THE UNCHANGING FAITHFULNESS OF GOD – A.W. Pink
What a word in Psalm 36:5, “Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; and Thy faithfulness unto the clouds.” Far above all finite comprehension is the unchanging faithfulness of God. Everything about God is great, vast, imcomparable. He never forgets, never fails, never falters, never forfeits His word. To every declaration of promise or prophecy the Lord has exactly adhered; every engagement of covenant or threatening He will make good, for “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: has he said, and shall he not do it? or has he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Num. 23:19). Therefore does the believer exclaim, “His compassions fail not, they are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-33). Scripture abounds in illustrations of God’s faithfulness. More than 4,000 years ago He said, “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Gen. 8:22). Every year furnishes a fresh witness to God’s fulfillment of this promise. In Genesis 15 Jehovah declared unto Abraham, “your offspring will be sojourners a land that is not theirs, and will be servants there . . . But in the fourth generation they shall come back here” (vv. 13-16). Centuries ran their weary course. Abraham’s descendants groaned amid the brickkilns of Egypt. Had God forgotten His promise? No, indeed. Exodus 12:41, “And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.” Through Isaiah the Lord declared, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14). Again centuries passed, but “When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman” (Gal. 4:4). God is true. His Word of promise is sure. In all His relations with His people God is faithful. He may be safely relied upon. No one ever yet really trusted Him in vain. We find this precious truth expressed almost everywhere in the Scriptures, for His people need to know that faithfulness is an essential part of the divine character. This is the basis of our confidence in Him. But it is one thing to accept the faithfulness of God as a divine truth, it is quite another to act upon it. God has given us many “exceeding great and precious promises,” but are we really counting on His fulfillment of them? Do we actually expect Him to do for us all that He has said? Are we resting with implicit assurance on these words, “He is faithful that promised” (Heb. 10:23). There are seasons in the lives of all when it is not easy, not even for Christians, to believe that God is faithful. Our faith is sorely tried, our eyes dimmed with tears, and we can no longer trace the outworking of His love. Our ears are distracted with the noises of the world, harassed by the atheistic whisperings of Satan, and we can no longer hear the sweet accents of His still small voice. Cherished plans have been thwarted, friends on whom we relied have failed us, a professed brother or sister in Christ has betrayed us. We are staggered. We sought to be faithful to God, and now a dark cloud hides Him from us. We find it difficult, yes, impossible, for carnal reasons to harmonize His frowning providence with His gracious promises. Ah, faltering soul, seek grace to heed Isaiah 50:10, “Who is among you that fears the LORD, that obeys the voice of his servant, that walks in darkness and has no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.” When you are tempted to doubt the faithfulness of God, cry out, “Get thee hence, Satan.” Though you cannot now harmonize God’s mysterious dealings with the avowals of His love, wait on Him for more light. In His own good time He will make it plain to you. “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand” (John 13:7). The sequel will demonstrate that God has neither forsaken nor deceived His child. “And therefore will the LORD wait that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him” (Isa. 30:18).
“Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, But trust Him for His grace, Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face. Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take, The clouds ye so much dread, Are rich with mercy, and shall break In blessing o’er your head.”
THE UTTER EMPTYING OF ALL SELF-RESOURCE – Austin Sparks
I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel. (Galatians 2:2 NIV)
How important it is that every fresh undertaking in work for God should come by revelation to those chosen for it. Because God has so spoken and given revelation to some chosen instrument and a truly spiritual work has been done, others have taken it as a model and have sought to imitate it in other places. The result has been, and is, that they are called upon to take responsibility for it – find the resources of workers, funds and general support. This, in turn, issues in many sad and pathetic, if not evil and worldly, methods and means being employed, and those concerned find themselves in a false position. Conception, not imitation, is the Divine law of reproduction. Anointing, not human selection, is the Divine law of succession. The fact is that the work of God has become a sphere for so many natural elements to find expression and gratification. Man must do something, see something, have something. Ambition, acquisition, achievement, etc., have found their way over to Christian enterprise, and so, very often (let us be quite frank) things have become ‘ours’ – ‘our work,’ ‘our mission,’ ‘our field,’ ‘our clientele’; and jealousies, rivalries, bitterness and many other things of the flesh abound.
It is a very difficult thing, a crucifixion indeed, for the natural man to do nothing and have nothing, and especially to know nothing. But in the case of His most greatly used instruments, God has made this a very real part of their training and preparation. The utter emptying of all self-resource is the only way to have “all things of (out from) God” (2 Cor. 5:18). On this basis, even Christ elected to live. We need not remind you of Moses’ “I am not eloquent” (Exo. 4:10), and Jeremiah’s “I am a child” (Jer. 1:6), and Paul’s “that we should not trust in ourselves” (2 Cor. 1:9). These were of a school in which the great lesson of the difference between natural and spiritual was taught experimentally.
DARE TO BELIEVE HE IS THERE – F.B. Meyer
We repeat here our constant mistake about the things of God. We try to feel them. If we feel them, we believe them; otherwise we take no account of them. We reverse the Divine order. We say, FEELING, FAITH, FACT. God says FACT, FAITH, FEELING. With Him feeling is of small account-He only asks us to be willing to accept His own Word, and to cling to it because He has spoken it, in entire disregard of what we may feel.
I am distinctly told that Christ, though He is on the Throne in His ascended glory, is also within me by the Holy Spirit. I confess I do not feel Him there. Often amid the assault of temptation or the fury of the storm that sweeps over the surface of my nature, I cannot detect His form or hear Him say, “It is I.” But I dare to believe He is there; `not without me, but within; not as a transient sojourner for a night, but as a perpetual inmate; not altered by my changes from earnestness to lethargy, from the summer of love to the winter of despondency, but always and unchangeably the same. And I say again and again, “Jesus, You are here. I am not worthy that You should abide under my roof; but You have come. Assert Yourself. Put down all rule, and authority, and power. Come out of Your secret chamber, and possess all that is within me, that it may bless Your holy name.”
MANAGING YOUR INHERITANCE IN CHRIST – Watchman Nee
God has placed us in a most lofty position. Through our union with the Lord Jesus, all of the Lord’s accomplishments and victories are ours. This is our position in fact. The question now is how we can experience all of the Lord Jesus’ accomplishments and victories. Between the fact and the experience, that is, before the fact can be turned into experience, before God’s accomplishment can be turned into man’s practice, there is still the step of faith.
