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Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Manliness of Jesus # 3

The Manliness of Jesus # 3

Even in His trial, Pilate concluded, "I find no fault at all in Him." (John 18:38). Those nearest to Him - saw the most in Him to love and admire. This is not always true of men. Close association with them reveals faults, and unveils blemished and flawed traits. Too close intimacy is ofttimes fatal to admiration. Many people appear better at a distance then when near. But the life of Christ stood the test of close familiarity. He was gentle, thoughtful, patient, unselfish, full of sympathy. He loved men, not because he saw beauty in them - but always with a love which was ready to make any sacrifice to serve them. The Christian, after looking at Jesus from every viewpoint, declares, "Yes, He is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend!" (Song of Songs 5:16).

The world's idea of what makes a man is not always infallibly true. Some people call brutality manly. In some countries "the code of honor," as it is most falsely called, prevails as a canon of manly behavior. If a man thinks he is insulted, he must some way get revenge on his alleged insulter. If he does not, they call him a cringing coward, and he loses social standing. In some places, true virtue in a man is laughed at. They call purity unmanly. But these are low, debased standards. No man who looks God in the face and desires to grow into divine beauty will call brutality manly, or revenge, or sensuality, or dishonesty, or untruthfulness. The only standard of manly character is that set for us in the moral law, a transcript of the character of God Himself.

Jesus brought into the world a new standard of manhood - a divine standard. Jesus showed the world what it is to be truly a man. He showed us a pattern on which we  should all seek to fashion our lives. He was a true man from the crown of His head to the soles of His feet. His was the truest, noblest, strongest, bravest, most unselfish life that ever was lived on the earth! If we seek to grow into His likeness, we shall climb nearer to God and into the noblest, loftiest reach of humanity!

In the teaching of Jesus, too, we find the precepts which set forth the qualities of true manhood. Any man who feels that the gospel of Christ is not fitted to make men brave men, strong men, true men  should read over thoughtfully the sermon on the mount. It begins with the beatitudes, in which the great Teacher sketches in a few bold strokes of ideal manliness.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit.! The world would not write that beatitude; yet who will say that true, unconscious humility is not a shining quality in manly character?

"Blessed are the meek." Again the world would sneer. 'It is contemptible and cowardly to bear injuries patiently, to forgive wrongs, to repay hatred with love!' But true meekness is really manly. It is easier to let resentment blaze our, to let anger burn, to strike the retaliatory blow. But if strength is a quality of manliness, it takes strength to be meek. If generosity be a manly quality, then meekness is manly.

"Bless are the pure in heart." The world does not insist on purity as  a cardinal element in its manliness. But the more shame for the world. Who will stand up before men, in the clear light of day, and contend that impurity of life is not unmanly - that purity of heart is not a radiant quality in true manliness?

All of Christ's teachings, if accepted and obeyed, will help toward the truest manliness. There is nothing weak or unmanly in any quality of character which He commends. There is no easy-going virtue such as the world likes. There are no elements that are not pure, true, and right. A false-hearted man will not find his ideal manliness in Christ. The gospel deals mercilessly with all shams, all unrealities, all unworthy things in life. It denounces in burning words all untruth. Jesus had no patience with anything that was not right and beautiful.

A story is told of one who, reading thoughtfully the fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters of Matthew's Gospel, where so many duties that are strange to flesh and blood are taught, broke out, "Jesus, either this is not Your gospel or we are not Christians!" The lives of professing Christians seemed to him so far below the standard of the sermon on the mount, that he felt these could not be Christ's followers.

But Christ is more than a teacher. A teacher shows us lofty qualities and attainments, and then leaves us in hopeless weakness in the dust. But Christ is Helper, Friend, Saviour - as well as Teacher. He shows us what true manliness is and then comes into our life and inspires us to strive after the things He commends, and then breathes His life into us to help us to be what He teaches us to be.

It is not easy to be a man - a true, noble, Christlike man. It means continual struggle, for enemies of manliness meet us at every step; every inch of the way must be won in battle. It means constant restraint and repression of sin; for the "old man" in us must be subdued and kept under control by the new man we have resolved to be. It means constant, painful discipline; for the powers of nature are evil and unruly, and hard to tame and control. It means unending toil and self-denial; for we must climb ever upward, and the way is steep and rugged, and SELF must be trampled to death under our feet as we rise to higher life. It is hard to be a true man, for all the odds seem against us. But Christ lives, and He is Helper, Friend, and Guide to every man who truly receives Him as Lord and Master.

