Total Pageviews

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Pioneers of the Heavenly Way # 33

Headquarters in Heaven (continued)

It moved from heaven first of all in Jerusalem, a mighty movement from heaven, and things were happening. But note the tendency after a time (of course the story is told in a few phrases, but it covers a very considerable period). After a time Jerusalem gravitated earthward, and tended - and not only tended, but actually began - to become an earthly headquarters of the Church. It was only to be, in the Lord's command, the beginning, the commencement spot: "Beginning at Jerusalem". Jerusalem was never intended to be the inclusive and final thing, but it constituted itself a kind of headquarters to govern the Church, and you will find that sort of thing developing as you go on in the book of the Acts. Look on a bit to Paul the heavenly man, and see how he repudiates Jerusalem.

However, you come to the seventh chapter of the book of the Acts, the stoning of Stephen, and that is the end of Jerusalem. From that point heaven re-asserts itself to say, 'No; no earthly center or headquarters; headquarters is in heaven'; and at that point they are all scattered from Jerusalem. They are stirred up and thrown out of the nest and go in all directions. Wherever they go, whether it is Philip or whoever it is, they are testifying everywhere to the heavenly Lord, bringing in the heavenly side of things. Yes: everywhere these Levites are placed in relation to the whole world, to keep things in a heavenly way. So it develops like that.

You move on to chapter 9, and it is one of heaven's tremendous movements. Saul has come from Jerusalem, on his way to Damascus - and Jerusalem is his headquarters, right enough. He has authority from the High Priest, from the rulers. Jerusalem governs where he is concerned. But he discovers before he gets to the end of the journey that the government is in heaven, not in Jerusalem. The heavens are cleft; there comes a light from heaven and a voice from heaven; and that is the end of earthliness for Saul of Tarsus. From that moment he is a heavenly man - and see how, for ever afterwards, that man is moving in relation to heaven. That could bear following out in detail; but here is a mighty Levite. And so it was no more at Jerusalem, but Antioch. The Lord has moved from Jerusalem. Antioch is a very pure spiritual thing. Jerusalem has become the center of Christian officialdom - but there is nothing official at Antioch. What you have at Antioch, which now supplants Jerusalem, is a company of men who are fasting and praying: and heaven breaks in, and the Holy Spirit says, "Separate me Barnabas and Saul" (Acts 13:2). This is something in relation to heaven, you see. It is wonderful.

So we could go on giving the evidence. But what is the point? Is it not very clear that from God's standpoint, in God's mind, everything is intended to be related to heaven and governed from heaven? Heavenly fullness is His objective with His people: to make them a heavenly people and to fill with His heavenly fullness. And right at the end we see the new Jerusalem - not the old one, but the new Jerusalem - coming down from God out of heaven, in great heavenly fullness. It is something immense, is that Jerusalem - twelve thousand furlongs in every direction (Revelation 21:16). There is great fullness here. All the nations are going to derive their resource from it. The fruit of its tree of life, the waters of its river of life, are for all the nations. Its light is for all the nations. "The nations shall walk amidst the light thereof" (Revelation 21:24). This is heavenly fullness, the thing to which the Lord has been working all the time.

He is working now in you and me. I sometimes think that we are two persons, one here and one in heaven. Naturally we are here, but there is something of ourselves 'going up' all the time, when the Lord is getting in us something more of heaven. It is being stored up there. Is not that perhaps what the Lord meant, when He referred to Himself as "the Son of man, who is in heaven" (John 3:13), even while He is on earth? There is an aspect of us that is growing in heaven. Do not think of heaven as some remote planet. We are growing in that heavenly though of things. Something of us is 'going up.'

I believe the Church is like that. The real Church is an invisible thing. You do not know, except by the Spirit, what the Church really is. You cannot say that people attending a certain place are the Church. You cannot say that people who profess certain doctrines and Christian truths are the Church. They may be or they may not be. But if you meet in the Spirit - and that is something intangible - there you have the Church. The Church is like that, and that is its heavenly character - and that is 'going up', so to speak, all the time, and it is going to come down presently in fullness out of heaven. It is being built in that way now. It is God's will that it should be like that.

