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Friday, August 31, 2012

Into the Heart and Mind of God # 65

The Vision of the Glory Saves from Despair

That vision - the opened Heaven; the throne, and the Man upon it above - had a tremendous effect upon Ezekiel. It saved him, in his day, from despair; it saved his ministry; it saved his testimony; it saved his life. And it is only that that will save us; only that can save us. Perhaps that sounds a little pessimistic. I do not want to be a pessimist; but you cannot be acquainted with the state of things on this earth today, even among what is called Christian, or Christianity, without sometimes feeling fairly hopeless about it. Is it possible that the great revelation given to us of the Church, as we have it in the New Testament, can in any way be realized in our time? Look at the divisions; look at the quarrels; feel this awful atmosphere that has grown up and spread. In the United States, for instance, some 35 years ago, there seemed to be such an open, clear way for something new of the Lord: the atmosphere seemed so clear, and hearts seemed so open. But in that land today, everybody is suspecting everybody else; the spirit of criticism has got into the most devoted Christians, both about other Christians and about Christian things. You cannot have half an hour's conversation even with those who are most devoted to the Lord, without somebody being lashed, somebody being mentioned for warning, as suspect. It is like an awful miasma, or fog, that has crept in among Christians over the whole world. You cannot go into your religious bookshops without seeing line upon line of pamphlets and books that are occupied with denouncing something. Men are giving their whole lives to this horrible work of trying to expose what they think to be error.

That is strong language, but it is not too strong. It is the state of things, and you might despair of the realization of that which you have seen to be God's purpose. And yet you cannot; the Lord will not let you. If you really have seen the Lord, you just cannot give it up. You may say, like Jeremiah, that you will not speak again of the Lord. But then - "If I say, I will not ... speak any more in His name, then there is ... a burning fire shut up in my bones ... and I cannot contain" (Jeremiah 20:9).

You and I may have often decided that we should just have to stop talking about it, and give it up, because it does not seem to work; things seem to go from bad to worse, and worse to awful! And yet we are still here. We cannot help ourselves; we are back again in full view of God's declared purpose. The Spirit will not give it up, and will not let us give it up, however bad the situation is. The Heaven is not closed yet; the Man on the throne has not evacuated the throne yet; there is still hope. We have got to have the mastery of that great reality that He is still there, where God put Him. And if this is true, difficult as it sometimes is to believe it, or at any rate to see it - then He IS 'far above all rule and authority, and dominion, and power, and every name' - world dictators or anybody else - 'that is named, in this age or the ages to come.' Only as that gets hold of us, and we take hold of it in turn, will there be any prospect at all; but this is the prospect.

Strategic Revelations of the Glory

To reveal the glory is always a strategic movement of God in a difficult and unpromising day and situation. I think that was the meaning of the Transfiguration. It was a difficult day; things were closing in on the Lord and His little band of men; the atmosphere was impregnated with hatred; and the Cross was there immediately before. How will they meet it? How will they survive it? The strategy was the Transfiguration - they 'saw His glory.' And although for a time afterward it seemed to be eclipsed, nevertheless, when He was risen from the dead, they understood all things. In the light of the resurrection the Transfiguration took on its full meaning.

Things were going very hard for the church in Jerusalem on the day that that wonderful young man, Stephen, was dragged outside and stoned to death, with that so vicious hatred of the Lord Jesus. But Stephen saw the Heavens opened, and the Son of Man "standing" at the right hand of God (Acts 7:56). It saved the situation for3him, and I think it had a much farther reach than just himself; I think it passed on something. At any rate, one man there became a very potent factor in the Church for all time. He was tremendously affected by what he saw in the face of Stephen, and heard through the lips of Stephen; he never got over it. And he never forgave himself. He confessed afterwards: 'And I, I was standing by and giving my vote, my consent!' (Acts 22:20). The seeing of the glory was a saving thing in a dark and difficult day.

Paul is in prison; he is nearing the end of his long, full life and ministry. He thinks of all those many churches - far more than we have tabulated by letters addressed to them - which he had been used to bring into being; of all his many converts, and of the many who owed everything spiritually to him and his ministry. Now he is in prison, shut up, and he cannot go to them; the churches are in a state of decline; many are turning against him and away from him as he is there. He is a lonely man - 'only Luke is with me'; a man in difficulty, if ever a man was, speaking naturally. What a situation, what an end, for a man like that! What saves him?

It is  astoundingly impressive, that, in the midst of all that, knowing it all - knowing his own position, knowing his own prospects, which were  pretty poor for this life; knowing the state of things far away in the churches; getting news of these secessions; faced with the seeming breakdown of his work; disappointed with believers and with churches -  I say it is an amazing thing that with all that, out of that, in the midst of that, enough to crush a man in despair, he has an open Heaven, and says, "To Him be the glory unto the ages of the ages!" (2 Timothy 4:18). He is saved by the glory; he is delivered by the glory. What a different end it might have been but for this apprehension of the glory!

Here he writes then, that this One, this Man, is in the glory on the Throne above, far above all rule and authority. Caesar may be there next door, governing the whole world, bringing it under his mighty and evil heel, and seeming to be able to carry out all his fell designs against the Church of Jesus Christ. Paul, right along side of Caesar and Caesar's city and stronghold, says: 'He hath set HIM far above all rule and authority, and every name - Caesar or any other - in this age, or in any other age ... hath put all things in subjection under His feet...' That is a saving vision of the glory.

It was that that saved John in his difficult and desperate situation in Patmos, for it was indeed something to break a man's heart and send him deep down in dark despair. John was the one lonely survivor of the whole apostolic band. They have all gone, he is cut off from his beloved church; alone; isolated; exiled; with all the conditions which must have accompanied that exile. That is enough to make a man despair, to feel that he has lived his life in vain, and that there really is no hope at all. But he had an opened Heaven, and saw a vision - and what visions he saw! It was the opened Heaven that saved him. The Lord give us that, and a new apprehension of the Throne and of the Man upon it!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 66 - "He Must Reign")

Ministry is the Expression of Life

"You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life" (John 5:39)

Ministry is the expression of Life, and not the taking on of a uniform and a title. Once I thought that to be in the ministry was to go into a certain kind of work, to come out of business, and, well, be a minister! So one got into the thing. Many, many are laboring and toiling in it, breaking their hearts, afraid to leave that order of things, lest they should be violating what they conceived to be a Divine call. Many others cannot get out of it because it is a means of livelihood, and they too are breaking their hearts. It is all false. Ministry is not a system like that.

Ministry is the expression of Life, and that is but saying in other words that it is the outworking of the indwelling of Christ. Disaster lies before the man or woman who ministers on any other ground than that. When the Lord gets a chance in u, and we really will trust Him on that ground, and take our position there, He will show us that there is ministry enough for us; we shall not have to go round looking for it. The real labor so often is to get us down to that ground, the delivering of us from this present evil age even in its conception of the ministry, unto the heavenly ministry. The Lord Jesus is our pattern. You see the spontaneous ministry, the restful ministry of that Heavenly Man. I covet that! It does not mean that we shall become careless, but it does deliver us from so much unnecessary strain. That is how it should be. May the Lord bring us to it; the heavenly Man with the heavenly Life as the full heavenly Resource.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Into the Heart and Mind of God # 64

The Lord forbid that we should ever come to the time when we are closed down by Heaven, and cannot get through. 'I saw the heavens opened ...', and that meant God had not finished with things yet; God had not closed down yet. There may be judgments; as the following chapters show. There may have to be judgments; there may have to be discipline; there may have to be chastening; there may be much yet to be done. But whatever it is that has to be cleared up - perhaps by the jealous  wrath of God for His glory; whatever hard things, sufferings, afflictions, have to be gone through, because of the wrong; nevertheless, it is all governed by this: A HOPE OF GLORY - a hope of GLORY - if the Heavens still remain open.

