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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Words of Wisdom and Revelation # 3

Words of Wisdom and Revelation # 3

The Cost of Ministering Real Food

The Lord, Who wants the most and Whose heart is set upon "bread" for His people - that over the whole earth His people should receive strength, sustenance, building up, through your ministry, individually or collectively - if it is going to be like that, to satisfy that desire of His heart, you are going to have a difficult time, you are going through the "threshing-floor"; you are going to know the "bruising".

If the Lord is not able to do that, and He has to keep us on the elementary, easy-going basis, where we are all having a happy time, and the Lord very rarely does anything corrective and stringent, it is not a compliment to our spiritual life. It may just mean that He is not able to do all that He would do if He could in this great need of bread.

The idea has been very common in Christianity that it is a great and wonderful thing to be "mightily used of the Lord!" Oh, to be a great evangelist! Oh, to be a great teacher! Oh, to be a great Christian worker! Let me tell you, that is an entirely false conception. The truth is that those who serve the Lord most truly go through the deepest suffering. The balances are truly kept by God - extra suffering, extra usefulness, little suffering, little usefulness. That is how God keeps His balances. You may be having a more or less easy time. I do not want to dishearten you by saying it may not always be so, but if you really want to be of greater use to the Lord, remember it may be by a deeper discipline of the Lord. And if you are having a particularly difficult time, most likely it is because the Lord is going to meet needs more fully through you.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Spiritual Knowledge

An essential result of the Spirit's government and work is spiritual knowledge. Paul laid much emphasis upon this in both of his letters to Corinth.

Where the Holy Spirit has the ground of Christ to work upon, there will be much light and intelligence among the saints. The tragedy of the average believer, and of many companies of believers, is their spiritual ignorance, their little understanding, the smallness of their apprehension of Christ.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

The Importance of Seeing

The Watchman in the Prophets was a man depicted or described as a man with a "burden" - "the burden of the word of the Lord".

So great are the issues of Purpose, so vital to life and work is the meaning of the Church's eternal vocation, that anyone who enters into it in reality will be one who has a deep sense of heavy responsibility. What he says is what he has seen!  But it is unto the seeing that God would bring all His people, for only as they see can they fulfill their heavenly calling. The Church itself is meant to be a Body with eyes wide open. The quest of the great Church-Apostle must be the quest of the Church itself - "a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the (full) knowledge of Him" (Ephesians 1:17).

~T. Austin-Sparks~

God's Total Concentration

The one object is Christ. God has, all-inclusively, committed Himself to fill His Son with all things, and to fill all things with His Son. To bring Christ in, and to increase the measure of Christ, both extensively and intensively, is God's sole object, and cooperation with Him in this is the only true service of God. Conversions are not ends and objects in themselves. Every new believer is a vessel of Christ. The fact in every "new birth" is that Christ has come in. But the Scriptures do not leave it there. The greatest part of the New Testament is occupied with the increase of Christ in believers. That is the personal aspect. Beyond this the Church as a whole is brought into view as that which is to be "the fullness of Him". Then local churches are represented as vessels and vehicles of Christ beyond individual possibility and capacity. The whole idea of the Holy  Spirit is to make the fullness of Christ a reality. The test of all Christian work will be its effectiveness in really enlarging the measure of Christ in this universe.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Spirituality the Top Priority

If the work of God is essentially spiritual, then it demands spiritual people for its doing; and the measure of their spirituality will determine the measure of their value to the Lord. Because this is so, in God's mind the servant is more than the work. If we are going to come truly into the hands of God for His purpose, then we shall be dealt with by Him in such a way as to continually increase our spiritual measure. Not our interest in Christian work; our enthusiasms, ambitions, energies, or abilities; not our academic qualifications, or anything that we are in ourselves, but simply our spiritual life is the basis of the beginning and growth of our service to God. Even the work, when we are in it, is used by Him to increase our spiritual measure. Any Christian work which does not have the effect of adding to the measure of Christ in the worker is either not the true Divine service, or is itself working to his or her condemnation and injury.

The Apostle's word, "not a novice" (1 Timothy 3 6), as to "overseers" would - if applied to all taking responsibility in the things of God - correct must that is weak and painful in organized Christian work. The lack of an essential measure of maturity has resulted in tragedy in many lives under strain, and many defeats in the work. Too often the devil has either weakened or destroyed the work and the worker by making the activities too heavy and exacting for the spiritual life to measure up. It is not truths stated, ideas set forth, doctrines preached, etc.' but the spiritual life, power, and measure behind it all that settles its real value and fruitfulness.

Again, because this is true, there is no end to spiritual growth in this life. We are really only getting to a position to be of some value, because of experience and understanding, when we are taken away. This would make life an enigma and something of a mockery were it not that the greater measure and nature of our service was to be afterward when and where "His servants shall serve Him. And they shall see His face."

The training must be above all things that which will produce spiritual men and women. Lectures on the Bible, and analysis of its books, will never make a true servant of Christ. The need is for a spiritual knowledge of the Word of God; it must be spiritually taught and apprehended. That which lies behind the letter as to the Divine mind must be seen. The teaching and study of the Scriptures must have immediate spiritual effect in the life of those concerned. The Word of God will only profit in so far as it comes to us in spiritual power.

