THE DIVINE TINCTURE – Jessie Penn-Lewis
Let us think a moment about that picture of the grain, as applied to the believer. The grain may have a beautiful coat, but it is hard. The germ of life is locked up in it. It cannot get out. Locked up in the grain, it produces nothing. The only way to make it fruitful in the production of other grains is to drop it into the dark earth, where it loses its outer shell, its beauty, and even the sunshine, and all that made ‘life’ beautiful, as it nestled in its place with its companions in the ear of wheat. It loses all as it becomes detached, and drops down into the earth. After a time if you take it up, you will find nothing of its polished shell, but there will be a tiny bit of life breaking out. If it is left in the ground to give its life entirely, a new life will later on press through the dark earth back into the sunlight, and become an ear of wheat that will ultimately produce fruit, thirty or sixty-fold.
The children of God so often shrink from this truth of the Gospel. They want to be ‘fruitful’, but they are not willing for the way to be made fruitful. They are unwilling to part with this conscious, or soul-life, in spiritual experience. Let me say, however, that there is a consciousness in the spirit which is permanent. The life of God in the spirit has no variations, but spiritual experiences in the ‘soul’ or ‘natural’ man, are affected by circumstances, and by all kinds of external things. But as the ‘grain of wheat’ falls into the ground to die to all external things, it not only becomes fruitful, but, in the believer the spirit rises into fuller union with God. Then when the inner spirit-life has become steadfast in God, it moves in the orbit of its path with God, like the planets moving in their orbit in the heavens. This changeless life in God (Colossians 3: 3) is never fully known until the believer parts with the activities of the soulish life of nature.
Again, notice in the grain of wheat path the law of increase in fruitfulness. In the soul-realm the believer wins others one by one-a service for God not to be despised or discounted but where it is the life of God in us able to reproduce itself, because of the pouring out into death of the soul-life, the law of increase is one grain into thirty, and each of the thirty again into thirty more. The increase is by multiplication apart from the activities of the believer. The life of God in us, set free to act through us as the life of nature is buried in death, quickens everything it touches. One of the old writers describes this life as a ‘tincture’. Take for instance one drop of ink, or a drop of milk, and it will ‘tincture’ a glass of water; e.g., when the divine life is in the spirit, whilst the soul-life is being poured out in death, there is a divine ‘tincture’ through the words you speak. Then you may say but a few simple words, but they bear fruit. You may do a most ordinary thing, but your simple act leaves an eternal stamp upon the one to whom you did it. Oh, thus to live that everything we say or do has the ‘tincture’ of the life of God in it. That is infinitely more valuable to God and man, and more fruitful for the believer, than the most wonderful ‘sense’ experience, which ends in nothing but the believer’s own joy. It makes the ‘ordinary’ everyday life full of God. It is so simple that the one who knows it is so occupied with being “faithful in that which is least”, that he does not think whether he is ‘used’ or not. Such a one does not clamour for ‘power’ or for ‘more power’, for he has only to see to the ‘dying’, i.e., the abiding in the death of Christ, whilst unknown to him the life of God in him is ‘tincturing’ all the ‘doing’, and bringing forth fruit eternal.
A SOBER VIEW OF MINISTRY – Ray Stedman
But, Let him who boasts boast in the Lord. For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved but the one whom the Lord commends. 2 Corinthians 10:17-18
Whenever anybody boasts, Paul says, it is to be in what the Lord has done. How that wipes out with one stroke all the proud evaluations you see people making of their own ministries! You never hear that from Paul. In the very next section he will tell us some of the things that happened in his ministry, but he does it with the most abject apologies. He is distressed that he has to talk about what he has done. He only defends his ministry because that is the kind of argument the Corinthians have been listening to from false teachers, and they seem to think it is important. A brief example of Paul’s approach occurs in 1 Corinthians 15:10, where he says this about himself: But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Some may think this sounds like boasting. But notice what Paul says: Yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me (1 Corinthians 15:10).
Paul always recognizes that the only thing that counts is what Christ does in him, not what he does for Christ. I have sometimes seen on the wall of Christian homes a little plaque that says,
Only one life, ’twill soon be past.
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
That sounds very pious, and it certainly has a germ of truth about it, but it always bothers me because I do not think it is very accurately expressed. What I would like to see is,
Only one life, ’twill soon be past.
Only what Christ does through me will last.
But that doesn’t have the right meter, you say. It doesn’t, but it has the right theology, and that is what I am interested in. It is not what I do for Him that makes any difference at all. It is what He does through me.
UP IS DOWN AND DOWN IS UP – K.P. Yohannan
Sometimes we may not even see how much we need to be broken. Depending on the culture we grew up in, some can—without realizing it—have an unbroken, prideful attitude ingrained in them. We may have been taught from birth to let no one intrude in our lives. We raise our children, and from the day they are born they have their own rooms, their own toys, their own everything. And using each other’s things without first asking permission is not allowed. How careful we are to protect our personal lives. We are brothers and sisters in Christ until you cross that fine line and enter my private life. And if you are brave enough to do that, the quick reply you’ll hear is, “Hey, listen. I love you and respect you, but this is none of your business.” Whether we see it or not, this is unbrokenness. This is not how it should be. In the family of God there is no veil. There are no barriers, no shields, nothing. We have been crucified with Christ, and things like age and looks and material possessions no longer matter. In the kingdom there is no pushing to get first place; there is no standing up for our rights. In the kingdom, up is down and down is up, and the servant is greatest of all. As a leader, I am in a most dangerous place of not recognizing unbroken areas of my life. The Lord reminds me often to be extra sensitive to this, because, especially in the Asian culture, very few people will go to a leader, look them in the eye and say, “You are wrong. You messed up.” Because of this, I have tried to order my life so that I am surrounded by people who watch what I do and say. I have sat down with a few people and said, “If you care about me and love me, please, tell me anytime you see something wrong in my life.” I am not infallible. I am capable of doing any wickedness you could possibly imagine. I am a man living in mortal flesh with every vice and temptation anyone else faces. In fact, there have been times when I’ve had to stand up before the people I work with and repent and ask forgiveness because I publicly hurt one of them. I can easily slip. I can easily get the attitude, “I know who I am. I know how much I studied. I know my leadership. I know what I am doing.”
THE TRUTH PROMISED TO SET US FREE – Bob George
“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)
As we have seen, the Holy Spirit is promised as our guide into all the truths of God’s word. “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13). A related promise assures us that this truth will have a liberating impact upon our lives. “The truth shall make you free.” This promise of spiritual liberation through the truths of God’s word is such a vital one for man, because various forms of spiritual bondage threaten us all.
Everyone needs liberation from bondage to sin. Those who first heard this promise of Jesus needed instruction on this. “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will be made free’? Jesus answered them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin'” (John 8:33-34). This “whoever” includes us all, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). However, we can all praise God that His liberating truth can set us free from the bondage to sin. All who trust in the Lord Jesus are justified from their sins (declared righteous in God’s sight) through the redemption price of the blood of Christ: “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth to be a propitiation [satisfactory payment for sin] by His blood, through faith” (Romans 3:24-25).
