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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

War In Your Heart # 71

Christ Our Pattern (continued)

The Infinite Stoop (continued)

satan used every wile and weapon at his disposal to kill Jesus from His babyhood on (Matthew 2:13, 26:4; Luke 22:2).

satan would have gotten rid of Jesus by death, but not by the death of the Cross. God's way to the throne was by the way of the Cross. So satan did everything within his power to get Jesus to act independently and go another way than the way of God. The very intent of the last temptation was to persuade Jesus to go his way versus the Father's way (Matthew 4:8).

The Son of the Father was also the Father's heir (Hebrews 1:2). All the kingdoms of this world were one day to be His kingdom and He is to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords over them (Revelation 11:15; 19:16). But the pathway to the throne was that of the Overcomer; He must win the throne by way of the Cross.

"If thou wilt." Step out of God's will; step aide from God's way into the independence of decision and action on your own. "All these kingdoms" which are now under my control and "all the glory of them" will I give unto Thee if Thou wilt do but one thing - "fall down and worship me." So spake the archtriator and the archapostate: the archdeceiver in the final wilderness temptation to win the victory over God's second Man.

Jesus reply is short and sharp. He used the two-edged Sword with matchless skill and perfect success (Matthew 4:10).

"For it is written" versus "If thou wilt." Jesus lived not according to any thoughts, desires, or volitions of His own, but solely by the Word of God, which declared plainly the will of God and the way of God.

"Him only shalt thou serve." Get the full force of that word "only."  Being His Father's bondslave, Jesus had no will and no way of His own to the Kingship and the Lordship promised Him. satan was "prince of this world" but he was not king over the kingdoms of this world and never would be. As a usurper he might declare that he would "exalt his throne above the stars of God" (Isaiah 14:13), and assume the right to rule over the world. But his "throne" was not the throne of God. That the Father had already given to His Son and Heir by promise and prophecy (Psalm 2:1-9.) 

Hebrews 1:8: of the Son he saith, 'Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, and the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of thy kingdom".

But the throne was to be His by way of the Cross. So satan's temptation was nothing less than a most subtle attempt to coerce Jesus to by-pass the Cross. Never were His words "the prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in me" more true. "I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do" (John 14:31). God's way for His Son to have the nations for His inheritance and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession was by way of the Cross, and by that way only would He go.

satan had been foiled in the wilderness battle and repulsed in the Gethsemane conflict, but his cruelest temptation was when the obedient One actually hung upon the Cross. There we hear the serpent's final hiss: there attempts to inject his poisonous venomous fangs into the bleeding, suffering Saviour; there where the Saviour's love is seen at its best, the serpent's hate is seen at its worst (Matthew 27:40.)

"If thou art the Son of God." Very well indeed did satan know that the One hanging upon the Cross was "God manifested in the flesh" (1 Timothy 3:16). The prophecy-promise of that double bruising had been spoken directly to the serpent (Genesis 3:14, 15) by the Lord Himself.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 72)

The Priority of Obedience



The Creator gave two commands to Adam and Eve—first, to fill the earth and rule over it, and second, not to eat from a certain tree in the Garden (Gen. 1:282:17). Because they chose to disobey, their relationship with God was broken, and they had to leave Eden.

The first couple’s rebellion not only impacted their own lives but also had far broader implications: all future generations have suffered. In Romans 5:12-19, the apostle Paul explained the reason. Through the trespass of one man, Adam, sin made its entrance into the world, and death resulted for all mankind. Because Adam was head of the human race, his actions affected everyone born after him. His disobedience resulted in each of us having a bent away from the Lord and a desire for self-rule.

By contrast, Jesus made conformity to the Lord’s will the priority of His life. He obeyed God in both word and deed (John 8:28-29). Having lived a perfect life—one entirely without sin—He qualified to be our Savior (2 Cor. 5:21). Through the death of one man, Christ Jesus, payment was made for the transgressions of all mankind. God’s acceptance of the Son’s sacrifice brought us forgiveness and freedom from sin’s power.

Adam’s disobedience brought judgment and death upon us, whereas Jesus’ obedience resulted in new life for all who believe in Him (Rom. 6:4). Our Savior calls us to deny selfish desires, live sacrificially, and follow Him (Matt. 16:24). A godly life will bring Jesus honor and influence others for Him.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Monday, September 29, 2014

War In Your Heart # 70

Christ Our Pattern (continued)

The Infinite Stoop (continued)

The Word of God says: "The soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezekiel 18:20); "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). But the Son of Man never sinned. "In him is no sin," John had said (1 John 3:5). Paul and Peter had given the same testimony. "Him who knew no sin" (2 Chronicles 5:21); "he did no sin" (1 Peter 2:22). So death had no claim whatsoever upon Him and He did not become obedient to death's claim or call.

Then it must be a new submission to His Father's will. This new obedience unto death was a new giving up of that which He had every right to hold. Indeed it expresses the climax of obedience, for He had absolute power over His own life, according to His own statement (John 10:17, 18).

Gethsemane is the revelation of the perfection of the obedience of the One "perfect through sufferings" (Hebrews 2:10; Matthew 26:39).

"If - Nevertheless - But." The issue: self-will or God's will - His whole life principle is at stake; the acceptance of, acquiescence in, and obedience to the will of His Father at any cost. Perhaps some reader of these lines is facing this same issue this very moment - your will or God's will? If so, will you not go alone with God and remain bowed in prayer, even as Jesus your Saviour did, until you can say even as He, "My Father, if ... nevertheless ... but."

"Not as I will." There is not one trace or taint of self-will in these words. The renunciation has been made and it is without reservations. It is the inmost heart expression of One who literally has no will of His own in respect to "this cup." "But as thou wilt." No matter what was involved in the drinking of "this cup" or what would be the infinite cost of drinking it; if it was His Father's will, He would by His own choice drink it. It was His Father's will (Acts 2:23).

