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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Election

"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit" (John 15:16)

The branch does not choose the vine, or decide on which vine it will grow. The vine brings forth the branch, as and where it will. Even so, Christ says, Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you." But some will say that this is the difference between the branch in the natural and in the spiritual world.Man has a will and a power of choosing. It is in virtue of his having decided to accept Christ, his having chosen Him as Lord, that he is now a branch. This is undoubtedly true. And yet it is only a half truth.

The lesson of the Vine, and the teaching of our Lord, point to the other half - the deeper, the divine side of our being in Christ. If He had not chosen us, we would never have chosen Him. Our choosing Him was the result of His choosing us, and taking hold of us. In the very nature of things, it is His prerogative as Vine to choose and create His own branch. We owe all that we are to "the election of  grace" (Romans 11:5). Drink deep of this blessed truth, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you," and you will know Christ as the true Vine, the sole origin and strength of the branch life. You will see yourselves as branches in absolute, most blessed, and most secure dependence on Him.

And why does Christ say this? So that they may know the object for which He chose them, and find, in their faith in His election, the certainty of fulfilling their destiny. Throughout Scripture, this is the great object of the teaching of election. "Predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son" ( to be branches in the image and likeness of the Vine) (Romans 8:29). "Chosen ... that we should be holy" (Ephesians 1:4). "Chosen to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit" (2 Thessalonins 2:13). "Elect ... through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience" (1 Peter 1:2).

Some have abused the doctrine of election. And others, for fear of its abuse, have rejected it because they have overlooked this teaching. They have dwelled on its hidden origin in eternity, with the inscrutable mysteries of the counsels of God, instead of accepting the revelation of its purpose. They do not know about the blessings it brings into our Christian life.

Just think what these blessings are. In our verse, Christ reveals His twofold purpose in choosing us to be His branches. He has done so that we may bear fruit on earth, and have power in prayer in heaven. What confidence the thought that He has chosen us for this gives. He will not fail to prepare us for carrying out His purpose. What assurance that we can bear fruit that will abide, and can pray so as to obtain it! What a continual call to the deepest humility and praise, to the most entire dependence and expectancy! He would not choose us for what we are  not fit for, or for what He could not fit us for. He has chosen us; this is the pledge. He will do all in us.

Let us listen in silence of soul to our holy Vine speaking to each of us, "You have not chosen Me!" And let us say, "Yes, Lord, but I choose You now! Amen, Lord!" Ask Him to show you what this means. In Him, the true Vine, your life as branch has its divine origin, its eternal security, and the power to fulfill His purpose. From Him to whose will of love you owe all, you may except all. In Him, His purpose, His power, and His faithfulness, in His love let me abide.

I chose you. Lord, teach me what this means - that You have set Your heart on me, and chosen me to bear fruit that will abide, and to pray prayers that will prevail. In this Your eternal purpose, my soul will find rest and say, "What He chose me for I will be, I can be, I shall be." Amen

~Andrew Murray~

Wisdom Cries Out


Wisdom calls aloud outside; She raises her voice in the open squares. She cries out in the chief concourses, At the openings of the gates in the city She speaks her words: "How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, And fools hate knowledge. Turn at my rebuke; Surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, Because you disdained all my counsel, And would have none of my rebuke,  I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes, When your terror comes like a storm, And your destruction comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you.  "Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me. Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the Lord, They would have none of my counsel And despised my every rebuke. Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, And be filled to the full with their own fancies.  For the turning away of the simple will slay them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them;  But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, And will be secure, without fear of evil." Proverbs 1:20-33



I awoke one morning to a phone call from my mom, who lives in Tennessee. She called to tell me that she was okay, just in case I had seen the news and worried if she had survived. The night before, tornadoes had ripped through my family's small town and devastated a large portion of the area. I thanked God that she was okay, at least physically. Deeper though, I wondered how much more was headed our way – in terms of storms. Has anyone noticed that there seems to be a pattern of climate changes and weather related catastrophes? Are these "wake up" calls from God?

Today's verses speak about our attitude towards God's wisdom. Are we choosing to fear the Lord, or are we turning from Him? To fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). Today we need wisdom from above to live in this world as Christians. We must keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus so that nothing else matters. The tighter we cling to the world's goods, the harder it is to lose them. Storms will come in our lives; they will continue to challenge and test our hearts. Read the verses above and pray that your heart seeks the Lord first in all that you do. Ask Him to give you wisdom. Pray for "the fear of the Lord" to bring safety and protection in the midst of the storms. Do not stop praying.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Christ's Friendship: Its Intimacy

"Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you" (John 15:15)

The highest proof of true friendship, and one great source of its blessedness, is the intimacy which withholds nothing, and allows the friend to share in our innermost secrets. It is a blessed thing to be Christ's servant. His redeemed ones delight to call themselves His slaves. Christ often spoke of the disciples as His servants. In His great love, our Lord now says, "Henceforth I call you not servants." With the coming of the Holy Spirit, a new era was to be inaugurated. "The servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth." He has to obey without being consulted or admitted into the secret of all his master's plans. "But, I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you." Christ's friends share with Him in all the secrets the Father has entrusted to Him.

Let us think what this means.When Christ spoke of keeping His Father's commandments, He did not mean merely what was written in Holy Scripture. He was also referring to those special commandments which were communicated to Him day by day, and from hour to hour. It was of these He said, "The Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works" (John 5:20). All that Christ did was God's working. God showed it to Christ, so that He could carry out the Father's will and purpose. He did so, not blindly and unintelligently, as man often does, but with full understanding and approval. As one who stood in God's counsel. He knew God's plan.

