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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Fundamental Questions of The Christian Life # 20

The Vital Value of Understanding The Word of God (continued)

Eternal Design and Central Person

Now we must recognize that in this matter of knowing the Word of God, knowing the Scriptures and understanding what we read, there is a factor which is "extra" and "other". That comes out very clearly in the instance before us. This incident in which we have our question is "bigger than itself." In itself it provides us with all the factors that we need for our consideration. But it is representative of a far bigger situation that itself - a situation which has a very large place in the Word of God and in Christian experience. "Understand thou what thou readest?" This is a very pertinent and proper question. It really implies no lesser questions than these: "Does the Bible live to you? Is the Word of God a mighty dynamic in your life? Is it the voice of God to you? Is God all the time speaking by this to you?"

Let us look at this incident, which will itself lead us out into the larger consideration. Firstly,we will look at the man who, I think we can say, is the occasion of what is here - the Ethiopian. Then we will look at that which met his need, and then at the implications of bringing these two together.

A Man in Need

Firstly, then, the man - the Ethiopian - and his need. Let us get his full-length portrait, as far as we can. Firstly, he is a man of high position and achievement in this world. He is a man who is successful, who has attained to a place of great honor. He is a man, evidently, of no mean learning. He has been up to Jerusalem to worship, probably at one of the feasts, which implies that he understood the language used there by the Jews - Hebrew or Aramaic; and then he was also versed in Greek, because the passage which is quoted here from Isaiah is quoted from the Septuagint - the Greek translation of the Old Testament. For an Ethiopian that indicates a wide range of intelligence and a considerable degree of learning and knowledge.

Then, he was evidently a devoutly religious man, doubtless a Jewish proselyte, for we are told that he had made the long journey to Jerusalem in order to worship. But because he as a eunuch, laboring under a veto in the Old Testament, he was strictly forbidden to enter within a certain area of the Temple. I mention that, because it might well have put him off. As a proselyte of the gate, beyond a certain point he would meet a closed door. That might have discouraged him and kept him away: but such is his devotion that he undertakes the long journey to Jerusalem, in spite of the handicap and the seeming rebuff he would meet at the Temple. He goes up to worship.

Then, having taken his long journey, in his honesty and devout sincerity, he returns, clearly a disappointed man. He has been to the very head-quarters of the learning and teaching of the Scriptures, to the very center of Bible interpretation. He is returning, still in quest of something to satisfy his heart, without the real joy of having discovered. That is made perfectly clear, is it not, by the issue of this incident? There is something still eluding him, beyond his grasp, beyond his understanding.

But that is not all about him. Clearly he was a truly humble man; he was not frustrated by his own self-sufficiency - for there is nothing more frustrating to spiritual understanding than self-sufficiency. The man or the woman who "knows it all" is a frustrated person; they are not going to get through. But here is a truly humble man, conscious of his need, and ready to confess it, knowing his ignorance and having no compunction or hesitation in letting it be known that he is ignorant in this matter. "How can I, except some one shall guide me?"

Moreover, he is a man with a Bible which is a closed book. He has a Bible, though it be the Old Testament only - it might only be the Prophets - but it is still the Bible. He had his Bible open before him, and was reading it, but it was nevertheless a closed book.

Finally, he is a man prepared to obey, ready without hesitation to follow the light when it comes. That is, I think, the measure of the man, the life-size portrait.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 21)

The Power of a Discerning Spirit

In a world filled with endless sources of information and opinions, believers need to develop a discerning spirit. Otherwise, how will we know what is true? Much of what we see and hear is based on a worldly perspective that is influenced by Satan, the Father of Lies. Deception is found even in the religious realm: cults mix lies with enough truth to make some people consider them legitimate Christian institutions.

The only way believers can guard against deception is to ground themselves in God's Word. The more time you spend filling your mind with the Lord's thoughts, the more discerning you will be. However, just knowing biblical truth isn't enough. You must put what you learn into practice so that it becomes more than head knowledge.

The goal is to let God's Word become such an integral part of your thinking that it guides all your decisions. Even if the situation you're facing isn't specifically addressed in the Bible, scriptural principles provide the needed wisdom for every choice. In addition, the Holy Spirit was given to each believer as a Helper, whose job is to guide you into all the truth (John 14:2616:13). However, your responsibility is to put God's Word into your mind so that He can bring it to your remembrance. If you neglect the Word, you'll lack discernment.

What are you allowing into your mind? Is Scripture high in your priorities? Unless you're careful, worldly thinking will overpower spiritual discernment. It's difficult to keep God's perspective in the forefront if you spend two or three hours in front of the television and only ten minutes in the Bible.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Staying Spiritual During the Holidays

“And you will have joy and gladness and many will rejoice at His birth.” - Luke 1:14 

If the holidays are about our faith, family and food feasts, then why do we struggle the most with staying spiritual during these times? Shouldn’t these times bring us peace on earth and joy to the world? But the reality for many of us is that we become emotionally stressed out, financially maxed out and physically burned out trying to keep up and keep it all together. Day after day, we become burned out and stressed out and now, our faith becomes affected as we start questioning God, “Are You hearing me?” and “Why won’t You help me?” Like Eve in the garden, we question God’s goodness and His basic command. Eve exchanged the peace of God for a piece of fruit but we exchange His presence for presents.  The serpent tempted Eve to compromise and we know that Jesus called him a murderer from the beginning. He is still up to the same old tricks. We are allowing the enemy to have too much influence at times. He kills our dreams, steals our peace and destroys our hope for the future. Jesus came to earth to reverse the process of death and yet our undisciplined lifestyle of choosing not to obey can lead to negative consequences in our lives.

To stay spiritually minded during the holidays, we need to keep our eyes focused on the Lord and include Him in our thoughts. Instead of talking to ourselves, we need to start talking to Him and then give Him the time to talk back. The enemy will use every scheme he can against us to distract us from maintaining a walk with the Lord. It has been said, “If the devil cannot make you bad, he will make you busy.” To combat the temptations to over commit in your time and finances, we must stay in the Word of God to renew our minds and to surrender to His will over our natural-born desires. Through the Holy Spirit, we can overcome and live a life pleasing to God that brings peace in the midst of chaos.

