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Friday, November 30, 2012

False and Futile Attempts For Salvation # 2

Now let us look at some of the aprons of fig leaves with which the natural man is trying to make himself acceptable to God and fit for Heaven.

Salvation through Character. "Character - home-brew" is the sign over the door of the self-righteous man's life. He has to admit weakness and failure but he does not call sin "sin" nor does he grant that he has any great need. There is nothing in him so wrong that he cannot remedy it himself if given time, a proper environment and enlarged opportunities. The self-righteous man thinks that he starts with something already very good, something even with the very essence of the divine in it. His business is to make this good thing gradually better.

In this process of self-cultivation the self-righteous man measures himself with himself and he is very pleased; he measures himself also with other men and, like the self-righteous Pharisee of Luke 18:9-14, he is more than pleased. He congratulates himself on himself and even commends his virtues to God. But there is one measurement that he has forgotten to take. He has never placed his self-righteous life alongside the spotless, stainless, sinless, life of the Son of Man to see how infinitely far short he falls of a righteousness which God accepts. He ignores the fact that the absolute righteousness of God demands nothing less than absolute righteousness in all who are acceptable to Him, which is a demand no human being in himself ever can meet.

Some day when this man stands before the Lord Jesus Christ, once a proffered but a rejected Saviour, now his Judge, he will expect Him to approve this man-made production of righteousness, to pronounce it as good as anything the Lord could have done, and to let him pass into Heaven to abide forever in the presence of an absolutely righteous God.

I was talking once with a friend concerning his need of a Saviour. He was a man of splendid ideals, high standards and excellent principles. He was cultured, kind, moral, and from a human standpoint, lived what the world would commend as a highly respectable life. When I pressed the necessity of accepting Jesus Christ as his Saviour, he said, "Why do I need any one to die for me? I do not want any one's blood shed for me!" The root of that reply was self-righteousness. That young man was trusting to be saved through character. God looks down upon all such "which trusted in themselves that they were righteous" and says,

Romans 3:10, 12, "There is none righteous, no, not one. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable: they is none that doeth good, no, not one."

And of the righteousness which has been so carefully cultivated He gives His estimate through the mouth of His prophet,

Isaiah 64:6, "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away."

To reply upon self-righteousness as the ground of salvation is utterly futile. God declares plainly that His wrath against it will be revealed.

Romans 10:3, "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God."

Romans 1:18, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness."

How very different is the self-righteous, self-made man from the one who has had a glimpse of the Holy One and His righteousness!

Isaiah 6:5, "Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts."

Job 42:5, 6, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee.  Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes."

1 Timothy 1:15, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners: of whom I am chief."

The last quotation is from the lips of a man who, if any one, could have rested upon his own righteousness as a sufficient ground of acceptance with God. With perfect sincerity he said of himself that "touching the righteousness which is of the law he was blameless." Yet after seeing the Lord of glory he was convinced of the foolishness and futility of such confidence in the flesh. From that time he had but one consuming desire, "that he might win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith" (Phil. 3:6, 9). The only righteousness that makes any man acceptable with God is the righteousness of God by faith in Jesus Christ.

Romans 3:22, 23, "Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."

No one whose eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts, and who has contrasted his own sinfulness with His holiness will have a shred of hope of acceptance with God through his own character. The man who relies upon any righteousness in himself as his ground of salvation and who refuses Christ's imputed righteousness as God's free gift only proves the Word of God that the god of this world has blinded hi mind so that the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should not shine into his heart.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 3 - "Salvation through education")

Like A Leper

Psalm 31:9-13

We can't help what others do and say. We can help only what we do. When others start talking about us or fighting against us, we may not be able to control that. It's difficult when people start to slander the righteous. But this is what David had to endure. In verse 11 we read, "I am a reproach among all my enemies." We expect that. "But especially among my neighbors." Now that hurts. "And am repulsive to my acquaintances." That hurts even more. "Those who see me outside flee from me." Can you imagine your neighbors and your acquaintances running away from you as if you were a leper?

What was causing all of this for David? Saul way lying about him. He was telling his assistants and officers, "David said this. David did that." And this gossip, this awful slander, was spreading through the nation, and David was suffering. "I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind; I am like a broken vessel" (v. 12). David wanted to be a vessel filled to overflowing, but now he was broken.

What should you do when people start slandering you? First, be sure your life is right. "For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away" (v. 10). David is saying, "Lord, if I've sinned, I'll confess it." Second, trust in the Lord. "But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, 'You are my God' " (v. 14). Third, remember that others have gone through this. You're not experiencing something unique. Everyone who has done anything for the Lord has been slandered, ridiculed, criticized - including the perfect Son of God. Don't listen to the slander of the enemy; listen to the Word of God. Get close to His heart, and you'll have His help when you suffer misunderstanding.

When someone falsely accuses you, take comfort in knowing that others have gone through the difficulty of slander. Then look to the Lord, for He is your Strength and Salvation. Use this difficult experience to examine your own heard and draw closer to Him.

~Warren W. Wiersbe~

Thursday, November 29, 2012

False and Futile Attempts for Salvation

In His Word God has taught one truth which is beyond all contradiction. It is that sin has created an awful chasm between Himself and man. Man may ignore or condone sin, he may treat it very highly, he may even be so foolish as to deny its reality, but that does not alter the unalterable fact that sin exists and that it separates from God. God does not treat sin lightly. God hates it, God condemns it. "Sin unatoned for must be an insuperable barrier between the sinner and God."

If the natural man is to be brought into favor and fellowship with God, it is evident that something must be done with sin. Man's first step in returning to God must be a consciousness that deepens into a conviction of sin. So the question which comes to every person who awakens to his condition through sin and its consequences, is the same as that which came to the Philippian jailer, "What must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30).