The Supremacy of the Lord on the Throne

"I saw visions of God" - that is, visions given by God. What did Ezekiel see? What was it that comprised those visions of God? Well, as we have seen in chapter 1, he saw a throne; and then he saw "a likeness as the appearance of a MAN" upon the throne above (1:26). And then he saw a two-fold symbolic medium of the administration of that throne - the cherubim and the wheels. (We shall hope to return to these things later). Then, as we know, he saw a "house" - THE House - which he was commanded to show to the people of Israel (43:10). He saw the House in later glory. He saw the river coming from under the threshold, circling the altar, passing through the court, and away down, broadening and deepening, and making everything live whithersoever it came (47:1-9). Then he saw the land and the inheritance possessed (47:13-48:29). And finally he saw the City, and the name of the City: "The Lord is there" (48:30-35). That is the end of it all - the Lord is there!

What I want to emphasize and stress particularly is that all that we see in this book is the result and the expression of that throne, and of the 'Man upon it above.' Of course that is very simple to understand: everything emanates and results from the great, inclusive fact that there is One in the place of supreme government and authority. And for us, and for them, and for all time, by the eternal appointment of God, that One is the Lord Jesus, the Son of God. He has been exalted to the 'right hand of the Majesty in the heavens' (Hebrews 1:3; 8:1). 'We see Jesus crowned with glory and honor' (Hebrews 2:9). 'God raised Him and set Him at His own right hand, far above all rule and authority, dominion and power, and every name that is named' (Ephesians 1:20-21). Everything comes out of that. If that is true, then everything is all right; it will be all right in the end.

Now, this is very up-to-date, is it not? We have spoken of the conditions in which Ezekiel spent his life and fulfilled his ministry - the time and place and the state of things. Yes, he had a very difficult situation. But the Church has got a pretty difficult situation now; things are far from easy today. There is now, as then, very much that is wrong, and much that is evil. Who will say today that the GLORY of God pervades His people? Ezekiel's was a difficult time; but it was at that time, and in those circumstances, that this instrument, under the government of the throne, was brought in for a new movement of God. Or we might say, that this apprehension, on the part of an instrument, of the supremacy of the Throne and of the Man upon it led to the wonderful result that, in time, the whole situation was changed, and God had something for His glory.

`T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 65 - "The Vision of the Glory Saves from Despair")

Facing Life's Mountains

"So he answered and said to me: "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the Lord of hosts" (Zechariah 4:6)

The Bible uses the word "mountain" to mean different things: a geographical location such as Mount Zion (Psalm 2:6); an example of stability (Psalm 30:7); and a barrier, hindrance, or obstacle (Zechariah 4:7).

As a disciple of Christ, you are not guaranteed an easy life. You may face many mountains - trials, difficulties, and hardships - throughout your life. How do you respond when facing what appears to be an overwhelming obstacle or problem? Do you panic? Do you feel discouraged? Do you feel like giving up?

When God calls you to a task, He assumes the responsibility of removing the hindrances that would keep you from succeeding. "Not by might nor by power, by by My Spirit (Zechariah 4:6).

What do you feel is looming before you like an impossible mountain? Work, relationships, finances, health, the future?

Isaiah 41:10 provides words of comfort for us to hold close to our hearts: "Fear not, fr I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

No matter what you are facing or how easy or difficult the task may be, always look toward God for victory. He is your eternal, unfailing hope (Psalm 123:2).

Lord, help me to see that the mountain I consider impossible to climb is the one that You see as an opportunity for a better view. Amen

~Charles Stanley~

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Into the Heart and Mind of God # 63

The Heavens Opened in Difficult Situations

In the midst of such a situation - which I do not think I exaggerate; indeed, I could add much more to it from these very chapters - in the midst of such a difficult and, for the time being, seemingly hopeless situation, he tells us that the heavens were opened, and he saw visions of God! There is no situation so hopeless as to make it impossible for the glory of God to break in; no situation that can shut God out and be too impossible for a fresh manifestation of His glory. Do you not take heart from that, if it is true? Well, here it is! It is an amazing thing when you take the whole setting, and the whole circumstances, and the whole provision. You could say, Well, that is altogether beyond any hope; that has broken Jeremiah's heart; that has brought the wrath of God - destroyed Jerusalem and sent the people far way: what can you hope for in such a situation? And, right in the midst of that, Ezekiel says: "I saw the heavens open, and visions of God.' And he sums it all up: "This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord."

Now, difficult as it is for us to take hold of that, really to believe it, that may be a message to us. Perhaps we are sometimes very near to despair over the whole situation. Let it come to us as a message from the Lord. In our own lives, or in the pace where we are, perhaps as a company of the Lord's people, things create such difficulty that sometimes we get near to giving it all up. Ezekiel might well have done that, for he had far more occasion for doing it than you or I have; but right in there - THERE - "This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord." "The heavens were opened!"

We have thought and said much about an "open heaven". All we will say about that, for the present, is that, if there is any indication at all that the Heavens are open, that is always the most hopeful thing in any situation. You may be having some difficult times in your company of the Lord's people; perhaps you have some difficult people - well, Ezekiel had some difficult people; you may be having much discouragement; there may be things which you feel to be very wrong, and so on. And yet, when you come together and give yourselves to the worship of the Lord, there is a wonderful sense of unction. You just become occupied with the Lord! For the time being, at any rate, you let the other go, and the Lord becomes your Center - the Heavens are opened! While that lasts, there is every hope for your assembly; there is every hope for the future. There is nothing more hopeless than a closed Heaven.

Look at Calvary: "There was darkness over the whole earth ... and Jesus cried with a loud voice, My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:45-46). Heaven was closed, because of what He was doing there - taking the sin of the whole world. Heaven was closed down, was shut; there was no way through. That is the most hopeless situation that could ever possibly be. The hopelessness of that situation killed Him. That was the final stroke to being about His death. It was not the nails; it was not the thorns; it was not the action of men: it was the broken heart, because He had lived all His earthly life with a clear way through to the Father - with an open Heaven. All His days had been in communication with Heaven, with the Father; He had never known until then one moment when He could not instantly get through. Here that all ended: there was no way through; no response; no answering voice: a closed heaven. That is hopeless!

If you and I have any answer to prayer, any little indication or token that the Lord has not forsaken, given up, shut down on us; if we have anything like that, then Heaven is still open, and that is very hopeful for the future. Let us cherish the open Heaven in our times of worship. Many dark things may be about; many difficult things; situations, like Ezekiel's, may be full of evil, or perplexities, or problems, or difficulties, or sufferings. Yet, when we come together, and focus upon the Lord, we sense His presence: that is our open Heaven; and an open Heaven is always a sign that there is hope yet; there is still a future for glory!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 64)

Jesus Knows All About You - and Still Loves You

"And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matthew 28:18)

Have you ever heard on of our modern, Christian activists say, "I don't know when I will find a doctrine of the deeper life that s satisfactory to me!"

There is really only one answer to this kind of a quest - turn your eyes upon Jesus and commit yourself fully to Him because He is God and Christ, Redeemer and Lord, "the same yesterday, today, and forever!"