There must be life as in a spiritual family, so that all the lessons of forbearance, patience and cooperation are learned. The Cross must be known in the numerous and frequent occasions when the flesh in ourselves and in others rises because of human failures and faults. The great value of fellowship has to be learned in the testing conditions of life at close quarters over a sufficient period.

The training of workers should be in close relationship with church life as constituted and formed on the true organic basis of the Body of Christ. Not just a preaching place, or one where meetings are held and attended; but where there is true corporate life and mutuality in building up. In such, and out from such corporate life, ministry and service should be developed; not just technicians from an institute. No one should really be allowed to go out into whole time Christian service who has not had a true church training and learned the meaning and value of corporate life.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Words of Wisdom and Revelation # 2

Words of Wisdom and Revelation # 2

The Peril of Sidetracks

For those who, like the New Testament writers, have a real burden and sense of responsibility for the spiritual life of God's people, one of the most heart-breaking things is the way in which so many who gave promise of going right on with the Lord are caught in some side-track and turn to something other or less than He meant for them. Not necessarily to sin or to the world, but to something which, while it brings them a great deal of gratification for a time, eventually proves to be a diversion resulting in arrested spiritual growth, and they are found in a backwater, a cul-de-sac, occupied with an alternative to "the whole counsel of God." Their "new discovery," or "light", or "guidance", as they speak of it, by reason of the let-up of some tension, solution of some problems, promise of release into self-realization, and escape from pressure, when the novelty and glamour have worn off, is found to have been "deceitful waters", producing Jericho's fruits which fall before they are ripe.

The pathway of God's eternal purpose is strewn with such tragedies. The Bible, in both of its Testaments, records the sad story of many who have missed the way, turned aside, and - to use the language and fear of Paul - not attained "unto the prize of the high calling." The New Testament is predominantly occupied with warnings, admonitions, exhortations, and entreaties, because of this possibility, and with the tragic contingency as the ever-lurking peril and threat.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

The Divine Idea of Ministry

Our technical, professional conceptions of "the ministry" are mostly external: that is, you give a title, you more or less put on a uniform; and so you are "the minister." It is all put on the outside, therefore it can be artificial. But what the apostle is saying ... is that the ministry is not something that you put on, but something that comes out from within. Any special application of that word "ministry" would only be permissible, in the New Testament, in measure, and not in kind. That is, some have a special ministry, and they are God's ministers in that particular way, with that particular measure. It is not that they are a class called "ministers", and other people are "laity" - such ideas are altogether foreign to the New Testament.

The apostle is clearly saying that the personality and the ministry must be one. How searching that is, but how very meaningful. The ministry must not be some "thing" - preaching, teaching, and all those things that are called "ministry" - something just done, while the man himself is different, and the person apart. What Paul is saying so emphatically is that when you meet a truly Spirit-indwelt and Spirit-governed man or woman, what they say comes out of their life - is a very part of their life. Their teaching can be seen to have been wrought into their history and their experience. When that man or that woman seeks to teach, to "minister", to say something to someone else of a Christian character, it is known that that has come out of some secret history with God, something that the Holy Spirit has done in them. Their ministry and their character are identical.

The "ministry" with Paul is nothing less than, nothing other than, what is true of Christ coming out of the life of His servants, of His people, being there, and coming out.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

The Prophet as Troublemaker

It is essentially a part of the ministry of a prophetic instrument to cause trouble. It is inevitable, it is the very nature of things. For the very function of the prophet came into view when things were not right. If things had never gone wrong, had never needed adjusting, correcting, or bringing to some greater measure of spiritual fullness, there would have been no need of prophets. We should know very, very little about prophets if things had gone right on as they should have done. The function of the prophets was to keep and hold before the people of God His full thought concerning them, especially in the face of certain things that worked very definitely against it. And it is just because of that clash and conflict that the trouble arises.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Food In Due Season

Most of us who have sought to go on with the Lord to the full end know how, at different stages, certain kinds of spiritual food have met our need. But the time has come when a certain kind no longer helps us and we look for something more. The Lord has His provision along the road suited to the particular point of progress.

The spiritual life follows closely the course of the natural infancy, childhood, youth, manhood, maturity. It is, however, necessary to note that the Word of makes it very evident that the last governs all the others. "Full growth" governs all in the mind and will of God, and it is subnormal or abnormal to stay unduly long at any stage short of that end. A consideration should be given by every normal Christian - not to what he or she likes or fancies, but - to what is necessary to carry the life forward beyond its present measure. All the Lord's dealings with us in discipline and ordering are governed by this end - to increase the measure of Christ in us, and He would have us to be concerned about the food question in this direction.

We should not write off as valueless certain food, because at present we cannot understand it. If we go on with the Lord, that which at this stage is beyond us may come to be our very life. The point is, let us be always going on, reaching forward.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Words of Wisdom and Revelation # 1

Words of Wisdom and Revelation # 1

Divine Discontent

While "the Word of the Lord" may have come to Patriarchs, Prophets, Judges, Apostles, resulting in a commission and a mandate, it is very easy to discern that, either before or by that word, there was found in them an unrest, a dissatisfaction, a sense that there was something more in the intention of God. Inwardly they were not settled and satisfied. Maybe they could not define or explain it. They did not know what they wanted. It was not just a discontented disposition or nature. It was not just criticism, or querulousness, or disgruntledness, a spirit of being "agin the government", as of a malcontent. God was not satisfied, and He was on the move. There sensitive spirits, like Abraham, and Moses, and Samuel, and Daniel, and Nehemiah, and a host of others in every age - Old Testament, New Testament, and since - have been God's pioneers, because of the inward link with His Divine discontent.