The Nature of Salvation

"Let us analyze the jailer's question. First, "What must I do to be saved?" Who is the "I"? A lost man enslaved by sin, self and satan; a blind man, whose mind has been darkened by the god of this world and whose eyes are closed to the beauty and glory of God; a dead man alienated from the life of God.

Second, "What must I do to be saved?" He does not ask what he must do to be reformed or repaired or repolished, but to be saved. Th question he asks is, "How can I an enslaved man have deliverance; a blind man have sight; a dead man have life?"

Third, "What must I do to be saved?" What can a bond-slave do to free himself? Or what can a blind man do to gain sight? Or what can a dead  man do to make himself alive?

Let us answer the jailer's question by defining the kind of salvation which will fully meet the sinner's need. It must be a salvation God can accept as wholly sufficient and satisfactory.  God is the One who has been offended and most wounded by sin. By his sin Adam forfeited all right to relationship with God and it is God alone who can say by what means and in what manner the relationship with sinful men can be restored. Man has no ground upon which he can approach God. If God ever receives the natural man it must be upon some ground where he confesses himself a helpless, hopeless, sinner. "Between him and God is the impassable gulf of moral inability. Between him and God is the barrier of penal judgment." God alone can determine how this chasm shall be bridged and this barrier removed.

It must be a salvation that deals effectually with sin and all its consequences. This salvation must put away sin and give man a new nature, without which there would be no basis for establishing a relationship with God. This salvation must blot out man's sins and their attendant guilt. Sins committed cannot be undone merely by an expression of sorrow or by a promise of amendment through a New Year resolution or by the "turning over of a new leaf."

It must be a salvation that carries out the sentence of death upon the sinner. God's law is holy and it cannot be trifled with. God's judgments are righteous and they must be fulfilled. God has said, "The soul that sinneth it shall die." The penalty must be paid; the judgment must be executed. Any salvation that saves must take into account the payment of this penalty and the execution of this judgment.

It must be a salvation that accomplishes the defeat, dethronement and destruction of satan. God's judgment upon satan who brought sin into the universe must be executed as truly as God's judgment upon the sinner. God has said that the seed of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent. This is one half of the original promise of salvation. Christ's final victory necessitates satan's full defeat. Such must be the nature of any salvation that fully saves.

Man's False and Futile Attempts for Salvation

But there are those who, refusing to accept God's estimate of the natural man, deny the necessity of any such radical and revolutionary change in him. They delight in the exaltation of the flesh and they deny the self-evident fact that human nature is in utter ruin though they are compelled to admit that it is greatly in need of repair. They believe and teach that human nature is imperfect because it is in the process of formation. But given proper environment, liberal education and the chance to make the best of what he already possesses, man by his own natural development ultimately will achieve Godlikeness and attain a place in the Kingdom of God. In other words salvation is not by grace but by growth; it depends upon an evolution of life from within rather than upon an impartation of life from without.

There are those even in the pulpit and in the theological seminary who teach that the natural man is not dead but diseased; not wicked but weak; not fallen but fainting; and they attempt resuscitation through ethical culture, social reform and mass education while ridiculing the necessity of redemption through the atoning work of the crucified Saviour and regeneration through the power of the indwelling Spirit.

Their kind of preaching is well summed up in the word of a prominent preacher who said, "Do your part and God will surely do His. To deny that a man is forgiven when he turns away from wrong and asks forgiveness would be to deny the moral character of God." In such teaching man is made his own saviour, and salvation is nothing more than a feeble sense of regret resulting in slight changes in conduct to which God is asked to affix His  seal of forgiveness.

This kind of thinking and teaching leads men to seek out ways of salvation which are futile and to rest upon hopes which are false. If the meaning of salvation is what we have indicated in these pages then the means of its accomplishment must be supernatural. But man is ever prone to put his trust in the purely natural, in himself.

When the eyes of Adam and Eve were opened to evil and they came into a realization of their sin and shame instead of seeking God, confessing their sin, and acknowledging their undone condition, they made themselves aprons of fig leaves to cover their nakedness (Genesis 3:7). From that day to this the natural man has been at the same foolish, futile task of trying to cover his sin and guilt with some garment of his own making which he trusts will be acceptable to God.

But no dress which the natural man provides for the flesh will ever please God. No matter of what material it is made or how beautiful, fitting and durable it may seem to be to the world, it will wither into nothingness, even as Adam's and Eve's aprons of fig leaves, before the righteousness and holiness of God.

No garment of salvation except the one He Himself provides will be acceptable to God.

Genesis 3:21, "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them."

By this act God acknowledged that the shame of Adam and Eve was not groundless, and that they did need a covering; but He also showed the utter inadequacy of the one they had provided for themselves, their lack of apprehension of the enormity and heinousness of their sin against Him, and of the nature of the salvation required to restore them to His fellowship.

God had said, "In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." They had eaten. "The wages of sin is death." If they did not die some one acceptable to God must die in their place. This is the meaning of salvation. But God had already given the promise of a Saviour-Substitute. The seed  of the serpent would bruise the heel of the woman's seed. The garments of skin with which the Lord God clothed Adam and Eve were procured through the slaying of animals, through the shedding of blood. By this gracious act of God the means of salvation was symbolized; the death of His own well-beloved Son was shadowed forth. God Himself furnished the skins, God made the coats, God clothed them in acceptable garments.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 2)

Living In A Worthy Manner

" ... so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects" (Colossians 1:10)

Your manner of life should be consistent with Christ's.

In Colossians 1:9 Paul speaks of being controlled by the knowledge of God's will. In verse 10 he speaks of walking in a manner worthy of the Lord. There is a direct cause-and-effect relationship between those verses. When you are controlled by the knowledge of God's will, you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.

The Greek word translated "walk" means "to order one's behavior." It's a common New Testament metaphor for one's lifestyle. Paul made a similar plea to the Thessalonians: "so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory" (1 Thess. 2:12).