In these matters of spiritual blessing and victory, we are not dealing with doctrines - we are dealing with the Lord of all doctrine! We are dealing with a Person who is the Resurrection and the Source from whom flows all doctrine and all truth.

How can we be so ignorant and so dull that we try to find our spiritual answers and the abounding life by looking beyond the only One who has promised that He would never change? How can we so readily slight the Christ of God who has limitless authority throughout the universe?

How long should it take us to yield completely and without reservation to this One who has been made both Lord and Christ - and yet continues to be the very same Jesus who still loves us with an everlasting love?

The very same Jesus - who knows all your troubles and weaknesses and sins, and loves you in spite of everything!

~A. W. Tozer~

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Into the Heart and Mind of God # 62

Ezekiel and the Glory

True, everything may seem to contradict this. We come to the prophecies of Ezekiel, and there is plenty that seems to contradict this glory. But you cannot get away from the fact that the glory is disclosed in the very first chapter. It is not reserved to the end, so that you have to wade through all the wearisome tale of judgments and woe, and then at last find that God comes out with things in His own hands - so to speak just manages to survive. You are told right at the very beginning that everything is governed by GLORY. In  everything that is going to happen, everything that is going to be said, right on to the end, the governing thing is THE GLORY OF GOD; it is there as the very foundation of everything. We must take note of that. What is God's end? Paul has seen it, and has given it to us in a matchless fragment: "Unto Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all the generations of the age of the ages" (Ephesians 3:21). You cannot get beyond that! That is finality;that is the end - 'unto the age of the ages, GLORY in the Church and in Christ Jesus.'

We come then to Ezekiel. There s much here to help us as to God's own concern for His glory. We may have a concern for the Lord's glory, the Lord has a far greater concern for His glory than we have. This book is a book just full of God's own concern for His own glory. Notice how precise Ezekiel is, even to the year, and the month, and the day of the month. "The word of the Lord came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi ..." (1;3) - where he was, when he was, how he was. It is like the Lord, moving so exactly, so meticulously, in this matter, and laying hold of this man. Remember, it had to be a laying hold of him, because it resulted in a complete change in his whole vocation. Ezekiel was a trained priest; he belonged to the priesthood; he was a young man, who was expecting that through his life he would fulfill the ministry of a priest. This broke in and upset his whole career and his whole vocation: he had to change his whole manner and method of life, from priesthood to prophet. It was something very strong in this man's case. It is interesting to notice that his name, Ezeki-el, means 'God will strengthen'. For the glory of God that is very necessary, especially in conditions such as those in which Ezekiel lived.

Ezekiel, thus, as a young man, was carried away with the captives to Babylon, and was 'among the captives by the river Chebar', he tells us (1:1, 3); and, from what we know,and what we read, it was a pretty hopeless situation. We know something of the conditions in Jerusalem from the prophecies and ministry of Jeremiah: it was pretty bad there; poor Jeremiah had his heart broken, as he had ministered in Jerusalem. But there are reasons for saying that, whatever it was like in Jerusalem, it was even more difficult in Babylon - that is, so far as the people were concerned to whom Ezekiel ministered. They were difficult, recalcitrant people. Read these early chapters; see Ezekiel's encounter with them, and the measures to which he had to resort.

An Unpopular Man

I do not want to stay with too much detail, but it is very necessary, for our encouragement, that we should get the setting of the glory of the Lord. Here he is with these captives. Now, a man who has to bring home to a people the reasons for their condition and for the judgments of God; to speak faithfully in the name of the Lord, without compromising on any principle; who will put his own very life and future in the balances of his ministry and be thoroughly faithful. He will not condone any wrong. He will not compromise on any principle in order to preserve their favor and his own position. The man who really has the glory of God at heart at any cost is a very unpopular man.

And Ezekiel was an unpopular man among the exiles - so unpopular that he had to resort to all sorts of seeming tricks in order to gain their attention, to get a hearing. Look at the things to which he resorted, and had to do - spectacular things; unusual things; unnatural things. Sometimes he seemed to act the fool to draw attention, so that people should look in his direction. It was a hard time to get a hearing, to have any attention at all; he was the most unpopular man, perhaps, in the country. It was a desperately difficult situation that he was in among his own people there.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 63 - "The Heavens Opened in Difficult Situations")


"... you are that one's slaves whom you obey ..." (Romans 6:16).

The first thing I must be willing to admit when I begin to examine what controls and dominates me is that I am the one responsible for having yielded myself to whatever it may be. If I m a slave to myself, I am to blame because somewhere in the past I yielded to myself. Likewise, if I obey God I do so because at some point in my life I yielded myself to Him.

If a child gives in to selfishness, he will find it to be the most enslaving tyranny on earth. There is no power within the human soul itself that is capable of breaking the bondage of the nature created by yielding. For example, yield for one second to anything in the nature of lust, and although you may hate yourself for having yielded, you become enslaved to that thing. (Remember what lust is - "I must have it now," whether it is the lost of the flesh or the lust of the mind.) No release or escape from ti will ever come from any human power, but only through the power of redemption. You must yield yourself in utter humiliation to the only One who can break the dominating power in your life, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ." ... He has anointed Me ... to proclaim liberty to the captives ..." (Luke 4:18 and Isaiah 61:1).

When you yield to something, you will soon realize he tremendous control it has over you. Even though you say, "Oh, I can give up that habit whenever I like," you will know you can't. You will find that the habit absolutely dominates you because you willingly yielded to it. It is easy to sing, "He will break every fetter," while at the same time living a life of obvious slavery to yourself. But yielding to Jesus will break every kind of slavery in any person's life.

~Oswald Chambers~

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Light of God's Countenance

"God is light" (1 John 1:5)

"The Lord is my light" (Psalm 27:1)

Every morning the sun rises, and we walk in its light and perform our daily duties with gladness. Whether we think of it or not, the light of the sun shines on us all day.

Every morning the light of God shines upon His children. But in order to enjoy the light of God's countenance, the soul must turn to God and trust him to let His light shine upon it.

When there is a shipwreck at midnight, with what longing the mariners look for the morning! Ho often the sigh goes up. When will the day break? Even so must Christians wait upon God and rest patiently until His light shines upon them.

"My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for morning" (Psalm 130:6).

O my soul, begin each day with one of the prayers:

"Make Thy face to shine upon Thy servant" (Psalm 31:16).

"Lord, lift Thou up he light of Thy countenance upon us" (Psalm 4:6).

"Cause Thy face to shine, and we shall be saved" (Psalm 80:3, 7, 19).

Do not rest until you know that the light of His countenance and His blessing is resting on you. Then you will experience the truth of the word: "They walk in the light of Thy countenance, in Thy name do they rejoice all the day" (Psalm 89:15-16).

Children of God, do believe that it is the ardent longing of your Father that you should dwell and rejoice in His light all the day. Just as you need the light of the sun each hour, so the heavenly light, the light of the countenance of the Father is indispensable. As sure as it is that we receive and enjoy the light of the sun, so confidently may we count on it that God is longing to let His light shine on us.

Even when there are clouds, we still have the sun. So in the midst of difficulties, the light of God will rest upon you without ceasing. If you are sure that the sun has risen, you count upon the light all the day. Make sure that the light of God shines upon you in the morning, and you can count upon that light being with you all the day.

Rest not till you have said: "There be many that say 'Who will show us any good?' Lord, lift Thou up the light of Thy countenance upon us. Take time, take time, till that light shines in your heart.