And this now is the blessedness of being Christ's friends. We do not, as servants, do His will without much spiritual insight into its meaning and aim. But, we are admitted, as an inner circle, into some knowledge of God's more secret thoughts. From the day of Pentecost on, by the Holy Spirit, Christ was to lead His disciples into a spiritual comprehension of the mysteries of the Kingdom. Before this, He had only spoken about them in parables.

Friendship delights in fellowship. Friends hold council. Friends trust each other with things that they would not, for anything, want others to know. What is it that gives a Christian access to this holy intimacy with Jesus? What gives him the spiritual capacity for receiving the communications Christ has to make of what the Father has shown Him? "Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you."

It is loving obedience which purifies the soul. That refers not only to the commandments of the Word, but to that blessed application of the Word to our daily life. No one but our Lord Himself can give that. But as these are waited for in dependence and humility, and faithfully obeyed, he soul becomes fitted for ever-closer fellowship. And, daily, friendship may become a continual experience. "I have called you friends ... for all things that I have heard of My Father, I have made known unto you."

I have called you friends. What an unspeakable honor! What a heavenly privilege! O Saviour, speak the word with power into my soul, "I have called you My friend, whom I love, whom I trust, to whom I make known all that passes between my Father and Me."

~Andrew Murray~

Real Goodness



Romans 2:4 declares,

The goodness of God leads you to repentance.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

God is not holding your sins against you. He sent His Son to pay a debt that had to be paid in order to liberate you from sin. God extends His mercy and forgiveness to you and me even when we do not deserve it.

It was His goodness that arrested my attention and that brought me to the foot of the cross, even when I was in my darkest sin, doing terrible things, abusing my body with drugs and alcohol, and doing things that should have put me in an early grave. In fact, a number of times I nearly died. But God loved me right in the middle of all of that.

I want to tell you, wherever you are right now, God loves you. You may be in the depths of the darkest sin you have ever been involved in, you just feel wretched, but God loves you right where you are.

He loves you so much He doesn't want to leave you there. His grace can reach you, change you and lift you out of any sin or situation if you will turn to Him with all of your heart.

There is no reason to fear or hesitate. Entrust yourself to the goodness of God and say yes to Him today.

~Bayless Conley~

Friday, May 29, 2015

Christ's Friendship: Its Evidence

"Ye are my friends, if ye do whosoever I command you" (John 15:14)

Our Lord has already said what He gave as proof of His friendship: He gave His life for us. He now tells us what our part is to be - to do the things which He commands. He gave His life to secure a place for His love in our hearts to rule us. The response His love calls us to, and empowers us for, is that we do what He commands us. As we know the dying love, we will joyfully obey it commands. As we obey the commands, we will know the love more fully.

Christ had already said, "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love." He thinks this truth is important enough to repeat again. The one proof of our faith in His love, the one way to abide in it, the one mark of being true branches is to do whatsoever He commands us. He began with absolute surrender of His life for us. He can ask nothing less from us. This alone is a life in His friendship.

This truth of the imperative necessity of obedience - doing all that Christ commands us - does not have the place in our Christian teaching and living that Christ meant it to. We have given a far higher place to privilege than to duty. We have not considered implicit obedience a condition of true discipleship. The secret thought that it is impossible to do the things He commands us, and that therefore it cannot be expected of us, combined with a subtle and unconscious feeling that sinning is a necessity, have frequently robbed people of God's promises and their power.

The whole relationship to Christ has become clouded and lowered. The waiting on His teaching, the power to hear and obey His voice, and through obedience to enjoy His love and friendship, have been enfeebled by the terrible mistake. Let us  try to return to the true position, take Christ's words as most literally true, and make nothing less the law of our life. "You are My friends, if you do the things that I command you." Surely our Lord asks nothing less than that we heartily and truthfully say, "Yes, Lord, what You command, that will I do."

These commands are to be done as a proof of friendship. The power to do them rests entirely in personal relationship to Jesus. For a friend, I would do what I might not for another. The friendship of Jesus is so heavenly and wonderful. It comes to us as the power of a divine love entering in and taking possession. The unbroken fellowship with Him is so essential to it that it implies and imparts a joy and a love which make the obedience a delight. The liberty to claim the friendship of Jesus, the power to enjoy it, the grace to prove it in all its blessedness all come as we do whatsoever He commands us.

We need to ask our Lord to reveal Himself to us with the dying love in which he proves Himself our friend, and then listen as He says to us, "You are My friends." As we see what our Friend has done for us, and what an unspeakable blessedness it is to have Him call us friends, doing His commands will become the natural fruit of our life in His love. We will not be afraid to say, "Yes, Lord, we are Your friends, and do what You command us."

If ye do. Yes, it is in doing that we are blessed, that we abide in His love, that we enjoy His friendship. "If ye do what I command you!' O my Lord, let Your holy friendship lead me into the love of all Your commands, and let the doing of Your commands lead me ever deeper into Your friendship. Amen

~Andrew Murray~

God's Eternal Promise


I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. - Genesis 9:13-15



I was taught as a child that the rainbow symbolized God’s promise that He would never again destroy the earth with water. Every time it rained, I looked for the rainbow and I remembered God’s promise. Since moving to Southern California, I have seen fewer rainbows, mainly because it seldom rains here. But as the winter brings seasonal rains, I find myself once again searching the skies for that rainbow. What a joy to see that beautiful arc of colors when the sun breaks through the clouds!

As beautiful as the rainbow is, there is still nothing as beautiful as another symbol that Christians look toward. The symbol of a cross representing the cross of Christ. Just as the rainbow is a sign of God’s promise to not destroy the earth with water, the cross is a sign of God’s eternal promise of salvation. As Jesus, Son of God, died on a cross, the cross would forevermore represent God’s covenant of grace and love. The cross is a symbol reminding us that Jesus died for our sins. For those who believe in Jesus, the cross represents a covenant of everlasting life with God in heaven.

