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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Call to Prayer # 8

Let me speak to those who have real desires for salvation, but know not what steps to take, or where to begin. I cannot but hope that some readers may be in this state of mind, and if there be but one such I must offer him affectionate counsel.

In every journey there must be a first step. There must be a change from sitting still to moving forward. The journeyings of Israel from Egypt to Canaan were long and wearisome. Forty years pass away before they crossed Jordan. Yet there was some one who moved first when they marched from Ramah to Succoth. When does a man really take his first step in coming out from sin and the world? He does it in the day when he first prays with his heart.

In every building the first stone must be laid, and the first blow must be struck. The ark was one hundred and twenty years in building. Yet there was a day when Noah laid his axe to the first tree he cut down to form it. The temple of Solomon was a glorious building. But there was a day when the first huge stone was laid deep in mount Moriah. When does the building of the Spirit really begin to appear in a man's heart? It begins, so far as we can judge, when he first pours out his heart to God in prayer.

If you desire salvation, and want to know what to do, I advise you to go this very day to the Lord Jesus Christ, in the first private place you can find, and earnestly and heartily entreat him in prayer to save your soul.

Tell Him that you have heard that he receives sinners, and has said, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out." Tell Him that you are a poor vile sinner, and that you come to him on the faith of his own invitation. Tell Him you put yourself wholly and entirely in His hands; that you feel vile and helpless, and hopeless in yourself: and that except He saves you, you have no hope of being saved at all. Beseech Him to deliver you from the guilt, the power, and the consequences of sin. Beseech Him to pardon you, and wash in in His own blood. Beseech Him to give you a new heart, and plant the Holy Spirit in your soul. Beseech Him to give you grace and faith and will and power to be His disciple and servant from this day for ever. Oh, reader, go this very day, and tell these things to the Lord Jesus Christ, if you really are in earnest about your soul.

Tell Him in your own way, and your own words. If a doctor came to see you when sick you could tell him were you felt pain.l If your soul feels its disease indeed, you can surely find something to tell Christ.

Doubt not his willingness to save you, because you are a sinner. It is Christ's office to save sinners. He says Himself, 'I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repent" (Luke 5:32).

Wait not because you feel unworthy. Wait for nothing. Wait for nobody. Waiting comes from the devil. Just as you are, go to Christ. The worse you are, the more need you have to apply to Him. You will never mend yourself by staying away.

Fear not because your prayer is stammering, your words feeble, and your language poor. Jesus can understand you. Just as a mother understands the first lispings of her infant, so does the blessed Saviour understand sinners. He can read a sigh, and see a meaning in a groan!

Despair not because you do not get an answer immediately. While you are speaking, Jesus is listening. If He delays an answer, it is only for wise reasons, and to try if you are in earnest. The answer will surely come. Though it tarry, wait for it. It will surely come.

Oh, reader, if you have any desire to be saved, remember the advice I have given you this day. Act upon it honestly and heartily, and you shall be saved.

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 9

Palm Sunday




Hindsight is always 20/20. Yet while we are in a particular situation, we tend to make things out to be what they aren’t and infer wrong meanings. We kick ourselves, thinking, If only I had known then what I know now!

Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem must have been one of those moments for His disciples. It had appeared to be such a wonderful day for them—and it was, but for different reasons than they realized. They thought the Messiah had come to reestablish Israel’s power in the world. But God had something else in mind.

The disciples weren’t the only ones who had misconceptions about the Messiah. Many Jews of the day expected Him to be an earthly king. When the crowds heard Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they cheered, “Hosanna! ” which means, “Save now!” They saw Him as their new King, come to bring salvation from political and societal oppression. He raised the dead—no doubt he could also restore the kingdom of David and free them from Roman rule.

Seated upon a donkey, Jesus resembled a ruler returning to his city in peacetime, loyal subjects lining his path with coats and palm fronds. Even the Pharisees were there watching in indignation, saying, “Look, the world has gone after Him” (John 12:19).

This week, think back to those times when circumstances looked one way but turned out to be something else entirely. Remember when you realized God was different than you imagined and saw His will unfold in surprising ways. Look for an opportunity to share your insight with a friend or loved one.

~Charles Stanley~

Monday, April 29, 2013

A Call to Prayer # 7

There is a friend ever wanting to help us, if we will unbosom to him our sorrow - a friend who pitied the poor and sick and sorrowful, when he was upon earth - a friend who knows the heart of man, for he lived thirty-three years as a man among us - a friend who can weep with the weepers, for he was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief - a friend who is able to help us, for there never was earthly pain he could not cure. That friend is Jesus Christ. The way to be happy is to be always opening our hearts to him. Oh that we were all like that poor Christian who only answered, when threatened and punished, "I must tell the Lord".

Jesus can make those happy who trust him and call on him, whatever be their outward condition. He can give them peace of heart in a prison, contentment in the midst of poverty, comfort in the midst of bereavements, joy on the brink of the grave. There is a mighty fullness in him for all his believing members - a fullness that is ready to be poured out on every one that will ask in prayer. Oh that men would understand that happiness does not depend on outward circumstances, but on the state of the heart.

Prayer can lighten crosses for us, however heavy. It can bring down to our side One who will help us to bear them. Prayer can open a door for us when our way seems hedged up. It can bring down One who will say, 'This is the way, walk in it.' Prayer can let in a ray of hope when all our earthly prospects seem darkened. It can bring down One who will say, 'I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.' Prayer can obtain relief for us when those we love most are taken away, and the world feels empty. It can bring down One who can fill the gap in our hearts with himself, and say to the waves within, "Peace; be still". Oh that men were not  so like Hagar in the wilderness, blind to the well of living waters close beside them.

I want you to be happy. I know I cannot ask you a more useful question than this: Do you pray?

And now it is high time for me to bring this tract to an end. I trust I have brought before you things that will be seriously considered. I heartily pray God that this consideration may be blessed to you soul.

Let me speak a parting word to those who do not pray. I dare not suppose that all who read these pages are praying people. If you are a prayerless person, suffer me to speak to you this day on God's behalf.

Prayerless reader, I can only warn you, but I do warn you most solemnly. I warn you that you are in a position of fearful danger. If you die in your present state, you are a lost soul. You will only rise again to be eternally miserable. I warn you that of all professing Christians you are most utterly without excuse. There is not a single good reason that you can show for living without prayer.

It is useless to say you know not how to pray. Prayer is the simplest act in all religion. It is simply speaking to God. It needs neither learning nor wisdom nor book knowledge to begin it. It needs nothing but heart and will. The weakest infant can cry when he is hungry. The poorest beggar can hold out his hand for alms, and does not wait to find fine words. The most ignorant man will find something to say to God, if he has only a mind.

