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Friday, October 28, 2016

Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 5

Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 5

Humility In The Disciples of Jesus

"He that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is prince, as he that doth serve" (Luke 22:26)

We have studied humility in the person and teaching of Jesus. Let us now look for humility in the circle of His chosen companions: the twelve apostles. If we find a lack of it in them, the contrast between Christ and men will be seen more clearly. It will help us appreciate the mighty change which Pentecost brought about in them, and prove how real our participation can be in the perfect triumph of Christ's humility over the pride satan has breathed into man.

In the texts quoted from the teaching of Jesus, we have already seen the instances where the disciples proved how totally lacking they were in the attribute of humility. Once, as they were walking, they disputed over which of them should be the greatest. Another time, the sons of Zebedde, with their mother, asked for the seat on the right hand and the left hand of Jesus in His kingdom. Later, at the Holy Supper table on the last night, there was again a dispute over which of them should be considered greatest. Not that there weren't moments when they humbled themselves before their Lord. So it was with Peter when he cried our, "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man" (Luke 5:8). Similarly, the disciples fell down and worshiped Him after He stilled the storm. However, such occasional expressions of humility only bring into stronger contrast the habitual tone of their mind and the position and power of "self". The study of the meaning of all this will teach us some very important lessons.

First, there may be significant heartfelt active religion while humility is still sadly lacking. We see this characteristic in the disciples. They had an intense attachment to Jesus. They had forsaken all for Him. The Father had revealed to them that Jesus was the Christ of God. They believed in Him, loved Him, and obeyed His commandments. They had forsaken all to follow Him. When others went back, they stood with Him. They were ready to die with Him. But deeper down than all of this there was a dark power, a lack of clarity. They were not aware of the existence of the hideousness that had to be slain and cast our before they could be the witnesses of the power of Jesus to save. This is still the case. We may find professors and ministers, evangelists and workers, missionaries and teachers, in whom the gifts of the Spirit are many and manifest. These are the channels of blessing to multitudes, but when the time of testing comes, or more accurate teaching gives fuller knowledge, it is only too painfully manifest that the attribute of humility is seldom seen. All of this confirms the lesson that humility is one of the most critical attributes, one of the most difficult to attain. Humility should be the primary focus of our efforts. However, it must be fully understood that humility only comes in power when the fullness of the Spirit makes us partakers of the indwelling Christ.

Second, all external teaching and personal effort is ineffective to conquer pride or produce the meek and lowly heart. For three years, the disciples were in the training school of Jesus. He told them the chief lesson He desired to teach them was to "learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart" (Matthew 11:29). Time after time, He spoke to them, the Pharisees, and the multitude, of humility as the only path to the glory of God. He not only lived before them as the Lamb of God in His divine humility, He also more than once revealed to them the inmost secret of His life that "I am among you as he that serves" (Luke 22:27). He washed their feet, and told them they were to follow His example. Yet this was all of little use. At the Holy Supper, there was still the conflict as to who should be greatest. Clearly, they had often tried to learn His lessons,and firmly resolved not to grieve Him, but all in vain. No outward instruction, not even of Christ Himself; no argument, however convincing; no sense of the beauty of humility, however deep; no personal resolve or effort, however sincere and earnest, can cast out the devil of pride. When satan casts out satan, it is only to enter again, stronger yet more deeply hidden. None of these external efforts produces humility. It is only produced when the new nature in its divine humility takes the place of the old, to become our very nature.

Third, it is only by the indwelling of Christ in His divine humility that we become truly humble. We received our pride from Adam. We must receive our humility from another also. Pride is ours, and rules in us with terrible power, because it is our self, our very nature. Humility must be ours in the same way. It must be our very nature. As natural and easy as it has been to be proud, it must be the same - it will be - to be humble. The promise is: "But where [even in the heart] sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20). All of Christ's teaching of His disciples, and all their futile efforts, were the necessary preparation for His entering into them in divine power, to give and be in them what He taught them to desire. In His death, He destroyed the power of the devil, He put away sin, and He effected an everlasting redemption. In His resurrection, He received from the Father an entirely new life, the life of man in the power of God. This new life was communicated to men, allowing them to receive it and be renewed by filling their lives with His divine power. In His ascension, He received the Spirit of the Father. Through the Spirit He was able to do what He could not do while He was in bodily form: make Himself one with those He loved, actually live their life for them, so that they could live before the Father in a humility like His. It was He who lived and breathed in them, and on Pentecost He came and took possession. The work of preparation and conviction, the awakening of desire and hope, which His teaching had effected, was perfected by the mighty change that Pentecost brought about. The lives and letters of James, Peter, and John bear witness that everything was changed, and that the spirit of the meek-and-suffering Jesus had possession of them.