The fear of death is another bondage from which people need liberation. Hebrews speaks of those “who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:15). What a tormenting bondage is the fear of death! Yet, Jesus’ liberating truth can deal with this bondage as well. “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26). All who believe in the one who is resurrection life will live forever. Even if they should experience physical death, the grave has no grip on them. In fact, though their bodies may go into a tomb, they would go immediately into the presence of the Lord. “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).
Dear God of truth, I rejoice in the freedom that comes through Your truth! Thank You for setting me free from the bondage of condemnation and judgment that I deserved because of my sin. I praise You for liberation from the fear of death. May I live victoriously by these truths and pass them on to others who need to be set free, in Your holy name, Amen.
SEEING THROUGH THE CROSS – Austin Sparks
It requires the Cross to really see Who Jesus is; and in the seeing of Him truly by the Cross we see how great, wonderful, sacred, and awful is that Cross.
No wonder that Satan has ever sought to take from His essential Person and make Him something less! No wonder that he has so persistently sought to strip the Cross of its truest meaning! Let all who do either of these things recognize from whence their inspiration, or blindness, comes, and with whom it is that they – though unintentionally – are in league.
Let Christians also realize that all enmity; lack of love, divisions, and strife; all prejudice, suspicion, and spiritual blindness; with all spiritual death, is because the Cross has not been apprehended aright. Somewhere uncrucified flesh is holding the ground. It is impossible to be a truly crucified man or woman and at the same time either have personal interests or be at variance with other children of God, i.e. without love for them. The essential basis of life, light, and love – which is Christ in full manifestation – is the Cross as a working reality in the realm of the old creation, and the Risen Power of Christ in the new.
All this is but saying in other words that the Cross of Christ brings us into living union and oneness with God, and if we will but live in the full meaning and value of that union we shall be living epistles of Christ in terms of life, light, and love. Failure in these means failure somewhere, and for some reason, in our fellowship with God in Christ. The measure of our walk with Him will be the measure of these three features of Christ.
COMING TO THE END OF YOURSELF – Greg Gordon
O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. Psalm 131v1-2
Do you see yourself as a weaned child in the arms of our Lord? Is your trust in His provision and strength or in your own abilities and cleverness. God never uses clever people. Those who are clever in their own ways, God in His love has to bring them to an end of themselves so they will trust in the ways of the Lord and not the arm of the flesh.
Jacob is a wonderful example of this truth.
His name means supplanter, one who wants to replace or more simply put deceiver! How would you like your name to be deceiver, or supplanter! Jacob had in him that old nature which wants to have it his own way, with his own cleverness, tricking and always ending out on top. God wanted to use this supplanter, so he orchestrated a series of events till God could rename him Israel which means struggle with God or in a simple word: governed by God. Imagine that! Going from being a clever supplanter to one that is being governed and controlled by God. This is where the Lord wants all of His children to be, in a place of submission and dependence on Him.
There is a clear warning in this passage that those who occupy themselves with great matters will end up walking in the flesh and the ways of self energy and striving. To accomplish the will of the Lord we need the mind of the Lord.
This only happens as we “quiet ourselves” in His presence and learn of Him.
The prophet Jeremiah declares: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength” (Jeremiah 17:5).
If you find yourself in the place of trusting in your own abilities and trying to make the work of the Lord happen you will find your heart turning away from the Lord. You will still be busy with many things and to many people seem to be fruitful but your heart walk with Jesus Christ will not be there and the fleshly show will not be of any eternal significance.
Only the work of the Lord done His way will build His kingdom. Many ministries, sermons, churches and works done in the Name of God will in the end just be a pinch of dust at the judgement seat. Flesh or anything of self must not be our support or means.
I have found myself many times going on in a work for the Lord and at some-point realizing that the Lord let me go on ahead without Him. We have all experienced this in some ways, it is like talking to an individual on the phone but the line was disconnected yet you continue to ramble on. This is just how it is in doing a work for the Lord without being in vital and intimate communion with Jesus.
THE ALABASTER BOX MUST BE BROKEN – Watchman Nee
The Bible tells of the pure spikenard. God purposely used this term “pure” in His word to show that it is truly spiritual. But if the alabaster box is not broken, the pure spikenard will not flow forth. Strange to say, many are still treasuring the alabaster box, thinking that its value exceeds that of the ointment. Many think that their outward man [the soul] is more precious than their inward man [the spirit]. This becomes the problem in the church. One will treasure his cleverness, thinking he is quite important; another will treasure his own emotions, esteeming himself as an important person; others highly regard themselves, feeling they are better than others, their eloquence surpasses that of others, their quickness of action and exactness of judgment are superior, and so forth. However, we are not antique collectors; we are not vase admirers; we are those who desire to smell only the fragrance of the ointment. Without the breaking of the outward, the inward will not come forth. Thus individually we have no flowing out, but also the church does not have a living way. Why then should we hold ourselves as so precious, if our outward contains instead of releases the fragrance? The Holy Spirit has not ceased working. One event after another, one thing after another, comes to us. Each disciplinary working of the Holy Spirit has but one purpose: to break our outward man so that our inward man may come through. Yet here is our difficulty: we fret over trifles, we murmur at small losses. The Lord is preparing a way to use us, yet scarcely has His hand touched us when we feel unhappy, even to the extent of quarreling with God and becoming negative in our attitude. Since being saved, we have been touched many times in various ways by the Lord, all with the purpose of breaking our outward man. Whether we are conscious of it or not, the aim of the Lord is to break this outward man. So the Treasure is in the earthen vessel, but if the earthen vessel is not broken, who can see the Treasure within? What is the final objective of the Lord’s working in our lives? It is to break this earthen vessel, to break our alabaster box, to crack open our shell. The Lord longs to find a way to bless the world through those who belong to Him. Brokenness is the way of blessing, the way of fragrance, the way of fruitfulness…
KAN ‘N MENS VERANDER? – Albert Theron
2 Kor. 5:17 Daarom, as iemand in Christus is, is hy ‘n nuwe skepsel; die ou dinge het verbygegaan, kyk, dit het alles nuut geword.