~J. R. Miller~

(The End)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Never Alone (and other devotionals)

Never Alone

"Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken"   (Isaiah 62:4).

"Forsaken" is a dreary word. It sounds like a knell. It is the record of I sharpest sorrows and the prophecy of direst ills. An abyss of misery yawns in that word forsaken. Forsaken by one who pledges his honor! Forsaken by a friend so long tried and trusted! Forsaken by a dear relative! Forsaken by father and mother! Forsaken by all! This is woe indeed, and yet it may be patiently born if the LORD will take us up. But what must it be to feel forsaken of God? Think of that bitterest of cries, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Have we ever in any degree tasted the wormwood and the gall of "forsaken" in that sense? If so, let us beseech our LORD to save us from any repetition of so unspeakable a sorrow. Oh, that such darkness may never return! Men in malice said of a saint, "God hath forsaken him; persecute and take him." But it was always false. The LORD's loving favor shall compel our cruel foes to eat their own words or, at least, to hold their tongues. The reverse of all this is that superlative word Hephzibah "the LORD delighteth in thee." This turns weeping into dancing. Let those who dreamed that they were forsaken hear the LORD say, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee."

~Charles Spurgeon~

The Source of Your Success

There is no question we live in one of the most prosperous of ages.  And many Christians today live in tremendous prosperity.
It is pretty easy to look at all we have accomplished, and the wealth we have accumulated, and feel pretty good about ourselves.
Today, I want you to read Psalm 44:1-3.  It contains a powerful truth and reminder,
We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, the deeds You did in their days, in days of old:  You drove out the nations with Your hand, but them You planted; You afflicted the peoples, and cast them out.   For they did not gain possession of the land by their own sword, nor did their own arm save them; but it was Your right hand, Your arm, and the light of Your countenance, because You favored them.
Any good thing that you and I possess is the result of God's hand and nothing less.  It is not because we are something special or because we are so intelligent.
When everything is said and done, we are not going to be able to point to our own arm or our own intelligence or our own ability.  We will only be able to stand back and say, "Look what the Lord has done."
If you are prosperous today, I want you to know that it is the result of God's hand and God's arm working on your behalf. 
As you look to the future, if you are going to experience the fullness of what He has for you, it will indeed be the result of the power of His Spirit working in your life.  Not your ingenuity, not your human striving, not the power of your flesh, but the power of His Spirit.

~Bayless Conley~

He opened not his mouth (Isaiah 53:7).

How much grace it requires to bear a misunderstanding rightly, and to receive an unkind judgment in holy sweetness! Nothing tests the Christian character more than to have some evil thing said about him. This is the file that soon proves whether we are electro-plate or solid gold. If we could only know the blessings that lie hidden in our trials we would say like David, when Shimei cursed him, "Let him curse;... it may be... that the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day."
Some people get easily turned aside from the grandeur of their life-work by pursuing their own grievances and enemies, until their life gets turned into one little petty whirl of warfare. It is like a nest of hornets. You may disperse the hornets, but you will probably get terribly stung, and get nothing for your pains, for even their honey is not worth a search.
God give us more of His Spirit, "who, when he was reviled, reviled not again"; but "committed himself to him that judgeth righteously." "Consider him that endureth such contradiction of sinners against himself."
--A. B. Simpson
"Before you" He trod all the path of woe,
He took the sharp thrusts with His head bent low.
He knew deepest sorrow and pain and grief,
He knew long endurance without relief,
He took all the bitter from death's deep cup,
He kept not a blood-drop but gave all up.
"Before you" and for you, He won the fight
To bring you to glory and realms of light.


