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Monday, September 30, 2013

Called to Be Good, Not Great

"A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things" (Matthew 12:35)

Every pastor knows the plain people who have nothing to recommend them but their deep devotion to their Lord and the fruit of the Spirit which they all unconsciously display. Without these the churches could not carry on.

These are the first to come forward when there is work to be done and the last to go home when there is prayer to be made. They are not known beyond the borders of their own parish because there is nothing dramatic in faithfulness or newsworthy in goodness, but their presence is a benediction wherever they go.

They have no greatness to draw to them the admiring eyes of carnal men but are content to be good men and full of the Holy Spirit.

When they die they leave behind them a fragrance of Christ that lingers long after the cheap celebrities of the day are forgotten.

It remains only to be said that not all men can be great, but all men are called to be good by the blood of the Lamb and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Come unto God, unite yourself to God, and the doing power you have is infinite!

~A. W. Tozer~

Called to Be a Voice

"Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand ... and he laid it upon my mouth" (Isaiah 6:6-7)

Most surely the Church has a service of compassion to render to the world, but her motives are not humanitarian. They are higher than this by as much as the new creation is higher than the old. It is inherent in the Christian spirit that the followers of Christ should wish to minister to the bodies as well as the souls of men. But the call to give God's prophetic message to the world is something apart.

The call to witness and serve comes to every Christian; the call to be a Voice to mankind comes only to the man who has the Spirit's gift and special enabling. We need not fewer men to show mercy, but we need more men who can hear the words of God and translate them into human speech.

It is not enough that we are willing and eager to work for God, but the work itself must be of God. This is one of the deepest deaths that Christians are often called to die. Indeed, our work is unacceptable to God and useless to ourselves and others until it first has been bathed in the blood of Calvary and touched with the sign of crucifixion. It must cease to be our work and thus become His and His alone.

~A. W. Tozer~

Lead Me, O Lord

Psalm 5:8
Lead me, O Lord, in Thy righteousness because of mine enemies.
Very bitter is the enmity of the world against the people of Christ. Men will forgive a thousand faults in others, but they will magnify the most trivial offence in the followers of Jesus. Instead of vainly regretting this, let us turn it to account, and since so many are watching for our halting, let this be a special motive for walking very carefully before God. If we live carelessly, the lynx-eyed world will soon see it, and with its hundred tongues, it will spread the story, exaggerated and emblazoned by the zeal of slander. They will shout triumphantly. "Aha! So would we have it! See how these Christians act! They are hypocrites to a man." Thus will much damage be done to the cause of Christ, and much insult offered to His name. The cross of Christ is in itself an offence to the world; let us take heed that we add no offence of our own. It is "to the Jews a stumbling block": let us mind that we put no stumbling blocks where there are enough already. "To the Greeks it is foolishness": let us not add our folly to give point to the scorn with which the worldly-wise deride the gospel. How jealous should we be of ourselves! How rigid with our consciences! In the presence of adversaries who will misrepresent our best deeds, and impugn our motives where they cannot censure our actions, how circumspect should we be! Pilgrims travel as suspected persons through Vanity Fair. Not only are we under surveillance, but there are more spies than we reck of. The espionage is everywhere, at home and abroad. If we fall into the enemies' hands we may sooner expect generosity from a wolf, or mercy from a fiend, than anything like patience with our infirmities from men who spice their infidelity towards God with scandals against His people. O Lord, lead us ever, lest our enemies trip us up!

~Charles Spurgeon~

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Spirit's Call

"For ... we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office" (Romans 12:4)

While there is only one way to become a true preacher, unfortunately there are many doors into the pulpit. One is to be endowed with what is sometimes called a "good pulpit presence." Many a tall Absalom whose commanding presence and sonorous voice mark him as a natural leader of men is attempting to speak for God when he has not been sent by God. His call is from the people instead of from the Spirit and the results cannot be but disastrous.

Others have become ministers from a genuine but altogether human love for mankind. These have a strong sense of social obligation which they feel they can best discharge by entering the ministry.

Of all wrong reasons for becoming a preacher this would seem to be the most laudatory, but it is nevertheless not a spiritually valid reason, for it overlooks the sovereign right of the Holy Spirit to call whom He will.

The church that is man-managed instead of God-governed is doomed to failure. A ministry that is college-trained but not Spirit-filled works no miracles. Things will get no better until we get back to the realized presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

~A. W. Tozer~

The Instant Obligation

"Though he were a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered" (Hebrews 5:8)

The life of God in the soul of a man is wholly independent of the social status of that man. In the early church the Spirit leaped across all artificial lines that separate men from each other and made of all believers a spiritual brotherhood. Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, Greek and barbarian were all baptized into one body, of which Christ was and is the Head.

Along with the gift of eternal life, the entrance of the Holy Spirit into the believer's heart and the induction of the newborn soul into the Body of Christ comes instant obligation to obey the teachings of the New Testament. 

These teachings are so plain and so detailed that it is difficult to understand how they could appear different to persons living under different political systems or on different cultural levels. That they have so appeared cannot be denied; but always the reasons lies in the imperfect state of the believers composing the different groups.