Joy to the world begins with each of us individually. Joy cannot come without the conscious awareness of the Lord’s promised presence wherever we go and whatever we do. By allowing our thoughts to think about God in the daily routines of life, we allow the Lord to have the ability to move through our actions. Only then can we truly maintain the Spirit of Christmas and sing the song, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Monday, December 29, 2014

Fundamental Questions of the Christian Life # 19

Stopping Short With the Bible

For a large majority of Christians, the Bible is a book of passages to comfort them in time of trouble, to encourage them in days of depression, to give them promises for the future when the present is difficult, or to help them to decide their course in a time of perplexity. In a word, the Bible is for many a matter of the personal day-by-day life in seeking to do God's will. We open our Bibles perhaps in the morning, to get something to help us for the day - a promise, a bit of comfort, a bit of light, just something to help us through; and we do that every day. Perhaps we do it a little more diligently when things are a little more stressful: when things are not like that, perhaps we are not so diligent about the Word! Forgive me if that is a misjudgment, but I think that for many Christians the Bible resolves itself into that and not much more.

Now do not misunderstand me: I am not saying that that is wrong - the the Bible is not for that. It is for that! That is right and good, as we all know. But in this matter, as in many other matters, we stop short.

In the matter of salvation, for instance - our own as well as other people's - we so often stop short, as though that were an end in itself. Get people converted, get them to make a decision for Christ, get them to come to the Lord - put it how you will - and that is that. It is all done. Get on with others. Salvation is an end in itself. And yet, that is only the first step on a mighty highway of ever greater fullnesses.

In the same way we stop short with our Bibles. In these quite valuable, profitable and necessary things which I have mentioned, we fail to recognize that the Bible is not ultimately for that. If the Bible gives us comfort, gives us light, gives us guidance, gives us hope, gives us some uplift, on occasions, in the thought of God that is all related to something infinitely more. It is related by God to a vast, eternal purpose. You are to get your guidance, your help, your comfort, your light,  your promise, whatever it may be, not just for the day or the hour or the moment, in order to get you over the stile that is immediately before you. It is intended by God to get you on the way of a great purpose which has been formed by Him in Divine counsels before this world was. The Word of God is a vastly greater thing than a set of encouraging sayings, comforting words: there is a purpose behind the whole, and every part, in the intention of God, relates to something more than itself. That we must recognize before the Bible can really become alive.

Eternal Design and Central Person

All that is in this book is of one piece. It is linked up with one great eternal design, which relates, not to so many individual Christians as such, but to a whole, corporate Body, chosen by God in Christ before the foundation of the world. It is only as we come into line with this that the Bible will really fulfill its purpose in our lives. Otherwise - well, we may go through a day helped by something that we read, a promise or a word of comfort; it may help us very blessedly over today - but is that all? Surely there is more to it than that! Individuals will only become enlarged unto all the fullness of God's purpose as they come into relationship with one another in that purpose: and the Bible is for that.

Yes: every promise, every bit of comfort, every bit of exhortation or light, is an integral part of a great design - and that design is centered in one Person - God's Son. If any part of the Scriptures fails to lead us into some greater knowledge of the Lord Jesus, it has failed of the very purpose for which it is there! You see, we are in keeping with our passage: "Understandest thou what thou readest?" Where does the answer lead you? It leads you to Christ. The understanding of the Scriptures is a matter of bringing us to understand Christ. The answer is found in a Person.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued  with # 20)

A Blessing For Others

And Laban said to him, "Please stay, if I have found favor in your eyes, for I have learned by experience that the Lord has blessed me for your sake." Then he said, "Name me your wages, and I will give it." So Jacob said to him, "You know how I have served you and how your livestock has been with me. For what you had before I came was little, and it has increased to a great amountthe Lord has blessed you since my comingAnd now, when shall I also provide for my own house?" - Genesis 30:27-30

Jacob had two wives and eleven children and he wanted to return to his own land. The time had come for him to leave his father-in-law, Laban, but Laban was not ready to let Jacob go. Both men acknowledged the blessings upon Laban’s house as being from the Lord. Jacob lived with and worked for Laban for over 20 years and both men prospered greatly, but the blessings came to Laban because the Lord’s hand was upon Jacob.

The same should be true of the Christian today. Because we know the Lord Jesus, our lives should bring blessings to others. The blessings come in many ways, such as recognizable calmness in our presence and stability. Many times, others do not want to admit that their blessings are a result of the Christian’s convictions and prayers. The unbeliever’s pride causes them to take the glory for themselves. But as Christians, our lives do bless others. In time, God will get the glory as the fruit of our lives, as well as the testimony of our mouths, will clearly point to His intervention

Are others blessed because of you? Even if you are the only Christian in your family, God’s hand is on you and your home will be covered with your prayers. Continue to pray for your family and seek the Lord’s blessings over those who do not yet know Him. Press on to not grow weary in doing good. Wherever we go, we bring the Lord’s presence because His Holy Spirit lives within us. We need to acknowledge the Lord’s blessings not only in our own lives but also in the lives of those around us. Let your light shine to those around you and give God the glory for all things.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Fundamental Questions of the Christian Life # 18

The Vital Value of Understanding the Word of God

Acts 8:1, 4, 5, 26-39

"Understandest Thou What Thou Readest?"

We have called these meditations "Fundamental Questions of the Christian Life" which means that we are seeking to get to the real foundation and nature of the Christian life, to understand what the Christian life is meant to be. Whatever may be the argument (and I am quite conscious that much argument might arise out of what will be said here, for very much argument has already circled around this question), it will always return to one matter, and it should be that one matter that governs and influences the argument. The one matter is: the question of absolute satisfaction with the Christian life.