The thought of being worthy of the Lord might rise some eyebrows, because we usually relate worthiness to merit or something deserved. But that isn't Paul's point at all. The Greek word translated "worthy" in Colossians 1:10 speaks of something that weighs as much or carries the same value  something else. He isn't saying we deserve Christ, but that our conduct should be consistent with His.

That is also Peter's point in 1 Peter 2:21: "You have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow His steps." John said, "The one who says he abides in [Christ] ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked" (1 John 2:6). He added in 2 John 6, "Walk according to His commandments." That's how you demonstrate your love for Christ (John 14:15) and please Him in every respect.

As a word of encouragement, a worthy walk is not a walk of sinless perfection. That won't happen until you are fully glorified. But each day you are growing in godliness as a result of the Spirit's transforming work in you (2 Corinthians 3:18). Be faithful to that process. Set your affections on Christ, look to His Word, and rejoice in the privilege of becoming more like Him today.

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for the power and guidance of His Spirit in your life. Be diligent to confess your sin when you stray from a worthy walk.

For Further Study: Read Ephesians 4:1-3 and Philippians 1:27-30. What specific attitudes are involved in a worthy walk? Does a worthy walk eliminate the possibility of suffering or persecution? Explain.

~John MacArthur~

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Life On The Highest Plane # 27

satan and God in Conflict (subtitle)

Jesus disclaimed any part in or relationship to the satanic system called "the world."

John 17:16, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."

John 14:30, "For the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me."

In fact Jesus declared that this satanic system had an unchangeable attitude toward Him - that of unrelenting hate which would spend itself ultimately in crucifying Him."

John 15:18, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you."

John 15:20, "Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also."

There is nothing in Scripture to indicate that God makes any attempt to change or to convert "the world." The Lord Jesus frankly acknowledges that "the world would lieth in the evil one" (1 John 5:19) and is under satan's control.

God's purpose in Christ is to call men out of the world; to emancipate them from love for it, even to crucify them unto the world and it unto them.

John 15:19, "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."

1 John 2:15, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

Galatians 6:14, "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."

God's purpose in this age Scripture makes unmistakably clear to the spiritual mind. It is to call out individuals, here and there, from all nations, kindreds, peoples and tongues, who through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross became a very part of Him and He of them. This living organism He calls His Body, the Church.

Colossians 1:18, "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence"

Christ's purpose in this age is to call out of the world and into union with Himself those "chosen in him before the foundation of the world," who become a holy, heavenly people fit to be members of the body of which the holy Christ in Heaven is the Head.

Ephesians 1:4, "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 1:22, 23, "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all."

1 Corinthians 12:27, "Ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular."

From God's viewpoint "the world" and "the Church" are exact opposites. "The world is a vast organization of the whole mass of unbelieving mankind under satan's leadership. "The Church" is an invisible organism of all true believers under Christ's Headship. These two are in conflict on the earth and are pitted against each other as the instruments of satan and of Christ in their attempt to get and keep possession and control of men.

How does God win response to His appeal to men to come out of the world and into fellowship with Christ? Does He have an associate in this task? We shall see in succeeding lessons that this is the work of the Holy Spirit who kindles life anew in the human spirit and then comes Himself to dwell in it.

Ez. 36:26, 27, "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: ... And I will put my Spirit within you."

Romans 8:9, "But ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit he is none of his."

The Consummation of the Conflict

God's eternal purpose in man's redemption has been in gradual process of fulfillment ever since it was formed and each succeeding century has brought it nearer to its consummation. The heart of God's plan of redemption was a Saviour. This Saviour was to come through the seed of a woman. God was to become man. So God chose a people and set them apart that through them the Saviour might come "according to the flesh." In the fullness of time Christ came, lived, died and rose again. Man's  redemption was accomplished.

Romans 9:4, 5, "Who are Israelites: ... Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came."

Following therein a written Word was needed to proclaim this wondrous Gospel to sinners everywhere. So God chose and set apart a people through whom the written Word might come.

2 Corinthians 15: 3, 4, "I delivered unto you fist of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures."

Romans 3:1, 2, "What advantage then hath the Jew? ... Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God."

Through the Israelites, God's chosen people, He gave both the incarnate Word and the written Word to the world.

God' next move was to preach this Gospel through His own ministers and missionaries throughout the whole world that all men everywhere might have the opportunity to behold the Son and to believe on Him.

Mark 16:15, "And he said unto them, 'Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.' "

When this work has been completed to God's satisfaction and the Bride is made ready for the Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ will come again to take His own unto Himself and to set up His kingdom upon earth.

This is the beginning of the end for satan. He will be bound, cast into the bottomless pit for one thousand years. Then he will be loosed for a little season. He will go forth to deceive the nations and to gather them together for battle against the Lord, thus proving his unchanging and unchangeable attitude of self-will and of opposition to God (Revelation 20:1-3, 7-9).

Then comes God's final and full judgment upon him. He is cast into the lake of fire and brimstone to be tormented day and night forever and ever (Revelation 20:10).

Christ Jesus having consummated to the full God's plan to redeem men and reconcile all things unto Himself now restores the absolute, undivided sovereignty of God over His entire. universe.

1 Corinthians 15:24-25, 28 "Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when h shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.  And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son, also himself be subject unto Him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all."

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 1 - "False and Futile Attempts for Salvation")

[I am going to leave the original title and replace it with the one above. We are barely getting in to the words of Ms. Paxson]

The Stages of Faith

"He did not waver as the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform" (Romans 4:20-21)

Making the decision to follow Christ takes faith. No matter how weak our faith begins, salvation only comes through belief in Christ. Once we accept Jesus as our Saviour, God begins the process of stretching and increasing our faith. When facing a challenge, a person with small faith might say, "I know He can, but I am not sure He will." We all begin our journey unsure about many things, yet we are sure enough to take the first step. 

At this point, our emotions play a big role in whether or not we believe God is going to hear and answer our prayers. We give up and doubt, and our faith remains restless. However, God wants us to continue on past that point to a place of great faith where we can say, "I know He can, and I know He will."

