be a man of sorrows was far more; to bleed, and die, and suffer, these were much for him who was the Son of God; but to suffer such unparalleled agony–to endure a death of shame and desertion by his Father, this is a depth of condescending love which the most inspired mind must utterly fail to fathom. Herein is love! and truly it is love that “passeth knowledge.” O let this love fill our hearts with adoring gratitude, and lead us to practical manifestations of its power.

Evening

“I will accept you with your sweet savour.”
Ezekiel 20:41

The merits of our great Redeemer are as sweet savour to the Most High. Whether we speak of the active or passive righteousness of Christ, there is an equal fragrance. There was a sweet savour in his active life by which he honoured the law of God, and made every precept to glitter like a precious jewel in the pure setting of his own person. Such, too, was his passive obedience, when he endured with unmurmuring submission, hunger and thirst, cold and nakedness, and at length sweat great drops of blood in Gethsemane, gave his back to the smiters, and his cheeks to them that plucked out the hair, and was fastened to the cruel wood, that he might suffer the wrath of God in our behalf. These two things are sweet before the Most High; and for the sake of his doing and his dying, his substitutionary sufferings and his vicarious obedience, the Lord our God accepts us. What a preciousness must there be in him to overcome our want of preciousness! What a sweet savour to put away our ill savour! What a cleansing power in his blood to take away sin such as ours! and what glory in his righteousness to make such unacceptable creatures to be accepted in the Beloved! Mark, believer, how sure and unchanging must be our acceptance, since it is in him! Take care that you never doubt your acceptance in Jesus. You cannot be accepted without Christ; but, when you have received his merit, you cannot be unaccepted. Notwithstanding all your doubts, and fears, and sins, Jehovah’s gracious eye never looks upon you in anger; though he sees sin in you, in yourself, yet when he looks at you through Christ, he sees no sin. You are always accepted in Christ, are always blessed and dear to the Father’s heart. Therefore lift up a song, and as you see the smoking incense of the merit of the Saviour coming up, this evening, before the sapphire throne, let the incense of your praise go up also.

All rights belong to the collection of Charles Spurgeon(C)

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JESUS HAS ALL AUTHORITY AND HEALING!

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Luke 4:31-44

Jesus Drives Out an Impure Spirit

31 Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he taught the people. 32 They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority.

33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34 “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

35 “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.

36 All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” 37 And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.

Jesus Heals Many

38 Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. 39 So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.

40 At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. 41 Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah.

42 At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. 43 But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” 44 And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Fighting Temptation

Christ is our Redeemer

Go to Dark Gethsemane

Then Jesus brought them into an olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go on ahead to pray.”…He went on a little farther and fell face down on the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.”

Matthew 26:36-39 NLT

Go to dark Gethsemane, ye that feel the tempter’s power; your Redeemer’s conflict see; watch Him one bitter hour; turn not from His grief away; learn of Jesus Christ to pray.

See Him at the judgment hall, beaten, bound, reviled, arraigned; see Him meekly bearing all! Love to man His soul sustained. Shun not suffering, shame or loss; learn of Christ to bear the cross.

Go to Dark Gethsemane
James Montgomery (1771-1854)

Learning from Christ’s passion

Step by step James Montgomery takes us through Christ’s passion. We go with our Lord to the Garden of Gethsemane, where those troublesome thoughts of death assailed Him. While His trusted friends drifted off to sleep, Jesus fought off the temptation to avoid the Cross. It was a difficult time, and in Montgomery’s simple text we feel the drops of sweat.

At Jesus’ trial — a shabby excuse for justice if ever there was one — He bore the beating and badgering without speaking a word. He was carrying our sins with Him to the Cross. At the Cross we can only fall at His feet to worship.

At each point of this journey we have much to learn from our Savior. We can learn to pray when tempted and to endure suffering with patience. And Christ teaches us to rise in newness of life, to live in a way that honors Him, and ultimately to join Him in glory.

Our Holy Week readings are adapted from The One Year® Book of Hymns by Mark Norton and Robert Brown, Tyndale House Publishers (1995). Today’s is taken from the entry for April 1.

Content is derived from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation and other publications of Tyndale Publishing House

 

JESUS IS ALWAYS WITH US!

Morning

“Then all the disciples forsook him and fled.”
Matthew 26:56

He never deserted them, but they in cowardly fear of their lives, fled from him in the very beginning of his sufferings. This is but one instructive instance of the frailty of all believers if left to themselves; they are but sheep at the best, and they flee when the wolf cometh. They had all been warned of the danger, and had promised to die rather than leave their Master; and yet they were seized with sudden panic, and took to their heels. It may be, that I, at the opening of this day, have braced up my mind to bear a trial for the Lord’s sake, and I imagine myself to be certain to exhibit perfect fidelity; but let me be very jealous of myself, lest having the same evil heart of unbelief, I should depart from my Lord as the apostles did. It is one thing to promise, and quite another to perform. It would have been to their eternal honour to have stood at Jesus’ side right manfully; they fled from honour; may I be kept from imitating them! Where else could they have been so safe as near their Master, who could presently call for twelve legions of angels? They fled from their true safety. O God, let me not play the fool also. Divine grace can make the coward brave. The smoking flax can flame forth like fire on the altar when the Lord wills it. These very apostles who were timid as hares, grew to be bold as lions after the Spirit had descended upon them, and even so the Holy Spirit can make my recreant spirit brave to confess my Lord and witness for his truth.

What anguish must have filled the Saviour as he saw his friends so faithless! This was one bitter ingredient in his cup; but that cup is drained dry; let me not put another drop in it. If I forsake my Lord, I shall crucify him afresh, and put him to an open shame. Keep me, O blessed Spirit, from an end so shameful.

Evening

“And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”
Matthew 15:27

This woman gained comfort in her misery by thinking great thoughts of Christ. The Master had talked about the children’s bread: “Now,” argued she, “since thou art the Master of the table of grace, I know that thou art a generous housekeeper, and there is sure to be abundance of bread on thy table; there will be such an abundance for the children that there will be crumbs to throw on the floor for the dogs, and the children will fare none the worse because the dogs are fed.” She thought him one who kept so good a table that all that she needed would only be a crumb in comparison; yet remember, what she wanted was to have the devil cast out of her daughter. It was a very great thing to her, but she had such a high esteem of Christ, that she said, “It is nothing to him, it is but a crumb for Christ to give.” This is the royal road to comfort. Great thoughts of your sin alone will drive you to despair; but great thoughts of Christ will pilot you into the haven of peace. “My sins are many, but oh! it is nothing to Jesus to take them all away. The weight of my guilt presses me down as a giant’s foot would crush a worm, but it is no more than a grain of dust to him, because he has already borne its curse in his own body on the tree. It will be but a small thing for him to give me full remission, although it will be an infinite blessing for me to receive it.” The woman opens her soul’s mouth very wide, expecting great things of Jesus, and he fills it with his love. Dear reader, do the same. She confessed what Christ laid at her door, but she laid fast hold upon him, and drew arguments even out of his hard words; she believed great things of him, and she thus overcame him. She won the victory by believing in Him. Her case is an instance of prevailing faith; and if we would conquer like her, we must imitate her tactics.

All rights belong to the collection of Charles Spurgeon(C)