Can He do any further down than this? Yes, there is still one step further that He must take, for He has not yet reached the deepest depth.

The Fifth Step Down (Philippians 2:8).

"The death of the Cross"; words we use so familiarly, we say so glibly, having so little realization of the awfulness and hideousness of "the death of the Cross." Of all forms of death devised by man, crucifixion was the most painful and shameful; involving as it did the very acme of offense in ignominy, scoffing, scourging, even spitting. It was also the most degrading and disgraceful of all the forms of punishment, "the most terrible torture to be devised by man's inhumanity to man, the very consummation of human sadism." Death by crucifixion involved such shame, ignominy, and disgrace that at first it was a punishment inflicted only by slaves; a penalty reserved for the worst crimes; meted out to criminals and malefactors exposed as a public spectacle.

But for the Man Christ Jesus, there was something in "the death of the Cross" far more awful than its public shame. He had obeyed the law of God in fullest measure,yet through His death on the Cross He was made a curse for us. In His crucifixion the altogether holy, righteous, obedient One hung there accursed by the law and received the full blast of the wrath of God which was our due (Galatians 3:10-13).

Could - would - the Son of Man stoop so low, even to this deepest depth of shame and humiliation? The death of the Cross was a divine necessity. Only through it could he first great prophecy of the double bruising of Genesis 3:15 be fulfilled. The head of satan and the heel of the Saviour must be bruised to bring redemption to mankind and the restoration of the sole, undivided sovereignty of the throne of God. The fiercest and the final battle in the agelong conflict with satan must be won through "the death of the Cross," for the cross is God's way to the throne.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 71)

The Rewards of Patience


 
The Scriptures contain many stories of people who waited years or even decades before the Lord's promises came to pass. What modern believers can learn from the patience of biblical saints like Abraham, Joseph, David, and Paul is that waiting upon the Lord has eternal rewards.
 
Today let's look at Israel's most memorable monarch. David was the chosen heir to Israel's throne, but he spent years dodging King Saul's wrathful pursuit. Despite having two different opportunities for vengeance, David resisted the temptation and spared Saul's life. He chose to adhere to God's timetable for his coronation instead of dishonoring the Lord by killing the divinely anointed king. David's psalms reveal his intimate awareness of Yahweh's work in his life. The shepherd king not only achieved his objective through patience; he also observed that God's way was always best.
 
David left behind an incredible testimony of God's faithfulness for each of us to read and meditate upon. He was committed to waiting upon the Lord, and as a result, he had the Father's approval and blessing. We cannot underestimate the reward of living in divine favor. That isn't a special state reserved for "giants of the faith" like David. All who obediently endure until the Lord acts on their behalf abide in His favor.
 
David didn't receive his blessings because he was special; he was honored among men because he honored the Lord above all. And since he trusted in God's faithfulness, he endured hardship with patience. We, too, can expect to be blessed when we wait upon the Lord.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Sunday, September 28, 2014

War In Your Heart # 69

The Third Step Down

Philippians 2:7: And was made in the likeness of men.

In the Greek it reads: "In the likeness of men having become." He became what He had not been before; a Man like other men. In so becoming He was really and truly man. In becoming Man He did not cease to be God; nor did He become God and Man. But when "the Word was made flesh," there entered into the world a totally unique being, the God-Man. He was one Person with two natures: the inherent nature of Deity and the assumed nature of humanity: absolute Deity in union with real humanity. The Son of God became the Son of Man (Hebrews 2:14, 17, 18).

Jesus lived His life and did His work, wholly dependent upon God, the Holy Spirit. He was baptized by the Spirit (John 1:32, 33), full of the Holy Spirit and led by the Spirit (Luke 4:1), empowered by the Spirit (Luke 4:14). The source of His power in His work on earth is plainly attributed to the Spirit's anointing (Acts 10:38).

As a bondslave He gave up all right to His own will, even to the uttermost length of obedience. As a Man like other men He gave up all right to His own way and went to the uttermost length of dependence.

The Fourth Step Down

Philippians 2:8: being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death.

"Being found in fashion as a man". Jesus' outward appearance manifested in His manner of living was that of a real man. He was subjected to the limitations of time and space and to those necessities of the human body which are not the result of sin, such as that of food,sleep, and rest. In His human body there was no trace or trait or tendency to sin, yet it needed the attention and care that any human body needs. In outward seeming He was found on earth in a real humanity. Kenneth Wuest in his book "Philippians in the New Testament", gives such a clear unfolding of this verse in the following: "He was really a Man, but He was not a real man in the sense that He was like others of the human race, only a man. He was always in His incarnation more than man. There was always that single personality with a dual nature. His deity did not make Him more or less than a Man, and His humanity did not make Him less than absolute Deity."

"He Humbled Himself"

In becoming the Christ Man He emptied himself, but there is a still further going down by His own choice into a deeper depth of self-renunciation. After becoming Man "he humbled himself." How? "Becoming obedient." Was He not always in all things, at all times, in all circumstances obedient? Had He not chosen from boyhood right through manhood to live moment by moment a life of joyous obedience? Had He not proved the possibility of a life lived habitually on the principle of absolute obedience to God, as originally planned, but discarded by the first man's disobedience? Then "becoming obedient must involve some new obedience, a further act of submission, a much longer stoop down; the very greatest bend in the infinite stoop.

"Obedient unto Death." He even stooped to die! Oh! what a stoop! The Author; the Prince; the Creator of all life; yes, even He who was life itself died. It is hard indeed to grasp the full meaning and significance of this fat, Life itself dying. But the very heart of the gospel lies hidden in this fact that "the Prince of Life" (Acts 3:15) went all the way of obedience, even up to the very point of death in His self-humbling.