It is there that we begin to ignore the circumstances surrounding us. We trust in Him, meditating on His promises and seeking understanding. We remember what He has done in the past, and we refuse to give up.

Abraham "did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform" (Romans 4:20-21). Through difficult times, our faith is tested, seasoning us as believers and teaching us that trusting in God alone is vital to keeping our confidence in Him.

Father, just as Abraham, in all his human weakness, followed You without wavering, I, too, claim Your promises and want to stand firm in my faith. Amen

~Charles Stanley~

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Life On The Highest Plane # 26

satan and God in Conflict (subtitle)

God says that this satanic system is inherently "evil"; hopelessly "corrupt"; thoroughly "polluted"; irreconcilably hateful.

Galatians 1:4, "Who have himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father."

2 Peter 1:4, "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."

John 15:18, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you."

Thus God states His estimate of "the world." He speaks with equal clearness regarding its works.

John 7:7, "The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil."

This satanic system, "the world," is like a colossal, octopus that has sent forth myriads of tentacles to lay hold upon every phase of human life and draw it unto itself. It has its grip upon the corporate life of mankind in its homes, marts, schools, politics, even its churches. It has penetrated into every relationship of the individuals life, personal, family, social, national and international.

"The world," which is human society with God left out, is satan's snare for capturing men and holding them in bondage. "What the web is to the spider: what the bait is to the angler: what the lure is to the fowler: so is the world to satan a means of capturing men." "The world" is the devil's paw with which he strikes men: it is his lair into which he entraps men: it is the devil's ally in fighting God for the sovereign control of men.

But is there anything within man that responds to satan and to his system? In the Bible we read they have an accomplice whose name is "the flesh."

Romans 7:5, "For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death."

Romans 8:12-13, "Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live."

In Scripture the word "flesh" has several meanings but in the verses quoted it it used in the ethical sense and means the whole natural man, spirit, soul, and body, living in self-will and alienated from the life of God. The flesh is what man became through the fall. It is man "without God" (Ephesians 2:12).

The "flesh" manifests nothing but antagonism to God and defiance of authority. It is irrevocably opposed to God and to His law.

Romans 8:7, "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."

The "flesh" then is the material in mankind upon which satan works to keep man a pat of his system. This trinity of evil, the world, the flesh and the devil, is organized into a diabolical combine against God and His saints.

satan has a cleverly thought out plan but God has a divinely wrought out purpose. God's purpose antedated satan's plan: God's purpose anticipated satan's plan: God's purpose annulled satan's plan: God's purpose was formed in the eternity of the past and reaches into the eternity of the future. "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself."

Christ Jesus was the One through whom God's purpose was to be fulfilled. He constantly spoke of Himself as one who had been sent from heaven by the Father to do the Father's will, not His own. He did not belong to earth but to heaven and was here only to fulfill a special mission.

John 6:38, 40, "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.  And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him at the last day."

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 27)

Building for Eternity

"Which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it ..." (Luke 14:28)

Our Lord was not referring here to a cost which we have to count, but to a cost which He has already counted. The cost of those  thirty years in Nazareth, those three years of popularity, scandal, and hatred, the unfathomable agony He experienced in Gethsemane, and the assault upon Him at Calvary - the central point upon which all of time and eternity turn. Jesus Christ has counted the cost. In the final analysis, people are not going to laugh at Him and say, "This man began to build and was not able to finish" (14:30).

The conditions of discipleship given to us by our Lord in verses 26, 27, and 33 mean that the men and women He was going to use in His mighty building enterprises are those in whom He has done everything. "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple" (14:26). This verse teaches us that the only men and women our Lord will use in His building enterprises are those who love Him personally, passionately, and with great devotion - those who have a love for Him that goes far beyond any of the closet relationships on earth. The conditions are strict, but they are glorious.

All that we build is going to be inspected by God. When God inspects us with His searching and refining fire, will He detect that we have built enterprises of our own on the foundation of Jesus? (see 1 Corinthians 3:10-15). We are living in a time of tremendous enterprises, a time when we are trying to work for God, and that is where the trap is. Profoundly speaking, we can never work for God. Jesus, as the Master Builder] takes us over so that He may direct and control us completely for His enterprises and His building plans; and no one has any right to demand where he will be put to work.

~Oswald Chambers~

Monday, November 26, 2012

Life on the Highest Plane # 25

Satan and God in Conflict (subtitle)

Two Systems: satan has a purpose, a project and a program. His purpose is to "be like the Most High," his project is to set up a kingdom in opposition to the Kingdom of God, his program is to better the condition of the world and the circumstances of humanity so that men will be satisfied to remain his subjects and will have no desire for the Kingdom of God.

satan has been represented in much of the literature of the world as the fiend of hell. He has been caricatured as a heinous creature with horns and hoofs, revealing in all that was cruel, vicious and unclean. But he is the exact opposite of all this. He never wanted to be the god of hell but the God of Heaven. It was God's judgment upon his sin that made him king of the bottomless pit. He is the inspirer and instigator of the very highest standards of the God-less, self-made world of mankind. His purpose was and still is to be and to do without God what God is and does. Let us ever keep in mind that satan's purpose was to dethrone God in His universe and in the hearts of men and then to take His place. To succeed in his attempt satan must try not to be unlike God but like God. To incline the hearts of men to himself as a ruler and to draw out their hearts to him in worship he must imitate God. To annul the work of Christ satan must counterfeit it as far as possible.