Since I am God's temple, I am not to serve my own ends with my body, but the cause of Jesus Christ as His devoted disciple. Do I regard His temple, my body, as more than His?

~A. W. Tozer~

The Unveiling

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18

In the Old Testament book of Exodus, Moses describes the building of the tabernacle. This tabernacle is to be built on earth as a copy of heavenly things, a place where God can dwell with His people. Its design and construction are described in great detail in Exodus Chapters 26 through 28, then again in Chapters 34 through 38. One of its most beautiful pieces was a veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the Sanctuary. The veil represented man's separation from God; man at that time had no real fellowship with God. Only Moses could enter into such personal fellowship with God. He would come in such intimate contact with God that even his face shone with the glory of the Lord. Moses would use a veil to cover his face. 2 Corinthians 3:13 says that Moses used the veil to keep the people from seeing what was passing away, but the next verse states that their minds were blinded. It was as though the minds of the people had their own veil that kept them from really seeing the truth. Years later when Jesus died on the cross, this veil, still used to separate the two sections of the temple, was torn in two. Jesus died so that we may have personal fellowship with God. No longer was a veil needed, because there was no longer a need for separation. The only veil left is the one that we keep, over those areas we have not yet surrendered to God.

Do you have a veil covering part of your heart or mind? As Christians, we might be quick to say, "Of course not, I love Jesus and I know His Spirit lives within me." I am one of those Christians who not only would say it, but also would believe it with all my being. How can I be veiled in any area when I so desperately want all that the Lord has for me? How can I be blinded when all I want is to see with spiritual eyes? But the closer I walk with the Lord, the more I understand how blind I really am. A veil does not have to be thick. The veil in the temple was about three feet thick. I have learned that the veils that cover my heart and mind can be quite thin, enough to let me see through but not enough to let me see clearly. The problem comes when I think I am seeing clearly but am really only seeing through a fog. Then the Lord begins to show me things so crystal clear that I can barely look at them. The Lord begins to unveil parts of me.

We must go through this process with the Lord if we want to continue to grow in our walk with Him. Breakthroughs come and strongholds are broken when we get through these types of trials.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Religion Like No Other

"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12)

There are in the Christian religion three major elements: spiritual life, moral practice and community organization, and these all spring out of and follow New Testament doctrine; or more correctly, the first must and the others should.

Life comes mysteriously to the soul that believes the truth. "He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24). And again, "He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the spirit, which they that believe on him should receive)" (7:38-39).

The message of the Cross offers eternal life and the blessedness of the Holy Spirit indwelling the soul. These distinguish Christianity from every other religion; and it is significant that these distinguishing marks are of such a nature as to be wholly above and beyond the reach of man.

Christianity tells humanity, "You have destroyed yourself, but in Me is your help." It is a supernatural religion - the indwelling of the living God in human life.

~A. W. Tozer~

The Christ Question

"What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?" (Matthew 27:22)

"Where is Jesus now?" asks the world, and the Christian answers, "At the right hand of God." He died but He is not dead, He rose again as He said He would. Better than all, His Spirit now reveals to the Christian heart not a dead Christ but a living one. This we are sent to declare with all the bold dogmatism of those who know, who have been there and experienced it beyond the possibility of a doubt.

The gospel is the official proclamation that Christ died for us and is risen again, with the added announcement that everyone who will believe, and as a result of that belief will cast in his lot with Christ in full and final committal, shall be saved eternally.

He will not be popular and he will be called to stand where Jesus stood before the world: to be admired by many, loved by a few and rejected at last by the majority of men. He must be willing to pay this price; or let him go his way; Christ has nothing more to say to him now.

The question for every man is the Christ question. The turning point of every life is its direct relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ.

~A. W. Tozer~

Our Needs

Jim saved for a long time to take an Alaskan cruise. At last he was on board with two carefully packed suitcases. The first evening, when he heard "Dinner is served" announced over the loudspeaker, he took peanut butter crackers from his suitcase and sat at the table in his small cabin. Every day at mealtime, he repeated the ritual. It wasn't that Jim didn't like the ship's tasty banquets. He simply didn't know that his meals were included in the price of the ticket. For two weeks he enjoyed beautiful scenery off the decks but ate dry, stale food in his cabin.

This sad story is a metaphor for how some believers live the Christian life. God has promised to meet every need of His children—His riches are included in the price Christ paid for their salvation (Eph. 1:18). Yet many folks are trying to live out of their own resources. They don't know that the wealth of God's love, power, and provision is on their menu.

A believer's relationship with the Lord is one of complete unity. Jesus is our life. His Spirit lives through us. Therefore, everything that is available to Him is also available to the brothers and sisters in Christ—all power, strength, and endurance, as well as whatever is required to fulfill physical and emotional needs.

Jim didn't know he had the right to satisfy his hunger in an extravagant way. Learn from this exaggerated example. Read your Bible to learn what riches you are entitled to through faith. God offers believers everything required for living well and wisely. Trust Him for all your needs.

~Charles Stanley~

Friday, September 27, 2013

Silence - An Unutterable Beatitude

"While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them ... And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him" (Luke 9:34-35)

Not all silence is spiritual. Some Christians are silent because they have nothing to say; others are silent because what they have to say cannot be uttered by mortal tongues. We will confine our remarks to the latter.