Kan ‘n mens werklik verander? Nuwejaarsvoornemens is daar baie, maar hulle hou gewoonlik nie veel langer as einde Februarie nie, reg? Ons glo seker almal dat ‘n mens hier en daar ‘n gewoontetjie of twee kan verander vir ‘n rukkie, maar kan ‘n mens in sy wese so verander dat ‘n totaal nuwe rigting ingeslaan word? In ons diepste menswees wil ons graag almal glo dat mense kan verander. Tog is daar ‘n onderliggende skeptisisme vandag oor die hele idee van ‘n radikale verandering. Selfs in die hedendaagse gemeentelewe het baie mense begin vrede maak met ‘n onveranderde lewe en leun hulle eerder swaar op die genade en vergifnis en die hoop op ‘n nuwe hemel en aarde wat kom. Ons moet swaar leun op genade en vergifnis, maar sonder ‘n grondige verandering in ons menswees bou ons op ‘n vals hoop. Ander mense glo weer dat ons nie werklik nodig het om te verander nie, maar dat ons net onsself moet aanvaar en vrede maak met wie ons is en die stel omstandighede waarin ons, ons bevind. Waar sal ons antwoorde kry op hierdie vrae? Die enigste plek waar daar nog ooit objektiewe antwoorde vir die mens was, naamlik die ewige Woord van God, die Bybel. Volgens die Bybel moet ons nie net verander nie, ons kan verander. Tog bied die Bybel geen hoop hoegenaamd vir die soort self-help veranderingsprogramme wat aangebied word deur dosyne motiverings sprekers en kwasie-sielkundiges nie. ‘n Mens kan homself nie verander nie. ‘n Kerk kan ‘n mens nie verander nie, en daar is terloops ook geen kerkgenootskappe of denominasies in die hemel nie. Ander mense kan ons nie verander nie. Nou hoe dan? Volgens die Bybel is ons probleem sonde (Rom. 3:23), nie in die eerste plek ‘n swak selfbeeld of moeilike kinderjare nie. Die wêreldbeskouing van die sekulêre sielkunde het ons gemeentes oorgeneem en ons begin in baie gevalle nie meer waar die Bybel begin wanneer dit die probleem van menswees en verandering aanspreek nie. Die gevallenheid loop baie diep in ons grein en wese as mense en dit is net wanneer ons erken dat ons onsself nie kan red of verander nie en ons vertroue geheel en al op Jesus Christus en Sy kruisiging en opstanding plaas (1 Kor. 15:1-5), dat God ons kan regverdig verklaar (Rom. 3:24) en wederbaar (Jn. 3:3-8). So ‘n mens het in sy of haar diepste menswees verander en die “ou dinge het verbygegaan” (2 Kor. 5:17). Die fokus, rigting en prioriteite van hierdie mens het vir altyd verander. Die Bybel leer dat mense in “die laaste dae’’..’’ liefhebbers van hulleself’’…en ‘’meer liefhebbers van genot as liefhebbers van God’’ sal wees. Ook dat “mense ‘n gedaante van godsaligheid’’ sal hê, ‘’maar die krag daarvan verloën”. Is dit so in gemeentes vandag? Judas vers 4 leer dat daar mense is wat “die genade van ons God misbruik”, en dit as ‘’dekmantel gebruik om losbandig te lewe”. Daar is genade en vergifnis vir sondes, maar sonder ‘n lewe wat verander het, het daar geen wedergeboorte plaasgevind nie. Die wonderlike boek in die Nuwe Testament, 1 Johannes, is geskryf om ons sekerheid van saligheid te gee (1 Jn. 5:13) en ook baie spesifieke toetse om te kan vasstel of ons werklik gered is. Hierdie toetse kan opgesom word onder die volgende hoofde: ‘n lewensveranderende geloof dat Jesus die Seun van God en dus die enigste weg tot saligheid is, gehoorsaamheid aan die gebooie van Jesus, en laastens ‘n Bybels gedefinieërde liefde vir ons broers en susters in die geloof. Kan ‘n mens dus verander? Ja. Is verandering noodsaaklik? Ja. Kan ons onsself verander? Nee, maar God kan. Indien iemand egter die idee gekry het dat hierdie verandering volmaaktheid impliseer, oordink saam met my die woorde van John Newton van ouds, “Ek is nie heeltemal wat ek moet wees nie. Ek is nog nie wat ek wil wees nie. Ek is nie wat ek hoop om te wees nie. Tog kan ek werklik sê dat ek nie meer is wat ek eens was nie. Deur die genade van God, ‘is ek wat ek is’.” “It is not about perfection, but direction”. Beweeg jou lewe in die regte rigting?
THE ENERGY OF THE CREATURE USED IN THE SERVICE OF GOD – Jessie Penn-Lewis
The believer who has been quickened in spirit, is born of the Spirit and the Spirit of God dwells in his spirit. He has had the revelation of the Cross which has shown him the way of victory over the life after the flesh and he now walks in newness of life and victory over sin as manifested in the “works of the flesh”. But at this stage the question must be asked: What about the “soul” the man himself in his personality and intellectual or emotional activities. Which power is animating the actions of the man himself apart from the “works of the flesh”? Is he animated and governed by (I) the spirit life which comes from above-from the Risen Lord as the Last Adam, the Life-giving Spirit, or (2) by the life which comes from the lower realm-the fallen life of the first Adam ?
A man may have naturally a “fiery” soul and by that fiery soul sway and move the soul-emotions of others, but their faith then stands in the influence or wisdom of the man they have listened to and not in the power of God. We can now see what Dr. Andrew Murray means when he says that the greatest danger which the Church or individual has to dread is the “inordinate activity of the soul with its power of mind and will “. The old Quakers used to cal this “creaturely activity”: and it is manifestly the energy of the creature being used in the service of God rather than the creature seeking in spirit to co-operate with the Holy Spirit given to him as the Gift of the Risen Son of God.
We find the intellectual man, with his spirit yet unquickened, dealing with the eternal destinies of immortal souls; and the strong-willed man exercising his will and dominant personality over the consciences and lives of others! Schemes, therefore, to reach men and bring them to God, by smoking concerts, musical attractions, lectures on popular subjects, etc., are but the outcome of various types of “soul” in men who desire to help others. Such men may be regenerated, but “governed by soul” and not knowing the Spirit of God dwelling in the spirit to energise them by His indwelling power and use them as messengers of God in the salvation of men.
RESURRECTION KNOWLEDGE – Austin Sparks
We are learning a new knowledge according to the heavenly wisdom. One need not stay to speak about that at length, but we have got to come to know things all over afresh from a heavenly standpoint, and our natural wisdom as an expression of our natural life and resource, can never get us through on spiritual matters. You come up against some of the simplest spiritual matters, matters of God, and you will find your most highly and fully developed natural wisdom and knowledge cannot stand you in stead. You are beaten, you cannot handle this thing, and it is only a simple spiritual problem. You cannot get through with any resource of natural understanding, and you come to see that there is something behind these familiar admonitions of the Word – “Trust in the Lord with all thy heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.” There is a big truth there, that your understanding can never get you through on spiritual matters, and that though we may have all knowledge according to this world, we simply fall right short of the simplest Divine knowledge, the gift of wisdom and revelation. It is a new knowledge. You can break that up into its many phases.
We know we cannot do things now as we used to do them, we have come to see that our works for the Lord are not necessarily the works of the Lord; that our multitude of activities in the Name of the Lord with the very best of motives and the purest of desires do not accomplish the end of God. We do not get through, we are beaten; we have gone out to do the Lord’s work instead of coming to the place where He can do His own work through us. A big difference, a mighty difference! Beloved, unless the Lord does every bit of the work it will never be done, and the Lord’s end will never be accomplished. And that is why the Lord has to tie us up sooner or later so that our own work – that is – our works for the Lord come to an end, and we recognise that it is death.