~L. B. Cowman~

Monday, October 9, 2017



My mind is at times harassed with fear, tormented with doubts, and burdened with a load of guilt. I have tried a variety of things in order to get relief, and have looked for deliverance in many ways. But experience has taught me, that the only way to conquer fear, dissipate doubts, and remove a burden of fresh-contracted guilt — is to look back to the cross! There, I see Jesus as the Sinner's Substitute, bearing our sins, in his own body on the tree, paying all the debt we had contracted, answering all the demands that can be made upon us, harmonizing all the perfections of God in our salvation, and providing a free and full salvation for us. As I look on the cross — I feel peace flow into my soul, and a holy quietness take possession of my spirit.
I ask, "What should I fear? Jesus has made a full atonement for all my sins. He has given full satisfaction, to the law and justice of God, for all my misdeeds.
Why should I doubt? God is love, or he would not have given his Son to die the just for the unjust. Having given his Son, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself — will he not deal graciously with me, and freely give me all things?
Why should I carry a load of guilt? Has not Jesus been punished for me, that I may not be punished? Did not Jesus die, that I may live forever? Is not the atonement of God's own Son sufficient? Does not the blood of Jesus cleanse from all sin? If Jesus suffered for me, if he died in my stead — then surely I may go free.
Thus looking back to the cross, and exercising faith in Jesus, I find my fears depart, my doubts remove, and my sense of guilt taken away. I have peace with God, confidence in God, and can leave all things with God.
Sometimes I feel sad and lonelyI have no one to whom I can open my heart, or into whose ear I can pour all my complaints. I need one who has a fellow feeling with me. One who has experienced what I do. One who can stoop to and help me. At such times I find it best to look up to the throne of grace, and sigh for fellowship with Jesus. He has been tried in all points like as we are. He has a human heart. He has carried the experience of earth, with him to Heaven. He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He is our brother still. He remembers the lonely mountain, the howling wilderness, and the gloomy garden. He never forgets how he felt the need of sympathy, and friendly fellowship, when he went backwards and forwards to his disciples, and found them sleeping. I will therefore lift up my eyes to Jesus in the Heavens, and will seek to pour out my heart before him, and receive comfort and consolation from him. I have always one who feels for me, and feels with me. One that will listen to me, and prove his love by sustaining, cheering, and delivering me.
O Jesus, Savior of my soul, when I look up to you, and believe that you are before the Father for me, and ever sympathize with me — I feel relieved, and the principal sense of loneliness and isolation leaves me! O my soul, whenever earth refuses to furnish you with a companion, a comforter, a friend who can identify himself with you — look up to Heaven, for Heaven will furnish what earth denies!
"Why should any living man complain?" Lamentations 3:39. Occasionally, I am tempted to complain of my hard lot — and think myself harshly dealt with. Ingratitude rises and works in my heart. This always makes me wretched. I then find it profitable to look down into Hell — and realize its horrors and agonies as my just desert.
If anyone ever deserved to go to Hell — I did!
If justice was ever honored in a sinner's damnation — it would have been in mine!
If anyone was ever saved by grace alone — I am the man!
Shall I then, who deserve to be in Hell — but am not; shall I who am an heir of Heavenly glory — though no one ever deserved it less; shall I, because of a few trials, troubles, and disappointments, or because I have rather a heavy cross to carry — shall I dare to murmur, or fret, or complain, or think myself harshly dealt with?
Shocking inconsistency! What are my present pains or sufferings — compared with the Hell that I deserve!
All the afflictions that I am called to endure here on earth — cannot even be compared with only twenty-four hours in Hell! And yet my desert is, not to be in Hell for a few hours — but forever! Surely every lost soul, every damned spirit — will be ready to rise up in judgment against me — if I complain of my present lot! What base gratitude — if I do not praise the Lord with joyful lips, for His rich, free, and sovereign grace!
O my soul, whenever tempted to complain of my difficult lot — think of my deservings! Think of what would have been my eternal doom — if God had not saved me by His sovereign grace! Yes, I do find that looking down into Hell . . .
silences my complaints,
awakens my gratitude, and
humbles me in the dust before my God!
Now and then, I get weary and ready to faint along the long and difficult way. The journey appears so long, the road is so rough, the seasons are so trying, the difficulties increase so fast — and my strength and courage are so small. Every littletrouble is magnified — and numberless mercies are overlooked! Then I find it of advantage to look forward to — the heavenly crown promised, the glorious mansion provided, and the eternal kingdom prepared. O what a splendid close to this dreary pilgrimage! O what a finish to this exhausting race!
heavenly crown — and a crown for the likes of me! A crown of life, a crown of righteousness! A crown of glory which fades not away.
mansion — a glorious residence in my Heavenly Father's house. A residence fitted up by Jesus expressly for me. A residence which anticipates all my wishes, gratifies all my desires, and far exceeds my highest expectations!
An eternal kingdom — and a kingdom prepared to express God's highest love, to display God's deepest wisdom, and to exhibit the exuberant riches of God's glorious grace!
Heaven! Oh, what will Heaven be! The vision of God. The presence of Jesus! "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand!" Psalms 16:11
Heaven! Oh, what I shall see, hear, feel, and possess in Heaven! "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined — what God has prepared for those who love him!" 1 Corinthians 2:9
Looking forward to Heaven — how can I do otherwise than pant for glory? What are the trials along the way — when I think of the end! What are the sorrows of earth — when I think of the joys of Heaven! What are my sufferings for Christ — when compared with the glory which shall be conferred by Christ!
May I, whenever depressed and disconsolate, whenever disheartened and cast down, whenever sad or sorrowful — look forward to the eternal rest which remains for the people of God — to the glorious inheritance promised, to that eternal city that has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. O the glory, the glory — which awaits the way-worn pilgrim, the toil-worn laborer, the exhausted sufferer in the cause of Christ!
And is it not the province and prerogative of faith to act thus? Does not faith ever look BACK to the cross of Jesus — for pardon, peace, and reconciliation to God? Does it not look UP to the throne of God — and sigh for fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ? Does it not look DOWN into the eternal pit, the prison, the torments, from which there is no redemption — in order to fill the soul with gratitude, love, and praise? Does it not also look FORWARD to the unfading crown, the eternal kingdom, and the glorious inheritance — and inspire with hallowed pantings for glory? Yes, it is even so!
Then, O gracious God, increase my faith, and help me to look BACK to Jesus crucified for me — that I may enjoy unspeakable peace, and solid satisfaction of soul!
Help me to look UP to your throne — that I may enjoy the closest, the sweetest, the most hallowed fellowship with you possible!
Help me to look DOWN to the gloomy regions of despair, the abode of misery and woe — that I may be grateful for my deliverance from such a fearful doom!
Help me to look FORWARD to the glory, the splendor, the unspeakable bliss — which is laid up for all who love you, and look for the appearing of your Son.