How should we respond to these things? Among my readers, I am sure there is more than one level of spiritual maturity. There may be some who have never thought specifically of the matter, and cannot quickly realize its immense importance as a life question for the church and its every member. There are others who have felt conviction for their shortcomings and put forth very diligent efforts, only to fail and be discouraged. Others may be able to give joyful testimony of spiritual blessing and power, and yet there has never been the needed conviction of what those around them still see as lacking. Still others may be able to witness that the Lord has given them deliverance and victory when it comes to humility, yet He taught them how much they still need and may expect out of the fullness of Jesus. To whichever group we belong, I urge the recognition of the pressing need there is to seek an even deeper conviction of the unique place that humility holds in the religion of Christ, and the utter impossibility of the church or the believer being what Christ would have them be, as long as His humility is not recognized as His chief importance, His first command, and our richest blessing. Let us consider how great an advantage the disciples had while this grace was still so terribly lacking in their lives, and let us pray to God that other gifts may not satisfy us to the point that we never grasp the fact that the absence of humility is the secret cause of why the power of God cannot do its mighty work. It is only when we, like the Son, truly know and show that we can do nothing of ourselves, that God will do all.

It is when the truth of an indwelling Christ takes the place it claims through the changed lives of believers, that the church will put on her beautiful garments, and humility will be seen in her teachers and members as the beauty of holiness.

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 6 - Humility In Daily Life

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 4

Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 4

Humility In the Teaching of Jesus

"Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart (Matthew 11:29). Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your slave (Matthew 20:27)

We have seen humility in the life of Christ, as He laid open His heart to us. Let us listen to His teaching. There we will hear how He speaks of humility, and how He expects men and His disciples to be humble, as He was. Let us carefully study these passages to receive the full impression of how often and how earnestly He taught about humility. It may help us realize what He asks of us.

Look at the beginning of His ministry. In the Beatitudes, with which the Sermon on the Mount opens, Scripture reads, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:3, 5). The very first words of His proclamation of the kingdom of heaven reveal the open gate through which we enter. The poor, who have nothing in themselves, to them comes the kingdom. The meek, who seek nothing in themselves, will inherit the earth. The blessing of heaven and earth are for the lowly. For the heavenly and the earthly life, humility is the secret of blessing.

"Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and ye shall find rest for your souls (Matthew 11:29). Jesus offers Himself as teacher. He tells us what the Spirit is and what we can learn and receive from Him. We will find these things in Him as teacher. Meekness and lowliness is what He offers us. In this, we fill find perfect rest for our souls. Humility will be our salvation.

The disciples had been disputing who would be the greatest in the kingdom, and had agreed to ask the Master (Luke 9:46; Matthew 18:3). He set a child in their midst, and said, "Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of the heavens." Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? The question is indeed a far-reaching one. What will be the primary differentiating feature in the heavenly kingdom? The answer was one that one but Jesus would have given. The top honor of heaven, the true heavenly mindedness, the most precious of the virtues, is humility."He that is least among you all, the same shall be great."

The sons of Zebedee asked Jesus for the honor to sit on His right hand and His left, the most prestigious places in the kingdom. Jesus said it was not His to give, but the Father's, who would give it to those for whom it was prepared. They must not look or ask for it. Their thought must be of the cup and the baptism of humiliation. And then He added, "and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your slave, even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give a ransom for many (Matthew 20:27-28). Humility will be the one standard of glory in heaven. As Christ demonstrated in His life, so the lowliest is nearer to God. The authority in the church is promised to the humblest.

Speaking to the multitude and the disciples regarding the Pharisees and their love of the highest positions, Christ said once again, "But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant" (Matthew 23:11). Humiliation is the only ladder to honor in God's kingdom.

On another occasion, in the house of a Pharisee, He spoke the parable of the guest who would be invited to move to a higher position at the table (Luke 14:7-11). He added, "For whosoever exalts himself shall be abased, and he that humbles himself shall be exalted (Luke 14:11). The demand is inescapable; there is no other way. Submission alone will be exalted.

After the parable of the Pharisee and the publican, Christ spoke again: "Anyone that exalts himself shall be humbled, and he that humbles himself shall be exalted." (Luke 18:14). In our total relationship to God, everything is worthless that is not affected strongly by deep, true humility towards God and men.

After washing the disciples feet, Jesus said, "If I then, the Lord and the Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet (John 13:14). Every thought, either of obedience or conformity, makes humility the first and most essential element of discipleship.

At the Holy Supper table, the disciples still disputed who should be greatest. Jesus said, "He that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is prince, as he that doth serve" (Luke 22:26). The path Jesus walked and opened up for us, the power in which He brought about salvation and saves us, it is because of his humility in these things that makes me the servant of all.