Where the Holy Spirit is permitted to exercise His full sway in a redeemed heart, the progression is likely to be as follows: First, voluble praise in speech or prayer or witness. Then, when the crescendo rises beyond the ability of studied speech to express, comes song. When song breaks down under the weight of glory, then comes silence where the soul, held in deep fascination, feels itself blessed with an unutterable beatitude.

As the risk of being written off as an extremist or a borderline fanatic, we offer it as our mature opinion that more spiritual progress can be made in one short moment of speechless silence in the awesome Presence of God than in years of mere study. The exposure may be brief, but the results are permanent.

Very few of us know the secret of bathing our souls in silence. It was a secret our Lord Jesus Christ knew very well. We never really come to know ourselves because we cannot keep quiet long enough.

~A. W. Tozer~

Free From the Flesh

"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:2)

When the Holy Spirit is ignored or rejected, religious people are forced either to do their own creating or to fossilize completely. A few churches accept fossilization as the will of God and settle down to the work of preserving their past - as if it needed preserving. Others seek to appear modern, and imitate the current activities of the world with the mistaken idea that they are being creative. And after a fashion they are, but the creatures of the creative skill are sure to be toys and trifles, mere imitations of the world and altogether lacking in the qualities of eternity - holiness and spiritual dignity. The hallmark of the Holy Spirit is not there.

It is hard to imagine a more painful disillusionment than to come to the judgment seat of Christ and find that all our earthly lives we had been striving after the flesh and never permitting the creative Holy Spirit to work in us that which was pleasing in His sight.

There is a way of release from the tyranny of the flesh. It is by the Cross of Jesus. That ends the bondage of the flesh. The power to live free from it comes from the Holy Spirit.

~A. W. Tozer~

Run With Patience

"Let us run with patience" (Heb. 12:1).

O run with patience is a very difficult thing. Running is apt to suggest the absence of patience, the eagerness to reach the goal. We commonly associate patience with lying down. We think of it as the angel that guards the couch of the invalid. Yet, I do not think the invalid's patience the hardest to achieve.
There is a patience which I believe to be harder--the patience that can run. To lie down in the time of grief, to be quiet under the stroke of adverse fortune, implies a great strength; but I know of something that implies a strength greater still: It is the power to work under a stroke; to have a great weight at your heart and still to run; to have a deep anguish in your spirit and still perform the daily task. It is a Christlike thing!
Many of us would nurse our grief without crying if we were allowed to nurse it. The hard thing is that most of us are called to exercise our patience, not in bed, but in the street. We are called to bury our sorrows, not in lethargic quiescence, but in active service--in the exchange, in the workshop, in the hour of social intercourse, in the contribution to another's joy. There is no burial of sorrow so difficult as that; it is the "running with patience." This was Thy patience, O Son of man! It was at once a waiting and a running--a waiting for the goal, and a doing of the lesser work meantime. I see Thee at Cana turning the water into wine lest the marriage feast should be clouded. I see Thee in the desert feeding a multitude with bread just to relieve a temporary want. All, all the time, Thou wert bearing a mighty grief, unshared, unspoken. Men ask for a rainbow in the cloud; but I would ask more from Thee. I would be, in my cloud, myself a rainbow--a minister to others' joy. My patience will be perfect when it can work in the vineyard. --George Matheson
"When all our hopes are gone,
'Tis well our hands must keep toiling on for others' sake:
For strength to bear is found in duty done;
And he is best indeed who learns to make
The joy of others cure his own heartache."

~L. B. Cowman~

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Hard But Glorious Way

"If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me" (Luke 9:23)

To enter into the deeper life, seekers must be ready to accept without question the New Testament as the one final authority on spiritual matters. They must be willing to make Christ the one supreme Lord and ruler in their lives. They must surrender their whole being to the destructive power of the Cross, to die not only to their sins but to their righteousness as well as to everything in which they formerly prided themselves.

If this should seem like a heavy sacrifice for anyone to make, let it be remembered that Christ is Lord and can make any demands upon us that He chooses, even to the point of requiring that we deny ourselves and bear the cross daily.

The mighty anointing of the Holy Spirit that follows will restore to the soul infinitely more than has been taken away. It is a hard way, but a glorious one. Those who have known the sweetness of it will never complain about what they have lost. They will be too well-pleased with what they have gained.

The one misery of man is self-will, the one secret of blessedness is the conquest over our own wills. To yield it up to God is rest and peace.

~A. W. Tozer~

The Habitation of God

"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20)

According to the Scriptures the Church is the habitation of God through the Holy Spirit, and as such is the most important organism beneath the sun. She is not one more good institution along with the home, the state and the school; she is the most vital of all institutions - the only one that can claim a heavenly origin.

The cynic may inquire which church we mean, and may remind us that the Christian church is so divided that it is impossible to tell which is the true one, even if such a one exists.

Being inside the Church we are probably as well aware of her faults as any person on the outside could possibly be. And we believe in her nevertheless wherever she manifests herself in a world of darkness and unbelief.

The Church is found wherever the Holy Spirit has drawn together a few persons who trust Christ for their salvation, worship God in spirit and have no dealings with the world and the flesh.

