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Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Abiding Message of the Book of Daniel # 3

The Abiding Message of the Book of Daniel # 3

Now that has a two-fold force. It has that general force which we have mentioned, that while Gentile powers, on the human side, have the government of this world in their hands, "The Heaven Do Rule." There is a specific emphasis laid upon the government of the heavens, and the God of the heavens. We shall come back to that later on, but there is another
 thing which goes along with that, which carries its own significance. Daniel was a Jew, probably of the seed royal, and if not of the seed royal on of dignity in the Hebrew race. If you read in Chapter 1 you will see that those that Nebuchadnezzar required to come into his court were to be taken from the seed royal or those outstanding in dignity, and Daniel and his friends were chosen on that ground. Now Daniel evidently held an important place in the Hebrew race and the Book makes it quite clear that Daniel had a special concern for Jerusalem, and the Lord's interest in Jerusalem, and the Lord's people the Jews. His windows were up toward Jerusalem three times a day, and he carried his own people as a great burden upon his heart, and yet withal he never speaks of the Lord as the God of the Jews, or of Israel, but always "the God of the heavens" (Daniel 6). That is a Gentile age feature, and it brings in God's specific purpose in the age, which is not the Jews as such, though included in the purpose. It brings in a heavenly calling, not an earthly one. "Partakers of a heavenly calling" (Hebrews 3:1). It brings the heavens in with something which specifically relates to the heavens as differing from the Jewish kingdom on the earth, and shows that in this age the heavens are interested in that; that is the thing n which the heavens are concerned, this heavenly object. The God of the heavens is always seen here; it is the heavens ruling, and we shall see in what connection more specifically as we go on.

A Person, A Testimony, An Instrument

This rule of the heavens, therefore, is related to a Person, a Testimony and an Instrument. That person is the One here called "The Son of Man." Everything is pointing toward that Person, and the issue of this book is found in that Person, everything here is moving on toward the day when that Person shall be the one preeminent Person. The heavens are ruling and over-ruling the world-kingdoms towards that end. Toward a Person, a Testimony; that is, the Testimony of Jesus. That is the spirit of prophecy, we are told: "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Revelation 19:10). The heavens are ruling and over-ruling in relation to the testimony of Jesus. And then in relation to an instrument, that instrument is the Church, and it came in with the Gentile period. That Church is represented typically and spiritually by Daniel and his three friends. It is typified by the remnant which was the issue of the testimony of these fur. Now I hope you may be able to grasp that. It will leave a general impression upon you even if you cannot grasp the details.

Thus, then, there are three things clearly in view in the main. One, the set course of the age, by Divine planning, heading up to Christ. That is very clear in the Book of Daniel. The set course of the age - all these Gentile powers with all that was bad and wrong in them, nevertheless by Divine appointment (not bad by Divine appointment but the power, the rule by Divine appointment) it is in the Divine plan, and in spite of the Divine planning being taken hold of by evil men and all the wrong that they introduce, God is carrying on toward His purpose and causing these things to head up to His Son; that the rule of the heavens. (I know very well how I am covering very old ground for many of you, for myself this is very old ground indeed, but there are perhaps younger servants of the Lord who have not been taken through the prophetical school very thoroughly, and for whom, perhaps, the barest outline of things may be helpful to a closer study). So it ought to come to us with fresh emphasis that these world empires, these Gentile empires with all the wrong and the evil and the wickedness and the antagonism to God, are nevertheless in the hands and in the plan of God, and that God has got them not only in His plan but in His authority. They may work against Him but He is compelling their very working against Him to work for Him, and it is all heading up to Christ, the Person.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4)

Place the Greatest Value on Godliness

"He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32)

Were the church a pure and Spirit-filled body, wholly led and directed by spiritual considerations, certainly the purest and the saintliest men and women would be the ones most appreciated and most honored, but the opposite is true!

Godliness is no longer valued, except for the very old or the very dead!

The saintly souls are forgotten in the whirl of religious activity. The noisy, the self-assertive, the entertaining are sought after and rewarded in every way, with gifts, crowds, offerings and publicity. The  Christlike, the self-forgetting, the other worldly are jostled aside to make room for the latest converted play-boy who is usually not too well converted and still very much a playboy.

The whole shortsighted philosophy that ignores eternal qualities and majors in trivialities is a form of unbelief. These Christians who embody such a philosophy are clamoring after present reward; they are too impatient to wait for the Lord's time! The true saint sees farther than this; he cares little for passing values; he looks forward eagerly to the day when eternal things shall come into their own, and godliness will be found to be all that matters.

The wise Christian will be content to wait for that day, and in the meantime, he will serve his generation in the will of God.

~A. W. Tozer~

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Abiding Message of the Book of Daniel # 2

The Abiding Message of the Book of Daniel - # 2

The first was like a lion and that again represents Babylon. You remember Jeremiah, in prophesying the overthrow of Israel and Judah, and the coming captivity, spoke in typical language about the one who would come up and carry them away and destroy them. He said: "The lion is come up,"and here is the lion coming up out of the sea, Nebuchadnezzar an
d his Babylonian empire.

The second was the bear, and tat again points to the Medo-Persian empire. On its side, (you notice the detail) meaning that Persia was its strong element. It had three ribs in its mouth, speaking of three great provinces of that empire, Syria, Lydia and Asia Minor.

The third beast, the leopard, speaking of the Greco-Macedonian empire. This leopard had four wings typical of its rapid advance, fulfilled so clearly in the conquests of Alexander the Great, sweeping advances in all directions. It had four heads which pointed to the parting of the empire into its four territories of Syria, Egypt, Macedonia and Asia Minor.

Then the fourth beast, the great nondescript beast, pointing to the Roman Empire. Ten horns, speaking of ten provinces, and then one small horn destroying the three; the eyes of a man, a mouth speaking great swelling things. Much of this yet awaits fulfillment.

Now we, of course, could go on with that historic, prophetical side, but a hurried look at Chapter 8 will complete all that we intend in this connection for the time being. In Chapter 8 you have the Medo-Persian empire, firstly as a ram with two horns, indicating the Medes and the Persians, the Persians the last and the stronger side, conquered in three directions, and those three directions are the three ribs of Chapter 7.

Secondly, the Greco-Macedonian empire is a he-goat; swift, that is, as the leopard kingdom of Chapter 7, with one horn, that is Alexander the Great. It is most important to realize this was all written some hundred years before Alexander the Great was born, and you see these conquests of that monarch as he leaped across the Hellespont and fought successful battles, and then moved on up the banks of the Indus and Nile and then to Shushan, the battle of the Granicus, and then the battle of Issus, and then his great battle of Arbella. He stamped the Persian to the ground and soon Syria, Phenicia, Cyprus, Tyre, Gaza, Egypt and Babylon were all conquered. After this he conquered Bactria and defeated the Seythians. Thus he stamped upon the ram.

"But when the he-goat had waxed very great, the great horn was broken." The early death of Alexander was thus predicted. He died a drunkard at the age of thirty-two years.

Now you may be wondering what all that has to do with us at this present time, but as we said at the outset, there is a spiritual side to this. There is, of course, its value of seeing the Word of God fulfilled so minutely, and the Spirit of God being vindicated along all these detailed lines, but there is a very great deal more than that in it and we want to come to the main spiritual features of this particular age as indicated by this Book of Daniel, and we can gather those up briefly.

