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Friday, October 31, 2014

That Which Is Born of the Spirit # 27

The Rule of the Heavens (continued)

Sovereignty (continued)

We need to ask the Lord to reveal to us what it means to be in the heavenlies. Not a place we are to come to, but a position we have come to and have not realized it - not to make us officious, but to give spiritual and moral ascendency. The Lord makes others to take account of that. It is a strong position to be in, to be in the place of revelation of things according to God.

In this present hour the sovereignty and authority of Jesus Christ is not political on this earth - not manifest among men - "My kingdom is not of this world," but His sovereignty is a spiritual sovereignty. He is secretly governing and there is a mighty impact (John 18:36).

To come into the heavenlies means you are to have a spiritual and moral ascendency. What is the way out with God? Out of difficulty, out of suffering? It is the way through. Here you are in the midst of some suffering, difficulty, adversity. You cry to the Lord to deliver you and the Lord does not do it. Then you get into all kinds of mental fogs. Why doesn't the Lord deliver you out? Because He is trying to train you to rule and your way of deliverance is by your spirit taking ascendency over it. You say: "Lord, I take government over this thing to make it serve your end and I refuse to be under it in spirit." When you have taken that position you have come out of it - God comes in. We want to be delivered from our troubles and the Lord wants us to take ascendency over them in Him.

That is what Paul did. His thorn in the flesh was just as painful to him in some senses but he was on top of it - it was serving him and he was not a prey to it. That is the rule of the heavens. It works - I have proved it again and again. The trouble is that sometimes we are so silly and foolish and blindly go on. We yield to it or the enemy blinds us concerning it and then it suddenly breaks upon us that we should not be under it and say: "In His Name I take ascendency over this thing" - we come out by the heavens.

The Lord would show us first of all that the heavens do rule and then bring us into that elevated place with Himself spiritually and governmentally, where the gates of hell shall not prevail against us, and lead on to the great position where all authority on earth and in heaven is in His hands.

The purpose of God now is the securing of an administrative instrument and the training of that instrument to govern. People wonder why the Lord does not wipe the devil out of the universe, why He does not stop suffering and affliction, for the Word tells us that our Lord Jesus was "manifested to destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8). All this has been permitted in order to bring the Church individually and corporately to the place of spiritual ascendency over trial. God intended to put us into some higher position and that is our rightful position in Christ where the heavens do rule. You are only down and out and under when your spirit is under. God would have us take ascendency over conditions that are. Revelation is bound up with this very thing.. It is wonderful how you go dragging on, hardly holding your ground and then suddenly the Lord gives you a flash - why don't you take your position in Christ?

The great fact is that sovereignty is in the heavenly position and heavenly position is secured for us now in the Lord Jesus for "we have been made to sit in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:6). Sovereignty, government, ascendency, elevation - all in our Lord Jesus and in that position we should be governors over things - spiritual governors. Not the volume of voice or the phraseology, not the clenching of the fist. It is your spirit being in a position where you can perhaps very quietly and deeply but strongly in you spirit say, 'No, I refuse that in the Name of the Sovereign Lord." We weaken the forces of darkness by a quiet definite position in Christ. Not a mental thing but spiritual, because the heavens represent that which is spiritual.

I was impressed by reading the seventh chapter of Ezra which is the chapter of the mandate. The king had given Ezra a mandate and the enemies sought to frustrate the work, but he came in on the ground of his mandate and the words which the king used three times about the carrying out of the work at Jerusalem were "the God of heaven." Because of the God of heaven Ezra had his mandate and anybody who tried to prevent the accomplishment of that work was met accordingly. When you have a mandate from the God of heaven God will see that your commission is fulfilled - your enemies will not prevail against you. If you are put out of one place God will open other doors. It is a great thing to be a minister of "the God in heaven." A committee, or board or synod may turn you out of every church on earth but they cannot turn you out of the Church of heaven, for "The Heavens Do Rule."


~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 28)

God Acts On Our Behalf


Philippians 4:6-7

We have become so accustomed to this hurried world that we've begun to demand speed in our spiritual life too. However, God "acts on behalf of those who wait for him" (Isa. 64:4 niv). Wise believers endure until the fruits of His labor appear.

In this devotion, we'll look at three reasons believers are called upon to wait. First, God may be preparing us to receive His blessings. Perhaps we need new skills or greater maturity. Sometimes people require fresh spiritual insight before their hands are ready to hold what their hearts desire. For example, David waited years to sit on his appointed throne. But when he did, he was a wise, strong, and battle-tested king.

Second, the Father is often teaching His children to have confidence in Him. How would believers ever learn faith if God immediately fulfilled their every request? In my own life, the Lord has often said two words: "Trust Me." And He has never been late to meet my needs. No matter how we justify rushing ahead of God, doing so amounts to saying, "I don't trust You."

Finally, the Lord will at times withhold blessing to protect us from harm we can't see. We may never find out what caused the delay. But be assured that God examines the object of our desire closely before placing it in our hands.

Waiting is rarely easy, particularly in this instant-everything world. But rushing ahead of the Lord short-circuits His plan. Believers who do are left unsatisfied, and they often must live with terrible consequences. Be patient while the Lord works out details. His best is on the way.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Thursday, October 30, 2014

That Which is Born of the Spirit # 25

The Rule of the Heavens (continued)

Sovereignty (continued)

Luke is the Gospel of grace and Luke finishes up in Jerusalem. That is grace - grace to those who have rejected the Lord Jesus. Matthew sets Jerusalem aside ago goes to the mountain in Galilee. Sovereignty is no longer vested in Jerusalem, but is now vested in the Lord Jesus. "All authority is given unto Me in heaven and in earth" - that principle is running all the way through - transcendency, elevation, ascendency, sovereignty all vested in the Person of the Lord Jesus.

Now, then, Matthew begins with the principle that it is what is seen in heaven that governs, and ends with all authority vested in the Person of the Lord Jesus, and in between, the instrument of administration is introduced. It is most significant that the Church comes into Matthew. In chapter 16 we read, "on this rock will I build My Church, and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it." Sovereignty is related to the Church, so that the instrument of administration and this sovereignty of the heavens in the Person of the Lord Jesus are so bound up that the gates of hades shall not prevail against them. Then the Lord begins to speak about the authority of the Church - "whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in the heavens and whatsoever shall be loosed on earth shall be loosed in the heavens." This is the authority of Christ in the Church.