Of course, this is one aspect of all spiritual progress, but it is very true of every new thing of God. If this discontent is a truly Divine activity, it will not be a matter of mere human frustration. It will have nothing to do with natural ambition or aggressiveness. It will resolve into a sheer issue of spiritual life or death. It will become a soul-travail.

Do you see that "churches" should not be just congregations, preaching places for religious observances? They should be, in their inception, constitution, and continuation, the answer to God's dissatisfaction; that which provides Him with the answer to His age-long quest in the hearts of all concerned.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

The Balance of Knowledge and Achievement

To recognize and thing is to stand possessed of one of the most vital factors in endurance and attainment. It is this, under the hand of God there is always maintained the balance of inward education or knowledge with any outward achievement. The real value of any true pioneer is not that he, by sheer force of will, got somewhere, but that at every stage and every phase he gathered knowledge, by which knowledge he learned the very laws of life, of survival, of salvation; of effectiveness, conservation, and wisdom. He was not merely a doer, he was a learner in his doing, and a doer by his learning.

Paul, Simpson, Taylor were doers, but their whole course was one of spiritual learning. God held them very rigidly to this. There were times when they could go no further, do no more, unless they had some new and fresh knowledge resulted in a new phase of practical progress. It is of great educative value to see in such lives how each step in the work was the result of some new spiritual lesson learned in an inner walk with God.

If we try just to imitate the outward aspects and copy the resultant framework of such work, without the same inward history, we are in danger of being saddled with a corpse without life; a machine without power; a body without personality. All the reproductive works of God begin with an inward organic life, not with an outward form. Jesus has once and for all defined the law of that life in saying: "This is life eternal, that they may know Thee...and Him Whom Thou didst send." The law of life is spiritual knowledge of God, and there is really no other true knowledge of God.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

God's Ultimate Objective

In relation to His full purpose, God is ever found seeking and taking up a people in whom that purpose has been revealed, and whose life is constituted according to it. God's conforming work, are governed by a purpose, which is centered in His Son. Nothing that God does is, in His mind and intention, something in itself, or an end in itself, all is related to His clear and definite purpose. The Bible throughout shows us that God is ever in quest of a people who have sen what that purpose is, and who are under His hand to be constituted according to that purpose, to serve Him in it.

Such an instrument, related to the purpose, is brought into experience that definitely bear upon that purpose:P that is, they are constituted according to the purpose of God. The purpose of God, in relation to His Son, is that Christ shall ultimately fill all things, and all things shall be summed up in Him. He is to be the universal Lord, and what is true of Him, characteristically, is to become true of the Church: it is to take its character from Him, in order that, so doing, it may be the very vessel and instrument of His government in all the coming ages. If that is so, then a very great deal has got to be done in us to make it possible!

For this is not just an official thing: it is not that God just takes us up and puts us into an official position, willy-nilly, as though it didn't matter what sort of people we were. Oh no - a lot has get to be done to bring a people there. And so we find that in such instruments, as we have them in the Word of God (and they are only indicative of God's abiding methods and principles), the thing in which they were called was wrought into their very being.

And God is seeking to make a constitution in a people. Any instrument that He is to use must have that constitution, and it has got to come right out of what God has done in us. That explains a very great deal.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

The Kind of Man God is After

The point is that God has put right down into this world, into the midst of mankind, a new kind of man, who is not just better, more or less, than other men, but different altogether from other men; and has, in effect, said, "That is the Man that I have in view, and eternally it has been My purpose to conform to that image."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Words of Wisdom and Revelation

Words of Wisdom and Revelation

Ministry Born Out of Experience

If you are in any way engaged in ministry, or the work of the Lord, no matter how much you study, how much you read up the subject matter, however diligent you are in your research, it will count for nothing if there is not behind it an experience which makes resurrection - that is, a deep experience which makes resurrection the only way out. The Lord has no place for mere mechanical teachers and preachers, reproducers of matter secondhand. The Lord's principle is to bring everything right into experimental relationship to the person concerned, and so it is kept in power and freshness and reality.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Ministry Born Out of Adversity

Do believe this. If you want to be able to help people, to enrich them, to bring them into the wealth that is in Christ, to deliver them from their poverty - and God knows how poverty-stricken His people are, and how little they know of His wealth - if you want to help others to a knowledge of this wealth, it is by way of the light which comes through resurrection. In more simple terms, if you are going through a deep and dark time, you may have very rich treasures of darkness. The right attitude toward our times of death and darkness is that this can mean wealth - the Lord means more riches out of this thing for others; something for their enrichment, is going to come out of our times of spiritual death. It is effective light that enriches, that brings into wealth.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

A Way of Deliverance

As we look on ahead, we dread some things for we know that those things are beyond us altogether; but we have got to take this position. We must look at our situation today, and say: "This situation holds something. The Lord is not changing it; He is just not doing all that I am longing for, and craving for, and waiting for - changing my position and circumstances, and getting me right out of it. I pray, and there is nothing; there is no getting through, He is not doing it. Therefore, I must look at it in another way. There is a secret in this, and I have got to get hold of that secret. What does the Lord intend to teach me and to give me in this situation, that I can bring out of it as fruit, as stock-in-trade for the work in the days to come? What is it? I must get it!"