This step of faith is nothing other than the “utilization” or “management” of the inheritance. The Lord has left us a will. He has died, and the will is now in effect. We should no longer hold an indifferent or unconcerned attitude. Instead we should rise up to “utilize” the inheritance that we have received so that we can enjoy, or experience, the blessing of the inheritance. We are God’s children already. All that God has is now ours (1 Cor. 3:21-23). We should not be like the older son [Luke 15] who vainly possessed the promises without entering into the enjoyment of them. Due to his foolishness and unbelief, he did not ask nor did he utilize. Hence, he did not have anything. If he would have asked to exercise his right as a son, he would have had not just one goat but thousands upon thousands of them!
What we need now is nothing other than the utilization by faith of what God has promised to us; we should “cash in” by faith what God has prepared for us in the Lord Jesus. For the one who is to inherit a will, there are two things he has to do before he can enjoy and experience the inheritance. First, he has to believe that there is an inheritance. Second, he has to rise wholeheartedly to manage this inheritance. Of course, if one does not believe that there is an inheritance, he will not rise up to manage it. Therefore, we must first acknowledge that God has indeed made the Lord Jesus our “wisdom… righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30), that all of the Lord’s accomplishments and victories are our accomplishments and victories. If we do not have this faith, not only can we never expect any spiritual experiences, but we are sinning against God and doubting His work! Second, those in the world manage an inheritance with their physical strength. But for us to manage our spiritual inheritance, we have to use our spiritual strength, which is faith. As this spiritual inheritance is already ours, we must advance one step further by faith to “cash in,” to utilize, and to manage our inheritance in the Lord Jesus.
MEN SHOULD BE TOLD TO “COUNT THE COST” – J.C. Ryle
I thoroughly approve of offering men a full, free, present, immediate salvation in Christ Jesus. I thoroughly approve of urging on man the possibility and the duty of immediate instantaneous conversion. In these matters I give place to no one. But I do say that these truths ought not to be set before men nakedly, singly, and alone. They ought to be told honestly what it is they are taking up, if they profess a desire to come out from the world and serve Christ. They ought not to be pressed into the ranks of Christ’s army without being told what the warfare entails. In a word, they should be told honestly to “count the cost.”
Does any one ask what our Lord Jesus Christ’s practice was in this matter? Let him read what St. Luke records. He tells us that on a certain occasion “There went great multitudes with Him: and He turned and said unto them, If any come to Me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whosoever does not bear his cross and come after Me, cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14v25-27.) I must plainly say, that I cannot reconcile this passage with the proceedings of many modern religious teachers. And yet, to my mind, the doctrine of it is as clear as the sun at noon-day. It shows us that we ought not to hurry men into professing discipleship, without warning them plainly to “count the cost.”
Does any one ask what the practice of the eminent and best preachers of the Gospel has been in days gone by? I am bold to say that they have all with one mouth borne testimony to the wisdom of our Lord’s dealing with the multitudes to which I have just referred. Luther, and Latimer, and Baxter, and Wesley, and Whitfield, and Berridge, and Rowland Hill, were all keenly alive to the deceitfulness of man’s heart. They knew full well that all is not gold that glitters, that conviction is not conversion, that feeling is not faith, that sentiment is not grace, that all blossoms do not come to fruit. “Be not deceived,” was their constant cry. “Consider well what you do. Do not run before you are called. Count the cost.”
If we desire to do good, let us never be ashamed of walking in the steps of our Lord Jesus Christ. Work hard if you will, and have the opportunity, for the souls of others. Press them to consider their ways. Compel them with holy violence to come in, to lay down their arms, and to yield themselves to God. Offer them salvation, ready, free, full, immediate salvation. Press Christ and all His benefits on their acceptance. But in all your work tell the truth, and the whole truth. Be ashamed to use the vulgar arts of a recruiting sergeant. Do not speak only of the uniform, the pay, and the glory; speak also of the enemies, the battle, the armour, the watching, the marching, and the drill. Do not present only one side of Christianity. Do not keep back “the cross” of self-denial that must be carried, when you speak of the cross on which Christ died for our redemption. Explain fully what Christianity entails. Entreat men to repent and come to Christ; but bid them at the same time to “count the cost.”
FRIENDSHIP WITH THE ALMIGHTY – K.P. Yohannan
Many people, when they hear the name “Abraham,” immediately think of “father of many nations” or how, in a miraculous manner, he and his wife, Sarah conceived Isaac in their old age. And of course, it is impossible to forget about his incredible act of obedience as he prepared to sacrifice the son of promise. What a man Abraham was! Our minds easily classify him as a saint, and rightly so. But what makes all of this even greater is the fact that Abraham was nothing special. He was an ordinary man just like you and I. Raised in an idolatrous home, Abraham grew up knowing nothing about the living God. In between the stories of the incredible things that happened in his life, you’ll see a man who was fearful and weak, lying to protect himself and his family. Abraham was no superstar. Yet the living God called Abraham to come and walk with Him, inviting him to enter into a covenant and to know Him. “Now the LORD had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing’ ” (Genesis 12:1–2). And when all was said and done, Abraham was blessed and called a “friend of God” (James 2:23). If Abraham was just an ordinary man, how was it that he became a friend of God? It is friendship with the Almighty, intimacy with Him, that was the true blessing in Abraham’s life.
INLAID BY HIS OWN DIVINE HAND – J.C. Philpot
“Behold, I will lay your stones with fair colors.” Isaiah 54:11
By these “stones,” which the Lord has promised to “lay with fair colors,” I think we may understand the blessed truths of the gospel which are laid into the soul by the hand of God. The fair colors are deeply ingrained and embedded in the very substance of the stone, not artificially laid on. They are like beautiful marbles, in which every bright hue and vein penetrate into the deepest substance of the material. Such are the truths of God, beautiful throughout, penetrated with grace and glory into their inmost depths.
But these colors are hidden from view until brought out and laid into the soul by the hand of God. However fair or beautiful any word of God be in itself, it only experimentally becomes so as inlaid by his own divine hand into the soul. This brings out the fair colors. How often we read the word of God without seeing the least beauty in it! But let the very same portion come home with sweetness and power to the soul, then beauty, inexpressible beauty, is seen in it immediately; it becomes “a stone of fair colors.” Salvation full and free, the pardoning love of God, the precious blood of the Lamb, justification by Christ’s imputed righteousness, “wine and milk without money and without price,” super-abounding grace, eternal mercy, everlasting life–these are some of the precious stones with fair colors which God the Spirit with his own hand lays into the conscience.