CHRIST IS THE HEAD – A.B. Simpson
Often we want people to pray for us and help us, but we always defeat our object when we look too much to them and lean upon them. The true secret of union is for both to look upon God, and in the act of looking past themselves to Him they are unconsciously united. The sailor was right when he saw the little boy fall overboard and waited a minute before he plunged to his rescue. When the distracted mother asked him in agony why he had waited so long, he calmly replied: “I knew that if I went in sooner he would clutch at me and drag me down. I waited until his struggles were over, and then I was able to help him when he did not grasp me too tightly.” When people grasp us too strongly, either with their love or with their dependence, we are intuitively conscious that they are not looking to God, and we become paralyzed in our efforts to help them. United prayer, therefore, requires that the one for whom we pray be looking away from us to the Lord Jesus Christ, and we together look to Him alone.
WHERE IS YOUR TREASURE? – Paul Washer
There are so many things that are done in the name of revival, so many things that are done in the name of church, in the name of Christianity, good motivation behind it. But how much of it is real? I mean honestly, do you really want revival, honestly? How much are you willing to pay for it? A few meetings on a few days of the week? How much do you really want revival? Because I can tell you here and now that revival will cost you your life. And most people I know aren’t willing to pay that. You see, Christianity is sort of like an accessory in the United States of America. You know, when you buy a dress and you decide, well, you need a belt to go with it and shoes to dress it up and maybe, if we were in England, you would need a fine hat to go along with that dress. That is the way most people see Christianity. It is just a part of their life, something they do. But Christianity is not a part of your life. If it is a part of your life it is nothing. Christianity is your life. Jesus said something very offensive one time. He said, “Unless you are willing to eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have nothing to do with me and I have nothing to do with you.” And when he said that almost everybody walked away from him. What was he saying? He said, “I am not to be a part of your life. I won’t let you get away with that. I will be your life or I will be nothing to you.”….‘’For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!’’ [Mt. 6v21] What is he saying? Well, the eye is ambition. It is the direction of your life. Your eye is a perfect revelation of your heart, just like your words are a perfect revelation of your heart, so your eye is a perfect revelation of your heart. Not that someone can look through your eyes into your heart, but wherever your eye is looking tells us what you desire. I will always ask young people, what do you talk about most? There is your god. What do you think about most? There is your god. What do you have your eye set upon? There is your mission and your god and your heart and your treasure. What consumes you? One of the worst things you can do is reduce Christianity down to a moral thing you do because it is what everyone else who is moral does. We are talking about passion. We are talking about treasure. You see, when you look at the radical nature of the call of Christ it is dangerous. See, your greatest problem is your Christ is safe. He is a very safe God. He doesn’t require much from you. He doesn’t ask you to die. He doesn’t ask you to sacrifice. He just asks you to come on Sunday and on special meetings and to give a little bit, but not so much that it would hurt. But the Christ of the Bible is dangerous. As C.S. Lewis said, “He is not a tame lion. He is not safe. He can cost you everything.”
WALKING ON THE HIGHWAY OF HOLINESS – Roy Hession
Our relationship with our fellows and our relationship with God are so linked that we cannot disturb one without disturbing the other. Everything that comes between us and another, such as impatience, resentment or envy, comes between us and God. These barriers are sometimes no more than veils–veils through which we can still, to some extent, see. But if not removed immediately, they thicken into blankets and then into brick walls, and we are shut off from both God and our fellows, shut in to ourselves. It is clear why these two relationships should be so linked. “God is love,” that is love for others, and the moment we fail in love towards another, we put ourselves out of fellowship with God–for God loves him, even if we don’t.
But more than that, the effect of such sins is always to make us “walk in darkness”–that is, to cover it up and hide what we really are or what we are really feeling. That is always the meaning of “darkness” in Scripture, for while the light reveals, the darkness hides. The first effect of sin in us is always to make us hide; with the result that we are pretending, we are wearing a mask, we are not real with either God or man. And, of course, neither God nor man can fellowship with an unreal person.
The way back into fellowship with the Lord Jesus will bring us again into fellowship with our brother, too. All unlove must be recognised as sin and given to the Lord Jesus for His Blood to cover–and then it can be put right with our brother also. As we come back to the Lord Jesus like this, we shall find His love for our brother filling our hearts and wanting to express itself in our actions toward him and we shall walk in fellowship together again.
So this is the Highway [Isa. 35v8] life. It is no new astounding doctrine. It is not something new for us to preach. It is quite unspectacular. It is just a life to live day by day in whatever circumstances the Lord has put us. It does not contradict what we may have read or heard about the Christian life. It just puts into simple pictorial language the great truths of sanctification. To start to live this life now will mean revival in our lives. To continue to live it will be revival continued. Revival is just you and I walking along the Highway in complete oneness with the Lord Jesus and with one another, with cups continually cleansed and overflowing with the life and love of God.
TRUTH EXISTS TO GLORIFY GOD – John Piper
Sometimes the slogan “All truth is God’s truth” is used to justify dealing in any sphere of knowledge as an act of worship or stewardship. The impression is given that just knowing God’s truth and recognizing it as such is a good thing, even a worthy end. But the problem with this is that the devil does it.
“If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.” (1 Corinthians 8:2-3). Which I take to mean that until we know in such a way that we love God more because of it, we do not yet know as we ought to know.
Alongside “All truth is God’s truth,” we need to say, “All truth exists to display more of God and awaken more love for God.” This means that knowing truth and knowing it as God’s truth is not a virtue until it awakens desire and delight in us for the God of truth. And that desire and delight are not complete until they give rise to words or actions that display the worth of God. That is, we exist to glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31), and merely knowing a truth to be God’s truth does not glorify him any more than the devil does.
All truth exists to make God known and loved and shown. If it does not have those three effects it is not known rightly and should not be celebrated as a virtue.
A RADICAL RESTRUCTURING OF OUR LIVES – Paul Washer
Someone said, “What is it going to take to revive America, brother Paul?” Soldiers and bulldozers. Bulldozers bulldozing down our buildings and soldiers with guns telling us to deny Christ. That may be what it takes to bring revival. If we will not cleanse ourselves from all of the things that are obstacles to our Christianity, then God will see fit to come in and cleanse us. On mission for God; it is the greatest privilege, but you have got to realize that we are often so tied down, so in debt, such a lifestyle that is beyond our means that we are constantly running, constantly working, constantly anxious, constantly doing everything. If we were to get sick for two months we would lose our homes. We are so extended we can’t think about being on mission for God. Cars and boats and golf clubs and guns and fishing poles and this and that and every other thing makes it almost impossible to think about serving him. And then what’s worse is we take our children and we baptize them into the very thing that has so enslaved our lives, materialism and debt and this and that and Christmas and birthday and soccer and football and basketball and running here and there and everywhere until we can’t even be together as a family, but we are going to go on mission for God. You see, when you talk about revival you can’t talk about just getting zapped by God. You have got to talk about an entirely radical restructuring of your life because for the most part Christian life in America is anti-biblical. Everything. * You see, every thing in this book deals with every thing in your life down to even how you are to buy a pair of shoes. Everything is here. And to bring revival is when God sweeps through a place and doesn’t just quicken them in their sin, but purges them from their sin, separates them from the things that are obstacles in their life and then fills them with the Holy Spirit. Revival, if it were to come, would cast most of us on the floor weeping out and crying for mercy. Do we want revival? No. We don’t. Let’s just put it that way, because that is the truth. But we can want it. What can make a person so entrenched in this world begin to hate this world and desire something different? A view of God, a view of the kingdom, a view of the fact that everything in this world is passing away. It is rotting as we wear it. It is corrupting while it shines. So when we talk about mission we have to first come to this idea. He says in verse 19 [Mt. 6], “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” He says, “Before you can even think about going on mission you have got to discern, according to the will of God, what is valuable and what is not, what is proper and what is rot.” Is what you are living for worth dying for? Is what you are living for, is its standard the judgment throne of Christ?
