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Saturday, November 18, 2017

A Job Experience # 2

A Job Experience # 2

In these glorious words, we are told that Christ is Head over "all things to the Church," and we are told that the Church, which is Christ's Body is the Fullness of Him Who fills all in all.

Beloved, on the one side, the Church (all the redeemed) reaches its Fullness - its Complete and full Development - in and through Christ, and, on the other side, Christ Himself finds His Fullness in the sum total of all that He brings into Living Union with Himself.

All these scriptures concerning fullness make it clear that the Fullness of Christ has always been God's End. Since the beginning of all things, all that God has done, and is doing, and will do, in and through the lives of His people is moving toward His End! Therefore, the main purpose in all of God's dealings with His own, as it was with Noah, Daniel, and Job, is to bring forth a greater measure of the Fullness of Christ. God did a full work in the lives of "these three men," but, of the three, perhaps Job is the greatest example of how God is working in a person's life in order to bring about His End. - "Ye have heard of the patience (the endurance) of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord (the outcome of the Lord's dealings), that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful" (James 5:11).

It is through the workings of the Holy Spirit that all that Christ is, and all that Christ accomplished, is made solid, real, substantial, complete, and entire in and through the lives and experiences of the people of God - people like Noah, Daniel, and Job, and people like us!

Now, in order for us to understand the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and in the lives of others, we need to have an ever-increasing comprehension of the Holy Spirit's greatest all-encompassing work. The Holy Spirit Who is all the accumulative energy, force, inherent strength, and might of the Omnipotent God, did His greatest work when He raised Christ from the dead. And in Ephesians 1:20, we are told of the exceeding greatness of this work which was "wrought in Christ," when Christ was raised from the dead.

"...which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right-hand in the heavenly places."

The word "wrought" (energeo in the Greek) speaks of that which was made alive, of that which was made operative, of that which was made active, of that which was energized, of that which was worked in Christ, when Christ was raised from the dead by the Holy Spirit of God. All that God had purposed in Christ was "wrought" in Christ when the Holy Spirit raised Him from the dead. - And let us remember when Christ was raised from the dead, all the redeemed were raised together with Him (Eph. 2:5, 6).

"So then death worketh (energeo) in us, but life in you."
death and life= Resurrection Life

The work of the Holy Spirit is an eternal work, and that which He works into, and through, the lives of God's people will always have eternal results.

So,as we consider the work of the Holy Spirit in the life and experience of Job, we are going to find that Job is not the only one to have such an experience. We will find that all who remain faithful unto God, all who endure until God has His End through His Way, will have Job's experience. We do not mean that those who remain faithful will have the exact same things happen to them that happened to Job, but we do mean that all who remain faithful will have the same deep spiritual experience of coming to the end of themselves! The faithful will come to the same place as Job in their life and experience, they will bow to the workings of God in their lives, and they will cry: "Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in duct and ashes"; then Job "prayed for his friends" (Job 42:6-10): - "So then death worketh (energeo) in us, but life in you."

Brethren, as we were praying and studying through the Book of Job, the Lord led us over and over again to the Book of 2 Corinthians and in 2 Corinthians we found the deep effectual working of the Holy Spirit in the life of Paul, and in the lives of those who are with him. In that book, they were having what we may call a Job experience, they were being brought to the end of themselves. It is important to realize that the work which the Holy Spirit does in the lives of God's people is an eternal work which produces eternal results in God's purpose. Also, we need to see that this work is a corporate work, it is never only an individual work in an individual person. The effectual working of the Holy Spirit is always a corporate work: it is a corporate work, whether it be in an individual or in a local body, or in a group such as Paul, Timothy, Titus, etc.; or whether it be in "these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job" - three men who are eternally linked together, even though they lived at different times and in different periods of history. The work that the Holy Spirit does in the lives of God's people is a corporate work, because all that the Holy Spirit "worketh" has one goal, one aim, one end, and that is that Christ be all, and in all.

Thus, the work that the Holy Spirit did in Noah, Daniel, and Job, and that effectual work He did in Paul and Timothy and Titus, etc., etc., cannot be complete without the effectual work He is doing in us, and in those who come after us. Only then will Christ be all, and in all.