But my point now is that the Lord must have that kind of representation, be it in individuals or in companies, to place alongside of all His people here to keep them in touch with heaven, to keep the heavenly things always in view. One of the functions of the Levites was to teach the Word of God - that is, to keep the Lord's people in touch with God's thought. That is functional, not official. You need not call yourself a Levite, any more than 'Reverend'. Do not take on titles, but grasp the principles. If we here on this earth are keeping people in touch with heaven, if we are linked with heavenly things, if people are built up by our presence - not by our preaching necessarily, not by our getting down and saying, 'Now you see this and this ...'; no, just by our presence, by our embodiment of the heavenly life and nature and fullness - if they are coming to see God's fuller thought because we are here, we are Levites without the title and that is what the Lord must have.

It may be as individuals. The Lord has the disposing of His people. In this very book, heaven disposed of the people, of the tribes, and said, 'You shall he here, this is your place'. Sovereignly the Lord will dispose of you, and put some of you in Germany, some in Holland, some in England, some in America; and when He has disposed of your life you are there by heaven's appointment, to be a link with heaven, to keep things from settling down spiritually on to this earth level.

That, of course, is also the meaning of churches in the New Testament. That is the Divine idea - to have companies of the Lord's people planted here and there and everywhere, as a corporate Levitical ministry, to keep heaven near, and to keep things near heaven. Oh, that every church were like that, keeping things near heaven!

Do you say your situation is too difficult to bring heaven in? Well, there are difficult situations. Daniel's was a difficult situation - his three companions were in a difficult situation; but they brought heaven in. A grand phrase in the book of Daniel is - "the heavens do rule" (4:26). And they proved it. Headquarters is in heaven: not in Babylon, not in Rome, not in Jerusalem or anywhere else, but in heaven. The Lord help us to live up to and out from heaven.

And now, at the end, we bring the specific object of these messages into view once more.

God has but one end which will bring Him complete satisfaction - the 'Fullness of Christ'. That fullness is meant to be found in a people taken out of the nations. By that people in that fullness He purposes to rule the creation in the ages to come. This will not be attained to willy-nilly, but only by infinite cost and conflict now.

All who "come out" do not "enter in" to this ultimate. Many will not go all the way, fulfill all the conditions, 'make their calling and election sure', but will enter the Kingdom to inherit in different measures; smaller or larger.

Unto the fullness of purpose, pioneers are necessary, and the way of the pioneers is a peculiar way, fraught with experiences, sufferings, perplexities, and testings, of which other know little.

But God must have His pioneers - individuals or companies; and these are they who  'WHOLLY FOLLOW THE LORD'.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(the end)

When Helping Hurts

But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.Jeremiah 18:4

Those who follow Jesus are shaped by the hands of their Heavenly Father. He is a perfect potter who takes a cracked pot marred by sin and forms it into a precious pot of redemption. It becomes precious because the fingerprints of God mold the moist clay of surrender into a form that seems best to Him. His best is beautiful. The rough edges of rejection are smoothed over by the Lord’s sweet acceptance. The air of insecurity is worked out and replaced by the breath of God’s grace.

Our loving Savior and Lord uses fiery trials to temper our trust in Him. The heat of heart break, breaks our will to mold it into His will. Weepy eyes look to the Lord for relief and refuge. We are shaped and made secure by Christ during fiery trials, and like the three Hebrew children we come forth from the purging flames stronger in the faith. Yes, we may momentarily lose our happy face when challenges occur, but we can count it pure joy for our lesson in perseverance.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. James 1:2-3

Furthermore, it is important we not obstruct the work of the Holy Spirit in the unformed faith of those developing on the potter's wheel of trust. Helping hurts if we temporarily rescue another from a trial meant to make them more dependent on the Lord and not codependent on us. Our benevolent efforts may make us feel better, but backfire by prolonging a backslidden lifestyle. God’s growth process removes impurities and replaces them with His fired glaze of grace.

Helping hurts when short sighted sympathy trumps eternal empathy. Short sighted sympathy wants to fix a person or problem before a prayerful problem solving process is employed while eternally motivated empathy takes into account that Almighty God is at work all around us to accomplish His purposes. Thus the best remedy may be not to  offer a remedy, but to wait on the Lord to work out His outcomes. We are called to help, only if it helps bring glory to God! 