If you are perfectly satisfied with your Christian life, if you are satisfied that Christianity as it is in this world today is an absolutely satisfactory thing, then there is no point in a book such as this. But if we are not wholly satisfied with our Christian life - that is, if we realize the need for something more, something fuller; if we feel that, speaking quite generally, Christianity as we know it in the world is not quite what it should be; if we deplore all these disruptive elements, all these divisions, all this atmosphere of suspicion and criticism, and so on - if we feel like that at all, then we are surely under the necessity of trying to find out the better way, the remedy. It is incumbent upon us to seek to discover the cause of the much disappointment which exists in the hearts of so many Christians, disappointment with Christianity as we know it.

Do we, in the first place, find some explanation in the matter of our first consideration: an adequate apprehension of Christ? May not an inadequate apprehension of Christ lie at the root of  much disappointment and many conditions which we deplore?

Do we, moreover, find some explanation in our second consideration: Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed? May it not be that some misunderstanding, some confusion, some uncertainty about this matter of the indwelling Holy Spirit, with all that that ought to mean, lies at the root of many of our troubles?

And now, thirdly, may it not be that the state of spiritual weakness, defeat, ineffectiveness, unfruitfulness, and many more positive elements which are quite unsatisfactory, can be traced to this: not really understanding the Word of God? We must now investigate this question. Let me say that we are not setting out to prove the inspiration of the Scriptures. That is assumed. What we are concerned with is to emphasize and explain the necessity for understanding the Scriptures. We underline the word "understanding."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 19 - (Stopping Short With the Bible)

Once for All!

As we have been learning in the last few devotionals, the new covenant is better than the old covenant.  Hebrews 9:18-24 shows us another way it is better,

Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood.  For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, "This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you."  Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry.  And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.  Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.  For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.

The old covenant was based on the blood of animal sacrifices; but under the new covenant, we are cleansed by the blood of Christ and His sacrifice.

Jesus went into that heavenly Holy of Holies with His own blood.  And the Father declared that the blood of Jesus satisfied the payment for sin for all eternity.
Oh, thank you, Jesus!  That is why the Scripture declares we are accepted in the Beloved.  When God accepted that blood sacrifice in heaven, He accepted all of us who believe, because Jesus went as our representative. 

Praise God today for the provision of the sacrifice of Jesus…once for all!

~Bayless Conley~

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Fundamental Questions of the Christian Life # 17

The Essential Seal and Constitution of the Christian Life (continued)

3. Baptism (continued)

Make no mistake about this: the soul of the unregenerate man and woman is in alliance with the evil powers. It is not a matter of how conscious you are of it. Try to get away and turn to the Lord Jesus, and you will become aware that you are not as free as you thought you were, you have not the ability that you thought you had. You will take up to the fact that you are a prisoner, and that, unless a mighty deliverer and rescuer comes to you, there is no escape. That foothold was given; that alliance and link with satan was formed; and it remains. The soul of the unregenerate is liked with satan, and the evil powers fulfill all the purposes of satan in the life.

What is the way out? The only way out is through death. God pronounced that upon man. "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:17). "The soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezek. 18:4). But "one died for all" (2 Corinthians 5:14). Jesus took the place of the sinner, and died that death; and in His death He broke that link, He severed that union: He stripped off the principalities (Col. 2:5); He 'nullified him that had the power of death, that is, the devil' (Hebrews 2:14). One died for all. Baptism is our testimony, the believer's testimony to the double fact that, in the death of Christ, the man in union with satan has been removed and satan with him, and that, in resurrection-union with Christ, the Holy Spirit constitutes inwardly a  new relationship. Death is the great divide. Resurrection is the great new union. Through this new link or union, Christ and His Kingdom operate. All the purposes of God are realized - but only realized through and upon the ground of this union effected by receiving the Holy Spirit.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 18 - (The Vital Value of Understanding the Word of God)

God Wants Dependable People

I have chosen him so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Then the Lord will give to Abraham what he promised him.” (Gen 18:19)

God wants people that He can depend upon. He could say of Abraham, “I know him, that he will command his children … that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken.” God can be depended upon; He wants us to be just as decided, as reliable, as stable. This is just what faith means.
God is looking for men on whom He can put the weight of all His love and power and faithful promises. God’s engines are strong enough to draw any weight we attach to them. Unfortunately the cable which we fasten to the engine is often too weak to hold the weight of our prayer; therefore God is drilling us, disciplining us to stability and certainty in the life of faith. Let us learn our lessons and stand fast.
—A. B. Simpson
God knows that you can stand that trial; He would not give it to you if you could not. It is His trust in you that explains the trials of life, however bitter they may be. God knows our strength, and He measures it to the last inch; and a trial was never given to any man that was greater than that man’s strength, through God, to bear it.

~L. B. Cowman~

Friday, December 26, 2014

Fundamental Questions of the Christian Life # 16

The Essential Seal and Constitution of the Christian Life (continued)

2. Disciples (continued)

But Aquila and Priscilla, that fine Christian couple who had accompanied Paul to Ephesus from Corinth, soon detected the flaw and the lack, and took him and expounded to him the way of God more carefully (vs. 26). His ministry enlarged greatly after that. Soon afterwards he left Ephesus an crossed over to Corinth, and it is interesting to follow the wonderful ministry of Apollos from this point. But I just mention it for this reason: that when Apollos got beyond John the Baptist to the real meaning of the Holy Spirit and of baptism into Christ, it made an immense difference to his ministry. Paul was able to say: "I planted, Apollos watered" (1 Corinthians 3:6), and much more. That is no small thing. It illustrates the vital importance of having the Holy Spirit. Now these disciples knew nothing about the Holy Spirit. Although they had dwelling in their midst a man mighty in the Old Testament Scriptures, and familiar with the teaching of John the Baptist and his baptism, they could not be led any further by him. They knew nothing vital concerning the way of the Lord, although such a man had been ministering to them.

