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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Hiding Place



"Hide thyself by the brook Cherith" (1 Kings 17:3).
God's servants must be taught the value of the hidden life. The man who is to take a high place before his fellows must take a low place before his God. We must not be surprised if sometimes our Father says: "There, child, thou hast had enough of this hurry, and publicity, and excitement; get thee hence, and hide thyself b the brook--hide thyself in the Cherith of the sick chamber, or in the Cherith of bereavement, or in some solitude from which the crowds have ebbed away."
Happy is he who can reply, "This Thy will is also mine; I flee unto Thee to hide me. Hide me in the secret of Thy tabernacle, and beneath the covert of Thy wings!"
Every saintly soul that would wield great power with men must win it in some hidden Cherith. The acquisition of spiritual power is impossible, unless we can hide ourselves from men and from ourselves in some deep gorge where we may absorb the power of the eternal God; as vegetation through long ages absorbed these qualities of sunshine, which it now gives back through burning coal.
Bishop Andrews had his Cherith, in which he spent five hours every day in prayer and devotion. John Welsh had it--who thought the day ill spent which did not witness eight or ten hours of closet communion. David Brainerd had it in the woods of North America. Christmas Evans had it in his long and lonely journeys amid the hills of Wales.
Or, passing back to the blessed age from which we date the centuries: Patmos, the seclusion of the Roman prisons, the Arabian desert, the hills and vales of Palestine, are forever memorable as the Cheriths of those who have made our modern world.
Our Lord found His Cherith at Nazareth, and in the wilderness of Judea; amid the olives of Bethany, and the solitude of Gadara. None of us, therefore, can dispense with some Cherith where the sounds of human voices are exchanged for the waters of quietness which are fed from the throne; and where we may taste the sweets and imbibe the power of a life hidden with Christ.
~L. B. Cowman~

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Principle of Resurrection # 2

The Recovering of the Lord's Testimony in Fullness

The Full Triumph of the Heavenly Jerusalem Over Death

And when we move from the earthly to the heavenly; when we move from the old dispensation - the dispensation of that Jerusalem, as Paul puts it, "that now is," here on the earth - away to that other Jerusalem of which the Apostle speaks in heaven, the "Jerusalem which is above" (Galatians 4:25 and 26), or to that Jerusalem to which we are now come, according to Hebrews 12:22, or to the Jerusalem which appears at last in fullness of glory (Revelation 21:10): what do we come to? We come to the full triumph over death, because it is in that final heavenly Jerusalem that the tree of life is found, and the river of water of life. Everything speaks of death fully and finally conquered. So that the wall in recovery is but a parable and a picture of this great truth, substantiated in history, but fully realized in glory in the spiritual realm. This is a monument to the principle that when God is associated, really associated, with anything or with anyone, or when they are associated with God, the mark will be resurrection - newness of life. It will be life. A testimony in life is the testimony that is here represented as being recovered, throwing its light right on to our own time, which is marked by so many features that characterized the days of Nehemiah spiritually. Go will move again - shall we not say God is moving again? - to bring about in a new way, within a people, this great testimony to the indestructibility of His own life; something which declares that His life, though it may seem oft-times to go into death, to be swallowed up, to be overwhelmed, nevertheless comes up again;; this life cannot be fully and destroyed. A testimony in life. It is a testimony to something that God does, that is the point.

Resurrection: The Unique Province of God

We have so often said that resurrection is the unique province of God. We may do a great deal at resuscitations, artificial respirations, but we can do nothing in resurrections. Once death has taken place, that is the end of all man's power and hope, and then it is for God to act, or it is nothing. God is the God of resurrection - that is His alone prerogative: so that anything that really is a work of God bears this mark, that nothing can account for it but an indestructible, imperishable life. There is something there which is more than of man.

Sometimes man comes into the things of God - we shall see that in this book as we proceed - unsurping the place of God in His Jerusalem, in relation to His testimony; and then death begins and destruction concludes the process; God hands the thing over to death. It is a solemn thing to realize that there comes a point where God has to stand back and hand over to death, because man has taken hold and got in His way. But when man does this the fires of judgment work. The result of such interference with God will work itself out; and then, when that work of fiery purification is accomplished, God returns and raises from the dead. That is the history of many things with which God has commenced, but from which in the course of events He has had to stand back, and then again He has come in. It is like that.

And it is like that sometimes in individual Christian lives. God finds that He can go on no further; He has gone as far as He can. Now He is obstructed; there is a will thee that refuses to yield to Him. There is something thee that will not let go to God. He stands back, and if it be through long, long decades - witness Israel's forty years in the wilderness, and seventy years of captivity; long years of barrenness, emptying and desolation - the Lord does not give up. He would recover, He would restore, He would come again, He would have a testimony even there. But oh, what a solemn warning not to lose life, to lose years, to lose the fruitfulness which might be, by resisting the Lord, and knowing nothing but a barren death so far as our usefulness to Him is concerned. Something that God has done is the testimony that God would revive, not what man has done for God, but what God Himself has done, and more - a testimony not only in life, but a testimony of life; not only what God has done but what God will do through what He has done. He has raised an instrument, He has brought it back to life, He ham a vessel resurrected - now see what He will do through it!

A testimony of life - that surely is the glorious triumph of the ultimate Jerusalem "coming down from God out of heaven" (Revelation 21:2). What a checkered history that name Jerusalem has had! But now at last there  is triumph in connection with that very name. No longer does it represent or symbolize defeat and failure and tragedy. It is now the symbol of God's triumph. Here at last death is swallowed up in victory. And what happens? Out from that Jerusalem there flows a river of water of life. The nations are deriving the value. The tree is bearing its fruit, watered by that river, and the leaves of the tree are for the health of the nations. It is a testimony  of life.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

Temptations and Anxieties


And Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the seashore - Exodus 14:30

What a relief that morning brought from the anxieties of the previous night! Then, as they lifted up their eyes, they saw Pharaoh and the dreaded Egyptian taskmaster in full pursuit; now they beheld the seashore strewn with their bodies, stark and cold. They would never see them again, nor hear the crack of their whips.
 
So in life we are permitted to see the dreaded temptations and evils of earlier days suddenly deprived of all power to hurt us. The Egyptians are dead upon the shore; and we see the great work of the Lord. Let us take comfort in this.
 
In the pressure of trial. - You are suffering keenly; yet remember that no trial is allowed to come from any source in which there is not a Divine meaning. Nothing can enter your life, of which God is not cognizant, and which He does not permit. Though the pressure of your trial is almost unbearable, you will one day see your Egyptians dead.
 