The Spiritual Features of This History

Firstly, we are impressed by this book with the fact that the government of the world on the human side is seen to be for this long period in the hands of Gentile rulers. That carries with it a very great deal more than is apparent on the surface, and we shall see something of what that includes as we go along.

Then in the second place, in a special and distinctive way the kingdom of God of the heavens is seen to be operating. Now put those two things together and you have something of tremendous significance. On the one hand, the fact that for some 2,5000 years of this world's history, on the human side, its government is in the hands of Gentile rulers, and on the other hand, the fact that with the introduction of that regime there is so much said about the rule, the government of the God of the heavens. I do not know whether you have been impressed with that phrase, and similar phrases, in the Book of Daniel. If you care to make a note and look it up I will just give you some of the places in which that phrase and like phrases are used. Five times in Chapter 1:18, 19, 28, 37, 44. Five times in Chapter 4:13, 26, 31, 35, 37; and then in 5:23; 6:27: 7:13, 27.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

Matching Your Practice to Your Position

"God chose us ... that we should be holy and blameless before Him" (Ephesians 1:4)

The Challenge of Christian living is to increasingly match your practice to your position.

God chose you in Christ to make you holy and blameless" in His sight. To be "holy" is to be separated from sin and devoted to righteousness. To be "blameless" is to be pure, without spot or blemish - like Jesus, the Lamb of of God (1 Peter 1:19).

Ephesians 1:4 is a positional statement. That is, Paul describes how God views in "in Him [Christ]. God sees us as "holy and blameless" because Christ our Saviour is holy and blameless. His purity is credited to our spiritual bank account. That's because God made Christ "who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Despite our exalted position in God's sight, our practice often falls far short of His holy standard. Therefore, the challenge of Christian living is to increasingly match our practice to our position, realizing that sinless perfection won't come until we are fully glorified in Heaven (Romans 8:23).

How do you meet that challenge? By prayer, Bible study, and yielding your life to the Spirit's control. Commit yourself to those priorities today as you seek to fulfill the great purpose to which you've been called - the "good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God that He does not expect you to earn your own righteousness but has provided it in His Son. Ask His Spirit to search your heart and reveal any sin that might hinder your growth in holiness. Confess that sin, and take any steps necessary to eliminate it from your life.

For Further Study: Read Philippians 1:9-11. What ingredients must be added to Christian love to produce sincerity and blamelessness? What is the primary source of those ingredients (see Psalm 119:97-105). What specific steps are you going to take to add or increase those ingredients in your life?

~John MacArthur~

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Testimony and Its Vessel Unto the Time of the End


In this introductory word it will be necessary for us to take a broad view of what is before us and to be occupied mainly in a general outline. The more specific spiritual application will remain for subsequent consideration and you will understa
nd that the peculiar nature of this present time is just preparation for what may follow.

We shall have to take what this book (Daniel) brings into view along a two-fold line, in the main. Firstly the historical and prophetical; and then secondly, the typical and spiritual. But I would like here immediately to say that it is not on'e thought or intention to deal with the Book of Daniel in any way exhaustively along prophetic lines, that is, it is not just prophecy as contained in this book which will occupy us, although that will be latent and sometimes patent all the way through.

We are aware that prophecy by itself need not be spiritually helpful or enriching or building up. It may be very interesting, very fascinating, very educational, but it does not always have a spiritual effect, and I do not think the Lord ever intended His people just to study prophecy as a subject, but to recognize that everything in His thought is intended to reach down into the life and to make very radical changes there, and in order for prophecy to do that, you have to do a great deal more than study dates, times, seasons, and signs. There has to be a spiritual interpretation and application, and it is that which we have especially in mind here. But for the present moment we just take some more or less broad view of what is here brought before us.

2,500 Years of This World's History

We know that the Book of Daniel covers and outlines that part of this world's history which was designated by the Lord Jesus Himself as "the times of the Gentiles." You will remember that He said (it is recorded in Luke 21;24): "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled," and this Book of Daniel covers, and outlines, that period; roughly a period of some 2,500 years. It commenced when the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were entirely overthrown and Gentile powers took possession of their land; in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, Nebuchadnezzar introduced the times of the Gentiles, the Gentile world-powers; and never since that time has there been a king of Israel or Judah. Now the outline of this period is given to us largely in the second, seventh, eighth and ninth chapters of this book.

In the second chapter we have the image of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, and the seventh and the eighth chapters are enlargements of the second, that is, a fuller account of what is contained in the image of that dream. I am not going to attempt to deal with all the details of that, but just to remind you of that image and what it pointed to.

As you will remember, the image had a head of gold, and interpreting the dream to Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel said: "Thou art this head of gold," which of course was Nebuchadnezzar and his empire, the Babylonian empire. And then the image had its chest and arms of silver; you will notice that that is inferior to gold and portrayed an inferior kingdom which would follow that of the Babylonian. It pointed on to the Medo-Persian empire (Daniel 2:38). Then the trunk and thighs were of brass, a still more inferior empire following that, which was fulfilled the the great Macedonian empire. Then the legs of iron and the feet part of iron and part of clay, pointed on to a still more inferior empire, namely, the Roman, the two legs representing the eastern section and the western section of the Roman empire. The feet, the iron speaking of the monarchical aspect of that empire, that government, and the clay speaking of the democratic aspect.

Over the territory covered by that fourth empire today that are monarchics and republics, a literal fulfillment in our own day and many years past of that which was foreshadowed 500 years B.C. Then another thing is said concerning that fourth empire, that in the midst of those kings the God of heaven would set up a kingdom which should never be destroyed, and which would never be in the hands of another people; a stone cut without hands should break those kingdoms in pieces. We have seen a very large fulfillment of that; the God of heaven hs set His kingdom in the midst of the kingdoms of that fourth world empire, the Roman empire. Against that kingdom of the God of the heavens no world power has yet been able to prevail, although they have wielded the full weight of their might against the saints of the Most High: butchered and massacred them and determined with a diabolical determination to wipe them out: it is those kingdoms that have gone to pieces, the stone cut without hands has broken them and the kingdoms which have set themselves against the Lord and His Christ are fast becoming stories in history books of glories of past days, and the kingdom of the God of heaven goes on never to be destroyed, and never to be entrusted to the hands of any mere world-power, it is in the hands of the saints of the Most High. There will yet be a greater fulfillment of this: a literal one, and not only a spiritual one. Well, that is the second chapter in brief, so far as Daniel's image is concerned, and then as we said, chapters 7 and 8 are an enlargement of that. In chapter 7 you have the four beasts coming up out of the sea. The sea, as we here know, represents the unorganized mass of mankind. Coming up out of the sea are these four beasts.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2)

Experiencing God's Peace

Ephesians 1:2

True peace is God's gift to those who love and obey Him

Throughout history mankind has sought peace through military alliances, balances o power, and leagues of nations. Yet lasting peace still remains an elusive dream. Even during times of relative peace, nations struggle with internal strife and crime.