His project was in line with his purpose. He would leave his position as a subordinate in God's kingdom and set up a kingdom of his own. The foundation of it would be self. Self-will, self-love, self-interest, self- sufficiency would constitute its corner stone. Lawlessness, a revolt against the rule of God, and irreverence, a refusal to worship God, would be its superstructure.

satan knew that such a project would have to be safeguarded by a cleverly planned program. Not even the natural man would submit knowingly to the sovereignty of satan or fall down and worship him. So satan's program from the beginning has been one of deception. satan has sought to keep the natural man satisfied with himself and with the world in which he lives. This is not an easy a task as it might seem. The spirit of man can never be satisfied save in God from whom it emanated and for whom it was created. Something in even the worst of men at certain times and under some circumstances cried out for God. man lives and toils in sweat, suffering and sorrow. His spirit, soul, and body cry out for release from the intolerable burden.

In the light of this knowledge satan framed a very cleaver program. It was to unite all his subjects into a huge federation for the reformation an betterment of the world. This would be accomplished through carefully worked out plans for the promotion of education, culture, morality and peace upon the earth. Human relationships, international, civic, social, family and personal are undeniably in a terrible tangle but through peace conferences, leagues of nations and world courts international maladjustments would be righted: through mass education movements and social service programs civic and social conditions would be bettered: through new thought processes which foster self-culture and self-constraint the civil war within man's own personality would be ended and so more amicable relations with those to whom he was bound by ties of blood and of friendship would be established. Thus satan would succeed in deceiving men into thinking the Kingdom of God had come to earth.

satan knows there is but one true God and that Jesus Christ is His Son whom He sent to be the Saviour (James 2:19; Matthew 8:29). But this truth he would keep men from knowing. He must even keep them from feeling any need for God. So his program must provide for the perfect satisfaction of man's soul and body that his spirit may be kept darkened and deadened. So satan's program includes every conceivable thing that could minister to self-enjoyment, self-ease, self-gain, and self-satisfaction in the realm of the physical, intellectual, affectional, aesthetic, moral, yea even in the religious nature of man.

Moreover his program must provide for man an outward environment that matches this inward need. The earth is cursed but satan must do what he can to remove the effects of that curse. man will never be satisfied unless the earth is a more comfortable, pleasant place in which to live. So satan's plan is to make this world very attractive and ten organize human society it it may be so engrossed with its pursuits and pleasures men will have no thought for God.

Earnest, serious minded men will see through this flimsy veil and will be concerned over the world's maladjustments. But satan will engage such men in the task of repairing the ruin he himself has wrought. They will give millions upon millions of dollars,  some will even lay down their lives in the accomplishment of the task thinking they are engaged in God's service. satan will drug men with the tangible and transient and so detach them from the heavenly and eternal.

This huge federation of evil spirits and evil men is organized into a cunning system over which satan is the presiding genius. He determines its principles, directs its policies, decides upon its program and devises its propaganda. This satanic system is "the world." The Lord Jesus revealed both its name and its nature in His farewell message to His disciples and told them clearly what its attitude to Him would be. The attitude of this system to Jesus Christ, which is one of unmitigated hatred, brands it as satanic.

John 15;18-20, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.  If ye were of the world the world would love its own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."

John 17:14, 16, "I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 26)

Self Does Not Die Without Our Full Consent

"For the flesh lusteth against he Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would" (Galatians 5:17)

The Holy Spirit and the fallen human self are diametrically opposed to each other, for, as the Apostle Paul wrote to the Roman church, "because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."

Before the Spirit of God can work creatively in our hearts, He must condemn and slay the "flesh" within us; that is, He must have our full consent to displace our natural self with the Person of Christ! This displacement is carefully explained in Romans 6, 7 and 8. When seeking Christian has gone through the crucifying experience described in chapters 6 and 7 he enters into the broad, free regions of chapter 8. There self is dethroned and Christ is enthroned forever!

In the light of this it is not hard to see why the Christian's attitude toward self is such an excellent test of the validity of his religious experiences. Most of the great masters of the deeper life, such as Fenelon, Molinos, and a host of others, have warned against pseudo religious experiences that provide much carnal enjoyment but feed the flesh and puff up the heart with self-love.

A good rule is this: Nothing that comes from God will minister to my pride or self-congratulation. If I am tempted to be complacent and to feel superior because of an advanced spiritual experience, I should go at once to my knees and repent of the whole thing. I have fallen a victim to the enemy!

~A. W. Tozer~

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Life on the Highest Plane # 24

satan and God In Conflict (subtitle)

Subjects in the two kingdoms: From the moment satan set up a kingdom of his own he has been busy recruiting subjects and mobilizing his forces for warfare. Today he has a multitudinous satanic host in the aerial heavens, on earth and in the underworld.

Scripture speaks of "the devil and his angels." It tells us there are angels that sinned.

Matthew 25:41, "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."

Jude 6, "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day."

As "prince of the power of the air" and "prince of demons" satan rules a vast host of spirit beings in the aerial heavens. The "demons" or "evil spirits" who are employed in satan's service are probably those who were under his rule when he was "the anointed cherub" and who followed him in his rebellion against God. The heavenlies swarm with these spiritual hosts of wickedness which are united in a most complete organization consisting of principalities and powers over which are intelligent world-rulers. The headquarters of this vast organization, satan's seat (Revelation 2:13) is above the earth and the sphere of activity of this satanic host is on the earth and in the atmosphere that envelops it.

Matthew 8:16, "And when even was come, they brought unto him many possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all that were sick."

Ephesians 6:12, "For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."

satan is also ruler over a satanic order on earth. He is called "the prince of this world." The posterity of satan's seed is found not only among angels and demons but among men. The seed of the serpent can be traced from Genesis to Revelation. They are men and women who choose to live in self-will rather than in God's will, who refuse God sovereignty over their lives, who in pride and self-righteousness reject Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Cain is the first one mentioned as the seed of the serpent.

1 John 3:12, "Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous."

The Lord Jesus recognized the serpent's brood in the self-loving, self-willed, Christ-hating, Christ-rejecting Pharisees of His day and did not hesitate to call them by their rightful names.

Matthew 23:33, "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?"

On another occasion in speaking to those who rejected Him, He disclosed their spiritual ancestry, the devil, and said they were subjects in His service. "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do."