Amid the temptations of the great adversary of sauls. - They may seem at this moment more than you can bear; but God is about to deliver you. He can so absolutely free you from the habits of self-indulgence which you have contracted, and from the perpetual yielding to temptation to which you have been prone, that some day you will look with amazement and thankfulness on these things, as Egyptians dead on the seashore.
 
So also in the presence of death. - Many believers dread, not the after-death, but the act of dying. But as the morning of eternity breaks, they will awake with songs of joy to see death and the grave and all the evils that they dreaded, like Egyptians, strewn on the shores of the sea of glass.

~F. B. Meyer~

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Principle of Resurrection # 1

The Recovering of the Lord's Testimony in Fullness

and salt without prescribing how much (Ezra 7:22)

"Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men (Matthew 5:13)

"Salt is good: but if the salt have lost its saltiness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves" (Mark 9:50)

We come back to the Book of Nehemiah, and in connection with the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem under the inspired leadership of Nehemiah, we want to look at one more inclusive factor which this work represents. We are speaking about the recovery of the Lord's testimony - what Nehemiah spoke of as the "great work" which God hath put into his heart to do - and when we come to consider this recovery on the positive side, there is one great principle of recovery which includes all the other work. It is the principle of resurrection. It does not require very much profound thought to recognize that the rebuilding of the destroyed wall of Jerusalem comes into line with a testimony of resurrection, and to see how 'all of a piece' this is with Israel's history, because we are seeing - I trust we can say that - that this wall is an emblem of the spiritual history of the people. What is true of the wall at this time is true of the people. The wall only expresses the condition of the people - spiritually broken down, with many gaps, nothing complete or perfect, nothing to full satisfaction, and therefore nothing to the glory of God.

We pointed out earlier that Nehemiah was contemporary with Malachi, and Malachi's prophecies give us a very clear, though very terrible, account of the spiritual condition of the people of God at that time. So this wall, representing the state of the people, reveals very clearly the need for a resurrection. Israel's history repeatedly called for that, but in this very connection you will remember that, in looking on beyond the captivity, the greater prophets had spoken of their return as resurrection. For instance, Ezekiel, with the captivity fully in view, had cried to the people, as commanded by the Lord "Behold, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves" (Ezek. 37:12); and in that great picture-parable of this - the valley of dry bones - we have undoubtedly the matter of resurrection in relation to Israel after the captivity, after the exile. So that their coming back a remnant from Babylon to Jerusalem, and building or rebuilding the wall, answers to the prophecies concerning resurrection, although in the temporal and earthly aspect the fulfillment is very imperfect. A much greater fulfillment is still in view.

But here is the point - it is a matter of resurrection. The going into captivity was first of all judgment, judgment for sin, and it is therefore represented as followed by death: for death follows in the wake of judgment, and Israel is represented as having gone into death, into a grave; their exile being in the nature of a spiritual grave. If we ask what death is, it is being put away from God, it is separation from God. And so it was with them. They were out of the place where God had appointed to meet them; they were away from the Lord. And if to be put away from the Lord in judgment is anything, it certainly is death.

The Resurrection of the Earthly Jerusalem

Now whenever God has moved again to recover His testimony in any part or in greater fullness, such movement has always been marked by that which is inherent in resurrection, namely, newness of life - or, to put it in another form, victory over death. It has always been like that, and it always is like that. A movement of God in relation to His testimony in greater fullness always has the character of a resurrection, the nature of a new life.

The historical records of Jerusalem show that the city has been again and again the scene of sieges, over-runnings and destructions. The very survival of Jerusalem just as an earthly city is nothing short of a miracle. There are other great cities which, so far as this world is concerned, have been far greater and more glorious than Jerusalem. Babylon, for instance, Ur of the Chaldees, and we might even say Rome, with others. They were great and mighty cities, from the standpoint of men greater and mightier than Jerusalem. But, so far their former glory is concerned, they have gone down once and for all. Babylon - where is Babylon? Ur - where is Ur? A year or two ago I flew over Ur of the Chaldees - and what could be seen? Nothing but excavations of centuries gone by. And Rome - what is Rome now compared with the great and glorious imperial city of past centuries? A shadow filled with monuments and ruins, things which speak of the past glory. These cities have gone down, to rise again no more as they were.

But Jerusalem - she has come up, again and again she has come up after siege and destruction, showing quite clearly that God - the God of resurrection - is interested in Jerusalem. He is maintaining, even in the world, in a temporal Jerusalem - a poor thing from man's standpoint; I do not think any one would really  choose to live in Jerusalem apart from sentiment - He is maintaining, in a Jerusalem that has been raised as from the dead again and again, a parable of the greater truth.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2 - "The Full Triumph of the Heavenly Jerusalem Over Death")

Keep Back Thy Servant from Sins


Psalm 19:13
Keep back Thy servant also from presumptuous sins.
 
Such was the prayer of the "man after God's own heart." Did holy David need to pray thus? How needful, then, must such a prayer be for us babes in grace! It is as if he said, "Keep me back, or I shall rush headlong over the precipice of sin." Our evil nature, like an ill-tempered horse, is apt to run away. May the grace of God put the bridle upon it, and hold it in, that it rush not into mischief. What might not the best of us do if it were not for the checks which the Lord sets upon us both in providence and in grace! The psalmist's prayer is directed against the worst form of sin-that which is done with deliberation and willfulness. Even the holiest need to be "kept back" from the vilest transgressions. It is a solemn thing to find the apostle Paul warning saints against the most loathsome sins. "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry." What! do saints want warning against such sins as these? Yes, they do. The whitest robes, unless their purity be preserved by divine grace, will be defiled by the blackest spots. Experienced Christian, boast not in your experience; you will trip yet if you look away from Him who is able to keep you from falling. Ye whose love is fervent, whose faith is constant, whose hopes are bright, say not, "We shall never sin," but rather cry, "Lead us not into temptation." There is enough tinder in the heart of the best of men to light a fire that shall burn to the lowest hell, unless God shall quench the sparks as they fall. Who would have dreamed that righteous Lot could be found drunken, and committing uncleanness? Hazael said, "Is Thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing?" and we are very apt to use the same self-righteous question. May infinite wisdom cure us of the madness of self-confidence.