How little this is preached! How little it is practiced! How little the lack of it is felt or confessed! Sadly, few pursue some recognizable measure of likeness to Jesus in His humility. Few ever think of making it a specific object of continual desire or prayer. How little the world has seen it, even within the inner circle of the church!

"Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your slave" (Matthew 20:27). How exciting it would be if we could truly believe that Jesus means this for us! We all know what the character of a faithful servant or slave implies: devotion to the Master's interests, thoughtful study and care to please him, and delight in his prosperity, honor, and happiness. There are servants on earth in whom these attributes have been seen, and to whom the name of "servant" has never been anything but a glory. To how many of us has it not been a realized joy in our Christian life to know that we have the ability to yield ourselves as servants, as slaves to God? That we can find that His service is our highest liberty, the freedom from sin and self? Now is the time to learn another lesson: that Jesus calls us to be servants of one another. As we accept this lesson heartily, our service will be a true blessing, a new and fuller freedom from sin and self. At first, it may appear difficult. This is only because of the pride that still considers itself  something. If we learn that to be nothing before God is the glory of the creature, we will welcome with our whole heart the discipline we may have in serving even those who annoy or irritate us. When our own heart is intent on this true sanctification, we will study each word of Jesus on humility with a new passion. No place will be too low, no stooping too deep, and no service too miserable or lengthy, if we simply have the opportunity to share and experience the fellowship with Him who spoke, "I am among you as he that serves" (Luke 22:27).

Brethren, here is the path to the higher life. Down, lower down! This was what Jesus repeatedly said to the disciples  who were thinking of being great in the kingdom, and of sitting on His right hand and His left. Do not seek or ask for a position of honor; that is God's work. Your work is to submit and humble yourselves and take no place before God or man, but that of a servant. That is your work. Let that be your one purpose and prayer. God is faithful. Just as water always seeks and fills the lowest place, so the moment God finds the creature humble and empty, His glory and power flow in to raise up and bless. To humble ourselves be our single concern. That we will be exalted is God's concern. By His mighty power and in His great love He will do it.

Men sometimes speak as if humility and meekness would rob us of what is dignified, bold, and manlike. Oh, if only all would believe that it is Godlike to humble oneself to become servant of all! This is the nobility of the kingdom of heaven displayed. This is the path to the gladness and glory of Christ's presence dwelling in us.

Jesus, the meek and lowly One, calls us to learn from Him the path to God. Let us study the words we have been reading, until our hearts are filled with the thought: My one need is humility. Let us believe that what He shows, He gives, and what He is, He communicates. As the meek and lowly One, He will come in and dwell in the longing heart.

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 5 - Humility In The Disciples of Jesus

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 3

Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 3

The Humanity of Jesus

"I am among you as he that serves" (Luke 22:27)

In the gospel of John, we have the inner life of our Lord laid open to us. Jesus speaks frequently of His relationship to the Father, the motives by which He is guided, and His knowledge of the power and spirit in which He acts. Though the word "humble" does not occur, there is no other place in Scripture where we see His humility so clearly. We have already said that this attribute is nothing more than the simple consent of the creature to let God be all, in which the creature surrenders itself to His working alone. In Jesus we will see how both as the Son of God in heaven and as man upon earth, He took the place of total servitude, and gave God the honor and the glory which is due Him. What He taught about humility was made true in Himself: He that humbles himself shall be exalted. As it is written, He humbled Himself, Therefore, God also has highly exalted him.

Listen to the words in which our Lord speaks of His relationship to the Father, and notice how often He uses the words "not" and "nothing", of Himself. The "not I," in which Paul expresses his relationship to Christ, is the very spirit of what Christ says of His relationship to the Father.

"The Son can do nothing of himself" (John 5:19)
"I can of my own self do nothing; as I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just because I seek not my own will (John 5:30)
"I do not receive glory from men" (John 5:41)
"For I came down from the heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me" (John 6:38)
"My doctrine is not mine" (John 7:16)
"I have not come of myself" (John 7:28)
"I do nothing of myself" (John 8:28)
"Neither did I come of myself, but he sent me" (John 8:42).
"I seek not my own glory" (John 8:50)
"The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself" (John 14:10)
"The word which ye have heard is not mine" (John 14:24)

These words open to us the deepest roots of Christ's life and work. They tell us how it was possible for the almighty God to work His mighty redemptive work through Christ. They show what Christ considered the state of His heart in His position as the Son of the Father. They teach us what the essential nature and life is, which Christ accomplished and now communicates through His Word. It is this: He was nothing, that God might be all. He submitted Himself with His will and His powers entirely for the Father to work in Him. Of His own power, His own will, and His own glory, He did not consider Himself, but gave Himself completely to the Father. Of His whole mission with all His words and His teaching, of all this He said, "I am nothing, the Father is all."