These disciples, then, represented a kind of parenthesis, an interlude, a discontinuity; something held in suspense, as it were, between John the Baptist and Jesus. And I am not sure that there are not many such disciples today, suspended in that gap. Yes, they know something of the Bible; they know something about Jesus. They have been 'taught by word of mouth.' But I fear that there are multitudes of those who have the name "Christian," and who would be called, or would wish to be called, disciples, who have no real, personal experience of receiving the Holy Spirit. They belong to this kind of parenthetical Christianity. It has not gone though, not gone right on; it has stopped, it is a discontinuity. But these at Ephesus did go on, as the record shows us - they did bridge the gap.

3. Baptism

We now turn briefly to the third matter - that of baptism. For it was up to that that the Apostle led them. From their reply, "We did not so much as hear whether the Holy Spirit was," we are not quite sure whether they meant that they had not heard that there was such a thing or person as the Holy Spirit, or that they had not heard whether the Holy Spirit had come. But it is not of great importance. It is perfectly evident that they knew nothing about the Holy Spirit. And so Paul says, "Well, then, into what were you baptized?" That is the point upon which the big question turns. "Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed?... Into what then were ye baptized?" These two things go together; the one question is within the other - the one resolves itself into the other. "Into what ... were ye baptized?"

Well, then, we have to ask, what did baptism into Christ mean? To put it in another form: Why did the Holy Spirit wait for that testimony? And in answering this question we touch the greatest things in the Christian life. Here we really do come to the "seal" and the "constitution" mentioned in our title. I do not mean that baptism is that, but look behind it and see what it really meant. You have to go a long way back to answer that question, What did baptism into Christ mean? You have to go right back to the beginning. What was it that happened in the garden, when man disobeyed God? When man, at the suggestion of satan, disobeyed God, he opened as it were a door into his own being - a door into which satan put his foot, and from which he has never withdrawn it. Through man opening himself to satan, satan got a purchase in man's soul, obtained a foothold in the very heart of man, upon which all the evil powers have fulfilled the work of satan in man and through man ever since.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 17)

The King Will Come and Dwell There With Us

These were the potters, and those that dwelt among plants and hedges: there they dwelt with the king for his work (1 Chron. 4:23).

Anywhere and everywhere we may dwell "with the king for his work." We may be in a very unlikely and unfavorable place for this; it may be in a literal country life, with little enough to be seen of the "goings" of the King around us; it may be among the hedges of all sorts, hindrances in all directions; it may be furthermore, with our hands full of all manner of pottery for our daily task.

No matter! The King who placed us "there" will come and dwell there with us; the hedges are right, or He would soon do away with them. And it does not follow that what seems to hinder our way may not be for its very protection; and as for the pottery, why, that is just exactly what He has seen fit to put into our hands, and therefore it is, for the present, "His work."
--Frances Ridley Havergal

Go back to thy garden-plot, sweetheart!
Go back till the evening falls,
And bind thy lilies and train thy vines,
Till for thee the Master calls.
Go make thy garden fair as thou canst,
Thou workest never alone;
Perhaps he whose plot is next to thine
Will see it and mend his own.

The colored sunsets and starry heavens, the beautiful mountains and the shining seas, the fragrant woods and painted flowers, are not half so beautiful as a soul that is serving Jesus out of love, in the wear and tear of common, unpoetic life.

The most saintly spirits are often existing in those who have never distinguished themselves as authors, or left any memorial of themselves to be the theme of the world's talk; but who have led an interior angelic life, having borne their sweet blossoms unseen like the young lily in a sequestered vale on the bank of a limpid stream.

~L. B. Cowman~

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Fundamental Questions of the Christian Life # 15

The Essential Seal and Constitution of the Christian Life (continued)

2. Disciples

In the second place, we find "disciples" mentioned here. "Paul ... found certain disciples." They would no doubt have been people who were bearing the name "Christian": they would have classed themselves as such and would probably have been referred to as Christians. And yet they were people who, while being called disciples, were yet without the fundamental essential of the Christian life. What were they? I think the answer is to be found in Apollos, the Jew from Alexandria, who had recently arrived in Ephesus and had previously come into touch with the ministry of John the Baptist concerning Jesus. We are told here that he had been 'instructed by word of mouth' [katechoe] (Acts 18:25). No, what was John's vocation? John's vocation was to prepare the way of the Lord, to lead on and point on to Jesus. What was John's message? Repentance in view of the imminent coming of the Messiah. "Repent!" said John. But John had definite limitations. Said he: "I ... baptize you in water ... He that cometh after me ... shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 3:2, 11). That represents a very great difference.

Now Apollos had got all that, and probably some extra teaching about Jesus, apparently at second hand ('by word of mouth'). In the main, Apollos ended where John ended: that is, he was without a personal experience of the work of the Holy Spirit through baptism into Jesus Christ. He had, nevertheless, some particular values on the positive side. We are told that he was 'mighty in the scriptures' (Acts 18:24): which I take to mean that he had an unusually wide and deep knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures about the coming Messiah - what we call the "Messianic Scriptures" - all of which pointed toward the Christ; all of which rang out the note of preparation, and especially of repentance, for the Christ was coming. John baptized with a baptism of repentance in preparation for the Christ and his kingdom: but there he stopped and could do no more. And Apollos seems to have stopped there too. Perhaps he was a mightier man in the Old Testament Scriptures than even John the Baptist, but with all his knowledge of the Scriptures he fell short of the experience of the Holy Spirit. And therefore, according to the law of ministry, he could not lead these disciples further than he himself had gone.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 16)

Blessed Healer, All Our Burdens Lighten

He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass (Ps. 72:6).

Amos speaks of the king's mowings. Our King has many scythes, and is perpetually mowing His lawns. The musical tinkle of the whetstone on the scythe portends the cutting down of myriads of green blades, daisies and other flowers. Beautiful as they were in the morning, within an hour or two they lie in long, faded rows.

Thus in human life we make a brave show, before the scythe of pain, the shears of disappointment, the sickle of death. There is no method of obtaining a velvety lawn but by repeated mowings; and there is no way of developing tenderness, evenness, sympathy, but by the passing of God's scythes.

