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Monday, August 31, 2015

Thy Kingdom Come # 20

4. The Gospel of the Kingdom

Daniel 5

The Gospel of the kingdom in its universal proclamation leads up to the great consummation. If, then, we hear this Gospel aright it will have a profound effect upon our lives. We notice that the Lord Jesus followed His announcement about the worldwide testimony with a reference to Daniel who, as we have already seen was the prophet of the coming kingdom.

"When therefore ye see the abomination of destruction, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let him that readeth understand), then let them that are in Judaea flee unto the mountains; let him that is on the housetop not go down to take out the things that are in the house: and let him that is in the field not return back or take his cloak" (Matthew 24:15-18).

The inference is that, if you understand what Daniel is saying, it will move you to action, and to very swift and decided action. We cannot be passive or indifferent in the face of the challenge which Daniel's revelation gives us concerning the kingdom which man has lost, and the recovery through Christ of the kingdom of heaven.

Man's Loss of the Kingdom

In the historical part of the book we are told of three occasions when the kingdom was overthrown. The first was concerned with Nebuchadnezzar: "O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken: the kingdom is departed from thee" (Daniel 4:31); the second refers to Belshazzar: "God hath numbered thy kingdom, and brought it to an end" (Daniel 5:26); and the last is dealt with in chapter 9, which tells of Daniel's broken-hearted prayer over the tragically ruined kingdom of Judah. A kingdom lost! Nebuchadnezzar lost his kingdom for seven years; the Jews lost theirs for seventy years; but Belshazzar lost his forever. And, in a way, they were all lost for the same reason.

In each case the kingdom was lost through pride.  If we had used a more general term, we should have said that it was through sin, but there seems to be a specific sin which relates to this matter of the lost kingdom, and that is the sin of pride. God's kingdom is the kingdom in which there must be NO pride. God is high and holy, but God is NOT proud. God's King is the Lord Jesus Christ, highly exalted and yet truly claiming to be "meek and lowly in heart." Even on the throne of the universe He is still known as the Lamb. It was when this other spirit of pride came into the race that man lost his kingdom, and it is because we all have that spirit of pride within us that we are men of a lost kingdom.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 21 - (Pride's Independence)

The School of Suffering Graduates Rare Scholars

The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? (John 18:11)

This was a greater thing to say and do than to calm the seas or raise the dead. Prophets and apostles could work wondrous miracles, but they could not always do and suffer the will of God. To do and suffer God's will is still the highest form of faith, the most sublime Christian achievement.

To have the bright aspirations of a young life forever blasted; to bear a daily burden never congenial and to see no relief; to be pinched by poverty when you only desire a competency for the good and comfort of loved ones; to be fettered by some incurable physical disability; to be stripped bare of loved ones until you stand alone to meet the shocks of life--to be able to say in such a school of discipline, "The cup which my Father has given me, shall I not drink it?'--this is faith at its highest and spiritual success at the crowning point.

Great faith is exhibited not so much in ability to do as to suffer.
--Dr. Charles Parkhurst

To have a sympathizing God we must have a suffering Saviour, and there is no true fellow-feeling with another save in the heart of him who has been afflicted like him. We cannot do good to others save at a cost to ourselves, and our afflictions are the price we pay for our ability to sympathize. He who would be a helper, must first be a sufferer. He who would be a saviour must somewhere and somehow have been upon a cross; and we cannot have the highest happiness of life in succoring others without tasting the cup which Jesus drank, and submitting to the baptism wherewith He was baptized.

The most comforting of David's psalms were pressed out by suffering; and if Paul had not had his thorn in the flesh we had missed much of that tenderness which quivers in so many of his letters.

The present circumstance, which presses so hard against you (if surrendered to Christ), is the best shaped tool in the Father's hand to chisel you for eternity. Trust Him, then. Do not push away the instrument lest you lose its work.

Strange and difficult indeed
We may find it,
But the blessing that we need
Is behind it.
The school of suffering graduates rare scholars.

~L. B. Cowman~

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Thy Kingdom Come # 19

3. The Kingdom and the Name (continued)

The God of Daniel

"I make a decree, that in all the dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and steadfast forever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed ..." (6:26). In chapter 3 a similar things is said about the God of Shadrach, Mechach and Abednego (3:28, 29). "The God of Daniel". It is as though Daniel's experiences had added something to the honor of that Name, and had also interpreted that Name to those who could not otherwise understand it. Surely this is the essential function of the kingdom, to make men know what God is like. Those who reign with Christ do not lord it over the rest, but proclaim and communicate His blessedness to the world around.

Daniel achieved this ministry by something more than a word study of the titles of God. He learned them in experience; he proved them by faith in times of deep trial and need; they became a part of his own inner history. It was only thus that he could give such a testimony to the "God of Daniel". The Lord is seeking to do the same thing in us. He lets us be captives, as Daniel was. He faces us with difficult choices, as He did him. He tests us in our homes, at our business, in our fellowship and in the secret place, in the same way in which Daniel was tested. He leads us into the battle; He may even allow us to be cast into the lions' den; but it is all for this one purpose - to produce in us a powerful testimony to the greatness and glory of His Name. We shall never be anything in ourselves, but if men can see what God does for and in us - yes, and even through us - they may learn by means of us something of what He is like. All this is involved in 'possessing' the kingdom. All this must happen in our case if we are to pray: "Hallowed be thy Name".

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 20 - (4. The Gospel of the Kingdom)

True Love

True Love

Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 1 Corinthians 5:6

A few years ago as I attended a church retreat, I sat at lunch with ladies I did not know. The woman in charge opened with prayer and then introduced an icebreaker to share around the tables. The question was: "What do you think true love is?" Six out of the eight of us at my table said that love is unconditional acceptance. Their definition included the ability to accept people right where they are, no matter what they look like or what they do. The seventh woman said that she thought love was telling people the truth about sin and where sin leads them. I heard the others snicker at her answer. However, according to Paul's statement in First Corinthians 5:6, only one in seven got the right answer.