This obedience could only be to His Father. satan in every temptation had tried to get Jesus to do something outside the will of God, something that had not the will and the glory of the Father as its sole motive. But even in the severest temptation he had never been able to break or even shake Jesus' obedience to His Father.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 70)

Resist the devil


In Jude 9 we are told how Michael the archangel dealt with Satan. 

Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!"


My concern is that some people have tried to use this Scripture to say that we do not have authority over the devil.  They believe we have no recourse other than to pray that the Lord will do something about him.

But that is not the point he is making here at all.  Jude was referencing the previous verse where some would "speak evil of dignitaries."  He used Michael's conversation with the devil to show that this was wrong.  To say that we do not have the right to resist the devil and cast him out on the basis of this Scripture is ridiculous.  Here are five things to think about:

1.      This event between Michael and Lucifer (Satan) happened before New Testament times—before Jesus defeated the devil and broke his power.

2.      James 4:7 tells us, Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  It does not say, "Pray that God will resist the devil for you."

3.      Jesus, in the Great Commission, told us to cast out devils (or demons).  Jesus wouldn't tell us that if He hadn't given us the authority. 

4.      In Luke 10:19 Jesus said, "I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you."

5.      In the book of Acts, as the Church carried out their mission, they commanded demons to come out, and they came out in Jesus' name.

My friend, Jesus has broken the authority of the devil in your life.  Resist him and he will flee!

~Bayless Conley~

Saturday, September 27, 2014

War In Your Heart # 68

Christ Our Pattern (continued)

The Infinite Stoop (continued)

Jesus was in that wilderness as Man, the Representative Man, meeting that temptation and gaining the victory as every man would have to do it and could do it. As Man He lived by and according to the Word of God. His whole life was governed by "it is written." Consequently He used this invincible weapon against satan with such success that in the second temptation the devil  attempted to use it for his devilish ends (Matthew 4:5, 6).

"If ... the Son of God" - use Your rights as such. Manifest Your Deity by doing a miracle for Yourself; act from Yourself in the independence of both the power and authority belonging to Deity. Again the most devilish craftiness was employed in capitalizing on Jesus' openly declared dependence upon the Father's Word. "For it is written." If you live by every word out of the mouth of God, then "cast yourself down," for will He not fulfill His Word on your behalf?" But God's second Man knew the exact Word to use. "The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" (Ephesians 6:17).

Matthew 4:7: "Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."

Jesus was overcoming satan even as we must overcome that wicked one. Therefore He would not tempt God by acting independently.

The Father's Way was His Way

Let us reiterate that it was Jesus' way not by compulsion but by choice. At the time of His arrest, Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest's servant (John 18:11).

The Father's was was the way of the cup, the pathway of suffering. But because it was the Father's way, the Son of Man chose to drink the cup which the Father gave, even to its dregs. Having taken the form of the bondslave, He emptied himself also of self-exaltation. Deity invested Him with glory which was manifested in all its splendor in the eternity of the past (John 17:5). Deity gave Him the right to be exalted as God for His own sake. But God's second Man gave up all right to this self-exaltation and all that He was and did was purely for the glory of the Father (John 17:4).

God's second Man subordinated Himself to the Father in constantly acknowledging His utter dependence upon Him, though He had said to the Jews who challenged His claim to Messiahship, "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30).

John 14:28; John 5:19; John 5:30; John 5:43; John 7:16.

So emptying Himself was not merely laying aside the insignia and trappings of majesty, or divesting Himself of the dignity and glory which were inherently his as God. That would not have sufficient relationship to our daily human experience to make Him a pattern to us of an Overcomer. But to see Him as Man strip Himself of all right to self-will and self-exaltation, and by His own voluntary choice live as the joyous bondslave of His Father, always doing the Father's will: always obeying the Father's Word: always going to Father's way: that is indeed a pattern for one who desires to be a victor; we too may overcome, even as He overcame.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 69 - (The Third Step Down)

Baptism: Identifying with Christ


 
Christ began His public ministry with baptism. At the time, John the Baptist was calling people to confess their sins and demonstrate repentance through immersion in the river. So why did Jesus, the sinless One, ask to be baptized? At first, John actually refused, knowing Christ was the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). But Jesus wasn't demonstrating repentance; He was sacrificially identifying with sinful humankind.
 
As Christians, we're called to follow His example in all things, becoming more like Him as we grow in our faith. That's why baptism is the first step in following Jesus. As He was willing to identify Himself with us, we publicly identify with Him when we are baptized, which is a symbolic way of declaring, "I have trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior and believe that the debt of my sin is fully paid through His sacrifice. I believe that as He rose from the dead, I will also be resurrected through Him. I look forward to walking in God's will while I'm on the earth and living with Him throughout eternity. Since He loved me enough to identify Himself with me in my sin, I will show my love for Him by following His example right now, and for the rest of my days."
 
Baptism demonstrates our connection not only with Christ but also with our spiritual brothers and sisters--past, present, and future. We're joining everyone who has walked before us in faith, saying that we are members of one body, redeemed and brought to life by the same Lord.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Friday, September 26, 2014

War In Your Heart # 67

Christ Our Pattern (continued)

The Infinite Stoop (continued)

The Second Step Down 

Philippians 2:7: Taking the form of a bondslave (Greek).

"Taking." Note again that each step down is never the result of pressure or coercion but by His own voluntary choice.

"The form." He came in human form. He became the Son of Man. The first Adam had met his test in Eden as a man and had failed through disobedience to God and independence of God. The last Adam must meet the same test as Man and succeed. How? By obedience to God and dependence upon God.