Rainbows and crosses are just two ways that God reminds us of His covenants, or promises, to us. What other ways does God remind you of His promises for your life? Be encouraged and hopeful because the Lord will never let you down, He will keep every promise. Sit down with His word and ask Him to show you His promises for you today. You might be surprised at the reminders that He will give you. And never let a rainbow or a cross go unnoticed…take a moment when you see them and give God praise for keeping His promises.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Christ's Friendship: It's Origin

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13)

In this verse and the two following verses, our Lord speaks of His relationship to His disciples in a new aspect - that of friendship. He points us to the love which has its origin on His side (v. 13); to the obedience by which it is maintained on our part (v. 14); and then to the holy intimacy to which it leads (v. 15).

Our relationship to Christ is one of love. In speaking of this previously, He showed us what His love was in its heavenly glory - the same love with which the Father had loved Him. Here we have it in its earthly manifestation - laying down His life for us.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Christ does indeed long to have us know that the secret root and strength of all He is and does for us as the Vine is love. As we learn to believe this, we will feel that here is something which we not only need to think and know  about, but a living power - a divine life - which we need to receive within us. Christ and His love are inseparable; they are identical.

God is love, and Christ is love. God and Christ and the divine love can only be known by having them - by their life and power working within us. "This is eternal life, that they know thee." There is no knowing God except by having the life. The life working in us alone gives the knowledge, and the love. If we want to know it, we must drink of its living stream. We must have it shed forth in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Life is the most precious thing that a man has. His life is all he is; the life is himself. Sacrifice is the highest measure of love. When a man gives his life, he holds nothing back, he gives all he has and is. It is this our Lord Jesus ants to make clear to us concerning His mystery of the Vine. With all He has He has placed Himself at our disposal. He wants us to count Him our very own. He wants to be wholly our possession, so that we may be wholly His possession.

He gave His life for us in death. He did so, not merely as a passing act, that when accomplished was done with, but as a making Himself ours for eternity. Life for life. He gave His life for us to possess that we might give our life for Him to possess. This is what is taught by the parable of the Vine and the branch, in their wonderful identification, in their perfect union.

It is as we know something of this - not by reason or imagination, but deep down in the heart and life - that we will begin to see what our life as branches of the heavenly Vine ought to be. He gave Himself to death. He lost Himself, that we might find life in Him. This is the true Vine, who only lives to abide in us. This is the beginning and the root of that holy friendship to which Christ invites us.

Great is the mystery of godliness! Let us confess our ignorance and unbelief. Let us cease from our own understanding and our own efforts to master it. Let us wait for the Holy Spirit who dwells within us to reveal it. Let us trust His infinite love, which gave its life for us, to take possession and rejoice in making us wholly its own.

His life for His friends. How wonderful the lessons of the Vine, giving its very life to its branches! And Jesus gave His life for His friends. And that love gives itself to them and in them. My heavenly Vine, oh, teach me how wholly You long to live in me! Amen

~Andrew Murray~

I Walked, My Hand In His, and Lo, The Night Had Gone


By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed" (Heb. 11:8).


Whither he went, he knew not; it was enough for him to know that he went with God. He leant not so much upon the promises as upon the Promiser. He looked not on the difficulties of his lot, but on the King, eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, who had deigned to appoint his course, and would certainly vindicate Himself. O glorious faith! This is thy work, these are thy possibilities; contentment to sail with sealed orders, because of unwavering confidence in the wisdom of the Lord High Admiral; willingness to rise up, leave all, and follow Christ, because of the glad assurance that earth's best cannot bear comparison with Heaven's least.
--F. B. M.
 
It is by no means enough to set out cheerfully with your God on any venture of faith. Tear into smallest pieces any itinerary for the journey which your imagination may have drawn up.
 
Nothing will fall out as you expect.
 
Your guide will keep to no beaten path. He will lead you by a way such as you never dreamed your eyes would look upon. He knows no fear, and He expects you to fear nothing while He is with you.
 
The day had gone; alone and weak
I groped my way within a bleak
And sunless land.
The path that led into the light
I could not find! In that dark
night God took my hand.
He led me that I might not stray,
And brought me by a new, safe way
I had not known.
By waters still, through pastures green
I followed Him--the path was clean
Of briar and stone.
The heavy darkness lost its strength,
My waiting eyes beheld at length
The streaking dawn.
On, safely on, through sunrise glow
I walked, my hand in His, and lo,
The night had gone.
--Annie Porter Johnson

~L. B. Cowman~

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Love As I Have Loved You

"This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you" (John 15:12)

This is the second time in this parable that our Lord is our example. The first time it was in His relationship to the Father, keeping His commandments, and abiding in His love. Even so, we are to keep Christ's commandments, and abide in His love. The second time He speaks of His relationship to us as the rule of our love to our brethren. "Love one another, as I have loved you." In each case, His disposition and conduct is to be the law of ours. It is again the truth we have more than once insisted upon - perfect likeness between the Vine and the branch.

Even as I. But is it not a vain thing to imagine that we can keep His commandments, and love the brethren, even as He kept His Father's, and as He loved us? And must not the attempt end in failure and discouragement? Undoubtedly, if we seek to carry it out in our own strength, or without a full understanding of the truth of the Vine and its branches. But if we understand that the "even as I" is the one great lesson of the parable - the one continual language of the Vine to the branch - we will see that it is not a question of what we feel able to accomplish, but of what Christ is able to work in us.

