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Friday, June 24, 2016

The New Is Here (and other devotionals)

If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

The Word teaches us very clearly that Christ has been taken right out of this old creation and set at God's right hand in the heavenlies. On the other hand, it shows us that His being there, and our being in spiritual union with Him, means that for all spiritual purposes and resources, we also are in the heavenlies in Christ.... Let us ask the Lord to give us a real, spiritual, quick, living apprehension of this great truth concerning our Lord Jesus, the great realm of the new creation into which we are brought, and let us apply it, practice it, put it into operation from day to day.
You may have to go into a place where there is not much spiritual wealth on the outside, not much upon which to feed. Remember you have Christ, the whole Land, lying before you. You may have to go into scenes where there is anything but rest, spiritual rest; where all is fret, care, drive, strain. Remember that you are in the Land; you are in Christ; you have Him as your Rest. You may have to go into the conflict, into the battle, into the tremendous activities of the enemy to overthrow you. Remember you are in Christ, Who is Victory, complete, final victory. That remains true, whatever the enemy may say about it. Christ is all that we need for a life which is glorifying to Him. It is what Christ is, what we have in the new creation.

By T. Austin-Sparks

Sowing and Reaping

"I have made no trouble for Israel," Elijah replied. "You and your family are the troublemakers, for you have refused to obey the commands of the Lord and have worshiped the images of Baal instead."

—1 Kings 18:18

Elijah was not a popular guy after his announcement to King Ahab. He had walked into Ahab's court and declared, "As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives—the God I serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!" (1 Kings 17:1).

Elijah was a wanted man, dead or alive (preferably dead). But then he emerged on the scene, and he and Ahab had their confrontation. When Ahab saw Elijah, he said, "So, is it really you, you troublemaker of Israel?" (1 Kings 18:17).

Interestingly, Ahab called Elijah a troublemaker, which could be better translated "snake in the grass," or "viper." (I don't know if I would call someone with the ability to call down fire from heaven a viper.)

But Elijah answered, "I have made no trouble for Israel. . . . You and your family are the troublemakers, for you have refused to obey the commands of the Lord and have worshiped the images of Baal instead" (verse 18). In other words, Elijah was saying, "You brought this on yourself, King Ahab, because you turned to false gods."

It's always amazing to me how people will break God's commands over and over again, resist His loving warnings, and then blame God when hardship hits, often as a result of their own actions. Why did God let this happen to me? Why did God do this? This is not always the case when bad things happen. But sometimes there is cause and effect. Sometimes we will do horrible things and then reap the consequences. Then we'll scratch our heads and wonder why.

Like Ahab, we may even have the audacity to blame God for all of it when, in effect, we are simply reaping what we've sown.
~Greg Laurie~
Accepting Correction from the Father

Some people have a hard time even thinking of God as "Father" because of the horrible abuse they suffered from their earthly fathers' hands. But God is a Father who never abuses His children, although He does punish them. He chastens those whom He loves. It is wise for the child of God to fear the corrective wrath of the Father.
I loved my earthly father deeply. In fact, I idolized him. I was secure in his love, as he was constant in showing affection for me. I feared him in the sense that I didn't want to disappoint him or let him down. I had the "fear" of respect for him. But I also feared his wrath and discipline. Even though, in general, I didn't want to disappoint him or grieve him, nevertheless I often disobeyed him. That meant facing his discipline.
When my father disciplined me he always announced it to me by saying, "Son, we have to have a session." That meant I had to follow him into his office, close the door behind me, and sit in a chair in front of him. He wouldn't raise his voice. He would calmly tell me what I did wrong and why it was wrong. He instructed me in such a way that I was devastated. He always ended the session with a warm embrace. But talk about the conviction of sin … whew!

Coram Deo: Living in the Presence of God

Are you able to accept correction from your heavenly Father? Do you respond to it properly? Pray about this.

For Further Study

Hebrews 12:6-7: "For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?"
Hebrews 12:10: "For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness."

~R. C. Sproul~

Sin, sin! What have you done!

(George Everard, "Dark Gethsemane")

"Then Jesus went with His disciples to a place called Gethsemane." Matthew 26:36 

"My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death!" Matthew 26:38 

"And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground!" Luke 22:44 

Let me draw near--let me behold this wondrous sight. If Moses took off his shoes when the Lord came near at the burning bush, still more should I regard Gethsemane as holy ground.

I see the Redeemer of sinners prostrate on the cold earth. I hear a sorrowful groan. There is deep soul agony; there is sore dismay; there is darkness that may be felt. Dark and gloomy was the shadow cast by those olive trees in the Garden. But a deeper darkness overshadowed the spirit of the Savior. Well might He employ the language of the Psalmist: "Fearfulness and trembling have come upon Me, and a horrible dread has overwhelmed Me!"

His soul is amazed and very heavy. He prays in an agony. The conflict is great, and His sweat is as drops of blood falling to the ground.

Who can pierce the darkness?
Who can tell the secret of that hour?
Who can explain the cause of that mysterious agony?

Is it that, in some way altogether beyond our thought--sin, our sin--is piercing the Holy One? Is it the guilt of sinners oppressing our Surety--the judgment and the wrath we had merited, descending upon Him? Who shall answer? Who has known the mind of the Lord? Rather let us worship and adore.

O sinless Lamb, O Lord Jesus, I bow before You, and praise You for Your love! What marvels do I behold!
You, the source of all joy--are borne down with heavy sorrow!
You, the source of all comfort--faint for lack of it. 
You, the Fountain of Life--wrestle with death. 
You, the highest Majesty, before whom Principalities and Powers bow--bow down Yourself to the earth before Your Father. 
You, before Whom cherubim and seraphim veil their faces--lie in the dust and tread the winepress of divine wrath, for man.

Ah, I learn here the fearful reality of sin! Sin, sin! What have you done! This is your work. Never, but for sin, would we have seen the holy, spotless Savior thus enduring unspeakable sorrows. Never, but for sin, would Christ have drunk the cup of suffering, wrath, and death! Can it be a light thing which cost the Son of God such groans, such tears, such agony?

Who can utter all that sin has done? 
The whole creation groans beneath the burden. 
Countries are filled with cruelty and oppression. 
Homes are made wretched by its power. 
Ten thousand times ten thousand hearts, it has crushed and broken.
On account of it, myriads of death-beds have been without one ray of hope---and unnumbered souls have perished eternally.

O that I may abhor the faintest shadow of evil! 

O that I may shrink from the least taint of this deadly thing!

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