When we come to grasp mentally some truth about the Lord Jesus it is one thing, but when you come by revelation of the Holy Spirit experimentally into the things of Christ you come into a strong position of ascendency - of being above all government. There is all the difference between taking a truth, sound orthodox and Scriptural as it is, and giving it out as truth, and having had revealed in your heart the inner meaning of that truth and giving it out. Take two men: one takes something of the Word of God and gives it as a message. No fault can be found in it, it is sound doctrine, but there is something missing. Another man takes exactly the same truth and gives forth the message and as he gives it forth you are conscious of life - something that reaches you. One message was just as true as the other, but one was speaking out of the Bible as a Book, and the other out of revelation of the Scripture given to his heart by the Holy Spirit. The latter had not sat down and prepared a sermon that was sound, but had gone with the Word of God on his knees and waiting before the Lord until truth had been revealed to his heart from an open heaven.

There are plenty of fine preachers but they are not feeding, not building up, not nourishing and satisfying: not channels of life, there is no sense of the heavens coming in. It is the heavens that do rule and you have got to see what is in the heavens. You will remember Ezekiel being taken by an angel around the temple in Jerusalem with a measuring reed, and it has just got to be like that if we are to have a ministry like that. How can we show what is according to God until we have had it shown to us? There must be that counterpart where the Holy Spirit shows us things according to God by revelation. Not something extra to Scripture by way of revelation, but what is in the Scripture that we cannot see until the Holy Spirit opens it up - taking us around and showing us just as the angel showed Ezekiel. That is what the Holy Spirit has come for, because the temple is only a type of Christ, and it is the Spirit revealing Christ, "shall take of mine and show it unto you" - "He shall lead you into all truth." It is the revelation of things according to God's mind that brings you into the place of spiritual authority and ascendency (John 16:13-15).

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 26)

Hide Me

Hide thyself by the brook Cherith (1 Kings 17:3).

God's servants must be taught the value of the hidden life. The man who is to take a high place before his fellows must take a low place before his God. We must not be surprised if sometimes our Father says: "There, child, thou hast had enough of this hurry, and publicity, and excitement; get thee hence, and hide thyself b the brook--hide thyself in the Cherith of the sick chamber, or in the Cherith of bereavement, or in some solitude from which the crowds have ebbed away."

Happy is he who can reply, "This Thy will is also mine; I flee unto Thee to hide me. Hide me in the secret of Thy tabernacle, and beneath the covert of Thy wings!"

Every saintly soul that would wield great power with men must win it in some hidden Cherith. The acquisition of spiritual power is impossible, unless we can hide ourselves from men and from ourselves in some deep gorge where we may absorb the power of the eternal God; as vegetation through long ages absorbed these qualities of sunshine, which it now gives back through burning coal.

Bishop Andrews had his Cherith, in which he spent five hours every day in prayer and devotion. John Welsh had it--who thought the day ill spent which did not witness eight or ten hours of closet communion. David Brainerd had it in the woods of North America. Christmas Evans had it in his long and lonely journeys amid the hills of Wales.

Or, passing back to the blessed age from which we date the centuries: Patmos, the seclusion of the Roman prisons, the Arabian desert, the hills and vales of Palestine, are forever memorable as the Cheriths of those who have made our modern world.

Our Lord found His Cherith at Nazareth, and in the wilderness of Judea; amid the olives of Bethany, and the solitude of Gadara. None of us, therefore, can dispense with some Cherith where the sounds of human voices are exchanged for the waters of quietness which are fed from the throne; and where we may taste the sweets and imbibe the power of a life hidden with Christ.

~L. B. Cowman~

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"That Which Is Born of the Spirit" # 24

The Rule of the Heavens (continued)

Sovereignty (continued)

I mean that the man who used that very phrase "concerning His Son" came to the Son by that which was in heaven, and he was brought into experimental knowledge of the Lord Jesus (Romans 1:1-4). The most astonishing thing ever a man has seen - He who was considered to be a Nazarene impostor suddenly revealed as the Son of God bringing this one down on his face and the first word utter by him, "Lord ...". The heavens do rule (Acts 9). We never come into the fullness of the Gospel until we see the heavenly side of the Gospel. Until then we only see Him as Saviour and not a Prince, God's order is "Prince and Saviour." Many people see Him as Saviour and accept Him as such and perhaps many years afterward come to see Him as Lord, then surrendering fully to Him. That is out of order and in the meantime you have lost so much that God intended. We need to put it God's way - first the Prince, that is, the Lord Jesus exalted and enthroned above everything in our lives, and having Him as Saviour included in that. Those who accept Christ only for salvation's sake only get part of the Gospel.

Paul came into the Gospel by first of all seeing Jesus Christ as Lord. He saw what was in heaven and came to the Saviour by way of the sovereignty of Jesus Christ, and that is the way into full salvation. At the beginning the Gospel is symbolically represented in the star - that which was seen in the heavens as ruling and controlling the course of men bringing them to the Saviour. That is very simple but represents a very important principle and law to be carried right through. The close of Matthew strikes the very same note, but with all the development that has come in between. "All authority has been given unto Me in the heavens and the earth, you therefore go" (Matthew 28:19, 20). That which is seen in the heavens governing in the beginning has now developed until you come to he blessed position of seeing that all political divisions of this earth are under the sovereign rulership of Jesus Christ. "All authority given unto Me in the heavens and in the earth" and the government of his world, though unseen, is in the hands of the Lord Jesus. There is sovereignty back of it which will issue in his being King of kings and Lord of lords one day.