~Charles Spurgeon~

Thursday, March 28, 2013

He Did It With His Heart and Prospered


2 Chronicles 31:21
He did it with all his heart and prospered.
 
This is no unusual occurrence; it is the general rule of the moral universe that those men prosper who do their work with all their hearts, while those are almost certain to fail who go to their labour leaving half their hearts behind them. God does not give harvests to idle men except harvests of thistles, nor is He pleased to send wealth to those who will not dig in the field to find its hid treasure. It is universally confessed that if a man would prosper, he must be diligent in business. It is the same in religion as it is in other things. If you would prosper in your work for Jesus, let it be heart work, and let it be done with all your heart. Put as much force, energy, heartiness, and earnestness into religion as ever you do into business, for it deserves far more. The Holy Spirit helps our infirmities, but He does not encourage our idleness; He loves active believers. Who are the most useful men in the Christian church? The men who do what they undertake for God with all their hearts. Who are the most successful Sabbath-school teachers? The most talented? No; the most zealous; the men whose hearts are on fire, those are the men who see their Lord riding forth prosperously in the majesty of His salvation. Whole-heartedness shows itself in perseverance; there may be failure at first, but the earnest worker will say, "It is the Lord's work, and it must be done; my Lord has bidden me do it, and in His strength I will accomplish it." Christian, art thou thus "with all thine heart" serving thy Master? Remember the earnestness of Jesus! Think what heart-work was His! He could say, "The zeal of Thine house hath eaten Me up." When He sweat great drops of blood, it was no light burden He had to carry upon those blessed shoulders; and when He poured out His heart, it was no weak effort He was making for the salvation of His people. Was Jesus in earnest, and are we lukewarm?

~Charles Spurgeon~

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How To Pray for the Unsaved



 I  stress the importance of praying for the unsaved people in our lives to be saved.  Today, I want to give you four ways you can pray for them:

1.      Pray for openness and understanding.  Acts 16:14 says the Lord opened the heart of Lydia to heed the things spoken by Paul.  Paul was speaking the gospel.  And if the Lord can open Lydia's heart, He can open your Aunt Mildred's heart.

2.      Pray that God would send laborers to them.  In Luke 10:2 Jesus said, "The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."  I am confident that God will answer any prayer He has commanded us to pray, and this prayer is not a suggestion.  Jesus commanded us to pray that God would send out laborers into the harvest.

3.      Pray that God will visit them and reveal Himself to them.  I do not know of a specific promise in the Bible where it says God is going to visit someone in a dream or give them a vision.  But I do see in Scripture where God reveals Himself to people in such ways, like Saul of Tarsus, who, on the Damascus Road, had a vision of the Lord Jesus Christ and was saved.

4.      Pray for personal direction and for personal opportunities to share.  Jesus, in Luke 10:2 said, "The harvest is great, laborers are few.  Pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into His harvest."  In the next verse Jesus said, "Behold, I send you."  You can become the answer to your own prayer!

So pray for the unsaved people in your life, and do not stop praying until they get saved. 

~Bayless Conley~

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Recovering of the Lord's Testimony in Fullness # 13

A Disposition for the Lord

Now, with just one little further word about this motive, I will close. The Apostle, in that great word on worship in Romans 12:1 and 2, follows on - and we must not stop short halfway through the statement, we must watch the conjunction as he goes on - "which is your spiritual worship. And be not fashioned according to this age: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind" - the 'making anew' of your mind. A 'mindedness' is the principle and motive of worship. What are we disposed to? Is our whole disposition for the Lord, all our 'disposedness' unto the Lord? "Be ... transformed by the renewing of your mind" - your mindedness, your inclination, your disposition - unto a new disposition, altogether different from that which came in with Adam in what we call the Fall.

Thank God for this, it is true. It is more true, perhaps, than we often realize or recognize. I think that very often we are troubled and bothered about something that is not true as to ourselves. We are thinking untruths about ourselves. Of course, we know our proneness to sin, we know the evil that is in our flesh, we know how wicked we are and how unworthy, and all that; but then  we allow that to go too far. I ask you this: with all our unworthiness, all our sinfulness, all that is evil in our flesh, have we not a heart for the Lord after all? We feel we blunder, we err - yes, but we have a heart for the Lord. Where did that come from? There was a time when we had no heart for the Lord, when we had no disposition, no tendency, that way; we were not inclined after the Lord. But something has happened in us deeper and stronger than all our weaknesses and our waywardness and our faults and our follies and our sins. There is a reaction that rises up every time we make a mistake, and send us back to the lord in grief, in sorrow, in disappointment, in longing, and we are not happy again until we have found the Lord.

Where does that disposition come from? It is something done by Him. That is the basis of worship; that is the ground upon which the Lord will get everything. So do not let us be discouraged by ourselves too much. You will never thing that I am saying that we are to condone our sinfulness and our foolishness and to give place to them; but it is a glorious fact that, while all this is true,and satan can tell us so much about ourselves that is bad,nevertheless we can reply in the words of the hymn: 

I know it all, and thousands more:
Jehovah findeth none.

We can come back against all accusation and say, 'Nevertheless God has done something in me that has set my heart toward Him. With all my failures, my heart is toward Him. With all my breakdowns, I am for the Lord.' And so we go on. This spirit, this law of worship, consumes and consumes, and we find at last in His presence that there is nothing else left but Himself, just Himself.

That is a simple word, but that after all underlies all that is here about Jerusalem. All that we shall have to say, or could say, as to the details of this matter of the rebuilding of the wall has its roots in the soil of worship. This Jerusalem is to be a praise in the earth; it is to speak of the glory of God. It is all to point toward the Lord. It is all to testify to His glory and honor. That is what Jerusalem exists for, and that is what we who are of the spiritual and heavenly Jerusalem exist for - to bring everything back to the Lord, to bring delight to His heart, and to constitute a testimony that He is satisfied.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 1 - "The Principle of Resurrection")

The Lure of Momentary Pleasure



You probably read the story of Jacob and Esau today and thought, I can't believe Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of soup. How foolish! But let's think beyond birthrights and soup. Is there anything of true value that you are trading for something of lesser worth? In other words, what is your "bowl of soup"?

Have you pursued wealth and a career at the expense of family? Maybe your busy schedule has kept you from spending time with God in His Word each day. Some people become involved in extramarital affairs, trading the well-being of their family for the satisfaction of lustful desires. Others sacrifice their health by consuming harmful or addictive substances, or even by overindulging in food. The list of ways we make foolish, shortsighted choices is endless.

Some of the decisions we make today could rob us of the blessings God wants to give us. When you yield to temptation in a moment of weakness, you're actually sacrificing your future for momentary pleasure. We can't afford to live thoughtlessly, basing our decisions on immediate desires or feelings. Since the principle of sowing and reaping cannot be reversed, we need to carefully consider what we are planting. The harvest will come, and we'll reap what we have sown--and more than we've sown.

Are you contemplating anything that could have serious long-term ramifications if you yield to the yearning? A wise person evaluates choices by looking ahead to see what negative consequences could follow a course of action. Don't let "a bowl of soup" hinder God's wonderful plans for you.