May my faith be strong, simple, and rightly directed. May it be influential and work by love. May it grow exceedingly, and be found unto your praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. Author of faith — work faith in me! Object of faith — be ever present with me! End of faith — let me embrace you, and rejoice in you forever!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Manliness of Jesus # 2

The Manliness of Jesus # 2

Take His self-control, as a token of His strength. The truly strong man - is he who has great capacities, feelings, passions, powers - and has perfect mastery over them. No matter how great a man may be in abilities, what tremendous energies he may carry in his life - if he is not able to control them, he is pitiably weak! The truly strong man has mighty internal forces, a soul of strength, intense passions, feelings, tempers - and all under perfect control. Jesus stood this test. In Him all human powers reached their highest development, and then He was perfect master of Himself. He was never swerved by opposition, by injustice, by torture - to speak a word unadvisedly. He never lost His temper. He never grew impatient. He never spoke rashly. He never showed envy or resentment. He never fretted, never complained, never was disturbed in the calm of His soul - by outward circumstances. He stood quietly on the boat in the midnight storm. He faced the violent maniac among the tombs - as if He had been a sleeping baby. He went in and out among the hostile Jews - as quietly as if they had been His dearest friends.

Think of His self-control in suffering. Never has any being undergone pain so deep and terrible - as was the pain of Christ in the garden and on the Cross! - but they are nothing, compared to those which Jesus endured! We have hints of the almost unbearable burden of His heart, in the strong cryings which came from Gethsemane, and in the word of forsakenness which breaks from His lips on the Cross. But through all His indescribable sufferings - He maintained the most perfect calm! He never murmured. His peace was never once broken. It is manly strength - which endured so quietly such incomprehensible suffering!

Or think of His patient bearing of wrong and enmity. From the beginning of His public ministry, He met injustice. He was rejected by those He sought to help. Toward the end, these antagonisms became more bitter. But He endured them all with heroic patience. He never showed the slightest fear. He never grew angry. Recall His patient bearing in His unjust trials - and His silence before the Jewish council, before Pilate, before Herod. Think of His silence and patient submission when crowned with thorns, mocked, scourged, spit upon! It takes a great deal more strength to bear indignities and reproaches quietly and sweetly - then it does to resent them, to resist them, to lift up voice and hand against them, especially if one has power to resist. Yet that was the strength Jesus had. "Do you think I cannot call my Father, and He will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matt. 26:53).