It is useless to say you have no convenient place to pray in. Any man can find a place private enough, if he is disposed. Our Lord prayed on a mountain; Peter on the housetop; Isaac in the field; Nathanael under the fig tree; Jonah in the fish's belly. Any place may become a closet, an oratory, and a Bethel, and be to us the presence of God.

It is useless to say you have no time. There is plenty of time, if men will employ it. Time may be short, but time is always long enough for prayer. Daniel had the affairs of a kingdom on his hands, and yet he prayed three times a day. David was ruler over a mighty nation, and yet he says, "Evening and morning and at noon will I pray" (Psalm 55:17). When time is really wanted, time can always be found.

It is useless to say you cannot pray till you have faith and a new heart, and that you must sit still and wait for them. This is to add sin to sin. It is bad enough to be unconverted and going to hell. It is even worse to say, 'I know it, but will not cry for mercy.' This is a kind of argument for which there is no warrant in Scripture. 'Call ye upon the Lord,' saith Isaiah, 'while he is near' (Isa. 55:6). 'Take with you words, and turn unto the Lord', says Hosea (Hos. 14:1). 'Repent and pray,' says Peter to Simon Magus (Acts 8:22). If you want faith and a new heart, go and cry to the Lord for them. The very attempt to pray has often been the quickening of a dead soul.

Oh, prayerless reader, who and what are you that you will not ask anything of God? Have you made a covenant with death and hell? Are you at peace with the worm and the fire? Have you no sins to be pardoned? Have you no fear of eternal torment? Have you no desire after heaven? Oh that you would awake from your present folly. Oh that you would consider your latter end. Oh that you would arise and call upon God.

Alas, there is a day coming when many shall pray loudly, "Lord, Lord, open to us", but all too late; when many shall cry to the rocks to fall on them and the hills to cover them, who would never cry to God. In all affection, I warn you, beware lest this be the end of your soul. Salvation is very near you. Do not lose heaven for want of asking.

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 8)

Do Not Fear



Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go… Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:7, 9

Fear is a natural emotion that can be good when used for protection but debilitating when allowed to control us. Fear can hinder our judgment and potentially prevent us from moving forward to receive all that God has for us. We too are fearful of many things, from losing control to the unpredictability of our future.  God was very straightforward and serious when counseling Joshua about fear.

Courage means "to show oneself strong" or "to be alert." Other words associated with courage are "agile, quick and energetic." We tend to associate those words as personality types, not godly traits. If God commands us to be strong and courageous, then He desires for all His children to have such traits. He also gives us the same promises He gave to Joshua. Three times, the Lord told Joshua to be strong and of good courage. He then commanded Joshua to obey, while promising him that He would go with him wherever he goes. And Joshua did.
God tells us the same thing and He has given us the same promises. Hebrews 13:5 says "I will never leave you nor forsake you." The Lord has also given us His Holy Spirit that lives within us – meaning that wherever we go God goes too.And He tells us that all authority has been given to us through Jesus. What excuse do we have? Are we as apt to be "agile, quick and energetic" as we saw Joshua to be? We have no excuse to not receive all that God has promised us as His children. We have no excuse to not fully believe His Word and study His Word and live out His will. God told Joshua to be strong and courageous in taking the inheritance as well as in living according to God's ways. It takes courage to live for God and strength to uphold His commands. Both strength and courage are needed, to have both His inheritance and obedience.

What is stopping you? If it is fear, ask Him to give you courage. If it is apathy, ask Him to motivate you to be diligent. Tell the Lord that you want all He has purposed in His heart for you. Tell Him that you do not want anything to separate you from His will, including yourself. Tell Him to help your unbelief and empower you to push forward. And remember, do not be afraid for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

~Daily Disciples~

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Call to Prayer # 6

I ask whether you pray, because neglect of prayer is one great cause of backsliding.

There is such a thing as going back in religion after making a good profession. Men may run well for a season, like the Galatians, and then turn aside after false teachers. Men may profess loudly while their feelings are warm, as Peter did, and then in the hour of trial deny their Lord. Men may lose their first love as the Ephesians did. Men may cool down in their zeal to do good, like Mark the companion of Paul. Men may follow an apostle for a season, and like Demas go back to the world. All these things men may do.

It is a miserable thing to be a backslider. Of all unhappy things that can befall a man, I suppose it is the worst. A stranded ship, a broken-winged eagle, a garden overrun with weeds, a harp without strings, a church in ruins, all these are sad sights, but a backslider is a sadder sight still. A wounded conscience - a mind sick of itself - a memory full of self reproach - a heart pierced through with the Lord's arrows - a spirit broken with a load of inward accusation - all this is a taste of hell. It is a hell on earth. Truly that saying of the wise man is solemn and weighty, "The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways" (Proverbs 14:14).

Now what is the cause of most backsliding? I believe, as a general rule, one of the chief causes is neglect of private prayer. Of course the secret history of falls will not be known till the last day. I can only give my opinion as a minister of Christ and a student of the heart. That opinion is, I repeat, distinctly, that backsliding generally first begins with neglect of private prayer.

Bibles read without prayer; sermons heard without prayer; marriages contracted without prayer; journeys undertaken without prayer; residences chosen without prayer; friendships formed without prayer; the daily act of private prayer itself hurried over, or gone through without heart: these are the kind of downward steps by which many a Christian descends to a condition of spiritual palsy, or reaches the point where God allows him to have a tremendous fall. This is the process which forms the lingering Lots, the unstable Samsons, the wife-idolizing Solomons, the inconsistent Asas, the pliable Jehoshaphats, the over-careful Marthas, of whom so any are to be found in the church of Christ. Often the simple history of such cases is this: they became careless about private prayer.

You may be very sure men fall in private long before they fall in public. They are backsliders on their knees long before they backslide openly in the eyes of the world. Like Peter, they first disregard the Lord's warnings to watch and pray, and then like Peter, their strength is gone, and in the hour of temptation they deny their Lord.

The world takes notice of their fall, and scoffs loudly. But the would knows nothing of the real reason. The heathen succeeded in making a well-known Christian offer incense to an idol, by threatening him with a punishment worse than death. They then triumphed greatly at the sight of his cowardice and apostasy. But the heathen did not know the fact of which history informs us, that on that very morning he had left his bed chamber hastily, and without finishing his usual prayers.

If you are a Christian indeed, I trust you will never be a backslider. But if you do not wish to be a backsliding Christian, remember the question I ask you: Do you pray?

I ask, lastly, whether you pray, because prayer is one of the best means of happiness and contentment.