The Bible says that man on his own cannot know peace because he is alienated from its source. But we need not despair. True peace is immediately available from God our Father ("the God of peace," Romans 15:33) and from the Lord Jesus Christ. It's a gift of God's grace to those who love and obey Jesus Christ.

The New Testament so clearly teaches the inextricable link between God's grace and peace that "Grace to you and peace" became a common greeting in the early church. Grace is God's great kindness toward those who are undeserving of His favor but who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. It is the fountain, and peace is the stream. As recipients of His grace, we have "peace with God' (Romans 5:1); we are reconciled to Him through faith in His Son, and we will never experience His wrath. We also have the "peace of God" (Phil. 4:7), - the Spirit's way of assuring us that God is in control even in the midst of difficult circumstances. That's why Paul calls it the peace that "surpasses all comprehension" (Phil. 4:7).

The world's peace is relative and fleeting because it is grounded in circumstances. God's peace is absolute and eternal because it is grounded in His grace.

Does God's peace reign in your heart, or have you allowed sin or difficult circumstances to diminish your devotion to Christ?

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God that you have peace with Him through faith in Jesus Christ. Ask the Spirit to reveal any sin that might be hindering God's peace from ruling in your heart. Be prepared to respond in confession and repentance. Ask for opportunities to demonstrate God's peace to others today.

For Further Study: Read Philippians 4:6-7. What is God's antidote for anxiety? How does God's peace affect a believer's heart and mind?

~John MacArthur~

Thursday, September 27, 2012

"Abide Under the Shadow of the Almighty" # 4

Correction of Misconceptions

3. As to Ultimate Vindication

You will notice that this Psalm ends on the note of vindication: "I will show him," God says, "I will show him My salvation." Now that appeals to me, because I want to see, and we all want to see, don't we? We are perhaps wrong in our desires, in some ways; but fundamentally we may expect - and I think it is right that we should expect - that ultimately God will make manifest that we have taken the right course - that this has been right. "I will show him My salvation." But, in our desire to see, we want to much too quickly, and we want it our own way. So, once again, we must come back to the Lord Jesus, to have our thoughts checked and measured up against reality and truth as seen in Him.

We see, of course, that God did vindicate Him. All these assertions were fulfilled in His case. "I will set Him on high ... I will be with Him; I will deliver Him; I will honor Him. With long life will I satisfy Him, and show Him My salvation." That is true. The Father turns to the Son today, and points perhaps to a gathering of His people, and says, Look! I am showing You what has come from Your walk with Me. It was fruitful; it has proved right. Why was all this done? Why is the Lord Jesus so highly exalted, vindicated, justified, satisfied? Well, we do not have to guess, because it is written here: "Because He has set His love upon Me." "Because He has set his love upon Me"! - all this has been made possible. But if you remember, in the case of the Lord Jesus, for quite a time it did not look like it; none of these things was manifest. As a Man here on earth, He did not see a single thing of those mentioned here. He had to wait; He had to keep on setting His love, right through to Calvary, and wait. On the other side of Calvary, in resurrection and ascension, He has been vindicated and justified.

The Lord says to us: "You have got to abide in the secret place; that is your business. There are troubles all around you: you cannot deal with them, but you keep close to Me, and I will deal with them. There are subtle temptations of satan, which will catch you, however zealous you are, and desirous of serving Me, but you keep close to Me, and I will deliver you from all the temptations." And He says to us: "Are you disappointed? Are you wishing you could see? Are you pained and troubled because you do not see? You must be patient; you must set your love upon Me; you must not be governed, guided, moved from your pathway by what is seen - whether good or apparently evil; you must abide under the shadow of the Almighty."

In eternity, supremely, God will fulfill this to those who have followed Christ all the way; in time, also, in some very real measure, God does honor these promises and answer them. But they are always, as it were, some resurrection that emerges out of a crucifixion, some Divine reward for sustained faithfulness to Himself. Remember, when the Lord Jesus began to talk to His disciples, one of the matters which He so greatly stressed, which seems to me to emerge immediately from what I have been saying, was: "Your Father Who seeth in secret shall reward you openly!" (Matthew 6:4, 6, 18). How many times did He say that in the Sermon of the Mount? He entered His ministry, He entered His public life, with this conviction: My supreme and only task is to keep close to the Father in secret, and He will reward; in due time He will reward Me openly.

Let us seek grace, then, to abide in the secret place with Him.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(the end)

Let Nothing Keep Us From Communion with God

"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" (Matthew 24:35)

We being what we are and all things else being what they are, the most important and profitable study any of us can engage in is without question the study of theology.

That theology probably receives less attention than any other subject tells us nothing about its importance or lack of it. It indicates, rather, that men are still hiding from the presence of God among the trees of the garden and feel acutely uncomfortable when the matter of their relation to God is brought up!

They sense their deep alienation from God and only manage to live at peace with themselves by forgetting that they are not at peace with God.

It is precisely because God IS, and because man is made in His image and is accountable to Him, that theology is so critically important. Christian revelation alone has the answer to life's unanswered questions about God and human destiny.

To let these authoritative answers lie neglected while we search everywhere else for answers and find none is, it seems to me, nothing less than folly!

Whatever keeps me from the Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to me. Whatever engages my attention when I should be meditating on God and things eternal does injury to my soul. Let the cares of life crowd out the Scriptures from my mind and I have suffered loss where I can least afford it. The secret of life is theological and the key to heave, as well!

~A. W. Tozer~

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Abide Under the Shadow of the Almighty # 3

I have said that these afflictions have to be. For still the question is raised, as it was in Job's time, in the counsels of Heaven, as to whether a man will rejoice in God, and enjoy His love, when he has nothing outwardly at all to prove it. Still satan goes on saying, as he did in those days, 'Of course those people sing; of course they are radiant; of course they are happy: look what You have done for them - miracles, deliverances, blessings, healing, provision, answers to prayer - who would not sing?!'  And God has to say, for His own reputation's sake: If I take every one of those things away, and leave that person without a single blessing, visible to himself or to others, I believe he will say, 'I love the Lord'; because (you notice the expression) he has set his love upon Me - he has set his love upon Me. Hell is answered, and Heaven is vindicated, when God is able to say, "I have a son who loves Me, not for what I give him, but just because he loves, and I love him. And, in the Person of the Lord Jesus, we know that satanic lie was answered, and the Divine truth was seen that it is possible, between Heaven and earth, God and man, to have a perfect love relationship. But it needs all the arrows and terrors and trials and testings - it needs them all, to bring out that great truth. So, there is a reason and an explanation.

satan's Misuse of the Psalm

Now we come to the subtle use by satan of this very Psalm. He came to the Lord Jesus, as we know, quoting the Word of God; and this was the fact implicit in that quotation - and it is a fact, and it is stated here. It is that Heaven will care for its own sons; that God has undertaken, through all the pestilences and trials and troubles, and everything else that may be sent - He has undertaken to see that no harm comes to them. He will send His angels: "He will give His angels charge over thee." It is quite true. The fact was true. But the suggestion that satan brought along with that fact was this: All right, then: use this truth for Your own ends; use this truth to impress men, to prove to them that You are the Son of God. And since, even with us, crude as we are, satan usually wraps up his temptations, and makes them look a bit spiritual, how much more with the infinitely sensitive Son of God. He must have argued something with diabolical ingenuity, some thing that looked right; it must have looked right, or it would have been no temptation.