This life of entire self-denial, of absolute submission and dependence upon the Father's will, Christ found to be one of perfect peace and joy. He lost nothing by giving all to God. God honored His trust, did all for Him, and then exalted Him to His own right hand in glory. Because Christ humbled Himself in this way before God, and sought God in all things, He found it possible to humble Himself before men too, and to be the servant of all. His humility was simply the surrender of Himself to God, to allow God to do in Him what He pleased. It didn't matter to Him what men might say about Him or do to Him.

It is in this state of mind, in this spirit and disposition, that the redemption of Christ has its value and effectiveness. The very reason we are made partakers of Christ is to bring us to this disposition. This is the true self-denial to which our Saviour calls us, the acknowledgment that self has nothing good in it, except as an empty vessel which God must fill. Its claim to be or do anything may not for a moment be allowed. It is in this, above and before everything, in which the conformity to Jesus exists, the being and doing nothing of ourselves, that God may be all.

Here we have the root and nature of true humility. It is because this is not understood nor pursued, that our humility is so superficial and feeble. We must learn from Jesus, how He is meek and lowly of heart. He teaches us where true humility takes its proper place and find its strength. This happens when we take hold of the knowledge that it is God who works all in all, that our responsibility is to yield to Him in perfect surrender and dependence, in full compliance to be and to do nothing of ourselves. Christ came to reveal and pass on a life to God that came through death to sin and self. If we feel this life is too difficult for us and beyond our reach, it must motivate us even more to seek it in Him. It is the indwelling Christ who will live in us this life, meek and lowly. If we long for this, let us above everything, seek the holy secret of the knowledge of the nature of God. The secret which all of nature, every creature, and every child of God is to be the witness, is the realization that it is nothing but a vessel, a channel, through which the living God can manifest the riches of His wisdom, power, and goodness. The root of all goodness and grace, of all faith and acceptable worship, is that we know we have nothing but what we receive, and how to in deepest humility to wait upon God for it.

This humility was not simply a fleeting thought, wakened up and exercised when He thought of God, but the very expression of His whole life. Jesus was just as humble in His relationship with men as with God. He considered Himself to be the servant of God for the men whom God made and loved. As a natural consequence, He considered Himself to be the servant of men, that through Him God might do His work of love. He never for a moment thought to seek His own honor, or declare His power to defend Himself. His whole attitude was that of a life yielded to God. It is not until Christians study the humility of Jesus as the very essence of His redemption, as the only true relationship to the Father, that the terrible lack of actual, heavenly humility will become a burden and a sorrow. Our ordinary religion must be set aside and we must receive humility from Jesus. This humility is evidence of Christ within us.

Brothers and sisters, are you clothed with humility? Ask your daily life. Ask Jesus. Ask your friends. Ask the world. Begin to praise God that there is opened up to you, in Jesus, a heavenly humility of which you have hardly known, a humility through which blessings you possibly have never yet experienced can come in to you.

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 4 - Humility In The Teaching of Jesus

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 2

Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 2

Humility: The Secret of Redemption

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, made in the likeness of men" (Philippians 2:5-7).

No tree can grow except on the root from which it sprang. Through all its existence it can only live with the life that was in the seed that gave it being. The full understanding of this truth in its application to the first and the second Adam help us greatly to grasp both the need and the nature of the redemption there is in Jesus.

The Need. When the old serpent, he who had been cast out of heaven for his pride, whose whole nature was pride, spoke his words of temptation into the ear of Eve, these words carried with them the very poison of hell. When she listened, and yielded her desire and her will to the prospect of being as God, knowing good and evil, the poison entered into her soul, blood, and life. This destroyed forever that blessed humility and dependence upon God, which would have been our everlasting happiness. Instead of this, her life and the life of the race that sprang from her became corrupted to its very root with the most terrible of all sins and curses - the poison of satan's own pride. All the misery of which this world has been the stage, all its wars and bloodshed among the nations, its selfishness, and suffering, all its ambitions and jealousies, its broken hearts and embittered lives, and all its daily unhappiness, have their origin in what this cursed, hellish pride, either our own or that of others, has brought us. It is pride that made redemption necessary. Most of all, it is from our pride that we need to be redeemed. Our awareness of the need for redemption will largely depend on our knowledge of the terrible nature of the power of pride that has entered our being.