The Corinthian church was accepting sinful behavior from a church couple and glorying in their ability to do so. Paul is saying that this is not good; this is not love and they should not be proud of themselves for accepting this couple’s behavior. Often we get confused of what love really is when judging others' sins. We do not want to judge others because we ourselves want to be accepted for our imperfections. So we say that acceptance of sin is love. Jesus says in John 8:32, "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." The truth is that sin destroys. The truth is that the wages of sin is death. If we truly love others, we do not want to see them destroyed by choices that the Bible calls sin. Paul then takes it a step further by saying that the consequences of accepting this sin of sexual immorality will permeate the whole church and will destroy the whole fellowship of believers. Why? Because this acceptance allows people to sin instead of helping them to overcome it. It demonstrates the wrong standards of love, sin and the ways of God.

Our choices and behaviors really do impact others, just as a little bit of leaven makes the whole lump rise. We have to know the Word of God so we can love others according to God's standards. True love speaks out with kindness and compassion, not allowing others to destroy themselves.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Thy Kingdom Come # 18

The Kingdom and the Name (continued)

The Lord - Jehovah

We can only distinguish this name in our Bibles by the fact that it is rendered Lord and printed in capital letters. In the book of Daniel, the Name of the Great "I AM" only appears in chapter 9, but there it can be found seven times; that is, in perfect fullness. This Name is never spoken to the men of Babylon, for it is a precious Name for the covenant people; it is only spoken by Daniel in the holy atmosphere of the place of prayer. What does it mean?

It is the Name of unchanging faithfulness. Daniel was careful in his prayer ministry to keep close to the Lord's promises and declared purpose. He did not pray for what he thought might be good, nor did he suit his requests to the general ideas current in his day. He went back to the Word of God, and concentrated on God's revealed purposes for His people. True, they had forfeited every right to the promises by their sinful unbelief, but he felt sure that the faithfulness of God had an answer even to sin. And he was right. "Jehovah" is the name of the Redeemer, the One who will "make reconciliation for iniquity", and "bring in everlasting righteousness", in order to "seal up vision and prophecy", or, as this phrase means, "to make the visions and prophecies come true" (Daniel 9:24). Those who know such a faithful God can afford to go even into the fiery furnace or the lions' den for the sake of their vision.

It is also the Name of unquenchable life. Moses learned this Name in the desert, where he saw the flame which burnt on without consuming the bush. It was there that he first heard the great title, "I AM THAT I AM". It is not life which has to avoid death, but life which can go right through it and emerge triumphantly on resurrection ground. None but Jehovah could bring a new Jerusalem out of the ruined city of Daniel's fathers; but He could, and so Daniel prayed on and continued to hope. No other could ever bring a triumphant and glorious Church out of the confusion and weakness of things as they are today; but HE CAN, and so we too must pray on and not lose hope. It may mean the fiery furnace heated seven times for us, but we need have no fears. He will not let us avoid it; He will do better - He will bring us unscathed and triumphant through. He is the God of Resurrection.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 19 - (The God of Daniel)

So That You May Believe

 So That You May Believe

When Jesus heard that, He said, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it." - John 11:4

The disciples accepted what Jesus said at face value. They probably thought something like, “Oh good, Lazarus is sleeping. He will wake up so we do not need to return to Judea where they are threatening to kill Jesus.” But when Jesus said, “Ok, it’s time to return,” the disciples became very uncomfortable. They were now quick to challenge the change in plans. Jesus explained to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him” (John 11:14-15). Jesus had a different perspective and purpose and they knew they could not change His mind. Thomas then said what every other disciple was thinking, "Let us also go, that we may die with him" 

(Luke 11:16). In other words, Lazarus is dead and by Jesus returning to Judea, He may end up dead, so they might as well all go with Him so they can all be dead together. The disciples were mainly focusing on themselves, not on what Jesus was doing. They had little faith in what Jesus could do. Jesus had waited to go back to Judea until Lazarus was dead three days so that their faith in Him would be strengthened. Jesus chose to wait to return to Bethany, not because His life was threatened, or because Lazarus would get better on His own or because He had more important matters to attend too.  He waited so that you may believe.  God’s delays are not God’s denials.  We have to trust in how He chooses to answer our prayers. His perspective is always to do what is best for grounding and strengthening our faith.

Pray about it: Lord, help me to accept your ways. Sometimes I look at impossible circumstances and I limit Your ability to intervene. Help me to believe as I trust in You for the details and delays. Amen.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Friday, August 28, 2015

Thy Kingdom Come # 17

3. The Kingdom and the Name (continued)

The Most High God

It was Abram who first discovered the wonders of fellowship with the Most High God, when he received the blessings ministered by Melchizedek. The story, given to us in Genesis 14, is most instructive. It shows how Abram, flushed with his victory over the four kings, was in danger of entering into some kind of compact with the king of Sodom, or at least of being under an obligation to him. At the critical moment, Melchizedek, priest of God Most High, drew him aside, offered him bread and wine and gave him Heaven's blessing. It was then that Abram found deliverance from temptation and announced: "I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, God Most High ... that I will not take a thread nor a shoe latched nor aught that is thine ..." (Genesis 14:22, 23). He did not want this world's riches; in the Lord he had found something better. When you have really tasted of heavenly blessings you do not hanker after earthly dainties. This is the testimony of the kingdom: not the negative niceties of legalism, but the enjoyment of the positive fullness of Divine life and fellowship.

Daniel and the others also testified to the superiority of the Lord's power. Through faith they "subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire ..." (Hebrews 11:33, 34). They were nothing in themselves. Few in numbers, friendless in the hour of need, cast upon God in their utter helplessness, they proved again and again that spiritual power is altogether superior to any other kind of influence or authority. In their very persons, they gave the Lord the opportunity which He was seeking, to show that, even here and now, He is the Most High who rules in the kingdom of men (Daniel 4:17, 25, 32). Not least was this testimony seen in Daniel's survival. In the course of this book kings rose and fell, empires changed hands, but this Daniel continued (1:21). He continued in life, in vision and in ascendency - all because of his relationship with the Most High God.