The Church was never intended to be a natural and intellectual organization, but a supernatural instrumentality wholly dependent upon the power of God.

~A. W. Tozer~

The Old Refiner

"He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver" (Mal. 3:3).
Our Father, who seeks to perfect His saints in holiness, knows the value of the refiner's fire. It is with the most precious metals that the assayer takes the most pains, and subjects them to the hot fire, because such fires melt the metal, and only the molten mass releases its alloy or takes perfectly its new form in the mould. The old refiner never leaves his crucible, but sits down by it, lest there should be one excessive degree of heat to mar the metal. But as soon as he skims from the surface the last of the dross, and sees his own face reflected, he puts out the fire. --Arthur T. Pierson
"He sat by a fire of seven-fold heat,
As He watched by the precious ore,
And closer He bent with a searching gaze
As He heated it more and more.
He knew He had ore that could stand the test,
And He wanted the finest gold
To mold as a crown for the King to wear,
Set with gems with a price untold.
So He laid our gold in the burning fire,
Tho' we fain would have said Him 'Nay,'
And He watched the dross that we had not seen,
And it melted and passed away.
And the gold grew brighter and yet more bright,
But our eyes were so dim with tears,
We saw but the fire--not the Master's hand,
And questioned with anxious fears.
Yet our gold shone out with a richer glow,
As it mirrored a Form above,
That bent o'er the fire, tho' unseen by us,
With a look of ineffable love.
Can we think that it pleases His loving heart
To cause us a moment's pain?
Ah, no! but He saw through the present cross
The bliss of eternal gain.
So He waited there with a watchful eye,
With a love that is strong and sure,
And His gold did not suffer a bit more heat,
Than was needed to make it pure."

~L. B. Cowman~

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Breathless Adoration

"There is no God like thee which ... shewest mercy unto thy servants, that walk before thee with all their hearts" (2 Chronicles 6:14)

The theory [of impromptu service planning] is that if the meeting is unplanned the Holy Spirit will work freely, and that would be true if all the worshipers were reverent and Spirit-filled. But mostly there is neither order nor Spirit, just a routine prayer that is, except for minor variations, the same week after week, and a few songs that were never much to start with and have long ago lost all significance by meaningless repetition.

In the majority of our meetings there is scarcely a trace of reverent thought, no recognition of the unity of the body, little sense of the divine presence, no moment of stillness, no solemnity, no wonder, no holy fear...

The whole Christian family stands desperately in need of a restoration of penitence, humility and tears. May God send them soon.

We would do well to follow our old-fashioned forbears who knew what it was to kneel in breathless, wondering adoration in the presence of God.

~A. W. Tozer~

Who Is Praying?

"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought" (Romans 8:26)

The Spiritual quality of a prayer is determined not by its intensity but by its origin. In evaluating prayer we should inquire who is doing the praying - our determined hearts or the Holy Spirit? If the prayer originates with the Holy Spirit, then the wrestling can be beautiful and wonderful; but if we are the victims of our own overheated desires, our praying can be as carnal as any other act.

Two examples are given in the Old Testament, Jacob and the prophets of Baal. Jacob's wrestling was a real exercise, and at first it was not Jocob's doing. The wrestling became of divine origin, and the blessed results are known to every Bible student.

The other example does not turn out so well. The prophets of Baal wrestled also, much more violently than Jacob, but they wrestled in the flesh. Their writhings were born of ignorance and superstition and got them nowhere. They were wrong in spite of their zealous praying. Only the Spirit can pray effectively.

This is the Spirit of prayer - sincere, humble, believing, submissive. Other prayer than this the Bible does not require. God will not accept.

~A. W. Tozer~

The Burden of Inadequacy

Standing on the edge of the Promised Land, the Israelites were overcome by fear. The size and strength of the enemy contrasted sharply with their own weakness and inability. Because we're human, everyone at times will experience inadequacy and the uncomfortable feelings that accompany it. The issue you and I face is not whether we are sufficient for a task, but how we will respond when a challenge is beyond our capabilities.

Like the children of Israel, we can give in to fear and then focus on the expectation of certain failure. As the obstacle grows in our minds, our feet run in the opposite direction, away from the challenge and toward safety. However, turning away from the task that God has given us will lead us not to security but into bondage. By allowing fear to control our choices, we'll become chained to feelings of inadequacy, which will shape our future decisions and, ultimately, our destinies.

As a result of their refusal to trust the Lord and move forward to conquer the land, the Israelites were consigned to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. The men who did not believe God's promise never saw the land that He wanted to give them. Opportunities are always lost when we let fear overrule our faith.

When God calls you to a task beyond your abilities, instead of giving in to your feelings, choose to rely on what you know about Him and His promises. By moving forward in faith despite your inadequacy, you will discover the Lord's faithfulness. He always empowers us for the works He assigns.

~Charles Stanley~

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Longing for Higher Ground

"As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God" (Psalm 42:1)

Too many want the Holy Spirit in order that they may have the gift of healing. Others want Him for the gift of tongues. Still others seek Him so that their testimony may become effective. All of these things, I will grant, are a part of the total pattern of the New Testament. But it is impossible for us to make God our servant. Let us never pray that we may be filled with the Spirit of God for secondary purposes.