I suppose the argument went like this: You owe it to Yourself, as a servant of God; You owe it to the people, among whom You are to work and minister - You owe it to prove to them, to demonstrate, to show that there is something exceptional about Your life. If You just walk into the Temple courts, as a humble Galilean, what hope have You that they will listen to You? And how can You expect them to believe that God has sent you? No, Your entry must be a dramatic one; Your appearance must have something of the sensational about it. Arrive in their midst with all the outward signs that appeal to carnal man, of something supernatural and wonderful, and they will say, 'You are the Son of God!' And quite likely they would have done. But the snare, the snare of it all, was that the Lord Jesus could not do that without moving out from under the cover of the Father's wings. It would have meant taking things into His own hands - with the best of motive and intention, maybe; nevertheless, while He did not give satan the reasons for what He did (it is no use arguing with the devil), He just gave him a sword-thrust with the Word of God.

I think if we turn back to the origin from which this quotation came, and read anew the Psalm, we will say, This is where the Lord Jesus found His deliverance. And it is where we will always find ours, if at every point we make the first thing not verse 11, but verse 1. It is not once of the outcomes - it is the basic principle. The basic principle is: You must abide under the shadow of the Almighty. There is a phrase, that we often hear used, about being 'under covering': there is a great deal of spiritual truth in that phrase, and our Lord Jesus is the supreme example of a Man Who always kept under the cover - the "shadow', as it is called, or the "wings" - of His Heavenly Father. Thank God that for us also there is deliverance from every temptation, however subtle, as well as from every trial, however bitter; and the deliverance comes by heeding Heaven's reminder: It is he that dwells in the secret place of the Most High who can prove Divine deliverances and Divine vindications.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4 - "Correction of Misconceptions (3) As to Ultimate Vindication")

Without Blame

"According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love" (Ephesians 1:4)

The Holy Trinity worked together for your salvation. God the Father thought it, God the Spirit wrought it, and God the Son bought it. Christians are God's special chosen ones.

Are you a believer? Then, you are a wanted child. Your salvation didn't just happen. Ephesians 1:4 tells you that God chose you before the foundation of the world. Before He swung the stars in space, before He planted the seeds, before He built the mountains, before all of that, you were in the heart and mind of God. How special you are to God!

God the Father sent His Spirit into the world to select and sanctify His children for His holy purpose. We are utterly dependent upon the Spirit for our salvation. And we seek Him because He first sought us!

Read Psalm 33. Praise God for calling you! Praise God for choosing you! 

~Adrian Rogers~

"But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for Himself: the Lord will hear when I call unto Him" (Psalm 4:3)

If ever there were a reason for you and I to pray,it would be that Jesus told us to pray (see Luke 18:1). Yet, you may wonder why you need to talk to God about your needs since, "your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him" (Matthew 6:8).

Prayer is communion with God. It is part of God's grand scheme that we have been given the privilege to cooperate with God in prayer. Ephesians 6:18 tells us to pray "in the Spirit".

Any prayer that the Holy Spirit lays upon your heart will be answered, because the prayer that gets to heaven is the prayer that starts in heaven. We just close the circuit.

What are you talking to God about these days? Are you asking Him for something? Or are you just thankful for the privilege of communion with Him? Spend time in prayer today - not asking Him for anything - but simply praising Him and thanking Him for allowing you to have a relationship with Him.

~Adrian Rogers~

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Abide Under the Shadow of the Almighty # 2

Correction of our Misconceptions:

1. As to the Nature of "Abiding"

Now we must use the life of the Lord Jesus always to check up our imaginary, and often distorted, pictures of spiritual things: for we may well begin to think in terms of a life in which prayer is given the supreme place, and other activities of life are made to stand aside, or are neglected. 'I must dwell in the secret place of the Most High'; prayer must be given first place and used instead of activity. You will find no substance in the life of the Lord Jesus to warrant such a reading of this Psalm. Or again, we may say: 'Well, of course, we have other things to do; but prayer must be the first thing, and by a long time of prayer we may be assured that the rest of the day will be all right. Prayer, not instead of action; but prayer before action.' Well, of course, far be it from me to counter that! But I would suggest to you that, the more you read the life of the Lord Jesus, impressive though it may be with the reminder of the need of prayer, the more you will realize that it was not only in the prayer chamber, but at every turn in the midst of a busy and active life and ministry, that He dwelt in the secret place of the Most High. Not - an hour alone with the Father, and then the rest of the day out with the world, counting on some magical value of that hour to see Him through the day. Oh, no. Time with the Father alone was but the concentration and special feature of a life in which, all the time, He made it the first thing to keep close to God, to maintain unhindered communion with the Father.

It is the spirit, rather than the activity, of prayer - the spirit of abiding; and it is not without reason and significance that twice over in these early verses we are directed to the thought of being 'under': "under the shadow"; under His wings". And all the work of satan was to try to get the Son out from that 'under' position, away from that true submissiveness to the Father; if he could do that, then all the rest of his work would succeed. He never did succeed. But we are impressed with this command from Heaven, these directions, these instructions, given to every son of God. This is the way of blessing; this is the way of fruitfulness; this is the way of deliverance; this is the way of victory: to keep that submissive spirit of gentle and yet strong committal to the Father's will.

2. As To The Incidence of Trial and Affliction

Now, I have said that the life of the Lord Jesus will correct our misconceptions of spiritual things: and that is certainly true with relation to all the troubles and trials which are described in this Psalm. For it is a part of our foolishness that we vainly imagine that the closer a man is to the Lord, the more jealously he guards his place of communion with the Lord, the easier, the smoother, the freer from difficulties and trials will his life be. We are completely mistaken; that is quite a misconception. And so the Psalm will now stress the adversities that beset the path of the man who begins where Psalm 91 begins, "in the secret place of the Most High."

Now it has to be like that; there is a very good reason for it. But without discussing the reason, let us look at the facts. Look down the chapter. What a list is given to us here: "the snare of the fowler ... the noisome pestilence that walketh in darkness ... the destruction that wasteth at noonday ..." On and on the story goes. You say, Who is this? And the answer comes back: This is the Son of God. What a long and varied list of every kind of assault upon this Man. We go back to the Gospels, and we have to confess that this is true. Men did not say, "This is the Son of God," because they saw some majestic person sweeping on easily through life, with no difficulties and no enemies. They found a man in the fires of affliction; they found a man beset - these are figurative descriptions of troubles, but they are very vivid ones if you look at them - by night and by day, with lions in their fierceness and serpents in their subtlety. But the amazing thing about the Psalm is that it is a picture of a man who walks through it all unmoved, unaffected, delivered, maintained. And what is the secret? The secret is not because he has ability to deal with these troubles, but because the Lord has said, "I will be with him in trouble." "He is with Me; I will be with Him.' What a story of triumph, deliverance, and victory - the story of our Saviour's life!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

The Miracle of the Resurrection

"Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept" (Mark 16:9-10)

When you read the account of Jesus' death and resurrection in the Bible, do you ever stop to wonder why He appeared to His disciples and friends after the Resurrection? They already knew that the stone had been rolled away and that His body was not there. He had already promised them that he would rise again on the third day.