No tree can grow except on the root from which it sprang. The power satan brought from hell, and into man's life, is working daily, hourly,and with mighty power throughout the world. Men suffer from it. They fear, fight, and flee it, yet they don't know where it comes from or where it derives its power. No wonder they do not know where or how it is to be overcome. Pride has its root and strength in a terrible spiritual power, outside of us as well as within us. As necessary as it is that we confess and deplore it as our own, it is essential to know its satanic origin. If this leads us to utter despair of ever conquering or casting it out, it will lead us more quickly to the supernatural power of the redemption of the Lamb of God, in which alone our deliverance is to be found. The hopeless struggle against the demonstration of self and pride within us may become still more hopeless as we think of the power of darkness behind it all. Utter despair will prepare us realize and accept a power and a life outside of ourselves, the humility of heaven as brought near by the Lamb of God, to cast out satan and his pride.

No tree can grow except on the root from which it sprang. Even as we need to look to the first Adam and his fall to know the power of the sin of pride within us, we need to experience the second Adam and His power to form within us a life of humility as real, abiding, and conquering as that of pride. We have our life from and in Christ, more truly than from and in Adam. We are to walk, "holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, fed and united by its joints and bonds, grows in the increase of God" (Colossians 2:19). The life of God, which in Jesus Christ entered human nature, is the root in which we are to stand and grow. It is the same almighty power that worked when Jesus Christ entered human nature, and then onward to the resurrection, which works daily in us. Our one need is to study, know, and trust the life that has been revealed in Christ as the life that is now ours, and waits for our willingness to submit in order to gain possession and mastery of our whole being.

In this view, it is of incredible importance that we should have correct and accurate thoughts of who Christ is, what really makes Him the Christ, and especially what may be considered His chief characteristic, the root and essence of all His character as our Redeemer. There can only be one answer: it is His humility. What is the incarnation but His heavenly humility, His emptying Himself and becoming man. What is His life on earth but humility. His taking the form of a servant. What is His atonement but humility. He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death. What is His ascension and His glory, but humility exalted to the throne and crowned with glory. "He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death. Therefore, God also has highly exalted him" (Philippians 2:8-9). In heaven, where He was with the Father, in His birth, His life, His death, and in His sitting on the throne, it is all nothing but humility. Christ is the humility of God embodied in human nature. He is eternal love humbling itself, clothing itself in the garb of meekness and gentleness, to win, serve, and save us. As the love and superiority of God makes Him the protector, helper, and servant of all, it was necessary for Jesus to become incarnate humility. He is still in the midst of the throne, the meek and lowly Lamb of God.

If humility is the root of the tree, its nature must be seen in every branch, leaf, and fruit. If it is the first, the all-including grace of the life of Jesus, if it is the secret of His atonement, then the health and strength of our spiritual life will entirely depend on our putting this grace first too. We must make humility the chief thing we admire in Him, the chief thing we ask of Him, and the one thing for which we sacrifice all else.

Is it any wonder that the Christian life is so often feeble and fruitless, when the very root of our life in Christ is neglected and unknown? Is it any wonder that the joy of salvation is felt so little, when the humility in which Christ found joy and brings it to us, is so rarely desired? Until a humility which will rest in nothing less than the end and death of self; which gives up all the honor of men as Jesus did, to seek the honor that comes from God alone; which absolutely makes and counts itself nothing, that God may be all, that the Lord alone may be exalted, until such a humility is what we seek in Christ above our most important joy, and welcome at any price, there is very little hope of a religion that will conquer the world.

I cannot plead strongly enough with my reader, if his attention has never been specifically directed to the need for humility within him or around him, to pause and ask whether he sees very much of the spirit of the meek and lowly Lamb of God in those who are called by His name. Let him consider how all lack of love; all disregard for the needs, feelings, and weakness of others; all sharp and hasty judgments and words, so often excused under the plea of being outright and honest; all manifestations of temper, touchiness, and irritation; all feelings of bitterness estrangement, have their root in nothing but pride, that only seeks itself. Will he open his eyes to see how a dark and devilish pride creeps in almost everywhere? Even the church assemblies of the saints are not exempt. Let him begin to ask what would happen, if in himself, around him, towards fellow saints, and the world, believers were really permanently guided by the humility of Jesus. Let him acknowledge that the cry of our whole heart, night and day, should be for the humility of Jesus in ourselves and all around us! Let him honestly fix his heart on his own lack of the humility which has been revealed in the likeness of Christ's life and in the whole character of His redemption,and he will begin to feel as if he had not yet fully known Christ and His salvation.

Believer, study the humility of Jesus! This is the secret, the hidden root of your deliverance. Sink down into it deeper day by day. Believe with your whole heart that this Christ, whom God has given you, will enter in to live and work within you too, in order to make you into what the Father would have you to be.