If we take that attitude toward things, I think we shall probably find that that is our way of deliverance, our way out, our way through.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

The Divine Priority

There is one all-comprehending, all-embracing, all-governing purpose to which God has committed Himself, by creation, by redemption,and by union. That purpose is the conformity of a race to the image of His Son. If our requests regarding things were granted, while we were left, the same people,unchanged in disposition and nature, it would not be long before we should be in the same unhappy condition over other things. There is poss8ible for us some inherent quality that wears out circumstances and reigns above them. Some of the most radiant people have been the greatest sufferers, in infirmity, poverty, or other forms of adversity; while the most "privileged" are often the most discontented.

We may have to let go the particular occasion of our trouble, and first recognize, and then embrace with our heart, the fact that in the affliction there resides the immense eternal potentiality of an increase of the image of God's Son, which is to be the one and the only character and nature of the eternal kingdom. We have too much visualized the "Heaven" that is to be, as geographical and pleasurable, without giving sufficient weight to the fact of a "nature" to be inculcated and perfected.

God will never put work or service in the place of character; and if we do that, eternity will reveal that, however much we may have done, we are very small among the inhabitants of the Land, whose stature will be measured by "the measure of Christ". It would be well if all who contemplate or are engaged in the work of God were governed by this one absolutely final law: that, both as to themselves and to those among whom they minister, the ultimate test is - not how much work is done, but how much of Christ is present, or results from the ministry. This might solve many problems, explain many "strange" ways of God, and seal life with the kind of "success" that is worthy of the name in the eyes of Heaven.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

The Cost of Utter Devotion

Devotion, utter devotion, to God's purpose concerning His people is going to make the uttermost demand upon any servant of God. It is going to test and find our our spirit of service. And if we are going to serve God in this utter way, it is going to bring us to the point where we have nothing left to fall back upon, either of personal interest, position, or blessing; it is simply a matter of God, and God only! If God does not do it, we are finished; we have nothing to live for! We have no alternative; we have no second line; we are in this matter of the Lord's purpose and interests to the very last drop of our blood.

And we much be prepared to be brought to the place where we are ready to get right out of the way ourselves - altogether out of the way, in every sense - if only the Lord can reach His end. We don't matter. What matters is that the Lord has His end in His people, and if that is not reached, then I don't know what I am alive for; I don't know what I have been saved for."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Tender Mercies of God