Consequently, in 2 Corinthians, we see that Paul and the others with him are in the throes of what we may call a Job experience; and in such an experience, the Holy Spirit is at work bringing them to the end of themselves, so that the fullness of Christ becomes a living reality in their lives. Thus we find Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writing to the Corinthians, and to us, of this experience; for Paul knows that if the Corinthians, and all Christians who come after them, are to remain faithful unto the Lord until God has His End through His Way, that they must also experience the reality of their being brought to the end of themselves. Paul writes: "For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia,that we were pressed out of measure, above strength (beyond our strength) insomuch that we despaired even of life."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

A Job Experience # 1

A Job Experience # 1

The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Life and Experience of Job, i.e. - In the Lives of God's People

In this book, we are going to consider the work of the Holy Spirit in the life and experience of Job; and we must consider this in the light of God's Eternal Purpose in Christ. This will lead us right into the great spiritual conflict that is taking place in the heavenlies. In the Body of Christ, those who are on the front lines of this intense spiritual conflict are those who are committed to intercessory prayer: they are committed to intercession that has one intent, one purpose, and one motive, and that is that God have His End through His Way - and that Way is always the Way of the Cross, and its principles of self-denial.

This kind of intercession becomes a progressive reality and power in and through our lives in the measure that we yield ourselves to the chastening of the Lord. Therefore, the measure in which we yield to the chastening and the discipline and the training and the correction and the purging of the Lord is the measure that we are being filled with, and controlled by, the Holy Spirit; consequently, true intercession - effectual prayer that results in God's End - can only be realized in our lives as we submit to the chastening of the Lord! God laid down this basis principle of chastening and intercession right from the beginning of the Recorded Word, in what is probably one of the oldest books in the Bible, Job. Here we find one of the greatest examples of God's principle of chastening, which results in intercession, and we find it in the life and experience of Job.

In His Word, God places great value upon Job as an intercessor, for in Ezekiel 14:14 we find him in the company of two other effectual prayer warriors, Noah and Daniel! When all else was against them, these three men - Noah, Daniel, and Job - stood at all cost for God's End: they endured, they remained faithful, and they submitted to God's dealings in their lives until God had His End through His Way. And in doing so, "these three men" participated in the great unseen battle that was taking place in the heavenlies - they participated in the battle which would consummate "all things in Christ" and at the same time destroy the works of the enemy.

In the fiercest of times "these three men" interceded and prevailed on the behalf of others, and on the behalf of God. Noah stood in faith and travailed for the saving of his family and for the continuance of the human race and, most important of all, for the preserving of "The Seed", which is Christ. Daniel interceded for the nation of Israel and for the "remnant" (The remnant" from each and every age) which would build and restore the temple - the spiritual house of God. And Job, who went through some of the fiercest trials that man can face, prayed for his friends - he interceded for those who, when he needed them most, had been unkind, judgmental, and needlessly cruel to him - perhaps this is one of the greatest tests of all - and when Job, the one who God called "My servant," prayed for his friends, the Lord turned Job's captivity and abundantly blessed him. And we shall see as we go on that Job's blessings had much more than an earthly or natural significance, for God had prepared Job to be a vessel of eternal intercession, a vessel through whom the God of all comfort could freely flow.

Therefore, in Ezekiel 14:14-20, in order to emphasize this kind of intercession ... intercession that produces that which God intends... the Holy Spirit three times refers to "these three men." And three is the number of Divine fullness, and Divine fullness will be the central theme as we consider the life and experience of Job in the light of God's full purpose in Christ. We shall see that the number three, as it is used in connection with "these three men", indicates that God brought forth His fullness in and through the lives of Noah, Daniel, and Job. Let us examine why.

In the Scripture, the word "fullness" is used three times to describe the Divine Fullness:

The Fullness of God (Eph. 3:19)
The Fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:13)
The Fullness of the Godhead (Col. 2:9).

Now each time the word "fullness" is used in the above scriptures, it is used in connection with the work that God is doing in the lives of His people, in order that they may become the fullness of Christ - 

...that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:19).