HIDING UNDER THE CLOAK OF CHEAP GRACE – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Unbelief thrives on cheap grace, for it is determined to persist in disobedience. Clergy frequently come across cases like this nowadays. The outcome is usually that self-imparted absolution confirms the man in his disobedience, and makes him plead ignorance of the kindness as well as of the commandment of God. He complains that God’s commandment is uncertain, and susceptible of different interpretations. At first he was aware enough of his disobedience, but with his increasing hardness of heart that awareness grows ever fainter, and in the end he becomes so enmeshed that he loses all capacity for hearing the Word, and faith is quite impossible. One can imagine him conversing thus with his pastor: ‘I have lost the faith I once had.’ ‘You must listen to the Word as it is spoken to you in the sermon.’ ‘I do; but I cannot get anything out of it, it just falls on deaf ears as far as I’m concerned.’ ‘The trouble is, you don’t really want to listen.’ ‘On the contrary, I do.’ And here they generally break off, because the pastor is at a loss what to say next. He only remembers the first half of the proposition: ‘Only those who believe obey.’ But this does not help, for faith is just what this particular man finds impossible. The pastor feels himself confronted with the ultimate riddle of predestination. God grants faith to some and withholds it from others. So the pastor throws up the sponge and leaves the poor man to his fate. And yet this ought to be the turning-point of the interview. It is the complete turning-point. The pastor should give up arguing with him, and stop taking his difficulties seriously. That will really be in the man’s own interest, for he is only trying to hide himself behind them. It is now time to take the bull by the horns, and say: ‘Only those who obey believe.’ Thus the flow of the conversation is interrupted, and the pastor can continue: ‘You are disobedient, you are trying to keep some part of your life under your own control. That is what is preventing you from listening to Christ and believing in his grace. You cannot hear Christ because you are wilfully disobedient. Somewhere in your heart you are refusing to listen to his call. Your difficulty is your sins.’ Christ now enters the lists again and comes to grips with the devil, who until now has been hiding under the cloak of cheap grace. It is all-important that the pastor should be ready with both sides of the proposition: ‘Only those who obey can believe, and only those who believe can obey.’ In the name of Christ he must exhort the man to obedience, to action, to take the first step. He must say: ‘Tear yourself away from all other attachments, and follow him.’ For at this stage, the first step is what matters most. The strong point which the refractory sinner had occupied must be stormed, for in it Christ cannot be heard. The truant must be dragged from the hiding-place which he has built for himself. Only then can he recover the freedom to see, hear, and believe. Of course, though it is a work, the first step entails no merit in the sight of Christ – it can never be more than a dead work. Even so Peter has to get out of the ship before he can believe. Briefly, the position is this. Our sinner has drugged himself with cheap and easy grace by accepting the proposition that only those who believe can obey. He persists in disobedience, and seeks consolation by absolving himself. This only serves to deaden his ears to the Word of God. We cannot breach the fortress so long as we merely repeat the proposition which affords him his self-defence. So we must make for the turning point without further ado, and exhort him to obedience – ‘Only those who obey can believe.’ Will that lead him astray, and encourage him to trust in his own works? Far from it. He will the more easily realize that his faith is no genuine one at all. He will be rescued from his entanglement by being compelled to come to a definite decision. In this way his ears are opened once more for the call of Jesus to faith and discipleship.
THE HOME CONVERSATION – J. R. Miller
While in all places and at all times our words should be well chosen, and should be full of the pure and gentle spirit of Christ—there are many reasons why the home conversation, pre-eminently, should be loving. Home is the place for warmth and tenderness: it should be made the brightest and sweetest spot on earth, to those who dwell within its walls. We should all carry there our very best moods, tempers, and dispositions. Especially by our speech should we seek to contribute to the enrichment of the home life, helping to make it elevating and refining, and in every way ennobling in its influence.
Home should inspire every tongue to speak its most loving words—yet there is in many families, a great dearth of kind speech. In some cases, there is no conversation at all worthy of the name; there are no affectionate greetings in the morning, or hearty good-nights at parting when the evening closes; the meals are eaten in silence; there are no bright fireside chats over the events and incidents of the day. A stranger might mistake the home for a deaf-and-dumb institution, or for a hotel where strangers were together only for a passing night. In other cases—it would be even better if silence did reign—for there are words of miserable strife and shameful quarreling heard from day to day!
Husband and wife, who vowed at the marriage-altar to cherish each other until death, keep up an incessant petty strife of words!
Parents, who are commanded in the Holy Word not to provoke their children to wrath, lest they be discouraged, but to bring them up in the nurture of the Lord, scarcely ever speak to them gently and in tenderness. They seem to imagine that they are not governing their children, unless they are perpetually scolding them. They fly into a rage against them at the smallest irritation. They issue their commands to them in words and tones which would better suit the despot of a petty savage tribe, than the head of a Christian household. It is not strange, that, under such “nurture,” the children, instead of dwelling together in unity, with loving speech—only wrangle and quarrel, speaking only bitter words in their interactions with one another.
That there are many homes of just this type, it is idle to deny. That prayer is offered morning and evening in some of these families, only makes the truth the sadder; for it is mockery for the members of a household to rise together from their knees after morning devotion, only to begin another day of strife and bitterness!
Nothing in the home life needs to be more carefully watched and more diligently cultivated, than the conversation; it should be imbued with the spirit of love.
UNDER THE HEADSHIP OF CHRIST – Austin Sparks
He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion… and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 1:20,21; 2:6)
Get a revelation of that to your heart by the Holy Spirit, and see its emancipating power and its sustaining power. And that is for present revelation to the heart. That is the thing which the Lord has been seeking to reveal to our hearts more and more for a long time. The point is this, that, inasmuch as that is the side of vision presented, you and I have to seek the Lord for spiritual capacity to see it. And that leads us to that other fragment in the same letter, from which we have just quoted: “That He would grant unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your hearts being enlightened….” The eyes of your hearts being enlightened! That is the other side of vision.
Will you pray this for yourself? Will you pray this for all God’s people? When the Lord’s people get a new spiritual Holy Spirit revelation of the Sovereign Headship of Christ, and begin to hold fast the Head, they let go of everything that is local, and personal, and different, and scattered on the earth. That is the place to which to come for unity. We cannot be at variance with one another as the Lord’s children if Christ is absolute Sovereign Head in our lives. When the Lord Jesus gets the complete mastery as Head in our lives, then all independence of action, and life, and all self-will, self-direction, self-seeking, self-glory and self-vindication will go. These are the things which set us apart from one another. You pass from Isaiah, and as you do so you remember that you have the results of such a vision seen in this man Isaiah. Such a vision immediately has the effect of humiliating him to the dust. Oh, yes, we lose all our pride, all our importance when once we see the Lord in glory. “Woe is me….” That is humiliation! Then, after humiliation, there is consecration: “Lo, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.” And, after humiliation and consecration, there comes vocation: “…who will go for Us?” “Then I said, Here am I; send me.”