We live in a world where sorrow abounds. This has always been its state since sin came in. There cannot be sin without sorrow. And until sin is driven out from the world, it is vain for any one to suppose he can escape sorrow.

Some without doubt have a larger cup of sorrow to drink than others. But few are to be found who live long without sorrows or cares of one sort or another. Our bodies, our property, our families, our children, our relations, our friends, our neighbors, our worldly callings, each and all of these are fountains of care. Sicknesses, deaths, losses, disappointments, partings, separations, ingratitude, slander, all these are common things. We cannot get through life without them. Some day or other they find us out. The greater are our affections the deeper are our afflictions, and the more we love the more we have to weep.

And what is the best means of cheerfulness is such a world as this? How shall we get through this valley of tears with least pain? I know no better means than the  regular, habitual practice of taking everything to God in prayer. This is the plain advice that the Bible gives, both in the Old Testament and the New. What says the psalmist? 'Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me' (Psalm 50:15). "Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved' (Psalm 55:22). What says the apostle Paul? 'Be careful for nothing; but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God: and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus' (Phil. 4:6, 7). What says the apostle James? 'Is any afflicted among you? let him pray' (James 5:13).

This was the practice of all the saints whose history we have recorded in the Scriptures. This is what Jacob did when he feared his brother Esau. This is what Moses did when the people were ready to stone him in the wilderness. This is what Joshua did when Israel was defeated before the men of Ai. This is what David did when he was in danger at Keilah. This is what Hezekiah did when he received the letter from Sennacherib. This is what the church did when Peter was put in prison. This is what Paul did when he was cast into the dungeon at Philippi.

The only way to be really happy in such a world as this, is to be ever casting all our cares on God. It is trying to carry their own burdens which so often makes believers sad. If they will tell their troubles to God, he will enable them to bear them as easily as Samson did the gates of Gaza. If they are resolved to keep them to themselves, they will find one day that the very butterfly is a burden!

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 7)

We Were Made to Fly!



"Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles!" Isaiah 40:31 
A gentleman had an eagle which had been caught when young, and brought up in a cage like a domestic bird. At length the owner was going away over the sea, and decided to give the eagle its freedom. So he brought it out of its cage, and it walked about, but seemed to have no thought whatever of flying away. The gentleman was disappointed. At length he lifted the great bird to the garden wall. It stood there a moment, and then looked up toward the sun. It seemed suddenly to remember that it was an eagle, whose home was amid the crags and the cliffs. A moment more and it lifted one wing, then the other, and was gone--soaring away into the blue of the sky!
 
Some of us like that eagle, shut up in the cage, using only its feet, not knowing it had wings, and that its true home was in the heavens. Let us lift up our eyes to the heavens--there is our home. We were made for God. Let us try our soul's wings; we were made to fly! It is a desecration of life to live amid the dust--when we were created for flights in the blue heavens! 

"Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things!" Colossians 3:1-2 


~J. R. Miller~

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Call to Prayer # 5

There are some of the Lord's people who seem never able to get on from the time of the conversion. They are born again, but they remain babes all their lives. You hear from them the same old experience. You remark in them the same want of spiritual appetite, the same want of interest in any thing beyond their own little circle, which you remarked ten years ago. They are pilgrims, indeed, but pilgrims like the Gibeonites of old; their bread is always dry and moldy, their shoes always old, and their garments always rent and torn. I say this with sorrow and grief; but I ask any real Christian, Is it not true?

There are others of the Lord's people who seem to be always advancing. They grow like the grass after the rain; they increase like Israel in Egypt; they press on like Gideon, though sometimes faint, yet always pursuing. They are ever adding grace to grace, and faith to faith, and strength to strength. Every time you meet them their hearts seem larger, and their spiritual stature taller and stronger. Every year they appear to see more, and know more, and believe more, and feel more in their religion. They not only have good works to prove the realty of their faith, but they are zealous of them. They not only do well, but they are unwearied in well-doing. They attempt great things, and they do great things. When they fail they try again, and when they fall they are soon up again. And all this time they think themselves poor, unprofitable servants, and fancy they do nothing at all. They wrest praise even from the unconverted and win golden opinions even from the selfish men of the world.

It does one good to see, to be with, and to hear them. When you meet them, you could believe that like Moses, they had just come out from the presence of God. When you part with them you feel warmed by their company, as if your soul had been near a fire. I know such people are rare. I only ask, Are there not many such?

Now how can we account for the difference which I have just described? What is the reason that some believers are so much brighter and holier than others? I believe the difference, in nineteen cases out of twenty, arises from different habits about private prayer. I believe that those who are not eminently holy pray little, and those who are eminently holy pray much.

I dare say this opinion will startle some readers. I have little doubt that many look on eminent holiness as a kind of special gift, which none but a few must pretend to aim at. They admire it at a distance in books. They think it beautiful when they see an example near themselves. But as to its being a thing within the reach of any but a very few, such a notion never seems to enter their minds. In short, they consider it a kind of monopoly granted to a few favored believers, but certainly not to all.

Now I believe that this is a most dangerous mistake. I believe that spiritual as well as natural greatness depends in a high degree on the faithful use of means within everybody's reach. Of course I do not say we have a right to expect a miraculous grant of intellectual gifts; but this I do say, that when a man is once converted to God, his progress in holiness will be much in accordance with his own diligence in the use of God's appointed means. And I assert confidently that the principal means by which most believers have become great in the church of Christ in the habit of diligent private prayer.

Look through the lives of the brightest and best of God's servants, whether in the Bible or not. See what is written of Moses and David and Daniel and Paul. mark what is recorded of Luther and Bradford the Reformers. Observe what is related of the private devotions of Whitefield and Cecil and Venn and Bickersteth and M'Cheyne. Tell me of one of all the goodly fellowship of saints and martyrs, who has not had his mark most prominently - he was a man of prayer. Depend upon it, prayer is power.

Prayer obtains fresh and continued outpourings of the Spirit. He alone begins the work of grace in a man's heart. He alone can carry it forward and make it prosper. But the good Spirit loves to be entreated. And those who ask most will have most of his influence.

Prayer is the surest remedy against the devil and besetting sins. That sin will never stand firm which is heartily prayed against. That devil will never long keep dominion over us which we beseech the Lord to cast forth. Bu then we must spread out all our case before our heavenly Physician, if he is to give us daily relief.

Do you wish to grow in grace and be a devoted Christian? Be very sure, if you wish it, you could not have a more important question than this - Do you pray?

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 6)

Unburdened



Philippians 4:6-7 promises,

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

God is telling us not to freak out about anything.  Anything!  Can you think of anything that does not fit in "anything"? Instead of worrying—pray—about everything!