...till we all come...unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:13)

For in Him (in Christ) the whole fullness of Deity (the fullness of the Godhead) dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete (made full and have come to fullness of life) (Col. 2:9-10).

This great work of God - to bring about the fullness of Christ in the lives of His people - is summed up in Ephesians 1:22 and 23 where the word "fullness" is used to describe Christ and His body:

And He (God) put all things in subjection under His (Christ's) feet, and gave Him as Head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2)

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Christ In Heaven And Christ Within # 4

Christ In Heaven And Christ Within # 4

The Subjective Side

That does not cover all the ground, but it must be enough on that side for the moment. We turn just for a moment to the other side - Christ in us, or the subjective work of Christ. What does Christ in us mean? We know from the Word that it means conformity to the image of Christ. Paul uses the phrase: "Until Christ be (fully) formed in you" (Gal. 4:19). In salvation we have everything as to our own perfection in Him. When we receive Christ we receive within us potentially all that is in Him as to His present character - not only His position but His character, mark you. It is not where He is but WHAT He is. It is not now what He possesses but what He is. He possesses our salvation,but we know what He is, and "when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is." (1 John 3:2). So that all that He has given to us potentially when we believed is there to be developed; and, as Paul says, Christ is to be fully formed in us, and we are to be conformed to the image of God's Son. That is a very wonderful thing. It is: "Christ in you, the hope of glory." Christ in us means that eventually we shall be like Him to the full. But this is not the fact of our being saved, this is the object of our being saved. This is not salvation in its fundamental and initial meaning: this is salvation in its out-working to its full meaning, the image of Christ, God's Son.

Identification With Christ

How do we accept that? We accept that by recognizing the second side of Calvary's work. The one side - the objective - is what Christ has done for us, apart from us, in His own Person. We accept this other side of conformity to His image - the subjective - by accepting that Christ not only did that for us but as us, that is, representatively. We come to Romans 6 and recognize that when Christ died we died, when Christ was buried we were buried. That is His representative work. Now we accept all that in simple faith at the beginning; but, mark you, that does not become operative in any full measure until the objective side has been settled. There must be a settlement, definitely, positively, finally, that our salvation in Christ is perfect and complete, before there can be any full measure of the out-working of Christ in our hearts. The Lord must have that basis upon which to work.

This is where the danger comes in with a great blessing. Oh! it is a great revelation, a wonderful unveiling, that God has chosen to make us like Christ - not only to save us with a perfect salvation so that the question of sin and condemnation is answered finally and for ever, but to conform us to the image of His Son; what a revelation, what a blessing! Yes, but God cannot do that second thing until the first thing is settled, because it is in that realm that there is unspeakable peril. What is the peril? It is this:

The Peril Of The Subjective Apprehension

If the Lord were to get to work to empty us of ourselves in order to make room for the Lord Jesus; to show us ourselves in order to show us the Lord Jesus; to make us to know what we are in ourselves in order to make us know what Christ is in us; to make us know our weakness in order to make Christ's strength perfect in it; to make us know our foolishness in order to make Christ as our wisdom, perfect in us; if He were to start to do that and the question of our salvation were not settled, the devil would jump in at once and use God's very work against us, and when the Lord was dealing with us to make room for His Son, the devil would begin to say: 'You are under condemnation, God is against you, these very dealings of God with you are proofs that your salvation is not certain.' And so it is with a great many in whom the Lord begins to work out things. They allow the enemy to jump in and take hold of the very work of God and turn it against God, by bringing up doubts in their hearts as to their salvation.

Do you see that? So often that is done, and the peril is there, running right alongside of the greatest blessing all the time. It is thus that the enemy tries to use God's truth against God.

Now the subjective side of God's work demands for its effective outworking that we are settled once and for all as to our salvation; that comes first! If you have only the one side, the objective, and all your emphasis is upon that, you may be shallow and you may not grow spiritually. If you dwell only on the subjective, you become introspective and begin to doubt your salvation; your eyes are always turned in upon yourself, and the result is that you begin to look for something in yourself that an commend itself to God; and therein lies a denial of the perfect work of salvation accomplished by the Lord Jesus. You see it is an undermining and undercutting of the whole of the work of Calvary. These two things must go together. On the one hand - fully and finally in Christ we are as perfect in the hour when we believe as ever we shall be. On the other hand - all that is in Christ is going to be made, not theoretically true, but actually true in us by the Holy Spirit. But the second demands the first, and we must keep the balance. We must rejoice always in the fact that our names are written in heaven, that we are saved with a perfect salvation; but, on the other hand, we must remember that there is something that the Lord wants to do - not to make salvation true, but to make the image of Christ an inward thing. That is the outworking of salvation.