“HEREIN IS LOVE” – Charles Spurgeon
“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10
John, with love in his heart, soars aloft, and using his eagle eye, looks over all history, and all space, and at last he poises himself over one spot, for he has found that for which he was looking, and he says, ‘Herein is love.’ There is love in a thousand places, like the scattered drops of spray on the leaves of the forest; but as for the ocean, that is in one place, and when we reach it, we say, ‘Herein is water. ’There is love in many places, like wandering beams of light; but as for the sun, it is in one part of the heavens, and as we look at it, we say, ‘Herein is light.’ So, ‘Herein,’said the apostle, as he looked toward the Lord Jehovah himself, ‘Herein is love.’ He did not point to his own heart, and say, ‘Herein is love,’ for that was but a little pool filled from the great sea of love, he did not look at the Church of God, and say of all the myriads who counted not their lives dear unto them, ‘Herein is love,’ for their love was only the reflected brightness of the great sun of love; but he looked to God the Father, in the splendor of His condescension in giving His only Son to die for us, and he said ‘Herein is love,’ as if all love were here, love at its utmost height, love at its climax, love out-doing itself: ‘Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins”.
GOD’S HIGHWAY TO HOLINESS – Robert Murray M’Cheyne
It is truly admirable, to see how the Bible way of making us holy is suited to our nature. Had God proposed to frighten us into a holy life, how vain would have been the attempt! Men have always an idea, that if one came from the dead to tell us of the reality of the doleful regions where dwell, in endless misery, the spirits of the damned, that that would constrain us to live a holy life; but alas! Brethren, what ignorance does this show of our mysterious nature! Suppose that God should this hour unveil before our eyes the secrets of those dreadful abodes where hope never comes; nay suppose, if it were possible, that you were actually made to feel for a season the real pains of the lake of living agony, and the worm that never dies; and then that you were brought back again to the earth, and placed in your old situation, among your old friends and companions; do you really think that there would be any chance of your walking as a child with God? I doubt not you would be frightened out of your positive sins; the cup of godless pleasure would drop from your hand – you would shudder at an oath – you would tremble at a falsehood; because you had seen and felt something of the torment which awaits the drunkard, and the swearer, and the liar, in the world beyond the grave; but do you really think that you would live to God any more than you did – that you would serve him better than before? It is quite true you might be driven to give larger charity; yea, to give all your goods to feed the poor, and your body to be burned; you might live strictly and soberly, most fearful of breaking one of the commandments, all the rest of your days; but this would not be living to God; you would not love him one whit more. Ah! Brethren, you are sadly blinded to your curiously formed hearts; if you do not know that love cannot be forced; no man was ever frightened into love, and therefore, no man was ever frightened into holiness. But thrice blessed be God, he has invented a way more powerful than hell and all its terrors – an argument mightier far than even a sight of those torments – he has invented a way of drawing us to holiness. By showing us the love of his Son, he calls forth our love. He knew our frame – he remembered that we were dust – he knew all the peculiarities of our treacherous hearts; and, therefore, he suited his way of sanctifying to the creature to be sanctified. And thus, the Spirit does not make use of terror to sanctify us, but of love: “The love of Christ constrains us.” He draws us by “the cords of love – by the bands of a man”. What parent does not know that the true way to gain the obedience of a child, is to gain the affections of the child? And think you God, who gave us this wisdom, does not himself know it? Think you he would set about obtaining the obedience of his children, without first of all gaining their affections? To gain our affections, brethren, which by nature rove over the face of the earth, and centre anywhere but in him, God has sent his Son into the world to bear the curse of our sins. “Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, that we, through his poverty, might be made rich.”
FULLY SATISFIED – Albert Theron
Psalm 107:9 “For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.”
Isaiah 55:2 “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance.”
John 6:35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”
“Satisfaction”, “delight”, “abundance”. These are not terms commonly associated with religion. When we think about religion it is more commonplace to bring to mind terms like “duty”, “dreary” and even ‘dull’. This view is common, but fortunately it is not correct. The biblical view of true religion paints another picture. God’s desire from the very inception of His self-revelation has always been to satisfy us with good and to surprise us with the abundance of His bounty.
As the Creator of the universe, God alone holds the key to complete satisfaction. Being the Source of all life, only He can sustain his creation and satisfy it with good things. After the fall of man, however, our whole value system was warped. The way we think about happiness and contentment needs to be adjusted constantly or else we run into trouble. Satan utilizes legitimate needs within us to tempt us into abuse of these needs. We become trapped in a web of our own desire for fulfillment. What is the solution?
I suggest to you that a correct understanding of the character of God and the makeup of man is a large part of the answer. If you, as a believer, secretly view God as a Cosmic Killjoy your experience will follow suit and you will begin to look for alternative fulfillment. Why? Because you were made to be fulfilled and satisfied to the full! It is God’s intention to bring you more than only happiness, which is contingent upon circumstances, but joy that comes from within. It is God’s will for you to be rightly related to Him and consequently rightly related to all the people in your life. Thus we see a principle emerging. Satisfaction is found in relationships, not in things. Things are necessary and good, but they cannot fill the void within your soul.
It does not matter where you are in life or what you have been through, the good news today is that God wants you to be satisfied, fulfilled and joyful. Believe it, it is true. Come to His Word without preconceived ideas and see life from His point of view. Enter into His joy, it was prepared for you. “You will show me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).
Quote of the Day: “Jesus is life, the rest is detail.”
NOT BY MIGHT – Chip Brogden
“Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? O my Lord, I am not eloquent… but I am slow of speech, and slow of tongue.”
EXODUS 3:11; 4:10
We know that in fact Moses was mighty in words and in deeds (Acts 7:22). But he no longer saw that as an asset anymore. That is exactly the type of person that God is looking for. He is not searching for those naturally gifted souls who think they can do it and then set out in their own strength! It is those who embrace the weakness of the Cross and allow God’s strength to be perfected in them that He is looking for.