The Gospel comes in with Matthew as the Gospel of sovereignty, and there are various symbols of the sovereignty of the Lord Jesus in this book. You find the very word "heavens" occurs no less than seventy-five times in Matthew, and angels abound in this Gospel, for we meet with them no fewer than seventeen times. Another factor which always speaks of transcendency, elevation, ascendency, sovereignty, is the reference to mountains, which occurs fourteen times in Matthew, and a study of these mountains will show them as coming in in some governing capacity. In some way the Lord is bringing home the fact of His government - His control. You finish the book in a mountain.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 25)

Small Adjustments for Big Breakthroughs


Do not be overly righteous, nor be overly wise: why should you destroy yourself?” - Ecclesiastes 7:16

I tend to be the main point person when dealing with the retreats that we attend. So it’s up to me to do mostly everything from communicating with the church to finding out the specifics of the retreat. Well, last weekend’s retreat was no different. When Bobbye asked me what she should bring, I pulled out the list and started reading it to her: sleeping bag, flashlight, pillow, towels, toiletries. She listened intently and asked, “Is this a camp ground? Are we going camping this weekend?” I said, “No, it’s a retreat center,” without giving it another thought.

The weekend came and we were greeted with willing arms to help us carry our things. As I popped open my trunk, the pillows, towels, extra blankets and sleeping bags were right on top. One of the girls said, “You do not need any of that.” Confused, I rechecked the packing list just to find out that I had stapled my 7th grade daughter’s retreat list to the church’s information. I had been following the wrong list.

How can you be so prepared and organized while being so radically off base? It took a lot of extra time, thought and effort to pack things that I didn’t need. I had never questioned the list, trusting in my own skill set.

This was a small mistake in the big picture of things but it made me examine other things in my life. How many times am I going out of my way to make things harder on myself, absolutely convinced that I am right? I might be heading the right way and even able to get to the right place but am I prepared with the right things when I arrive? Am I making the trip of life more difficult in the process? Am I willing to listen to others who are personally involved? Am I spending more time doing or am I really thinking things through? These were great questions for me to ponder while away in the mountains. Sometimes it is not about making big changes but making small adjustments that can lead to huge breakthroughs.
Everything considered, the retreat was amazing!  Women got saved and clearly women changed. The testimonies absolutely reflected that God is still in the business of setting captives free. Despite packing the wrong kind of things, we really had the right kind of time.

~Daily Disciples Devortional~

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

"That Which is Born of the Spirit" # 23

The Rule of the Heavens (continued)

Sovereignty

Now we pass to the second main significance of the "Heavens," which is sovereignty or transcendence or ascendency. It does not require a very profound study of the Scriptures to arrive very clearly at that conclusion that the heavens symbolically represent the universality of things spiritually, and then that, they represent sovereignty - that which governs or rules.

Beginning at Genesis we know that God put great lights in the heavens to govern day and night - the heavens rule in that sense, and throughout Scripture that principle is carried on in the symbols and types - heavenly bodies and heavenly orders. We know quite well that the visible universe is governed by the orders of the heavens. We know that our ocean tides and our ocean courses and everything on this earth is governed by heavenly bodies. We should not be here today if there were no sun in the heavens. Man has found some of his greatest inventions along the line of appropriating that  which the sun gives forth. The stars guide - the heavens do rule.

This is representation of spiritual things which govern in relation to all that is of God, so that sovereignty comes in and with sovereignty seen as of the heavens you have ascendency. "As the heavens are higher than the earth..." "When I consider Thy heavens the work of Thy hands," there is ascendency, elevation, transcendence - that which is above all. These are spiritual principles and it is in the realm of these spiritual realities that we are dwelling just now (Psalm 8:3; 103:11).

When you come to the realities themselves, away from types and representations, the position to which you are brought by this fact that "the heavens do rule" is that you have become possessed of spiritual secrets - spiritual revelation. When God has revealed to you the inner side of things spiritual you have been placed in a position of spiritual ascendency and authority. You have been lifted right above everything and you are in a position of authority, of government, of sovereignty.

Now our way has been to gather up everything in the Person of the Lord Jesus. He represents this whole heavenly system and we have seen that everything related to Him bears out these spiritual principles. Taking this principle of sovereignty and ascendency you find the  heavens so very much in evidence as ruling sovereignty in connection with His representative Person and vocation.

It is interesting and not without considerable significance that the Gospel is introduced with what is in the heavens governing man and governing things. I refer to the beginning of Matthew. Of course, you know I am referring to the star. The Gospel is introduced by what is seen in the heavens and that has taken charge of men to guide their course and the course governed by the heavens brings them to Christ. That is the principle in relation to everyone who is brought to the Lord Jesus by the Gospel or who is brought into the Gospel "concerning His Son." It is heaven's action, heaven's initiative, and we shall never come fully into the Gospel "concerning His Son" until we have come to some apprehension and appreciation of the rule of the heavens.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 24)

Choose to Love


These things I command you, that you love one another. - John15:17

As a child, one of my favorite words was "why." I know it drove my parents crazy when I used it repeatedly. Why do I have to brush my teeth? Why do I need to eat those green things? The answer was always the same, "Because I told you so." There are times when we must submit and do as we are told. Children have little choice in the matter, but as adults we can choose our own course. Jesus tells us to "love one another." And even in this command, we have a choice. Have you ever found yourself wondering why you have to love that person who seems so undeserving? The answer is because Jesus says so.

Love is so important to Jesus that He summed up all Ten Commandments into two: love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. The Apostle Paul says in First Corinthians 13 that nothing we do really matters without love. But in today's world, we are confused about love. Movies and television lure us into fantasies about "true" love using sex, guilt and manipulation as tools to obtain love. When we are hurt by someone who says they love us, we begin to wonder if love really exists at all. Is love a feeling or is it an attitude or a behavior? Jesus knew exactly why He had to command us to love each other. Because we would not do it based upon our own feelings. We are human and our nature is sinful.

The only way to keep this commandment is to pray. Pray for God's love to fill your heart. Pray that you will love your enemies as well as your neighbor (the good and bad). Pray that you will love Jesus more everyday. It is only when we stop asking "why" and start asking "how" that we can truly know what love is.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Monday, October 27, 2014

"That Which Is Born of the Spirit" # 22

The Rule of the Heavens (continued)

The Universality of Christ's Baptism (continued)

In like manner we follow through to the Transfiguration, to the Cross, into the prayer life of the Lord Jesus, His resurrection, Pentecost, and His coming again, and we see that in all there is universality. It is not something that happens but something back of which there is a depth of heavenly meaning to be opened up by the Holy Spirit.