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 3 - The Humanity of Jesus

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 1

Humility: The Beauty of Holiness # 1

Preface

There are three great motives that urge us to humility. Humility becomes me as a creature, as a sinner, and as a saint. The creature we can see in the heavenly hosts, in unfallen man, and in Jesus, the Son of Man. The sinner appeals to us in our fallen state, and points out the only way through which we can return to our right position as creatures. As saints, we have the mystery of grace, which teaches us that, as we lose ourselves in the overwhelming greatness of redeeming love, humility becomes to us the fulfillment of everlasting blessedness and adoration.

In our ordinary religious teaching, the aspect of the sinner has been emphasized too strongly, to the point that some have even gone to the extreme of thinking that we must keep sinning if we are to stay humble. Others seem to think that the strength of self-condemnation is the secret of humility. Because of this, the Christian life has suffered loss, where believers have not been distinctly guided to see that even in our relationship as creatures, nothing is more natural and beautiful and blessed than to be nothing, that God may be all. It is necessary to understand that it is not sin that humbles most, but grace. It is the soul, led through its sinfulness to be occupied with God in His wonderful glory as God, as Creator and Redeemer, that will truly take a position of submission before Him.

In these meditations I have, for more than one reason, almost exclusively directed attention to the humility that enhances us as creatures. It is not only that the connection between humility and sin is so prominent in all our religious teaching, but also because I believe that for the fullness of the Christian life, it is indispensable that emphasis be given to humility as it relates to us as creatures. If Jesus is indeed to be our example in His lowliness, we need to understand the principles in which humility was rooted. We must find the common ground on which we stand with Him, and in which our likeness to Him is attained. If we are indeed to be humble, not only before God but also towards men, if humility is to be our joy, we must see that it is not only the mark of shame because of sin, but it is also apart from all sin in being clothed with the very beauty and blessedness of heaven and of Jesus. We will see that Jesus found His glory in taking the form of a servant. So when He said to us, and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your slave (Matt. 20:27), He simply taught us the blessed truth that there is nothing so heavenly as being the servant and helper of all. The faithful servant, who recognizes his position, finds a real pleasure in supplying the wants of the master or his guests. When we see that humility is something infinitely deeper than regret, and accepts it as our participation in the life of Jesus, we will begin to learn that it is our true goodness. We will understand that to prove it by being servants of all is the highest fulfillment of our destiny as men created in the image of God. 

When I look back on my own religious experience, or on the church of Christ in the world, I stand amazed at how little humility is desired as the distinguishing feature of the discipleship of Jesus. In preaching and living, in the daily communication of the home and social life, in the special fellowship with Christians, in the direction and performance if work for Christ, there is an overwhelming proof that humility is not considered the overriding virtue, the only root from which the graces can grow, the one indispensable condition of true fellowship with Jesus. It should be impossible for men to say they seek higher holiness unless their claim is accompanied by increasing humility. This is a loud call to all committed Christians to prove that meekness and lowliness of heart are the evidence by which they who follow the meek and lowly Lamb of God are to be known.

Humility: The Glory of the Creature

"Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and virtue; for thou hast created all things, and by thy will they have their being and were created" (Revelation 4:11).

When God created the universe, it was for the single purpose of making the creature a partaker of His perfection and blessedness, and through that, showing the glory of His love, wisdom, and power. God wished to reveal Himself in and through created beings by communicating to them as much of His own goodness and glory as they were capable of receiving. But this communication didn't give the creature something which it could possess in itself - a certain life or goodness,which it had under its own control. By no means. However, as God is the ever-living, ever-present, ever-acting One who upholds all things by the word of His power, and in whom all things exist, the relationship of the creature to God could only be one of unceasing, absolute, and universal dependence. As God by His power once created, so by that same power God maintains every moment. The creature looks back to the origin and first beginning of existence, and acknowledges that it owes everything to God. In addition to this, the creature must accept that its main concern, its best asset, its only happiness, now and through all eternity, is to present itself an empty vessel in which God can dwell and demonstrate His power and goodness.

The life God gives is not all at once, but moment by moment, through the unceasing operation of His mighty power. Humility, the place of entire dependence on God, is the first duty of the creature, and the root of every good quality.

Likewise, pride or the loss of this humility, is the root of every sin and evil. It was when the serpent breathed the poison of his pride - the desire to be as God - into the hearts of Adam and Eve, that they fell from their high position into all the wretchedness in which mankind is now sunk. In heaven and earth, pride is the gate, the birth, and the curse of hell.