They testified to the Lord's superior wisdom. It may sound glorious to be a witness of the kingdom of Heaven, but there is no glory for the flesh. God's wisdom sees to that. He is not going to fight this world's pride by His people's pride, nor is He going to be governed by our ideas. This is a strange experience, this reaching the throne by way of the Cross. We are told that the "little horn" on the head of the beast "made war with the saints, and prevailed against them" (7:21), and that this is a king who "shall speak words against the Most High and shall wear out the saints of the Most High" (7>25), and yet that these very saints are the ones who possess the kingdom (18, 24, 27). The kingdom of pride is defeated by the meek and lowly in heart. This is God's way, and there is no other.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 18 - (The Lord - Jehovah)

A Woman's Equality with Man

The inheritance of Zelophehad unto his daughters. - Numbers 36:2

From the earliest, the germ-principle of the emancipation of woman, and her right to stand on an equality with man, is recognized in Scripture. These women were heiresses in their own right, and might marry as they thought best. Christianity in this respect, as in so many others, is the fulfillment of the Divine thought in the older dispensation. Ruth was the prototype of Mary of Bethany; Rahab of the Syrophenician woman; Hagar of Lydia.

The inheritance of woman in the nature of Christ. - There are certain qualities in the Son of Man peculiarly adapted for the heart of woman. Tenderness for her many tears - -" Woman, why weepest thou?" Sympathy in her quest for a love that will not fail - " Mary." An answer to her many questions - "Woman, believe Me." Strength for her clinging weakness - " Forbid her not." Hope for her despair - " If thou couldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God." O woman, remember Him who is the counterpart of thy need, and offers thee Himself. "The same is my sister."

The inheritance of woman in the work of Christ. - She is called to enrich men by bringing to them her inheritance. So the daughters of Zelophehad brought their land to their husbands, and the women bore the tidings of the risen Lord to the disciples. Thus women, receiving much from fellowship with Christ, come to men, steeped in materialism and sense, telling of a purer, fairer life, and summoning them to inherit it. Well is it for the home where this principle is recognized, and where the wife and mother is ever feeding her soul with noble ideals, to correct the false estimates that too much contact with men of the world are apt to induce in those she loves!

~F. B. Meyer~

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Thy Kingdom Come # 16

3. The Kingdom and the Name (continued)

The God of Heaven (continued)

Daniel's story makes it very clear that this shaping is done mainly in the daily test of ordinary life. He was no cloistered visionary - though he jealously set aside time for the secret place - but he was a man who had to earn his living among men of the world: a business man, and a conscientious and efficient business man at that. How often today one hears of Christians who have been so sickened by Christian employers that they prefer to work for unbelievers. How often, too, do Christian employers have to say that they really do not think that they can have a Christian working for them again; the ones they have had have been so unsatisfactory that they would rather not. This is most distressing, but it is all too common. Think of Daniel! Sooner or later every one of the various emperors of his day said, in effect, "I must have Daniel; he is the man for me!" Chapter 6 marks the climax of his long career, and in it we read: "This Daniel was distinguished above the presidents and the satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the kind thought to set him over the whole realm" (6:3). It is true that this made the others jealous, but with all their anxiety to find some fault in him and the opportunities given by the exposed position he occupied, we are told that "as touching the kingdom ... they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him" (6:4). Yet what was there spiritual about his job? It was entirely secular. Earning his living in work which must have been uncongenial to him, surrounded by jealous, malicious colleagues, working for the most capricious of employers, Daniel lived  the kingdom of Heaven even in Babylon. There was nothing spiritual in his work except what he put into it, and it was thus that he had fellowship with the God of Heaven.

The kingdom of Heaven is not a matter of offices or titles, but of character. When our blessed Lord was stripped even of his earthly garments, when He had no royal throne, no reputation, no friends, even on the Cross He was King of kings. And when Daniel was stripped of all his earthly dignity and official position, when he was a lonely outcast in a foul den of lions, he only gained in spiritual stature. They could take away his earthly authority but they could not prevent him from reigning, even in the lions' den. He took Heaven with him into that pit: not only the blessedness and peace of Heaven, but Heaven's power, Heaven's authority. Daniel did not describe it like that, for he was a truly humble man. He said that his God had sent His angel and shut the lions' mouths. But the fact was, and is, that those who are in living fellowship with the God of Heaven have ascendency over all the power of evil. They reign in life even now, and they are being prepared to reign in glory in the eternal kingdom.

The Most High God

Few titles seem to us so apt and timely as this one of "the Most High God" (3:26). If you have to live in Babylon you need the Most High as your God. Babylon was high in its pride and power: the image was high; the opposition was high: but the four men knew One who was higher than all - the Most High God.

They testified to the Lord's superiority over all the riches of this world. Daniel's prophecies open with this simple but powerful assertion that he could find in the Lord something better than could be provided by all the wealth of Babylon. He challenged those concerned  to put it to the test, and showed in his own person that there is sufficiency in the Lord which can be found nowhere else. We must prove and demonstrate that He is the Most High God in such personal experiences, or it is futile, and worse, for us to be talking about possessing the kingdom.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 17)

One Bite At A Time

One Bite at a Time

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

—James 1:12

It has been said that conversion has made our hearts a battlefield. It is true. When you believe in Jesus Christ, a battle begins in your heart. It is a battle between God and Satan. When you take that step and make a commitment to Lord, the Devil will want to pull you away from the commitment you have made.

So if you have found yourself being tempted a lot lately, then cheer up. It is actually an indication that you are living as a true Christian.

It is not a sin to be tempted. That is a strategy the Devil loves to use. He will tempt you, and then he will condemn you for being tempted. It is not a sin to be tempted; it is a sin when you give in to the temptation. It is not the bait that constitutes sin; it is the bite. If you refuse it and overcome it, God promises to bless you for it. We read in James, "God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him" (James 1:12).

The bottom line is that you are under the control and power of the Lord Jesus Christ. You have God's ID tag attached to you, and the Devil can no longer control you. He can no longer manipulate you. So he will try to draw you out. He will try to weaken your resolve. He will try to get you to compromise. He will try to take you one bite at a time. It's a little bit here, a compromise there, a little lowering your guard in a certain area. And pretty soon, you will find yourself in a place where you never wanted to be.
~Greg Laurie~

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Thy Kingdom Come # 15

3. The Kingdom and the Name (continued)

The God of Heaven

"And in the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom ..." (2:44). In other places He is called also "the King of Heaven" (4:37) and "the Lord of heaven" (5:23). What do these titles imply?