At still another time Jesus called the unsaved among men "the children of the wicked one." He had told them the parable of the tares and the wheat and they asked for an explanation.

Matthew 13:38, "The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one."

God has a multitudinous host in Heaven, in paradise and on earth who are His subjects. The seed of God can be traced from Genesis to Revelation and includes all those who from the beginning of human history have been rescued from satan's kingdom and removed into God's through faith in the atoning sacrifice of the Son. Abel was the first of the heroes of the faith.

Hebrews 11:4, "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it  he, being dead, yet speaketh."

All down through the centuries men continued to offer those "more excellent sacrifices" which required the shedding of blood, thus expressing their need of and faith in the Saviour who was to come.

Then the Saviour came and made one sacrifice for sins through the shedding of His own blood. Since then through the preaching of the Gospel multitudes from out of all nations and peoples of the earth have renounced their citizenship in the kingdom of satan and have become subjects in the Kingdom of God.

Colossians 1:13, "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear son."

Added to these vast multitudes of God's subjects on earth are the innumerable hosts of angels in Heaven whose delight is in unceasing worship of the Lamb that was slain.

Revelation 5:11, 12, "And I beheld and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing."

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 25)

God's Precious Seed

"Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul" (1 Peter 2:11)

God saved you out of this world and sent you back into this world to tell the world Jesus saves. He is scattering you as precious seed. You are an ambassador upon foreign soil for the King of kings.

You are not only scattered as precious seed, you are also scattered as a persevering saint. You are a foreigner in a land where you march to a different drummer. You don't settle down in this world. It's not your home; you're only passing through.

You ought to pray, "Lord, if I am building a nest, put a thorn in it." If you dabble and delight in this world, yet your citizenship is in heaven, you're going to have one foot in the world and one in heaven - just enough religion to make you miserable in the world and just enough of the world to make you miserable in your spiritual life.

Do you ever feel like a nomad? Maybe you are in the military, or in sales, or work in the transportation industry. Maybe you have moved often because of financial or relational reasons. God wants you to know that you always have a home with Him wherever you are. Read 1 Peter 1:13-21.

~Adrian Rogers~

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Life On The Highest Plane # 23

That there are these two spheres of life and that Christ Jesus died and rose again to bring men out of the one into the other is declared in many passages of Scripture. We shall study only three passages. In Paul's defense before Agrippa he states his God-given commission as a minister and a missionary to the Gentiles. God told Paul exactly what he expected him to do.

Acts 26:17, 18, "Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles unto whom I now send thee, to open their eyes, and t turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me."

Those to whom Paul preached were blinded, befogged, bound men and he was sent that they might be enlightened and emancipated. They were to be turned from something to Something, they were to be turned from some one to Someone.

Col. 1:13, "Who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love."

The believer has been rescued from satan's dominion and removed into God's kingdom.

Ephesians 5:8, "For ye were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord: walk as children of light."

There are these two sharply contrasted and distinctly marked spheres in which men live and each reader this moment is in one or the other of these spheres.

Two Seeds. With the defection of Adam satan thought he had won the first step in God's defeat and dethronement. A terrible conflict began. God did not minimize its sinister seriousness but on the very threshold of the conflict He triumphantly claimed victory over his enemy.

Genesis 3:15, "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman,and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."

This prophecy-promise contains God's declaration of war. A battle is to be fought to a finish between two seeds. The issue at stake is the sovereignty of God. The immediate object in the conflict is the redemption and reconciliation of the human race ruined though sin. The ultimate object is the restoration to God of undivided sovereignty over all His universe; in other words the rule of the Kingdom of God.

Enmity is to exist between two seeds - the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. satan's seed traced through Scripture is the antichirst; the woman's seed is the Christ. Toward these two persons pitted against each other in a final conflict all Scripture prophecy converges.

satan knows that Jesus Christ is "the seed of the woman." It is He whom the devil hates. Ever since this first Messianic prophecy was uttered in Eden satan's virulent attacks have been against the Person and work of the Lord Jesus. From the moment God said "I will put enmity between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel" until Christ, the Saviour, fulfilling that prophecy on Calvary cried, "It is finished," satan waged incessant warfare against the Person of the Lord Jesus.

Old Testament history unfolds to view repeated attempts to destroy the line through which "the woman's seed" would come, thus preventing the incarnation. These being brought to nought by God's protecting intervention, he then sought to kill the Christ-child at birth. Failing in this he tried to thwart the fulfillment of God's eternal purpose in His Son by tempting the Lord Jesus in the wilderness to declare His independence of God. Defeated in his direct appeal he used indirect means to keep Him from the Cross of Calvary. He used both Christ's enemies and His friends as his tools. He instigated His enemies to kill Him and repeated attempts were made upon His life. He used His friends to dissuade Him from the voluntary sacrifice of Himself as the world's Saviour. His defeat in all these varied attempts maddened him into an attack upon the spirit, soul and body of the Son of Man in Gethsemane, his last futile effort to blockade the way to Calvary. Jesus Christ went to the Cross, He died and rose from the tomb; the seed of the woman bruised the serpent's head.

Failing to hurt the Person of the Lord Jesus satan has been occupied trough the past nineteen centuries with attempts to nullify His work. He has done this by deceiving men and blinding their minds thus leading them to disbelieve and deny the truth of the Gospel. By so doing he hopes to delay the final fulfillment of the prophecy regarding his own utter defeat.

From the moment of the pronouncement of this prophecy-promise God has made steady progress in its fulfillment. In the garden of Eden it was announced; in the manger cradle at Bethlehem it was actualized; on the Cross of Calvary it was accomplished; and on Mount Olivet it will be attested.

The kingdom belongs to God. satan maintains his claim only as a traitor and an usurper. Christ came, lived, died, rose, ascended into Heaven and will come again that He may sit upon His throne and reign (Acts 2:30) until every foe is conquered (Acts 2:35) and all is put again under the divine sovereignty of the triune God (1 Cor. 15:22-28).