When about to be crucified, they offered Him a stupefying potion, to deaden His consciousness of pain. It was a kindness offered by Jewish women. But He quietly refused it, and accepted the full measure of pain which crucifixion involved, with every sense at its keenest. When the nails were driven through His flesh, the only cry wrung from Him - was a prayer for the men who were crucifying Him. Can anyone read the story of Jesus, and note the strength which marks it all - and then say that He was not a manly man?

Another element of ideal manliness is true love, or generosity. We may call it by different names. It is large-heartedness. One writer puts it thus, "A sincere and kindly temper, which overlooks faults, which easily forgives wrong - is a part of any ordinary notion of manliness." There are men with many strong points, who are lacking in this quality. They are suspicious, jealous, envious, secretive, narrow, intolerant. They are envious of other men's prosperity. They are ungenerous toward other men's faults. They are selfish, exacting, thoughtless, resentful. They are brusque, stern, harsh in their talk. These are blemishes on their manliness. But those who read the story of the life of Jesus - find in Him at every point the finest spirit of kindness and generosity. He was the truest gentleman that ever lived. We have seen His courage and His strength; no less wonderful was the gentle side of His character. He was large-hearted, tolerant of other men, patient with men's weaknesses, sincere in all His words and acts, gentle and kindly in all His converse.

~J. R. Miller~

(continued with # 3)

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Manliness of Jesus # 1

The Manliness of Jesus # 1

The question has been raised, whether Christianity is not a religion for women, rather than for men. It has been claimed by some that the virtues it inculcates are feminine, rather than masculine; that it does not appeal to the manly instincts and sentiments, as it does to the womanly; that its principles and qualities are not those recognized among men as belonging to the truest and sturdiest manhood. There is at least a widespread impression, that in actual experience, Christianity is not making the best possible men. That is what the world charges. It says Christianity's men are lacking in the stalwart qualities, that they are sentimental and weak - and not always unalterably true, not always upright, lacking in virile force.

No doubt there are in Jesus, all the gentler qualities which we think of as belonging to woman. But are not these very graces, adornments also of manly character? Is it a shame for a man to be kindly, tender-hearted, patient, sympathetic? Yet while these gentler qualities undoubtedly appear in the character of Jesus - no less are there in Him the elements of strength, courage, heroism, justice, unflinching integrity. It takes both to make complete manliness.

F. W. Robertson says that Christ's heart had in it, the blended qualities of both sexes. "There is in Him," he says, "the woman heart - as well as the manly brain." There is something very beautiful in this thought, that in Jesus whatever is best and truest in both man and woman is found. A woman who is seeking for whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely in womanhood, the graces of refined character: gentleness, sweetness, lovingness - finds all these qualities in Jesus Christ. On the other hand, a man who is looking for whatever things are just, whatever things are honorable the elements of noble manhood, will also find these qualities in Christ. In Him all the excellences of manhood, as planned by God, found their perfection.

As Roberson says, "Once in this world's history was born a Man. Once in the roll of ages, out of innumerable failures, from the stock of human nature one bud developed itself into a faultless flower. One perfect specimen of humanity has God exhibited on earth." Other men, the best, the truest, the worthiest, have in them only a little fragment of a complete life; but in Christ is the perfect humanity, as if that which is best and truest in every man, and that which is tenderest, gentlest, and purest in every woman - were in His character.

What are the manly qualities? Thomas Hughes says courage is the foundation of all true manliness. He means not mere physical courage, which one may have and yet be a moral coward - but that courage which adheres to that which is right - quietly, firmly, in the face of all danger and all antagonism, and goes straight on, with unwavering persistence, to its goal. Do we find courage in Jesus? Recall the meaning of His mission. He came into the world to destroy the works of the devil. He was the second Adam, standing for the race. The first Adam had failed and fallen. What the consequences of ruin and sorrow were, we know in a little measure. Now Jesus came to fight the battle over, to reclaim what had been lost. The interests of the whole human race were in His hands that day, as the heavens opened and the Spirit came down upon Him.

Suppose He had failed. But He did not fail. He met terrible antagonism. He went from His baptism into the wilderness, where He endured terrific assaults from satan. Suppose He had failed then, what would have been the consequence? But He met the tempter in fierce battle, and stood like a rock. So it was through all His life. He never wavered in His purpose to be true. He had in His year of popularity, a sorer test of moral courage, than opposition. Many men yield to the seductions of flattery and favor - and fail to be true; who in the storm of enmity - are as faithful as the compass. But Jesus was not swayed by popularity, and never veered aside from the straight path.