How constantly the Word of God compares man to grass, and His glory to its flower! But when grass is mown, and all the tender shoots are bleeding, and desolation reigns where flowers were bursting, it is the most acceptable time for showers of rain falling soft and warm.

O soul, thou hast been mown! Time after time the King has come to thee with His sharp scythe. Do not dread the scythe--it is sure to be followed by the shower.
--F. B. Meyer

When across the heart deep waves of sorrow
Break, as on a dry and barren shore;
When hope glistens with no bright tomorrow,
And the storm seems sweeping evermore;
When the cup of every earthly gladness
Bears no taste of the life-giving stream;
And high hopes, as though to mock our sadness,
Fade and die as in some fitful dream,
Who shall hush the weary spirit's chiding?
Who the aching void within shall fill?
Who shall whisper of a peace abiding,
And each surging billow calmly still?
Only He whose wounded heart was broken
With the bitter cross and thorny crown;
Whose dear love glad words of Joy had spoken,
Who His life for us laid meekly down.
Blessed Healer, all our burdens lighten;
Give us peace, Thine own sweet peace, we pray!
Keep us near Thee till the morn shall brighten,
And all the mists and shadows flee away!

~L. B. Cowman~

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

They That Dwell Under His Shadow

They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn and grow as the vine (Hosea 14:7).

The day closed with heavy showers. The plants in my garden were beaten down before the pelting storm, and I saw one flower that I had admired for its beauty and loved for its fragrance exposed to the pitiless storm. The flower fell, shut up its petals, dropped its head; and I saw that all its glory was gone. "I must wait till next year," I said, "before I see that beautiful thing again."

That night passed, and morning came; the sun shone again, and the morning brought strength to the flower. The light looked at it, and the flower looked at the light. There was contact and communion, and power passed into the flower. It held up its head, opened its petals, regained its glory, and seemed fairer than before. I wonder how it took place--this feeble thing coming into contact with the strong thing, and gaining strength!

I cannot tell how it is that I should be able to receive into my being a power to do and to bear by communion with God, but I know It is a fact. Are you in peril through some crushing, heavy trial? Seek this communion with Christ, and you will receive strength and be able to conquer. "I will strengthen thee."

The rain that fell a-yesterday is ruby on the roses,
Silver on the poplar leaf, and gold on willow stem;
The grief that chanced a-yesterday is silence that incloses
Holy loves when time and change shall never trouble them.
The rain that fell a-yesterday makes all the hillsides glisten,
Coral on the laurel and beryl on the grass;
The grief that chanced a-yesterday has taught the soul to listen
For whispers of eternity in all the winds that pass.
O faint-of-heart, storm-beaten, this rain will gleam tomorrow,
Flame within the columbine and jewels on the thorn,
Heaven in the forget-me-not; though sorrow now be sorrow,
Yet sorrow shall be, beauty in the magic of the morn.

~L. B. Cowman~

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Fundamental Questions of the Christian Life # 14

The Essential Seal and Constitution of the Christian Life (continued)

E. The Teaching of Jesus (continued)

Now Paul knew all that by experience, and he therefore brought all this knowledge, this spiritual knowledge, into the question that he put to them. And how the question grows! What a tremendous question it becomes if it implies all that! All that Jesus taught and meant about the day of the Holy Spirit; all that that same Spirit had done in fulfilling the very words of the Lord Jesus. "He shall guide you into all the truth ... He shall take of Mine, and shall declare it unto you" (John 16:13, 14) - all that had come to Paul. What a wealth we have in Paul's letters about the Holy Spirit! And all that comes into this question: "Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed?" It is a very big question! Viewed in that light, I doubt whether there is a greater question. What a difference it should make to the Christian life if it is all true!

Let me sum it all up by saying this: The Christian, the believer, who has really received the Holy Spirit, is a supernatural being. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, and His imparting of eternal life, constitute the believer a supernatural being, a being who has something within of a supernatural character, distinguishing him from all others. It is a deathless life. To receive eternal life means that there is that within which transcends the natural order, making the recipient an eternal being, in the Divine sense, linked with Heaven and linked with eternity. And the Church in which this is true, which has truly received and is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, is a supernatural Body; there is no power in this universe which can destroy it. History has proven that and will prove it to the end. Let men and devils combine against this Church: no matter - it will remain; it is supernatural!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 15 - (2. Disciples)

O Love That Will Not Let Me Go

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ (Phil. 3:7).

When they buried the blind preacher, George Matheson, they lined his grave with red roses in memory of his love-life of sacrifice. And it was this man, so beautifully and significantly honored, who wrote,

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee,
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
O Light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee,
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine's blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.
O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee,
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shalt tearless be.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee,
I lay in dust life's glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red,
Life that shall endless be.

There is a legend of an artist who had found the secret of a wonderful red which no other artist could imitate. The secret of his color died with him. But after his death an old wound was discovered over his heart. This revealed the source of the matchless hue in his pictures.

The legend teaches that no great achievement can be made, no lofty attainment reached, nothing of much value to the world done, save at the cost of heart's blood.

~L. B. Cowman~

Monday, December 22, 2014

Fundamental Questions of the Christian Life # 13

The Essential Seal and Constitution of the Christian Life (continued)

D. New Consciousness and Capacities

Paul goes on to say much about the new consciousness of the new creation man and woman. An entirely new consciousness is given to the believer who receives the Holy Spirit. All that of which such a one was entirely unconscious, now breaks forth into consciousness and becomes the most living reality in the believer's life - such as the consciousness of God as Father, the consciousness of Christ as Saviour, and many other sides and aspects. Every believer who has received the Holy Spirit knows how true this is. There is a new awareness in every realm; there are new capacities for doing and for being what was entirely impossible before. All this relates to the spiritual counterpart of the creation - the new creation that is in Christ Jesus; and it is all accomplished by the indwelling Holy Spirit, just as the material creation was effected by the pervading and brooding Spirit of God.