So this balance is necessary, and we must give equal emphasis. If we over-emphasize the subjective we take something from the glory of Christ. If we over-emphasize the objective we take something from God's purpose. It is a matter of the work of God in Christ, and the purpose of God in Christ: and these two things must both have their place.

May the Lord give us understanding, so that we come into a place of rest and are delivered from the perils which lurk in the vicinity of every Divine blessing.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(The End)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Christ In Heaven and Christ Within # 3

Christ In Heaven and Christ Within # 3

The Peril Of Contradiction

There is a further peril into which some fall who have apprehended in a very true and blessed way the greatness of the salvation which Christ has accomplished as theirs. Because they know that the question of salvation is eternally settled, and there is no room whatever for any doubts or fears, and nothing can ever alter the fact; and that their salvation does not rest for a moment upon anything that they are or do, but upon what He is and has done, - all of which is undeniably true; nevertheless, because they are perfectly sure and have no doubts whatever, there is found a lack of sympathy and they become hard, cold, and legal. Sometimes they become cruel, and too often inconsistencies arise in the life; that is, their attitude says in effect, "I am saved, it does not matter what I do. I shall never be lost." They would never dream of saying that in so many words and yet very often it works out that way, that their very certainty of salvation opens the door for inconsistencies and contradictions in their lives which never reach their conscience, simply because they say they have no more conscience of sin, that the conscience has been once purged, and so one should never be troubled with conscience again; salvation is absolute, nothing can touch it. Subtly, imperceptibly, without their reasoning or thinking, that attitude does creep in and you find with some that if you bring home to them certain things in their lives which you see to be glaring inconsistencies they will hardly believe them, they will possibly repudiate them, or simply say, 'well, nothing alters the fact of my salvation.' Life is thus thrown into an unbalanced state, and the peril comes right in with the very fact of the fullness and finality of salvation.  

4. The Peril Of Truth Taking The Place of Life

There is another peril; it is that of making progress a matter of truth rather than of life. Progress, of course, is recognized as necessary. No true believer would sit down and say, 'Well, now there is no more progress to be made.' But for many who have so strongly taken up the position upon the objective work of the Lord Jesus in its perfection, the matter of progress is not a matter of life, it is rather a matter of truth; that is, to know more rather than to become more. Thus you find that a very great many who are in that position have advanced tremendously in their knowledge of truth, but they know a great deal more than they are, and somehow or other their own spiritual growth in Christlikeness has not kept pace by any means or in any proper proportion to their progress in the knowledge of things about Christ. That is a danger which comes in with this very thing of which we are speaking.

5. The Peril of Missing The Prize

Then this further peril - that of giving less importance to the prize than should be given to it. Salvation is not the prize. Salvation never was a prize. You can win or earn salvation; it is a free gift. But to settle down with salvation for a great many a failure to recognize that there is a prize - that of which the Apostle Paul spoke when he said: "I press on towards the goal unto the prize of the upward calling..." (Phil. 3:14). There is something more than salvation,something related to the Lord's full purpose in glory, something related to the ultimate full manifestation of the Lord in His people; and that is not simply that they are saved people, but that they have attained (and Paul uses that word) unto something. Paul was never in fear of losing his salvation. When he said: "Lest ... after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected" (1 Cor. 9:27), he was not thinking of losing his salvation, but he was aware that there was something that he could miss; he could fall short of something, that which he called "the prize"; and he related to its attainment a growth in his spiritual life: "Not that I... am already made perfect." If we settle down in the attitude that says, "My salvation is perfect, complete, and final in Christ. Nothing can be added to it and I rejoice in that" - this may well mean that we give less importance to the prize than we ought to give.