It is interesting that these verses do not promise God will answer your requests (though it is implied).  Rather, what God does promise in these verses is this:  If, when you are confronted with difficult things, you will pray rather than worry, God will give you peace.  The stress will lift.  The pressure will be broken.

In America, people spend millions of dollars visiting their therapists.  They talk over all their problems with their therapists to try and relieve the stress and worries of life.  I have a confession to make…I have a therapist.  I talk to Him every single day.  My therapist is my Father in heaven.  I bring all my problems to Him.  And I talk over everything with Him.
One of the keys in unburdening your heart when you pray is being completely honest.  God knows what you are thinking, anyway.  You may as well tell Him the truth about what is weighing you down.

It is no accident you are reading this today.  Perhaps you are so filled with anxiety and stress that you are working on an ulcer right now.  You don't sleep like you should.  Your anxieties have robbed you of the quality of life God wants you to have.

God wants you free from your burdens.  Take them to God today, and every day, and see how those burdens are lifted.

~Bayless Conley~

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Call to Prayer # 4

There is an Advocate and Intercessor always waiting to present the prayers of those who come to God through Him. That Advocate is Jesus Christ. He mingles our prayers with the incense of his own almighty intercession. So mingled, they go up as a sweet savor before the throne of God. Poor as they are in themselves, they are mighty and powerful in the hand of our High Priest and Elder Brother. The bank note without a signature at the bottom is nothing but a worthless piece of paper. The stroke of a pen confers on it all its value. The prayer of a poor child of Adam is a feeble thing in itself, but once endorsed by the hand of the Lord Jesus it availeth much. There was an officer in the city of Rome who was appointed to have his doors always open, in order to receive any Roman citizen who applied to him for help. Just so the ear of the Lord Jesus is ever open to the cry of all who want mercy and grace. It is his office to help them. Their prayer is His delight. Think of this. Is not this encouragement?

There is the Holy Spirit ever ready to help our infirmities in prayer. It is one part of his special office to assist us in our endeavors to speak with God. We need not be cast down and distressed by the fear of not knowing what to say. The Spirit will give us words if we seek his aid. The prayers of the Lord's people are the inspiration of the Lord's Spirit, the work of the Holy Spirit who dwells within them as the Spirit of grace and supplication. Surely the Lord's people may well hope to be heard. It is not they merely that pray, but the Holy Spirit pleading in them. Reader, think of this. Is not this encouragement?

There are exceeding great and precious promises to those who pray. What did the Lord Jesus mean when he spoke such words as these: 'Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for everyone that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened' (Matthew 7:7, 8). 'All things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer believing, ye shall receive' (Matthew 21:22). 'Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it' (John 14:13,14). What did the Lord mean when he spoke the parables of the friend at midnight and the importunate widow (Luke 11:5; 18:1)? Think over these passages. If this is not encouragement to pray, words have no meaning.

There are wonderful examples in Scripture of the power of prayer. Nothing seems to be too great, too hard, or too difficult for prayer to do. It has obtained things that seemed impossible and out of reach. It has won victories over fire, air, earth, and water. Prayer opened the Red Sea. Prayer brought water from the rock and bread from heaven. Prayer made the sun stand still.  Prayer brought fire from the sky on Elijah's sacrifice. Prayer turned the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness. Prayer overthrew the army of Sennacherib. Well might Mary Queen of Scots say, 'I fear John Knox's prayers more than an army of ten thousand me.' Prayer has healed the sick. Prayer has raised the dead. Prayer has procured the conversion of souls. 'The child of many prayers', said an old Christian to Augustine's mother, 'shall never perish.' Prayer, pains, and faith can do anything. Nothing seems impossible when a man has the spirit of adoption. 'Let me alone,' is the remarkable saying of God to Moses when Moses was about to intercede for the children of Israel (exodus 32:10). So long as Abraham asked mercy for Sodom, the Lord went on giving. He never ceased to give till Abraham ceased pray. Think of this. Is not this encouragement?

What more can a man want to lead him to take any step in religion, than the things I have just told him about prayer? What  more could be done to make the path to the mercy seat easy, and to remove all occasions of stumbling from the sinner's way? Surely if the devils in hell had such a door set open before them, they would leap for gladness, and make the very pit ring with joy.

But where will the man hide his head at last who neglects such glorious encouragements? What can possibly be said for the man who, after all, dies without prayer? Surely I may feel anxious that you should not be that man. Surely I may well ask - Do you pray?

I ask whether you pray, because diligence in prayer is the secret of eminent holiness.

Without controversy there is a vast difference among true Christians. There is an immense interval between the foremost and the hindermost in the army of God.

They are all fighting the same good fight but how much more valiantly some fight than others. They are all doing the Lord's work but how much more some do than others. They are all light in the Lord; but how much more brightly some shine than others. They are all running the same race; but how much faster some get on than others. They all love the same Lord and Saviour; but how much more some love him than others. I ask any true Christian whether this is not the case. Are not these things so?

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 5)

Power In Numbers



I believe the Bible teaches us that when we join together the impact is multiplied far beyond just the addition of those who join together.  One plus one equals far more than two.  Let me show you what I mean.     

In Deuteronomy 32:30, it says,

How could one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had surrendered them?

While this verse deals with Israel's disobedience to God and subsequent retreat from their enemies, think of what might be possible when God's people obey Him!  It says that one could chase a thousand, but two could put ten thousand to flight.

While one person can impact a thousand, two people can impact ten thousand.  That is a ten-fold multiplied effect! 

Leviticus 26:7-8, when God was giving promises to His people if they would walk in His ways, states this,

You will chase your enemies, and they shall fall by the sword before you.  Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight;  your enemies shall fall by the sword before you.

Notice God says five will chase a hundred, and a hundred will chase ten thousand.  By increasing the number of people times 20, their effectiveness would increase times 100.  Again, that is a multiplied effect.

You have probably heard of the Clydesdale horses, those big, strong workhorses that can pull a lot of weight.  One horse by itself can pull two tons, but if you yoke two together they can pull 23 tons!  That is incredible!

And that is how it works when we pray together with one another. When we join our forces in prayer and connect with heaven, that is what happens. There is a multiplied effect.  

~Janet Conley~

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Call to Prayer # 3

Have you forgotten that it is not natural to any one to pray? The carnal mind is enmity against God. The desire of man's heart is to get far away from God, and have nothing to do with Him. His feeling towards Him is not love, but fear. Why then should a man pray when he has no real sense of sin, no real feeling of spiritual wants, no thorough belief in unseen things, no desire after holiness and heaven? Of all these things the vast majority of men know and feel nothing. The multitude walk in the broad way. I cannot forget this. Therefore I say boldly, I believe that few pray.