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it. Daniel 3:17

Prayer: Heavenly Father, lead me to help others only when it furthers your purpose and plan.

Related Readings: Psalm 22:11, 30:2, 54:4; Isaiah 30:1-3; Matthew 15:25; Philippians 2:29-30

~Wisdom Hunters~

Friday, August 30, 2013

Pioneers of the Heavenly Way # 32

Levites Represent the Heavenly Thought (continued)

Now we said in chapter V that there was this space of  two thousand cubits at the very least - for we cannot determine at this time which cubit it was of the three: the distance was over one thousand feet at the very least, and could easily have been more than three thousand feet; a great space between the ark and the people, indicating the immense distance between Christ and all others in this work of salvation, of redemption, of deliverance; - but the Levites were bearing the ark. You say, 'Is not that a contradiction? Christ stands in solitary isolation from all.' But you see the principle of the Levite. He represents the heavenly thing. This is the heavenly Christ. That is the principle of the Levites bearing the ark there. This is not just the earthly Christ, the Jesus of history, a man among men, though greatly better. This is the Heavenly One.

If you want that principle proved, you remember the incident in the days of David, when he consulted with the elders of Israel to bring up the ark, and made a cart to do it. He got his idea from the land of the Philistines, where he had been during the reign of Saul, and where he had seen them make a cart. They put the ark on a cart, and tragedy followed. Uzzah died before the Lord. David was very grieved with the Lord because He had made a breach that day; but, being the man he was, always adjustable to the Lord - one of the glorious thing about David was his adjustability - he did not have a long controversy with the Lord, or the Lord with David. David got back to the Lord, and probably tried to argue it out - but the Lord won the argument. The Lord took him back to the Scriptures and showed him that the Levites were to bear the ark - it is not machines, not organizations, but a heavenly people, that is to carry the testimony of Jesus.

So the Levites are carrying the ark. This heavenliness of things is the principle of the Levite function, and that of course goes to the root of their not having an inheritance in the earth. They do not belong to the earth: they belong to heaven. They are not going to be rooted down here; but even so, as men representing the heavenly things, they are going to be distributed among all the people of God to keep the people of God in touch with heaven. The people of God are always so prone to become earthly. That has been the peril and the tragedy of the Church through the centuries, always gravitating toward this earth, becoming something here after the fashion of man, after the ideas of this world.

The Lord's Need of Levites Among His People

Now we come to our point. The Lord must have those who have been through the suffering, through the Cross, through the sacrifice, through the deep work of separation; who have not compromised on any considerations of sentiment or earthly interest: those who have stood and are standing wholly, utterly, at all costs, for His heavenly thought concerning His Son and concerning the Church. He must have them, and He must distribute them everywhere and bring them into vital relationship with His people, in order to keep those people from succumbing to that tendency earthward - from becoming world bound.

Headquarters in Heaven

And do you not see that this is exactly what happened in the New Testament? It is quite fascinating to see it. When you come into the New Testament, you have left types and figures - I expect some of you are rather tired of types and figures; you get a surfeit of that. It is a grand thing to see the actuality. When you come into Acts, you find this whole thing repeated. What has happened? You begin with the Lord Jesus placed in heaven; headquarters in heaven, every bit of government now in heaven; and then the Holy Spirit coming to make everything heavenly, to govern everything in relation to heaven. That is what we were speaking about in our last chapter: the Captain of the host of the Lord coming to take everything up in relation to heaven, and then everything moving from heaven.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 33)