* The Bible speaks very clearly on stewardship of finances. Thus it teaches that we should consider God’s will, even in the way we shop and spend money. We need to be led at all times by biblical principles and the guidance of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. A.T.
THE DANGEROUS ILLUSION OF SOUL IMITATION – Albert Theron
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:3
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. Col. 2:6-7
So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Eph. 3:17-19
If we have an unhealthy focus on the outward without making sure that believers are properly rooted in Christ (1 Cor. 1v30) and the cross (1 Cor. 2:2) we run the terrible danger of seeing believers seriously falter when storms come, because there is so much above the ground and so little below that the weak roots cannot keep the tree stable. It takes time for a tree to develop a proper root system, but eventually the roots will bear fruit. It is the root of the righteous, the life in union with Christ, which bears fruit (Prov. 12:12b).
Our generation tends to seek results without taking time to carefully cultivate the kind of faith that brings genuine results. We seek the fullness of the Spirit, but we often do not have the spiritual fortitude to keep our hearts with faith and patience under the precious influence of grace (Heb. 6:12). We are the microwave generation. We seek holiness with the push of a button. At times we may even revert to the outward imitation of spirituality in our words, worship, and works in order to create the impression that we are spiritual people. Or we may even have convinced ourselves that we are actually spiritual because we have become so accustomed to the soul imitation of spiritual realities. The soul of man has a frightening ability to imitate spiritual things. The life of Christ dwells in our regenerated spirit and it is the cultivation of that inner man that brings us to a place of blessed fruitfulness. In such a condition the soul merely gives expression to the life of Christ deep within our being, it does not produce the fruit.
The soul of man can imitate spiritual things in the realms of the mind, the emotions, and the will. People who are strong intellectually have the ability to mentally grasp spiritual concepts and then speak easily of things that they have never really apprehended spiritually. The emotionally inclined may give the outward impression of many spiritual experiences without having been truly moved by the Spirit in the inner recesses of the heart. They may even be in a state of serious self-deception because they are so used to ‘manufacturing’ spiritual experiences in the realm of the emotions, especially in the life of the church where others observe and take note. This is one of the reasons why we must be very wary of a spirituality that emphasises the gifts of the Spirit and the giftedness of believers in ministry without a strong focus on the cultivation of the fruit of the Spirit by a sustained faith in our union with Christ in death and resurrection. Then there are those who have strong wills, and they may scheme, plan and execute many projects ‘successfully’ in order to advance the kingdom, without having properly learnt to submit their wills by faith to the revealed will of God in the Bible, the inner guidance of the Holy Spirit and the counsel of other spiritual believers (1 Cor. 2:15-16 and 3:10-13).
Moreover, a spirituality that emphasises the work of the Holy Spirit without also emphasising a sustained submission by faith to the full counsel of God in His Word (Ps. 1; Josh. 1:8; Col. 3:16) will always run the risk of dangerous and ultimately devastating forms of soul imitation. May the Lord open our eyes and bring us to a place of deep repentance if we are in fact living in the dangerous illusion of soul imitation, with a life that seems to show so much above the ground when the roots of our spiritual lives are in reality dangerously underdeveloped below the surface where no one but God can see.
Quote of the Day: “One marked difference between the faith of our fathers as conceived by the fathers and the same faith as understood and lived by their children is that the fathers were concerned with the root of the matter, while their present-day descendants seem concerned only with the fruit. Our fathers looked well to the root of the tree and were willing to wait with patience for the fruit to appear.” A.W. Tozer
A REVIVAL OF HOLINESS – Andrew Murray
The revival we need is a revival of holiness, in which the consecration of the whole being is to the service of Christ, and that for the whole life shall be counted possible. And for this there will be needed a new style of preaching in which the promises of God to dwell in His people, and to sanctify them for Himself, will take a place which they do not now have. When our Lord Jesus gave the promise of the Holy Spirit, He spoke of the New Covenant blessing that would be experienced – God dwelling in His people. “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. So Paul also writes: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith . . . that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.” With the Reformation, the great truth of justification by faith was restored to its place. But the other great truth of sanctification has never yet taken its place in the preaching and practice of the Church which God’s Word claims for it. It is for this that we need a revival, that the Holy Spirit may so take possession of us that the Father and the Son can live in us, and that the fellowship with Them, and devotion to Their will and service shall be our chief joy. This will be in very deed a holiness revival.
THE GOSPEL OF AMUSEMENT – Charles Spurgeon
An evil is in the professed camp of the Lord, so gross in its impudence, that the most shortsighted can hardly fail to notice it during the past few years. It has developed at an abnormal rate, even for evil. It has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments. The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them.
From speaking out as the Puritans did, the church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses.
My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the church. If it is a Christian work, why did not Christ speak of it? “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) That is clear enough. So it would have been if He had added, “and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel.” No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to him.
Then again, “He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers … for the work of the ministry” (Eph. 4:11-12). Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people or because they refused? The concert has no martyr roll.
Again, providing amusement is in direct antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all his apostles. What was the attitude of the church to the world? You are the salt” (Matt. 5:13), not the sugar candy—something the world will spit out not swallow. He was in awful earnestness.
Had Christ introduced more of the bright and pleasant elements into his mission, he would have been more popular when they went back, because of the searching nature of His teaching. I do not hear him say, “Run after these people, Peter, and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow, something short and attractive with little preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it. Be quick Peter, we must get the people somehow.” Jesus pitied sinners, sighed and wept over them, but never sought to amuse them.
In vain will the Epistles be searched to find any trace of this gospel of amusement! Their message is, “Come out, keep out…!” Anything approaching fooling is conspicuous by its absence. They had boundless confidence in the gospel and employed no other weapon.
After Peter and John were locked up for preaching, the church had a prayer meeting but they did not pray, “Lord grant unto thy servants that by a wise and discriminating use of innocent recreation we may show these people how happy we are.”
If they ceased not from preaching Christ, they had not time for arranging entertainments. Scattered by persecution, they went everywhere preaching the gospel. They turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6). That is the only difference! Lord, clear the church of all the rot and rubbish the devil has imposed on her, and bring us back to the Bible.
Lastly, the mission of amusement fails to effect the end desired. It works havoc among young converts. Let the careless and scoffers, who thank God because the church met them halfway, speak and testify. Let the heavy laden who found peace through the concert not keep silent! Let the drunkard to whom the dramatic entertainment has been God’s link in the chain of the conversion, stand up! There are none to answer. The mission of amusement produces no converts. The need of the hour for today’s ministry is believing scholarship joined with earnest spirituality, the one springing from the other as fruit from the root. The need is biblical doctrine, so understood and felt, that it sets men on fire.