"Of a bondslave." Being "the Lord from heaven" gave Him the inherent right to come as a King in regal majesty and splendor; expecting, nay, even requiring service 'from' others. But He had waived such rights in "taking the form of a bondslave" whose office and duty require service "to" others.

But the Lord's voluntary humiliation went much further and deeper than that. "Bondslave" is the lowest word in the scale of servitude. This is a plunge to the very depths. For what is the characteristic mark of a bondslave? That he lives only and always in submission to the will of another; which necessitates obedience and implies dependence. God's second Man, in stooping from Deity to humanity, had by His own choice set aside the legitimate desire and prerogative of Deity to rule and to have His will as Sovereign done, and had stripped Himself of His freedom of will and action as God. "Taking the form of a bondslave" meant that, while still possessing the God-nature, "He was without the right to choose for Himself." As far as He was concerned, the God-nature within Him was held in restraint and bound.

To whom then, was He a bondslave? He was Jehovah's bondslave (Isaiah 42:1; 53:11). As the Representative Man, the pattern for the mew man in Christ Jesus, He stripped Himself of the right to choose anything but the will of the Father. He stepped down from "the form of God" with every right to His own will, to "the form of a bondslave" with no right to His own will regarding anything. One form of expression, the sovereignty of Deity, was set aside to assume another form of expression, the subjection of humanity.

Having taken the form of a bondslave, in what did the emptying consist? He emptied Himself of self-will. Having placed Himself as Man at God's disposal, His right  will was completely subordinated to His Father's will.

His Father's Will was His Will (Hebrews 10:&; Psalm 40:8; John 4:34: John 5:30; John 6:38; John 6:39, 40).

Every conceivable satanic machination and method was employed with diabolical cruelty and cunning to get God's second Man to disobey the declared Word of God, even as God's first man had done. Study satan's first  temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:3).

If ... the Son of God then make use of your equality with God; assert the right of Deity to command; speak your own word of authority. Note the Man's rebuff: (Matthew 4:4).

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 68)

No Unbelievers in Hell


In Luke Chapter 16, Jesus tells a very sobering story,

"The rich man also died and was buried.  And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom… Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment'" (Luke 16:22b-23 and 27-28).

Everyone in hell believes in evangelism.  They are crying out lest their loved ones end up with them.

Two thousand years have passed and this rich man has had no relief.  A billion years from now he will just be getting started in his torment and pain.  Listen to his cry,  "My brothers! Send someone to my family!"

Hell is for unbelievers but there are no unbelievers in hell!

Several years ago a man came weeping to the altar of our church.  A message had been preached that night from these very Scriptures.  After giving his heart to Christ (and after a long time of almost uncontrollable weeping), he told us this story:

He said,  "I died twice on the operating table during heart surgery.  Each time I died, I left my body and went to hell.  It was so horrifying that I tried to put it out of my mind.  As the message was preached tonight, all the details of my experience came flooding back into my mind."

He did not need to be convinced that hell was real.  That night he accepted Christ and was liberated from the fear of returning to that place of torment. 

Jesus alone can rescue us from the terrors of hell and bring us safely to heaven. Shouldn't we be telling people there is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun?  Shouldn't we be warning them and encouraging them to accept Christ—while there is still time?!

~Bayless Conley~

Thursday, September 25, 2014

War In Your Heart # 66

Christ Our Pattern (continued)

The Infinite Stoop

Our adorable Lord stooped from heights no finite mind can scale, to depths which no finite mind can fathom. He stooped to conquer, to overcome, to reign. As with satan's rebellion and revolt there has been five steps up (Isaiah 14:12-14), so with the Lord's obedience and overcoming there were five steps down.

The First Step Down - "He emptied himself" (Phil. 2:7).

Let us get clearly that it was the Lord Himself acting voluntarily regarding Himself. The emptying was not the result of compulsion but of choice. Of what did He empty Himself? Certainly it was not an emptying of Deity. He continued to be what He had always been, very God of very God. He did not empty Himself of Himself. He was still Himself with all that inherently belonged to His person as Son of God.

Of what then did the emptying consist? It was an emptying in relationship to "the form" of manifestation. He had been solely in "the form of God." Throughout all the eternity of the past there had been only the outward expression of the inward essence of Deity with all its accompanying legitimate desires and prerogatives of glory and sovereignty. The basic right of the eternal God is to rule and to be glorified as absolute Sovereign.

But He voluntarily stripped Himself of this "form of God." The Son of God became the Son of Man; and in so doing He relinquished every inherent right to the outward manifestation of Deity. Thus, while still in His human life retaining the plenitude of the Godhead, He lives and walked on earth among men as One emptied of it. The rights of rank and position of every kind inherently His as God He voluntarily and literally renounced to become Man. He clung to nothing that was His by inherent right. The Lord emptied Himself of "self". Thus in His self-humiliation He became the pattern of an Overcomer, not only to the Christians at Philippi, bu to the Christians of all ages: indeed your pattern and mine.

"He emptied Himself." The first step in that infinite stoop. None of us can ever fathom the depths of those words. The magnitude of the cost to Him of this first step down staggers human understanding and defies human conception, for it is a step from Deity to humanity, from heaven to earth; from eternity to time.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 67)

The New Birth and Baptism


 
Jesus commissioned His followers to go and make disciples, "baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19). As the early church spread the gospel message, baptism would follow a new believer's response of faith. It publicly signified that the individual was now a follower of Jesus
 
Metaphors often communicate on a level that words cannot. Baptism is a powerful picture of our salvation experience. Through this act, we proclaim the good news that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again--and testify that we've welcomed His transforming power into our life.
 