God's Protection

Now when they saw him afar off, even before he came near them, they conspired against him to kill him. Then they said to one another, “Look, this dreamer is coming! Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say, ‘Some wild beast has devoured him.’ We shall see what will become of his dreams!” But Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands, and said, “Let us not kill him.” And Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit which is in the wilderness, and do not lay a hand on him”—that he might deliver him out of their hands, and bring him back to his father. So it came to pass, when Joseph had come to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the tunic of many colors that was on him. Then they took him and cast him into a pit. And the pit was empty; there was no water in it.  And they sat down to eat a meal. Then they lifted their eyes and looked, and there was a company of Ishmaelites, coming from Gilead with their camels, bearing spices, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry them down to Egypt. So Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother and our flesh.” And his brothers listened. Then Midianite traders passed by; so the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt. Then Reuben returned to the pit, and indeed Joseph was not in the pit; and he tore his clothes. 30 And he returned to his brothers and said, “The lad is no more; and I, where shall I go?” Genesis 37:18-30 NKJV
What is happening in this section of scripture?
Brothers are scheming against their brother. Most of them want to kill Joseph, but Rueben didn’t. Reuben stood up to the other brother and suggested they not kill Joseph. Judah got the others thinking about making a profit off of their brother Joseph by selling him. The brothers stripped Joseph of his father’s gift to him – the multi-colored coat, just to humiliate him. The brothers were self-centered thinking about themselves – about profit to them, eating a meal while they had thrown Joseph in a pit.
Can you spot a timeless principle here?
God is in control even when bad things happen. God’s hand of protection was on Joseph. Notice how God used Rueben to save Joseph from being murdered.
How could looking at the situation from God’s perspective help us stay calm in tough times in life?
Lord God Almighty your word says you are with us therefore who or what shall we fear? You are in control. You will work everything out for the good of those who love you and are called according to you purposes. Help us remember that in times of trials. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
~Elizabeth Marks~

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pioneers of the Heavenly Way # 31

The Significance of Levites in Relation to Heavenly Fullness

Joshua 3:3)

First of all, it is this fragment - "The priests, the Levites, bearing it", bearing the ark - that is the key to our present consideration.

In this book of Joshua, the Levites have a large place. They are referred to quite a number of times. Indeed, at one point the whole chapter circles around them. and it is the significance of the Levites in relation to heaven fullness that I want by the Holy Spirit's help to try to bring to you. Many of us are quite familiar with the history of the Levites, but it is necessary for us to go over that ground hurriedly to begin with.

In this book of Joshua the Levites are presented in three ways. Firstly, as we have just seen, as bearing the ark of the covenant into the bed of the Jordan and standing there with it, with a two-thousand-cubit space between them and it and the people - a very great distance, as we saw in chapter five. Then, secondly, in Joshua 14 it is stated that the Levites were given no inheritance. That is, in the dividing up of the land, unlike the other tribes they were not apportioned a particular area, they were given no inheritance in the land. But, thirdly, in chapter 21, the chapter which circles around the Levites, you find that all the tribes had to give something of a plot, a place, to the Levites. The Levites were distributed among all the tribes, and their place and their portion was not all together in one place, but in relation to the whole country, so that you might say the Levites were just scattered all over the land, everywhere, in relation to the rest of the people. Those are the three things about the Levites, in this book, full of wonderful significance.

Levites Represent the Heavenly Thought

What do they signify? Let us go back. You remember how the Levites came into being as a tribe. It was on the occasion when Israel departed, when the calf was made, and they cried, "These be thy gods, O Israel" (Exodus 32:4), and they left the Lord. And Moses came down, heard and saw, destroyed the calf, stood in the gate and cried, "Whoso is on the Lord's side, let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. And he said unto them, Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Put ye every man his sword upon his thigh, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor. And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses" (Exodus 32:26-28). All earthly considerations were sacrificed to the heavenly interest all earthly relationships severed for the heavenly thought; everything of natural sentiment and emotion, all that was of the mere soul, was slain in the interests of that which governed the very coming out of the people of God. For it was in the thought of God that they should be a heavenly people, and not thus involved in the spiritual system governing this world. In that alone the Levites are seen to represent the heavenly thought of God. A very drastic and utter thing, was it not, that they should do that.