These high and holy commands - "Obey, even as I! Love, as I" - are just meant to bring us to the consciousness of our weakness. Through them, we will be made aware of the need and the beauty and the sufficiency of what is provided for us in the Vine. We will begin to hear the Vine speaking every moment to the branch: "Even as I. Even as I: My life is your life. You have a share in all My fullness. The Spirit in you, and the fruit that comes from you, is all just the same as in Me. Be not afraid, but let your faith grasp each "Even as I" as the divine assurance that because I live in you, you may and can live like Me."

But why, if this really is the meaning of the parable and the life a branch may live, why do so few realize it? Because they do not know the heavenly mystery of the Vine. They know much about the parable and its beautiful lessons. But, the hidden, spiritual mystery of the Vine in His divine omnipotence and nearness, bearing and supplying them all the day - this they do not know. They have not waited on God's Spirit to reveal it to them.

Love one another, as I have loved you. "Ye, even as I." How are we to begin if we really want to learn the mystery? With the confession that we need to be brought to entirely new mode of life. We must do so because we have never yet known Christ as the Vine in the completeness of His quickening and transforming power. With the surrender to be cleansed from all that is of self, and detached from all that is in the world, to live only and wholly as Christ lived for the glory of the Father. And then with the faith that this "even as I" is indeed what Christ is ready to make true, the Vine will maintain that very life in the branch wholly dependent on Him.

Even as I. Ever again it is, my blessed Lord, as the Vine, so the branch - one life, one spirit, one obedience, one joy, one love.

Lord Jesus, in the faith that You are my Vine, and that I am Your branch, I accept Your command as a promise, and take Your "even as I" as the simple revelation of what You work in me. Yes, Lord, as You have loved, I will love. Amen

~Andrew Murray~

The Vanity of Our Pretensions


Moses wist not - Exodus 34:29

UNCONSCIOUSNESS of goodness is always a main element in the highest forms of goodness: in the same way that unconsciousness is characteristic of the worst forms of depravity. "Samson wist not that the Lord had departed from him."

Directly people become conscious of their superiority to others, and boast of it, it is certain that they have never really seen the beauty of God's holiness, and have no clear knowledge of the condition of their own hearts. They see that they have been cleansed from their old sins; but they do not perceive that the spirit of selfishness has retreated into the springs of motive and intention.

We are all tempted to this terA-congratulatory because we take back-seats. In all this we betray the vanity of our pretensions. This sort of goodness is like a thin veneer of mahogany on very common deal.

The real goodness is more conscious of the remaining evil than of the acquired good; of the lingering darkness than of the hilltops smitten with the dawn; of that which has not been attained. But we can only attain this blessed condition by intimate and prolonged, fellowship with God, in solitudes where human voices and interests cease to distract. The brightness of which Moses was unconscious was caught from the Presence-chamber of the Divine Loveliness. Ah, what patterns are seen on the Mount! What cries are uttered there! What visions are seen there! What revelations are made there! What injunctions are received there! Oh for the closer access, the nearer view, the more intimate face to face intercourse, such as is open still to the friends of God! 

~F. B. Meyer~

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Love One Another

"This is my commandment, that ye love one another" (John 15:12)

God is love. His whole nature and perfection is love, living NOT for Himself, but to dispense life and blessing to others. In His love, He begat the Son, that He might give all to Him. In His love, He brought forth man, that He might make them partakers of His blessedness.

Christ is the Son of God's love - the bearer, the revealer, the communicator of that love. His life and death were all love. Love is His life, and the life He gives. He only lives to love, to live out His life of love in us, to give Himself in all who will receive Him. The very first thought of the true Vine is love - living only to impart His life to the branches.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of love. He cannot impart Christ's life without imparting His love. Salvation is nothing but love conquering and entering into us. We have just as much of salvation as we have of love. Full salvation is perfect love.

No wonder that Christ said, "A new commandment I give unto you" (John 13:34); "This is my commandment" - the one all-inclusive commandment - "that ye love one another." The branch is not only one with the vine, but with all its other branches. They drink one spirit, form one body, and bear one fruit.

Nothing can be more unnatural than that Christians should not love one another, even as Christ loved them The life they received from their heavenly Vine is nothing but love. This is the one thing He asks above all others. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples ... love one another" (John 13:35). As a special sort of vine is known by the fruit it bears, the nature of the heavenly Vine is to be judged by the love His disciples have to one another.

See that you obey this commandment. Let your "obey and abide" be seen in this. Love your brethren as the way to abide in the love of your Lord. Let your vow of obedience begin here. Love one another. Let your fellowship with the Christians in your own family be holy, tender, Christlike love. Let your thoughts of the Christians around you be, before everything, in the spirit of Christ's love. Let your life and conduct be the sacrifice of love - give yourself up to think of their sins or their needs. Intercede for them, help and serve them. Be, in you church or circle, the embodiment of Christ's love. The life Christ lives in you is love, let the life in which you live it out be all love.

But, my reader comments, you write as if all this was so natural and simple and easy. Is it at all possible to thus live and love? My answer is: Christ commands it; you must obey. Christ means it; you must obey, or you cannot abide in His love.

But I have tried and failed. I see no prospect of living like Christ. Ah! that is because you have failed to take in the first word of the parable - "I am the true Vine: I give all you need as a branch. I give all I have myself." I pray, let the sense of past failure and present feebleness drive you to the Vine. He is all love. He loves to give. He gives love. He will teach you to love, even as He loved.

Love one another. Dear Lord Jesus, You are all love. The life You gave us is love. Your new commandment and badge of discipleship is, "Love one another." I accept the charge. With the love with which You love me, and I love you, I will love my brethren. Amen

~Andrew Murray~

Our Life's Work

Philippians 2:12-13

(12) Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; (13) for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
New King James Version   

It is God who saves! God saved Israel from Egyptian slavery. Israel did not overcome Pharaoh and Egypt by either warfare or by dint of superior intelligence. Jesus Christ is our Savior, and we cannot save ourselves from sin's power. When we accept Him as Savior, it obligates us as His servants to obey Him.