Dear Father, help me to pray in the morning, "The Lord is my light and my salvation" (Psalm 27:1). Amen

~Andrew Murray~

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Into the Heart and Mind of God # 61

Some Examples from the New Testament

(a) The Incarnation

So much for the Old Testament. When we come to the New, we shall all agree that the Incarnation - the birth of the Lord Jesus into this world - is a new movement of God. That is indeed a great step forward in the Divine program. And therefore it is accompanied with glory - heavenly glory: 'Glory to God in High Heaven!' (Luke 2:14). We sing it in our Christmas hymn. There is glory again at the inception of this new, mighty movement of God, because that end of that thing is indeed going to be glory: He has come for the recovery of the glory of God in this earth. That is Heaven's psalm.

(b) Pentecost

We move on still, and again we will all agree that the Day of Pentecost is another great step forward in the plan of God. God is moving on, and this is a clear mark of that progress of God through the ages. The Day of Pentecost was a step of God from Heaven. And what glory! John tells us quite clearly that the coming of the Holy Spirit was upon the basis of Jesus being glorified. He said: "The Spirit was not given; because Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:39) - implying that when the Spirit was given Jesus was glorified. It was on that ground. God is moving on this basis all the way along.

(c) Peter

And so we could go on. We think of the individual instruments o God's new movement. We will agree that a new movement was in hand through Peter. There is no doubt about it. It is a real new movement. Though Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles, w must  remember that Peter opened the door for the new dispensation both to Jew and to Gentile, in Jerusalem, and in Caesarea. It is a mighty new movement. But Peter had his ministry set in this glory. He tells s that he was with Jesus in the Holy Mount, and beheld His glory (2 Peter 1:16-18). That had undoubtedly been a tremendously dynamic thing in Peter's life. The Holy Spirit interpreted everything to him on the Day of Pentecost. He got a new Bible, because he had got a new Lord, and an opened Heaven! It was this great principle of glory which accounted for Peter's ministry, and Peter's work, and Peter's endurance to the end.

(d) John

That is clear, too, in the case of John, who was with him for so long as his co-worker and fellow-apostle, in Jerusalem at least. When we come to the beginning of the Book of Revelation, we once again recognize that we are in the presence of a new movement - a new movement for the recovery of the GLORY, which has become so limited and obscured in the churches. The Lord comes to John in vision in Patmos; but it is such a glorious thing, and the visions are so glorious, that more than once John is down in utter prostration before the Lord, and has to be lifted up, helped to rise, because of the overwhelming impact of the vision of the glory (1:17; 19:10; 22:8).

(e) Paul

And what shall we say of Paul? That wonderful ministry, so full, so rich, so glorious, was all born in the day when he saw the GLORY on the Damascus road.

The point is this. The Lord displayed the glory upon every occasion when He was going to move again with some new step in His purpose. All these things that I have mentioned were steps onward of God in His age-long purpose, and every one of them was based upon a new apprehension of the glory of the Lord by those who were concerned. So that, in the case of the prophets and apostles, their ministry was a ministry of the greatness and the glory of the Lord; and as those to whom they ministered saw that, they became a people with a very great significance in this world. It was this apprehension of the glory of Christ that gave character and meaning and power and value to their being here in this world. All this, then, has but one meaning: God's end and God's object is GLORY, and everything that He does is governed by that.

This is something that must really take hold of us, and of which we must take hold: that God intends that all things - ALL things, to the minutest detail of our life, should work out, under His hand, for  glory; that God, in everything, is working with glory in view. Do you believe that? No doubt you believe it as a statement and a truth; perhaps you believe it in your heart; but it is not always easy to believe that, because we just do not see how it can be. Indeed, what we do see convinces us that anything but glory will come out of this! Oh that the Lord would just grip us with this - grip me, grip you - individually, and as companies of His people where we are: that what He is doing, what he is allowing, is under the control of this one law and principle - He intends it to be for His glory. That is what He has in mind, and what He will do, for He will not be finally thwarted in His purpose.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 62 - "Ezekiel and the Glory")

God Blesses His Children for Holy Intentions

"Jesus answered, If I honor myself, my honor is nothing; it is my Father that honoreth me" (John 8:54)

"Them that honor me I will honor," said God once to a priest of Israel, and that ancient law of the kingdom stands today unchanged by the passing of time or the changes of dispensation. The whole Bible and every page of history proclaim the perpetuation of that law.

"If any man serve me, him will my Father honor," said our Lord Jesus, trying in the old with the new and revealing the essential unity of His ways with men.

It seems plain that almost any Bible character who honestly tried to glorify God in his earthly walk was so honored. See how God overlooked weaknesses and failures as He poured upon His servants grace and blessing untold. Let it be Abraham, Jacob, David, Daniel, Elijah or whom you will; honor followed honor as harvest the seed. The man of God set his heart to exalt God above all; God accepted his intention as fact and acted accordingly. Not perfection, but holy intention made the difference!

In our Lord Jesus Christ this law was seen in simple perfection. He sought not His own honor, but the honor of the God who sent Him.

"If I honor myself," He said on one occasion, "my honor is nothing; it is my Father that honoreth me." So far had the proud Pharisees departed from this law that they could not understand one who honored God at his own expense.

~A. W. Tozer~

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Never Alone

"At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them" (2 Timothy 4:16)

Most of us can identify with Paul's words in 2 Timothy. In fact, as we read them, we probably can sense the heaviness and thoughtfulness with which were written: "At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me" (4:16).

Have you ever been in a position where you had to take a stand for something that you knew was not right, and no one was willing to stand with you? Maybe you had to say no to a project that was in the process of being developed. You knew that if things continued, the company you worked fr would suffer.

Or perhaps your son or daughter came to you and asked permission to do something you felt was not best. All the other moms and dads had said yes, but for some reason, you sensed that you should say no, and this is what you did. Suddenly, you were very unpopular.  Those who had once supported you now felt you were acting prudish and legalistic.

The Spirit of God leads us in the way we should go. Godly decisions require godly courage. From a human perspective, Paul was alone. No one was with him. But he was not alone. Jesus was beside him and with him.

You are never alone. Life's trials provide a wonderful opportunity for God to display His power and wisdom in your life. Be courageous and do not fear (Joshua 1:9). The Lord your God is with you, and He will give you strength, wisdom and victory.

Lord, I need Your courage in order to stand strong when I feel forsaken or alone. Let me not forget that my strength comes from You. Amen

~Charles Stanley~

Into the Heart and Mind of God # 60

The Glory of the Lord

Ezekiel 1:26; Ephesians 1:19-22; Hebrews 2:9

Let us focus, for the moment, upon the twenty-eighth verse of Ezekiel 1: "As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness roundabout. This was THE APPEARANCE OF THE LIKENESS OF THE GLORY OF THE LORD."

That fragment seems to me to sum up all these prophecies. Not only does it apply to the first chapter in particular, but it can be taken all the way through; for everything in these prophecies is being governed by THE GLORY OF THE LORD.

There is a very practical and immediate relationship between this word and ourselves. I am quite sure that most of us have a deep and strong sense of the need  for the Lord to do a new thing. I believe that is felt very widely. What that new thing is may be given different interpretations. In the evangelical world there is much prayer and talk about 'revival'; that is perhaps only another way of expressing this sense of a need for the Lord to move in, in a new way, and do a new thing. Others would put it in other ways. But it is there among Christians everywhere: the Lord must do a new thing; the Lord must take a fresh step.