~Charles Stanley~

Monday, March 25, 2013

Perfection of Suffering



"The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me" (Ps. 138:8).
There is a Divine mystery in suffering, a strange and supernatural power in it, which has never been fathomed by the human reason. There never has been known great saintliness of soul which did not pass through great suffering. When the suffering soul reaches a calm sweet carelessness, when it can inwardly smile at its own suffering, and does not even ask God to deliver it from suffering, then it has wrought its blessed ministry; then patience has its perfect work; then the crucifixion begins to weave itself into a crown.
It is in this state of the perfection of suffering that the Holy Spirit works many marvelous things in our souls. In such a condition, our whole being lies perfectly still under the hand of God; every faculty of the mind and will and heart are at last subdued; a quietness of eternity settles down into the whole being; the tongue grows still, and has but few words to say; it stops asking God questions; it stops crying, "Why hast thou forsaken me ?"
The imagination stops building air castles, or running off on foolish lines; the reason is tame and gentle; the choices are annihilated; it has no choice in anything but the purpose of God. The affections are weaned from all creatures and all things; it is so dead that nothing can hurt it, nothing can offend it, nothing can hinder it, nothing can get in its way; for, let the circumstances be what they may, it seeks only for God and His will, and it feels assured that God is making everything in the universe, good or bad, past or present, work together for its good.
Oh, the blessedness of being absolutely conquered! Of losing our own strength, and wisdom, and plans, and desires, and being where every atom of our nature is like placid Galilee under the omnipotent feet of our Jesus.
--Soul Food
***
The great thing is to suffer without being discouraged.
--Fenelon
***
"The heart that serves, and loves, and clings,
Hears everywhere the rush of angel wings."
~L. B. Cowman~

Sunday, March 24, 2013

May We Walk in the Light of Life


All the Children of Israel had Light in their dwellings - Exodus 10:23

WITHOUT, darkness that might be felt; within, light. This should be the condition of each believing heart. The sun may have gone down, and the moon withdrawn herself in the firmament of the world; the darkness of perplexity and trouble may envelop Pharaoh and all his chosen counselors; all things may wear the aspect of approaching dissolution: but with the Lord as our everlasting Light we walk in the light of life.

Light is purity. - The soul which is exposed to the indwelling of God, purifies itself even as He is pure; and walks as Jesus did, with white and stainless robes. He that says he has fellowship with the Holy God, and walks in the darkness of his own lusts, lies. Where God is really hidden in the heart, the beams of His lovely purity must irradiate and beautify the life.

Light is knowledge. - There is a wisdom, an insight, an understanding of the Divine mysteries, which the mere intellect could never give, but are the product of the Divine indwelling m the holy soul. All around men may be groping aimlessly after truth, trying to discover the secret of the Universe, whilst to the loving, childlike soul, in which God has taken up His abode, these things, which are hidden from the wise and prudent, are unveiled.

Light is love. - It steals so gently over the world, blessing flowers and birds, little children and invalids. Everywhere it is the symbol of the beneficent work of its Creator. His eldest daughter! Thus amid the selfishness of the world, let Jesus dwell deep in thee, that thou mayest be rooted and grounded in the love of God, which shall illumine thy dwelling, and ray out to the world.

~F. B. Meyer~

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Recovering of the Lord's Testimony in Fullness # 12

The Lord Draws Near on the Basis of Worship

Now that is just the divide point in the Bible. When God made man and brought him into fellowship with Himself, everything was for the Lord. Man had no other object in view for which to live and work than the Lord. It was a beautiful state of things. It was man and the Lord, and the Lord, it would seem, coming in the cool of the evening, walking in the garden to receive those whom He had made, and there was joy in their life and in their work. The Lord had pleasure in that. It is always shown in the Bible that the Lord has pleasure in, and draws near to, those who are in a state of worship. That is to say, the Lord's drawing near is on the ground that their heart is out to Himself. You never find the Lord drawing near when it is otherwise, unless it be in judgment. But when the Lord comes in blessing, in benediction, it is because there are hearts out to Himself, and if the Lord came there into the garden, as He is shown to have done, it was because there were hearts toward Him, because He found there that which satisfied Him. When the Lord Jesus was here it was like that. He loved to be where He found a heart open to Him, ready to receive Him, ready to answer to His desires. That is why He went to Bethany so often. There was a heart there for Him, for the Lord. There was a spirit of worship.

The devil's Deception of Mankind

But then there came the terrible break, and the enemy came into the garden to divert from God, to divert to himself. But how? - and this is a terrible thing to recognize. He brought man's own personal interests into view, man's own personal interests first, and showed him that he could have something - he could get something. Up to that point it was all that the Lord could get, and now the situation is that man can have something. The enemy was working in a deep and subtle way to draw away from God to himself; and so, getting man into alliance with himself, he deceived man into thinking that he was going to have the benefit, when all the time it was the devil who was going to have the benefit. That is the deception of mankind. He was turned from God to get something, a good time, this world, and all that, and in the end he finds he has been duped, and the devil has got it all - and him into the bargain. That is the tragedy and the deception. But you see the point: it was in order to draw away from God by this self-interest, this selfishness - and that broke the worship. From that time it has been like that. The world is a selfish wold, a world that draws to itself, that does not give God His place, does not let Him have everything, first and last. That is how things are.

But now God wants His spiritual Jerusalem: He wants that recovered where everything, voluntarily and gladly - delightingly - is for the Lord; a people who delight in the Lord. Our Lord Jesus was the embodiment of this principle. "I delight to do Thy will, O my God" (Psalm 40:8). His delight was in the Lord. He is the true embodiment of the spirit of the heavenly Jerusalem, where everything, not under constraint but wholeheartedly, is unto the Lord.

A Divided Heart

Now you look at this wall in its ruin, in its brokenness, as we are doing at this time, and you say again, 'Why this state of things? Why this picture of tragedy? What is come to pass that everyone seeing it wags the head or heaves a sigh? What has happened that that which was once so glorious has come to this? What is it?" And the answer is: 'Their worship went away from the Lord; the very thing for which Jerusalem existed, that i, to be wholly for the Lord, was broken into; they allowed other objects of worship to seize upon their hearts and lives.' Yes, the Lord was displeased, and therefore Jerusalem had no justification in continuing in the sight of God. God sees no reason why it should go on at all, and so He hands it over to destruction. It was not what it was meant to be.