In like manner, when God broke Egypt's power, enabling the Israelites to be free, it obligated them to walk out of Egypt if they wanted their liberty. If the Israelites wanted to save their skins and be totally free of Egypt when God parted the Red Sea, it obligated them to walk the path God made for them between the walls of water. When God said, "I am going to bring you into the land and provide for you along the way," if Israel wanted these things, they were obligated to walk all the way to Canaan. It is very clear that if Israel wanted what God said He would give, then Israel had to also cooperate by working in the form of walking to where God said He would lead or take them. "Walk" is a code word for living.

With this as a background, when Paul says to "work out your own salvation," it cannot possibly mean we are going to save ourselves. Rather, like what confronted the Israelites when God opened the way to their physical salvation from slavery in Egypt, we should be ready to make God's spiritual salvation practical and operational. Paul does not say we must work for salvation, but rather carry our salvation out to its conclusion. He uses "work out" in much the same sense as when a student is told to work out an arithmetic problem—to bring it to its conclusion. For us, the conclusion, the goal, to work toward is Christ-likeness. The salvation here is sanctification, victory over sin unto holiness.

To make it very plain, if we want to be one with Him, we must get moving in the direction He is pointing, and He points toward His standards of conduct and attitude. Each person's walk is not exactly the same because each person's experience and makeup are somewhat different. There is enough similarity among humans, though, to make the Bible always relevant.

One of the beautiful things about this is that each person's walk toward the image of God is exactly right for him. What is more, Philippians 2:13 also says God gives us both the will and power or energy to do it! The New Testament in Modern Speech renders it, "For it is God Himself whose power creates within you both the desire and the power to execute His gracious will." This work of God in us is another aspect of His grace, and without it, we could never be one with Him.

God Himself produces in us both the desire to live righteously and the effective energy to do so. He does not demand what we cannot do (I Corinthians 10:13). We see in Philippians 2:12 our responsibility and in verse 13 help to accomplish it.

We can see this working together with God in simple illustrations from physical life. We may launch a sailboat upon the water, but it takes what God supplies, wind, to make it move. We may plant vegetable seeds, but it is the power of God in nature that makes the plant grow and produce food. We may generate gigawatts of electricity in power plants, but God provides the wind, water, sunlight, coal, oil, or gas to turn the turbines. In each case, we add something to what God already supplied.

Our salvation is something already given because it is God's will, and He is sovereign. We, though, must do something to make it practical by applying ourselves to salvation's demands. Even in this, God enables us to do it!
We will never know where the dividing line is between what God supplies and what we are responsible to do because it is different for each according to God's purpose. This proportion must be different because each person is different, and He is preparing us for different responsibilities within His Family. This is sure, however: Our walk toward salvation will always be difficult enough to be challenging and edifying.

Even here the analogy of Israel in the wilderness comes to our aid. Where did Israel get the energy to walk across the wilderness to the promised land? Did it not come from the manna and water God supplied, as well as the vision and hope of the inheritance which He also provided? Still, Israel walked! They had to work, to cooperate.

The verb "work" in Philippians 2:12 is in a tense that indicates continuous working. Just as Israel did not leave Egypt and arrive in the promised land in one step, neither are our salvation and oneness with God accomplished at once. It, too, is a process; it is our life's work.

~John W. Ritenbaugh~

Monday, May 25, 2015

Joy

"These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full" (John 15:11)

If anyone asks, "How can I be a happy Christian?" our Lord's answer is very simple. He says, "These things," about the Vine and the branches, "I have spoken to you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." In effect, He is saying, "You cannot have My joy without My life. Abide in Me, and let Me abide in you, and My joy will be in you." All healthy life is a thing of joy and beauty. Live the branch life undividedly, and you will have His joy in full measure.

To many Christians, the thought of a life wholly abiding in Christ is one of strain and painful effort. They cannot see that the strain and effort exist only because we do not yield ourselves unreservedly to the life of Christ in us. They have not yet experienced the very first words of the parable: "I am the true Vine. I undertake all and provide for all. I ask nothing of the branch but that it yields wholly to Me, and allows Me to do all. I engage to make and keep the branch all that it ought to be." Should it not be an infinite and unceasing joy to have the Vine thus work all? How glorious to know that it is no one less than the blessed Son of God in His love who is each moment bearing us and maintaining our life!

That My joy might remain in you. We are to have Christ's own joy in us. And what is Christ's own joy? There is no joy like love. There is no joy but love. Christ had just spoken of the Father's love, of His own abiding in it, and of His having loved us with that same love. His joy is nothing but the joy of love, of being loved, and of loving. His joy was in receiving His Father's love, abiding in it, passing it on, and then pouring it out on sinners.

He wants to share this joy with us: the joy of being loved of the Father and of Him; the joy of, in our turn, loving and living for those around us. This is the joy of being truly branches - abiding in His love, and then giving up ourselves in love to bear fruit for others. Let us accept His life, as He gives it in us as the Vine. His joy will be ours: the joy of abiding in His love, the joy of loving like Him, of loving with His love.

And that your joy might be full. May it be complete, and may you be filled with it. How sad that we need to be reminded that as God alone is the fountain of all joy, "God our exceeding joy," the only way to be perfectly happy is to have as much of God - as much of His will and fellowship - as possible! Christianity is meant to be a thing of unspeakable joy. And why do so many complain that it is not so? Because the do not believe that there is no joy like the joy of abiding in Christ and His love. They do not know the joy of being branches through whom He can pour out His love on a dying world.