Maturity By Spiritual Apprehension: A Secret of Power

When we get our eyes open to it, we have got the wealth of Christ, and that is what I believe the enemy hates - spiritual maturity. If he can stop your going on and prevent your taking the next step that God has presented to you, he has curtailed all the heavenly intention of God in you and through you. He has an idea of what is involved in every act of obedience of God's children. He would keep you back from making the decision for the Lord and accepting the operation of His Spirit. He will say, 'Do not take that step now.' He would cause you to confer with and so confuse you and stop your going on with the Lord. Every act of obedience to the Lord leads on to universality.

So the urge is to go on. Look at such a man as Paul. He let all things go and counted all his earlier gains as mere rubbish, and still he is saying, "Brethren, I count not myself already to have obtained ... I press on that I may know Him" (Philippians 3:14, 15). What does this imply? Paul says that there was something vast bound up with his revelation of the Lord and his going on with the Lord which might be missed - not his salvation, but something in his salvation. May the Lord bring upon our hearts something of the force and weight of all this which is bound up with the person of the Lord Jesus as representing God's heavenly system, and urge us to go on to full growth.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 23 - (The Rule of the Heavens: Sovereignty)

The Judge


 
During our life on earth, Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. However, as our days here draw to a close, and especially at the end of time, He takes His seat as Judge and prepares to reward believers for the good things they did in His name.
 
I think there is a widespread misconception that God the Father will be our judge. But it is Christ who gave us, His followers, the charge to go into the world and make disciples (Matt. 28:19). Therefore, He has been given the right to determine which of our actions and thoughts furthered His goal (John 5:22).
 
Christ is an impartial judge. He is not influenced by what others think or say, but rather, He determines what is right and good based on His honorable, just standard. We'll be stripped of our worthless works--in other words, the actions and words we used for selfish ambition or vain conceit. All that will remain are the worthwhile things we thought, said, and did to honor God. These are the valuable parts of our lives for which we will be rewarded.
 
Reward is the whole point of placing believers before the judgment seat of Christ. Shame and guilt over past sin and mistaken motivation have no place there (Rom. 8:1). Our loving Savior is eager to show us our heavenly treasure.
 
Christ will expose the real you at the judgment seat by casting away the worthless things you've done. What remains will be the man or woman who endeavored to please the Lord. Let us determine to be powerful reflections of our Savior, both on earth and in heaven.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Sunday, October 26, 2014

"That Which is Born of the Spirit" # 21

The Rule of the Heavens (continued)

The Universality of Christ's Baptism (continued)

It is at Jordan. "God's Lamb which beareth away the sin of the world." It is the universal sin brought upon Him. Then, with all that resting upon Him, with these final words with which he met the reticence of John, "It thus becometh us to fulfill all righteousness," "all the sin of the world," "all righteousness" bound up in His act. What a tremendous thing this baptism was. It fulfilled all the law and the prophets. It dealt with the sin of the whole world. It settled forever the question of all righteousness. What a baptism! Was there ever a baptism like that!? Yes, yours, if entering into the meaning of that one, if it was a true one. Not your bearing away the sin of the world, but entering into the good of His baptism. With those words He went down into Jordan and was raised. Death, universal, has been expressed, universal judgment received, resurrection life, the universal law of the new creation by resurrection. All that involved, not only the past, but all this is to be.

Then heaven opened. The heavens came in again, and then hell broke in. For the temptation was a part of the baptism. It was not a thing in itself. "Then was Jesus led of the Spirit into the wilderness" (Matthew 4:1). This baptism has touched all the past and all the future. How was all righteousness fulfilled typically in the baptism of the Lord Jesus? It is simply this - that God has as His irreducible minimum sinless perfection and God has never accepted anything that is not sinlessly perfect. Can you find it in this old creation? How then is it to be fulfilled? The old creation must perish under judgment and there must be a new creation which is created by Go. And so in Jordan He passed out typically and rose again. There was no sin in Him, but universal sin was laid upon Him. The whole question of righteousness has been settled in the death and burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Paul has been used by God to interpret baptism as this, the putting away of the whole body of the flesh (Romans 6; Colossians 2:12). It is not a theory of sinless perfection for us now, but there is that for us which is sinlessly perfect. But that is not us in ourselves. We still carry about a very sinful nature to which we have to reckon ourselves dead. There has something come in from above which makes it possible for us to repudiate that and live as though we were dead to it.

I ask you, is that what baptism has meant to you? It is not good enough that you should take this matter on simply because it is a command in the Word, or that the Lord Jesus did it and you simply think you ought to do it. The only adequate basis is that we see the heavenly meaning. If the thing has been entered into just as a form, or because it is a command, it has not meant very much, but when it has been entered into with any spiritual understanding that has been a breaking out of the devil to oppose it. It is not a form or ordinance, but a mighty testimony that brings in the vast realm of spiritual powers.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 22)

Accountability Is Scriptural


 
There are plenty of biblical directives about making ourselves accountable to one another. But for many, the idea of revealing personal information seems restrictive or even an invasion of privacy. Such confession seems a hindrance to the pursuit of pleasure, prosperity, and prestige. Most people prefer to keep to themselves and not involve others in their business.
 
The Bible, however, makes it clear that Christians are to support each other in this regard: "Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed" (James 5:16).
 
Accountability in the body of Christ is a biblical principle. Church members take direction from their pastor (Heb. 13:17). Paul tells us to be subject one to another (Eph. 5:21). Yet he was answerable to the church (Acts 14:27), just as Timothy was subordinate to him (1 Tim. 4:13-16). The apostles were certainly under the authority of Jesus (Luke 10), even as Jesus was subject to the Father (John 8:28-29). Of course, the Bible tells us that the whole church is obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 5:24). Regardless of one's position, everybody is accountable to somebody. And this holds true for the entire family of faith--from the congregation to the ministers to Jesus Himself, who served God the Father.
 