E. The Teaching of Jesus

Let us remember, furthermore, that Paul was an inheritor of what Jesus had said regarding the Holy Spirit. Now Jesus said very much about this matter. At the end of His life here on this earth, the Lord Jesus had taken many hours, apart from the world, apart from the multitudes, to be alone with His disciples. And through those many hours there was one thing about which He was speaking, in one way or another, almost continuously. There was one phrase that was constantly on His lips. "In that day ..." He said, "in that day ..."; and when you look to see what "that day" was, you find that He was saying: "When He, the Spirit ... is come" (John 16:13) - He shall do this and that. It was the coming day of the Spirit. All that Jesus had said about that day, and about what the Spirit would do when He came, Paul had come into, had inherited. Paul had come to know - what the apostles had dreaded, until they knew it - the truth of Jesus' words: "It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you" (John 16:7). Yes, the disciples dreaded His going, but they lived to prove that it was, as He had said, a far, far greater thing for the Spirit to come than for Jesus to remain in the body. Paul had come into the reality of that- into the superior greatness of the Spirit's presence even to the physical presence of the Lord Jesus.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 14)

Our Great High Priest

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. - Hebrews 4:14-15

For the Jews, there was no higher office than that of the High Priest. The High Priest held a position of religious supremacy and honor. He was the one responsible for the cleansing of sins for the people on the Day of Atonement. On this holy day, the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies. Through the acts passed down from Moses and Aaron (animal sacrifices, the sprinkling of blood, and prayers offered on behalf of the people), the High Priest would make atonement for their sins. In the book of Hebrews, we learn how Jesus Christ came to earth as the final High Priest. Not only was He the High Priest, but also He was also the Sacrifice. His death on the cross ended the need for the man-held position of High Priest, sacrifice and the Day of Atonement. Jesus took care of it all.  

Not only was Jesus the High Priest, the Sacrifice and the Savior, but also He was still a person in flesh and blood. For us today, this point is so very important to grasp. Because Jesus was here on this earth in a human body, He understands everything we go through. Jesus experienced feelings, hurts, weaknesses and temptations, just as we do. He knows what it is to suffer, to hurt, to be rejected, ridiculed and mocked. Jesus got angry at the Pharisees, He cried over Lazarus and He showed great compassion to a prostitute. But, Jesus was God. He did not sin. He was the perfect, spotless Lamb—the ultimate and final Sacrifice. Why did Jesus go through all of this for us? Love. He loved us then. He loves us now. He has always loved us. He wants us to be with Him, now and forever. The only way to be with Jesus is to believe that He is the Son of God, the Son who came to earth as a Man, and who offered His life on our behalf as the final atonement for all sin.  

Take time today to start reading the book of Hebrews. If parts of it seem hard to understand, pray for the Holy Spirit to open your minds to comprehend the Scriptures. Pray and meditate on those verses that stick out, or the ones that seem the hardest to grasp. If you will commit the time to the study of God's Word, you will grow closer to Jesus in more ways than you can imagine. You will see Him as One who understands you better than anyone else and who loves you more than anyone else can.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Fundamental Questions of the Christian Life # 12

The Essential Seal and Constitution of the Christian Life (continued)

b. Order and Fruitfulness

Paul has many other allusions to the creation, as he takes it over into the spiritual life. What a lot he made of the power of the Word of God in the life - creative power in the life of the believer! How much he has given us concerning order as a result of the work of the Holy Spirit! At the beginning of the Bible we see order developing or emerging out of the chaos and disruption, under the influence of the brooding Spirit. Now, in the spiritual life, under the influence and power of the Spirit of God in this new creation, the same thing is taking place: a new order is emerging in the life of the believer. And as, out of the barren desolation in which the earth is found at the beginning of the Bible, fruitfulness emerges and develops, so is it, Paul teaches, with the fruit of the Spirit in the life of the believer. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22, 23). Instead of the barrenness of the unbeliever's life, there comes this fruitfulness. It is a work of new creation by the Holy Spirit. And as at the beginning in the material creation we see a progressive development and growth, so Paul has much to say to us about growth and progressiveness under the government of the Spirit of God. A life governed and led by the Spirit is one that goes on developing, growing, increasing in Christ. In a life in which the Holy Spirit is having His way there is no stagnation. Such a life is not the same today as it was  a year ago - that would be all wrong. The progressive factor in the new creation, as a part of the work of the Holy Spirit, is made very clear by the Apostle.

c. Revelation of Man's Destiny

How profoundly and how fully does Paul teach concerning the purpose and the destiny of man! At the beginning of the Bible we have hints that God created man with a great purpose and a great destiny, but Paul divulges it all. He tells us exactly what was in God's thought before He created man or the world - what He intended in creating man - what the destiny of man was to be. All this comes out through Paul. How is this possible? Because the Holy Spirit Himself has revealed it to Paul, and then Paul, by the Holy Spirit, has been enabled to reveal it to us. And by the same Spirit this great Divine work of a new creation is to be carried on to its final fullness. The last thing in the material creation was: "And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good" (Genesis 1:31). God entered into His rest. That is the crowning work of the Holy Spirit: bringing everything ultimately to the pleasure and satisfaction of God -  not only bringing God into His rest, but bringing God's rest into His creation.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 13 - (d. New Consciousness and Capacities)

Hope for the Promises

“Behold, the days are coming,' says the Lord, 'that I will perform that good thing which I have promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.” - Jeremiah 33:14

There are times when I wonder if God will ever answer certain prayers of mine. There are prayers that I pray knowing that the Lord has put them in my heart. I have verses of Scripture and biblical illustrations to support these same prayers. I keep journals that detail the dates and descriptions of the promises the Lord has given me.  But still I wait and wonder, not about the what but about the when and the how. Where is my faith?

These are the times when I stop and reflect more closely at what I know about my God. I must remind myself of His character traits. Unlike me, He is perfect in every way—so perfect that He is not capable of doing anything out of His character. For example, one of God’s character traits is love. 1 John 4:7-8 says that “love is of God” and that “God is love.” Therefore, everything God does is motivated by love. If the Lord has me waiting and has not answered certain prayers, then His reasons for waiting are based upon His love for me. Another example of God’s character traits is that He is truth, perfect truth. Titus 1:2 says God cannot lie. He is incapable of lying; therefore, everything He has promised me will come to pass. God keeps His promises. But I must remember that He controls the timing, the process and the outcomes, for He is God.