Oh, that Christ's voice might reach the heart of every young Christian, and persuade him to believe that His joy is the only true joy. His joy can become ours and truly fill us. And, he sure and simple way of living in it is - only this - to abide as branches in Him our heavenly Vine. Let the truth enter deep into us - as long as our joy is not full, it is a sign that we do not yet know our heavenly Vine completely. Every desire for a fuller joy must only urge us to abide more simply and more fully in His love.

My joy - your joy. In this, too, it is: as the Vine, so the branch; all the Vine in the branch. Your joy is our joy - Your joy in us, and our joy fulfilled. Blessed Lord, fill me with Your joy - the joy of being loved and blessed with a divine love. Give me the joy of loving and blessing others. Amen

~Andrew Murray~

Recognizing that the Earth is the Lord's


It was Bonaventure who offered the thought: “In order that we may be able to extol and glorify God, and in order that we may advance to the knowledge of God, we must transfer to the divine that which pertains to the creature . . . nearly all creatures possess certain noble characteristics which furnish a source for our understanding of God, e.g., the lion possesses fortitude; the lamb, meekness; the rock, solidity; the serpent, prudence—hence it is necessary that many names be transferred to God.”

John Calvin agreed with these sentiments. “There is not an atom of the universe in which you cannot see some brilliant sparks at least of His glory.”

The earth, nature that surrounds us, the world—everything is full of God. Nature is a glorious theater, a spectacular sound-and-light show of the beauty of God. But nature is not God. To worship the whole or any part of nature is idolatry. To confuse God and nature is to fall into pantheism, an intolerable monism that obscures the distinction between creatures and Creator.

But the universe is God’s handiwork. It sparkles with the revelation of its Maker. It is not an independent entity existing alongside and apart from God. There is no dualism divorcing God from the world. The earth is the Lord’s.

Coram Deo: Living in the Presence of God

Spend some time today enjoying the beauties of nature, remembering that the earth is the Lord’s.

For Further Study

Psalm 24:1: “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.
Psalm 50:2: “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God will shine forth.
Psalm 53:1: “The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity; there is none who does good.”

~R. C. Sproul~

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ye, Even as I

"If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, abide in his love" (John 15:10)

We have had more than on occasion to speak of the perfect similarity of the vine and the branch in nature, and in Scripture. Here, Christ no longer speaks in a parable, but tells us plainly of how His own life is the exact model of ours. He had said that it is by obedience alone that we can abide in His love. He now explains that this was the way in which He abode in the Father's love. As the Vine, so the branch. His life and strength and joy had been in the love of the Father. It was only by obedience that He abode in it. We may find our life and strength and joy in His love all the day. But, it is only by an obedience like His that we can abide in it. Perfect conformity to the Vine is one of the most precious of the lessons of the branch. It was by obedience that Christ as the Vine honored the Father as the Husbandman. It is by obedience that the believer as the branch honors Christ as the Vine.

Obey and abide. That was the law of Christ's life as much as it is to be that of ours. He was made like us in all things, so that we might be like Him in all things. He opened up a path in which we may walk even as He walked. He took our human nature to teach us how to wear it. He showed us how obedience - the first duty of man - is the only way to abide in the favor of God and enter into His glory. And now He comes to instruct and encourage us. He asks us to keep His commandments, even as he kept His Father's commandments and abides in His love.

The divine fitness of this connection between obeying and abiding, between God's commandments and His love, is easily seen. God's will is the very center of His divine perfection. As revealed in His commandments, it opens up the way for man to grow into the likeness of His Creator. In accepting and doing His will, I rise into fellowship with Him. Therefore, the Son, when coming into the world, spoke, "I come to do thy will, O God" (Hebrews 10:9). This is the place and the blessedness of man. This is what he lost in the Fall. This is what Christ came to restore. This is what, as the heavenly Vine, He asks of us and imparts to us. Even as He by keeping His Father's commandments abode in His love, we should keep His commandments and abide in His love.

Ye, even as I. The branch cannot bear fruit unless it has exactly the same life as the Vine. Our life is to be the exact counterpart of Christ's life. It can be, in the same measure as we believe in Him as the Vine, imparting Himself as His life to His branches. "Ye, even as I," the Vine says; one law, one nature, one fruit. Let us learn His lesson of obedience as the secret of abiding. Let us confess that simple, implicit, universal obedience has not had the place it should have. Christ died for us as enemies when we were disobedient. He took us up into His love. Now that we are in Him, His word is: "Obey and abide; ye, even as I." Let us give ourselves to a willing and loving obedience. He will keep us abiding in His love.

Ye, even as I. O my blessed Vine, who makes the branch partaker of Your life and likeness, in this, too, I am to be like You. As Your life in the Father's love is through obedience, so in mine in Your love! Saviour, help me, that obedience may indeed be the link between You and me. Amen

~Andrew Murray~

Unburdened


Philippians 4:6-7 promises,

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

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

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

In America, people spend millions of dollars visiting their therapists.  They talk over all their problems with their therapists to try and relieve the stress and worries of life.  I have a confession to make…I have a therapist.  I talk to Him every single day.  My therapist is my Father in heaven.  I bring all my problems to Him.  And I talk over everything with Him.

One of the keys in unburdening your heart when you pray is being completely honest.  God knows what you are thinking, anyway.  You may as well tell Him the truth about what is weighing you down.

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

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

~Bayless Conley~

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Obey and Abide

"If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love" (John 15:10)

In our previous meditation, reference was made to the entrance into a life of rest and strength. This life has often come through a true insight into the personal love of Christ, and the assurance that love indeed meant that He would keep the soul. In connection with that transition, and the faith that sees and accepts it, the word "surrender or consecration" is frequently used. The soul realizes that it cannot claim the keeping of this wonderful love unless it yields itself to a life of entire obedience. It also knows that the faith which can trust Christ to keep it from sinning must prove its sincerity by venturing to trust Him for the strength to obey. In that faith, it dares to give up and cut off everything that has hitherto hindered it. It promises and expects to live a life that is well pleasing to God.