Our general mentality makes us regard Heaven as a location, and, moreover, as a location very, very far away. The three men found that, as a matter of fact, far from being remote, Heaven was very near - it was actually with them in the fire. Or again, when Belshazzar made mockery of the things of God at his drunken feast, the hand wrote on the wall to show him that Heaven was by no means so far away as he would have liked it to be - that it was, indeed, uncomfortably near. This title, therefore, is meant not so much to emphasize where God dwells as to stress what He is like; it speaks of nature rather than location. The "God of Heaven" is not just the God who lives in Heaven, but the heavenly God. And His kingdom is essentially the heavenly kingdom - or the kingdom of Heaven, as Matthew calls it.

This is the kingdom which we, His saints, are called to share, and to that end, we, too, must be characterized by His heavenly nature. When Nebuchadnezzar saw it, he say only "a stone ... cut out of the mountain without hands". It was quite vague and indistinct to him naturally, for apart from the Spirit no man can truly "see" that kingdom; but in reality there is nothing hazy or ill defined about the kingdom which is destined to possess all things for God. To the king of Babylon it may have seemed like some hastily seized and ill-prepared missile hurled down from heaven, but we know that it represents a people on whom the Lord has expended infinite time and pains, in fashioning them together in union with His Son. Daniel himself, even to take his place among Nebuchadnezzar's wise men, had to undergo three years preparation and training. How much more time and trouble must be spent to make him fit for his place in the everlasting kingdom! This apparently shapeless stone is really a refined; highly integrated and spiritually powerful kingdom; its power lies in its heavenliness, which to us is interpreted in terms of humility, purity, faith and love. The New Testament, from the Sermon on the Mount onwards, makes it clear to us what it means to have a share in the kingdom of Heaven. "Without hands" means, not that it is shapeless, but that it is not shaped by human agency. For the Lord is at work all the time - planning, refining, shaping, fitting together - all with a view to our eternal vocation of reigning with Christ. He is working on us, working with us, to make us into a heavenly people.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 16)

The Power of God's Grace

The Power of God's Grace

Grace is one of God's most amazing gifts. It provides us with everything we need to live in perfect freedom: pardon for our sins, healing for our hearts, the companionship of God's indwelling Holy Spirit, and access to freely cultivate our relationship with Him. We work, worship, and enjoy life surrounded by His unconditional love. His grace upholds us, fills us, and sustains us.

Since we are forgiven people, the Lord responds to us not as enemies but as His dearly loved children (Rom. 8:15; Eph. 5:1). He hears our prayers, speaks to us, and acts on our behalf.

The knowledge that we live under the covering of God's grace gives us...
  • Security about our position. No one can snatch us out of His hand (John 10:28).
  • Boldness to live for Christ. Nothing anyone does or says can shake our confidence in who the Lord is or who we are in Him.
  • Peace for today because we can fully trust in His sovereignty. The Lord is carrying out His perfect will--and we can be sure that nothing is able to thwart His plans when we cooperate with Him.
  • Hope for the future. This life is just the beginning. One day we'll see Jesus face to face, be perfected as the individuals He created us to be, and live with Him in our true home forever.
The Lord is committed to transforming each of us according to His special plan for our lives. Even His correction is an expression of His loving favor (Heb. 12:10). When we falter or fail, we can rest assured that His amazing grace hems us in and always offers us redemption.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Thy Kingdom Come # 14

3. The Kingdom and the Name (continued)

Revealer of Secrets

Of course the Lord knows all the secrets. He knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10); "the darkness and the light are both alike" to Him (Psalm 139:12). He is the Holder of Secrets. But He is also the "revealer of secrets" (Daniel 2:47). He wants to reveal His mind to men; He longs to find those who can share His confidences. It is His good pleasure to make known to His people that which they could never find out for themselves. For this reason He has given us His Word. Those who wrote the Scriptures needed revelation, but we who read them also need the Spirit's enlightenment, if we are to understand them to profit. Not only the apostle who wrote but the saints who read must have the "Spirit of wisdom and revelation" if they are to know God's secret - His "mystery", as the New Testament calls it. It is a waste of time to open your Bible if you do not, at least in intention, pray the psalmist's prayer: "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law" (Psalm 119:18). The Lord wants us to pray this prayer, because He really wants to answer it. Above all, He wants His people to know "the mystery of God, even Christ, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden" (Colossians 2:2, 3). He is the Revealer of Secrets, and we may know Him as such if we wait before Him in the same humility and faith that characterized Daniel.

The only way in which we can understand Divine secrets is by the Lord revealing them to us. None of the wise men of Babylon could discover what God was saying. Daniel and his friends had apparently completed three years' training, and so had acquired much of this world's wisdom in addition to that which was natural to them. None of this helped them. Neither natural ability nor acquired education can teach us the simplest matters of spiritual truth. We learn them only by the revelation of the Holy Spirit. Let us believe that God wants to give us this revelation; that He really longs for us to have the eyes of our heart enlightened. This was one of the differences between Daniel and the magicians. Daniel really believed that God was able and willing to make known His mind - that He was not mocking them by capriciously hiding the secret, but was provoking them to humility and prayer that they might receive light from Heaven. A really teachable spirit is essential to such an understanding.

Such insight may save us from spiritual defeat. The three were not so frightened and overwhelmed as the rest by Nebuchadnezzar's great image, because they knew its end. It "became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors: and the wind carried them away .." (2:35). Revelation saves you, for it shows you God's viewpoint and delivers you from satanic deception. This principle worked all through Daniel's life: it was his understanding of God's secrets which made him the man he was, and made his service to God so effective. The great criterion of distinction between between a mental grasp of ideas about the truth and a heart enlightenment from God is the difference that it makes in life and practice. God reveals His secrets, not to satisfy our curiosity, but to make us spiritually effective in His kingdom.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 15 - (The God of Heaven)

Avoiding the Pit

Avoiding the Pit

Over the last few days, we have looked at what it takes to get out of the pits—what to do when life seems to be turned upside down.   
There is one pit, though, that every person is headed for except for the grace and provision of God.  Some of the most marvelous verses of Scripture are found in Psalm 49:6-9.  These verses point us to the one and only way to avoid the pit for eternity.

Those who trust in their wealth and boast in the multitude of their riches, none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him—for the redemption of their souls is costly, and it shall cease forever—that he should continue to live eternally, and not see the Pit.