When I step back, I can understand more clearly than when I am in the midst of being anxious over things. We all have seasons in life where we wonder if, and when, God will answer certain prayers. It is in these times that I find myself being tested most in my relationship with the Lord. Do I really know Him and believe Him and trust Him? I go to His Word and start asking for help and comfort. I confess my lack of faith. I am honest about my anxieties and worries. Then, I know I just need to be still and know that He is God. Before long, I am praising Him and my hope has returned. Don’t give up and don’t give in to the temptation to be discouraged and dismayed. Remind yourself of just who God is, what His true character is, and let His Word fill you with hope and joy for the promises that He has given you.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Fundamental Questions of the Christian Life # 11

Initial Reception of the Holy Spirit (continued)

b. What the Passage Teaches

The first aspect of the significance of our passage, then, is the church itself and the ministries that were fulfilled in it. Let us now come to the second aspect - namely, that which the passage teaches. You notice that it can be divided into three sections. The middle section  is the Holy Spirit: that is central, that is the focal point of everything. Then on the one side of that you have a section circling around the word "disciples" - "Paul ... found certain disciples" - and on the other side a section circling around the word 'baptism.' You have the Holy Spirit in the center: then, on the one side disciples, on the other side baptism.

1. The Work of the Holy Spirit

We must recognize, first of all, that Paul's question concerning the Holy Spirit must have had a good reason. I do not think it was just a casual or formal question - that Paul arrived there and in a quite casual way, without any special point or object, put this question to these people: "Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed?" We are bound to believe that Paul had a reason, and a very good reason, for asking the question. We are left, of course, to surmise, to conjecture, but the issue of the question shows that Paul had discerned something. He had detected in these disciples some lack. And his discernment enabled him to put his finger right on the spot, as we say.

Now, when Paul puts a question like that, we have to bring to it all that Paul would have brought concerning the Holy Spirit. We should need to go to all his writings, and to his own personal experience, and gather up, if we could, all that Paul knew and all that Paul had experienced as to the place, the work and the importance of the Holy Spirit. And that was no small thing! Paul has set forth what he knew about the Holy Spirit from many different aspects.

a. Union with Christ

To begin with, Paul has made it clear that without the Holy Spirit there is no union with Christ. Union with Christ is the very heart of Christianity: it is the great, great theme of Paul; and union with Christ is the work of the Holy Spirit. To quote one his own fragments: "He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit" (1 Corinthians 6:17). All that Paul knew and had experienced about the Holy Spirit focused upon this great matter of union with Christ, and he brought all that into his question. The question could have been put in other ways. Paul could have raised directly the fundamental question of union with Christ. Or he could have spoken of the new creation: Paul has a good deal to say, both directly and by inference, as to a new creation in Christ Jesus. And from these and many other suggestions and indications, we see that Paul thought of the Christian life as a kind of spiritual counterpart to the material creation. He said: "God, that said, Light shall shine out of darkness ... shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6). He saw this as the counterpart of the creational act, or Divine fiat, "Let there be light." The spiritual counterpart has taken place in us. In another place you will find that Paul brings in the Holy Spirit in that connection. He changes his metaphor, but keeps to his truth: God has written in our hearts, not with pen and ink, but by the Spirit of the living God (2 Corinthians 3:3)

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 12 - (b. Order and Fruitfulness)

Finding Satisfaction

God has provided us with many things to enjoy. But too often our lives are filled with turmoil instead of contentment. Four practices that create dissatisfaction are . . .

Busyness. We live in a hurry-up society, dashing from one activity to another. Jesus did not rush anywhere, yet He accomplished whatever God gave Him to do. Not once did He tell His followers to move faster. He even praised Mary for choosing to stop her work and spend time with Him (Luke 10:39, 42).

Earthly perspective. Too often we live focused on our circumstances. Our minds think about what happened earlier in the week, what’s on today’s agenda, and the activities occurring next week, month, or year. No wonder enjoyment of life remains elusive. The solution is to have an eternal perspective, which acknowledges that God is in charge and our goal is to please Him.

Self-imposed pressure. We have all experienced the unavoidable burdens of schoolwork, employment, and relationships. But we bring needless pressure on ourselves when we allow unnecessary “musts” and “shoulds” to rule us. The remedy is to turn to God, acknowledge His right to order our days, and ask for His plan.

Unhealthy attitudes. Perfectionism, false guilt, and apathy all undermine our enjoyment of life.

Satisfaction is found in a life that reflects God’s priorities—and time with Him comes first. Reading His Word, we become mindful of the Father’s great love, learn what He views as important, and experience the joy of belonging to Him. When contentment is elusive, it’s time to examine our priorities.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Friday, December 19, 2014

Fundamental Questions of the Christian Life # 10

The Essential Seal and Constitution of the Christian Life (continued)

The Foundation of a Great Church and of Great Ministries (continued)

Here was a church being founded and formed for tremendous purposes and with tremendous capacity. What spiritual capacity it requires to be a church like that - to be able to take all that an apostle such as Paul could give! That is a very testing thing. Those who minister in the Word of God, and in the Holy Spirit, know very well the capacity of their hearers by the liberty that they have to give the message. Sometimes they find themselves limited because their hearers cannot take more. They may not know the people, but they are conscious of the limitation. At other times they find themselves completely released, able without any difficulty to give all that they have. They are moving in the Spirit, and those to whom they minister have capacity.

Now these people at Ephesus had a capacity. In those three years they could receive "the whole counsel of God," and later they could receive this matchless letter which the Apostle wrote from his prison. A church with such capacity - and, let me add, Christians with such capacity - must know in a very real way what it means to receive the Holy Spirit. The receiving of the Holy Spirit is the beginning, the foundation, of all the work of building and enlarging.