DIE KERK AS DIE MIDDELPUNT VS JESUS AS DIE MIDDELPUNT – Francois Kruger
Staan die kerk of Jesus sentraal? Kerkgesentreerdheid is ’n groot probleem. Die Engelse noem dit churchianity. Dit lyk so vroom en korrek. “My kerk is vir my baie belangrik! Dit is my anker! Ek sal alles opoffer vir my kerk!” My vriend, Johan, sê dis hoe die duiwel werk. Hy vat iets goed en reg, soos die Tien Gebooie, en plaas dit in die plek van Jesus. Dit is wat Satan met dié woorde met die Jode gedoen het: “Dáár is jou pad na verlossing. Getroue wetsonderhouding gaan vir jou die saligheid bring.” Deesdae doen hy dieselfde met die kerk. Die kerk is goed en reg en onontbeerlik, maar word iets sleg en verkeerd as dit op die verkeerde plek staan. As dit in die plek van Jesus staan, sit jy skynbaar gelukkig en doodtevrede, maar sonder die enigste Troos wat daar is. Ek wéét waar Jesus is, is die kerk ook. Ek weet die kerk is die liggaam van Jesus en dat Hý die Hoof is. Jy kan nie kerk en Jesus van mekaar skei nie. My probleem hou egter verband met die belangrike woorde in Efesiërs 4: 16: “… en uit Hom groei die hele liggaam.” Die vraag is dus: Waar begin jy? By die kerk of by Jesus? Kom ons wees eerlik. Die meeste van ons het as kinders eerste met die kerk kennis gemaak en eers daarná met Jesus. Natuurlik is daar uitsonderings. Maar dit laat ’n mens dink dat die kerk eerste kom en jou dan by Jesus uitbring. Dit is presies wat met kerkgesentreerdheid gebeur. Wanneer Jesus vir jou eerste kom, staan Hy sentraal in jou lewe. Sulke gelowiges maak met mekaar kontak en hulle word die kerk. Jesus bly egter sentraal, nooit die kerk nie. Dit laat my dink aan die twee gewilde figure, Jesus en Johannes die Doper, oor wie ons in Johannes 3 lees. Toe Johannes se aanhangers hul rabbi aanspreek en sê hy moet sy gewildheid verhoog omdat Jesus meer mense trek, was sy antwoord: “Hy moet meer word en ek minder” (Johannes 3: 30). Dis asof hy sê: “Ek is besig om doelbewus my gewildheid te laat taan, sodat julle ook eerder aanhangers van Jesus kan word.” Op dié manier stel hy aan hulle die voorbeeld dat die mense rondom Jesus net een oogmerk het, naamlik om Hom te verhoog. Hulle is op Hom gefokus en nie op hulself nie. Ek het met baie mense, waarvan die meeste leraars is, hieroor gepraat. Dis opmerklik dat daar van ’n sekere groep af konsekwent ’n sensitiwiteit ontlok word wanneer ’n mens oor die gevaar van kerkgesentreerdheid praat. Ek het ook agtergekom dat hierdie mense almal redelik diep in die stelsel gewortel is. Dis taamlik algemeen dat mense hul identiteit deur hul kerklidmaatskap laat bepaal: “Ek is gereformeerd” eerder as “Ek is ’n navolger van Jesus.” Ons het jare lank geleer om die kerk te volg, in plaas daarvan om Jesus te volg. Met die Gereformeerde Kerke in Suid-Afrika (GKSA) se 150-jarige bestaansherdenking in 2009 het hulle sulke knopies uitgedeel en aan elke gemeente ’n klomp gestuur. Op elke knopie het gestaan: “Ek is lief vir my kerk!” Ek sê toe vir Elna, ons kantoorassistent: “Gooi dit in die asblik. As hier knopies aankom waarop staan: ‘Ek is lief vir die Here!’ dan deel ons dit uit en ons bestel nog.”
THE DISCIPLE’S SECRET – Albert Theron
“The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. 5 The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back.” Isaiah 50:4-5
A true disciple is one who has learned to listen. The Father’s primary appeal to us is to be attentive to His Word. This is why Jesus often spoke the following words in the gospels, ‘he who has ears to hear, let him hear!’ There are many voices in the world, but only one voice that brings rest and blessing. Besides the many opinions of various schools of thought and the emotional appeal of family members and friends there is the subtle voice of our archenemy, Satan. In the midst of all these confusing signals the voice of our heavenly Father continually seeks to get our attention so that we may experience His authority and sovereign care in every situation.
He who has your ear has your heart and therefore we must pay unusual attention to this word. The Bible uses the phrase ‘dull of hearing’ to refer to those who have allowed the many things in this world to distract them from listening with rapt attention to the voice of the Shepherd. In fact, in Hebrews 5 verse 11 and the verses following, dullness of hearing is identified as the main reason for retarded spiritual growth. But how should we then get to this place of attentiveness? By looking unto Jesus (Heb. 12:2) and away from everything that distracts. If two people are speaking at the same time you will only be able to hear the one towards whom you are looking. As you begin to focus on that which God has spoken in His Son (Heb. 1:1-2) your heart will be drawn and you will in time become a skilled listener. Note that even in the well-known passage about being “doers of the word” in James 1 the emphasis is on “not forgetting” what we heard (v25). We are encouraged in our text by the fact that the Sovereign Lord ‘wakens’ and ‘opens’ ears. All we need to do is ask. ‘Oh Father, give us ears to hear and also an instructed tongue so that we may sustain the weary.’
Quote of the Day: “Ninety percent of discipleship is having ears to hear. Obedience follows when His word reaches our hearts.”
PREACHING CHRIST CONSISTENTLY – Thomas Schreiner
The old covenant was intended to be in force for a certain period of salvation history. Now that the fulfillment in Christ has dawned, we are no longer under the covenant the Lord instituted with Israel. Hence, it is a mistake to think that the laws binding on Israel as a nation should serve as the paradigm for nation states today—as promulgated by Theonomists in our day. We must recognize in our preaching the difference between Israel as the people of God and the church of Jesus Christ. Israel was God’s theocratic people, representing both God’s covenant people and a political entity. But the church of Jesus Christ is not a political entity with a charter of laws for nation states. The church is composed of people from every people, tongue, tribe, and nation. Failure to appreciate this difference between the old and new covenant could wreak havoc on our congregations. If we don’t understand the differences between the old covenant and new, we will have a difficult time proclaiming the possession of the land in Joshua. Surely the promise for the church of Jesus Christ is not that we will possess the land of Canaan some day! But upon reading the NT we learn that the promise of the land is understood typologically and also escalated into a final fulfillment in the NT. Hebrews explains that the promise of rest given under Joshua was never intended to be the final rest for the people of God (Heb 3:7-4:13). Paul explains in Rom 4:13 that the land promise for Abraham cannot be confined to Canaan but has been universalized to include the whole world. We discover in Hebrews that we as believers do not wait for an earthly city but a heavenly city (Heb 11:10, 14-16; 13:14), a city to come. Or, as Rev 21-22 put it, we await the heavenly Jerusalem, which is nothing other than a new creation. If we preach from Joshua, and we do not emphasize our inheritance in Christ and the new creation, then we have failed miserably to communicate the storyline of scripture in expositing the book. We have truncated the message so that our people have failed to see how all of scripture is fulfilled in Christ, how all the promises of God are yes and amen in Christ Jesus (2 Cor 1:20).