Therefore, it is reasonable to say that nothing can be our redemption except the restoration of the lost humility, the original and only true relationship of the creature to its God. So Jesus came to bring humility back to earth, to make us sharers in it, and by it, to save us. In heaven, He humbled Himself to become man. The humility we see in Him possessed Him in heaven; it brought Him, and He brought it, from there. Here on earth, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death (Philippians 2:8). His humility gave His death its value, and became our redemption. Now, the salvation He makes known is nothing less and nothing else than a communication of His own life and death, His own nature and attitude. His own humility, as the ground and root of His relationship to God and His redeeming work. Jesus Christ took the place and fulfilled the destiny of man, as a creature, by His life of perfect humility. His humility is our salvation. His salvation is our humility.

Because of this, the life of the saved ones, of the saints, must bear this stamp of deliverance from sin and full restoration to their original state. Their whole relationship to God and man is made visible by a penetrating humility. Without humility, there can be no true dwelling in God's presence or enjoying His favor and the power of His Spirit. Without humility, there is no faith, love, joy, or strength demonstrated in our lives. Humility is the only soil in which the graces take root; the lack of humility is the reasonable explanation for every defect and failure in the Christian life. Humility is not so much a blessing or attribute along with others; it is the root of all. It alone takes the right attitude before God, and allows Him to sanctify.

God has created us as reasonable beings, so that when we are convicted by the truth we will be ready to obey. The call to humility has been largely ignored in the church, because its true nature and importance has not been understood. It is not a thing which we bring to God, or He gives. Humility is simply the sense of entire nothingness, which comes when we see how truly God is all, and in which we make way for God to be all. When the creature realizes that this is true goodness,and consents to be the vessel in which the life and glory of God are to work and exhibit themselves, he sees that humility is simply acknowledging the truth of his position as the creature, and yielding to God His rightful place. [bringing us back to the original place of humans before Adam and Eve sinned.]

In the life of committed Christians, of those who pursue and profess holiness, humility ought to be the evidence of their righteousness. It is often said that this is not so. Couldn't one reason be that in the teaching and example of the church, it has never been placed in its position of supreme importance? This is due to the neglect of this truth, that as strong as sin is as a motive to humility, there is a motive of broader and mightier influence. That which makes the angels, Jesus, and the holiest of saints in heaven so humble, is the first and most important element of the relationship of the creature. It is the humility and nothingness which leaves God free to be all.

I am sure there are many Christians who will confess that their experience has been very much like my own in this, that we had long known the Lord, without realizing that meekness and lowliness of heart are supposed to be the distinguishing features of the disciple as they were of the Master. This humility is not a thing that will come of itself, but it must be made the object of special desire, prayer, faith, and practise. As we study the Word, we will see what very distinct and often repeated instructions Jesus gave His disciples on this point, and how slow they were in understanding Him. Let us, at the very beginning of our meditations, admit that there is nothing so natural to man, nothing so subtle and hidden from our sight, nothing so difficult and dangerous, as pride. Let us feel that nothing but a very determined and persevering waiting on God and Christ will discover how lacking we are in the grace of humility, and how inadequate we are to obtain what we seek. Let us study the character of Christ until our souls are filled with the love and admiration of His lowliness. And let us believe that, when we are broken down under a sense of our pride and our inability to cast it out, Jesus Christ Himself will come in to impart this grace too, as a part of His wondrous life within us.

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 2 - "Humility: The Secret of Redemption"

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Persevering Prayer (and other devotionals)

Persevering Prayer

"Men ought always to pray, and not to faint" (Luke 18:1).

"Continue in prayer" (Romans 12:12)

"Pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17)

One of the greatest drawbacks to the life of prayer is the fact that the answer does not come as speedily as we expect. We are discouraged by the thought: "Perhaps I do not pray aright," and so we do not persevere in prayer. This was a lesson that our Lord taught often and urgently. If we consider the matter we can see that there may be a reason for the delay, and the waiting may bring a blessing to our souls. Our desire must grow deeper and stronger, and we must ask with our whole heart. God puts us into the practicing school of persevering prayer that our weak faith may be strengthened. Do believe that there is a great blessing in the delayed answer to prayer.

Above all, God would draw us into closer fellowship with Himself. When our prayers are not answered, we learn to realize that the fellowship and nearness and love of God are more to us than the answers of our petitions, and we continue in prayer. What a blessing Jacob received through the delay in the answer to his prayer! He saw God face to face, and as a prince he had power with God and prevailed.

Christians, listen to this warning. Be not impatient or discouraged if the answer does not come. "Continue in prayer." "Pray without ceasing." You will find it an unspeakable blessing to do so. You will ask whether your prayer is really in accordance  with the will of God and the Word of God. You will inquire if it is in the right spirit and in the Name of Christ. Keep on praying - you will learn that the delay in the answer to prayer is one of the most precious means of grace that God can bestow on you.