Then opposition came. The crowds began to forsake Him. The rulers were against Him. Enemies gathered in increasing number. The end was drawing near, and He knew what the end would be. The shadow of the Cross fell upon His soul that day when He was being baptized. Every step of His life - was toward Calvary. Yet as the plots thickened, as the shadows deepened, He wavered not. He set His face steadfastly to go to Jerusalem though He knew what waited there for Him. Never before nor since has the world seen any other such trial of courage - as was Christ's. He was standing for our salvation, and He faltered not in the testing. "For I, the Son of man, must suffer many terrible things; I will be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and must be killed!" (Luke 9:22).

We praise the heroism of the soldier who stands unflinching, at the risk of death, in defense of his country. We praise the heroes at all life's posts of danger who are faithful to their trust. That is well. But the loftiest heroism of the ages - was that of Jesus!

Strength is another quality of manliness. It is good to be physically strong. But one may be a Hercules in body - and a pygmy in moral strength. Samson could carry off city gates - but could not withstand the temptations of idleness and lust. The strength of many men is marred by weakness of some sort. We say, "Every man has his weak point." But you will search in vain in the story of Jesus, for any betrayal of weakness in Him. We see His majestic strength, side by side with His courage, in His conflicts with the tempter, in His persistent devotion to the divine will, in His blamelessness and sinlessness amid all the seductions of life. Everywhere we see Him - He is kingly.

~J. R. Miller~

(continued with # 2)

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Shining Face # 2

The Shining Face # 2

I cannot tell you what a blessing this brought to my own heart when the Lord showed me what He had made the Lord Jesus to Himself on my behalf. I was always craving to bring to the Lord something that would satisfy Him in myself. If I could bring to the Lord a perfect life, that would please Him and satisfy Him, and He could be perfectly satisfied with me! But it was impossible and it seemed no good trying. The more you try, the further away you seem to be, and the longer you live the more you know the utter deceitfulness of your own heart.

Oh, to be able to come before the Lord with something that would please Him! And now the Lord says, "I have made the provision for all that. I have provided you with absolute spiritual and moral perfection. I have found those in One, and I have put them into your hands. I accept you in Him, I am satisfied with you in Him, you are accepted in the Beloved." You cannot bring perfection to God, and that is the only thing that will satisfy Him, but the Lord Jesus fulfills - fills full - all the Divine requirement.

In Leviticus, God speaks about the offering. "If any man desires to bring an offering," then the Lord provides as to the offering. You have got to desire to bring an offering. And you know quite well it is no use bringing to God anything that is not absolutely perfect, and where will you find that? That only which is according to Christ satisfies God. When this breaks upon us, it is rest. It is the shining, countenance. When we get to the perfections of His Son, we have found the good pleasure of God and we stand, not looking at God askance, but we stand by the side of God and we are both looking at the same thing and sharing the same glory. God's objective is the Lord Jesus.

Moses did not know that his face was shining. It is a great thing to be occupied with the Lord Jesus inside, and people will take note of it. "He wist not that his face shone," but others did, and that is the important thing.

Daniel's Secret Of the Shining Face

Daniel has learned the secret of the shining face, and there is something deeper here, more testing. Daniel is in Babylon. Babylon is in the ascendancy. Jerusalem is in ruins. We know what these things mean spiritually. We know that that which really is wholly according to God, that which was at the beginning, is not to be found today - that where the Holy Spirit absolutely governs and where it is all the Lord Jesus. You do not find that in the ascendancy today. It is the other religious system made by man that is in the ascendancy. That is Babylon. And the mass of the Lord's people are in captivity to it, a man-made Christian system.

And here is Daniel seeing that which is according to God broken, ruined, and he sees this other thing, that is not according to God, holding sway and engulfing the mass of the Lord's people. The wonder of it all is that Daniel did not accept Babylon. He repudiated Babylon and clung to Jerusalem. If Jerusalem is literally in ruins, to Daniel it is not so. He does not accept the things seen. He knows that Babylon is only a temporary thing and that God is going to have His testimony again. And God is going, through a remnant, to get His house again. He knows that God cannot be defeated and so he will not defile himself with the king's dainties. God is his life and he repudiates that which seems to have the upper hand for the time being and clings to God.