It is common belief that Jesus' multiple appearances were to answer the questions that existed among them and to cast out disbelief. He appeared to Mary Magdalene to rule out the possibility of His body being stolen and to expound upon the scriptural prophecies that were now fulfilled. He appeared to Thomas to prove that His broken, punctured body had indeed risen from the grave. He also appeared to Peter to reestablish His love, even after being denied.

These important visitations equipped the new messengers of the gospel with further knowledge and evidence of Jesus' true identity as the Son of God. If any had held the slightest doubts in their hearts before, they could not doubt now. Jesus suffered the death of a criminal to rise as a King. He is alive, and His love is great enough to conquer doubt.

Meditate on the miracle of His resurrection as you lift your prayers to Him today.

Lord, just as You appeared to You followers to equip them for ministry, so, too, help my finite mind grasp the wonder of Your death as a criminal, and resurrection as a King. Amen

~Charles Stanley~

Monday, September 24, 2012

Abiding Under the Shadow of the Almighty

"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty" (Psalm 91:1)

It is most instructive and inspiring to read the Psalms, when we remember that they would have formed the main spiritual food for the Lord Jesus, when, as a Man, He walked this earth. So many of them light up with meaning and help if we think of them in that way. In most cases, it is perhaps a matter of guesswork or imagination, but with this Psalm there is a difference. We have excellent reason for believing, not only that it was well and thoroughly absorbed by our Lord in His spiritual reading, but that it must have represented a most important message from God to His heart. Remarkably enough, it is the devil who helps us in making that discovery, for it was from this Psalm that satan quoted in one of those great temptations with which he assailed the Lord Jesus. He made it plain that he knew that this was the Word on which the Lord was relying; and he revealed, moreover, the true nature of the Psalm, because it was he who said to the Lord Jesus: 'If Thou be the Son of Son ... that Psalm applies to You.' Now, no mention is made here of sonship; but I think you will agree that the whole atmosphere of the Psalm speaks of the relationship between the Father in Heaven, the Most High, spreading out His wings, and the Son, in closest, intimate communion with Him.

The Spirit's Instruction to the Lord Jesus

You will notice that here, unlike what we find in many of the Psalms, there is practically nothing of the Psalmist's personal testimony. Verse 2 reads: "I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Whom I trust." But, apart from that, it is not the Psalmist speaking about God or to God; it is a third person speaking to Him as to His relationship with Heaven. I said 'a third person', but before we get to the end of the Psalm, the Father Himself takes this matter up, and says, "I will do it; Thou hast set Thy love upon Me" (v. 14). For the rest, I think it is not unreasonable to say that this third Person is the Holy Spirit, encouraging, instructing and exhorting the Son of God, Who has now come to live as a Son of Man. In a world like this, how can a man live and triumph and please God? This Psalm, as our Lord Jesus fed upon it, would be Heaven's instruction, Heaven's setting down of principles, of a basis - a rule of life for the So of God. If we look at it in that way, it becomes obvious, not only from the first verse, but from the whole of the remainder of the Psalm, that the supremely important factor is that of a close abiding fellowship in the secret place. 'Mark this,' says the Divine wisdom, 'watch for this; herein lies the secret: this will be the focus of all satanic attack, this abiding in the secret place of the Most High; dwelling under the shadow of the Almighty.'

If now we take our Gospels and read them with this in mind, we find set forth the story of a life proving that success, safety, fruitfulness, and ultimate glory have but one, all-important, secret - that of keeping close to the Father in Heaven; giving absolute priority to this matter of communion in the secret place. Equally, as we read through the Gospel narrative, we shall be impressed by the fact that, from a thousand different angles, by a multitude of cunning devices, everything was directed upon this one issue: to get the Son out of relationship with the Father. Thank God it never succeeded! How well our Lord had taken to heart this lesson that it is He who dwells in the secret place who is the true Son.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2 - "Correction of Our Misconceptions:")

The Love of God

"God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him" (1 John 4:16)

The best and most wonderful word in heaven is Love. For God is love. And the best and most wonderful word in the inner chamber must be - Love. For the God who meets us there is Love.

What is love? The deep desire to give itself for the beloved. Love finds its joy in imparting all that it has to make the loved one happy. And the heavenly Father, who offers to meet us in the inner chamber - let there be no doubt of this in our minds - has no other object that to fill our hearts with His love.

All the other attributes of God which have been mentioned find in this their highest glory. The true and full blessing of the inner chamber is nothing less than a life in the abundant love of God.

Because of this, our first and chief thought in the inner chamber should be faith in the love of God. Seek, as you set yourself to pray, to exercise great and unbounded faith in the love of God.

Take time, O my soul, in silence to meditate on the wonderful revelation of God's love in Christ, until you are filled with the spirit of worship and wonder and longing desire. Take time to believe the precious truth: "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us."

Let us remember with shame how little we have believed in, and sought after, this love.

"Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3).

"That ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge" (Ephesians 3:17-19).

"Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us" (1 John 2:1).

Dear Father, I am confident that my heavenly Father longs to manifest His love to me. I am deeply convinced of the truth: He will and can do it. Amen.

~Andrew Murray~

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Testimony of the Blood # 3

The Incorruptibility of the Blood

The next related factor in the Blood as the Life is its incorruptibility and indestructibility. These elements go together and are one. What is incorruptible is indestructible. This is a life over which death has no power. Death has been met in the power of this life. Hades has been entered and plundered in the power of this life. satan and his entire kingdom had had their might exhausted by the power of this life. He Who was and is this Life, now lives for evermore, as the Testimony to the universal triumph of His own Blood over every force that has stood in the way of God's end.

By this imperishable life He has perfected salvation. Nothing of old was ever perfect, because the mediators constantly changed by death; death breaking in all the times meant no completeness. But this High Priest perfects for ever, because He lives after the power of an endless, "indissoluble", life. Therefore He is able to save to the uttermost, the ultimate and final end (Hebrews 7:16, 23-25).

By this imperishable life He has bound His own to Himself. They share this life by new birth, and they will never die. Death is not cessation of being; it is something spiritual. Life triumphant over death is spiritual, and means ascendancy over sin, self, satan, death. In other words, it is power and victory.

By this indestructible life the Lord Jesus has inaugurated a ministry and a work which will persist to is ultimate consummation, in spite of every force of earth and hell which may be against it. Mighty empires and powerful hierarchies have been brought to ruins in setting themselves against that which He said He would build. "The gates of Hades" have NOT prevailed, intensely as they have striven.

It is a blessed thing to be in and a part of that work which shall abide for ever. For a man's work to go to pieces when he is withdrawn is no compliment to him. It only means that it was man's work, not God's. Like kingdoms, men rise and wane. Are we seeking to make a name for ourselves?  This is very short-sighted, at best. The testimony to which God is reacting relates to a work which stands and persists when every destructive  force has spent itself. This testimony, and such a work, are in virtue of the Blood of the Lord Jesus. It is therefore necessary for us to seek to recognize this fact, to understand, as far as we can, why it is so, and to know our position of victory because of the Blood. Unto this threefold apprehension we shall begin at the ultimate issue of the testimony, which is -

The Divine Seed In Prosperity and Sovereignty

It is this that satan cannot bear to contemplate, and against which he is bitterly set, because it represents a menace to his kingdom at every point.