And may that not be the explanation of a good deal of weakness - yes, in our lives, and in the Church as a whole, in that which bears the name of the Lord; defeat, brokenness, the absence of those signs that the Lord is present, those marks of the Lord's pleasure? may it not be that there is a dividedness of heart, a reservation in our lives? that there is, after all somewhere deep down, some self-principle at work? May it not be that? I am not judging, but I do know the deception of these hearts of ours. They are indeed "deceitful above all things" (Jeremiah 17:9). Very often, when we think that what we are doing is for the Lord, we are having a good deal of pleasure in it ourselves, and if in the service of the lord the element of personal pleasure is withheld or covered, we have a very bad time - after all, it was somehow or other for ourselves. Yes, it is like that. We do not want to be too introspective, but you see what I mean. The Lord looks on the heart, and  when He really sees that the heart is wholly toward Him, that there is no mixture, no other god, no other interest, then the Lord commits Himself to that life, to that Jerusalem. The Lord commits Himself where it is wholly for Him. That is worship.

Now you see, the ground of satan's detracting and diverting from God is this wretched self-life in one or other of its numerous forms. Over against that, God's ground, where He encamps, where He commits Himself, is the ground of Himself alone. God commits Himself to Himself, and to no one else. If the Lord is here, if the Lord has His place fully and wholly, utterly, if it is all for the Lord, the Lord will commit Himself to that ground; not to our ground and certainly not to satan's ground; but to Himself. if it is for Himself, then He will be for Himself, and we all agree that that is perfectly safe and anything else would not be safe at all. The Lord is the only safe ground upon which He Himself can work and be present.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 13 - "A Disposition for the Lord")

Seeking After God



How many times have you heard Christians say (or heard the words from your own mouth), “So-and-so is not a Christian but he’s searching”? It is a common statement among Christians. The idea is that there are people all over the place who are searching for God. Their problem is that they just haven’t been able to find Him. He is playing hide-and-seek. He is elusive.

In the Garden of Eden, when sin came into the world, who hid? Jesus came into the world to seek and to save the lost. Jesus wasn’t the one who was hiding. God is not a fugitive. We are the ones on the run. Scripture declares that the wicked flee when no man pursues. As Martin Luther remarked: “The pagan trembles at the rustling of a leaf. The uniform teaching of Scripture is that fallen men are fleeing from God.”

People do not seek God. They seek after the benefits that only God can give them. The sin of fallen man is this: Man seeks the benefits of God while fleeing from God Himself. We are, by nature, fugitives.

The Bible tells us repeatedly to seek after God. The conclusion we draw from these texts is that since we are called to seek after God it must mean that we, even in our fallen state, have the moral capacity to do that seeking. But who is being addressed in these texts? In the case of the Old Testament, it is the people of Israel who are called to seek the Lord. In the New Testament, it is believers who are called to seek the kingdom.

Coram Deo: Living in the Presence of God

Are you seeking the benefits God can give you or seeking after God alone?

For Further Study

Isaiah 55:6: “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.
Matthew 7:7: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

Revelation 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

~R. C. Sproul~

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Recovering of the Lord's Testimony in Fullness # 11

Worship a Matter of Motive

Let us think for a moment of the rudimentary element in worship, leaving religion aside for the moment. Worship goes on altogether apart from any religious system or form. It is there in the very constitution. What is worship in its elementary principle? Well, it is just the element of motive in life - that is, worthwhileness to live, it being worth while to live. The very lowest, the very saddest and most tragic state in life, to be saying, "There is nothing now for which to live, I have nothing to live for." You could not get lower than that. Life has been given up; life holds nothing worth while. That worthwhileness is the principle of worship. It is a motive for living, something for which to live, and that is present in all the world, except in those tragic realms where people have already given up life because they have no more interest and no more motive. I say that is the saddest and the most terrible thing that can ever come to anyone. Except where that obtains, worship is just this, that there is something to live for, that there is something worth while in being alive. That is the principle of worship.

Now you carry that into a much larger and higher realm. What is there to live for? What is the greatest thing for which to live? And there you bring worship into its right realm, and worship becomes this - 'Why, the greatest thing to justify life and to give meaning and value and worthwhileness to life is the Lord!' Not this world, as something to be worshiped, nor its kingdoms, not its princes or its god; but the Lord being worthy,the most worthwhile object in life, having all the worthwhileness of our very being and existence: so that He holds the full place, the central place; the Lord is the object always in view.

Worship is not going to some ecclesiastical building week by week, perhaps once or twice, to attend what is called Divine worship. That is not worship. That may be just empty form; that may be patronizing God. It may be anything short of the reality. Worship is a life thing, not a weekly thing; certainly not once a quarter at the 'quarterly communion,' or on the great feast days of the Church - Easter, Christmas and so on. Worship is this, that life is for the Lord. Every moment, every hour, every day, every week and every year - it is all for the Lord. That is worship. Our first thought in the morning is the Lord, and our last thought at night is the Lord; and although there are many occupations of mind and hand during the hours of the day, there is something behind the one who has been redeemed unto God that is always reaching out to Him.

The lives of such are the prayer of worship. They are not always putting it into language and phrases, and they are not always on their knees, and they are not always in meetings; but from behind them, so to speak, there is that which is reaching out to the Lord - they long for the Lord. It is true of them, as it was true of those in Israel in the days of Jerusalem's glory, though they were far from Jerusalem, that they long for Jerusalem. 'Oh, to be there, the place of the altar, the place of God, the place of worship!'  Their longings were there, and away they could never be satisfied. They expressed this true principle. When in Babylon they were taunted, this remnant whose heart was in Jerusalem - taunted by the Babylonians: "Sing us one of the songs of Zion" (Psalm 137:3). "Sing us one of your folk-songs of Jerusalem' 'Upon the willows ... we hanged up our harps ... how shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?" (verse 2, 4). Their longing was to be there. They were drawn. We should understand that in a spiritual way. Our Jerusalem is no focal point on this earth, but there ought to be that about us which is always out to the Lord; which asks: 'How much more of the Lord can there be in our lives?'

If you read this book of Nehemiah in the light of that, it will be entirely revolutionized for you, marvelously illuminated. Nehemiah begins with this tremendous yearning for the lord, away there in Babylon. He comes to Jerusalem and takes in the situation and deplores that this is not to the honor of the Lord, and he weeps and he prays and he sets to work and he draws others in, and he is not at rest until this thing is finished at all costs - a testimony to the Lord raised up in fullness, in completeness. It is all a spirit of worship; and the people came in, of whose work we have yet to speak, they had a mind to work, they were of a willing spirit; but, you see, it was the spirit of worship. They, in their own way, were fulfilling what Paul says in his letter to the Romans: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship" (Romans 12:1). They were giving their bodies to this work, and it was spiritual worship in motive. Worship, then, springs out of a motive.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 12)

Can We Know His Thoughts?



Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing His plan to His servants the prophets. Amos 3:7

Truly we, as believers, can know His plans before they happen. Many times, we hear others say, “I knew that was going to happen.” But how easy it is to say that after the fact! God is saying that we can know before.