God wants to fill us with His Spirit in order that we should know Him first of all and be absorbed in Him. We should enter into the fullness of the Spirit so that God's Son may be glorified in us.

I try to bathe my soul in the writings and the hymns of the devoted saints of God. I wonder why we ever stoop to read or sing or quote anything but that which is elevated and divine, noble and inspiring.

When the Holy Spirit comes, He lifts our minds to new ideals and gives us conceptions of things so much in advance of our present experiences that we long for higher ground.

~A. W. Tozer~

Seeing the Invisible

"But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things , yea, the deep things of God" (1 Corinthians 2:10)

We must press on in the Holy Spirit. If we do not see beyond the visible, if we cannot touch that which is intangible, if we cannot hear that which is inaudible, if we cannot know that which is beyond knowing, then I have serious doubts about the validity of our Christian experience.

The Bible tells us: "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him" (1 Corinthians 2:9).

That is why Paul goes on to remind us that God has revealed these mysteries to us by the Holy Spirit. If we could only stop trying to make the Holy Spirit our servant and begin to live in Him as the fish lives in the sea, we would enter into the riches of glory about which we know nothing now.

What I am trying to describe here is the sacred gift of seeing, the ability to peer beyond the veil and gaze with astonished wonder upon the beauties and mysteries of things holy and eternal.

Whoever will listen will hear the speaking Heaven.

~A. W. Tozer~

In the Heavenly Places

"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ . . . and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:4-6).
This is our rightful place, to be "seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus," and to "sit still" there. But how few there are who make it their actual experience! How few, indeed think even that it is possible for them to "sit still" in these "heavenly places" in the everyday life of a world so full of turmoil as this. We may believe perhaps that to pay a little visit to these heavenly places on Sundays, or now and then in times of spiritual exaltation, may be within the range of possibility; but to be actually "seated" there every day and all day long is altogether another matter; and yet it is very plain that it is for Sundays and week-days as well.
A quiet spirit is of inestimable value in carrying on outward activities; and nothing so hinders the working of the hidden spiritual forces, upon which, after all, our success in everything really depends, as a spirit of unrest and anxiety.
There is immense power in stillness. A great saint once said, "All things come to him who knows how to trust and be silent." The words are pregnant with meaning. A knowledge of this fact would immensely change our ways of working. Instead of restless struggles, we would "sit down" inwardly before the Lord, and would let the Divine forces of His Spirit work out in silence the ends to which we aspire. You may not see or feel the operations of this silent force, but be assured it is always working mightily, and will work for you, if you only get your spirit still enough to be carried along by the currents of its power. --Hannah Whitall Smith
"There is a point of rest
At the great center of the cyclone's force,
A silence at its secret source;
A little child might slumber undisturbed,
Without the ruffle of one fair curl,
In that strange, central calm, amid the mighty whirl."
It is your business to learn to be peaceful and safe in God in every situation.

~L. B. Cowman~

Monday, September 23, 2013

Inactivity - the Highest Activity

"Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord" (Psalm 27:14)

There is an inactivity that, paradoxically, is the highest possible activity. There can be a suspension of the activity of the body, as when our Lord told His disciples to "tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high" (Luke 24:49). They waited. And the Holy Spirit came on them in power.

In the Old Testament, to wait on God meant coming before His presence with expectation and waiting there with physical and mental inactivity.

"Cease thy thinking, troubled Christian", one of the old poets wrote. There is a place where the mind quits trying to figure out its own way and throws itself wide open to God. And the shining glory of God comes down into the waiting life and imparts an activity.

Do you understand what I mean when I say that we can go to God with an activity that is inactive? We go to God with a heart that is not acting in the flesh or in the natural - trying to do something. We go to God in an attitude of waiting.

Hearing, I am receptive; seeing, I am active. Yet our bliss does not consist in being active but in begin receptive to God.

~A. W. Tozer~

A New Life for Thee

Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon - Joshua 1:3

All the land was given, but every inch of it had to be claimed. Israel had to put her foot down upon the land, whether wilderness or Lebanon, plain or hill, and say, "This is mine by the gift of God." And as the right was asserted, God made it good. The land had been covenanted to them through Abraham, but it awaited conquest and appropriation by the Israelites. No man was able to stand with them in the lot of their inheritance.
The settler who has purchased a plot of land in the Far West claims it to its furthest borders; and, if needs be, invokes the aid of the Government to make good his purchase. So with our possessions in Christ. All spiritual gifts are ours in the Risen Saviour. From the wilderness of the earth even to the river that makes glad the city of God, and unto the glassy sea on which the sun never goes down, is our border. But we must put the foot of faith down and say, "All things are ours; we have been blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ. He hath given us all things that pertain to life and godliness."
Let this be the beginning of a new life for thee. Reckon that thou art on the resurrection side of death. Do not look at temptation or difficulty, but claim by steadfast faith whatever God has taught thee to feel the need of. Dost thou ask how that strong courage may be thine? The answer is at hand. Meditate on the Word of God day and night, and depart not from it to the right or left. The strength of the inner life finds nourishment in the Word of God. Only in this way can we behold the broad expanse to territory that is ours by right, and obtain strength to go up and possess it.