The Tender Mercies of God

The Tender Mercies of God
by Edward Griffin
"I will mention the loving kindnesses of the Lord and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has bestowed on us, and the great goodness towards the house of Israel which he has bestowed on them, according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his loving kindnesses." Isaiah 63:7
The prophet, when he uttered these words, appeared to labor under an ineffable sense of the tender mercies and loving kindnesses of his God. He had been contemplating the wrath with which God would one day visit Edom when he would come to deliver his people from her oppressions. Immediately he raises an interesting contrast, and sets before his eyes God's "great goodness towards the house of Israel" in loosing their Egyptian bonds and conducting them through the wilderness. In this type as through a glass, he revealed the wondrous love which redeems the Church from more oppressive chains, and supports her in her journey to the heavenly rest. Under this view he seemed transported, and in his rapture exclaimed, "I will mention the loving kindnesses of the Lord and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has bestowed on us, and the great goodness towards the house of Israel which he has bestowed on them, according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his loving kindnesses."
Though we could not raise our eyes to the exalted love which shines in the Gospel, still we would have abundant reason to mention the loving kindnesses of the Lord. Without any adviser or helper he introduced us to rational existence, and raised us to intellectual enjoyment. By his unceasing care, that existence is hourly supported. Our table is furnished and our clothing supplied by his gracious hand. We are blessed with pleasant habitations and possessions; we enjoy the delights of refined society, the blessings of friendship, and the life and happiness of our friends. Our health is sustained by a thousand minute and constantly repeated touches of his hand to the various parts of our complicated machine. All the pleasures of imagination, of memory, of hope, of sympathy, and of sense; all the magic charms which play on nature's face, are the gifts of his bounteous hand. By his watchful care, we are protected from countless visible and unseen dangers. By innumerable impressions made on our animal spirits by his careful touch, we are put in tone to enjoy the objects around us. More numerous are his mercies—than the stars which look out of heaven. On no section of our life—on no point of nature's works—scarcely on a circumstance in our relations to society, can we fix our eyes, without seeing "the loving kindnesses of the Lord."
But when we lift our thoughts to his "great goodness towards the house of Israel," our souls faint under the labor of expressing the praise we owe. Redeeming grace most fully displays the richness and extent of his loving kindnesses; redeeming grace was the theme which transported the author of our text; and redeeming grace shall be the subject of this discourse.
To discover the heights or to fathom the depths of this grace, exceeds the power of men or angels; yet the view perhaps may be enlightened by some of the following reflections.
In purposing and planning the great work of redemption, the Eternal Mind was self-moved, uncounselled, unsolicited. No angel interceded or advised; no man by his prayers or tears excited pity. Before men or angels had existence, the purpose was fixed and the plan was formed by boundless love—unmoved, unasked, untempted by anything without, but the foreseen miseries of a perishing world.
This love was wholly unselfish, having no reward in view but the pleasure of doing good. What other recompense could God expect from creatures who have nothing to give, but what they receive? What other reward could eternal self-sufficience need?
This love is still more sublime, considered as acting towards inferiors. When love is not the most pure, we daily see, it will overlook those who have no eminence to engage respect. On this account the condescending regard which some benevolent prince may pay to the poor and forsaken, is peculiarly affecting. What then shall we say when we behold Infinite Majesty descending to such tender concern for dust and ashes?
Redeeming love is still more wonderful as exercised towards enemies; towards those who could reject the offered salvation—who were not to be moved by all the entreaties of heaven—and who had malice enough to murder the Author of life in the very act of bringing it to them!
This love appears altogether astonishing when we consider the greatness of the sacrifice it made. That God himself, (infinite, eternal, and self-sufficient as he was,) should bring himself down to a mortal form; that he who made the heavens should descend from among the adorations of angels to assume the form of a servant and to receive the spittings of Roman soldiers; that he should exchange the quiet of eternal repose—for a laborious life, the abodes of inaccessible light—for the degrading manger; the society of the Father and Spirit—for that of illiterate fishermen; the heights of infinite bliss—for the agonies of Gethsemane and Golgotha—and all to atone for abuses which he himself had received from men! This fixes angels in astonishment and rivets their eyes to him who still bears the prints of the nails and the spear. That this divine Sufferer did not withdraw, but remained immovable in his purpose in a near view of his agonies; that he did not strike his insulting murderers to hell, but spent his expiring breath in prayer for their life; evinces, not love only, but love unconquerable.
The extent of redeeming love further appears in the magnitude of the blessings which it intended for a ruined race. It stooped to catch a falling world; to snatch them from eternal flames—to the transports of immortal life; from everlasting contempt—to be "kings and priests" forever "unto God"; to raise them from the depravity of sin—to the purity of the divine image; from a dungeon—to the radiance of heaven; from the society of devils—to communion with angels; from the blasphemies of hell—to the songs of paradise; from universal destitution—to inherit all riches; to be sons and heirs of God, members of the Redeemer's body; to live in his family and heart, and forever to expand in the regions of light and life.
This mercy is heightened by the fact that the Savior is so necessary, reasonable, and all-sufficient. Entrusted with all the offices needful for man's redemption, he possesses powers fully adequate to the infinite work, and exerts them when and where they are most needed. It is his stated business to strike off the chains from wretched prisoners—to administer balm to those who are wounded to death, food to those who are perishing with hunger—eyes and light to the blind and benighted. He is the "shadow of a great rock in a weary land," — "a hiding place from the wind and a covert from the tempest."
In his prophetic office he brings out to view the secrets of the Eternal Mind. As a Priest he pacifies divine wrath by atonement and intercession. As a King he subdues the stubborn will, marks out the road to life by beneficial precepts, defends from spiritual enemies, and renders all events subservient to the good of his people. As Captain of the Lord's army, he will carry them through their warfare and bring them off victorious. As Physician of souls he will heal all their spiritual maladies and confirm them in immortal health. He is a most pleasant resting place from the perturbations of guilt, the vexations of care, and the anguish of affliction. Possessing inexhaustible life in himself, he is the source of unfailing life to his members, who before were "dead in trespasses and sins." As "Heir of all things" and Distributer of the whole estate, he has every necessary good to impart in this world and infinite riches in the world to come.
This mercy is still further heightened by the patience and condescending tenderness which he exercises towards his people. He calls them his friends, his brethren, his children, his spouse, the members of his body, the apple of his eye. In the character of a near and tender relation, he has become a mild medium through which they may look up into the transcendent splendors of the Godhead without dazzling or paining their sight. Although the awesome God of majesty, he is not ashamed to own and befriend a poor race of unsightly outcasts and to take them into union with himself. With unconquerable patience he bears with all their provocations, and with unfailing faithfulness remains their friend during all their perverseness and ingratitude. Though their returns are such as would weary any other love, he is still engaged in pardoning their sins, subduing their corruptions, and conducting them to glory.