So you see there are perils which come in with what is perhaps the greatest of the blessings.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4 - The Subjective Side)





Saturday, October 21, 2017

Christ In Heaven and Christ Within # 2

Christ In Heaven and Christ Within # 2

The Objective Side, continued -

You see, it implies the work that He has done by His Cross, in overthrowing all His and our enemies, meeting all the demand of human need in the matter of salvation, perfecting our salvation. And so He is received up, and is at the right hand of God; and the right hand is always in Scripture the place of strength and honor. He is at the right hand of God because the work which He came to do was finished. That is, our salvation has been perfected by and in the Lord Jesus. There is nothing whatever for Him to add to it. That is the most elementary thing to say, and yet it is so foundational. So many of the Lord's people have not yet entered into the joyful appreciation of that - that the Lord Jesus really has given the last stroke and the last touch to our salvation; that when heaven received Him, heaven set its seal to the perfected work of His Cross; and that He is there in possession of a salvation which has not still to be accomplished but which is final, full, complete, utter.

Perfect Salvation When We Believe

Our salvation rests upon our faith acceptance of that, not of anything subsequent to that. In the day in which we believe in the Lord Jesus on the ground of the perfection of the work of His Cross, we receive perfection of salvation, and enter into all that salvation to its very last degree. We shall never - though we were to live for centuries on this earth, - we shall never in Christ be one little bit more perfect than we are in Him in the very moment that we believe. All that is made good to us in the day that we believe. There are no questions, no hazards, no risks, the thing is settled, it is ours, full and complete in Christ. The Blood of the Lord Jesus has dealt with the whole sin question, root and branch, once and for all, for us. The question of condemnation has been for ever settled. You cannot have anything more utter than this - no condemnation! "There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." It does not say: 'There is no condemnation to those who have faithfully been going on with the Lord for years.' It says: "to them that are in Christ Jesus." And when are you in Christ? You are in Christ the moment that you believe in relation to His work on the Cross for your salvation, and in that very moment you enter into the place of  no condemnation, and freedom from condemnation cannot be more complete than that.

The tremendously important thing is for us to have that settled in our own hearts. We are saved, we are forgiven, we are delivered from condemnation. In Christ we are perfect. He is our perfection, and that perfection of His is ours through faith. The people who have the purest, clearest, fullest heart-grasp of that are the happiest people, the people who know joy. The people who have not grasped that are disturbed people, they have not the fullness of joy, they are always afraid, anxious, worrying about their salvation, doubting; and the enemy plays many tricks with people who have not settled that once and for all.

Now that is the blessed truth of what is objective in salvation for the believer as in Christ. I am so glad that He is in heaven "far above all" with this matter. If He were here in this world I might think that anything could happen: but He is not, nor is He in any realm where anything can happen; He is beyond all happenings in the matter of salvation. That salvation of ours in its perfection has been put beyond the reach of anything that can throw a doubt upon it, or raise a question about it - beyond the touch of anything that can bring it into uncertainty.

The Perils Of The Objective Apprehension

But there are perils associated even with that blessed truth, because it is only one side of the truth. It is the first side; it is the thing which must come first, but it is only one side, and therefore it is just possible to make salvation one-sided by putting all the emphasis upon that and not giving due place to the other side.

1. The Peril of Shallowness

What are some of the perils? Well, we begin with the simplest, the peril of superficiality, of shallowness. What Christ has done for us may be a matter of very great joy and rejoicing and satisfaction; but contentment in that realm and with that side alone may just prevent that deep work which is necessary, which comes by the complementary side of the truth of Christ's work, the subjective. Thus it is found that many people, who are rejoicing to the full in the finality of their salvation in Christ, are living very much upon the surface, and not learning a very great deal about the deeper realities and fuller meaning of Christ. That is in the first and perhaps the simplest form of peril.