Paul's ministry was  great here, among these believers. Let us recall that Timothy, also, was a minister of the church at Ephesus, and that his ministry was enriched, constituted, inspired, instructed, by Paul himself. Paul was able to say that Timothy had followed his teaching and conduct (2 Timothy 2:3-10). Yes, Timothy had been in close association with the Apostle, for a long time and over a wide area, and he ministered at Ephesus. And then we remember that the great Apostle John was an elder of the church at Ephesus. What wealth John has given us, in Gospel, Letters and Revelation! What a church this was! What a church it became from these twelve believers! And it all sprang out of the receiving of the Holy Spirit. I commend to you a study of the place of the Holy Spirit in the letter to the Ephesians. He has a very large place in the letter from beginning to end.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 11 - (b. What the Passage Teaches)

Obeying God

The high priest ordered Peter and the apostles to stop teaching about Jesus, but they ignored the order. When questioned about their actions, Peter replied, “We must obey God rather than men” (v. 29). What motivated them to follow the Lord with such conviction?

God’s Sovereignty. Peter and the other disciples recognized that God had carried out His divine plan of redemption in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Convinced that salvation was found in Christ alone, they had the courage to speak boldly about their faith. They didn’t alter their words, even in front of a powerful authority. Instead, they gave allegiance to God and obeyed Him.

Thankfulness. Their obedience was also motivated by gratitude. After betraying the Lord, Peter had wept over his failure (Mark 14:72). Think of the disciple’s joy to realize that Christ had forgiven him for his mistakes and restored him to a right relationship with God (Mark 16:7; John 21:15-17). With his past behind him, Peter became a leader of the Jerusalem church, with a passion to obey fueled by a thankful heart.

God is in charge of our lives. He has rescued us from the bondage of sin, forgiven us, and brought us into His family. Grateful obedience should be our response too.

Each day we have a choice. We can acknowledge God’s sovereignty and trust Him, or we can turn away and follow our own plan. Cultivating a thankful spirit will motivate us to stay the course and obey the Lord. Like Peter, let’s commit to following our heavenly Father wherever He leads.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Fundamental Questions of the Christian Life # 9

The Essential Seal and Constitution of the Christian Life (continued)

Initial Reception of the Holy Spirit

Now when we come to the passage which we have read, and from which I have taken the question that is placed at the head of this chapter, we find an incident with several features of very great importance. I think we shall see, as we proceed, that this is something of great significance. But first we must translate it correctly. It may be that you have in your hand the old Authorized (or King James Version.) That is very good, but it is not always correct in the sense of being up-to-date. That version reads: "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?" Now, the word here in the original text does not mean 'subsequent to your believing.' It does not mean: 'Did you, at some subsequent time after you believed, receive the Holy Spirit.' The Revised Version corrects the translation and says: "Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed?" And that is correct, and true to the whole teaching and meaning of the New Testament. The point is that believers  in the Lord Jesus Christ are supposed to receive the Holy Spirit at the time when they believe, when they definitely exercise saving faith in Him.

a. What the Passage Records:

The Foundation of a Great Church and of Great Ministries

The importance of this incident is seen in two aspects. Firstly, you note that this is the beginning of a great church - the church at Ephesus. Little need be said, to those who are familiar with the new Testament, by way of emphasizing or proving the importance of the church at Ephesus. It was to that church, as to one of a circle, that the Apostle Paul wrote the greatest document in the history of the world. That is not exaggerating at all. The greatest document that has ever been written is Paul's letter 'to the Ephesians' so-called. It was probably a circular letter to a number of churches, of which Ephesus was one. But no greater letter or document exists. I invite you to investigate it and see if you can exhaust it. It will take you back into eternity past; it will take you through the outworking of the counsels of God through the ages; and it will take you right on into "the ages of the ages," showing you God at work in Heaven, in earth, and in hell, in the whole universe: a mighty, mighty document, written to the church that we see here in our passage coming into being.

Note, then, the place of the Holy Spirit in the foundations. How careful the Apostle was to make sure that the beginning was right, that the foundation was sound! It was going to have to carry an immense superstructure, and it must be trustworthy. Hence to the nucleus of that great church - perhaps only twelve disciples - he puts the question: "Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed?" Think of the ministry of the Apostle Paul subsequent to this question. For three years he tarried at Ephesus, and at his final interview with the elders or leaders of that church, during the course of his last journey before his imprisonment, he was able to say to them, in retrospect: "I shrank not from declaring unto you the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27). For three years, such a man as this was giving out all that he then could give of his knowledge of the Divine counsels.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 10)

He Is Worthy

And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?" Revelation 5:2

Who is worthy? Who is worthy to do the work of God? Who is worthy to fulfill the plans of God? John tells us in verse 3 that, "no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it." When I first read that verse I thought, "Where is Jesus? Isn't He worthy?" But I was wrong in comparing Jesus to any other created being. Those who are in heaven, on earth or under the earth are all created by God. No created thing is worthy or equal to God Himself.
Next we find John weeping, filled with sorrow that no one could open the book. 

Do you frequently find yourself weeping over your own inadequacies as well as over the shortcomings of others? It fills our hearts with grief that we can't do all that needs to be done, be all that we know we have the ability to be, or serve the Lord with limitless devotion. We are limited by physical boundaries: our flesh, our sin and time. So when one of the elders said to John, "Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals" (verse 5), we find such hope and joy that Jesus is not limited. He has overcome, and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, He is helping us to overcome our shortcomings also. Jesus is God and He is worthy to accomplish all the works of God.

We stand before the Lord as a saint only because the blood of Christ covers our sin. The Lord Jesus gives us, unworthy sinful man, the strength to stand before a Holy God. On earth, we too cry with John but one day, we will stop crying. The Lord Jesus will come to our side to say to the Father, "They are worthy—because I died for them."

Oh, trust the Lord today. Allow His power to flow through you. Tell Him you are willing to be that vessel for Him to accomplish all His works.

He is worthy to accomplish all you need, if you are willing to allow Him to work. 

~Daily Disciples Devotional~