These are powerful words for our day and age.  It is so easy for many to believe that their wealth, their power, and their goodness will someday be enough to save them.

But the only way to have eternal life and not see the pit of eternal destruction is to realize that you can do nothing and pay no amount to redeem your own soul.  Why?  Because the price of your soul is very costly—more than you could ever pay.

The purchase price was the shed blood of the Son of God upon Calvary's cross.  Only through embracing His sacrifice can your soul be ransomed.  No good works can do it.  No personal sacrifice can do it.  The price has been paid. 

I trust you have accepted God's gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.  If so, praise Him today for rescuing you from the pit of hell and for paying that high price for you.

~Bayless Conley~

Monday, August 24, 2015

Thy Kingdom Come # 13

Four Great Battles in Babylon (continued)

4. A Battle for the Lord's Purpose (continued)

He could not do anything about recovery or restoration, any more than others. Only God could do it. But he could believe for it, he could stand for it, he could testify about it. While it is true that he had a special vision, it is also true that he based his expectations on the Word of God. He prayed for it because he found it written in "the books." Daniel fought the battle of the recovery of a full testimony among God's people, because he had become convinced that this represented the purpose of God. There was nothing superior or exclusive about him, far from it. He loved the people of God, he travailed in the secret place for them, he went into the lion's den for them, but he never settled down to their limited position, nor did he apologize for his expectations of a new and better day.

There is still a battle to be fought for God's purpose in His people. There is still a need for those who will be uncompromising in declaring what God has shown them in His Word, still a need for the open windows and a willingness to go into the lion's den, still a need for those who will go on praying and giving thanks until the kingdom really comes.

Thy Kingdom Come

3. The Kingdom and the Name

"Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come" (Matthew 6:9, 10)

We have already seen that the book of Daniel has many references to kingdoms, to visions and to warfare. We now turn to find in it various names given to God. There are a surprising number for such a small book, and each doubtless has its own special significance. Our concern is not only Bible study, but a quest for spiritual light on the connection of the kingdom with the Name.

The Living God

There is one which should serve as a preface to all the rest - "the living God" (6:26). There is nothing formal or unreal about Him. Everything associated with Him, including every title, name or description, is vital. The Lord has a great number of designations, but He fills them all with vital reality. Not a single one describes what cannot be found in actual living expression. His kingdom is "not in word, but in power" (1 Corinthians 6:20); He is the Living God. It is a pity that His people are not always like this. Think of the titles given to Christians: "believers," "saints", "a kingdom of priests". It only we lived up to them! But when we come to consider the Lord's names we need fear no disappointment. He fills every one of His titles to the full, and proves Himself worthy of them all.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 14 - (Revealer of Secrets)

Developing Faith Through Adversity

Developing Faith through Adversity

It doesn't seem fair, does it? Paul spent his life serving Christ, and yet he experienced continual suffering. Why would God let one of His most faithful servants go through so much pain? This isn't just a question about Paul; it's an issue we face today. In our minds, the Lord should protect His loyal followers from hardships, but He doesn't necessarily do so.

Maybe our reasoning is backwards. We think faithful Christians don't deserve to suffer, but from God's perspective, suffering is what produces faithful Christians. If we all had lives of ease without opposition, trials, or pain, we'd never really know God, because we'd never need Him. Like it or not, adversity teaches us more about the Lord than simply reading the Bible ever will.

I'm not saying we don't need to know Scripture; that's our foundation for faith. But if what we believe is never tested by adversity, it remains head knowledge. How will we ever know the Lord can be trusted in the midst of trouble if we've never been challenged by hardship? God gives us opportunities to apply scriptural truths to the difficulties facing us, and in the process, we find Him faithful. For example, how would Paul ever have known the strength of Christ if he had never been weakened by pain, persecution, and adversity?

Depending on your response, trials can be God's greatest means of building faith or an avenue to discouragement and self-pity. If you'll believe what Scripture says and apply its principles to your situation, your trust in God will grow, and your faith will be strengthened through adversity.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Thy Kingdom Come # 12

Four Great Battles in Babylon (continued)

4. A Battle for the Lord's Purpose

As we turn to Daniel's conflict as described in chapter 6, we should note that, chronologically this chapter follows the prayer of chapter 9. The two chapters seem to set forth two aspects of the same great battle, the battle for the realization of the purposes of God. This battle differs from the other three in that it was not forced on Daniel, or at least only partially so. If he had not prayed through to assurance about Jerusalem's recovery he would have had no need to have his windows open toward Jerusalem. And if he had been content to walk quietly with the Lord, praying in secret, watching his own personal spiritual interests, and abandoning - at least for the time - this concentration on Divine purposes, he need ever have been thrown to the lions. The kind of prayer Daniel prayed in chapter 9 is the kind that roused hell - it always does; but the kind of vision which came to him from that prayer inspired him to go on without wavering.

The remarkable thing is not the fact that he prayed, but the nature of his prayer. He was so mastered by the vision that he forgot himself, even in prayer. Though he knew of the danger, not only did he still leave the windows open but "prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime." satan could not even divert his prayers, so that he should pray for his own safety. Ignoring all the decrees and threats of men and devils, he kept pressing the great issue of the kingdom in his prayers and praises. "The righteous shall hold on his way." It is most cheering to find that the Lord was not deprived of a single one of the 'open-window' prayers. Daniel made a habit of so praying three times a day. After the accusation the king "labored till the going down of the sun to rescue him". So Daniel was cast into the den after sundown. The king had such a bad night that he "arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions", and immediately had Daniel released. We may be sure that Daniel went straight back to his prayer chamber, and as the new day dawned was able to take up his prayer ministry just where he left it off. He was not so fresh as usual - for, after all, he had spent the night in the lions' den! - but the prayer had not been hindered, and there must have been a new note in the giving of thanks. What a battle! And what a victory!

We should take special note of the difference between Daniel and the majority of the Jews in Babylon. It was not that they had no faith or did not pray. Not that at all. But they were accepting things as they found them, accommodating themselves to the unhappy present order. In a vague sort of way they may have been hoping for a better day, but there was nothing practical about their hope. The Lord's testament among His people was not as it ought to be, not as it used to be, but they felt that they had to do their best to hold things together in their present poor state, accepting all the contradictions and limitations because they could do nothing about it. That is surely not an unfair statement  of the position held by many Christians today. Is there any other position? In all humility we say that there is. And Daniel seems to illustrate it for us.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 13)

Wait patiently - Wait!