There is a very great significance attached to the introduction of the Book of Exodus with 'the names of the sons of Israel, who came into Egypt". The title "sons of Israel" represents their dignity as sons of "a prince of God." They came into Egypt and were in great prosperity and strength, while yet a separate and unabsorbed people. This dignity, prosperity and power came to be regarded as a distinct peril to the king of Egypt, and he projected a plan for humbling them, bringing them into bondage, and making them rather to contribute to his own prosperity and power.

Thus Exodus presents, firstly, God's mind concerning the princely dignity and spiritual prosperity and ascendency of the "sons"; then the activity and object of the adversary concerning them; and finally the Divine thought and intention established in the realm of "far above all rule and authority" in virtue of the shed blood of chapter twelve. So then, sonship and sovereignty are the two factors present throughout. Sonship is the basic principle. Sovereignty is the issue involved in the conflict. The Blood is the instrument by which both are established. "These are the names of the sons of 'the Prince of God' ..." is the introduction. "Let My son go, that he may serve Me", is the challenge to Pharaoh; and "Thou hast refused ... behold, I will slay thy son", is the sovereign factor at issue (Exodus 4:23).

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4)

Sensitive to Religion - but living like the Devil

"... Nevertheless when the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8)

In our day you can find plenty of men and women in all walks of life who live like the devil while insisting that they are "sensitive" to religion!

If an evangelist sweeps through and the excitement gets big enough, they will go to the meetings and swell the crowd and contribute to the offering - and it will look big.

But here's the catch: after it is all over, the moral standards of the community are right where they were before. I contend that whatever does not raise the moral standard and consciousness of the church or community has not been a revival from God.

The "god" that men believe in now, and to whom they are "sensitive," is a kind of divine Pan with a pipe who plays lovely music whey they dance, but he is not a God that makes any moral demands on them.

I still say that any revival that will come to a nation and leave people as much in love with money as they were before and as engrossed in human pleasures is a snare and a delusion!

True faith in God - not in any god, not in religion, but faith in the sovereign God who made heaven and earth and who will require men's deeds - that is the God we must believe in, my friends. Believing in Him, we will seek to crucify our flesh and put on the new man which is renewed in holiness.

That kind of faith in God is all but gone. When the Son of man cometh, will He find faith on the earth?

~A. W. Tozer~

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Testimony of the Blood # 2

The Shedding and Sprinkling of the Blood

If we are not mistaken, the shedding relates to the whole question of sin, guilt, death, judgment; and by the shedding there is remission, and the whole ground of salvation is secured.

The sprinkling is that by which we are brought into living vocational fellowship with God. The Tabernacle and priesthood of old represented, not only Israel's salvation, but Israel's priestly ministry in the nations. They were meant to be "a kingdom of priests", and God's ministering instrument among and to all nations.

Hence there was a special significance given to the sprinkling of the blood. Although the tabernacle was perfect as a structure; although the "pattern" was carried out to the last detail; although the priesthood was complete in number and adornment: nothing and no one could function until every part - altar, laver, table, curtains, candlestick, golden altar, mercy-seat, vessels, instruments, ear, thumb, toe, etc. had been sprinkled with the blood. It was regarded as a higher function to catch the blood for sprinkling even than to slay the sacrifice and thus shed the blood.

Nothing lives in the service and ministry of God, save in virtue of sprinkled blood. Oh that men would see this today! The most perfect structure, the most complete outfit, the most ornate edifice, the most extensive organization, the most fastidious order, and the most devout purpose will all fail to function in the eternal interests of God, apart from the virtue of the precious Blood of the Lord Jesus. The Holy Spirit - the Fire of God - is indispensable to spiritual life and energy, and He only comes where that Blood has been sprinkled. The Blood and the Spirit are one, and always go together - one as the preparation, the other as the attestation. Calvary precedes Pentecost. The Cross is the way to the glorifying. To be crucified with Christ is to have put away that "flesh" upon which the Holy Oil may not come. God is never going to quicken and vitalize what he has for ever put away; neither will He glorify and use in His service that which is of man.

Whatever the means and methods or necessities which come in their course, the one all-inclusive object of the Divine reactions is to have that in the earth which is wholly and undividedly of God. To this end it is essential that the Cross be wrought so deeply into the experience of the Lord's servants that they shall come to utter despair as to themselves and all else, and send up a full heart-cry for the fullness of the Holy Spirit. To such a crisis the Lord will work by all manner of means, slowly breaking down all other ground of confidence, and writing "failure" on all other resource.

The testimony of the Blood, the Cross, then, is the testimony of that which is uniquely, wholly, sacredly of God in absolute holiness.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

Prayer for Hurting

"And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2 Corinthians 12:9)

There are three possible ways to pray when you are hurting: First, you pray that God will give you an escape from the pain. That's normal - in fact, that's how drug stores stay in business!

Second, you can pray for God to give you the strength to endure the pain. And that, too, is a natural response. If we can't escape the pain, we can pray to endure the pain.

Third, the way we  can pray is to ask God to enlist the pain in our lives for our good and His glory.

If we pray to escape our pain, then we see pain as our enemy. If we pray to endure our pain, then pain is seen as a master. But, if we pray to enlist our pain, we see it as our servant.

We are able to find God's grace to glory in our infirmities, that the power of God may be manifest in our lives.

Are you hurting over something that has happened in your life? Ask God to give you strength to choose to enlist that pain for your good and His glory.

~Adrian Rogers~

"Now He which stablisheth us with you in Christ, an hath anointed us, is God" (2 Corinthians 1:21)

What will God do you you if you will allow Him? He will establish you. In other words, He will make you stable, steadfast, dependable, and unmovable so that you will not be blown about by every wind of doctrine. This verb is in the present participle, which means it is with continuing action. It doesn't mean that this is once and for all.

God is in the process of establishing you. Now, where is He establishing you? In Christ. He is moving you closer and closer to Christ the Rock of your salvation. When you are saved, God puts you into Christ and then day-by-day He moves you closer to Him.

Examine your walk with God. What specific things do you see in your life that indicate you are closer to God than you were a year ago, a month ago, a week ago, a day ago?

~Adrian Rogers~

Friday, September 21, 2012

His Resurrection Destiny

"Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" (Luke 24:26)

Our Lord's Cross is the gateway into His life. His resurrection means that He has the power to convey His life to me. When I was born again, I received the very life of the risen Lord from Jesus Himself.

Christ's resurrection destiny - His foreordained purpose - was to bring "many sons to glory" (Hebrews 2:10). The fulfilling of His destiny gives Him the right to make us sons and daughters of God. We never have exactly the same relationship to God that the Son of God has, but we are brought by the Son into the relation of sonship. When our Lord rose from the dead, He rose to an absolutely new life - a life He had never lived before He was God Incarnate. He rose to a life that had never been before. And what His resurrection means for us is that we are raised to His risen life, not to our old life. One day we will have a body like His glorious body, but we can know here and now the power and effectiveness of His resurrection and can "walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4). Paul's determined purpose was to "know Him and the power of His resurrection" (Philippians 3:10).