2. The Peril of Delayed Maturity

Closely related to this is the peril of making the Christian life static, settled, where it has reached the point of accepting all the objective truth by faith and staying there, and not going on beyond that in spiritual experience. The truth is there, but it is objective, external, although there is great joy, and assurance in the heart; but the Christian life has stopped with that, it has settled down. That is a very real peril, and you find it marking a great many of the Lord's people. Their attitude is, "I am saved, nothing has to be added or can be added to my salvation; I need have no more doubt of my salvation, I am accepted in Christ, and I am perfect in Him; what more do I need? I just rest upon that and enjoy that day by day." Well, that is very good, but you see it can bring a check, so that you live on one side of things, and the whole of the Christian life stops there.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Adrian Rogers (and other devotionals)

BIBLE MEDITATION:
 “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” Romans 13:14

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
One of my favorite stories is about a father who leaves his son at home one Saturday afternoon because his son isn’t feeling well. He tells his son, “Don’t go swimming with your buddies.”

The son says, “Yes sir!”

The dad returns by way of the swimming hole and notices his son frolicking with the other boys. He stops the car, calls his son over and says, “I told you not to go swimming.”

“But I didn’t intend to go swimming. I just came down to watch, and I fell in,” the boy said.

The dad began feeling sorry for his son until he noticed he had his bathing suit on! The son explained, “I brought that along…in case I was tempted.”

ACTION POINT:
Friend, don’t make any provision for the flesh.
~Adrian Rogers~
_______________________________________

Consider carefully how you listen!(J.C. Ryle)"Consider carefully how you listen!" Luke 8:18 
We learn from this verse, the great importance of right hearing. The words of our Lord Jesus Christ ought to impress that lesson deeply on our hearts. He says, "Consider carefully how you listen!"
The degree of benefit which men receive from all the means of grace--depends entirely on the way in which they use them. 
Private PRAYER lies at the very foundation of religion--yet the mere formal repetition of a set of words, when "the heart is far away"--does good to no man's soul. 
Reading the BIBLE is essential to the attainment of sound Christian knowledge--yet the mere formal reading of so many chapters as a task and duty, with out a humble desire to be taught of God, is little better than a waste of time. 
Just as it is with praying and Bible reading--so it is with LISTENING. It is not enough that we go to Church and hear sermons. We may do so for fifty years, and be nothing bettered, but rather worse! "Consider carefully," says our Lord, "how you listen!"
Would anyone know how to listen aright? Then let him lay to heart three simple rules: 
For one thing, we must listen with FAITH, believing implicitly that every Word of God is true, and shall stand. The Word in old time did not profit the Jews, "not being mixed with faith in those who heard it." Hebrews 4:2 
For another thing, we must listen with REVERENCE--remembering constantly that the Bible is the book of God. This was the habit of the Thessalonians. They received Paul's message, "not as the word of men--but the Word of God." 1 Thessalonians 2:13 
Above all, we must listen with PRAYER--praying for God's blessing before the sermon is preached, and praying for God's blessing again when the sermon is over. Here lies the grand defect of the hearing of many. They ask no blessing--and so they receive none. The sermon passes through their minds like water through a leaky vessel, and leaves nothing behind.
Let us bear these rules in mind every Sunday morning, before we go to hear the Word of God preached. Let as not rush into God's presence careless, reckless, and unprepared--as if it did not matter how we listened. Let us carry with us faith, reverence, and prayer. If these three are our companions--then we shall listen with profit, and return with praise!
____________________________________


Never let us read any portion of God's Word without looking up for divine teaching!

(James Smith, "The Evening Sacrifice; Or, A Help to Devotion")

"Open my eyes--that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law." Psalm 119:18

God's Book is a book of wonders! It is a wonderful record . . .
  of God's power in creation,
  of His wisdom in providence,
  and of His grace in redemption.

It has the stamp of infinity upon it. We cannot penetrate its heights, fathom its depths, or traverse its lengths and breadths--but as we are taught of God. The Holy Spirit, who composed it and inspired holy men to write it, must unfold and reveal it to our minds--or we shall never . . .
  see its glory,
  be impressed with its majesty,
  or rejoice in its divine truths.

Never let us read any portion of God's Word without looking up for divine teaching. Never let us imagine that we know all that is contained in any one verse of God's blessed Book--for there is afullness in the holy Scriptures not to be found anywhere else.