Daniel also sees beyond and sees when Babylon and all the other kingdoms will be shattered. If you accept Babylon you will lose the shining face. If you accept religion as it is today and say, "It is the best there is," you will get involved in something that is not of God. And people more and more today are revolting, and are not satisfied. People say, "Oh, to be out of it, to find the real thing." God is going to have His real thing. God cannot be robbed of that thing which He has set His heart upon. Let us set our hearts upon it, and not accept anything else. It is so easy to say, "Christianity is in a mess, but we must make the best of a bad job." But there is no joy along that line. God is working today secretly even in Babylon. And when we come to the Book of Ezra, we find that God acts sovereignly. He stirs up the spirit of Cyrus and he makes a proclamation. That is God's outside action. But there is a company with whom God has secretly worked in Babylon.

And God is seen working in Babylon today with His own remnant and they are gradually moving in a detachment from this system so that when God's time comes He will have that which is after His mind. But Daniel was the first one. He represented that company. He stood for what was of God although it might not be manifested at the moment. Do not accept anything less than what God has set His heart upon. Daniel's secret of the shining face was in that He looked onto God's sure end and believed that in a dark day the ultimate purpose and thought of God was certain of realization.

Stephen's Secret

Stephen - all that were in the council, looking upon him, saw his face as it were the face of an angel. What is the secret? I believe the second passage is the secret, "And lifting up his eyes he said, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." Stephen was a man full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and the Holy Spirit had drawn Stephen's attention to the Lord Jesus in glory. Read Acts 7. It is almost matchless in New Testament literature, and see the place that he gives to the Lord Jesus. He heads it right up to the Lord Jesus in glory and, while he is under the test, that is the thing that sustains him, and when he comes to the last moment he sees literally with his eyes what he had been seeing with his heart all the way through. And that just means this - when we see the Lord Jesus in glory we have seen this, that God having got Him there, the Son of Man, having got one all-inclusive Man there, it is all right for us. He can get us there!

That One has simply fathomed all judgment, all death, all the power of satan and the grave. He has exhausted all and God has got Him there. He had all the sin of all the creation from Adam onward heaped upon Him, and then that One came to glory. He had all the power and fury of the devil heaped upon Him, and God got that One to glory; the power of death and hades being liberated upon Him, and God brought that One to glory. We will never have to go through all that He went through. Stephen saw that One man in the glory, being such a One as He was, is the guarantee that God could get him there, let all hell rush upon him. It is the secret of the shining face.

Sometimes we may, by reason of many things, wonder if we shall get to glory, if we shall hold out to the end, but blessed be God, He is capable of getting us there. It is not our doing, it is the Lord's doing. Why? Because He has already got our Forerunner in His presence. That bears you up in the time of opposition. And men filled with the Holy Spirit are especially the object of stones.

Paul's Secret

And now, finally, what Paul says about himself and about us. "We all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory" - transformed. It is by the Lord, the Spirit. And what is the secret of this shining face? II Corinthians 4:6, "God hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." The secret of the shining face in this case is not Christ objectively, but Christ subjectively. It is a blessed thing to realize that the One Who has gone up there in His great triumph is within us. But the Lord is inside us, Who has already overcome. We are familiar with the terms, but it is a great day when suddenly we wake up to know what Christ is in us. Has it ever come to you by a sudden flash of light? Christ in you! "Know ye not as to your own selves, that Christ is in you" (II Cor. 13:5). "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith" (Eph. 3:17). Get that, spiritually apprehended, and you have got the shining face. All that which is around you is no match for Him. "Greater is He That is in you, than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4).

Ask the Lord to make this live. To know this means a wonderful lot to the life. May the Lord take us back with that in our hearts which speaks of the Lord Jesus! That is the testimony. Our eye is upon what God's eye rests upon, our hope is set upon God's hope, our assurance upon God's assurance. And it is all the Lord Jesus!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(The End)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Shining Face # 1

The Shining Face # 1

Read: Daniel 1:8-16; Acts 6:15; 7:56

"And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai (with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount), that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while He talked with him. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him" (Exodus 34:29-30).

"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Cor. 3:18).