Have you forgotten that it is not fashionable to pray? It is one of the things that many would be rather ashamed to own. There are hundreds who would sooner storm a breach, or lead a forlorn hope, than confess publicly that they make a habit of prayer. There are thousands who, if obliged to sleep in the same room with a stranger, would lie down in bed without a prayer. To dress well, to go to theaters, to be thought clever and agreeable, all this is fashionable, but not to pray. I cannot forget this. I cannot think a habit is common which so many seem ashamed to own. I believe that few pray.

Have you forgotten the lives that many live? Can we really believe that people are praying against sin night and day, when we see them plunging into it? Can we suppose they pray against the world, when they are entirely absorbed and taken up with its pursuits? Can we think they really ask God for grace to serve him, when they do not show the slightest desire to serve him at all? Oh, no, it is plain as daylight that the great majority of men either ask nothing of God or do not mean what they say when they do ask, which is just the same thing. Praying and sinning will never live together in the same heart. Prayer will consume sin, or sin will choke prayer. I cannot forget this. I look at men's lives. I believe that few pray.

Have you forgotten the deaths that many die? How many, when they draw near death, seem entirely strangers to God. Not only are they sadly ignorant of His gospel, but sadly wanting in the power of speaking to Him. There is a terrible awkwardness and shyness in their endeavors to approach Him. They seem to be taking up a fresh thing. They appear as if they wanted an introduction to God, and as if they had never talked with Him before. I remember having heard of a lady who was anxious to have a minister to visit her in her last illness. She desired that he would pray with her. He asked her what he should pray for. She did not know, and could not tell. She was utterly unable to name any one thing which she wished him to ask God for her soul. All she seemed to want was the form of a minister' prayers. I can quite understand this. Death beds are great revealers of secrets. I cannot forget what I have seen of sick and dying people. This also leads me to believe that few pray.

I cannot see your heart. I do not know your private history in spiritual things. But from what I see in the Bible and in the world I am certain I cannot ask you a more necessary question that that before you - Do you pray?

There is everything on God's part to make prayer easy, if men will only attempt it. All things are ready on His side. Every objection is anticipated. All things are ready on His side. Every objection is anticipated. Every difficulty is provided for. The crooked places are made straight and the rough places are made smooth. There is no excuse left for the prayerless man or woman.

There is no way by which any person, however sinful and unworthy, may draw near to God the Father. Jesus Christ has opened that way by the sacrifice he made for us upon the Cross. The holiness and justice of God need not frighten sinners and keep them back. Only let them cry to God in the name of Jesus, only let them plead the atoning blood of Jesus, and they shall find God upon a throne of grace, willing and ready to hear. The name of Jesus is a never-failing passport for our prayers. In that Name a man may draw near to God with boldness, and ask with confidence. God has engaged to hear him. Thing of this. Is not this encouragement?

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 4)

Flawed Messengers, Perfect Message



 "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."


I think we could all agree that the United States needs a spiritual awakening. We can't bring a revival about, but we can pray for one. And God tells us, "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14).

When Jonah went to Nineveh, he delivered a message of judgment: In forty days, Nineveh would be overthrown (see Jonah 3:4). There was no promise of forgiveness, no mention of God's love. Jonah basically was saying, "You are all going to die." And as far as he was concerned, he could have cared less.

But the people listened to Jonah and repented. And the Bible tells us, "Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it" (verse 10).

This was probably the greatest revival in human history. And it started with a flawed message from a flawed messenger.

We are all flawed messengers. But we have a perfect message: It is the good news of Jesus Christ. We can tell people that God loves them, that God will forgive them, but they are separated from Him by their sin. And if they will turn from their sin and put their faith in Christ, they can be forgiven.

Though we can't bring about a revival, we can pray for one. So here is my challenge to you: Don't isolate. Infiltrate. As I have often said, Jesus did not say that the whole world should go to church; He said that the church should go to the whole world.


~Greg Laurie~

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Call to Prayer # 2

I do not deny that a man may pray without heart and without sincerity. I do not for a moment pretend to say that the mere fact of a person's praying proves everything about his soul. As in every other part of religion, so also in this, there may be deception and hypocrisy.

 But this I do say, that not praying is a clear proof that a man is not yet a true Christian. He cannot really feel his sins. He cannot love God. He cannot feel himself a debtor to Christ. He cannot long after holiness. He cannot desire heaven. He has yet to be born again. He has yet to be made a new creature. He may boast confidently of election, grace, faith, hope, and knowledge, and deceive ignorant people. But you may rest assured it is all vain talk if he does not pray.

And I say, furthermore, that of all the evidences of the real work of the Spirit, a habit of hearty private prayer is one of the most satisfactory that can be named. A man may preach from false motives. A man may write books and make fine speeches and seem diligent in good works, and yet be a Judas Iscariot. But a man seldom goes into his closet, and pours out his soul before God in secret, unless he is in earnest. The Lord himself has set his stamp on prayer as the best proof of a true conversion. When he sent Ananas to Saul in Damascus, he gave him no other evidence of his change of heart than this, 'Behold, he prayeth' (Acts 9:11).

I know that much may go on in man's mind before he is brought to pray. He may have many convictions, desires, wishes, feelings, intentions, resolutions, hopes and fears. But all these things are very uncertain evidences. They are to be found in ungodly people, and often come to nothing. In many a case they are not more lasting than the morning cloud, and the dew that passeth away. A real, hearty prayer, coming from a broken and contrite spirit, is worth all these things put together.

I know that the Holy Spirit, who calls sinners from their evil ways, does in many instances lead them by very slow degrees to acquaintance with Christ. But the eye of man can only judge by what it sees. I cannot call any one justified until he believes. I dare not say that any one believes  until he prays. I cannot understand a dumb faith. The first act of faith will be to speak to God. Faith is to the soul what life is to the body. Prayer is to faith what breath is to life. How a man can live and not breathe is past my comprehension, and how a man can believe and not pray is past my comprehension too.

Never be surprised if you hear ministers of the gospel dwelling much on the importance of prayer. This is the point we want to bring you to; we want to know that you pray. Your views of doctrine may be correct. Your love of Protestantism may be warm and unmistakable. But still this may be nothing more than head knowledge and party spirit. We want to know whether you can speak to God as well as speak about God. Do you wish to find out whether you are a true Christian? Then rest assured that my question is of the very first importance - Do you pray?

I ask whether you pray, because there is no duty in religion so neglected as private prayer.