The Greek word for "baptize" in Scripture is the same term used to describe a cloth dipped in dye--it refers to total change. So by being plunged into the water, we declare that we're choosing to die to our old way of life and are uniting with Christ. Our sin is buried with Him, and its power is conquered through His atoning death on the cross (Rom. 6:14). When we're raised up out of the water, we affirm His resurrection. Baptism is a symbolic way of expressing that just as the Lord conquered death and rose again, we are spiritually resurrected from death into new life. We are "born again" and irrevocably transformed through the power of His Holy Spirit.
 
In the Bible, the word "believe" isn't a conceptual word describing intellectual agreement alone. It is a word of action. Our belief should never be hidden like a light placed under a bowl (Luke 11:33)--when unbelieving family and friends look at our lives, they need to see the gospel in action.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

War In Your Heart # 65

Christ Our Pattern (continued)

The Mind In Jesus Christ (continued)

This necessity was created by the sin and fall of both lucifer and Adam. lucifer, a sinless, celestial being, through self-esteem, self-arrogation and self-exaltation claimed equality with God, as we have seen. Through self-will he rebelled against the sovereignty of God and led a revolt against the throne of God. Five times he said "I will" and each time it was to "ascend" - "above" - "exalt my throne" - "to be like the Most High" - to go up until he would reach equality with God in the expression of the rights and prerogatives which belong only to God. But such a seizure was "robbery," "a thing unlawfully seized," which constituted an act of treason against the throne of God, and which met with the swift and irrevocable judgment of God. "Thy pomp hath brought thee down: thou shalt be brought down to hell; to the sides of the pit." lucifer had said "I will" go up to the highest heights; God said, "Thou shalt go down to the deepest depths." Self-exaltation that leads to self-will is the pathway to hell. Self-will pitted against God's will necessitated hell. When lucifer said, "I will" he became a self-constituted candidate for hell.

Adam was a sinless human being created in the image of God plus the capacity for sonship. Between the Creator and the man created there was a very real relationship and fellowship. But between what God was in His uncreated, essential Deity and what Adam was in his created, finite humanity there was an absolutely impassable gulf. God and Adam were on totally different planes, which prohibited even a thought of equality. Yet this was precisely the temptation which satan presented to Adam and Eve in the garden. It was openly and blatantly stated in the words, "Ye shall be as God" (Genesis 3:5). It was satan's subtle, diabolical luring of God's first man and woman into the committal of the same sin against God which he had committed; through self-arrogation, self-exaltation, and self-will to renounce subjection to His will and to step out into complete independence of God. God had clearly stated that in the day they took any such step into disobedience "thou shalt surely die". The very moment they disobeyed they were separated from God and took their first step on the downward road that leads to hell.

lucifer and Adam in going up had gone down. Humanity had been dragged down in Adam into his sin, death, and hell. An alien will was in God's world, usurping and exercising dominion over it; robbing God of His undivided rulership over the earth and mankind. This revolt against the very throne of God could be met only be a revolutionary reversal: the Lord from heaven, God in His own right, must go down; down even to the very depths; yes, even down to the hell from which man must be delivered. God's way up is down. Calvary is the reverse of Eden. God's way up to the throne is down to the Cross.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 66 - (The Infinite Stoop)

Soldiers for Christ



Today's passage is from Paul's letter to Timothy. The apostle encourages the young man—and, by extension, every believer—to face difficulty as a good soldier. The military term "soldier" implies that we are in a battle. And in fact, the combat started before Adam and Eve's lifetime. 

We see the first evidence when almighty God, who had created all the celestial beings, nevertheless allowed Satan and other angels (thereafter known as "demons") to rebel against Him. They established their own kingdom and waged war with the Lord.

Later we see this strife extend to all humankind. In the Garden of Eden, Satan tempted Eve to violate God's command by eating forbidden fruit. Her disobedience corrupted mankind's innocence, and ever since, all human beings have been born with a nature bent away from the Lord—and with a profound need for a Savior.

Tempted by Satan in the wilderness, Jesus modeled how to be victorious in spiritual conflict: by means of Scripture. God's Word gives us everything we need to win—from offensive and defensive weapons (Eph. 6:10-17) to the proper perspective on our adversaries' real identity: "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the . . . spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" (v. 12).

When we see ungodliness in our society, the Enemy may at times seem to be winning. Yet we who are saved have assurance that we belong to Him who is greater—and who will have the final victory (1 John 4:4; John 16:33). View daily battles biblically and look to God, who is mightier than all evil.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

War In Your Heart # 64

Christ Our Pattern (continued)

The Mind In Christ Jesus

Philippians 2:6: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.

Philippians 2:6: Who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped.

"Who" refers to "Christ Jesus" of verse 5. "Christ" - "Unto us a Son is given" - the eternal Son who through all the eternity of the past was in the bosom of the eternal Father; one with the Father in the possession of the essence and the nature of Deity according to His own Word (John 10:30; 17:21)

He was inherently and eternally God. "Our Lord as to His nature is the possessor of the divine essence of Deity, and being that, it also necessarily follows that He is absolute Deity Himself, a co-participant with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit in that divine essence which constitutes God, GOD."

"Jesus." "Unto us a child is born" - Christ. The anointed, the One sent from heaven came to earth to be born of a virgin. His name was called Jesus; the name of the Babe in Bethlehem; the name of the Boy in the temple in Jerusalem, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and asking questions; the name of the Man in the wilderness, meeting and defeating the devil; the name of the Man in the synagogue in Nazareth, preaching from the prophecy in Isaiah that foretold the ministry which He was that very moment fulfilling; the name of the Man who passed through the agonies of Gethsemane on His way to shed His blood upon Calvary's Cross as the world's Saviour.

"Who being in the form of God." "Being" is a Greek word that speaks of an antecedent condition protracted into the present, so that our Lord's possession of the divine essence did not cease to be a fact when He came to earth to assume human for. What He was, He is and must ever be, because He is inherently and eternally God.