THE RICHES OF FAITHFULNESS – Austin Sparks
It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. (1 Corinthians 4:2)
I believe that the greatest virtue in the eyes of God is faithfulness; it embraces everything. Faithfulness is after God’s own heart. Take a passing glance at this steward – Paul the Apostle. “Demas forsook me…”; (2 Tim. 4:10); “…all that are in Asia turned away from me…” (2 Tim. 1:15). Look at him when everything which would inspire to faithfulness is breaking down. He is left practically alone. He has more enemies than ever. And now the tragedy, the pathos is that so many of his enemies are those to whom he has been most used. While there were enemies without it was not so difficult, but now the very people for whom he has spent himself have become his enemies. But there is no thought, no hint, no suggestion of giving up. His word is, “…faithful unto death….” This steward was faithful. You cannot say that, when he died, the situation outwardly testified to tremendous success. It did not look like that at all. Paul’s life was not vindicated up to the hilt. No! He died largely a lonely man, but faithful, “…it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” But what enrichment of others may follow from the meeting of that requirement, costly as it is. Paul is not dead! I only hope that Paul knows of all that has sprung from his ministry, all that his ministry means to us. The Lord has met us through His servant, and we never, never get to the depths or anywhere near the bottom of the fullness of Christ that has come through Paul. We shall go on, and, if we live twice or three times the length of our present life, we shall still be making discoveries of what we owe to Paul’s faithfulness as a steward. That has been going on century after century.
That is faithful stewardship, and although the steward may be called away from his earthly stewardship, the stewardship goes on. Faithfulness is always rewarded beyond our wildest dreams. May the Lord maintain us in faithfulness, even though that faithfulness may sometimes involve us in an appearance of utter failure. The Lord make us good stewards.
ALL WE NEED – Tullian Tchividjian
Throughout Colossians, the divine completeness of Christ is something Paul keeps underscoring in various ways: “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (2:9). In Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (2:3). In short, “Christ is all” (3:11). Christ is all—and all we need. After seeing and hearing these things about Christ and how praiseworthy he is, to turn and live our lives for anything smaller than Jesus is the height of foolishness. No created thing could ever be for us what the Creator himself alone can be. It makes me think of Francis Schaeffer’s words: “If Christ is not Lord of all, he’s not Lord at all.” Why would we ever turn anywhere except to Christ and all his fullness? It isn’t remotely reasonable. And yet we do it all the time. Our situation was well captured by C. S. Lewis in these frequently quoted words: ”If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by an offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” We’re too easily pleased—and yet in giving ourselves to these meager mud-pie pleasures, we discover only too grievously that we are not in fact “pleased” at all. That’s why our hearts and minds need to be constantly refreshed, not only with the greatness of Christ, but also with the greatness of the gospel.
LOOKING UNTO JESUS – Alexander MaClaren
You have been trying, and trying, and trying half your lifetime to cure faults and make yourselves better and stronger. Try this other plan. Let love draw you, instead of duty driving you. Let fellowship with Christ elevate you, instead of seeking to struggle up the steeps on hands and knees. Live in sight of your Lord, and catch His Spirit. The man who travels with his face northwards has it grey and cold. Let him turn to the warm south, where the midday sun dwells, and his face will glow with the brightness that he sees. ‘Looking unto Jesus’ is the sovereign cure for all our ills and sins. It is the one condition of running with patience ‘the race that is set before us.’ Efforts after self-improvement which do not rest on it will not go deep enough, nor end in victory. But from that gaze will flow into our lives a power which will at once reveal the true goal, and brace every sinew for the struggle to reach it. Therefore, let us cease from self, and fix our eyes on our Saviour till His image imprints itself on our whole nature.
REAL SERVICE TO THE LORD – Austin Sparks
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. (Philippians 2:5-7 NLT)
We have got to draw a very broad distinction between doing a lot of things, as we think “for the Lord,” rushing about and being busy and organizing and conducting and speaking and preaching and taking meetings and classes and all this, and we call this “Christian service.” We have got to draw a very broad line of difference between that and real service to the Lord. Real service to the Lord is the emancipation of a people from this world for Him and the formation of that people according to Christ for a heavenly vocation, and a heavenly vocation now, not afterwards.
You can test your service by this: the measure of the emancipation of the people who come under your hands and the measure of the formation of Christ that is going on. These are things which are service. And then you will discover that, whereas the other line of things with all the movement and activity and feverish and excited work does not call for very much patience of this kind. It does not call for much real self-emptying, no, it does not call for a great deal of meekness: rather I think it ministers to the opposite. It makes us self-important. It makes us proud. It makes us self-sufficient. It makes us self-assertive. It makes us jealous for our position and our ministry, and resentful if it is interfered with. Yes, Christian work does that with many. The true service can be tested by these things, and the true servant can be tested by the measure of those virtues of Christ: utterly selfless, self-empty.
JESUS IS THE TRUE TEMPLE – D.A. Carson
THE CLOSING LINES OF Exodus 40 tie together several important themes already introduced, and anticipate several others. Here the construction of the tabernacle is complete, along with the vestments and accoutrements for priestly service. “Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle” (40:34).
This must be the pillar of cloud (during the day) and the pillar of fire (during the night) that had accompanied them from the beginning. It signaled the very presence of God, and gave them direction as to when and where to move. Now that cloud rests over the newly constructed tabernacle or Tent of Meeting, settling in it, filling it. Indeed, in this inaugural filling, the presence of the Lord is so intense that not even Moses, let alone any other, can enter (40:35). Moreover, from now on the cloud of glory rests upon the tabernacle when the people are to stay put, and rises and leads the people when they are to move on (40:36-38). Six observations:
(1) For the pillar of cloud and fire to rest on the tabernacle is to link this structure with the visible symbol of the ongoing, guiding, powerful presence of God.
(2) At one point, after the wretched rebellion that resulted in the construction of a golden calf, God had refused to go up in the midst of his covenant community. Moses interceded (Ex. 32-34). Here is the fruit of his prayers. The tabernacle is now built, the presence of God hovers over it in the symbolic form with which the people have become familiar, and all of this right in the midst of the twelve tribes.
(3) This focus on the tabernacle at the end of Exodus prepares the way for the opening chapters of Leviticus, viz. the specification of the sacrifices and offerings to be performed in connection with tabernacle service.
(4) That tabernacle anticipates the temple. In fact, it is a kind of mobile temple. In the days of Solomon, when the permanent structure is complete, the glory of God likewise descends there, establishing the link with the tabernacle and with the pillar of cloud and fire of the wilderness years.
(5) To anticipate the future: nothing more powerfully symbolizes the impending destruction of Jerusalem than the vision of the departure of the glory of God (Ezek. 10-11).
(6) Nothing more powerfully attests the unique revelatory and mediating role of Jesus Christ than the insistence that he is the true temple (John 2:19-22); and nothing more powerfully portrays the sheer glory of heaven than the assertion that there is no temple there, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple (Rev. 21:22).