As a tender Shepherd he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them in his bosom. And O with what overpowering kindness does he speak to them when he holds communion with them, when he meets them in a happy hour as they are walking out like Isaac to meditate at the evening tide, and drawing aside the veil, shows the sweetest countenance dressed in celestial smiles; or when finding them bowed to the earth and drenched in tears—he gently raises them in his arms, and with more than a mother's tenderness wipes the sorrows from their cheeks and breathes ineffable consolation into their spirits. You who have known his love, can witness the ineffable sweetness with which he manifests himself at such seasons. In his providence he takes care to allow no real evil to befall his people, to withhold from them no real good, and to make them the happier for every event. And when this trying life is past, he will receive them to his own presence, to a near and ever increasing union to himself, where perfect and reciprocal love, shall hold immortal reign.
This wondrous mercy is further expressed in the gift of his written Word. When we perceive the breathings of divine love in those precious Scriptures which were inspired by the Holy Spirit; when the soul lies at some divine promise, drinking in immortal refreshment, and filling itself as from some celestial spring—O how rich and vast does the love of God appear.
Fresh evidences of this love spring up at every review of his past providence towards the Church. "In his love and in his pity he redeemed them, and he bore them and carried them all the days of old." The preservation of Noah in the ark, the call and protection of Abraham, the deliverance of the Church from Egypt, its support in the wilderness and establishment in Canaan, the numerous deliverances wrought for Israel, their restoration from Babylon, the establishment and astonishing growth of the Christian Church, its protection during the successive persecutions, and the continued efforts of the Spirit to preserve and enlarge it, are all monuments of amazing love and faithfulness. And when we cast our eyes down the slope of ages and behold the glory of Zion filling all the earth, how do we rejoice, and think the bliss too great to be real. And then, when we open the Scriptures and behold a "Thus says the Lord" expressly to confirm our hopes, with what rapturous gratitude do we make our boast of him; "Lo this is our God, we have waited for him and he will save us: this is the Lord, we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation."
All these are the more affecting, as being marks of distinguishing love. Redeeming grace passed by the fallen angels—to bring salvation to men. The privileges of Gospel light and ordinances were taken from the heathen to be given to us. The blessings of personal holiness and divine communion are conferred on the people of God—while withheld from the rest of the world. Our lives are continued in a world of hope—while millions are called to their last account. While God was preserving the Hebrew Church and nourishing it with a Father's care—Edom, Moab, and Ammon were given to the sword. And while angels sing only of the goodness of the Lord, the redeemed will shout "gracegrace," and with higher notes and ecstasies chant the praises of redeeming love.
The grace of God appears still greater—as being abundant and free for all. The language of divine compassion is, "Ho everyone that thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat; yes come, buy wine and milk without money and without price."
Having drawn this outline of the mercies of God, I shall now present them as motives to holy feelings and practical godliness.
What admiration should possess our minds—as we contemplate this wonderful love of God. Nothing in the universe is so amazing. Not an angel in heaven but lives in astonishment continually. And yet it is infinitely greater than ever Gabriel imagined. As the sublime intellects of the upper world expand, it will appear more and more amazing to eternity.
And while we wonder, let gratitude fill our hearts. Of what avail is our admiration without our thanks? It would only bring us to the condition of those who "gaze and wonder and perish." What are our hearts made of—if they can lie under the weight of all these obligations and be unthankful still? Let us retain a sense of divine mercies always upon our heart, and not allow them, after a transient impression, to pass off into oblivion. Let not the blessings of former years be forgotten, but let them frequently be brought in review before us, that we may never cease to remember how much we owe to our Lord.
To lasting gratitude—let lasting love be added. What infinite beauty and worth belong to Israel's God. And shall we be thankful for personal favors—and not love the benevolence which embraces the universe? This would be only the contracted gratitude of a heart—which can be engaged by nothing but the loaves and fishes.
Let it be our daily joy that the universe contains such a God—a God whose happiness consists in doing good, and who is executing so vast a plan for the promotion of creature happiness, that he already realizes infinite blessedness in gratified benevolence. Let universal joy catch from heart to heart and circulate through heaven and earth that such a God lives, reigns, and is happy. Let this be our morning and our evening song. Let it break in like the dawn of day upon our gloomy hours; and like the sinking but recovered David, let us be transported with the thought, "But you, O Lord, shall endure forever, and your remembrance unto all generations!"
To such a God our highest praise belongs. He is the object of the incessant and rapturous praise of all the choirs of paradise—and shall men neglect their harps? In the warm transports of David's heavenly muse, let us invoke the sun and all the orbs of light, the earth and all the things thereon, the heavens and all their happy spirits, to praise the Lord—to praise him in the heights and in the depths—to praise him with the voice of song, and with all the varieties of instrumental harmony.
Let such a God be the supreme object of our faith, our hope, our confidence. On him let us place our dependance for everything we need for time and eternity. Renouncing this delusive world and every idol which would rival him in our hearts, let us make him our only point of rest, our only portion. Let him be the object of our daily and cheerful worship. Let hypocrisy be banished from our religion, and let sincerity mark our worship of him whose friendship for man has been so sincere. Disclaiming all self-seeking, after his unselfish love to us, let us live only for him; and in duty to one who so greatly denied himself for us, let us largely practice self-denial. Henceforth let us consecrate ourselves to the service of him who served us in death; and by our obedience to all his commands attest the sincerity of our love and gratitude.
God forbid that we should be ashamed to confess him before men—who was not ashamed to own and befriend us before his Father and the holy angels; or that we should fail to speak to a listening world of his excellent greatness and his excellent loving kindness. It befits us to imitate his devotedness to the glory of God and the happiness of men; to put on sincere mercy and kindness, forbearing one another in love, doing good to all as we have opportunity, especially to the household of faith; condescending to men of low degree, meek and gentle to all, affable, courteous, and obliging, ready to forgive injuries, given to hospitality, and generous in distributing to the poor the gifts of a generous God.
To the dominion of enthroned love—it befits us to submit; resigning all our interests to the divine disposal, and enduring with patience and not with petulance, whatever such a God is pleased to impose.
Against such a God it is that we have been found in arms. O "tell it not in Gath." Under the weight of all these obligations we have risen up to oppose unbounded love. Alas we knew not what we did. In vain might our tears and blood be applied to efface stains so ignominious and deep. Well may we go softly all our years in the bitterness of our soul. Let pride never again appear in natures capable of this. Let humility and brokenness of heart mark our future lives; and in sympathy with the publican let us smite on our guilty breasts and cry, "God be merciful to me a sinner!"
And since our crimes are of so deep a die that nothing but atoning blood can wash them out, and since such infinite pains have been taken to provide a Savior for us—a Savior every way suited to our needs; let us gratefully seize the offered salvation and cast ourselves on him as the only ground of hope. And then, "though our sins be as scarlet—they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson—they shall be as white as wool."
Ah sinners, how long will you slight such endearing love and reject such heaven-astonishing mercy? How long shall infinite tenderness be grieved at your ingratitude? Why will you treat with abuse that excellence which angels adore? Why will you tread under foot that love which dissolves all heaven? When will you at length be wise, and for once, after so long a time, act like sincere creatures? Let the goodness of God lead us all to repentance, and let us spend our days in making mention of the loving kindnesses of the Lord, and in preparing to unite with the redeemed in singing, "Worthy is the lamb who was slain—to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing."
"Now, unto him who loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and has made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever! Amen."