"In the form of God." God has no form in the usual sense of the term, which is shape or physical form. The word connotes the outward expression of the inward possession. In His inmost being He possessed the nature and the essence of Deity; the expression of the Deity He possessed would be in all the majesty and glory that pertains to and inheres in it. But more than that, dominion, rulership, sovereignty characterize Deity. Throne rights belong to Deity. "The Lord reigneth." Heaven and earth with all that is therein should bow before Him in acknowledgment of His sovereign Lordship. His will should be done in heaven and upon earth. This truth is clearly stated in the words:

"Thought it not robbery to be equal with God." Within the Godhead there was absolute equality in the possession of the essence and nature of Deity. The Son was as truly God as the Father; the Spirit was as truly God as the Son. But that is not the equality referred to here. Equality with God here means that the Son had equal rights with the Father in the expression of that Deity which was glorious, regal, and Sovereign. For Christ Jesus to so think would be wholly within His rights and His prerogatives.

Robbery means "things unlawfully seized," laying hold of something for one's self upon which one had no claim. "Not robbery"; but for Christ Jesus there was no semblance of self arrogation, self-seeking, self-esteem, self-exaltation in such a thought. For Him to claim such equality with God would not be an act of rapine or unlawful seizure. He did not think Himself guilty of any usurpation of what did not belong to Him, or of taking something which was exclusively the right of another. To live only and always as God was His inherent, inalienable prerogative as truly as it was that of the Father. But what if there should be the necessity for Him to set aside His right to such expression of Deity, would He consider it "a thing to be grasped," a treasure to be selfishly clenched?

Let us pause to ask, was there such a necessity and what was the response of Christ Jesus to it? Yes, there was a divine necessity that the eternal Son should be willing to cease living only as God and to become the incarnate Son; living as Man on the human plane, in the human body, assuming a human nature. It was a divine necessity that "the Word be made flesh" in order that God's eternal purpose might be fulfilled; that sinners in Adam might be redeemed; that satan and all his hosts be brought to final defeat, and that the absolute and sole sovereignty of the throne of God be restored.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 65)

Handling Difficult Circumstances



The apostle Paul understood how to handle tough circumstances. Even while he was confined in a prison cell, he kept his eyes on Christ and trusted firmly in the Savior. Therefore, despite being in chains, he was able to celebrate the Lord’s work in his life. In fact, the epistle he wrote from jail to the Philippians was filled with rejoicing (1:182:18; 3:1).

Focusing on Christ is neither a natural reaction nor an easy one. Our instinct is to dwell on the situation at hand, searching for solutions or stewing over the pain and difficulty. As a result, troubles look scary and overwhelm us with a sense of defeat.

However, fear and defeat cannot live long in a heart that trusts the Lord. I’m not saying you’ll forget what you’re going through, but you can choose to dwell on His provision and care instead. He is the Deliverer (2 Cor. 1:10). He is the Healer (Deut. 32:39). He is the Guide (Prov. 3:6).  The believer who lays claim to divine promises discovers that God pushes back negative emotions. In their place, hope, confidence, and contentment take up residence (Phil. 4:11). You aren’t going to be happy about a difficult situation, but you can be satisfied that God is in control and up to something good in the midst of trouble.

The Lord’s principles and promises don’t change, no matter how severe or painful the situation is. Focus on Christ instead of the circumstances—God will comfort your heart and bring you safely through the trial. Then you can answer Paul’s call to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4).

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Monday, September 22, 2014

War In Your Heart # 63

Victory Through the Second Man at Calvary

Christ Our Pattern

Christ, "the faithful and true witness," reveals the pathway to victory and the God-prescribed pattern.

Revelation 3:21: To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

Specifically note two words, "overcome," which indicates the pathway to victory, and "throne," which points to the goal of victory. Note also "his throne," the Father's, which He shared through overcoming, and "my throne," the Son's, which He will share with the overcomers. The throne is the symbol of authority, government, and sovereignty. Overcoming is the way to the throne. The Son of God took that way, so it is the way the sons of God must take. "Even as" shows that there is no other way.

Christ the Overcomer - Our Pattern for Victory

God's second Man was "the Lord from heaven." As "Lord" He was God. As "from heaven" He was related in some way to the throne of God. Then how could He possibly be our pattern for victory? The very thought seems incredulous, even presumptuous.

Yet in Philippians 2:5-11, perhaps the greatest Christological passage in the New Testament, He is most certainly and clearly set before us as the pattern for victory. Does the content of the epistle reveal any occasion or necessity for such a revelation?

In the Word God never divorces doctrine from duty. He invariably couples truth with experience. It is evident that everything was not going smoothly within the Philippians Church. Two strong-minded women, both presumably very prominent and efficient leaders in the work of the Church, were not like-minded; an occurrence in church life which one can hardly call solitary. Paul knew it and writes pleadingly in this letter, even mentioning them by name and beseeching them individually to become like-minded "in the Lord."

Philippians 4:2: I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, them individually to become like-minded "in the Lord."

Lest the brethren take undue satisfaction in this feminine squabble and plume themselves in an unmerited humility, let it be known that all was not perfectly harmonious among the brethren. They did not "in lowliness of mind each esteem others better than themselves." Rather were they divided into two distinct factions in their attitude and relationship to Paul. One group was envious, self-seeking and contentious. The other group loved Paul and out of their good will toward him wanted to help him in every possible way (Phil. 1:14-17).

So Paul makes a fervent plea to the entire church to have victory over self-esteem, self-seeking, self-exaltation rooted in empty pride, and beseeches them to be one-minded and like-minded by becoming lowly minded. But was it possible for strong-minded, carnally minded persons to be one-minded? The Spirit of God through Paul points out the one and only way. They should take Christ Jesus, the Overcomer, as their pattern and should have in them the mind that was in Him. They must become Christ Jesus Minded (Phil. 2:5).