People avoid accountability for various reasons, including pride, ignorance, fear, and self-reliance. This is a dangerous approach to life. Our Enemy knows our weaknesses and how to exploit them. But we can prevail with the support of friends. There is strength in the body of Christ.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Saturday, October 25, 2014

"That Which is Born of the Spirit" # 20

The Rule of Heaven (continued)

Universality of the Heavens (continued)

The Universality of the New Birth (continued)

I do not want to be critical, but I am consumed with this zeal that the Lord shall have that which is according to His mind. There has come about a thing which is an exceedingly perilous thing, and that is the mass movement of "decisions for Christ" by organized methods. When you preach the gospel in a popular style and bring in illustrations, stories and accounts you bring in that which is calculated to stir the emotions, and then you ask for some kind of action, and you sweep a multitude in like that, and they, from that time, call themselves saved people, and half an hour after they know no more of the real nature of the new birth than they did before. They can go on and never know the nature of the new birth and yet they say that there was a time when they became a Christian. I do not say that some of them are not born again, but on the whole it is a dangerous line because you are getting people to take the name of Christ who do not know what the new birth is. They have been persuaded into doing it, and we must understand that the new birth is not the birth of the soul at all. It is the birth of the spirit. It is a matter of rebirth from above which is God's act. The most that man can do is to take an attitude. The only step we can take is to face one way or the other. The expression of our willingness is to face that way, but the whole thing is in God's hands. It is not for anyone of us to say when we will take any step in relation to God. If God puts now at our disposal saving faith, or anything else by which to appropriate anything which is in Christ, we postpone that with eternal risks. We have got to face up with what God puts there at the time He puts it there, and we have no assurance that we will be able to take that step at any other time. It is the work of the Holy Spirit alone, and we must put to people very, very clearly the real meaning of the new birth, and it is vast in its nature. It is a great thing to be saved.

The Universality of Christ's Baptism

We pass from Bethlehem to Jordan, the next outstanding thing in the life of the Lord Jesus, and see the universal implicates and content of His baptism. You first of all have John the Baptist. He has had an archangel in relation to his birth. The Holy Spirit was involved, for he was to be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his birth. John the Baptist officially represented and gathered up in himself all prophets of the Old Testament. "There hath not arisen a great prophet than John " (Matthew 11:11). The Lord Jesus said, "It becometh us to fulfill all righteousness," and then John the Baptist introduced the Lord Jesus, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." "The Lamb of God." "Behold the Lamb of God" (Matthew 3:15; John 1:29). Millions and millions of lambs had been sacrificed but not one of all those was ever accepted of itself by God - only in the light of One Lamb. He gathered all the lambs ever slain into His own Person. The backward sweep is tremendous.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 21)

God Is Jealous

Nahum 1:2
God is jealous.
 
Your Lord is very jealous of your love, O believer. Did He choose you? He cannot bear that you should choose another. Did He buy you with His own blood? He cannot endure that you should think that you are your own, or that you belong to this world. He loved you with such a love that He would not stop in heaven without you; He would sooner die than you should perish, and He cannot endure that anything should stand between your heart's love and Himself. He is very jealous of your trust. He will not permit you to trust in an arm of flesh. He cannot bear that you should hew out broken cisterns, when the overflowing fountain is always free to you. When we lean upon Him, He is glad, but when we transfer our dependence to another, when we rely upon our own wisdom, or the wisdom of a friend-worst of all, when we trust in any works of our own, He is displeased, and will chasten us that He may bring us to Himself. He is also very jealous of our company. There should be no one with whom we converse so much as with Jesus. To abide in Him only, this is true love; but to commune with the world, to find sufficient solace in our carnal comforts, to prefer even the society of our fellow Christians to secret intercourse with Him, this is grievous to our jealous Lord. He would fain have us abide in Him, and enjoy constant fellowship with Himself; and many of the trials which He sends us are for the purpose of weaning our hearts from the creature, and fixing them more closely upon Himself. Let this jealousy which would keep us near to Christ be also a comfort to us, for if He loves us so much as to care thus about our love we may be sure that He will suffer nothing to harm us, and will protect us from all our enemies. Oh that we may have grace this day to keep our hearts in sacred chastity for our Beloved alone, with sacred jealousy shutting our eyes to all the fascinations of the world!

~Charles Spurgeon~

Friday, October 24, 2014

"That Which Is Born of the Spirit" # 19

The Rule of the Heavens (continued)

The Universality of the New Birth (continued)

When there is a genuine new birth, when really the Spirit of sonship comes in, that is the beginning of a history of terrific conflict between heaven and hell in that spirit. The unborn ones cannot know that conflict. Those in the flesh do not believe in a personal devil, but that is is own indictment and carries with it a very great significance. The object of hell is to destroy what is begotten of God, for, when spiritual maturity comes in hell has lost its power. So in the early days the enemy would seek to destroy that which is of God.

There is satanic consciousness back of this world system, and it recognizes that if what is of God comes in and gets the upper hand, that system is going out. And the natural man in the religious world hates what is of the Spirit of God. You bring purely spiritual, heavenly things into the religious world as it is today, with all its assumed reverence, with all its outward forms, and you set p a conflict at once. The natural man who has come in there is sporting himself in the limelight, where he is in evidence, and the natural man will not have a purely spiritual thing, he will fight it. That is what happened in the life of the Lord Jesus. It was the religious world that withstood Him most. There is all the difference of two worlds between religion and true spirituality.

How important is the recognition of the range and content and fullness of all this. We have got to come in to the fullness of every detail of the Lord Jesus and the meaning of the new birth. It is not enough to say, "I am born again." The Lord wants to bring us to see what the new birth is, its essence, its reality. I am quite sure that most of the trouble, the weakness, the defeat of Christianity is to be explained along the line of Christians not having recognized the meaning of Christianity.

It would be impossible for anyone to have an adequate conception of the new birth and continue one bit in the world. The "worldly Christians" is a contradiction in terms. It is a difference of being of the earth and being of the heavens. You could not possibly have any voluntary, happy oneness of spirit with anything that is in this world system whatever and have any real conception of the new birth experimentally. And yet, see what you have today - Christians who do not see any contradiction in being saved and in having half their life in the world, taken up with the things of the world. It is a contradiction in the very essence of the new being, and until you get some conception of the new birth you will not get that which is wholly according to God. The enemy has through this world system still got a hold over what is supposed to represent God and makes it a denial, and he is holding this up and saying, "That is what is supposed to be of the Lord."