Oh, ever blessed Spirit of God, who has given us Your holy Word to . . .
   instruct our intellects,
   sanctify our hearts, and
   regulate our lives--we beseech You to . . .
enlighten our minds to understand it,
open our hearts to receive it,
give us faith to believe it, and
enable us to reduce it to practice in our every-day life!

O may we be given grace . . .
  understand the sublime doctrines,
  believe the precious promises, and 
  practice the holy precepts of Your blessed Word!
Lord, unveil to us the types, unfold to us the prophecies--and apply to our hearts, the consolatory portions of the sacred Scriptures. May we hide the Word in our hearts, that we may not sin against You. O to catch the meaning, taste the sweetness, and feel the power--of Your holy truth! O Lord, open our eyes, and unfold the truth to us this night! O Lord, soften our hearts, and bring home Your Word with power!

"Then He opened their understanding--that they might understand the Scriptures." Luke 24:45

"Behold, God is exalted in His power! Who is a teacher like Him?" Job 36:22
  

Monday, October 9, 2017

Contentment

Contentment

Charles Naylor

Contentment is one of life's greatest blessings. But contentment is not something that can be sent down, nicely wrapped up like a Christmas gift from Heaven. It is a state of mind and heart. It is not dependent upon our situation or our circumstances. Many people are contented and happy in circumstances — where others would be thoroughly discontented. Some people are discontented under the most favorable circumstances. Contentment is a structure we build ourselves. It is a state of mind we develop. It is an attitude toward things which comes to us through careful cultivation. It is something which lives inside us — not something that circumstances and conditions create.
If happiness has not its seat and center in the heart — we may be wise, or rich or great — but never can be blessed.
Contentment is sometimes spoken of as a lazy virtue. Perhaps that is because some people are content with things with which they ought not to be content. We should never be satisfied to permit things to exist, which ought not to exist. We should never be satisfied to be less than our best. There are wrongs which need righting. There are conditions which need improving. There is progress which needs to be made. A sort of contentment that can view these things with indifference, ignore responsibility, evade duty — should be called by an entirely different name. When we have done our duty, met our responsibility, corrected those things that need correction so far as is possible for us — then we may have real contentment. Contentment does not mean surrender to conditions. It does mean being satisfied in the circumstances and conditions which exist, for which we are not responsible.
Contentment is a lesson to be learned. Paul said, "I have learned in whatever state I am therewith to be content." (Philippians 4:11). He goes on to tell some of the things he has learned. "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." (verses 12, 13).
Paul had learned a great secret. It was the secret of adapting himself to conditions, and being at rest in those conditions. He could enjoy to the full, the things that afforded him enjoyment. He could suffer patiently, the things that came upon him to suffer. But whether rejoicing or suffering — he had that inner contentment of spirit — the calmness and peace of which enriched his soul and made quite tolerable a life that otherwise would have been intolerable.
We, too, need to learn the lesson of contentment. The command to Christians is, "Be content with such things as you have" (Hebrews 13:5). Speaking further upon this subject Paul says, "Godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out. Having food and clothing, let us be therewith content."
A godly life is productive of contentment — but there are many Christians who at least in some respects are discontented. This discontent produces a constant urge to rebel against things.
It is a singular fact that many of the most contented people are those who live in poverty. In fact, the working people are the most contented of all people. Those who live on the common levels of life, are the truly happy — provided they have the attitude of contentment.
There are many things people desire which can never give them contentment. One man says, "If I had a million dollars — I would be contented." Another thinks if he had political preferment — that would satisfy his ambition and he would be content. Another has another thing to attain to make him content. These things when attained — do not bring contentment.
As already pointed out contentment is a lesson learned, a state of the heart, an attitude toward things.
Riches do not bring contentment. Andrew Carnegie, known to all for his wealth and a man who should have known what he was talking about, said, "Beyond a competence for old age, and that may be very small — wealth lessens rather than increases human happiness. Millionaires who laugh are rare!" Many of us would do well to pause here and carefully study this saying of a wise and prudent Scotchman.