~F. B. Meyer~

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Getting Alone With God

"In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength" (Isaiah 30:15)

There are some things that you and I will never learn when others are present. I believe in church and I love the fellowship of the assembly. There is much we can learn when we come together on Sundays and sit among the saints. But there are certain things that you and I will never learn in the presence of other people.

Unquestionably, part of our failure today is religious activity that is not preceded by aloneness, by inactivity. I mean getting alone with God and waiting in silence and quietness until we are charged with God's Spirit. Then, when we act, our activity really amounts to something because we have been prepared by God for it.

You do not need to seek Him here or there, He is no further off than the door of your heart. There He stands lingering, waiting for whoever is ready to open and let Him in. You do not need to call to Him in the distance. He is waiting much more impatiently than you, for you to op;en to Him. He is longing for you a thousand times more urgently than you are for Him. It is instantaneous: the opening and the entering.

~A. W. Tozer~

Responding to the Voice

"That which I see not teach thou me: if I have done iniquity, I will do no more" (Job 34:32)

It can be fatal to silence the inner voice, the voice of human conscience. Some silence it, for instance, when that voice speaks in outraged protest at the human habit of dishonesty, or take a person to task for jealousy or for some other sin.

It is always perilous to resist conscience, to ignore the inner voice. Let the Lord talk to your inner spirit, to your innermost being. Within you is a conscience that cannot lean on anybody, that cannot share the blame with anybody - a conscience that singles you out, isolates you and says, "You are the man!" "You are the woman!" It is the voice that makes you want to lower your head and tiptoe away while no one is watching.

I am grateful for the human conscience. If there was no conscience and no voice of God in the world, we would all become beasts in very short order. If that voice is speaking to you - that inner preacher who does not preach to a crowd but only to the lone individual soul - respond!

The chief thing is not to listen to yourself, but silently to listen to God.

~A. W. Tozer~

Seeing Obstacles Through God's Eyes

Jericho was the first city that the Israelites needed to conquer in their quest for the land of Canaan. When Joshua sent a pair of spies to check it out, he probably didn't realize that he would receive a glimpse of God's  impressive behind-the-scenes activity.

God wants us to look at every obstacle through the lens of His unlimited strength and resources. Anything that appears to block His plans is an opportunity for Him to demonstrate His sovereign power. Just because we don't see anything happening, that doesn't mean He's inactive.

Always remember that God is at work on the other side of our obstacles, arrang-ing the details and bringing His plans to fruition. When the spies returned to Joshua, they reported that the people of Jericho were scared to death. Having heard about the Jews' deliverance from Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea, they were gripped by fear of the Lord.

The stage was set for the conquest, yet by that point, Joshua had done nothing. Sometimes we think we need to be involved in the solution to our problem, but God is not limited with regard to whom or what He can use to accomplish His will. In this case, He worked in the hearts of the enemy by instilling demoralizing fear.

For Christians, great obstacles need not be reasons for discouragement. Although much of the Lord's activity is silent and invisible, we can be sure He is dynamically working out His will for our lives. When the pieces of His plan are in place, He will move us on to victory.

~Charles Stanley~

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Midwives in the Henhouse

"Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13)

I was once a farm boy. I learned that when it came time for eggs to hatch, we did well not to help the process along. The chick that had been helped in its birth could be spotted every time. It was weak, and it walked with a stagger.

But that is what we do with the penitents who want to get right with God. Well- meaning people kneel down with the seeking sinners, find a Bible text and pray away until they see a little sign of life. Then, like eager midwives in the hen house, they pull the penitents from their shells,dry them off, write down their names as converts - and later wonder why they do not develop.

But when the Holy Spirit brings penitents to the new birth, they bounce out into the world healthy and howling. Their sins are forgiven; their burdens have been lifted!

The will in man is the point of contact which God acts upon us, and, like the helm and the engine of the vessel, it is the directing and impelling power of life. They greatly err who look for its sphere in the emotions. Its seat is in the will. A clear, calm, inflexible choice is the mightiest element in the life of faith.