I learned early in my walk with the Lord to be quiet before Him. I would read a Scripture passage until I felt God was speaking to me. I would determine that the Lord was speaking because the verse would seem special in some way, applicable in some way or I considered the verse to be a new thought. I would just stop and ponder and pray it back to God, asking Him to make His message clear to me for the day. In the quietness, the Lord would speak to my heart. It would start as an impression at first. I would pray about it and ask God questions about the impression until His wisdom became “louder or firmer” than my thoughts, questions and distractions. Next, I would step out in faith and test the message. If it is the Lord, He would confirm it through bringing it to pass or giving me similar messages through His Word or others.

Today, I pray this verse to the Lord, knowing that He will reveal His plan to me because I long to be His servant and want to live in His will. God is faithful and if you ask, He will answer. If you learn to be still, He will speak. If you listen, He will reveal His plan. After years of relating to the Lord like this, you will then know that you know His will before the fact, for He promises that He does nothing without revealing His plan to His servants the prophets. So the first step is to find out if you are His servant.

~Daily Disciples~

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Recovering of the Lord's Testimony in Fullness # 10

The Fundamental Matter of Worship

We are occupied with what is represented by a clause in a statement made by Nehemiah when, being invited by his enemies, in their subtlety, to come and meet them in some place apart, in order to ensnare him, he said: "I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down" (Nehemiah 6:3). We are shortening that statement to "a great work": for this book of Nehemiah sets forth, in figure, in historic illustration, the great work of God. Nehemiah, as we have seen right at the beginning of the book, says that he disclosed to no one what God had put in his heart to do. Later he did disclose it, but this great work to which he refers was something that God had laid upon his heart.

Before we proceed with this matter of the rebuilding of the wall of testimony, I want to put in here a very important and inclusive parenthesis - not based upon any particular clause or text, but upon that which pervades and underlies the whole: that is, worship.

For when we come to think about it, Jerusalem, defined by its wall, just speaks inclusively and comprehensively of the matter of worship. Indeed, Jerusalem's very existence was for that purpose. Babylon, as we saw earlier, was the seat and center of false worship, idolatry, something that was not of God. Jerusalem always stands over against Babylon in the Bible as the opposite of that. It stands for the worship of God; it is the place of God's worship. So this wall of Jerusalem is a figure of that which encompasses the worship of God, and is in itself a figure of worship. Worship is the first thing in the whole history of relationship with God and worship is the last thing. We find reference  made in the Bible to worship going on before the world was, before the creation was undertaken - the "sons of God" occupied with worshiping Him before the foundation of the world. Who those sons o God were we do not know, but there is the statement. They sang together for joy, they worshiped the Lord (Job 38:8). It was there, it was happening.

Then worship comes in as the governing factor in the Creation. As we know, it was a breakdown in worship which was the basic sin of Adam: then, when that matter has been upset here in this earth, God institutes the whole course of worship during the ages and maintains a testimony to Himself. One of the last things we have in the Bible is this universal worship of Him. And Jerusalem was, I repeat, so far as type and figure and historic illustration are concerned, the Lord's earthly seat of worship - of the maintenance of worship unto Himself. We are carried in the New Testament and in this dispensation from the earthly to the heavenly, we are come to "the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable hosts of angels, to ... the church of the firstborn" (Hebrews 12:22, 23); and it is worship. It is worship re-established in heaven.

Worship Is Redemption Unto God

So we look at this matter of worship  for a few minutes. We are seeing that Nehemiah's work was the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem, and really it was a redemptive work - the work of redeeming the situation, redeeming the testimony. It was a work of redemption. Now, we know quite well that redemption is unto God. "Hast redeemed us to God" (Revelation 5:9) - that is the phrase. And worship just simply means that - everything redeemed unto God, brought back to God, recovered for God; and that mighty work of redemption is still operating - in this sense, that it is against a certain natural trend and course of things which has come into the creation through what happened between satan and Adam. Redemption is recovering from a certain trend. The trend of the creation now is always downward. In every part f the creation, the natural course is downward. You are contending with that in some way or another every day. Anybody who has a garden knows that it is a constant day-by-day work of redemption from a downward tendency. Any doctor or nurse is day-by-day contending with the downward course of physical life. Unless the body is looked after, unless there is a 'counter operation' brought in, the course is naturally downward, thee id deterioration; and so the medical profession are in their realm occupied with redemption. And so we might go on into every realm, because everywhere and in everything that is the natural way - decline.

And if that is true in the natural creation, the physical creation, how true it is in the spiritual. The Bible is one comprehensive revelation of the fact that, unless there is a counter power brought in from heaven, everything goes down. Again and again and yet again, in the Bible, we find these movements downward taking place - decline, degeneration, and God reacting to redeem from that course, to redeem unto Himself. Worship, then, means the redemption of everything unto God, giving the significance of God to things.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 11 - "Worship A Matter of Motive")

God Acts On Our Behalf



The Lord is a God of action. Even when He rested on the seventh day of creation, it wasn't because He was tired and needed to recuperate. Although He deliberately made a choice to stop His creative activity, He never ceased working. While the Lord is always controlling the universe, He is, at the same time, intimately involved with individual lives.

God has a plan for each one of us and wants us to know what it is. Every time we take a step of obedience, He sheds more light on our path. But sometimes He asks us to pause awhile, and we may not know why. We long for direction in a particular matter, but our prayers just aren't being answered, and we wonder,Why does He delay?

When you aren't seeing any answers, it doesn't mean that God is not working. He's still actively involved in your life, but He works in ways that are not always visible He orchestrates circumstances, changes people's hearts, and protects His children from making hasty decisions that will have disastrous consequences. Perhaps the Lord knows you're not yet ready for the next leg of your spiritual journey. Waiting times are opportunities for growth in character, obedience, and faith. He may also need time to train you for future responsibilities and ministries.

When you intentionally choose to be still, God unleashes His mighty power on your behalf. He has planned good things for those who wait, and I believe what He has in store for your life will surpass all expectations. When He knows you're ready to receive His blessings, they'll flow into your lap.

~Charles Stanley~

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Recovering of the Lord's Testimony in Fullness # 9

Idolatry The Cause of the Broken-down Condition

That principle works - and mark you, it works personally too, if your heart is so set upon something that you will not take "no" from the Lord; you insist, you will have it; and your threat to the Lord, even if it is not put in the form of a threat, is that unless the gives you that, or does that for you, you are not going on. If there is anything like that, the Lord will give it to you, He will let you have it. It will be a curse to you. Abraham did that over Ishmael - and what a curse! You see, there is the principle. Now the point is this, that these people allowed idolatry to come into their lives, in spirit and in principle; and the Lord, through His prophet, "rising up early," appealed; but they refused to listen to the voice of the prophet, so the Lord said: 'All right, have what you want - away to Babylon!' They lost everything.