Saturday, April 14, 2018

God Sets No Limit (and others)

God Sets No Limit (and others)

"Let no man deceive you with vain words" (Ephesians 5:6)

Do you know that there are Bible "interpreters" now who believe they can set up rules as to how much we can have of God? However, the Lord Himself has promised that as far as He is concerned, He is willing to keep the candles of my soul brightly burning!

So, my heart tells me to ignore the modern scribes whose interpretations, I fear, are forcing the Spirit, the blessed Dove, to fold His wings and be silent. I turn rather to one of Dr. A.B. Simpson's hymns rarely sung now, probably because very few believers have this experience of which he wrote:

I take the hand of love divine,
I count each precious promise mine
With this eternal countersign -
I take - He under takes!

I take Thee, blessed Lord,
I give myself to Thee;
And Thou, according to Thy Word
Dost undertake for me!

Lord, fill me anew with Your precious Spirit. I pray that others will see You living in me today. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

Explore God's Word

"Thy word have I hid in mine heart" (Psalm 119:11)

What a strange paradox! The atheistic freethinker rants and raves about the Bible being a  "dangerous" book at the very same time that the Word of God is speaking like to my soul!

Strange indeed that some humans have the idea that the Word of God can only be approached with shivering fears. But that is true only of those who love their sin and hate their Saviour.

The blessed truth is that if I have my sin and love my Saviour, the Word of God is a wonderful revelation, indeed, and a trustworthy guide.

We need to be aware always that if we do not keep the Word of God on our side, we will be miserable in our souls continually. It is up to us. What do we sincerely will to do with God and His revealed Word?

Years ago, the saintly George Mueller said he had read the Bible hundreds of times, and then he added: "with meditation!"

Let us see to it that we read the Word. More than that, we should actually explore it!

Thank You, Lord, for giving us Your Word. I pray that it will not only illuminate my own heart, but I pray for those translating the Word into other languages so that it will illumine theirs as well. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

Faith And Obedience

"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13)

What is our answer to the many confused persons who keep asking: "How can we know that we have come into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ?"

First, we stand together on the basic truth that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. A second fact is that men and women are saved by faith in Christ alone, without works and without our merit.

However, the fact that Christ came to save sinners is not enough - that fact in itself cannot save us. Now in our day, the issues of believing faith and the gift of eternal life are clouded and confused by an "easy acceptance" that has been fatal to millions who may have stopped short in matters of faith and obedience.

Faith is believing and receiving, as in Acts 16:31: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved"; and as in John 1:12: "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name."

I praise You, Lord, for accomplishing the mission for which You came to this earth. I pray today for my family members and coworkers who have not put their faith in You. Bring them to Yourself, Father. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

Salvation's Price

"But without faith it is impossible to please Him" (Hebrews 11:6)

Too many Christian leaders, acting like enthusiastic promoters, are teaching that the essence of faith is this: "Come to Jesus - it will cost you nothing!"

The price has all been paid - "It will cost you nothing!"

Brethren, that is a dangerous half-truth. There is always a price connected with salvation and with discipleship.

God's grace is free, no doubt about that. No one in the wide world can make any human payment toward the plan of salvation or the forgiveness of sins.

I take issue on Bible grounds with the statement that "everyone in the world has faith - all you have to do is turn your faith loose."

That is truly a misconception of what the Bible teaches about men and God and faith. Actually, faith is a rare and wonderful plant that lives and grows only in the penitent soul.

The teaching that everyone has faith is simply a form of humanism in the guise of Christianity. I warn you that any faith that belongs to everybody is not the faith that saves. It is not that faith which is a gift of God to the broken and contrite heart!