THE WORD OF HIS GRACE – Albert Theron
Acts 20:32 “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”
The apostle Paul spoke these words to the Ephesian elders after three years of ministry in Ephesus. In the last verse of this chapter, it says that they would ‘see his face no more’. This was a farewell and therefore the words that Paul spoke to them on this occasion were solemn and weighty. In this context, he says to them that he commends them to ‘God and the word of His grace’. He could have commended them to some apostolic leader that he trusted or to a specific ecclesiastical order of worship or brilliant strategy, but instead he commends them to God Himself and specifically to the word of His grace.
Paul had enough trust in the merits of the eternal gospel to know that it had the ability to not only sustain believers, but also to build them up. For three years he diligently taught them the message of God’s grace. This grace called them, washed them, justified them, sanctified them, placed them in Christ Jesus, and hence also had the power to keep them and build them up. In Colossians one verse six Paul says to those believers that the gospel brought forth fruit among them since the day they ‘heard and knew the grace of God in truth’. Paul placed no trust in the flesh or in man’s ability to sustain and inspire people. The success of his ministry was directly related to the power of the gospel and the inherent ability of the word of God’s grace to stir the hearts of men and women. Even though he was the apostle to the gentiles and a man with tremendous gifts, he did not place his trust in that. He did not even place his trust in a specific church model, helpful though that may be in certain contexts. He had an intense focus on one thing only and that was the power of the grace of God revealed in the gospel. Hebrews 13 verse nine says that it is good for the heart to be established by grace and not by various and strange doctrines.
Perhaps it is time for the church of God to take these Scriptures at face value. Do we not often trust human plans, organisation, and dynamic leadership to do what only the word of God can do? Should we not rather focus our efforts on the revelation of the word of God’s grace in order for that word to do its mighty work in and amongst us? I leave that question with you for prayerful consideration.
Quote of the Day: “There is no substitute in ministry for the inward working of the grace of God in the heart of man.”
THE TRAP OF POPULARITY – Ralph F. Wilson
“Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” Luke 6:26
Jesus is speaking very seriously to his band of disciples, the Twelve and the others who follow him. “Men and women,” he is saying, “don’t seek popularity and acceptance. Those are false paths. Historically, false prophets were widely accepted and praised when Israel was at its most decadent. Just because people praise you doesn’t mean anything so far as the Kingdom of God is concerned. In fact, when they insult and despise you because you follow me, count it as a great victory, because you are now in the same league as the holy prophets of old.”
I know some Christians who are flat out unlikable people — and so do you. It’s not because they are especially spiritual. It’s because they are grumpy, full of themselves, inconsiderate, and self-absorbed. Some Christians see the fact that they are unpopular as a vindication of their “I’m-right-and-the-world-can-go-to-hell” attitude. That’s not what Jesus is saying.
Nor is Jesus saying his followers will never be popular. For much of his ministry Jesus was immensely popular with the common people.
What he is saying is that popularity is a dangerous value system on which to judge ourselves or others. People are notoriously fickle. What may be in favor one day can be considered poor taste just a few years later. We see massive shifts in public opinion even in shorter time frames. Just because in a democracy “majority rules” does not mean that “majority is right.”
Jesus is saying not to seek popularity, but to seek faithfulness. We are not to seek persecution. But if persecution comes “because of the Son of Man,” then that should be counted a badge of honor rather than something we abhor and shrink from. Our value system is based on love for and faithfulness to God, not the opinions of the community, either good or bad.
KNOWING THE WILL OF GOD – Andrew Murray
Do not ask God only for power. Many a Christian has his own plan of working, but God must send the power. The man works in his own will, and God must give the grace-the one reason why God often gives so little grace and so little success. But let us all take our place before God, and say:
“What is done in the will of God, the strength of God will not be withheld from it. What is done in the will of God must have the mighty blessing of God.”
And so let our first desire be to have the will of God revealed.
If you ask me, Is it any easy thing to get these communications from heaven, and to understand them? I can give you the answer. It is easy to those who are in proper fellowship with heaven, and who understand the art of waiting on God in prayer. How often we ask: How can a person know the will of God? And people want, when they are in perplexity, to pray very earnestly so that God would answer them at once. But God can only reveal His will to a heart that is humble and tender and empty. God can only reveal His will in perplexities and special difficulties to a heart that has learned to obey and honor Him loyally in little things and in daily life.
AFTER OBEDIENCE – WHAT? – Oswald Chambers
And straightway He constrained His disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side. . . .” Mark 6:45-52
We are apt to imagine that if Jesus Christ constrains us, and we obey Him, He will lead us to great success. We must never put our dreams of success as God’s purpose for us; His purpose may be exactly the opposite. We have an idea that God is leading us to a particular end, a desired goal; He is not. The question of getting to a particular end is a mere incident. What we call the process, God calls the end. What is my dream of God’s purpose? His purpose is that I depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay in the middle of the turmoil calm and unperplexed, that is the end of the purpose of God. God is not working towards a particular finish; His end is the process – that I see Him walking on the waves, no shore in sight, no success, no goal, just the absolute certainty that it is all right because I see Him walking on the sea. It is the process, not the end, which is glorifying to God. God’s training is for now, not presently. His purpose is for this minute, not for something in the future. We have nothing to do with the afterwards of obedience; we get wrong when we think of the afterwards. What men call training and preparation, God calls the end. God’s end is to enable me to see that He can walk on the chaos of my life just now. If we have a further end in view, we do not pay sufficient attention to the immediate present: if we realize that obedience is the end, then each moment as it comes is precious.
WE LIVE FOR HIS PLEASURE AND SATISFACTION – Chip Brogden
I was occupying my usual place in the church one Sunday morning, singing and worshipping the Lord, just as I had done for countless Sunday mornings my entire life. Nothing unusual or out of the ordinary was going on. It is difficult to describe what I perceived next, but I can only say that a sense of deep loneliness came over me, a sort of grief. Soon I stopped singing altogether and just listened to those around me. Then I opened my eyes and looked around. I had no reason to feel lonely; I perceived that this sensation was not mine, but the Lord was allowing me to share something that was coming from Him. I realized that we were singing about the Lord, but not to the Lord. We were talking about the Lord, but not to the Lord. We have seen people do this with senior citizens, talking about them as if they were not present, thinking they do not know the difference, while they silently suffer the humility of being treated as if they are not even there. It was then that I understood that we treat the Lord the same way. It was not as if this was a particularly bad service. I have been in bad services, and this one was pretty good! But that made it even worse. The better “our” service, the more the Lord seemed to be left out. It was like having a birthday party for someone and getting so excited about the food and the drinks and the music and our new clothes and the presents that we did not notice that the person having the birthday is sitting over in the corner, alone. I saw that “our” service really was “ours” – for us, and not for the Lord. The singing, the praying, the preaching, the offering, everything was for us, and whether the Lord was satisfied or not, we would be there the next Sunday doing the exact same thing because it satisfied us. I was so affected by what had been revealed to me that I sat down, took out a piece of paper, and wrote down these words so I would not forget that moment: “It is not what I need or what I want. I have come before You, Lord, to meet Your Need, to satisfy Your Want, to yield to Your Desire. I have not come to receive a single thing from You, but rather to give all that I have and all that I am.” I still have this piece of paper today. In some small way I felt that the Lord was satisfied with this simple surrender; indeed, satisfied and pleased in a way that could not be equaled with all the singing and praying and giving and preaching that we were doing. According to outward appearances, we were “on fire” and “alive,” but I had seen things the way the Lord saw them: “You have a name that you are living, but you are dead” (Rev. 3:1b).