In Eden the final fate of satan is clearly announced. "It shall bruise thy head." It is to be a fatal stroke which effects his ultimate defeat,dethronement and destruction. The doom pronounced upon the devil in Genesis 3:14-15 is an eternal doom: the end for him is eternal torment in the lake of fire prepared for him and his angels (Matthew 25:41).

In the manger cradle of Bethlehem the final fate of  satan is actualized. The incarnation of the Lord of Heaven means the beginning of the end for satan, and he knows it. That is why he fought the birth of the Christ-child and why he now denies the God-breathed truth of the Virgin Birth. His destruction was actualized when God-manifest-in-Christ entered openly and aggressively into the field of operation to lead His forces on to victory.

On the Cross of Calvary the final fate of satan was accomplished. There his doom was sealed. God's eternal purpose in Christ's Saviourhood was realized. Henceforth Heaven looks upon the devil as a defeated foe. Christ in anticipating His death upon the Cross regarded it as the time and place of the devil's defeat for He said, "Now shall the prince of the world be cast out" (John 12:31).

But not until on the Mount of Olivet the Lord Jesus Christ comes from Heaven in all His majesty and glory will the final fate of satan be attested. The sentence pronounced upon him in Eden will then be executed. Through God's permission the traitor-prince still rules the kingdom of satan but when God's eternal purpose in Christ Jesus is carried out fully then God's judgment upon satan will be executed finally.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 24)

The Guidance of God

Psalm 25:1-22

In Psalm 25 David points out that we can experience God's guidance if we meet certain spiritual conditions. The first is "confidence". We give evidence of our confidence in God through worship. We need to pray so that we might have our hearts right with Him. Waiting is another evidence (vv. 3, 5, 21). Every time I've rushed ahead, I've gotten into trouble. In verses 4 and 5 David talks about his willingness to follow. God won't show us His will unless we're willing to do it. Another evidence of our confidence is the witness of the Word (v. 5). When we have big decisions to make, we must spend time in the Scriptures.

Penitence also is a condition for receiving God's guidance. David is sorry for his sins. He wants God to remember His tender mercies, not David's transgressions. When God remembers someone, He goes to work for that person. He never forgets His children. David asks God for mercy (vv. 10, 16), because he is concerned about his past sins, and he doesn't want those sins to get him off target.

Obedience is another condition. We are all sinners. We don't have to be perfect for God to guide us, just obedient. The word "humble" means "yielded to God." If we obey what God already has told us, then He will show us the next step. We also must exhibit "reverence." God will guide us in our choices if we fear Him. The word "secret" (v. 14) means "friendship". Godly fear doesn't mean we are slaves; it means we have loving reverence and respect for a gracious and kind God. Finally, we must show "perseverance". It's not always easy to know and do the will of God. Sometimes when we're seeking the Lord circumstances get worse. David was lonely and afflicted, but he remembered that God was with him. Because of that, he maintained his integrity and obedience.

Do you need God's guidance today? Make verses 1-5 your prayer for His guidance in you life. Place you confidence in Him and yield to Him in spite of circumstances. You will please God and help accomplish His purposes in your life and in the lives of others.

~Warren W. Wiersbe~

Friday, November 23, 2012

Life on the Highest Plane # 22

Life on the Lowest Plane (subtitle)

Satan and God in Conflict

The Kingdom of God is the central government, the only government recognized by God and the spiritual hosts of heaven and earth. It is composed of all moral intelligences, angelic or human, celestial or earthly, of all centuries and all climes, who willingly place themselves with the circle of the divine will and who of their own free choice acknowledge and accept God as their Sovereign. The Kingdom of God embraces the entire universe over which God is enthroned as the absolute Sovereign.

The Lord Jesus teaches that there is such a Kingdom of God and who are eligible to citizenship in it.

Luke 13:28, 29, "There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God."

John 3:5, "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

God states with clearness the essential credentials for entrance into His kingdom.

James 2:5, "Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?"

However unthinkable it may seem there is also in God's universe a kingdom of satan. The Lord Jesus teaches that there is such a kingdom. On one occasion when casting out a demon some of the people charged Him with casting out demons through Beelzebub the chief of demons. Jesus made the following reply in which He brought the kingdom of satan and the Kingdom of God into sharpest contrast:

Luke 11:17-20, "But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth.
If satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub.
And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges. But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you."

God acknowledges that satan did set up a kingdom and that he sits on a throne of his own making.

Revelation 2:12, "I know where thou dwellest, even where satan's throne is; and thou holdest fast my name, and didst not deny my faith, even in the days of Antipas, my witness, my faithful one, who was killed among you, where satan dwelleth."

Christ never acknowledged satan to be king but three times He did call him "the prince of this world."

John 12:31, "Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out."

God also acknowledges the worship satan has succeeded in obtaining for He calls him "the god of this world."

2 Corinthians 4:4, "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not."

There is still another title given him in Scripture which shows that satan not only obtained and exercises great power on earth among men but that he carried his rebellion against God even into heaven and secured a following among the angelic host.

Ephesians 2:2, "Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience."

Ephesians 6:12, "For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."

It is evident, then, that through satan's treason and Adam's disobedience satan gained a temporary conquest of the earth, which became a revolted province in God's universe. satan is a sovereign over a rebel government; it is a government against government. It is composed of all moral intelligences, angelic or human, celestial or earthly, of all centuries and of all climes, who are without the circle of the divine will and who continue to be subjects of satan. The kingdom of satan embraces the whole world of mankind that is without the Lord Jesus Christ.

Two spheres. In a recent number of the National Geographic magazine there is a remarkable picture. It was a view taken from an airplane at an elevation of five thousand feet of two rivers, the Negro and the Amazon, meeting and mingling. The picture reveals two distinct streams, each identified by its color. The waters of the Negro were dark, those of the Amazon yellow, and even at the place where they meet the sharp color line of distinction can be seen.