YOUR PRIMARY HUMAN RELATIONSHIP – Paul Washer
I have found that through my life it is quite easy to become a missionary. It is quite easy to follow the gospel call, relatively speaking. It is quite easy to be spiritual to even the most remote people group. What is the most difficult task I have found, is to be the man that I ought to be with the woman that must mean more to me than all other things on this earth put together, including ministry and preaching. Great preachers are a dime a dozen. Missionaries who do astounding feats…but a man who can truly love a daughter of God has attained a very high status in the kingdom. As I look through biographies of men that others applaud and seek to be like I am astounded at how many of them—even most of them—drop the ball with regard to their wives.
I found out after just a few weeks of marriage that I was not as spiritual as I thought I was as a single man, that I was not as selfless, I was not as kind, I was not many of the things that I believed myself to be because it was marriage that truly tested the caliber of my character. And I found myself wanting and I found myself needing grace like never before in my life. And until this day my wife and I will celebrate our anniversary in two days and until this day I need more grace now than I needed then simply because I am wiser to my need.
You see, your marriage must be based upon this one thing. God has called me to lay down my life for this woman. If she responds in kind praise the Lord. If she does not respond in kind, praise the Lord because I am not in this for me. And in a sense I am not even in this for her. But I am in this for God. The world will tell us that marriage is a 50-50 relationship. And then years ago Christians came along and said, “No. It is not a 50-50 relationship, it is 100%-100% relationship.” I disagree with both. Marriage is a 100%-0% relationship. You give 100% of everything you are to this woman even if she returns nothing of the sort back to you because you have been called of God to lay down your life for her.
He has given to you each other and neither of you meet all the conditions. And the purpose of that is not to give you bliss on earth, but to make your love unconditional, that you will love her and care for her when she does not meet the condition. And you will love him and care for him when he does not meet the conditions. And the reason for that is this. You are not in it for the individual. You are not in it for each other. You are in it for the glory of God and becoming every thing, everything that he would want you to be. And he could have given you an easier woman. Sister, trust me. He could have given you an easier man. He did not give you someone compatible with you because he loves you too much. Because he is so much better than you are, and his gifts are so much greater than the ones you would even give yourself. You would want a life of ease and perfect compatibility. He is not going to give you that because that never produces godliness, true piety or conformity to the image of Jesus Christ.
GOD RESISTS THE PROUD – Chip Brogden
“God resists the proud.” James 4:6
Our automatic assumption is that anything which resists us or hinders us is of satanic origin. Yet we learn from James 4:6 that there is Someone Else who can resist us. There is Another Who carefully watches what we do, and frequently hinders us from making progress. It comes as a shock and surprise to some Christians to see one day that God, not the devil, is resisting them. The Lord Himself resists us, closes doors, causes things to be unfruitful, and spoils all our plans. How so? Because “God resists the proud.”
This resistance from God is insurmountable. It is a fearful thing to fight the Lord. We spend most of our lives wrestling with God instead of cooperating with God, and in the end we have nothing to show for it. So much time and effort is wasted because we proceed in our own, stubborn way. We attribute all difficulties to the devil, or to other people, or our circumstances, or our environment, and fail to recognize that the Lord Himself is resisting us.
THE LOVE OF THE WORLD – Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Love not the world. 1 John 2:15
What is “the world” is this case? Now I think it is important that we should agree that he is not referring here to creation as such; he is not thinking of the mountains and the valleys and rivers, the streams and the sun and the moon and the stars. He does not mean the physical world. There are people who have even thought that to “love not the world, neither the things that are in the world” means to shut one’s eyes to the glory and beauty of nature.
But it does not mean that; neither does it mean the life of the world in general. It does not mean family relationships, though there are people who have misinterpreted it like that; they have often regarded marriage as sinful. Not once but very often in my ministerial life have I had to deal with nice, sincere Christian people who have solemnly believed, through misinterpreting a text like this, that Christian people should not marry. Their reason is that marriage involves certain relationships that they regard as sinful; they would regard the very gift of sex as being sinful in and of itself.
So “the world” does not mean creation; it does not mean family relationships; it is not the state; it does not mean engaging in business or a profession or all these things that are essential to life; it does not mean governments and authorities and powers, for all these have been ordained by God Himself. There is nothing so grievous as to misinterpret “the world” in some such terms as that.
What, then, does it mean? Clearly the very text and the whole teaching of the Bible shows that it must mean the organization and the mind and the outlook of mankind as it ignores God and does not recognize Him and as it lives a life independent of Him, a life that is based upon this world and this life only. It is the whole outlook upon life that is exclusive of God.
INSTANT AND GRADUAL DELIVERANCE – Jessie Penn-Lewis
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” John 12v24-26
Then the Lord applied the meaning of this saying of His to the individual disciple [v24], and set forth at the same time a law in the spiritual realm analogous to the law of nature. He said, “He that loves his life shall lose it: and he that hates his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serves Me, let him follow Me . . .” (verses 25, 26). This is clearly not the same aspect of the Cross as death to sin. There is no gradual deliverance from sin, no gradual process of death to sin or deliverance from the world, or the flesh. The Spirit of God does not say “a little bit to-day”, and a “little bit tomorrow”, but to all sin and all workings of the flesh, as soon as you become aware of either -‘drop it!’ Romans 6 therefore bids you ‘reckon’ yourself ‘dead’ to sin, but John 12: 24 speaks of a gradual and progressive law of death in respect to fruitfulness. It speaks, not of parting with that which is wrong, but that which is lawful – that which we have by nature — life. “Skin for skin, yes, all that a man has will he give for his life,” said Satan to Jehovah about Job (Job 2: 4). It is this ‘life’ which the Lord calls those who follow Him to lay down for His sake, and in fulfilment of the law of death for fruitfulness, i.e., the ‘life’ we have by nature has to go into ‘death’, to enable the ‘life’ of God in us to bring forth fruit. In verse 25 this is clearly seen in the Greek original, for the two words rendered into English, ‘life,’ are not the same in the Greek. One Greek word means the lower form of life, the life of nature-that which we share in common with the animals. The other is the eternal life-the life we have from God in the new birth wherein we are made partakers of the Divine nature.
TREE OP IN DIE TEENOORGESTELDE GEES – Len Deyzel
Met teenoorgestelde gees word bedoel om totaal anders op te tree as die gees waarmee ons gekonfronteer word of die gees waarmee vlees of die wêreld moeilike en uitdagende situasies en omstandigehede hanteer.
Terwyl ek hier rondbeweeg in Swellendam is ek verbaas om te hoor hoe mense op die onrus en geweld reageer en die uitlatings wat hulle maak. Skeltaal, vloek en moordpraatjies is aan die orde van die dag. Alhoewel ons almal ons eiendomme en gesinne wil beskerm en verseker daarvoor verantwoordelik is word daar nie van ons as Sy kinders verwag om in dieselfde gees van wanorde, geweld en anargie op te tree as waarmee ons te doen het nie. Wanneer gaan ons die vrug en die gesindheid van Christus aan die wêreld openbaar?