Lord, I praise You for extending Your grace so freely to me. I repent of any sins I have committed, both knowingly and unknowingly. Help my faith in You to grow today. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Directions for Profitable Reading of Holy Scriptures

Directions for Profitable Reading of Holy Scriptures 

Seeing the diversity of men's tempers and understandings is so exceedingly great, that it is impossible that anything should be pleasing and suitable to some, which shall not be disliked and quarreled with by others; and seeing in the Scriptures, that there are many things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest to their own destruction, 2 Peter 3:16; and the Word is to some the savor of death unto death, 2 Corinthians 2:16 - you have therefore need to be careful in reading it. And as Christ says, "Take heed how you hear," Luke 8:18; so I say, Take heed how you read!

Direction 1

Bring not an evil heart of unbelief to Scripture. Open the Bible with holy reverence as the book of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Remember that the doctrine of the New Testament was revealed by the Son of God, who was purposely sent from Heaven to be the light of the world, and to make known to men the will of God, and the matters of their salvation. Ponder carefully, if God should but send a book or letter to you by an angel - how reverently you would receive it! How carefully you would peruse it - and regard it above all the books in the world! And how much rather should you do so, by that book which is inspired by the Holy Spirit, and records the doctrine of Christ Himself, whose authority is greater than all the angels! Read it not therefore as a common book, with a common and irreverent heart - but in the dread and love of God the author.

Direction 2

Remember that Scripture is the very Word of God which you must live by, and be judged by at last. And therefore read with a full resolution to obey whatever it commands, though flesh, and men, and devils contradict it. Let there be no secret exceptions in your heart, to balk at any of its precepts, and rationalize that part of obedience which the flesh accounts difficult or dear.

Direction 3

Remember that Scripture is the will and testament of your Lord, and the covenant of most full and gracious promises; which all your comforts, and all your hopes of pardon and everlasting life, are built upon. Read it therefore with love and great delight. Value it a thousand fold more than you would do the letters of your dearest friend, or the deeds by which you hold your lands, or anything else of low concernment. If the law was sweeter to David than honey, and better than thousands of gold and silver, and was his delight and meditation all the day - then oh, what should the sweetest and precious gospel be to us!

Direction 4

Remember that Scripture is a doctrine of unseen things, and of the greatest mysteries; and therefore come not to it with arrogance as a judge, but with humility as a learner or disciple. And if anything seems difficult or impossible to you, suspect your own limited understanding - and not the sacred Word of God. If a learner in any art or science, will suspect his teacher and his books, whenever he is confused, or meets with that which seems unlikely to him - his pride would keep possession for his ignorance, and his folly were likely to be incurable.

Direction 5

Remember that Scripture is a universal standard and doctrine, written for the most ignorant, as well as for the curious; and therefore must be suited in plainness, to the capacity of the simple - and yet have matter to exercise the most subtle wits; and that God would have the style to savor more of the innocent weakness of the instruments, than the matter. Therefore be not troubled when the style does seem less polite than you might think befit the Holy Spirit; nor at the plainness of some parts, or the mysteriousness of others; but adore the wisdom and tender condescension of God to his poor creatures.

Direction 6

Bring not a carnal mind, which savors only fleshly things, and is enslaved to those sins which the Scripture condemns; "For the carnal mind is enmity against God, and neither is nor can be subject to his law," Romans 8: 7, 8. "The things of God are not discerned by the mere natural man, for they are foolishness to him, and they must be spiritually discerned," 2 Corinthians 2:14 - and enmity is an ill expositor.

The carnal mind will be quarreling with all, and making faults in the Word, which finds so many faults in you. It will hate that Word which comes to deprive you of your most sweet and dearly beloved sin. Or, if you have such a carnal mind and enmity, believe it not, any more than a partial and wicked enemy should be believed against God Himself; who better understands what He has written, than any of His foolish enemies.

Direction 7

Compare one place of Scripture with another, and expound the darkest place - by the light of the plainest, and the fewer expressions - by the more frequent and ordinary, and the more doubtful points - by those which are most certain; and not on the contrary.

Direction 8

Presume not on the strength of your own understanding, but humbly pray to God for light; and before and after you read the Scripture, pray earnestly that the Spirit which inspired it - may expound it to you, and keep you from unbelief and error, and lead you into the truth.

Direction 9

Read some of the best commentators or expositors; who being better acquainted with the phrase of the Scripture than yourselves, may help to clear your understanding. When Philip asked the eunuch who read Isaiah 53 "Do you understand what you read?" he said, "How can I, except some man should guide me?" Acts 8:30, 31. Make faithful commentators your guides, if you would not err.

Direction 10

When you are stalled by any difficulty which over-matches you, note it down, and ask your pastor for his help; or (if the minister of that place is ignorant and unable) go to someone who God has furnished for such work. And if, after all, some things remain still dark and difficult, remember your own ignorance, and wait on God for further light, and thankfully make use of all the rest of the Scripture which is plain. And do not thing as the papists, that men must refrain from reading Scripture for fear of erring - any more than that men must forbear eating for fear of poison - or that subjects must be kept ignorant of the laws of the king, for fear of misunderstanding or abusing them.

~Richard Baxter~

(The End)