This is the thought we have here in our Saviour's teaching. After having spoken of a life in His love as a necessity - because it is at once a possibility and an obligation, He states what its one condition is: "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in My love." This is surely not meant to close the door to the abode of His love which He had just opened up. It does not even approach the suggestion, which some are too ready to entertain, that as we cannot keep His commandments, we cannot abide in His love. No, "Abide in My love" is a promise!

And so, the instruction as to the way through this open door points to an attainable ideal. The love that invites to her blessed abode reaches out her hand, and enables us to keep the commandments. Do not fear. In the strength of your ascended Lord, take the vow of obedience, and give yourself to the keeping of His commandments. Through His will, loved and done, lies the path to His love.

Only let us understand what it means. It refers to our performance of all that we know to be God's will. There may be doubtful things, about which we are not sure. A sin of ignorance still has the nature of sin in it. There may be involuntary sins, which rise up in the flesh, that we cannot control or overcome. God will deal with these in due time, in the way of searching and humbling. And, if we are simple and faithful, He will give us a larger deliverance than we dare to expect.

But, all this may only be found in a truly obedient soul. Obedience refers to keep the commandments of our Lord, and performing His will in everything in which we know it. This is a possible degree of grace. Here, Christ is speaking of our accepting obedience as the purpose of our heart. Faith in Christ as our Vine, in His enabling and sanctifying strength and power, prepares us for this obedience of faith. It secures a life of abiding in His love.

If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love. It is the heavenly Vine unfolding the mystery of the life He gives. To those abiding in Him, He opens up the secret of the full abiding in His love. It is the wholehearted surrender in everything to do His will that gives access to a life in the abiding enjoyment of His love.

Obey and abide. Gracious Lord, teach me this lesson, that it is only through knowing Your will that one can know Your heart. Only through doing that will can one abide in Your love. Lord, teach me that as worthless as is the doing in my own strength, so essential and absolutely indispensable is the doing of faith in Your strength, if I want to abide in Your love. Amen

~Andrew Murray~

What I Tell You In the Darkness, Speak Ye in the Light

What I tell you in the darkness, speak ye in the light" (Matt. 10:27).

Our Lord is constantly taking us into the dark, that He may tell us things. Into the dark of the shadowed home, where bereavement has drawn the blinds; into the dark of the lonely, desolate life, where some infirmity closes us in from the light and stir of life; into the dark of some crushing sorrow and disappointment.

Then He tells us His secrets, great and wonderful, eternal and infinite; He causes the eye which has become dazzled by the glare of earth to behold the heavenly constellations; and the car to detect the undertones of His voice, which is often drowned amid the tumult of earth's strident cries.

But such revelations always imply a corresponding responsibility--'that speak ye in the light--that proclaim upon the housetops."

We are not meant to always linger in the dark, or stay in the closet; presently we shall be summoned to take our place in the rush and storm of life; and when that moment comes, we are to speak and proclaim what we have learned.

This gives a new meaning to suffering, the saddest element in which is often its apparent aimlessness. "How useless I am!" "What am I doing for the betterment of men?" "Wherefore this waste of the precious spikenard of my soul?"

Such are the desperate laments of the sufferer. But God has a purpose in it all. He has withdrawn His child to the higher altitudes of fellowship, that he may hear God speaking face to face, and bear the message to his fellows at the mountain foot.
Were the forty days wasted that Moses spent on the Mount, or the period spent at Horeb by Elijah, or the years spent in Arabia by Paul?

There is no short cut to the life of faith, which is the all-vital condition of a holy and victorious life. We must have periods of lonely meditation and fellowship with God. That our souls should have their mountains of fellowship, their valley of quiet rest beneath the shadow of a great rock, their nights beneath the stars, when darkness has veiled the material and silenced the stir of human life, and has opened the view of the infinite and eternal, is as indispensable as that our bodies should have food.
Thus alone can the sense of God's presence become the fixed possession of the soul, enabling it to say repeatedly, with the Psalmist, "Thou art near, 0 God."
--F. B. Meyer

"Some hearts, like evening primroses, open more beautifully in the shadows of life."

~L. B. Cowman~

Friday, May 22, 2015

Abide In My Love

"As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: abide ye in my love" (John 15:9)

Abide in My love. We speak of a man's home as his abode. Our abode, the home of our soul is to be the love of Christ. We are to live our life there, to be at home there all the day. This is what Christ means for or life to be. And, only He can truly make it so. Our continuous abiding in the Vine is to be an abiding in His love.

You have probably heard or read of what is called the higher or deeper life. It is also referred to as the richer, fuller, or more abundant life. And possibly some have told you about a wonderful change in their lives. Once a continual failure and stumbling, their lives were changed into a very blessed experience of being kept and strengthened and made exceedingly glad. If you asked them  how this great blessing came to them, many would tell you it was simply this: they were led to believe that abiding in Christ's love was meant to be a reality; they were willing to give up everything for it, and then were enabled to trust Christ to make it happen.

The love of the Father to the Son is not a sentiment - it is a divine life, an infinite energy, an irresistible power. It carried Christ through life and death and the grave. The Father loved Him, dwelt in  Him, and did all for Him. So the love of Christ to us is an infinite, living power that will work in us all He delights to give. The weakness in our Christian life is that we do not take time to believe that this divine love really does delight in us. It will truly possess and work all in us. We do not take time to look at the Vine bearing the branch so entirely, working all in it so completely. We strive to do for ourselves what Christ alone can - what Christ so lovingly longs to do for us.