Dit gaan nie oor wie of wat reg/verkeerd is nie, maar oor die getuienis van Hom wat homself oorgelewer het aan ‘n regime wat 1000 keer erger is as die swakste politieke party of regering wat jy aan kan dink! En dit het Hy gedoen sodat ek en jy vandag vergifnis en vesoening met God kon ontvang.
Want hierdie gesindheid moet in julle wees wat ook in Christus Jesus was. 6 Hy, wat in die gestalte van God was, het dit geen roof geag om aan God gelyk te wees nie, 7 maar het Homself ontledig deur die gestalte van ‘n dienskneg aan te neem en aan die mense gelyk geword; 8 en in gedaante gevind as ‘n mens, het Hy Homself verneder deur gehoorsaam te word tot die dood toe, ja, die dood van die kruis. (Fil. 2v5-8)
Die teenoorgestelde gees is die Gees van Jesus in my in jou en ons “default” posisie is gebed.
When the going gets tough the children of God should start praying before they start buying bullets!
THE NEED FOR AN INWARD BROKENNESS – Austin Sparks
We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV)
All God’s purpose, all that God means for us on that other side of the Cross in union with Christ risen and exalted absolutely demands brokenness, complete brokenness, in all those concerned. Not just the brokenness of their pictures and outward hopes, but an inward brokenness. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves” (2 Cor. 4:7). The self-hood broken, broken vessels for heavenly eternal fullness.
The Cross is necessary for our breaking. It is not a pleasant note, I know, but in all faithfulness it must be said. This is the Lord’s word to you: that if you are not broken by the Cross, if you have not gone through an experience of real brokenness under the hand of God, all that the Lord means in you and through you will still be suspended, it will be impossible. If the Cross means one thing, it does mean that the Cross is the way to the glory and to heavenly fullness. It is the way of an inward breaking. Let me be very precise, because I know of different kinds of brokenness. I know the brokenness of disappointments, of disappointed hopes and expectations, but the kind of brokenness I am talking about is the brokenness of the self-hood, the strength of Self that holds its position and holds its ground and that will not let go. That is the kind of brokenness. This self-strength, whether it be intellectual and mental or whether it be emotional or whether it be in the will, that strength of the natural life has got to be broken as truly as the sinew of Jacob’s thigh had to be touched and withered. Something like that has to happen in us that we carry through the rest of our days. God has done something in the realm of our self-hood and we are broken men and women so far as self-sufficiency, self-assertiveness, self-confidence and every other form of Self is concerned. It must be.
BEWARE OF SEEKING INSTANT RESULTS – Ray Stedman
He also said, This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how (Mark 4:26-27).
This is a secret of the kingdom of God, and to me it is one of the most encouraging of all the parables Jesus ever uttered. He is speaking of how this rule of God increases, how it grows in a life. He explains it as a coming to harvest by a patient expectation that God will work. The key of this whole passage is, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. That is, there are forces at work that will be faithful to perform their work—whether a farmer stews and frets about it or not. Farmers do what they can do, what is expected of them. But then God must work. And God will work. And in the confidence of that, this farmer rests secure. As Jesus draws the picture this farmer goes out to sow. It is hard work as he sows the field, but this is what he can do. But then he goes home and goes to bed. He does not sit up all night biting his fingernails, wondering if the seed fell in the right places or whether it will take root. Nor does he rise the next morning and go out and dig it up to see whether or not it has sprouted yet. He rests secure in the fact that God is at work, that He has a part in this process, and He must do it; no one can do it for Him. But he will faithfully perform it. So the farmer rests secure, knowing that as the seed grows there are stages that are observable: first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. It is only as the grain is ripe that he is called into action again. When the harvest is ready, then he is to act once more.
This is exactly what Paul describes for us in that passage in 1 Corinthians 3:9a: ‘For we are God’s fellow workers.’ This is the way we ought to expect Him to work. It involves a witness first, perhaps a word of teaching or exhortation to someone—or to ourselves. And then an inevitable process begins, one that takes time and patience and allows God to work. One of the most destructive forces at work in the church today is our insistent demand for instant results. We want to have immediate conversions, immediate responses every time we speak. We tend not to allow time for the Word to take root and grow and come to harvest.
I have watched a boy in Peninsula Bible Church (PBC) growing up since grade school. I watched him come into adolescence and enter into a period of deep and bitter rebellion against God. I watched his parents, hurt and crushed by his attitudes, yet nevertheless praying for him—saying what they could to him—but above all holding him up in prayer. I watched the whole process as the seed that had been sown in his heart took root and began to grow. There were tiny observable signs of change occurring. Gradually he came back to the Lord. And as an adult young man, he asked me to fill out a reference for him to go to seminary. That is the Word growing secretly. The sower knows not how it happens but can rest secure in this.
Our Lord is teaching us the fantastic truth that God is at work. It does not all depend on us!
FINDING THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST AGAIN – C.H. Spurgeon
I sought him, but I found him not. Song of Solomon 3:1
Tell me where you lost the company of Christ, and I will tell you the most likely place to find him. Have you lost Christ in the closet by restraining prayer? Then it is there you must seek and find him. Did you lose Christ by sin? You will find Christ in no other way but by the giving up of the sin, and seeking by the Holy Spirit to mortify the member in which the lust dwells. Did you lose Christ by neglecting the Scriptures? You must find Christ in the Scriptures. It is a true proverb, Look for a thing where you dropped it, it is there. So look for Christ where you lost him, for he has not gone away. But it is hard work to go back for Christ. Bunyan tells us, the pilgrim found the piece of the road back to the Arbour of Ease, where he lost his roll, the hardest he had ever travelled. Twenty miles onward is easier than to go one mile back for the lost evidence.
Take care, then, when you find your Master, to cling close to him. But how is it you have lost him? One would have thought you would never have parted with such a precious friend, whose presence is so sweet, whose words are so comforting, and whose company is so dear to you! How is it that you did not watch him every moment for fear of losing sight of him? Yet, since you have let him go, what a mercy that you are seeking him, even though you mournfully groan, O that I knew where I might find him! Go on seeking, for it is dangerous to be without your Lord. Without Christ you are like a sheep without its shepherd; like a tree without water at its roots; like a sere leaf in the tempest-not bound to the tree of life. With your whole heart seek him, and he will be found of you: only give yourself thoroughly up to the search, and verily, you shalt yet discover him to your joy and gladness.
CORPORATE DISCERNMENT URGENTLY NEEDED – Arthur Katz
I know that there is a gift of discernment, but I also know that there is an exercise of discernment that is corporate, and is reflected in the stature and quality and the maturity of the corporate people of God. Are you able to discern, not only the things that are evil, but also the things that are good? I want to tell you that it is the things that are good that are most likely to trap us. It is good to go here, and it is good to do this, and it is good to take care of that need. It is the good things that will be our undoing, because evil will be so blatant and evident. It is the good thing that will be the most difficult to discern, unless your discernment has been strengthened by the exercise thereof. Is good good enough? Good is going to be our downfall unless we have a priestly jealousy for that which is perfect.