Jesus prayed, "... as You have given Him authority over all flesh that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him" (John 17:2). The term Holy Spirit is actually another name for the experience of eternal life working in human beings here and now. The Holy Spirit is the deity of God who continues to apply the power of the atonement by the Cross of Christ to our lives. Thank God for the glorious and majestic truth that His Spirit can work the very nature of Jesus into us, if we will only obey Him.

~Oswald Chambers~

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Unchanging Faithfulness of God

"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever" (Hebrews 13:8)

It is a gracious thing in our relationship with the heavenly Father to find that He loves us for ourselves and values our love more than galaxies of new created worlds.

The added blessing is to discover His faithfulness - for what He is today we shall find Him tomorrow, the next day and the next year!

Actually, the fellowship of God with His redeemed family is beyond all telling. He communes with His redeemed ones in an easy, uninhibited fellowship that is restful and healing to the soul.

He is not sensitive nor selfish nor temperamental. He is not hard to please, though He may be hard to satisfy. He expects of us only what He has Himself first supplied.

He is quick to mark every simple effort to please Him, and just as quick to overlook imperfections when He knows we meant to do His will. Surely He loves us for ourselves!

Unfortunately, many Christians cannot get free from their perverted notions of God, and these notions poison their hearts and destroy their inward freedom. These friend serve God grimly, as the elder brother did, doing what is right without enthusiasm and without joy, and seem altogether unable to understand the buoyant, spirited celebration when the prodigal comes home. Their idea of God rules out the possibility of His being happy in His people!

How good it would be if we could learn that God is easy to live with, the sum of all patience, the essence of kindly good will!

~A. W. Tozer~

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Testimony of the Blood

As we approach this sacred Blood, may we urge our readers to give it the most careful heed? Here we touch the heart of everything. There has been nothing so assailed as the testimony of the Blood. There is nothing in the universe more bitterly hated and more terribly feared by the adversary than the Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. But if it is to be a mighty operative factor in life and service, faith must have as intelligent a basis concerning it as possible; and we are especially concerned with the vocation of the people of God here! Let us then see what the Blood stands for.

The Meaning of the Blood

There are two aspects of this whole matter of the Blood. One is that a death has taken place, and in that death one whole kind of humanity has, in the mind of God, been set aside. This relates to "Him Who knew no sin ... made ... sin on our behalf" (2 Corinthians 5:21).

The other, about which we shall now speak more particularly, is that which sets forth the inherently incorruptible life of God's Son made flesh. If all that is said about the Blood relates only to death, then its sacredness cannot be understood, but becomes a supreme problem.

Firstly, let us note the sacredness of life as in the blood. We are now familiar with the scriptural teaching that 'the life ... is in the blood" (Lev. 17:11), and "the blood is the life" (Deut. 2:23. There is a tremendous emphasis in Scripture upon the sacredness of blood. Indeed the word "soul" is often used interchangeably with both "blood" and "life", and all the characteristics and values of the soul are associated in the same way with the "blood" and the "life." But the blood as the life is related in a peculiar way to God as representing His specific prerogatives.Thus the whole matter is gathered up in a reservation and a provision as laid down in Leviticus and in John's Gospel.

In Leviticus the Lord repeatedly stresses that blood is not to be drunk.  This rule would be broken under a penalty of death (Lev. 7:26, 27; 17:10-12). The law concerning blood and its sacredness was carried so far that if a man went hunting and killed a quarry, he was to pour out the blood on the ground and cover it over with dust (Lev. 17:13). He was not to leave the blood exposed, but honor it, show it the same reverence, as he would the body of a fallen man.

Now does it not strike you with a great force of significance that, when we have repeatedly read: "Ye shall eat no manner of blood ... Whosoever eateth any blood ... shall be cut off", then we turn and read in John 6:53: "Except ye drink the blood of the Son of Man, ye have no life"? Surely the very first thing which this implies is that the whole question of life has been shut up by God to the Person and Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the life of the Person, and gives to the Person a uniqueness and distinctiveness which no other in history has ever had. Then it gives to the Cross of the Lord Jesus a unique and supreme meaning and value, in that it was there that He shed His Blood and poured forth His life; releasing that life to be received by all who believed on the Person and accepted the meaning of His Cross.

The thought of he sacredness of the Blood as the life is that of the Divine relationship of it; that is, that it is bound up with the Lord and no man can touch it. All of a piece with this is -

The Holiness of the Blood

We are familiar with the injunctions concerning the spotlessness of the offerings of old - "without spot, or blemish". There was a sense in which the priests were expert fault-finders! Their business was to find fault if they could. The discovery of a blemish in a proffered sacrifice meant its immediate rejection. Their eyes were as the eyes of God in this matter. A beast was passed only after the most scrupulous investigation, when the formula "It is perfect" was pronounced over it.

Such, likewise, then, was the blood, and this is the testimony of the holiness of the life of the Lord Jesus, and consequently of the nature of that Divine deposit within the born-anew child of God. We are not perfect or spotless, but the life from Him in us is, and by its vital activity through faith and obedience we re to be conformed to His image, and are assured that one day we shall be like Him. Blessed be God, we have the earnest of perfection. This precious Blood does cleanse.

This leads us at this point to say a brief word on -

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2

All Things Are Not Expedient

"All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any" (1 Corinthians 6:12)

There are certain weights that an athlete chooses to lay aside. They are not bad for other people, but they are bad for the athlete.

In the spiritual realm, it is the same for Christians. Paul tells us, "all thing are not expedient." The word "expedient" is similar to the word "expedition." You see, Christians are going somewhere. If something doesn't speed us along the way, then it is excess baggage and we need to get rid of it.

Ask God, "Do I own any legitimate, lawful things that can be put to better use and are keeping me from running the best race for You? If so, show me, that I may live a life that is completely surrendered to the cause of Christ." It might be a boat, a condo, a ring, an oil painting, or an antique collection. These things are not inherently bad. Maybe He wants you to sell whatever it is or maybe not. Just talk to Him about it.

~Adrian Rogers~

"But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you" (1 Peter 5:10)

Isn't it wonderful to know that the works of God are perfect? That God's way are perfect? And that His will is perfect?

Now, I know that someone reading this may think, "But I don't know about God's will. I don't want to give myself completely to Him or He might send me to a remote desert as a missionary."

Let me set the record straight. God's will is not so much something that you surrender to as it is something that you get in on. God will choose for you what you would choose for yourself if you had enough sense to choose it.

Ask yourself if you have completely surrendered everything to God. Is there anything you are holding back? Is there any activity that you are still doing that does not please God? Is there anything you posses that dishonors God? It's time to clean house both literally and figuratively.

~Adrian Rogers~

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

To The Bride # 3

Dear Church

We have spent far too long pursuing other sources of life and need to return to Christ Himself. We have seen in this study that there is no substitute for the presence of God.

Now it is time for us to return to our first love, the Great Physician Himself. He alone has the answers to all our needs. He has come that we might have life in all its abundance. We need to seek Him as this woman did, pressing through the obstacles until we touch Him afresh.