It came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land (1 Kings 17:7).

Week after week, with unfaltering and steadfast spirit, Elijah watched that dwindling brook; often tempted to stagger through unbelief, but refusing to allow his circumstances to come between himself and God. Unbelief sees God through circumstances, as we sometimes see the sun shorn of his rays through smoky air; but faith puts God between itself and circumstances, and looks at them through Him.

And so the dwindling brook became a silver thread; and the silver thread stood presently in pools at the foot of the largest boulders; and the pools shrank. The birds fled; the wild creatures of field and forest came no more to drink; the brook was dry. Only then to his patient and unwavering spirit, "the word of the Lord came, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath."

Most of us would have gotten anxious and worn with planning long before that. We should have ceased our songs as soon as the streamlet caroled less musically over its rocky bed; and with harps swinging on the willows, we should have paced to and fro upon the withering grass, lost in pensive thought. And probably, long ere the brook was dry, we should have devised some plan, and asking God's blessing on it, would have started off elsewhere.

God often does extricate us, because His mercy endureth forever; but if we had only waited first to see the unfolding of His plans, we should never have found ourselves landed in such an inextricable labyrinth; and we should never have been compelled to retrace our steps with so many tears of shame.
Wait, patiently wait!

~L. B. Cowman~

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Thy Kingdom Come # 11

A Battle Over the Lord's Sufficiency (continued)

3. A Battle for the Lord's Honor

In passing from chapter 2 to chapter 3, we pass from one battle to another. It is like that. Each spiritual victory does not absolve us from further service but only leads into new conflict. If Nebuchadnezzar had not heard about the head of gold he might not have made his golden image. If the three men had not been promoted to a place of prominence their non-conformity might never have been noticed. It is interesting that Daniel was not accused. Probably the accusers were afraid of their capricious king and did not dare criticize his favorite. It is also noteworthy that no other Jews were involved. Possibly they were ignored as being unworthy of notice. It was the prominence of these three which exposed them. So often spiritual triumph and advancement in the Lord has this effect or exposing God's servants to jealous criticism and malicious accusation. He permits it, for He means to achieve even greater triumphs in them.

satan's attack was a psychological one, as may be noticed by a complete reading of the chapter. Not only was the image imposing and the king's command urgent, but look at the repetition of the long list of important personages on the other side and notice the repeated description, in detail, of the musical instruments. The Bible does not waste words, so we must believe that there is a meaning behind these repetitions. Surely the meaning is to show the cumulative pressure brought to bear upon these three. Who were they, that they should dare to dissent from that which was so universally popular and so convincingly presented? satan knows how to concentrate his assaults upon their souls. How can we meet them? Certainly not by reason. Only strength in the spirit can give us victory over our own souls, and so over the great enemy.

These men had a spiritual relationship with the Lord, a relationship that was stronger than all the emotions and reasonings of their soul, so that, in a sense, the issue for them was simple. It was not easy - indeed it was very costly; but it was clear and straightforward. Put like that, they had no difficulty in deciding, for the honor of the Lord's Name seemed far more important to them than their own lives. So they chose not to flee or surrender but to stand and fight, as every true spiritual warrior must do. All that they had to do was to stand: yet their stand, though in great personal weakness, overthrew the power of satan and maintained the rights of the Lord in the whole empire. It was indeed a battle. The fate of those who were burned by the intense heat shows that this was not imaginary fire, just as the destruction of Daniel's accusers in the lion's den proved that the lions were both fierce and hungry. For us, too, there is a real price to be paid if we are to stand firmly in the Lord's Name and not just be swept along with the crowd.

They not only fought for the Lord's honor, they also fought for the rest of His people. We have already pointed out that these three were exposed to attack because of their prominent position. They were the first, but they would not have been the last. If they had yielded (or indeed if they had perished in the flames), no doubt many of the lesser saints would have been hunted down and threatened in the same way. They delivered the rest by their faith. They stood, they survived, they rejoiced and reigned, even in the midst of the fires. This was true ascendency. They "yielded their bodies", but they also "changed the king's word" (Daniel 2:28). And after all, what is the good of our talking glibly of a coming kingdom in which the saints shall reign, if we are not proving the Lord now, and reigning spiritually even where we are? It is those who have truly prayed: "Hallowed be thy name", who alone have the right to pray: "Thy kingdom come".

It is impossible to think of these things without remembering brothers and sisters in the Far East who are at this very time face to face with the same issue, and, even as we remember, lifting up our hearts for them in prayer, that they may so triumph by faith that they, too, may walk with the Son of God, even in the fires, and have an honored place with Him in His kingdom

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 12 - (A Battle for the Lord's Purpose)

Does Jesus Still Have His Wounds?

Does Jesus Still Have His Wounds?

by G. Campbell Morgan

Apart from Jesus, man has no perfect understanding of God. In Him man finds the full and final revelation of the Father. It is impossible for men to come, either in understanding or in actual communion, to the Father save through the risen glorified Son.

To state this positively therefore is to declare that man approaching God does so forevermore as He has revealed Himself in and through Jesus of Nazareth. Thus, the ascended One is man's God.

It is impossible to omit from that ascended and reigning One the wounds He bears. They are part of His Personality and speak of the fulfillment of a purpose which was the purpose of God, and which was carried out by God in and through Jesus. If the perfect Manhood of Jesus be the perfect unveiling before the eyes of men of the essential glories of God, so the wounded Personality of Jesus is the unveiling before the eyes of men of that wounding of the heart of God, through which His grace was manifested and wrought its mightiest victory.