This is the secret of the change we spoke of. It is the beginning of a new life, when the soul sees this infinite love willing to do all, and gives itself up to it. "Abide ye in my love." In believing that, it is possible to live moment by moment - knowing that everything which makes life difficult or impossible will be overcome by Christ Himself. To believe that divine love really means an infinite longing to give itself wholly to us and never leave us, and to, in faith, cast ourselves on Christ to work it in us, is the secret of the true Christian life.

And how do we acquire this faith? Turn away from the visible if you want to see and possess the invisible. Take more time with Jesus, gazing on Him as the heavenly Vine, living in the love of the Father, who wants to live in His love. Turn away from yourself, your efforts, and your faith, if you want your heart to be filled with Him and the certainty of His love. Abiding means leaving everything else in order to occupy one place and stay there. Come away from all else, and set your heart on Jesus and His love. That love will awaken your faith and strengthen it. Occupy yourself with that love; worship it; wait for it. You may be sure it will reach out to you, and by its power take you up into itself as you abode and your home.

Abide in My love. Lord Jesus, I see it, it was Your abiding in Your Father's love that made You the true Vine, with Your divine fullness of love and blessing for us. Oh, that I may even so, as a branch, abide in Your love, for its fullness to fill me and overflow on all around. Amen

~Andrew Murray~

Did Jesus Say He Existed from Eternity?


Certain things Christ said of Himself, either in formal declaration, or incidentally, reveal His self-existence, as apart from His relationship, either to God or to man. In certain passages He spoke out of an eternal consciousness. Almost all the great declarations of Christ revealing His eternal consciousness, and concerning His relationship to God, are found in the Gospel according to John. Bishop Westcott said of this Gospel, "The Gospel of St. John from first to last is a record of the conflict between men's thoughts of Christ, and Christ's revelation of Himself."

The first of these statements, "I came forth, and am come from God," is a most remarkable word, not describing a fellowship of nearness with God, but one which is essential. The real suggestion of the declaration, "I came forth from God," is not that He came from the side of God, from companionship with God, as an angel might; but that He came out of the essential mystery of the Being of God.

The declaration, "Before Abraham was, I am," was introduced by that formula of which He occasionally made use when desiring to fasten attention upon a subject: "Verily, verily." This moreover was a direct and intended contrast on His part between the temporal and the eternal. "Abraham was"; that is a term of the temporal; but before that, "I am," which in that contrast becomes distinctly a term of the eternal.

In the last of these three passages we have a perfect summary of the whole mission of Christ as recorded in the Gospels, "I came out from the Father, and am come into the world; again, I leave the world, and go unto the Father."

It is impossible, and unnecessary, for us to consider fully the value of these words separately. The fact to be observed is that our Lord referred to Himself in such a way that the implication of His references is that of an eternal existence. It is important that we notice the persistence of the Person, of the "I," through these passages: "I came forth, and am come from God" ; "Before Abraham was, I am" ; "I came out ... am come into . . . I leave . . . and go unto."

~G. Campbell Morgan~


Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Wonderful Love

"As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you" (John 15:9)

Here, Christ leaves the parable language, and speaks plainly out of the Father. As much as the parable could teach, it could not teach the lesson of love. All that the vine does for the branch it does under the compulsion of a law of nature. There is no personal, living love to the branch. We are in danger of looking to Christ as a Saviour and a supplier of every need, without any sense of the intensity of personal affection in which Christ embraces us. He is appointed by God, accepted and trusted by us, and only through Him can we find true happiness. Christ seeks to point us to this.

And how does He do so? He leads us once again to Himself, to show us how identical His own life is with ours. Even as the Father loved Him, He loves us. His life as a vine dependent on the Father was a life in the Father's love. That love was His strength and His joy. In the power of that divine love resting on Him, He lived and died. If we are to live like Him, as branches to be truly like our Vine, we must share in this, too. Our life must have its breath and being in a heavenly love as much as His. What the Father's love was to Him, His love will be to us. If that love made Him a true Vine, His love can make us true branches. "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you."

As the Father hath loved Me. And how did the Father love Him? The infinite desire and delight of God to communicate to the Son all He had Himself - to take the Son into the most complete equality with Himself, to live in the Son and have the Son live in Him - was God's love to Christ. We cannot conceive of this mystery of glory. We can only bow and worship as we try to think of it. And with such a love - with this very same love - Christ longs to communicate to us all He is and has. He desires to make us partakers of His own nature and blessedness. His delight is to live in us and have us live in Him.

And now, if Christ loves us with such an intense, infinite, divine love, what is it that hinders it from triumphing over every obstacle and getting full possession of us? The answer is simple. Even as the love of the Father to Christ is a divine mystery, so His love to us is too high for us to comprehend or attain to by any effort of our own. It is only the Holy Spirit who can continually shed abroad and reveal - in its all-conquering power - this wonderful love of God in Christ. It is the vine itself that must give the branch its growth and fruit by sending up its sap. It is Christ Himself who must, by His Holy Spirit, dwell in the heart. Then, we will know and have in us the love that passes knowledge.

As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loves you. Will we not draw near to trust, and yield to the personal, living Christ, so that He may work this love in us? Just as He knew and rejoiced every hour- the Father loved Me - we, too, may live in the unceasing consciousness - as the Father loved Him, so He loves me.

As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you. Dear Lord, I am only beginning to understand how exactly the life of the Vine is to be that of the branch, too. You are the Vine, because the Father loved You, and poured His love through You. And so You love me, and my life as a branch is to be like Yours - a receiving and a giving out of heavenly love. Amen

~Andrew Murray~