One looking down upon humanity from the viewpoint of the heavenlies can see in this world two distinct streams of life, the natural and the spiritual, each easily identified by its color. The waters of the natural are dark, those of the spiritual yellow, and even at the place where they meet and mingle whether in business, in society or in the home, the sharp color line of distinction may be seen.

The Negro and the Amazon have different sources and each partakes all  through its course of the color of the water at the fountainhead. The natural and the spiritual in human life come from two distinct sources and each partakes all through its course of the quality of life at its fountainhead.

There are two spheres into which all humanity is divided; the one is the sphere of sin and the other is the sphere of righteousness. These two spheres are identified by three outstanding characteristics: the sphere of sin by darkness, death and disorder; the sphere of righteousness by light, life and liberty. satan is the sovereign in the sphere of sin and Christ is the Sovereign in the sphere of righteousness.

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 23)

A Prayer for Godliness

"This I pray ..." (Phil. 1:9)

Your prayers reveal the level of your spiritual maturity

As we come to our study of godliness in Philippians 1:9-11, we note that this passage is a prayer. Typically, Paul's prayers reflected his concern that his readers mature spiritually. That is impossible without prayer, because spiritual growth depends on the Holy Spirit's power, which is tapped through prayer.

Prayer is so vital that Jesus instructed His disciples to pray "at all times" (Luke 18:1). Paul commands us to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17). Peter said we should be "of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer" (1 Peter 4:7).

Scripture gives many other commands to pray, but the true test of your spirituality is your compulsion to pray, not simply your obedience to commands. As a Christian you exist in a spiritual realm in which prayer is as natural as breathing is in the natural realm. Just as atmospheric pressure exerts force on your lungs, compelling you to breathe, so your spiritual environment compels you to pray. Resisting either brings devastating results.

The more you see life through God's eyes, the more you are driven to pray. In that sense your prayers reveal the level of your spiritual maturity. Paul prayed with urgency day and night because he shared God's love for His people and His concern for their spiritual maturity.

Examine your own prayers. Do you pray from a sense of duty, or are you compelled to pray? Do you pray infrequently or briefly? Do your prayers center on your own needs or the needs of others? Do you pray for the spiritual maturity of others? Those important questions indicate the level of your spiritual maturity and give guidelines for making any needed changes in your pattern of prayer.

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for the privilege and power of prayer. If you have neglected prayer, or if your prayers have been centered on yourself rather than others, confess your sin and ask God to give you a sense of holy urgency in praying as you should. Is there someone for whom you should be praying more consistently? 

For Further Study: Read Daniel 6:1-28. What was Daniel's pattern of prayer? What accusation did the political leaders bring against Daniel? What was the king's attitude toward Daniel? How did God honor Daniel's faith?

~John MacArthur~

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Life On The Highest Plane # 21

Life on the Lowest Plane (Subtitle)

The devil slanders God to man (Genesis 3:1-7) and man to God (Job 1:9-12; 2:1-7).

He is called "the wicked one."

Matthew 13:19, "When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart."

He is not only the personification of evil, "the wicked one," but he is the source of evil in others.

1 John 3:8, "He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil."

The devil is a liar and cannot speak the truth. He is a murderer and bent on the ruin and destruction of men. He was the first sinner; therefore he is the forefather of sinners.

John 8:44, "Ye are of your father the devil and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar and the father of it."

He is called "the tempter." He tempted the Son of man and he tempts all men.

Matthew 4:3, "And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread."

1 Thess. 3:5, "For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labor be in vain."

He is called "the deceiver." He deceives both individuals and nations. He began his wicked work in Eden by deceiving Eve.

Revelation 12:9, "And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the devil, and satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him."

1 Timothy 2:14, "And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression."

On the threshold of divine revelation we read the prophecy of a conflict between satan and God and every page from that on is but an unfolding of its progress toward its divinely appointed end, the ultimate and absolute defeat of satan, the eternal and perfect victory of God.

The Commencement of the Conflict

That a good God created everything good is a logical supposition as the character of God must be expressed in His works. But when God says that every creation of His was "very good," then the statement is lifted out of the realm of supposition into that of fact.

God, then, did not create evil nor did He create the evil one as the evil one. From whence then did evil come? How did "the anointed cherub" become the "devil," "the wicked one," "the tempter," "the deceiver"? How did the beautiful archangel who held the highest rank in heaven become the diabolical traitor who will be cast into the depths of hell? How did he who "abode in the truth" become an apostate and "the father of lies"?

We have seen already that it was because he said,

"I will ascend into heaven.
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God.
I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation.
I will ascend above the clouds.
I will be like the Most High."

Every word of this defiant, presumptuous  declaration is the very breath of treason and anarchy. lucifer is unwilling longer to be a subject in and a prince over the world; he is determined not to be a subordinate but a sovereign.

God could brook no such independence of action; He could countenance no such effrontery to His sovereignty over the universe or His moral government of created beings. Such treason brought satan and God into deadly conflict.

The Consequences of the Conflict

The die had been cast. satan was henceforth to contest with God the possession of the earth and all therein; to set himself up as a rival claimant to the world's sovereignty and to man's worship. He would establish a kingdom of his own. God, for a purpose which we shall understand as we proceed with the unfolding of His wondrous plan of redemption, permitted satan to go forward with his evil designs.

Two Sovereigns. There are now in the universe two separate distinct kingdoms, the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of satan. Two sovereigns claim authority over Heaven and earth.

By His creatorship God is the rightful Lord for all things were created by Him and for Him. God has never given away to any created being, angelic or human, any part of His universe. He holds the possession of the whole universe in perpetuity.

Deut. 10:14, "Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord's thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is."

Psalm 24:1, "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein."

~Ruth Paxson~

(continued with # 22)