In Apocalyptic vision John saw "in the midst of the throne ... a Lamb as though it had been slain." The reference is without question to Christ. Two things are manifest, first that He occupies the position of proper Deity. He is in the midst of the throne. Secondly that He retains the evidences of suffering. It is "a Lamb as though it had been slain." This double fact speaks forevermore of the deepest fact that lies behind man's redemption. This fact is that of the pain of God.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Thy Kingdom Come # 10

2. A Battle For Revelation (continued)

It should be a great comfort to us to know that, presiding over the whole networking of this age-long conflict with its many engagements and battlefields, we have the Master Strategist, who is steadily planning and working towards the final victory. He is not waiting for the great image to topple over, but is preparing and shaping a spiritual instrument for its overthrow. And He has some strange ways of pursuing His great campaign, and especially of placing His key men. It was He who put Daniel in Babylon, and later on it was He who put Esther and then Nehemiah in their strategic positions in the palace at Shushan. It may have seemed the wrong place at times, and the costly experiences for those concerned seemed most unfortunate; yet they were all a part of the Lord's wonderfully wise means for reaching His end.

Daniel, like Paul, was "a prisoner of the Lord", and so should we all be. We must avoid fixed ideas as to how the Lord will use us, we must be careful not to arrange and order our own lives, and indeed we must even beware of praying to the Lord to do things in the way which we think is the right one. Daniel might have prayed that Nebuchadnezzar would revoke his edict; perhaps he did, but he had no response from the Lord. He might have prayed that he and his friends might have special protection - that they would be miraculously spared although the others were slain. God had something more positive than that in view. So they prayed through to His will in the matter; they were not only spared, they were advanced in the kingdom; and the light which they received was not only of immediate importance, it was a revelation for the whole age. Once again, then, faith was the victory.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 11 - (3. A Battle for the Lord's Honor)

The God of Ordinary Men

So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am."

—Exodus 3:4

As far as we know, Moses hadn't heard from God for 40 years. Then God spoke to him and called him. And how did He do it? Through a burning bush. It was not uncommon for a bush to catch fire. A bolt of lightning could have caused that. But Moses had never seen a bush that perpetually burned. God was doing something out of the ordinary that got Moses' attention. And then He spoke.

Notice what God said to Moses: "I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" (Exodus 3:6). When we hear those names, we think of them as great patriarchs of the faith—and indeed they were. But let's consider each one for a moment. Abraham certainly was a man of God, but he had serious lapses of faith. Isaac was blessed, but he often didn't listen to the Lord. And Joseph's faux pas were legendary. Yet these men were powerfully used by God.

It's as though God was saying, "Moses, I am the God of men who have failed. I am the God of ordinary men who have accomplished extraordinary things. Moses, if I can use Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, then I can surely use you. Are you up for that? Are you ready to go? I am aware of what is happening to my people in Egypt."

Moses was 80 years old. That is past retirement age. Yet God was saying, "You are just where I wanted you to be. You are just the man that I want."

It seems that God goes out of His way to choose the most unlikely candidates. God sees your potential, even when you don't. God sees you for what you will become in the days ahead.
~Greg Laurie~

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Thy Kingdom Come # 9

The Kingdom and Spiritual Warfare (continued)

2. A Battle for Revelation

The next battle was even grimmer; it was truly a battle of life and death. So often the Lord gives His people light in this way, not as a matter of study or interest but as the only answer to the onslaught of spiritual death. For it was the Lord who brought them into this situation. He not only permitted it - He provoked it, for it was He who first gave the dream to Nebuchadnezzar and then withdrew it from him. How Daniel and his friends must have wished that the Lord had acted otherwise, either withholding the vision altogether or else helping Nebuchadnezzar in his attempts to remember it. If only the Lord would make things easier for us! If only He would not allow us to be cornered and involved in perils as He does! That is a very faithless wish, though common enough to most of us. It was God who hedged His servants in, faced them with disaster and forced them to their knees. We are not told in chapter 1 that they prayed. Probably they did, but the fact is not mentioned as the issue was fairly simple and straightforward. But now the spiritual battle had taken them beyond any past experience, quite out of their depth. Once again Daniel's faith triumphed. Once again he committed himself before he had any evidence, assuring the kind that he would get the interpretation if only he were given time; but still the battle had to be fought through on their knees.

There are so many lessons to be learned from this experience. There is the reminder that there must be prevailing in the secret place if the Lord's message is to be first received and then given out. There is the illustration of true corporate functioning as the three shared the prayer burden with Daniel. There is also a  helpful insight into the Lord's ways with His people. He did not only want to reveal a secret - He wanted to get Daniel and his companions into a position of authority in Babylon. This is how He did it. He lifted them up by first bringing them down. Very low they came, even to despairing of life, low in crying for mercy to the God of Heaven; but this was followed by an amazing exaltation, which could hardly have happened in any other way, for Daniel became chief governor, "in the gate of the King", and had the others promoted with him.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 10)

He Has Chosen Me

"I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction" (Isa. 48:10).

Does not the Word come like a soft shower, assuaging the fury of the flame? Yes, is it not an asbestos armor, against which the heat has no power? Let the affliction come--God has chosen me. Poverty, thou mayest stride in at my door; but God is in the house already, and He has chosen me. Sickness, thou mayest intrude; but I have a balsam ready--God has chosen me. Whatever befall me in this vale of tears, I know that He has chosen me.

Fear not, Christian; Jesus is with thee. In all thy fiery trials, His presence is both thy comfort and safety. He will never leave one whom He has chosen for His own. "Fear not, for I am with thee," is His sure word of promise to His chosen ones in "the furnace of affliction."
--C. H. Spurgeon

Pain's furnace heat within me quivers,
God's breath upon the flame doth blow;
And all my heart in anguish shivers
And trembles at the fiery glow;
And yet I whisper, "As God will!"
And in the hottest fire hold still.
He comes and lays my heart, all heated,
On the hard anvil, minded so
Into His own fair shape to beat it
With His great hammer, blow on blow;
And yet I whisper, "As God will!"
And at His heaviest blows hold still.
He takes my softened heart and beats it;
The sparks fly off at every blow;
He turns it o'er and o'er and heats it,
And lets it cool, and makes it glow;
And yet I whisper, "As God will!"
And in His mighty hand hold still.
Why should I murmur? for the sorrow
Thus only longer-lived would be;
The end may come, and will tomorrow,
When God has done His work in me;
So I say trusting, "As God will!"
And, trusting to the end, hold still. 

--Julius Sturm

The burden of suffering seems a tombstone hung about our necks, while in reality it is only the weight which is necessary to keep down the diver while he is hunting for pearls.