Jesus told his disciples not to be anxious about food and clothing and such things and added, "After all these things, the Gentiles seek" (Matthew 6:32). Possession of worldly things, is a goal set before them by the unsaved. The question asked about a man often is, "How much money does he have?" His supposed happiness is usually rated by the size of his bank account. No greater error in the choice of a standard for measurement of happiness, could be made. The command of the Scriptures is, "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness." We should put first things first. If we do this — then our needs will be few, and our desires not much greater.
The basis of contentment is simplicity of desire. One of the things that is ruining more happiness than anything else, is the desire to excel others. "We must keep up with the Jones," is an attitude of mind fatal to contentment. It has caused more heartaches, destroyed more happiness, ruined more homes, produced more divorces, perhaps than any other one thing! This strife to excel, often leads people into sin.
The wife would outstrip her neighbors, so she makes large demands upon her husband for money. Thus pressed, he sometimes adopts business methods that are highly improper. In many cases it has led to shame and disgrace. In any event, it leads to unhappiness for both husband and wife and for the whole family. Through envy, jealousy of others, and coveting what they don't have — many people have been brought to bitterness of soul and utterly to hate life. Better contentment in a cottage — than discontent in a mansion!
Very often prosperity in temporal things destroys the happiness which has already existed in a less prosperous condition.
Years ago in one of our northern States, a man engaged in the lumbering business in a small way, built a cozy cottage on the shore of a bay into which he brought his bride. They both worked, he in his sawmill, and she in her cottage — and were both happy. The years passed. He prospered in business and became rich. Then he built a fine mansion in the city and moved into it. After living there for some time and mingling with the society into which his riches gave them entrance — in speaking to a friend one day he said, "We are not as happy as we were in our little cottage on the bay."
A few months ago I heard Charles M. Schwab make an address over the radio. In that address he told of his big house in New York City and of another great house which he owned in the country. He said, "I don't own them. They own me. The only satisfaction I have in them, is that I have enough money in the bank to pay the taxes on them." He has to look to other sources rather than to his possessions, for contentment and happiness.
Contentment is not built of gold or of precious gems. It is not constructed of honors or fame or the applause of the multitude. It does not come from out shining others. These may bring a sort of satisfaction — but not contentment. Contentment belongs to the meek and lowly in spirit. Pride is destructive to it. Arrogance annihilates it. Covetousness curses it. Hatred poisons it. Malice thrusts a sword through it. Contentment can thrive only with the Christian virtues. Faith, hope, and charity abide with it. Peace broods over its domicile. Blessed forevermore is he who has a contented spirit.
So many nourish discontent. They are all the time looking at the things they do not possess — and coveting them. They are always reaching out, stretching themselves to gain something which they cannot attain. They find fault with the things they possess — instead of enjoying them. They minimize the simple good in things. They see all the faults and failures. They often feel that their rights are being trespassed upon. There is a frown in their hearts — and a frown upon their faces.
Who is to blame for all this? The individual himself! He has adopted a wrong attitude of mind and heart. He is facing the wrong way. He has the wrong standard. He cannot be happy. He needs to turn about, face the other way, adopt a different attitude, look at things from a different angle, and set different standards for himself. He needs to learn the secret of the simple life — simple desires, temperate aspirations, bridled ambitions.
In the valley of contentment — is calmness, sweetness of spirit, and rest of soul. Through it flow the peaceable waters of quietness. In this valley, the song-birds joyfully sing. The heart mounts up to God in praise. In it lies the spring of joy which bubbles up in gladsome song.
The valley of contentment is not a place of inactivity. When we have learned to be content with such things as we have, and in our situation in life and in our circumstances — that does not mean that we lose all aspirations or that all effort ceases. By no means. To be content with today, does not mean to be content with the same thing tomorrow. The right sort of contentment demands continual progress in the lines in which progress is possible. In fact, we cannot be contented not to make proper progress. In the valley of contentment, we are not to sit down idly dreaming away our days. On the contrary — there is a path which runs through this valley, and we are to walk in this path, ever forward, ever upward.

If we would be truly happy, if we would sing the songs of the joyous life — then we must learn the lesson of contentment. We must learn what desires to gratify — and what desires to repress. We must learn what things can bring contentment — and what things destroy it. We must avoid the latter, while we seek the former. We must cultivate our hearts. We must trust in God. Then and only then, shall we have that source of contentment and happiness within, which inspires us to sing the song of glad rejoicing!