You will notice the common feature of all these passages is the shining face. We have been gathered together for a season up here on the mountain with the Lord and we have to go back, to be scattered in different places, and meet the difficult situations, and we want to go back with shining faces. But we want to know the secret of the shining face. That does not need to be taken literally. We may not always have a countenance that is cracking with mirth, but there is that which even in the midst of adversity and difficulty and suffering and trial speaks of something within the heart that is God's peace, God's rest, God's joy. It is possible to know the peace that passeth understanding. It is possible to know joy unspeakable and full of glory even amidst very great pressure and suffering. It is possible for there to be recognized, even in a pain marked countenance, something that is of God.

What one is speaking of is not necessarily just a shining of our faces, but something shining through our faces, something which our faces indicate which is more than merely human endurance, human bravery and courage; something of the deep strength and grace of God. That is what I mean by the shining face, and in these four instances of which we have read we have the secrets of the shining face in this sense. You know it is that that is the testimony. It is not always the things that we say,but that which is expressed through us in times of stress and trial and provocation and opposition and antagonism and suffering. It is then that that which is caught, as it were back of our faces, that is the testimony.

When it is known that we are undergoing trial, when it is known that we are in suffering, when it is known that others in a different realm would act and speak and react to things in the flesh, as men would react; there is just that betrayal o something of the Lord Jesus. That is the testimony. It is the betraying of the Lord Jesus in the right sense. And it will be very little good to the Lord, very little gain to Him or us, if as we go back and continue in the scenes of our life, and when there is a test, there is not some fuller indication of the Lord Himself in our hearts and lives. People will come to their conclusions on that basis - what we reveal under pressure, under trial.

That is the proof of the thing, not what we know and what we say. But when we pass through intense difficulties and adversity, what is revealed at such times. And in order that the testimony may be maintained, we want to understand what the secrets of the shining  face are. They are four-fold-

"Moses Wist Not That His Face Did Shine"

The first is in the case of Moses. Moses had been up in the mount with the Lord and the Lord had spoken with him. Moses had come to see that upon which the eye of the Lord was resting. He had stood by the side of the Lord and he had looked with the Lord's eyes as the Lord brought before him His own vision, and that vision was expressed in the type, in the tabernacle. It all passed before the eye of Moses in the most minute detail. From the ark, out to the Holy Place to the Court and all its contents, and the priesthood and the sacrifices, and he saw what God's eye was resting upon. And by reason of the Lord's speaking to him about that, he became alive with the very glory of the Lord.

It is a wonderful thing to recognize that the Lord's glory became imparted to Moses by reason of that which became the common object of their eyes. What the Lord was looking at, Moses was looking at, and as they both looked at it together they shared the same glory. When does the Lord's own face light up with glory? When is the Father's face full of glory? When He looks upon the Lord Jesus. The tabernacle was only the Lord Jesus in a representation, and it was the Lord Jesus in all His Mediatorial, Priestly Person and work gathered up in a great system, but it was the Person of the Lord Jesus as relating to man's fellowship with God - the place, the sphere where God and man come into oneness, where God can, without sacrificing His holiness, have fellowship with man and where man can, without being consumed by the very holiness of God, have fellowship with God. From Him, the Lord Jesus Christ, with a central most reality of the mercy seat He will speak with you face to face.

God has set forth Christ as a propitiation. God sees beyond the pattern to the reality, His Son, and it was Christ Who was in the eye of the Father in all His wonderful, mediatorial work to bring men nigh to God and God nigh to man. When that is in the eye of God, His face is full of glory, and when we get what is in His eye, we partake of the glory of the shining face of God.

Simply, it just means that when we are occupied with the Lord Jesus in all that He is from the Father to us and to the Father for us, when are are occupied with Him, then we know the shining face. Be occupied with anything else and you lose the shining face. He occupied with yourself and your own spiritual life and condition, so that you are always self-analyzing, and it will not be long before you have lost the shining face.

Keep your eye upon Jesus and you will know the secret of the shining face. Look around on things as they are in the world and you will lose it. The secret of the shining face is to get God's thought about the Lord Jesus, to get your eye where God's eye is. That is tremendously important.

The only hope for God of the ultimate realization of His purpose is to look at the Lord Jesus. He has all the guarantee in Him. And He says, "Because He is what He is, My end is secure, I have My Sabbath, My rest, My eye is upon Him." And until we have seen that God has reached His end in Christ, and our eyes are upon Him, we have not got the secret of hope and confidence and rest and satisfaction. It is the secret. It is a wonderful reality.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2)