What is idolatry? If it is not bowing down to idols of wood and stone, it takes many many subtle forms, and very often indirect ways. it is just heart communion with anything that takes God's place, that gets in God's way. What a lot of ground that covers! The ultimate effect is that the Lord is frustrated, the Lord is hindered, the Lord cannot have what He is after. That is idolatry in principle. It displaces the Lord, it makes difficulties for the Lord.

I said earlier that, although Israel was cured of that outer form of idolatry, the principle or spirit of idolatry was not eradicated: for in the days of our Lord they were worshiping tradition - and tradition can be an idol. Yes, tradition can be an idol: you can be so committed and devoted to tradition that the Lord does not have a chance. It obstructs the Lord's way, like the rubbish that Nehemiah could not pass - the beast that he rode could not pass the rubbish. Very often the rubbish in the Lord's way is the rubbish of a dead tradition, of a dead history, something that belongs to the past and is not alive now. That is the principle of idolatry. That was the fundamental and ultimate cause of the brokenness of the wall, the wreckage, the rubbish, the debris: idolatry, heart union and communion with that which is not of the Lord.

Remember that this book of Nehemiah is full of bad conditions, of evils and errors, and these things correspond to the state of the wall. I want you to get this, although I shall come back to it again. You look at that wall and examine it, and you can look through it, so to speak; and in looking through you see that the conditions of the Lord's people tally exactly with the condition of the wall. There are all sorts of wrongs and evils and errors, and that is the rubbish, that is the broken-down state of things. You see, the people's state corresponded to the state of the wall; the wall was just an illustration of spiritual conditions: so that when you come to 'look through' this wall, you find that what you are dealing with really is not a wall but spiritual conditions; and as Nehemiah went forward to deal with the wall, he found that he had at the same time to deal with spiritual conditions in the people. They were one and the same thing. It would in effect be foolish to put up a beautiful wall when the conditions behind the wall were a contradiction. You see the point? The two things must be consistent - the spiritual state and your testimony. The testimony must have a spiritual condition behind it. A spiritual condition must support the testimony. You cannot work upon building up something that is not in the energy of truth.

We shall see further what the wall means, and what the wall is made of; but for the time being, the Lord bring us into His own vision, into His own intention, and energize us with the same energy as that which possessed His servant Nehemiah and His servant Paul, and many others whom He has used to recover something more of the testimony of His Son.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 11 - The Fundamental Matter of Worship")

When We Are Ready



"Blessed are all they that wait for him" (Isa 30:18).

We hear a great deal about waiting on God. There is, however, another side. When we wait on God, He is waiting till we are ready; when we wait for God, we are waiting till He is ready.
There are some people who say, and many more who believe, that as soon as we meet all the conditions, God will answer our prayers. They say that God lives in an eternal now; with Him there is no past nor future; and that if we could fulfill all that He requires in the way of obedience to His will, immediately our needs would be supplied, our desires fulfilled, our prayers answered.

There is much truth in this belief, and yet it expresses only one side of the truth. While God lives in an eternal now, yet He works out His purposes in time. A petition presented before God is like a seed dropped in the ground. Forces above and beyond our control must work upon it, till the true fruition of the answer is given.

--The Still Small Voice

***
I longed to walk along an easy road,
And leave behind the dull routine of home,
Thinking in other fields to serve my God;
But Jesus said, "My time has not yet come."
I longed to sow the seed in other soil,
To be unfettered in the work, and free,
To join with other laborers in their toil;
But Jesus said, "'Tis not My choice for thee."
I longed to leave the desert, and be led
To work where souls were sunk in sin and shame,
That I might win them; but the Master said,
"I have not called thee, publish here My name."
I longed to fight the battles of my King,
Lift high His standards in the thickest strife;
But my great Captain bade me wait and sing
Songs of His conquests in my quiet life. 
I longed to leave the uncongenial sphere,
Where all alone I seemed to stand and wait,
To feel I had some human helper near,
But Jesus bade me guard one lonely gate.
I longed to leave the round of daily toil,
Where no one seemed to understand or care;
But Jesus said, "I choose for thee this soil,
That thou might'st raise for Me some blossoms rare." 
And now I have no longing but to do
At home, or else afar, His blessed will,
To work amid the many or the few;
Thus, "choosing not to choose," my heart is still.

~L. B. Cowman~

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Faith Is The Foot of the Soul


Mark 11:22
Have faith in God.
 
Faith is the foot of the soul by which it can march along the road of the commandments. Love can make the feet move more swiftly; but faith is the foot which carries the soul. Faith is the oil enabling the wheels of holy devotion and of earnest piety to move well; and without faith the wheels are taken from the chariot, and we drag heavily. With faith I can do all things; without faith I shall neither have the inclination nor the power to do anything in the service of God. If you would find the men who serve God the best, you must look for the men of the most faith. Little faith will save a man, but little faith cannot do great things for God. Poor Little-faith could not have fought "Apollyon;" it needed "Christian" to do that. Poor Little-faith could not have slain "Giant Despair;" it required "Great-heart's" arm to knock that monster down. Little faith will go to heaven most certainly, but it often has to hide itself in a nut-shell, and it frequently loses all but its jewels. Little-faith says, "It is a rough road, beset with sharp thorns, and full of dangers; I am afraid to go;" but Great-faith remembers the promise, "Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; as thy days, so shall thy strength be:" and so she boldly ventures. Little-faith stands desponding, mingling her tears with the flood; but Great-faith sings, "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee:" and she fords the stream at once. Would you be comfortable and happy? Would you enjoy religion? Would you have the religion of cheerfulness and not that of gloom? Then "have faith in God." If you love darkness, and are satisfied to dwell in gloom and misery, then be content with little faith; but if you love the sunshine, and would sing songs of rejoicing, covet earnestly this best gift, "great faith."

~Charles Spurgeon~

Monday, March 18, 2013

Ye Must Be Born Again


John 3:7
Ye must be born again.
 