But it only wants the eyes to be opened to see the nature of the new birth. It has in it the power of heaven to shatter this whole world system. The new birth has the power to destroy it, and it will be destroyed in the manifestation of the sons of God because it will be Christ manifested in His Church. So you see what we need is that the Lord shall open our eyes to these fundamental, foundational things such as the new birth.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 20)

Trust and Obey



 
One of my favorite songs is "Trust and Obey" because it sums up God's purpose for our lives. When we practice these two commands, a beautiful cycle begins. Trusting the Lord makes obedience easier, and obedience produces ever-increasing trust. Can you recall facing a challenge that was difficult or perplexing? If so, you know how important these two commands are.
 
When the Lord calls you to a task that seems unreasonable, you have two options. You can obey Him even though you don't understand what will happen, or you can become fearful and attempt to find a way out. Joshua chose the first option. Because he trusted the Lord, he disregarded all his military experience and adopted God's bizarre battle plan. Over the years, he had learned that the Lord is trustworthy.
 
The way we respond to God's challenging assignments reveals our level of commitment. We may feel as if we're right in step with Him--until He proposes a change of direction. That's when our resistance kicks in, and with it, the realization we aren't as close to Him as we thought. At that point, our decision determines whether the Lord will be able to use us as He desires. Because Joshua never lost his commitment, he continued to serve the Lord for the remainder of his life.
 
At times obedience is a struggle, as your mind runs through all the reasons God's path is illogical. Fear dominates and your will battles to comply when everything within is screaming to run the other way. But obedience is always the best choice, because the Lord is trustworthy and wise.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Thursday, October 23, 2014

"That Which Is Born of the Spirit" # 18

The Rule of the Heavens (continued)

Universality of the Heavens

The end which God has in view is the universal sovereignty of the Lord Jesus, but not only as a Person but as representing a heavenly system. The Lord Jesus has been manifested not only as a Person. He has been revealed as a Person, but not only so but also as a heavenly system. If the tabernacle of old was in its entirety a representation of the Lord Jesus then it is a comprehensive system. If the tabernacle of old was a typical representation of the Lord Jesus, and if you see Him in everything to do with the temple, then the temple was a system. And so these figures point to a system represented by the Lord Jesus, and it is going to be that system which universally prevails when God has reconstructed all things according to Christ, and we must recognize that that is what God is doing.

"According to Christ" is the standard. It is the measurement; it is the character of everything that is in the mind of God. God's new creation, then, is that which is constructed wholly according to Christ. So it is a system bound up in a person and is to be entered into by all who are Christ's so that eventually the "Body" will reveal Christ as a spiritual system in the whole universe.

If the Lord Jesus has then become representative of God's heavenly system, we have to see everything in Christ as universal in its principle and law to be established by God, and we have got to come into the fullness of Christ. To do this is not just to enter into a kind of circle of fullness. It is that we have to come into the fullness of every detail as God sees it in the Lord Jesus. He wants to bring us into the fullness of the heavenly meaning of every detail of the Lord Jesus.

The Universality of the New Birth

We have spoken about the birth of the Lord Jesus and its universality. We saw it was not just an event called the "Incarnation." It was that, but it was not just that. When we are born of the Spirit, when we in a spiritual sense come down from above because we have been born from above (although there is a great difference between our new birth and the birth of the Lord Jesus), it is the result of the Holy Spirit, and the new birth makes us heavenly in our origin and in our nativity. When we by the same Holy Spirit are born of the Spirit, we immediately partake of the universality of the Lord Jesus Himself.

Our sonship is a universal thing and when the sons of God are manifested it will be unto the whole creation. The creation cannot get there until God has got His purpose, and that is the manifestation of the sons of God. The whole creation is bound up with it. It is a tremendous thing - this new birth. It is being made far too common. If we only saw the range of this thing, heaven is in it, and hell is touched by it, for it will eventually be the Church, the Body of Christ, by which satan will be deposed from the heavens.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 19)

God Honors Our Commitment to Him


 
Daniel and his friends faced the same dilemma we do--how to live a holy life in a godless culture. At one time, our society readily accepted Christian values and standards, but that era is quickly passing. Our challenge today is to live under God's authority while remaining in submission to the law of the land. At times we are forced to choose between the two, but if we'll seek the Lord's guidance before marching defiantly forward, He may open an alternative approach for us.
 
Had Daniel bluntly declared, "I won't eat this food!" he wouldn't have lasted long, and we wouldn't have the book of Daniel in the Bible. But the Lord gave him the wisdom to humbly seek permission from the person who was in a position of authority over him. God honored his commitment and provided a way for him to live righteously in a pagan world.
 
We tend to hold up Daniel and his three friends as extraordinary people who lived amazing lives. But have you ever wondered what the Lord could do in the life of an ordinary person like you? The determining factor is not the greatness of the individual but, rather, his commitment to a God who can do remarkable things in a life fully devoted to Him. That's the kind of people our Lord is looking for.
 
Although we don't know all that God could do in our lives if we'd radically commit ourselves to Him, the thought of missing out on His plans should be enough to motivate us to obey. You don't want to arrive in heaven and discover you forfeited blessings because you weren't fully devoted to Him.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"That Which is Born of the Spirit" # 17

The Meaning of "Heavens" (continued)

This is what brought the Corinthians so much trouble, "every one of you saith, I am of Paul: I am of Apollos; and I am of Cephas," making a choice of men whom they preferred. Because they were circling around men Paul wrote, "I cannot write unto you as unto spiritual but unto carnal." This is a working in a mighty principle, and when these things come in the Lord goes out.