God's End is Glory

We need to be very intelligent and understanding about this matter. The Lord has His ways and His means, and we need to know something about them if we are going to be in line with the Lord in any movement that He purposes to take. This word is therefore very appropriate to the situation. For whenever God has moved in a new and further step in His Divine purpose, He has prefaced that movement by bringing, first, an instrument, and then, through such an instrument, His people, to a fresh apprehension of His glory.

That is a statement which will bear investigation and confirmation. GOD'S ONE END IN ALL THINGS IS GLORY. Make no mistake about that. if you want to know what God is after, what He is moving toward, in all things - and that compasses countless details in every realm; in personal life and corporate life; in the nations - the answer is that God's end is GLORY. That being so, it is to be noted that He always establishes that principle at the outset of every movement. He sets it there as the thing which is going to govern the step, or movement, or whatever it is, that He is about to undertake: it is going to be governed by the end which He has in view, in this as in every new beginning. That may sound a little difficult for the moment. But let us take some instances.

Some Examples From the Old Testament

(a) Abraham

We would all agree that, when God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees, and separated him to Himself, that was a new movement of God. There is no doubt about that. It was a clear-cut and defined breaking in to human history on the part of God, with a further stage in the Divine program in view. Now Stephen tells us that "THE GOD OF GLORY appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia" (Acts 7:2). Why the God of GLORY? The end toward which God was moving was GLORY - His own glory in a people, to be manifested among the nations. And so, as the God of glory He appeared to Abraham. He put the glory there as the principle, the law, the basis upon which he was taking that step, and upon which He as going to follow it through.

(b) Moses

Some centuries later (revealed to Abraham even to the very period: see Genesis 15:13, 16; Acts 7:6), the Lord had that people out of Egypt. He brought them to Sinai; and there He changed them from a rabble crowd, an unconstituted and unorganized multitude, into a corporate nation. That was the new move at Sinai. By the law and the testimony and the revelation given in the mount, the people were a constituted a nation. And it was done in GLORY. Moses went into the mount, and saw the God of Glory, and came down with that glory on his face. Again God had put the principle at the beginning of His new move. He was moving on the pathway of glory.

(c) David and Solomon

A further step in the Divine plan was reached in the days of David and Solomon. The temple was indeed a development of the Divine thought in representation; and it is all in GLORY. The issue there if GLORY: "the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord" (1 Kings 8:11). It was a glorious time; it was a glorious place. It was all just enunciating and preserving this principle: God is moving all the time with this thought governing - GLORY!

(d) Ezekiel

But we are told that the day came when the glory departed from Jerusalem. We know why. And that brings us to the prophets of recovery, and to this prophet Ezekiel in particular. Here, at the opening of these prophecies, in the day when the glory is eclipsed among the Lord's people, as lifted up and departed from Jerusalem (9:3, 11:23), the Lord of Glory appeared to Ezekiel: "This was the appearance of the likeness of the GLORY of the Lord." It is impressive that that comes right at the beginning of the prophecies,is it not? Now everything that follows is going to be but the outworking of that law of of glory. God is more concerned, and in these various ways He is showing His concern, for the end of GLORY to be reached.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 61 - "Some Examples from the New Testament")

Friday, August 24, 2012

Into the Heart and Mind of God # 59

That is simple, I know, but that is the beginning of everything for the Christian life, for this wonderful miracle of God: that we must see and be deeply impressed, as she was, with our own utter worthlessness in this matter: that this could never be to us if we, in ourselves, in our own state, where the deciding factor. It is only God's infinite mercy, His infinite grace. That is a humble and a contrite spirit, and God is with that. But the new birth is but the beginning. That which is of God and of Heaven, has to grow and grow; more and more there is to be an increase of Him; but it is all on the same basis - the emptying of ourselves, the pouring out of all that is selfhood, to make way for the grace of God.

Submissiveness and Simplicity

The next thing about Mary is her simplicity and her submissiveness. There is something very beautiful about her simplicity, is there not? We are often too complicated about all these things. We make the Christian life far too complicated - projecting our mentalities and our arguments, our contentions, and our demands for explanation, and what-not - and we are standing in our own way. He needs a heart like Mary's (and I am not setting up Mary to be worshiped!): a heart that is simple, in this sense, that there is nothing argumentative, querulous, awkward, about it. It is an open heart; perplexed, it is true; not understanding; wondering how it can be, and saying so. Nevertheless, because of the simplicity, honesty, purity of her heart, she arrived at this: 'Be it unto me according to Thy Word' - absolute submission, even to the mystery, and what it would involve. The trouble with so many of us is that we are so slow in our submission, our surrender, our giving way, our letting go. We will argue; we will demand an explanation. We go round and round this eternal circle, getting nowhere, because we will not let go - we just will not let go; and so we come back to the point from which we started a thousand times. May put her whole life into this: "Be it unto me according to Thy word'. And the angel departed. That was what he was working toward.

It involved Mary in suffering - it involved her in suffering immediately. And then, forty days after the birth, Simeon told her: 'A sword shall pierce through thine own soul; that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.'  I think there is something there that is very  helpful. When the Cross is at work in a life, people begin to betray themselves; their thought begin to accuse, to make charges; to say, This is because of so and so - When someone is having a bad time, thoughts come out: people divulge what they are thinking and feeling about the one concerned - some are sympathetic and some antagonistic. "A sword shall pierce through thine own soul; that thought out of many hearts may be revealed." It was necessary that men should show themselves, show where they stood, on that day of the Cross; Mary's suffering was a part of that.

This may seem to us something of a mystery. But the point is that this kind of thing that happened to her, and which happens to us, involves us in suffering. It involves us in the offence of the Cross; it involves us in much misunderstanding, even much ostracism. The angel left her. She knew what it meant then. But later Simeon told her what was coming, along the line of this child. What it amounts to is this: that to be a child of God is no ordinary thing. It is something unusual, something different, something of God. It is the result of an intervention of God from heaven.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 60 - "The Glory of the Lord")

The Source of Abundant Joy

"In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Romans 8:37)

Paul was speaking here of the things that might seem likely to separate a saint from the love of God. But the remarkable thing is that nothing can come between the love of God and a saint. The things Paul mentioned in this passage can and do disrupt the close fellowship of our soul with God and separate our national life from Him. But none of them is able to come between the love of God and the soul of a saint on the spiritual level. The underlying foundation of the Christian faith is the undeserved, limitless miracle of the love of God that was exhibited on the Cross of Calvary; a love that is not earned and can never be. Paul said this is the reason that "in all these things we are more than conquerors." We are super-victors with a joy that comes from experiencing the very things which look as if they are going to overwhelm us.

Huge waves that would frighten an ordinary swimmer produce a tremendous thrill for the surfer who has ridden them. Let's apply that to our own circumstances. The things we try to avoid and fight against - tribulation, suffering, and persecution - are the very things that produce abundant joy in us. "We are more than conquerors through Him"  "in all these things"; not in spite of them, but in the midst of them. A saint doesn't know the joy of the Lord in spite of tribulation,  but because of it. Paul said, "I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation" (2 Corinthians 7:4).

The undiminished radiance, which is the result of abundant joy, is not built on anything passing, but on the love of God that nothing can change. And the experiences of life, whether they are everyday events or terrifying ones, are powerless to "separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:39).