Regeneration is a subject which lies at the very basis of salvation, and we should be very diligent to take heed that we really are "born again," for there are many who fancy they are, who are not. Be assured that the name of a Christian is not the nature of a Christian; and that being born in a Christian land, and being recognized as professing the Christian religion is of no avail whatever, unless there be something more added to it-the being "born again," is a matter so mysterious, that human words cannot describe it. "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." Nevertheless, it is a change which is known and felt: known by works of holiness, and felt by a gracious experience. This great work is supernatural. It is not an operation which a man performs for himself: a new principle is infused, which works in the heart, renews the soul, and affects the entire man. It is not a change of my name, but a renewal of my nature, so that I am not the man I used to be, but a new man in Christ Jesus. To wash and dress a corpse is a far different thing from making it alive: man can do the one, God alone can do the other. If you have then, been "born again," your acknowledgment will be, "O Lord Jesus, the everlasting Father, Thou art my spiritual Parent; unless Thy Spirit had breathed into me the breath of a new, holy, and spiritual life, I had been to this day 'dead in trespasses and sins.' My heavenly life is wholly derived from Thee, to Thee I ascribe it. 'My life is hid with Christ in God.' It is no longer I who live, but Christ who liveth in me." May the Lord enable us to be well assured on this vital point, for to be unregenerate is to be unsaved, unpardoned, without God, and without hope.

~Charles Spurgeon~

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Why Should We Pray?


Psalm 35:3
Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.
 
What does this sweet prayer teach me? It shall be my evening's petition; but first let it yield me an instructive meditation. The text informs me first of all that David had his doubts; for why should he pray, "Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation," if he were not sometimes exercised with doubts and fears? Let me, then, be of good cheer, for I am not the only saint who has to complain of weakness of faith. If David doubted, I need not conclude that I am no Christian because I have doubts. The text reminds me that David was not content while he had doubts and fears, but he repaired at once to the mercy-seat to pray for assurance; for he valued it as much fine gold. I too must labour after an abiding sense of my acceptance in the Beloved, and must have no joy when His love is not shed abroad in my soul. When my Bridegroom is gone from me, my soul must and will fast. I learn also that David knew where to obtain full assurance. He went to his God in prayer, crying, "Say unto my soul I am thy salvation." I must be much alone with God if I would have a clear sense of Jesus' love. Let my prayers cease, and my eye of faith will grow dim. Much in prayer, much in heaven; slow in prayer, slow in progress. I notice that David would not be satisfied unless his assurance had a divine source. "Say unto my soul." Lord, do Thou say it ! Nothing short of a divine testimony in the soul will ever content the true Christian. Moreover, David could not rest unless his assurance had a vivid personality about it. "Say unto mysoul, I am thy salvation." Lord, if Thou shouldst say this to all the saints, it were nothing, unless Thou shouldst say it to me. Lord, I have sinned; I deserve not Thy smile; I scarcely dare to ask it; but oh! say to my soul, even to my soul, "I am thy salvation." Let me have a present, personal, infallible, indisputable sense that I am Thine, and that Thou art mine.

~Charles Spurgeon~

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Recovering of the Lord's Testimony in Fullness # 8

The Need for Repairing the Wall

So we look first of all at the wall in brokenness. Here it is: "Then said In unto them, Ye see the evil case that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let  us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach" (Nehemiah 2:17). The last word touches the spot, does it not? See the great enemy of God, of Christ, of the testimony of our Lord, having it as his one abiding object to bring reproach upon the Name of the Lord - anyhow, by any means, whether by direct assault or by subtle underworking; somehow to bring the Lord's Name and testimony into reproach. "That we be no more a reproach." What a motive to govern the people of God, to save the Lord and His people from the reproach of this broken-down condition!

Idolatry the Cause of the Broken-down Condition 

We must, before we can move to the recovery, examine and trace the fundamental and ultimate reason for this state of things. We are taking our cue from the illustration in this book and in the other books leading up to it. There is one word that goes to the root of the whole matter, and that word is idolatry.  

Is it not very impressive to recognize that, because of the idolatry in Israel, the nation was sent to the very heart of idolatry to be cured of it? Babylon was the world center of idolatry - you know that from the great images set up. Now Israel had allowed idolatry in her midst, and the Lord sent her to the world center of idolatry to be cured of idolatry. I say that it is impressive, and it just means that: that sometimes the Lord's way of curing is to give an overdose of the thing with which we flirt. They hankered and they flirted. The prophets cried, pleaded, wept, appealed, agonized, that the people would break with this thing, cease their flirtations with the gods of the heathen nations around about them; but they would not; they were wedded. 'All right,' said the Lord; 'have what you are after - have it to the full': and indeed they had it to the full, and it cured Israel of idolatry in that form for the rest of their history. I am not saying that it cured them of the spirit of idolatry; we shall see that later. But that form of open complicity with the power of evil was destroyed by their being given that upon which their heats were set.

Here is the extreme instance of the working of a certain law. The Palmist said about Israel in the wilderness: "And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul" (Psalm 106:15). They refused to let go. They would have; they said 'yes' in the face of God's 'no'. 'We will have.' 'All right,' said the Lord - and they were the losers in their getting.

Now that principle does work, you know, and I am not so sure that it is not working today. In the Church, in Christianity, the world has found its place. The Church of God went out to the world and brought the world in. There has been complicity with the spirit of this world, it has found a large place in Christianity; and while it is not my desire to speak in this way, we must be very faithful. Perhaps all unperceived, all unrecognized - God grant that it is so - even in evangelical Christianity, there is a good deal of worldly principle, the bringing in of unspiritual things - names, titles, resources and what not, to do the work of God. There is a hidden complicity to get favor, to get advantage; there is behind all that another spirit - the spirit of idolatry - which is getting a grip upon the Lord's people. Very well: what has happened? The Lord has let the Church have what it wants, and today it is feeling that it has lost its power, lost its position, because the world has too much of a place. In its gaining it has lost: that is very serious, is it not?

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 9)

Did Jesus Teach Christians Not to Judge Others?




Don't judge, so that you won't be judged. For with whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1-2)

The first portion of these verses is one of those passages of Scripture that we must be careful not to strain beyond its proper meaning. It is frequently abused and misapplied by the enemies of true religion. It is possible to press the words of the Bible so far that they yield not medicine, but poison.

Our Lord does not mean that it is wrong, under any circumstances, to pass an unfavorable judgment on the conduct and opinions of others. We should have decided opinions. We are to "prove all things." We are to "try the spirits." Nor does He mean that it is wrong to reprove the sins and faults of others unless we are perfect and faultless ourselves. Such an interpretation would contradict other parts of Scripture. It would make it impossible to condemn error and false doctrine. It would bar anyone from attempting the office of a minister or a judge.

What our Lord means to condemn is a censorious and fault-finding spirit: a readiness to blame others for trifling offenses or matters of indifference - a habit of passing rash and hasty judgments - a disposition to magnify the errors and infirmities of our neighbors and make the worst of them. This is what our Lord forbids. It was common among the Pharisees. It has always been common from their day down to the present time. We must all watch against it. We should "believe all things" and "hope all things" about others and be very slow to find fault. 

This is Christian charity (1 Corinthians 13:7).

~J. C. Ryle~