~L. B. Cowman~

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Thy Kingdom Come # 8

The Kingdom and Spiritual Warfare (continued)

Having said this, we may now turn to the four great battles which are described as actually happening in the personal experience of Daniel and his companions in Babylon. The other battles of the book do not concern us at the moment. There are kings and princes and rams and he-goats and horns, but their histories do not help much for our present purpose. In any case, they were fighting among themselves, so we can leave them to it. We want to fight for the Lord and to bear our testimony to His Kingdom.

1. A Battle Over the Lord's Sufficiency

The first episode is described in chapter 1, and circles around the matter of the Lord's sufficiency. In some senses it was a simple issue; but it was also fundamental - it affected and governed the whole of Daniel's life. It he had failed then, there would have been nothing more to write. True, the fiery furnace might have been avoided, and the lion's den; life might have seemed easier, with no costly visions and no sacrificial prayers. satan sought to make a quick end to this whole conflict by introducing defilement. There seems to be a real connection between the first test of Daniel and the first temptation of Christ in the wilderness.

If this were just a message to young Christians, it would be right to point out how important it is to avoid the contaminating influence of this world even in small and apparently harmless things. But for our purpose this must be included in the larger issue represented by the Babylonian king's table. Babylon fed on pride. Self-sufficiency and self-glory, these were the meat of the king of Babylon and these the wine which he drank. Daniel would have none of it.He was not bring wrongly independent: the pulse and water were not of his own providing, but received gratefully from Babylon. Yet what a difference there was between being nourished by that which spoke of pride and human glory, and feeding on the humble, despised pulse and water.

Even Daniel's spirit reveals how truly humble he was; for, while "he purposed in his heart that he would not ...", we are told that "therefore he requested ... that he might not ...", (1:8). His request must have seemed foolish and even weak. It brought no cause for boasting, but only a real experience of humbling. Nevertheless the humbling kept him pure with God. There is nothing so defiling as pride in spiritual things, and no battle so fiercely fought as the battle for humility. Indeed, humility is a fundamental necessity in the spiritual conflict. This chapter really sets the tone for the whole book. At the end of it we are told that "Daniel continued even unto the first year of Cyrus", and this is clear from the rest of the book: indeed he lived longer than that. Perhaps the reason for mentioning it at this point is to emphasize that he continued because he maintained this pure and humble spirit. No doubt there is also the hint that this same conflict continued with him all through the years. It was his first battle, and may well have been his last. It certainly is with us, and temptations to pride grow fiercer as we press on with the Lord.

His action revealed great faith as well as humility. He not only made a request; he issued a challenge; "Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days ..." For the steward it was an experiment, and rather a dangerous one at that, whereas to Daniel it was a foregone conclusion. Faith cannot afford to have questions about the Lord's sufficiency. Daniel was not in a position to make a private test to see if it worked. No, he had to commit himself, to utter the challenge of faith, to invite others to prove how right was his complete confidence in the Lord. What a battleground faith is! We are here in this world not to apologize for our abstentions, but to manifest the superiority and sufficiency of Christ to meet every need. "Prove it," Daniel urged; and when they did so, it was made very clear that faith's way is better - ten times better - than the world's way. Even those who never tried it themselves could see that.

It seems that Daniel was more than the spokesman for the other three- he was a pioneer and leader. But for him, they might have been nonentities or failures like so many more of their fellow-countrymen in Babylon. Daniel seems to have given the lead, and then they gladly followed, which only goes to show how much our triumphs of faith may help inspire others. Our victories are not to be kept to ourselves but to be shared with others.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 9 - (2. A Battle for Revelation)

I Am Chained to the Chariot of Rolling Time!

I am chained to the chariot of rolling time!

"My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle!" Job 7:6

"My days are but a breath!" Job 7:16

"My days are swifter than a runner--they flee away!" Job 9:25

"My days pass by like swift ships--like an eagle swooping on its prey!" Job 9:26
"Are not my days few?" Job 10:20

"My days are cut short, the grave awaits me!" Job 17:1 

"Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes!" James 4:14

Let me speak to you of . . .

  the frailty of human life,
  the fleeting nature of time,
  how swiftly time passes away,
  how soon we shall all fade as the leaf, and
  how speedily the place which knows us now, shall know us no more forever.

It is a great fact that life to the young man appears to be long.
Yet to the old man, life is ever short.

And to all men, life is really but a brief period!
Children sometimes blow bubbles, and amuse themselves thereby. Life is even as that bubble. You see it rising into the air; the child delights itself by seeing it fly about, but it is all gone in one moment! Souncertain is life!
Human life is not long. Compare it with the ages of the universe, and it becomes a span; and especially measure it by eternity--and how imperceptible does life appear! It sinks like one small drop into the ocean--and becomes as insignificant as one tiny grain of sand upon the sea-shore!

Life is swift!

Your pulses each moment beat the funeral marches to the tomb!
I am chained to the chariot of rolling time--there is no bridling the steeds, or leaping from the chariot. The wind of time bears me along--I cannot stop its motion. I am moving through time at an incalculable rate. Oh! what an idea it is, could I grasp it!

The wise man says, "For who knows what is good for man in life, all the days of his vain life which he passes like a shadow?" Ecclesiastes 6:12. Now what can there be less substantial than a shadow? What substance is there in a shadow? Who can lay hold thereof? You may see it, but the moment the person passes by, it is gone.

Yes, and who can grasp his life? Many men reckon upon a long existence, and think they are going to live forever; but who can calculate upon a shadow? Go, O man, who say to your soul, "Eat, drink, and be merry; I have much goods laid up for many years!" Go, and store your barn with shadows; go and pile shadows up, and say, "These are mine, and they shall never depart." But, say you, "I cannot catch a shadow!" No and you can not reckon on a year, for it is as a shadow, which soon melts away and is gone!

"My days pass by like swift ships!" Like a swift ship, my life must speed on its way until it reaches its haven. But where is that haven to be? Shall it be found in the land of eternal bitterness and punishment--that dreary region of the lost? Or shall it be that sweet haven of eternal peace, where not a troubling wave can ruffle the quiescent glory of my spirit?

Wherever the haven is to be, that truth is the same, we are like "the swift ships."

"So teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom!" Psalm 90:12 

~Charles Spurgeon~