Our Father, help me to learn that those who have persevered often and long before Thee, in pleading Thy promises, are those who have had the greater power in prayer. Amen

~Andrew Murray~
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The Prayer Meeting

"These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication." "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 1:14; 2:4). (See also Matthew 18:19-20).

Great is the value of a genuine prayer meeting. There God's children meet together, not as in church to listen to one speaker, but to lift up their hearts unitedly to God. By this means Christians are drawn closer to each other. Those who are weak are strengthened and encouraged by the testimony of the older and more experienced members, and even young Christians have the opportunity of telling of the joy of the Lord.

The prayer meeting may become a great power for good in a congregation and a spiritual help to both minister and members. By means of intercession, God's blessing is poured out at home and abroad.

But there are also dangers to be considered. Many attend and are edified but never learn to pray themselves. Others go for the sake of social and religious fervor and have a form of godliness but do not know the hidden life of prayer. Unless there is much and earnest prayer in the inner chamber, attendance at a prayer meeting may be a mere form. There should be heart love and fellowship between the members. It is well to ask: What constitutes a living prayer meeting?

The leaders should realize how great the influence of such a meeting may be, with its roots nourished by the life of prayer in the inner chamber. Prayer should include God's people and His church all over the world. And above all, as on the Day of Pentecost, there must be waiting on God for the filling with the Holy Spirit.

Dear reader, this book aims at helping you in your spiritual life. But remember, you do not live for yourself alone but are part of the Body of Christ. Your prayer must include in its intercession all Christians. As the roots of the tree hidden deep in the earth and the branches spread out to heaven are one, so the hidden prayer life is inseparably bound up with united prayer.

Dear Father, help me always to pray for all Christians. Amen

~Andrew Murray~

Monday, October 3, 2016

Love to Souls (and other devotions)

Love to Souls

"Know that he which converteth a sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death" (James 5:20).

What a wonderful thought - that I may save a soul from everlasting death. How can this be? If I convert him from the error of his ways. This is the calling not only of the minister, but of every Christian - to work for the salvation of sinners.

When Christ and His love took possession of our hearts, He gave us this love that we might bring others to Him. In this way Christ's Kingdom was extended. Everyone who had the love of Christ in his heart was constrained to tell others. This was the case in the early Christian church. After the Day of Pentecost, people went out and told of the love of Christ, which they had themselves experienced. Heathen writers have told us that the rapid spread of Christianity in the first century was due to the fact that each convert, being filled with the love of Christ, tried to bring the good news to others.

What a change has come over the Church! Many Christians never try to win others to Christ. Their love is so weak and faint that they have no desire to help others. May the time soon come when Christians will feel constrained to tell of the love of Christ. In a revival in Korea a few years ago, the converts were filled with such a burning love to Christ that they felt bound to tell others of His love. It was even taken as a test of membership that each one should have brought another to the Lord before being admitted to the church.

Let the reader examine himself and pray that in fellowship with Christ, he may think not only of his own soul but, having received the gift of God's love, he may pass it on to others. He will then know true happiness, the joy of bringing souls to Christ.

Dear Father, we pray earnestly to be so filled with Thy love that we may wholeheartedly surrender ourselves to win others for Thee. Amen

~Andrew Murray~
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The Spirit of Love

"The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Spirit, which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5)

"The fruit of the Spirit is love" (Galatians 5:22)

The thought sometimes arises as we consider Christ's love to us, our love to Christ, our love to one another or to souls around us: the demand is too great, it is unattainable, it is impossible for a Christian to live this life of love and to show it to one another and to needy souls. And because we deem it impossible and because of our unbelief and lack of faith in God's promises, we make little progress in the spirit of love.

We need continually to remind ourselves that it is not in our own strength or even by serious thought that we can attain to the love of Christ. We must realize the truth that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts and will daily afresh be poured out by the Spirit of God. It is only as we are wholly surrendered to the leading of the Spirit that we will be able to live according to God's will. When the inner life of love is renewed from day to day, we shall feel compelled to work for souls.

Here is a prayer that you can offer: "I bow my knees unto the Father, that He would grant you, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge." You may be rooted and grounded in this love and know the love that passeth knowledge - but on one condition - you must be strengthened by the Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your heart. Then you will indeed be rooted and grounded in love.

Christian, take this message from God's Word and let it influence your life. Unless you wait upon God daily on your knees for His Spirit to be revealed in your heart, you cannot live in this love. A life of prayer will make a life in the love of Christ, in the love of one another, and in love to souls, a blessed reality in your experience.

Blessed Father, we put our confidence each day in secret in the Holy Spirit - the Spirit of love which God gives to those who ask in faith. Amen

~Andrew Murray~