We live in days of abounding religious profession. There are more places of public worship now than there ever were before. There are more persons attending them than there ever were before. And yet in spite of all this public religion, I believe there is a vast neglect of private prayer. It is one of those private transactions between God and our souls which no eye sees, and therefore one which men are tempted to pass over and leave undone. I believe that thousands never utter a word of prayer at all. They eat. They drink. They sleep. They rise. They go forth to their labor. They return to their homes. They breathe God's air. They see God's sun. They walk on God's earth. They enjoy God's mercies. They have dying bodies. They have judgment and eternity before them. But they never speak to God. They live like the beasts that perish. They behave like creatures without souls. They have not one word to say to him in whose hand are their life and breath, and all things, and from whose mouth they must one day receive their everlasting sentence. How dreadful this seems; but if the secrets of men were only known, how common.

I believe there are tens of thousands whose prayers are nothing but a mere form, a set of words repeated, without a thought about their meaning. Some say over a few hasty sentences picked up in the nursery when they were children. Some content themselves with repeating the Creed, forgetting that there is not a request in it. Some add the Lord's Prayer, but without the slightest desire that its solemn petitions may be granted.

Many, even of those who use good forms, mutter their prayers after they have got into bed, or while they wash or dress in the morning. Men may thing what they please, but they may depend upon it that in the sight of God this is not praying. Words said without heart are as utterly useless to our souls as the drum beating of the poor heathen before their idols. Where there is no heart, there may be lip work and tongue work, but there is nothing that God listens to; there is no prayer. Saul, I have no doubt, said many a long prayer before the Lord met him on the way to Damascus. But it was not till his heart was broken that the Lord said, 'He prayeth.'

Does this surprise you? I will show you that I am not speaking as I do without reason. Do you think that my assertions are extravagant and unwarrantable? Give me your attention, and I will soon show you that I am only telling you the truth.

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 3)

The Cross: The Believer's Victory



From a worldly perspective, Christ's death signaled His defeat. After all, dying in agony on a cross hardly seems like the path to victory. But it was! And He did it all for us. Because Jesus triumphed over death, we can be victorious in life. Just consider what He won for us by sacrificing Himself on the cross.

Our Eternal Salvation: The cross was the means of our salvation. Without it, we'd have no hope of heaven. If Christ hadn't died in our place, we'd have to stand before God and receive the just punishment for every sin we've ever committed.

Power over Sin: Jesus not only paid the penalty for our sin; He also brought us present victory over it. When He was crucified, our old sinful nature died with Him (Rom. 6:6). The power of the "flesh" was broken, and Jesus now lives His triumphant life through us. That means we are no longer enslaved to sin and can choose obedience to God.

Defeat of Satan: At the crucifixion, the list of decrees against us was nailed to the cross, and the Devil lost his power over our lives (Col. 2:13-15). None of his accusations can stick, because God holds nothing against us anymore. And now every time we yield to the Spirit within us, Satan is defeated once again.

Christ met all our needs on the cross. By making us a part of His family, He gave us a sense of belonging. When He died in our place, He affirmed our value. And by coming to live His life through each believer, He gives us the ability to live a victorious, obedient life.

~Charles Stanley~

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Call to Prayer

I have a question to offer you. It is contained in three words: Do you pray?

The question is one that none but you can answer. Whether you attend public worship or not, your minister knows. Whether you have family prayers in your house or not, your relations know. But whether you pray in private or not, is a matter between yourself and God.

I beseech you in all affection to attend to the subject I bring before you. Do not say that my question is too close. If your heart is right in the sight of God, there is nothing in it to make you afraid. Do not turn ff my question by replying that you say your prayers. It is one thing to say your prayers and another to pray. Do not tell me that my question is unnecessary. Listen to me for a few minutes, and I will show you good reasons for asking it.

I ask whether you pray, because prayer is absolutely needful to a man's salvation.

I say, absolutely needful, and I say so advisedly. I am not speaking now of infants or idiots. I am not settling the state of the heathen. I speak especially of those who call themselves Christians, in a land like our own. And of such I say, no man or woman can expect to be saved who does not pray.

I hold salvation by grace as strongly as any one. I would gladly offer a free and full pardon to the greatest sinner that ever lived. I would not hesitate to stand by his dying bed, and say, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ even now, and you shall be saved.' But that a man can have salvation without asking for it, I cannot see in the Bible. That a man will receive pardon of his sins, who will not so much as lift up his heart inwardly, and say, 'Lord Jesus, give it to me', this I cannot find. I can find that nobody will be saved by his prayers, but I cannot find that without prayer anybody will be saved.

 It is not absolutely needful to salvation that a man should read the Bible. A man may have no learning, or be blind, and yet have Christ in his heart. It is not absolutely needful that a man should hear public preaching of the gospel. He may live where the gospel is not preached, or he may be bedridden, or deaf. But the same thing cannot be said about prayer. It is absolutely needful to salvation that a man should pray.

There is no royal road either to health or learning. Princes and kings, poor men and peasants, all alike must attend to the wants of their own bodies and their own minds. No man can eat, drink, or sleep by proxy. No man can get the alphabet learned for him by another. All these are things which everybody must do for himself, or they will not be done at all.

Just as it is with the mind and body, so it is with the soul. There are certain things absolutely needful to the soul's health and well-being. Each must attend to these things for himself. Each must repent for himself. Each must apply to Christ for himself. And for himself each must speak to God and pray. You must do it for yourself, for by nobody else can it be done.

To be prayerless is to be without God, without Christ, without grace, without hope, and without heaven. It is to be on the road to hell. Now can you wonder that I ask the question, Do you pray?"

I ask again, whether you pray, because a habit of prayer is one of the surest marks of a true Christian.

All the children of God on earth are alike in this respect. From the moment there is any life and reality about their religion, they pray. Just as the first sign of life in an infant when born into the world is the act of breathing, so the first act of men and women when they are born again is praying. This is one of the common marks of all the elect of God, they 'cry day and night unto him' (Luke 18:7). The Holy Spirit, who makes them new creatures, works in them the feeling of adoption, and makes them cry, 'Abba, Father' (Romans 8:15). The Lord Jesus, when he quickens them, gives them a voice and a tongue, and says to them, 'Be dumb no more.' God has no dumb children. It is as much a part of their new nature to pray, as it is of a child to cry. They see their need of mercy and grace. They feel their emptiness and weakness. They cannot do otherwise than they do. They must pray.