"This mind." What mind? Verses 6-8 reveal it to be the most humble, the very lowliest mind conceivable; the mind of the most glorious, majestic, regal Person heaven or earth has ever known, yet a mind that in its attitude toward Himself reached a measure of voluntary self-abnegation and self-renunciation which is altogether inconceivable and incomprehensible apart from the revelation which the Spirit of God alone can give. Let all who call themselves His depend wholly upon the Spirit to reveal the deepest depths and the highest heights of this truth, that Christ Jesus may indeed be the pattern which we shall joyously follow into the life of self-abnegation and self-renunciation which is divinely appointed for us in Him.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 64 - (The Mind in Christ Jesus)

Overcoming Obstacles



The Lord has a beautiful plan for each believer’s life. But to thwart God’s purposes, Satan sprinkles obstacles in our path.

There are many types of hindrances, such as a difficult boss, contrary family members, and financial trouble. Anything that blocks a desired goal can cause anxiety and great frustration. But remember that no obstacle can touch you without God’s consent.

Consider Joshua’s army, which was no match for Jericho’s military. And the great wall protecting that city was an impossible barrier to cross. Yet God had promised the Israelites the land, and Joshua believed. He wasn’t fazed by what seemed unconquerable. Instead, he acknowledged the Lord’s power and sought His guidance.

Before Joshua even realized that God was at work, the Lord was preparing the city for destruction by instilling fear into kings throughout the region. Heaven’s directions included an unlikely battle plan, but because Joshua obeyed, God’s people triumphed.

Waiting can be difficult. And after a while, we might even begin to wonder if God will do anything at all—then it is easy to quit. But, as was true with Joshua, God has gone before us and is preparing the way. No matter how He chooses to handle the problem, His solution is always in our best interest.

Whenever you face an obstacle, you may experience great heartache. But even in the midst of pain, you can have full confidence in God. The most important part of each day is the time you spend alone with the Lord. He will encourage you with His love and give direction.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Sunday, September 21, 2014

War In Your Heart # 62

Christ Our Provision (continued)

In Christ - The Redemption of the Race (continued)

The only begotten Son, the Father's dearly Beloved, who was in the bosom of the Father through all the eternity of the past, would take into His own bosom the full wrath of God. He would not only taste death, but hell also for us. His own anguished cry upon the Cross, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken Me?" tells the story.

"My God." Not here "My Father," but "my God"; for Christ was speaking as the Man Christ Jesus, in the capacity of His humanity. He is upon  the Cross as the Representative Man, bearing in His human body the sinner's destiny.

"Thou - Me." Between these two there had been an unbroken fellowship, an indivisible nearness both in eternity and in time. Twice the heavens were opened that the Father might tell earth of His delight in the Son of His love. The Son had said of Himself that He always lived to please the Father. But now that precious fellowship was not only broken, but a most sinister word is used to describe the tragic, total separation between God and the Man on the Cross.

"Forsaken." Let me quote from a professor of Greek to get the real and full meaning of this word: "The word means to abandon; to desert; to leave in straits; to leave in the lurch; to let one down; all these meanings were included in that awful cry that came from the lips of the Son of Man." The Father's face was turned away; aye, more than that, the Father's back was toward the Son. Our precious Lord and Saviour was utterly deserted; He was abandoned by God. Understand the agony of that desertion we cannot; feel the awfulness of it we may not: believe that fact of it we must.

"I deserve hell.
Christ took my hell.
There is nothing for me now but His heaven."

Infinite grace has manifested itself in infinite love - "the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge (Ephesians 3:19). The one who believes this truth and receives this Saviour will never be brought to the judgment seat of the great white throne (Revelation 20:11-15), but will spend eternity with the Lord Jesus Christ in the glory, even as He willed and requested of His Father.

John 17:24: Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am..."

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 63 - (Victory Through the Second Man at Calvary - Christ Our Pattern)

Things That Matter


Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done And on the labor in which I had toiled; And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun. Ecclesiastes 2:11


It seems that time is passing so fast; birthdays come faster and even the holiday season comes sooner every year.  But in reality, time is set at a fixed and constant rate and does not change. So I am not getting older faster than I used to, and holidays do not come sooner than they used to, but rather, time is passing at a constant speed. Why does time seem to be passing too fast?

The author of the book of Ecclesiastes had come to the point in his life in which he understood just how little time we really have. In the first chapter, the author identifies himself as David's son, the king of Jerusalem. He also calls himself the Preacher and he spends twelve chapters preaching on the meaning of life—the meaningless of life. His main point centers on how much time we spend on things that are "vanity." The word vanity means emptiness, unsatisfactory, and vapor. Too often, the things we chase after in life are done in vain, and end in emptiness. How many of us look back on things we chased in life and see the worthlessness of the time wasted and the end result? How many of us would love the chance to go back and do certain things over again? Let us go forward with a new mind, set on the things that matter.

Today, take time to stop, slow down and find the real meaning in your life. Our Savior was born to give the only gift that matters. A gift that is not bought, earned or labored for; it is totally free.  Jesus has given the gift of everlasting life to all who believe in Him. In this gift, however, there is so much more than just what awaits us in eternity. Our gift starts today. Jesus promised that He would not leave us alone. He has given us His Holy Spirit who lives within us; and because of Him, we have love, joy and peace. Take the time to worship and praise Him for all that He has given you.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Saturday, September 20, 2014

War In Your Heart # 61

Christ Our Provision (continued)

In Christ - The Redemption of the Race (continued)

God's Second Man, the Representative Man, took the sinner's place in condemnation. The absolutely perfect Law-keeper has taken the punishment of the most wicked lawbreaker. The full curse of the law was expended upon Him. Thereby every claim of the law was fully satisfied and the way of acquittal from all condemnation was made available to every sinner who would put forth in the crucified Saviour (Galatians 3:13).