Has God changed, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, who said that His priests must mount a ramp and not go up by steps? Do you know that? That is in Exodus chapter 20, verse 26. He did not allow His priests to step up to the place of ministry by steps, but only by a ramp. You may say, “Now that is a peculiar requirement. Why did He give that command?” Because in lifting your leg to go from one step to another, there might be a slight possibility of revealing your flesh. The ramp was the more secure provision that no flesh be revealed in God’s presence. If that is not the God who is God now, then shoot me and put me out of my misery. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. It is only we who have changed.
“On man’s flesh,” God says of the holy anointing oil, “it shall not be poured. Neither shall you make any other like it” (Ex. 30:32). Be careful not to counterfeit this. Do not fabricate; do not turn up your amplifiers; do not psyche up; do not use hype; do not “create” a particular atmosphere; do not make any other like it. Wait for the holy anointing oil, for God will anoint what He appoints, and not what we establish for our own satisfaction, or enjoyment, or assurance, of a good service. Oh, be jealous for the holy thing, the holy anointing oil. It makes all the difference because it is life-giving. Let us not make any other like it. “And upon man’s flesh, it shall not be poured.”
BEGIN HERE AND YOU WILL END WELL – Austin Sparks
The dominating objective of the divine dealings with us is that we may know the Lord. This explains all our experiences, trials, sufferings, perplexities, weakness, predicaments, tight corners, bafflings, pressures. While the refining of spirit, the development of the graces, the removing of the dross are all purposes of the fires, yet above and through all is the one object – that we may know the Lord. There is only one way of really getting to know the Lord, and that is experimentally.
Our minds are so often occupied with service and work; we think that doing things for the Lord is the chief object of life. We are concerned about our lifework, our ministry. We think of equipment for it in terms of study and knowledge of things. Soul-winning or teaching believers or setting people to work are so much in the foreground. Bible study and knowledge of the Scriptures, with efficiency in the matter of leading in Christian service as the end in view, are matters of pressing importance with all. All well and good, for these are important matters; but, at the back of everything, the Lord is more concerned about our knowing Him than about anything else. It is very possible to have a wonderful grasp of the Scriptures and a comprehensive and intimate familiarity with doctrine; to stand for cardinal verities of the faith; to be an unceasing worker in Christian service; to have a great devotion to the salvation of men, and yet, alas, to have a very inadequate and limited personal knowledge of God within. So often the Lord has to take away our work that we may discover Him. The ultimate value of everything is not the information which we give, not the soundness of our doctrine, not the amount of work that we do, not the measure of truth that we possess, but just the fact that we know the Lord in a deep and mighty way.
This is the one thing that will remain when all else passes. It is this that will make for the permanence of our ministry after we are gone. While we may help others in many ways and by many means so far as their earthly life is concerned, our real service to them is based upon our knowledge of the Lord.
THE WORD DIVIDES – Bill Freeman
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
A believer’s greatest need is to get into the Word of God regularly and to go to the Lord day by day, especially in the mornings. Open up to the Lord and begin to pray over the verses. Reading the Bible must be more to us than a routine or academic pursuit. We need to actually contact God while we are in the Word. By getting into the Word in this way, we find it is “living and powerful.” It begins to operate; it begins to speak. A word will stand out, a verse will stand out, or a phrase will stand out, and then you begin to pray with what touches you. That word entering into your heart clears you up inwardly. “The entrance of Your words gives light” (Psa. 119:130). You begin to see that you have been in your self—in your emotions, in your reactions, in your pride and hardness. You have been in your hurt feelings or in your reasoning mind about someone. You have chosen your own will. Light begins to dawn upon you, and you become inwardly clear about where you have been. You get divided. You begin to see how you have sinned, how you have lived in your soulish life, how you have lived out of your impulses, or how your motive for saying something was altogether impure. The word divides your soul and spirit, and discerns the thoughts and intents of your heart.
With this dividing and discerning, you begin to repent and confess to the Lord your lack of living out from Him. As you confess, your spirit rises to the surface of your being (cf. Eph. 5:18-19 with Col. 3:16), and everything becomes crystal clear. What originates from your soul is exposed to you, and what originates from your spirit is manifested. There is the realm of the soul and there is the realm of the spirit, and it is the living and active word of God that discovers for us which realm we are living in.
GOD’S ANSWER TO THE SOURCE OF SIN – Miles Stanford
The Reformation brought into focus once again the emphasis upon spiritual birth, without which there can be no beginning. What is lacking amongst believers to this day is the proper emphasis on growth—not just to be saved, and heaven by and by. What sort of salvation would we have if our Father simply saved us from the penalty of our sins and then left us on our own to deal with the power of sin in our Christian life and walk? But most believers feel this is about as far as He went and are struggling to get on the best they can, with His help. And this is the Galatian error, so prominent even now throughout born-again circles. We must be brought back to the two basics: freed from the penalty of sin by His finished work; freed from the power of sin by His finished work. “Justified by faith” (Gal. 3:24); “We walk by faith” (II Cor. 5:7); “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him” (Col. 2:6).
We are not left to deal with the old life ourselves; it has been dealt with by Christ on the cross. This is the fact which must be known, since on that fact is built the New Testament principle and doctrine of holiness. In other words, Calvary is as much the foundation of sanctification as of justification. Both gifts spring from the same work and are two aspects of the same salvation.
Now, as long as the believer does not know this dual aspect of his salvation, the best he can do is seek to handle his sins via confession (I John 1:9)—that is, after the damage has been done! This takes care of the penalty of the product but not the source. Is it not time we allowed the Holy Spirit to get at the source and cut off this stream of sins before they are committed? Is this not infinitely better than the wreckage caused by sin, even though confessed? When believers get sick and tired of spinning year after year in a spiritual squirrel cage—sinning, confessing, but then sinning again—they will be ready for God’s answer to the source of sin, which is death to self, brought forth from the completed work of the cross.
“When God’s light first shines into our heart our one cry is for forgiveness, for we realize that we have committed sins before Him; but once we have known forgiveness of sins, we make a new discovery—the discovery of sin, and we realize that we have the nature of a sinner. There is an inward inclination to sin. There is a power within that draws us to sin, and when that power breaks out we commit sins. We may seek and receive forgiveness, but then we sin again; and life goes on in a vicious circle—sinning and being forgiven, but then sinning again. We appreciate God’s forgiveness, but we want something more than that, we want deliverance. We need forgiveness for what we have done, but we need deliverance from what we are.”
Our reckoning on the finished work of our death to sin, in Christ at Calvary, is God’s one way of deliverance—there is no other way because that is the way He did it. We learned not to add to a finished work in the matter of justification, and now we must learn not to add to the finished work of emancipation. We will be freed when we enter His prepared freedom—there is no other.
“The believer can never overcome the old man even by the power of the new apart from the death of Christ, and therefore the death of Christ unto sin is indispensable, and unless the cross is made the basis upon which he overcomes the old man, he only drops into another form of morality; in other words, he is seeking by self-effort to overcome self, and the struggle is a hopeless one” (C. Usher).