~Oswald Chambers~

Thursday, August 23, 2012

God's Answer to Everything

"There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5)

God's answer to everything, God's explanation of everything, and God's means of realizing everything is a MAN, "the MAN Christ Jesus." When this world has run its evil course, this inhabited earth will be judged in a MAN. Men will be judged by what their inward relationship is to that MAN. The question at the judgment will never be of how much good or bad, right or wrong, more or less, is in a man; it will turn upon this one point, "Are you in Christ?" If not, more or less makes no difference. God's intention, God's proclamation is that all things are in His Son. Are you in Him? Why not? The basis of judgment is very simple. It is all gathered up in a MAN, and what is in that MAN of God for us. That is the basis of judgment, It all comes back to the very simple, and yet comprehensive and blessed truth, that it is what Christ is that satisfies God, reaches God's end, and meets all our need. It is all summed up in a MAN, "the man Christ Jesus."  The Lord continue to open our eyes to His glorious and Heavenly MAN, Who is also the Divine Servant.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Truth Addresses Itself to the Total Man

"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" (John 17:17)

The Bible is, among other things, a book of revealed truth. That is, certain facts are revealed that could not be discovered by the most brilliant mind. These facts are of such a nature as to be past finding out.

These are facts that were hidden behind a veil, and until certain men who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit took away that veil no mortal man could know them.

The lifting of the veil of unknowing from undiscoverable things we call divine revelation.

What is generally overlooked among humankind is that truth as set forth in the Christian Scriptures is a moral thing; it is not addressed o the intellect only, but to the will also. It addresses itself to the total man, and its obligations cannot be discharged by grasping it mentally.

Truth engages the citadel of the human heart is not satisfied until it has conquered everything there. The will must come forth and surrender its sword. It must stand at attention to receive orders, and those orders it must joyfully obey. Short of this any knowledge of Christian truth is inadequate and unavailing.

Bible exposition without moral application raises no opposition. It is only when the hearer is made to understand that truth is in conflict with his heart that resistance sets in. As long as people can hear orthodox truth divorced from life they will attend and support churches and institutions without objection!

~A. W. Tozer~

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Into the Heart and Mind of God # 58

The Inevitable Antagonism against Heaven

The next thing, of course, is the inevitable antagonism. It was not very long after the birth of the Lord Jesus before it broke out. The kingdom of satan knew who He was, and what He was. That kingdom had many a powerful instrument and means at hand, and Herod was one such. We are not to know what happened during the thirty years of His boyhood and young manhood - that is passed over. it would not be surprising if there were many narrow escapes even then.  Bit we do not know that, from the moment of His stepping out from His anointing at Jordan, to take up this work of bringing 'the other sheep', bringing the other sons to glory, all hell was on His track. Whenever He came into a place, the atmosphere became charged with antagonism. We perhaps know something of those atmospherics, but how infinitely worse it must have been for our Lord, with His very sensitive spirit, to have known this terrible hatred and animosity of the evil powers toward Him, and working through men. Oh, the constant, almost monotonous repetition: "They sought to destroy Him ... they sought to destroy Him ... they sought how they might destroy Him". That was the atmosphere in which He lived. Why?

Well, it might be put down to many causes, but the fundamental cause was this: He belonged to Heaven, and the destiny of the Heavenly One and the heavenly ones is to possess this world and govern it, by the final abolishment of its prince and his whole kingdom. And they know. Said they: "I know Thee Who Thou art, the Holy One of God" (Mark 1:24). And they know every one who is holy, in that sense. There is an inevitable antagonism in the spiritual realm. Often it cannot be traced to any physical, material, or temporal cause, or to people; it is just there in the air. We know something of the antagonisms of a spiritual kind that the Christian has to meet in this world, without provoking deliberately or knowingly or really, by words or deeds. When you are born again, somehow or other the consciousness comes alive that you are a speckled bird, a marked man or woman. And so John says about these that are born of God: 'For this cause the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not' (1 John 3:1). It KNOWETH us not. There is a deeper meaning in that word "knoweth" than just being aware of us, knowing who we are. It is being able to place us; being able to explain us, being able to trace us, as to what we are and where we come from. To the world there is something about us that is inscrutable; and that constitutes an antagonism.

Let me appeal once again to young Christians. Do not try to cut out that kind of antagonism. Be careful not to give unnecessary offence; try to commend yourself to every man's conscience in the sight of God; do things honorably before all men; give them no occasion for accusing you fairly as a Christian. But when you have done all, do not think that you will not meet this antagonism - if you are a child of God you will. You just cannot avoid it. Do not try to eliminate it; recognize that this is a part of the very fact, a wonderful evidence of the fact that you are in the company of Jesus Christ. The world knew Him not; therefore it knows us not.

The New Birth is All of Grace

In conclusion, let us think for a few minutes of Mary herself, because she is characteristic in some ways of the vessel of the new birth. To whom, to what, upon what ground, will the new birth take place? Here there is a correspondence between the birth of the Lord Jesus and the new birth of every child of God. We have, of course, to recognize the Divine sovereignty of eternal election: 'chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world'. Let us accept that, and leave it for the moment. We come into the operation and activity of God in time. Upon what ground in time, in our own lives, will this thing come to us? Are there some grounds, are there some occasions, are there some conditions which will always obtain where God comes in this way?

Yes, always. One of  the beautiful things about Mary, as characteristic of a vessel of new birth, was that which the angel said to her: "Hail, thou that art highly favored of God.' The That is the beginning of every new birth - ENDUED WITH GRACE. If there was one person in that little country in those day who was aware - and this comes out so clearly - of the wonder of this, the condescension of this, and her own unworthiness of it, it was Mary. "How should this thing be?" Before this wonderful thing can happen to us, we have often to be brought to the place where the only word that suits the situation in our consciousness is GRACE; it is God's grace; it is all of grace. "Thou art endued with grace."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 59)

Applying Truth for Victory

"I can do all things through Chris who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13)

In grasping a clear picture of how we can weather the dangers that come with both victory and defeat, we must not forget to apply what we know. Understanding that God is our strength in weakness is one thing, but applying that truth in an effective way is another.

The apostle Paul said he had learned the secret of contentment in any situation - Christ, the source of strength (Philippians 4:12-13). We must do more than just acknowledge God's awesome power - we need to get it into our lives. We must submit our will to His will. Asking God to give us strength to accomplish our will results in burnout. God never promises us strength for our own plans, only for His. That's why submitting to His will is the first step to seeing His power begin to permeate our lives.

We must also trust Him to control our circumstances for His purposes. Once we realize that God's plans and purposes are greater than we could imagine, we also have to realize that the path He is leading us down will result in His glory.

The result of relying on God's strength is that we cease to struggle against that which we cannot control. And victory is found in trusting in the Lord's strength.

Heavenly Father, I trust Your strength as I face the challenges of life today. I praise You because I will walk in victory! Amen

~Charles Stanley~

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Into the Heart and Mind of God # 57

The Need for Sensitiveness to This Difference

Beware, young people, that you do not blunt the edge of your new birth, by accommodating yourself to this world's ways, its forms and customs and acceptances, and taking it all as something inevitable. Ask the Holy Spirit to keep you very sensitive to sin, very sensitive to evil; to keep alive this DIFFERENCE, which is your birthright - a part of your very birth. If you are a true child of God, you know something about the difference, as you go out into the world, not only in the matter of sin, but in all kinds of ways. You are different; something has happened to you.

At some point, this difference should have become quite clear to you, so that you know it - not just because you are told, not because your parents are Christians and do not like you doing certain things and you have got a sort of conscience which is your parents' really, and not your own - but in your own heart, in our own self, you have got this consciousness of being DIFFERENT, fundamentally different, from those who are not the Lord's. If that is not true as to a crisis in your life - for all do not have a violent breaking in as in the case of Paul on the road to Damascus - nevertheless, there has to arrive at some point this sense: 'I am a child of God; I am different; something has happened; a great difference has been made deep down somewhere; I am not the same; and I am not the same as those who are not BORN AGAIN children of God.'