But cancellation of guilt was but the negative side of redemption. The last Adam is to be Head of a new race "made righteous" in His righteousness. Justification provides not only deliverance from the old-standing "in Adam," but also the placing of the redeemed in the new standing "in Christ." Christ has become his righteousness and he is "accepted in the Beloved" (Romans 3:24; Ephesians 1:6; 1 Corinthians 1:30).

The one who is "in Christ" has written over his life for time and for eternity those two glorious words "no condemnation (Romans 8:1). "In Christ" he stands before God as perfectly freed from sin as though he had never sinned. He now has a relationship to God in which sin has nothing to say (Romans 5:1). Negatively, the law has no claim against the redeemed. But more than that, he stands before God in the perfect righteousness of the altogether righteous One.

Judgment- Grace

In Eden God judged Adam's sin. Adam was driven out of the garden. Access to the tree of life was made impossible. Not only was access to God ended but the wrath of God rested upon Adam (Genesis 3:24; Romans 1:18; Ephesians 5:6).

"The wrath of God" - what terrifying words! We tremble before them. How can there be any escape for an altogether ungodly and unrighteous humanity from so terrible a thing as the wrath of God, especially in the light of God's statement that knowing full well His displeasure, they not only continue in their wickedness, but even take pleasure in doing so? (Romans 1:32).

Is there any possible way of escape from the wrath of God and its inevitable judgment? Again on the authority of God's Word we declare that there is but one way: the way which only the infinite grace of God could have provided (Romans 5:20, 21).

But it must be a way that will close hell and open heaven to the most ungodly and unrighteous. Can the grace of God compass that? Yes, infinite grace working through infinite love has bridged the otherwise impassable gulf between hell and heaven through God's second Man, the Representative Man, who went not only "the second mile" but the last mile in the work of redemption, by taking the sinner's place in judgment.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 62)

The Source of Jealousy



Most likely, you have been caught off guard by a wave of jealousy at some point in your life. Was it a spiritual attack? Did the Enemy make you covetous? Was someone or something working to make you resentful?

The answer—which may surprise you— is no. Jealousy actually springs from within us, even though we might try to deflect the blame. For example, we may say, "Well, they just shouldn't have that. They don't deserve it, so I'm perfectly justified in feeling this way."
Do you see what is actually going on here? We are not only feeling envious of someone, but we're also saying that our jealousy is the other person's fault! That's simply not true. We are each 100 percent responsible for our own feelings of envy.

Jealousy is a product of the flesh. In the Bible, it is listed among such sins as idolatry, immorality, drunkenness, and sorcery—sins which stand against our holy God and are described as "earthly, natural, demonic" (Gal. 5:17-21; James 3:15).

Envious feelings can lead to unhealthy comparison of one's own success to someone else's. That pattern can grow into a competition to out-perform others—and may result in full-blown fear and resentment. What a horrible way to live!

Though jealousy is a common emotion, it has no place in a believer's life. So each of us should try to look objectively at our heart motives. Are you plagued with an attitude of jealousy today? Lay your honest feelings out before the Lord, and ask Him to cleanse you of this sinful attitude.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Friday, September 19, 2014

War In Your Heart # 60

Christ Our Provision (continued)

In Christ - the Redemption of the Race (continued)

Only One possessing the eternal life of God could cope  with eternal death. That He did possess it was proved by the fact that the bond of death was broken and that He came forth from the grave, the risen Saviour to live forever, and with the keys of death in His possession and power (Revelation 1:18).

But the full end of death's defeat is not yet recorded or reached. 

God's last Adam was made a life-giving Spirit, who, as Federal Head of a new race, was to share His own uncreated Life with the redeemed. He not only died the death of the sinner but He became the life of the believer, upon whom He bestowed as a gift His own eternal life (Romans 6:23; 1 John 5:11, 12).

The moment we believe this truth and receive the Son as our Saviour we are forever delivered from the death penalty; we have "passed out of death into life" (John 5:24). The reign of death has ended and the reign in life has begun.

Condemnation-Justification

Adam was a lawbreaker. He had deliberately and willfully transgressed God's law (Romans 5:14, 15, 17). Adam was condemned as guilty and banished from the presence of God. In Romans 1:18 - 3:30 God gives a terrifying picture of a guilty world; a world of lawbreakers, those who have broken the law written in the Book or the law written in their hearts and consciences, all are guilty: all are condemned (Romans 3:19).

Is there no hope for the transgressor? Will the condemnation of guilt rest upon him forever? Is there no way of acquittal for the guilty sinner? There is a way, but only one way. Again it is through God's Second Man, the Representative Man, who in every act of His human life perfectly kept the perfect law of God: who in every step of His earthly walk obeyed the will of God; lived by the Word of God: and followed the way of God. The Son of man satisfied every claim of the holy law of God. This Man took the sinner's guilt; stood before His Father in the sinner's condemnation; bore the sinner's curse (1 Peter 3:18).

He who was the absolutely Just One (Acts 3:14; 7:52; 22:14), the altogether righteous and obedient One, was condemned to die s a malefactor and a criminal. He in whom there was no sin, nothing worthy of death, was condemned to die the worst and the most disgraceful of all deaths. Pilate, the judge who examined him, said:

Luke 23:14: I ... have found no fault in this man.

Luke 23:15: Nothing worthy of death hath been done by him.

Luke 23:22: "I have found no cause of death in him." Even one of the thieves hanging on the Cross beside the Man Christ Jesus rebuked his fellow companion in crime who was railing on Jesus, saying: 

Luke 23:40, 41: Dost thou not even fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds but this man hath done nothing amiss."

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 61)