How easily we turn aside, as Jeremiah said: 'My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain [source] of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water' (Jeremiah 2:13). These broken cisterns can be anything we substitute in place of Christ Himself. They can be ministry gifts, congregations, reputations. God is never to become simply a means to an end. He is the End. 

God is Our All in All

Paul counted all else but Christ as rubbish (see Phil. 3:8). David said, 'Besides You, I desire nothing on earth' (Psalm 73:25). David had climbed to the pinnacle of position and power and yet was not satisfied.

Like the prodigal we need to arise and forsake everything that we thought could satisfy, return to the Father's house, and fall into the arms of the Father again. Charles Stanley conveys my thought clearer than I can when he writes:

"I believe with all my heart that it is impossible to be both goal-oriented and God-oriented at the same time. One orientation will always take precedence over the other ... when our desire to achieve takes the lead several things happen in our relationship with God. He becomes a means to an end rather than the End. We tend to use God rather than worship Him. We find ourselves seeking information about Him rather than transformation by Him."

Just like the woman whose life was ebbing away we need to reach out and take hold of the only source of life - Christ Himself. He and He alone is the answer to all our needs and desires.

Dear Church, let us respond to His invitation. "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink .." (John 7:3).

~David Ravenhill~

(the end)

The Lamb of God

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23)

In her book "The Vision of His Glory", Anne Graham Lotz explains the importance of the blood of Christ. She writes that under the Law of Moses, when someone sinned, the person was required to bring a lamb without blemish to the priest at the temple. The sinner was required to grasp the lamb with both hands and confess his sin. Lotz continues

'It was as though the guilt of the sinner was conveyed through his arms, down to his hands, and transferred to the lamb. Then the sinner took the knife and killed the lamb, so the lamb died as a direct result of the sinner's action. The priest then took the blood of the lamb and sprinkled it on the altar to make atonement for the person's sin ... When John the Baptist observed Jesus of Nazareth walking beside the Jordan River, he exclaimed, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world".

Today, when we grasp the Lamb of God with our "hands" of faith and confess our sin, the guilt of our sin is transferred to the Lamb. Although the Romans physically crucified Jesus, it was your sin and mine that was responsible for putting Him to death. He died as my personal sacrifice - and yours. His blood was sprinkled on the altar of the Cross for your sin, and God accepted the sacrifice, granting you atonement, redemption, forgiveness and a way back into His Presence through the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ.'

Lord, thank You for the substitutionary death of Your Son, Jesus, whose blood was shed for my sins. Amen

~Charles Stanley~

Monday, September 17, 2012

To The Bride # 2

Next we see that she was distracted. This woman should have been busy raising a family. Instead o being fruitful she had become self-absorbed, focusing on her own needs and problems, having little time for anything else. No longer could she meet the needs of those around her. Instead she was running from one physician to the next trying to find a cure for her own troubles.

How much time, money, and energy does the average church or believer spend on seeking to meet the needs of those around them? We too have become distracted with ourselves and our own needs. We have lost sight of our calling. Most of our resources are used to alleviate our own ailments. I realize that there are some exceptions, but generally speaking, this is not an unfair assessment.

If there is one positive note in the story so far is has to be that she was "desperate". She refused to take no for an answer. We don't find her going home to die. Something within her kept her going. Perhaps it was the testimonials of friends or neighbors who had "discovered" a new cure being advocated by the new doctor in town. Again she made her appointment, hoping this time what had worked for others would also satisfy her needs as well. Finally her day arrived. She couldn't wait. After all, she had had such great references from friends and family. But after being subjected to the usual battery of tests, she came away poorer, yes, not just physically but also financially. The Bible descriptively states, "She ... was not helped at all" (Mark 5:26).

Like the woman in this story, I, too, have observed over the past 39 years of ministry the Church running from seminar to seminar, from expert to expert, hoping that somehow they might discover the "magic potion" that would raise them from the bed of sickness. I've watched as smaller nations have spent thousands flying in some overseas speaker for a national conference in hopes of discovering his secrets to success. it is not a result of not trying but that of sheer and mounting desperation. Someone has to have the answer.

Finally, we discover that she was "deceived" - deceived into thinking that man had the answer to her situation. Let's face it, these men were experts in medicine - doctors, if you like. Unfortunately, they didn't have the power to set her free and rather than lightening her load, they increased it by making things worse. There she was - depleted physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually, and also financially. Her condition had cut her off from the house of God. Her friends who were fading fast could not touch her for fear of becoming unclean. She might as well have been a leper. Now after 12 years of searching for a cure, she was at her wits' end. The Bible said she "had spent all that she had ..." (Mark 5:26).

Not unlike this woman, the Church has been deceived into thinking that man holds the answer to her needs. I've observed over the years the Church making her rounds of the doctors' offices seeking help. Allow me to introduce you to a few of them - although I'm sure you've sat in their offices yourself at sometime or another.

Let's begin with Dr. Self-Help.  His diagnosis reveals that you have a self-image problem, low self-esteem - perhaps a failure mentality. He suggests that you make an appointment with his partner,  Dr. Confession. This expert picks up from where the previous doctor ended, prescribing a series of "verses" that if taken daily will do wonders for the immune system, restoring it back to health. You have to admit that this is a great improvement from "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can." After weeks or months of treatments you still feel as though something is wrong or missing. It's then that you hear about Dr. Inner Healing.  This doctor, we are told, looks beyond the present symptoms and looks to the root of the problem. Sure enough, he finds some long forgotten "hurt" that has caused the tree to grow crooked. Now finally you are on the right track. it has nothing to do with you but rather the way you were raised. You're feeling better already - after all, it's not your fault!

Dr. Inner Healing  in his loving, compassionate way suggests that just to be sure you've covered all the bases you should see his associate, Dr. Generational Sins.  His expertise, you are told, goes beyond "your" problems and deals with your "family tree." Well now that he mentions it you can think of several serious issues without even beginning to delve into the murky waters of the past. First there is you mother and her controlling spirit, then your father's past association with his father - not to mention your uncle's alcoholic problems and your grandmother's addiction to gambling. Well, after numerous visits to Dr. Generational Sins,  you begin to grasp that your problems are not really yours. "My father ate sour grapes" and it caused "my teeth to be set on edge."

Just like this woman the Church has made the rounds from one wind of doctrine to the next. The list is almost endless. Dr. Faith had his day in the sun but was soon replaced by Dr. Prosperity. Some recent additions to the medical staff include Dr. Prophetic and his up and coming friend, Dr. Apostolic  has the cure for almost all our "ills". He is presently receiving almost unprecedented press and appearing at conferences all over the place.

We need to keep in mind that the reason these doctors stay in business is that they do have the occasional "miracle." Not everything they prescribe is wrong. The problem is that most of these doctors have tunnel vision, and think that their particular cure holds the answer to every "sickness."

The Bible tells us this woman "suffered much." She had made the rounds, and instead of being helped, had grown worse. "And hearing about Jesus," she was delivered and delighted. Finally after 12 long years of suffering when she had spent all she had, sh heard about Jesus. Church, it's time we heard about Jesus again!

The Lord longs for His Bride to become healthy and fruitful, to be delivered of her soul-sickness and delighted in Him again.

~David Ravenhill~

(continued with # 3)