Paul in every other way represented the rule of the heavens ministerially. He had become the embodiment of the principle of the heavens so far as nations were concerned. Nations no longer existed for him as such - that out of all nations should be formed the one Body, so his ministry was a heavenly on - a ministry from the heavens. It is a tremendous mark of his transcendency, of what is heavenly, that his universal writings come out of such circumstances as the prison, chains, Roman Court, and yet the most common expression of those days was "in the heavenlies." He was ministering universally while naturally in limitation. He had said, "Henceforth know we no man after the flesh." Though the more I love the less I be loved" (2 Corinthians 12:15). This man has transcended the things which are of man. The love he had poured out for the Corinthians, yet in that letter Paul quotes things that were said about him - about his personal appearance - by them. Paul was above earthly feelings - the heavens ruled. Get outside of that which is petty and small and into the universal. We see a real example of sonship in the man who wrote so much about it. Read Romans  and the Epistle to the Galatians and see how sonship means absolute emancipation and freedom from all earthly limitations of man - his mind, his thought, his judgments, his attitudes, his appraisements. He has been set free by the Son, and whom the Son makes free is free indeed.

The new man is being renewed after the image of Him who created him. The image is universally embracing. Look at the Lord Jesus. See the universality of His birth, His baptism, His death. The celebration of the Lord's death has been made largely a matter of a ceremonial ordinance. But there is one Body eternally conceived of God gathered out of all nations and gathered into the universality of eternity. God meant that the gathering around His table be clothed with what is of heaven and should be a living testimony. There is all the difference in the world between a ceremony and having a celebration of a living thing. The heavens do rule. The Lord wants to recover the spiritual meaning of these things.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 18 - (Universality of the Heavens)

Quickened Together with Christ!


Ephesians 1:19, 20:
The exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead.
In the resurrection of Christ, as in our salvation, there was put forth nothing short of a divine power. What shall we say of those who think that conversion is wrought by the free will of man, and is due to his own betterness of disposition? When we shall see the dead rise from the grave by their own power, then may we expect to see ungodly sinners of their own free will turning to Christ. It is not the word preached, nor the word read in itself; all quickening power proceeds from the Holy Ghost. This power was irresistible. All the soldiers and the high priests could not keep the body of Christ in the tomb; Death himself could not hold Jesus in his bonds: even thus irresistible is the power put forth in the believer when he is raised to newness of life. No sin, no corruption, no devils in hell nor sinners upon earth, can stay the hand of God's grace when it intends to convert a man. If God omnipotently says, "Thou shalt," man shall not say, "I will not." Observe that the power which raised Christ from the dead was glorious. It reflected honour upon God and wrought dismay in the hosts of evil. So there is great glory to God in the conversion of every sinner. It was everlasting power. "Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him." So we, being raised from the dead, go not back to our dead works nor to our old corruptions, but we live unto God. "Because He lives we live also." "For we are dead, and our life is hid with Christ in God." "Like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Lastly, in the text mark the union of the new life to Jesus. The same power which raised the Head works life in the members. What a blessing to be quickened together with Christ!
 ~Charles Spurgeon~

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"That Which Is Born of the Spirit" # 16

The Rule of the Heavens (continued)

The Meaning of "Heavens" (continued)

Paul is a great example. He was peculiarly related to the heavens. When on the road to Damascus the heavens were opened and he heard the voice of the Lord. Later he again had a heavenly revelation; then again he was caught up into the third heaven, and how much he has to say about the heavenlies!  He was a wonderful example of emancipation from the limitations of earth.

Take him nationally. If this were the only thing it would be a miracle of miracles. Here is that rabid Jew and Judaizer - and there is no more radical a fundamentalist on earth today. See what he will do for Jewish tradition and interest. He stands at nothing and flings to the wind every fine sensibility. He had received authority to cast into prison all who were of this way, men or women, there is no fine feeling - he is utterly radical. Here is a young man whose face has been seen to look up into heavenly glory and from his lips were heard the words, "I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God," but Saul of Tarsus crushed down all that because of his Jewish blood (Acts 7:56). He was a man like that, but see him afterward an apostle to the Gentiles. See him withstanding Peter because he went in to eat and drink with the Gentiles, but when the Jews were come down he withdrew himself - "I withstood him to the face ..." This is the man who will write about the church. It is a heavenly revelation, nothing less, that will change a man like this. It was he who later wrote "where there can be neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female ..." where nothing that is of earth has any place. Yet today there are spiritual people still on that low level - there has been no loss of earthly distinctions, no vision of one Body. You and I are not Britishers and other nationalities - we are citizens of heaven and you are not knowing me after the flesh but after the spirit. If there is that, then there is one spirit - sonship. We find our common ground there. Unity of the Spirit is oneness of the Spirit - that is universality - the heavens are ruling. From God's standpoint they do rule.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 17)

How Can We Evaluate Our Spiritual Growth?


When it comes to spiritual maturity, we can’t simply take for granted that we’re growing. To evaluate personal progress, I’ve compiled a brief inventory of spiritual benchmarks. Check the list for an idea of how you’re doing. But remember, these items are just a place to start; see the Bible for a complete growth chart!

We know we’re growing spiritually when we become increasingly aware of our sinfulness and weakness. As I read biographies of godly saints, it’s clear that they don’t “get better” with age and spiritual maturity. Instead, they become ever more sensitive to their dependence upon the Lord. Moreover, progress is apparent whenwe respond to sin with quick repentance. Failure to deal with sin is rebellion against God. Growing believers turn away from wrongdoing and embrace righteousness. As we live with the good results of dependence and repentance, our desire to obey intensifies, and the attraction of sin lessens.
Growth is also marked by an increase in two things—joy and struggle. Faith is often developed through hardship because living out the principles of trust and endurance help us “get it.” So we’ll see maturity in our relationship with God when we view trials and temptations as opportunities for growth.

Paul, David, and Daniel prove that adversity can help form spiritual giants. These men recognized sovereign God as the gatekeeper of their lives. We are maturing when we perceive whatever comes our way as being from Him, which also means that He’s working it for good (Romans 8:28).

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Monday, October 20, 2014

Where Did It Fall?


The fourth key to regaining your cutting edge is found in verse 6 of 2 Kings 6,

So the man of God said, "Where did it fall?"  And he showed him the place.  So he cut off a stick, and threw it in there; and he made the iron float.

The words I want you to focus on are, Where did it fall?  That is quite a question.  And look at the response,  And he showed him the place.