But, also, it is the nature of spiritual growth that that difference becomes more and more accentuated. It is the thing that is making this world more and more a 'strange and foreign' land to us - it is not our home, not our place; and conversely, 'making heaven' truly more and more to be our home. Now, where heaven is I cannot tell you; but I do know this, that, whatever heaven means, that is where I belong. And more and more I am discovering that I belong there, and that I do not belong here.

The Divide of the New Birth

I speak to young Christians particularly, that this is the very nature of your new birth, that more and more it must be like that. And do not be afraid of it; do not rebel against it; accept it. It is a proof of something, of the greatest thing that God is doing in human history - breaking in to make a tremendous difference. It is on that ground that the Great Divide is going to be set up. We get our mental pictures of the judgment; well, we will not argue as to the material side of that. But I do know that this judgment has already begun, and it is going on (1 Peter 4:17), and the finality of it will be here: that there are those who belong here, and there are those who belong there, and there is no mistaking to which realm these people belong. The great divide has been made. The Lord is seeking to bring that about now. But oh, the tragedy of many Christians, and many young Christians, trying to bridge that gap - to hold those two things together; instead of allowing the gap to widen, while they stand on the side where they are moving further and further away from a judged world.

An Inherent Power To Overcome

The next thing that comes out in this matter of Christ's birth, and the birth of the children of God, is that by this birth there comes into us an inherent potency, an inherent power. Now, the Lord Jesus said: "Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). And John says: "whatsoever is begotten of God overcometh the world" (1 John 5:4). In Christ, in the born anew child of God, there is an inherent power and virtue which is going to overcome the world. It is there in the nature of things, in the very constitution of the new life: it is going to overcome. There may be failure - there may be frequent failure; there may be falling in the battle; there may be some casualties; there may be some dark patches; there may even be some going away. But it is a most remarkable thing, and a most heart-ravishing thing, to see how this life persists.

I sometimes have to smile. People tell me that they are going to give it all up; they cannot go on any longer; and off they go, and you do not see them for a little while. But they are back again. And that happens a hundred and one times. How many people have said to me, and quite recently, 'I am giving it all up; I am finished; I am going.' And as far as they knew themselves, they meant it. But they cannot do it; they are just like moths around the lamp - they cannot keep away; back they come, and, yes - crestfallen and ashamed! You know, if it were natural, they would not do it; I would not do it; for very face saving, I would not come back again, show my face again after that. But there is something else, something more, that is stronger than our shame, stronger than our self-reproach, stronger than our self-despair, stronger than our constant delinquency: there is a persistence that brings us up, and brings us back. It is the history of most children of God. 'That which is born of God overcometh the world.'

It was true of Jesus. How did He overcome? Not by physical force; not by resole of will, not by power of brain and mind and argument. He never did bring the world under His feet in those ways. By sheer force of Divine character; by the kind of Man He was; by the Divine nature in Him, He overcame. And so, with every child of God: in so much lesser degree than in His case, perhaps; so much slower in expression and manifestation; nevertheless it is there. Every true child of God knows quite well that, had it not been for that inward grip of something, or Someone, not themselves, they would not be where they are today, still seeking the things f God. No! It is inherent in that which is born of God to overcome!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 58 - "The Inevitable Antagonism Against Heaven")

True Worship

"Worship God" (Revelation 22:9)

What may be the reason that prayer and intercession are not a greater joy and delight? And is there any way in which we may become fitted to make fellowship with God our chief joy and as intercessors to bring down His power and blessing on those for whom we pray?

There may be more than one answer to the question. But the chief answer is undoubtedly: We know God too little. In our prayer, His presence is not waited on for as the chief thing on which our heart is set. And yet it should be so. We think mostly of ourselves, our need and weakness, our desire and prayer. But we forget that in every prayer God must be First, must be all! To seek Him, to find Him, to tarry in His presence, to be assured that His holy Presence rests upon us, that He actually listens to what we say is working in us - it is this alone that gives the inspiration that makes prayer as natural and easy to us is the fellowship and conversation of a child with his father.

And how is one to attain to this nearness to God and fellowship with Him? The answer is simple: We must give God time to make Himself known to us. Believer with all your heart that just as you present yourself to God as a supplicant, so God presents Himself to you as the Hearer of prayer. But you cannot realize this except as you give Him time and quiet. It is not the multitude or the earnestness of your words in which prayer has its power, but in the living faith that God Himself is taking you and your prayer into His loving heart. He Himself will give the assurance that in His time your prayer will be heard.

Blessed Father, we begin this day with the word: "Unto Thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul." We bow before Thee in stillness, believing that Thou wilt look on us and will reveal Thy presence. "My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God." Amen

~Andrew Murray~

Monday, August 20, 2012

Into the Heart and Mind of God # 56

The Coming Test of Our Standing

I have sometimes wondered - maybe wrongly - whether the enemy is not very pleased with putting countless multitudes of people in a false Christian position, because he knows the day is coming when the winds will carry them away; and for a Christian to fall away is a greater reproach to the Lord perhaps than anything. Oh, how we do need to get our roots down; how we need to be grounded in the truth, and in the truth of our very nature as children of God. That is why we come to this message. The day is coming when our standing as Christians will be deeply and terribly tested - there will be a great shaking. The Prophet Ezekiel is very up-to-date; I believe these words will have perhaps a larger fulfillment in a not very distant future, than they had when Ezekiel uttered them: "I will overturn, overturn, overturn ... until He come whose right it is" (Ezekiel 21:27). There is going to be a great overturning of what is not true - of what is false. This judgment must begin at the House of God. So you will understand this present emphasis.

We begin here.  As with Christ, so it must be with every child of God: they must at the very beginning of their Christian life, be the result of a Divine intervention in human history, in their own human history, in their human life. But that is the great basic fact. Thank God that there are many who understand that, and know what it means. They are able to say: 'God intervened in my life; God broke into my life; God came out, even, as it were, from Heaven, into my life.' If we have the experience, we know the truth; but it is sometimes helpful to have it defined. This is it: When you and I were saved, God broke out of Heaven - nothing less than that. It was as though Go Himself came out of His Heaven into a human life; broke into its world, and interrupted its course of history. Things could never be the same after that.

Not Only A Newness, But a Difference

That is perfectly clear, is it not, in the case of the Lord Jesus? An angel indicated this intervention of the Holy from heaven - and it is no less than that in principle and fact with each new birth. But the next thing that is clear in the case of the Lord Jesus is that this was something different; it was not only something new that had not happened before, but it was something different. This birth is different from all other births. We cannot dwell too much upon the details of the account, but that is what it amounts to. The angel made that perfectly clear, and Mary knew it; that was her problem, her perplexity, her wonder - How? How? It was the perplexity of Nicodemus, his great question - How/ This contains a profound mystery which constitutes a deep, a mighty difference. This is not the common thing; this is not the usual thing; this you cannot find, except here; it is different.

And that which results from this intervention contains this fundamental difference in its very constitution. Oh, that all who bear the name of Christian, all who are children of God, were fully alive to this! I think this is where the weakness lies with so many, and it will not hurt us, even though we know it well, to be reminded of it, to face it again. It is something that we need to keep with us in our consciousness continually. Our new birth is different from all other births, and by new birth we are made fundamentally and constitutionally different from all other beings. you know it perhaps in some measure in experience. The birth of the Lord Jesus was so patently a different kind of birth. It was not in the usual natural way; nature had nothing to do with it, man's will, choice, decision, had nothing to do with it. And 'that which is born shall be HOLY'; can you find THAT in nature anywhere? It is of a different kind and a different order of being - that which is, in its very essence, HOLY. That is the contrast with every other creature and every other birth. The Psalmist cries: 'I was born in sin, shapen in iniquity' - and that is true of us all.