CHRISTIANITY IS JUST CHRIST – Watchman Nee
The biggest problem with God’s children today is that the Christianity they know is a fragmented Christianity. One person receives a little grace. Another person receives a little gift. A third person picks up tongue-speaking, while a fourth person experiences some changes in his behavior. Some have love, some have endurance, and some have humility. You may consider this as Christianity. Indeed, this is the Christianity that man speaks of today. But actually, this is not Christianity. Christianity is just Christ. Christianity is not a gift; it is not Christ giving you something. Christianity is just Christ Himself. Can you tell the difference between the two? These are absolutely two different ways; they are two entirely different ways. Christianity is not Christ giving you something. Christianity is Christ giving Himself to you. The problem is that in today‘s Christianity, man thinks only in terms of Christ’s gifts. When he was a sinner, Christ gave him grace and mercy. Now that he has become a Christian, Christ gives him endurance and Christ gives him humility and meekness. It seems as if Christ is giving him many things.
In God’s eyes, what is important is not the gifts of Christ. In God’s eyes, He has given us Christ Himself. God has not given us humility or endurance; He has given us the whole Christ. Christ is becoming our humility, and Christ is becoming our endurance and meekness. It is Christ, the living Lord. This is Christianity.
Please remember that there are no non-personified things in Christianity. We must never receive a merely non-personified thing. In Christianity, all things are personified, and that person is Christ. In other words, our endurance is not a thing; our endurance is a person. Our sanctification is not an experience; our sanctification is a person, something personified. Our justification is not an experience; our justification is a person. Our righteousness is not an act; our righteousness is a person. Our redemption and deliverance are not something that we receive at one time; our redemption and deliverance are a person. Our endurance, humility, meekness, love, etc., are the Lord Himself; they are not things. This is Christianity. Christ is everything to the saints today. There is no need to wait for that day to come.
LIFE IN THE SPIRIT – Albert Theron
If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Galatians 5:25
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. Colossians 3:2
For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7
The whole aim of our redemption in Christ Jesus is to bring us to a place where we will live and walk in the Spirit. Living and walking in the Spirit is not something that is reserved for a special class of believers, it is the privilege and responsibility of every believer. Unfortunately most believers are very slow to move on to this life in the Spirit, for their thoughts somehow remain earthbound and restricted to their natural identity. We have been called to a heavenly life, not only one day in the sweet by and by, but in the here and the now.
Those who are in Christ have been fully identified with His death and His resurrection. In our identification with His death we have died to the old creation and in our identification with His resurrection we have been born anew to a heavenly life. We are sons and daughters of the Most High God and as such we have to live our lives on this earth with the consciousness of being citizens of heaven. We are to live in the freedom of the Spirit, where we are constantly led by the Spirit (Rom. 8:14). This is the dynamic life that everyone has been called to live. God is not pleased with Christian lives that remain in bondage to various things in the world, the flesh, and circumstances year after year when His desire is for us to grow up in Christ and get to the place where we will be consistently yielded to the life and power of the Spirit. The question before us then is how do we live and walk in the Spirit? When we look at the Scriptures before us we see that this new way of living has something to do with our minds and also with the simplicity of faith. As we begin to reckon by faith that we died with Christ and was raised with Him to a heavenly life, the power of the new creation life can begin to make inroads into our daily walk. This whole way of living is based on the persuasion (faith) that we indeed died with Christ and that He now lives in us and through us (Gal. 2:20).
In the first part of the book of Romans we are progressively led into life in the Spirit. We see the contents of our justification in Romans 3:20-31, the importance of faith with regards to this justification in Romans 4, our inheritance in Christ compared with the effects of Adam’s fall in Romans 5, our identification with Christ’s death and resurrection in Romans 6, and the fact that we died to the law as the power of sanctification in Romans 7. All these marvelous truths work together to bring us to life in the Spirit in Romans 8. This is the life that God has in mind for every one of His children.
Quote of the Day: “We need to wake up to the fact that we have been called to demonstrate the power of the heavenly life in our current circumstances in this life, and not only in the life to come.”
BLESSED ARE THE MISFITS – Paul Washer
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who recognize their absolute need of God and live in constant dependence upon Him.” The world says, “Blessed are those with a healthy self-esteem and an optimistic view of mankind.” Does that sound familiar? And Jesus said just the opposite. “Blessed are those who mourn over their fallenness and the fallenness of their world.” But again, I want to catch you here. They mourn and they mourn enough as to turn their eyes off themselves and to place their eyes on Jesus Christ. And their mourning is turned to joy. You see there’s a Godly purpose for mourning. We do not mourn for mourning’s sake. We mourn because it causes us to take our eyes off of self and place our eyes on Christ, the only one who can fill us.
Now, the world says, “Blessed are the driven who put themselves first, make their own plans, and go to any length to get what they want.” I want to tell you something. That is pumped into the head of our youth, even by parents. You go out there. You do it. You win. You get what you want. No one’s going to give it to you, you take it. Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek, who seek the glory of God, His purpose in the world, and who submit to His will.” The world says, “Blessed are those who are satisfied with the priorities and treasures of this world.” One of the great ways you can tell whether or not you are converted is this: Are you so satisfied with the things of this world that you don’t need Jesus, except for that little thing you do on Sunday? You’re so filled with the world, with it’s activities, with its things, its ideas, its dreams, its visions, its purposes that you don’t need to be satisfied in Christ. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who recognize the temporal nature of this world and hunger and thirst for God, for God’s kingdom, and greater conformity to His will.” I would put it this way. Blessed are those who recognize that this is not their home. That they are strangers, and they are pilgrims, and they are outcasts, and their like – if they try to fit into this world they’re like trying to stick a square peg in a round hole. They just don’t fit. Blessed are the misfits.