~A. W. Tozer~

The Shepherd's Voice

I woke up this morning thinking about all the places in the Old Testament that God physically speaks to someone and a reality struck me. For many of us who call themselves Christian we want a Moses experience in an Elijah world. If that seems a little strange let us take a look at these two encounters. First we find Moses out tending the flocks of his father-in-law when this he sees a bush that is on fire:
3 And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Exodus 3:3-4 (ESV)
If we take the time to look further into these passages of scripture we come to understand this is when Moses receives the marching orders to go back and confront Pharaoh and to bring freedom to God’s people. As Christians we often wish God would be this clear with us when we are seeking guidance about what to do as we serve Him. However, the reality is we are more often especially in today’s world going to find ourselves feeling like Elijah who has been serving God and has taken a stand for Him to the point he is the last true prophet left and people are seeking to destroy him. We find Elijah hiding in a cave wondering how and why God would bring him to this place and situation. I believe many of us can relate as we find ourselves in what feels like similar situations. However, God is still speaking it just requires a different kind of listening.
11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:11-13 (ESV)
While several eye-catching things happened before Elijah that God could have used to provide him direction and get his attention it was the still small voice that caused Elijah to move. The difference between these two encounters is simple for me. It comes to understanding the relationship between God and each individual. Moses did not know who he was talking to and Elijah did. God had to create a situation that would cause Moses to turn aside and come to meet Him where He was. Elijah however knew the voice of God. Elijah had allowed his own circumstance to effect his ability to hear God’s voice. It required God to refocus Elijah’s attention and reassure him that He could go nowhere that God could not find him or be with Him. Just like Moses once Elijah was listening, God instructed him about what he was to do.
Today are you as believers able to recognize that still small voice or are you looking for your burning bush. Jesus taught us about hearing His voice in John 10:
3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” John 10:3-5 (ESV)
If you are looking for the burning bush maybe it’s because the voice of the shepherd is strange to you. In our world today there are millions of voices crying out for our attention something new and flashy draws us to the left and the right each day. However, it requires a discerning ear if you really desire to hear God’s voice in your life. We must develop that listening ear through fasting, worship, prayer and scripture reading so that we can recognize and understand the voice of the shepherd when He calls us. I pray today that you begin to have an ear of discernment for the voice of the shepherd as you walk in the light of God’s Word.
~Elizabeth Marks~

Friday, September 20, 2013

Exchanging One Sin for Another

"Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1)

The offering and the sacrifice and the sanctifying energies of the Holy Spirit are indeed sufficient to prepare the soul for communion with God. This the Bible declares and this ten thousand times ten thousand witnesses confirm.

The big danger is that we assume that we have been delivered from our sins when we have in reality only exchanged one kind of sin for another. This is the peril that lies in wait for everyone. It need not discourage us nor turn us back, but it should make us watchful.

We must, for instance, be careful that our repentance is not simply a change of location. Whereas we once sinned in the far country among the swineherds, we are now chumming with religious persons, considerably cleaner and much more respectable in appearance, to be sure, but no nearer to true heart purity than we were before.

In the deeper experience of a sanctified heart, there must be another conviction, not of sin, but of sinfulness, before the soul is ready to receive the Holy Spirit and the abiding presence of the Lord.

~A. W. Tozer~

The Need of Divine Guidance

Psalm 73:24
Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.
The Psalmist felt his need of divine guidance. He had just been discovering the foolishness of his own heart, and lest he should be constantly led astray by it, he resolved that God's counsel should henceforth guide him. A sense of our own folly is a great step towards being wise, when it leads us to rely on the wisdom of the Lord. The blind man leans on his friend's arm and reaches home in safety, and so would we give ourselves up implicitly to divine guidance, nothing doubting; assured that though we cannot see, it is always safe to trust the All-seeing God. "Thou shalt," is a blessed expression of confidence. He was sure that the Lord would not decline the condescending task. There is a word for thee, O believer; rest thou in it. Be assured that thy God will be thy counsellor and friend; He shall guide thee; He will direct all thy ways. In His written Word thou hast this assurance in part fulfilled, for holy Scripture is His counsel to thee. Happy are we to have God's Word always to guide us! What were the mariner without his compass? And what were the Christian without the Bible? This is the unerring chart, the map in which every shoal is described, and all the channels from the quicksands of destruction to the haven of salvation mapped and marked by one who knows all the way. Blessed be Thou, O God, that we may trust Thee to guide us now, and guide us even to the end! After this guidance through life, the Psalmist anticipates a divine reception at last-"and afterward receive me to glory." What a thought for thee, believer! God Himself will receive thee to glory-thee! Wandering, erring, straying, yet He will bring thee safe at last to glory! This is thy portion; live on it this day, and if perplexities should surround thee, go in the strength of this text straight to the throne.

~Charles Spurgeon~

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Word and the Spirit

"Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures" (James 1:18)

Some people wish they could have lived in Jesus' day so they could have heard His voice and His teaching. They forget there were thousands who heard Jesus but who had no idea what He was talking about. They forget that His own disciples had to wait for the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to know what He had been telling them.

"If only I had heard Jesus," you may have said. No, you are better off now. You have the Light that lights every person. You have the voice of the inner conscience.

Some are sorry they never heard Dwight L. Moody or Albert B. Simpson in person. But I remind you that even if we could have heard the apostle Paul on magnetic tape [or CD], his speech could do no more for us than the Holy Spirit can do with the Bible and the human conscience.

We have heard the voice of the Light within the heart. The Church needs to listen to the inner voice and do something about its message!

There are two extremes. The Word without the Spirit is dry and dead, but the Spirit without the Word is incomplete.

~A. W. Tozer~

Exercise Your Faith

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward."  But Abram said, "Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?"  Then Abram said, "Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!" And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, "This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir."  Then He brought him outside and said, "Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them." And He said to him, "So shall your descendants be."  And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. - Genesis 15:1-6

When God gave Abram the promise that his descendants would be as countless as the stars in the heavens, Abram and Sarai were old and had no children. This promise was still several years away from fulfillment even as the Lord made this covenant with Abram. But despite the circumstances of the current situation, Abram "believed in the Lord" and all that He was telling him. God accounted him as righteous because of his great faith.