The New Birth Brings Into a Heavenly Kingdom

Now when I say that that principle holds good in every new birth, it needs his explanation. We know quite well that it is not our bodies that are born again; therefore they are not holy. We know that it is not our souls that re born again: if our souls are our minds - our reasoning powers, and our emotions, and our power of choice - well, they are not different. it is the trouble of our whole Christian life that we still have so much of that which is not holy with us, in mind and heart and will. It is the realm of our conflicts, our battles, our sorrows. Nevertheless, something, somewhere has happened, something has come in, that is not that kingdom at all, that is of another heavenly kingdom; and THAT, which is born of God, is holy. Do you know that? Even if it has never been explained or defined to you, you know it in experience. You know that there is that within you that revolts against sin and unholiness, you know that one of the great blessings of your life is an inward power of reaction when things are not right, not good. So we go on, we do become more and more sensitive to evil, to the sin of this world. Our peril may be sometimes to accept its presence; to take it just because it is there.

Now, we are in a world like that, but nevertheless it is true of every child of God that there is that feeling about it - something of a tremendous inward revolt and reaction to sin, to evil, to unholiness. What a safeguard that is! what a gift of God it is to have that! God forbid that ever we should lose our sensitiveness  in that realm, or cease to be moved by the sinfulness of sin.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 57)

Effective Prayer: Letting All Our Pretenses Go

"Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity" (Matthew 23:28)

The basic artificiality of civilized human beings is hard to shake off. It gets into our very blood and conditions our thoughts, attitudes and relationships much more seriously than we imagine.

The desire to make a good impression has become one of the most powerful of all the factors determining human conduct. That gracious (and scriptural) social lubricant called courtesy has in our times degenerated into a completely false and phony etiquette that hides the true man under a shimmery surface as thin as the oil slick on a quiet pond. The only times some persons expose their real self is when they get mad.

With this perverted courtesy determining almost everything men and women say and do in human society, it is not surprising that it should be hard to be completely honest in our relations with God. It carries over as a kind of mental reflex and is present without our being aware of it.

Nevertheless, it is an attitude extremely hateful to God. Christ detested it and condemned it without mercy when He found it among the Pharisees. The artless little child is still the divine model for all of us. Prayer will increase in power and reality as we repudiate all pretense and learn to be utterly honest before God as well as before men!

~A. W. Tozer~

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Truly Forgiven

"Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: 'The Lord knows those who are His,' and, 'Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity" (2 Timothy 2:19)

Sin is a big problem. It worms its way into our lives, distorts our viewpoints, and influences every decision. God knew that none of us could have defeated the power of sin, so He acted on our behalf by sending His Son into the world to conquer sin. For those of us who have received Jesus as Lord and Saviour, that victory has removed the penalty of sin from our lives.

Unfortunately though, our acceptance of Christ does not stop us from sinning. Although we love the Lord and rejoice in His saving hand, we find ourselves continually struggling with sin in our lives.

This is a great surprise to many new Christians, who come to Christ thinking that their old passions will simply disappear. This is rarely, if ever, the case. Instead, e must take responsibility for our sinful actions and cravings. This does not mean that we should attempt to "clean ourselves up"; rather, we must be honest with God about our sin and invite His cleansing power into our darkest parts.

Second Corinthians 7:1 calls us to 'cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God". We 'cleanse ourselves' by becoming aware of the sin in our lives, laying it down, and walking away from it. That is what repentance means - to turn from old behaviors. 

Thank You, Lord, that I am truly forgiven. Because I am forgiven, I can forgive others. I rejoice in Your forgiveness. Amen

~Charles Stanley~

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Into the Heart and Mind of God # 55

Born of God

Luke 1:35; John 1:12-13; John 3:6; John 16:33; 1 John 3:1
2; 1 John 5:4

In bringing these Scriptures together, that about the birth of the Lord Jesus and those about the birth of believers, I am not failing to recognize a great difference. One has always to safeguard this matter of the Person of the Lord Jesus. He was very God of Very God; 'God manifest in the flesh'; 'Emmanuel, God with us'. In that He stands alone, unique; there is not another like Him. His birth was different, even, from the new birth of every child of God: it was different in kind; it was different in degree.

The Correspondence Between Christ's Birth and Ours

Nevertheless, there are factors in His own birth which constitute the nature of the birth of every believer. Deity apart - Godhead left with Him - there is yet something in these passages about the believer's new birth that corresponds to His birth. It is to some of these features that we are now to give attention. You will not confuse the two, I trust, at any point, on that matter of His uniqueness. At the same time, and on the other side, I do trust that you will be able to recognize what John said, that that which is true in Him is, in its own realm, and after its own kind, also true in us (1 John 2:8). And, in this matter of the birth and the new life of the children of God, we shall be able to understand better if we recognize some of these features in the birth of the Lord Jesus. For His birth does, as I have said, hold all the factors which go to make up a true child of God.

The New Birth a Divine Intervention

The first thing, which is quite patent, is that the birth of the Lord Jesus was a Divine intervention in human life: and that is true of the new birth of every believer; it is nothing less than a Divine intervention in human life. We do not stay with all the minute details of Christ's birth, but it is perfectly clear in this way, that out from Heaven there came a Heavenly Visitant, making an announcement; and, from the same heaven, the Holy Spirit came into human life and intervened, and did something - something that we shall see, I trust, in a minute. The point is that here is a breaking in of Heaven into human life.

Perhaps you wonder why this should be stressed, and given such emphasis. But let us be clear that that is not what is very largely conceived and taught about the new birth. Even with the best intentions the new birth is so often placed to man's side - it is what man does. [No, it isn't!] Man has got to do something - either raise his hand, or make some statement, or sign some document, or make a decision, make a profession, accept certain things that are being stated, and so on. Perhaps such things are meant to open the way for God; but, even if we allow that, people are often left with this idea that it is something they done. They have accepted Christ; they have accepted Christianity; they have made a gesture; they have done something; they have become Christians by what they have done, by their own act. 

Born Not of the Will of Man but of God

Now, being fully generous, and not critical at all, it is very important to recognize that the new birth never necessarily takes place by anything that we do. It never really is consummated by some act of our own will, or of our own desire, or of our own mind - not at all. "Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man ...'  - the man being the case in point, or the other man who would seek to bring it about - '... but OF GOD'. If God does not intervene in human life and in human history; beak right in, as it were, from Heaven; if the Holy Spirit does not overshadow, and Himself produce that new life, that is not new birth; there is something lacking.

You are wondering, perhaps, why this message. I will tell you why. With a growing concern - and concern is a weak word - as one moves about the world touching Christians and Christianity, the one thing that is borne in upon one's heart, overwhelmingly, sometimes almost to the point of despair, is the need that those who bear the name of "Christian" should know the real nature of what it means to be a child of God. They seem so many of them, to have taken on something from the outside, by their own volition, choice and act, and so many have really not the faintest idea of what it means to be "born" out from Heaven. And in all the needed work of recovery, in every department of Divine purpose at this time, this is one of the the needs - a recovery of the real meaning of new birth, of what it is to be born from above, to be a child of God.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 56 - "The Coming Test of Our Standing")