I have looked carefully over the lives of God's saints in the Bible. I cannot find one of whose history much is told us, from Genesis to Revelation, who was not a man of prayer. I find it mentioned as a characteristic of the godly, that they 'call on the Father' (1 Peter 1:17), or 'on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord' (1 Cor. 1:2). Recorded as a characteristic of the wicked is the fact that they' call not upon the Lord' (Psalm 14;4).

I have read the lives of many eminent Christians who have been on earth since the Bible days. Some of them, I see, were rich, and some poor. Some were learned, and some unlearned. Some of them were Episcopalians, and some Christians of  other names. Some were Calvinists, and some were Arminians. Some have loved to use a liturgy, and some to use none. But one thing, I see, they all had in common. They have all been men of prayer.

I study the reports of missionary societies in our own times. I see with joy that heathen men and women are receiving the  gospel in various parts of the globe. There are conversions in Africa, in New Zealand, in Hindustan, in China. The people converted are naturally unlike one another in every respect. But one striking thing I observe at all the missionary stations: the converted people always pray.

~J. C. Ryle~

(continued with # 2)

The Mark of Healthy Spiritual Life





"As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God!" Psalm 42:1-2 

Hunger is a mark of health--and the lack of appetite proclaims disease. The cessation of the desire for knowledge, shows that intellectual growth has ended.

Just so in spiritual life--dissatisfaction is the token of health. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness." Blessed are the unsatisfied. Blessed are those who long for more and more. The mark of healthy spiritual life, is an intense thirst for God, and a deep, passionate yearning for closer, fuller, richer, more satisfying communion with Christ Himself. The ideal Christian life is one of insatiable thirst, of unquenchable yearning, of divine discontent--wooed ever on by visions of an increase in spiritual life, new joy, and new attainments in Christlikeness. The best thing in us, is never what we now are, nor what we have already reached--but the longing for that which is yet higher and holier. 

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:12-14 


~J. R. Miller~

Monday, April 22, 2013

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

The Intrinsic Value of the Peculiar Treasure

And so the value that the Lord has here, as you see quite clearly, is in just a very few, comparatively. It is a "day of small things"; it is a comparatively small company about which the Lord says, 'My peculiar treasure.' The value is intrinsic. It is there that the Lord finds what His heart desires, and that which, I believe, leads us to the far greater thing. It is not that the Lord's thought ends there in smallness because the Old Testament ends with this day of small things, this little company fearing the Lord; but that is the link between the end of the old dispensation and the beginning of the new - the coming of the Lord Jesus and all that followed. For, in the four hundred years between the Testaments, there was still that little company holding to the Lord' full thought. When you open the New Testament, and begin the record as given by Luke, there you find that link - the little representative handful. Here is Anna, here is Simeon - here in Jerusalem is a company who wait for the promise, for the Messiah, looking for that day. They are linked with those who "feared the Lord." Ah, but this is something that, though outwardly small, has become so intrinsically great, making a way for the Lord to come.

No, it does not end there, but the challenge lies there. How mistaken we are when we measure things by their bigness, by their numbers. That is the way the world does it. And that is where the world has come into the Church - measuring things by numbers, size, extent, what you can see, how you can appraise from natural standpoints. 'Oh, that must be something for God! Look what a big thing it is!' Not necessarily. It has often been that the greatest thing of God has been very small in the eyes of man.

We return for a moment, in closing, to the long list of names in Nehemiah 11. I expect when you have read the Book of Nehemiah you have skipped this - those names, those terrible, unpronounceable names! You have said, 'Oh, let us get on to something more interesting than this!' And yet perhaps this is one of the most interesting things in the whole book. The Lord has taken note of each individual who offered himself in this way, and has marked him down by name and put him in the book; and he is not only here in this book, the Bible, and there mentioned by name for all successive generations to recognize, to identify, but he is in the other book in Heaven for all eternity. That is no small thing: to have your name down not only in the Lamb's Book of Life as one born from above, a citizen of Heaven, but in the Lord's "book of remembrance" as one who has 'followed the Lamb whithersoever He goeth,' as one of a tabulated company, yes, out of all the saved, all the redeemed - this kind of firstfruits unto God.

Need we say more? What is the appeal of these messages? That is the point at which we arrive. I trust it means comfort to you. We want all the comfort that we can get, but we know something of the cost. How many times recently have people said to me, 'When are you going to retire? So-and-so has retired and So-and-so is retiring -' yes, ministers of the Gospel. There is no discharge in this warfare, no day for retiring, brothers and sisters. I am sorry for you! You are not going to be pensioned off down here and spend the rest of your life vegetating. You have to go on to the last breath, with battle and cost to the end. There is a cost bound up with the full purpose of God, and in many ways we know it.

But oh, the answer! The Lord is taking note; He is putting it down, and He is saying: 'That tithe, that freewill offering people, shall be My peculiar treasure in that day that I do make.' I do not know how that is going to work out, what it is going to mean. Of course, it is a picture statement: that in a great house there is something, among all the possessions and all the ornaments, something that is peculiarly precious to the owner, and whenever his friends come he is always showing them that. 'Have you seen this? This is most valuable. I hold it more dear than anything else i have got; indeed it is more to me than all the rest put together - a peculiar treasure.'

That is behind this. How it is going to work out I do not know, but that is what it means. Those who go this way, those who will pay this price, those who will accept the consequences, those who will be after this kind - a freewill offering to the Lord for everything that He desires and His heart is set upon - will be in His House like that. He will be drawing attention to them and saying, 'Look here, have you seen these? There are peculiarly precious to Me. They followed the Lamb whithersoever He went.'

The Lord make us like that!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(the end)

The Greatest Act of Love




What do you think about when you see a depiction of Christ on the cross? Most of us are overwhelmed by the physical and emotional suffering that He endured—the scourging, beating, thorns, nails, mocking, and shame. We are horrified at the cruelty of the Romans and the hard hearts of the Jewish rulers.

But during the crucifixion, far more was happening than the eye could see. God was carrying out His plan to rescue mankind, providing everything we need for salvation:

1. Redemption.Jesus paid the full price of the debt we owed for transgression: death. His payment set us free from bondage to sin.

2. Forgiveness. God could now release us from the punishment we deserved.
3. Propitiation. Christ’s payment satisfied
the Father by fulfilling His demand for justice while letting Him forgive us.

4. Justification.On the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice, the Lord now declares believers not guilty. Although we will still sin in this earthly life, our standing before God is one of righteousness. This is a legal declaration that can never be reversed.

5. Reconciliation. The sin barrier that separated us from the Father was removed by Christ’s death on our behalf. We’re now God’s children—we have open access to Him and fellowship with Him.

The crucifixion was the only way to rescue lost humanity. If there had been any other way, the cross would have been a grotesque display of divine cruelty. But because so much was at stake, it can truly be called the greatest act of love by both the Father and the Son.