That is the fourth key, to know where you lost your cutting edge.  Unless you go back to that place, you cannot retrieve it; and unless you are willing to deal with whatever issue caused you to lose your cutting edge, you will never regain it.

Did you notice that the man knew right where he lost his cutting edge?  If you will be honest, you can probably point right to the time you lost, or began to lose, your edge spiritually.

Perhaps it was when you became offended because of what someone did.  Or maybe it was when you started watching too much television, or when you began hanging around with a certain person.

If when asked, "Where did it fall?" you cannot immediately point to the place, take some time to commune with your own heart and be still.  It won't be long before your answer comes. 

This is essential because if you are to regain your edge, you need to start where you lost it.

~Bayless Conley~

Sunday, October 19, 2014

"That Which Is Born of the Spirit" # 15

The Rule of the Heavens (continued)

The Meaning of "Heavens" (continued)

What is sonship? It is absolutely universal. If you take up Colossians 1 you will see that sonship is timeless. It is related to resurrection, for resurrection is coming out into the timeless and the coming in of timeless life - life that is the life of the ages. That is resurrection life - life and with it comes sonship which is timeless. You will notice in Ephesians you are taken back before times eternal by way of the Cross and shown that before this world was God had us in view. Romans says the same, and with the revelation of the eternal mind and thought and purpose of God it seems we were there in His thought before the world was. We were chosen of Him ' "For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son." We have been raised together with Him, "and you hath He quickened who were dead in trespasses and sin." In connection with that the eternity of sonship comes into view - foreknowledge and predestination. Sonship is not merely eternal, it is universal - not merely a thing of this earth but in the heavens. We are now partakers of the spirit of sonship, "Abba Father" (Galatians 1:6).

Notice the universality of the birth of our Lord - every universal element enters into His birth. You have the heavens coming in there.

When you come into sonship you come back into the place where God intended man to be originally at the center of His universe with everything gathered around Him. He was determined in the purpose of God to have dominion over the works of His hands. That will be the end when that one new man - "the church which is His body" is perfected and glorified. All things governed through the church, and everyone who comes into sonship comes into something universally. It is a wonderful thing to be made a son - much more than having sins forgiven and being saved from hell. There should be an adequate background to our preaching vocation. Saving from hell is only the first minor step in the great eternal sweep of God's purposes concerning man. Sonship embraces eternity - all ages. "Heirs of God and join heirs with Lord Christ." Sonship is timeless and universal because sonship is spiritual.

There is nothing merely local in the heavens and the things belong to the heavenly spiritual system. Everything here according to God has a universal connection according to the thought of God and we must see the universality of everything that is of God.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 16)

The Burden of Inadequary


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.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Saturday, October 18, 2014

"That Which Is Born of the Spirit" # 14

The Rule of the Heavens (continued)

The Meaning of "Heavens" (continued)

The first chapter of Colossians reveals the wondrous universality of the Lord Jesus sweeping back to the times of eternity, bringing Him on to the time of creation - "by Him were all things created" and "of Him and through Him and unto Him are all things" - sweeping the ages in His Person and leading you on to the timelessness of eternity. The Person of our Lord Jesus revealed in that one chapter is absolutely universal - all ages, all realms; and Ephesians sees Him as "above" all heavens. The universality of the Lord Jesus Christ is the thought and purpose and intent of God the Father. He, then, is the inclusive representation of all that is of God, and whenever you come into what is of God spiritually you immediately come into what is absolutely universal.

Of course, here is the explanation of the Cross of our Lord Jesus and the crucifixion of the old man and all that is related thereto. To explanation is just this, that that Cross represents the bringing to an end, or winding up of what is less than God intended. For things were pulled down to a lower level than God intended. There came in divisions, alienation, circumscribing of man and of things, limiting God and His purpose for man in the world, and the Cross represents the undoing of all that. The resurrection speaks of emancipation into the limitless - into the universal. In the Person of our Lord Jesus it meant He was no longer being bound to those few miles of Syrian soil, time was no longer a factor nor was geography a factor, distance did not come in. The resurrection represents universality because it brings you into spiritual realities - delivered from the flesh and brought into the spirit, delivered from what is of man and brought into what is of God. We may not be caught up in the body like Philip, but there is a universality about our new-creation life and about our ministry. We have lost every form of limitation. Though we may be at this place tonight we are not bound thereby - we can touch every corner of the earth by prayer.  We are now set free and brought into the kingdom of heaven's emancipation on resurrection ground. Under the anointing of the Spirit we are brought into the universality of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the explanation of the Cross.

Here the whole question of sonship comes into view. Sonship is always related to the resurrection. In the case of the Lord Jesus, He was especially designated the Son of God on the ground of resurrection. This does not mean He was not the Son of God before. Sonship comes in on that ground. This is typified in the Jordan - the Father's voice attested Him the Son on typical resurrection ground. "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee" - bound up with the work of the Cross (Hebrews 1:4).

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 15)

God's Clear Instructions


Joshua needed guidance as he faced one of the most crucial moments of his life. Because the Lord had promised him success in conquering Jericho, he knew the outcome of the battle, but as the day of combat approached, he needed a specific strategy for victory. What he heard the Lord say must have made his jaw drop.

Can you imagine the soldiers' thoughts as they carried out this bizarre battle strategy? In confusing times like this, it's good to remember three requirements for benefiting from God's instructions. We need:
• Faith to believe the Lord
• Courage to obey Him
• Patience to wait for His timing.
When God gives us clear instruction through His Word or His Spirit within us, our response shows how much we trust Him. If we truly believe Him and His promises, precise and complete obedience will follow. His victory in any area of struggle is available only to those who act upon His directions.

Submitting to the Lord's timing is also an essential part of obedience. What would have happened if the army decided to bypass God's plans for the first six days and skip straight to the seventh day's march around Jericho? They would have missed the victory.

How often do we beg the Lord for guidance, yet hesitate to obey when He finally gives it? Living by faith can seem like a huge risk when His instructions make no sense or require a lengthy wait. But knowing His eternal perspective and unlimited power can strengthen our resolve to obey.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~