It takes incredible faith to believe in a God you have never seen. It takes even more faith to believe in His promises that will directly impact your life. Great faith comes from our resolve to believe in the Lord and who He is, not what we can prove or intellectualize about Him. As a matter of fact, faith can be downright silly in man's eyes, even foolish. Instead of being self-conscious or embarrassed we should all pray to be more foolish in our faith. Why not expect God to move mountains in our lives?

Where is your faith today? Faith is meant to be active, not passive. If we do not keep exercising our faith, we get weak and can be tossed to and fro when the enemy comes to strike. Get into the Word of God on a regular basis and ask the Lord to increase your faith. When you get that sense within your spirit that you need to move, do it…step out and go for it. Sometimes when the fear is the greatest, you have to ask yourself: who is trying to stop you and why? Fear is not of the Lord. So why is the enemy causing you to fear? He does not want you to succeed. Faith brings success. 

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Enjoying the Benefits

"Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways ... Happy shall thou be, and it shall be well with thee" (Psalm 128:1-2)

Our contacts with civilization make our clothes dirty, greasy, sometimes spotted. The dirt is not only on our clothes; soon it is actually "in" them. We can shake the garment, argue with it, talk to it, read Shakespeare to it ... Still it is soiled and dirty. The dirt must be loosed. The garment must be set free from its soil.

The only solution that will loose us from our sins is the blood of Jesus Christ. He loved us and freed us - washed us - from our sins in His own blood. Education, refinement - nothing else worked. But when Jesus' blood did its work, we were free!

"Ye shall know the truth," Jesus said, "and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). But there must be a moral commitment. If there is not, there is no understanding. If there is no understanding, there is no cleansing.

Are you obeying the truth as it is revealed by the Spirit of God? Are you enjoying the benefits of freedom in Jesus Christ? Are you one of His "true" disciples?

Happiness is nothing but that inward sweet delight, which will arise from the harmonious agreement between our wills and the will of God.

~A. W. Tozer~

Perseverance in Prayer

As a pastor, I speak with many people about their spiritual journey. From these interactions, I know that most individuals are not satisfied with their prayer life. They lack anticipation and faith, and time with God feels empty. Most likely, this is why many Christians pray so little and so passionlessly.

Yesterday, we began looking at obstacles to a healthy prayer life. Let’s explore one more hindrance that blocks vibrant communication between God and us: impatience.

Most of us have at some point brought our supplication to Jesus vigorously but did not see the desired results. Unfortunately, humans are, by nature, fainthearted. We get weary of asking and listening when all we perceive is silence. Remember, though, that God is not some “cosmic bellhop”; He does not act on our cue. In fact, if we could see the big picture as He can, we would gladly wait for His way and time.

Actually, I believe that we benefit by not receiving all that we request. Understanding this concept is a sign of spiritual maturity. When we are thoroughly satisfied with the Lord’s presence, our relationship with Him will flourish, even when we don’t get all we ask. When that is the case, we grasp what prayer is—not a long want list, but a relationship.

Barriers can develop if we persistently cry out to God but nothing changes. Continue to pray. Beyond this “wall,” you’ll sense God’s presence, where you will find peace, joy, and awesome glimpses of His glory. This will be completely satisfying, even if He never gives you exactly what you requested.

~Charles Stanley~

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

"Real" Truth

"If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed, and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31-32)

Truth must be understood by inward illumination. Then we know the truth. Until that time, we do not know it.

I heard through missionaries of a boy overseas who had memorized Jesus' entire Sermon on the Mount. He did it in such record time and with such apparently little effort that someone called him in to find out how he had done it.

"Well," said the boy, "I would memorize a verse and then trust God to help me put it into practice. Then I would memorize the next verse and say, "Lord, help me to live this one, too."

That boy had truth on his side. He did not consider truth to be something objective, simply to be filed in the mind as knowledge. Rather, truth to him was also subjective - to be acted on.

Truth becomes real to us within our beings by obedience and faith.

Before we can truly obey Him, we must fully receive Him and be so united with Him that His interests are ours and His will is just the expression of our inmost being.

~A. W. Tozer~

How God Views the Self-Directed Man

We've all heard jokes about men who refuse to stop and ask for directions. But in reality, there's probably a good bit of truth to the stereotype, and it isn't limited to males. Plenty of men and women in this world zoom along without slowing down to ask for guidance.
If you were to look at the situation from a spiritual perspective, you'd see a world of lost souls desperately trying to save themselves. They think  they can earn their way into heaven through hard work and the accumulation of good deeds. But they're wrong.
Today's passage from Luke describes a wealthy person who makes a lot of plans based only on his own thoughts, desires, and experience. Take the time to look at the passage again, and notice how many times he used the words "I" and "my." What you'll see is that his focus was squarely on himself. This parable is a sad picture of the self-directed man trying to make his own way and secure his own future with no help from anyone--including God.
The Lord didn't mince words: He called the man "fool" (v. 20). Worldly wisdom amounts to nothing in the eyes of our omniscient, all-wise Father (1 Cor. 1:20), and He expects His children to request and follow His guidance.
The message for us today is clear: When we figure out our own plans and take action with no thought about what God would advise, we are behaving like fools. The Lord has a plan for your life. He knows where you'll succeed and where you'll fail. Be wise and ask Him for directions.

~Charles Stanley~