~Charles Stanley~

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Everlasting Mercy



And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand. John 10:28-29 

During my sophomore year of college, I took a class on religious literature. We studied a variety of poetry, sermons and even the Psalms. One piece of literature I remember most was written by Jonathan Edwards called "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." The professor told us that Edwards did not preach this sermon from memory but held his hand-written notes inches away from his glasses, straining to see the words in a dimly lit church. The intensity of the message moved the listeners so much that they crawled up the center aisle with hearts of repentance and remorse, longing to be saved. Jonathan Edwards is still known and quoted for the message he delivered that day.

I have seen a lot of play on words with Edwards' title like, "Sinners in the hands of a loving God." But the remix is not nearly as powerful or life changing as the original. We are all sinners held in God's hands. This God we serve is known as a consuming fire, all powerful and holy. If not for His mercy, we would all be consumed. If we understood who we really are, we could not get out of bed in the morning. God's mercy allows us to handle our own thoughts. We try to justify ourselves as we compare the extent of our sins with others. But the Book of Romans says that only Jesus can justify us. It is Jesus' justification that covers our sins, forgives our sins and blesses us despite our ability and extent to commit sin. Many Christians are walking around thinking that they have crucified their flesh, and that they are living a Spirit-filled life. They feel good about themselves because they do not think they are committing any of the top sins (murder, adultery, stealing). But they have no power; they just have their own rationalizations. God knows better because God sees the heart. If we really understood our sinfulness, we would be flat on our faces every day begging for forgiveness, understanding that God has every right to be angry.

We serve an awesome God. Praise God that He desires for us to live in hope and not in condemnation. His mercy surrounds us and His love blankets us. God wants to give us life in abundance. He does not desire for any to be destroyed. God desires to hold us up, not to push us down. If you are having thoughts that bring you away from God, that is condemnation. If you are having thoughts that are leading you towards the Lord—to be forgiven and restored—that is conviction.

God wants to show you His loving kindness and mercy. Turn to Jesus to be saved from your sins. Being in His hands is the safest place of all.

~Daily Disciples~

Saturday, April 20, 2013

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

A Freewill Offering

A Peculiar Treasure

But what did it mean, this living at Jerusalem - this living at the very heart of the testimony, in other words? For sine the wall represents the testimony, people coming into residence within the wall in Jerusalem really represented a spiritual movement - that there are those who are prepared to live right at the heart of the testimony. It was necessary, and it always is necessary, to the Lord that some do that - come right into the heart of it, to be there in the place of responsibility concerning it. There is a need that the testimony should be taken up with a sense of responsibility for its maintenance, that it shall be kept whole, that it shall be guarded, that it shall be served, that it shall be ministered to. If you look at the details concerning those who came within, you see their various ministries. I cannot take up the detail now, but you will see the various ministries which were represented by those who came into Jerusalem. They came in to fulfill a ministry, a spiritual ministry, on the inside, and take responsibility there. It was a need the testimony required.

A Great Cost

But there was a great cost attached to it. Not everybody was prepared for that, not at all. There were many who were ready for it, who accepted the method of choice to live inside, who were not called upon to do so, but there were those who, in the sovereign overruling of God, found themselves called upon to do so. The lot fell out in their direction. God sovereignly saw to it that that was how things went for them, and it represented a real cost. It was very much nicer to live outside Jerusalem than inside. These men came into the city, on that day when the lot was to be cast, ready to accept the result as the will of God for them.

And then the lot was cast, and it fell to them to come and live in the city. I can imagine some of those men going back to their suburban dwellings, wondering what the reaction was going to be at home about this; saying to their wives: 'My dear, we have to go and live in the city, we have to move into Jerusalem - the lot has fallen to us.' Well, of course, the right kind of wife would say this: 'My dear, it was a matter of prayer, was it not? WE prayed about it, that if it was to come our way the Lord would overrule, that if He wanted us He would let the lot fall on us. It was before the Lord; it is all right, the Lord wants it. Of course, it means giving up our nice little country house and our nice garden. it means losing that circle of friends we have out here. But still the Lord has laid it on us and we do not do it with any murmuring. But there are the children - perhaps that is the hardest part of all, the children. They have to lose so much - this free life out here, this life with all these others out here in the larger scale. They are involved in this.' And then they would turn to the children, and say: 'Listen, children: we have got to go and live in the city. We shall have to leave the country, and the garden, and all these others out here, and go to Jerusalem for the Lord, because the Lord wants it.' They would be very happy parents to whom the children said: 'Yes, we realize that your devotion to the Lord is costing you something, it is meaning a lot for you; and if we are involved in it, well, of course it means a lot to us - but we are with you  in this.'

I do not think that is all imagination. I am quite sure that it was a costly thing to move into Jerusalem - and it always is costly to live at the heart of the testimony. Those who do so must forgo many things that other people may have. You lose the large circle of friends when you go right to the heart of the Lord's interests. There are many people who do not understand you doing that; they call you foolish, you lose their confidence. hey cannot believe that the way you are taking is right, and they would argue, 'Surely that is not the Lord's will for you.' Yes, you lose many friends, and you may lose many other things; you may involve your children too - they may lose must if you are going wholly with the Lord.

But listen - "They shall be ... a peculiar treasure." To be a peculiar treasure of the Lord surely balances the account - nay, outweighs that. If you are going on with the Lord, it means that there are many things that you would like to have, many things quite legitimate and right, many things about which there is nothing wrong, but which, because of your utterness for the Lord, you will have to let go. And if you involve others in the suffering and cost of it all, that is a very bitter draught from the cup. There is nothing to indicate that these people who were chosen to move into Jerusalem did not have a bit of a struggle about it, that it did not cost them something; but the fact is that in their willingness to go on with the Lord they triumphed over all.

I think it is a wonderful thing that in the arrangement of the Books of the Bible there is such a big gap between Nehemiah and Malachi, and that Malachi comes right at the end with: "They shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in the day that I do make, even a peculiar treasure." It is costly in many ways to live at the heart of the testimony. Again I say, you may be deprived of many things - good things; you may lose a lot of friends; you may lose a larger life of opportunity. Oh, how many have stopped, saying: 'How many doors will be closed to me if I go that way! How much wide influence I shall forfeit! I shall narrow my scope if I go that way.' And many have refused on those grounds, thinking that it was a legitimate argument to hold on to a larger scope and larger influence against the whole mind of the Lord - a wrong way of estimating values, because values are not bigness; they are intrinsic and essential.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 13 - "The Intrinsic Value of the Peculiar Treasure")