And you remember the Lord never forgot it. Right at the end of the Old Testament, in the last book, Malachi, referring to the matter of Baal-Peor, where Phineas maintained the stand for heavenly interests originally taken on the occasion of the making of the golden calf (Numbers 35), the Lord said, "My covenant was with him [Levi] of life and peace" (Malachi 2:5). 'He did not acknowledge his brethren' (Deuteronomy 33: 9): that is, he did not look with sympathy even upon his own flesh when that moved away from God's high thoughts. God made His covenant with Levi. So at the very outset the Levites were selected, and separated from all the rest of Israel, as taking the place of the firstborn in Israel, and they became the tribe of the firstborn ones; and from that many of you will at once in 
your minds leap over to the letter to the Hebrews - "Ye are come unto ... the ... church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven" (Hebrews 12:22, 23). Here is the heavenly thing coming in again: the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven - the Levites, the heavenly thought.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 32)

The Blue of Heaven is Larger than the Clouds

If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth (Ecclesiastes 11:3).

Why, then, do we dread the clouds which now darken our sky? True, for a while they hide the sun, but the sun is not quenched; he will be out again before long. Meanwhile those black clouds are filled with rain; and the blacker they are, the more likely they will yield plentiful showers.
How can we have rain without clouds? Our troubles have always brought us blessings, and they always will. They are the dark chariots of bright grace. These clouds will empty themselves before long, and every tender herb will be gladder for the shower. Our God may drench us with grief, but He will refresh us with mercy. Our Lord's love-letters often come to us in black-edged envelopes. His wagons rumble, but they are loaded with benefits. His rod blossoms with sweet flowers and nourishing fruits. Let us not worry about the clouds, but sing because May flowers are brought to us through the April clouds and showers.
O Lord, the clouds are the dust of Thy feet! How near Thou art in the cloudy and dark day! Love beholds Thee, and is glad. Faith sees the clouds emptying themselves and making the little hills rejoice on every side.
--C H. Spurgeon
What seems so dark to thy dim sight
May be a shadow, seen aright
Making some brightness doubly bright.
The flash that struck thy tree--no more
To shelter thee--lets heaven's blue floor
Shine where it never shone before.
The cry wrung from thy spirit's pain
May echo on some far-off plain,
And guide a wanderer home again.
"The blue of heaven is larger than the clouds."
~L. B. Cowman~

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pioneers of the Heavenly Way # 31

The Holy Spirit with A Drawn Sword (continued)

That will not do. The Lord is concerned with these people coming actually into possession; not theoretically, not doctrinally, not on the ground of a Bible reading, but actually into possession; and when you really come under the mastery of the Holy Spirit, then you are in the way of the actuality, and the Lord believes in it being actual and very practical.

Jericho is representative: the great example of how it will always be in principle. You have first of all to have a heavenly position, as we have said; not an earthly position, not man's way of doing things. This is the outworking of that principle which we saw first of all with Abraham, where man tried to act and made an awful mess, because he touched earth; and again with Moses, where he took things into his own hands, and assailed the Egyptian and the Hebrew, and made an awful mess. Here is the outworking of the discipline, and Joshua takes up all that spiritual history, and at Jericho we find there are no carnal weapons - no human reason here, nothing left to man here. If this is not heavenly, it is nothing. Things do not happen like this on the earth. We can walk around, not only seven days, but all our lives, and nothing will happen unless we are in a heavenly position, unless heaven is coming in. Jericho is man set aside, altogether excluded. It is heavenly.

Well, that is the basis. And then immediately afterward you find this - that, if the enemy cannot succeed by open resistance, he will try more subtle tactics. He cannot succeed by open resistance if you and I are in our heavenly position and keep it - and keep it, for that is what Jericho means. They not only took it on the first day but they held it and kept it and ratified it, and seven times on the last day they confirmed it, holding their heavenly position; they did not give up. We do not always get through with the first or second day. There has to be a holding to that position in faith, and the enemy is completely worsted when that position is really held like that. When he is worsted along that line, he must somehow turn it to defeat, if he possibly can, and so he will work subtly.

Is that not the word about the Gibeonites? They worked subtly to make an "earth touch" somewhere. It was the same with Achan and Ai, the Babylonish garment and the wedge of gold - an earth touch. The Gibeonites and the covenant made with them constituted another earth touch. We must not thing that it is always going to be just open, clear, straightforward spiritual warfare. There is that aspect where we must see where the earth touch is being maneuvered by the enemy - where there is the introduction of something that will make a contact with that which is cursed, and with which God cannot go on.

How is that done? You know, of course, that Gilgal was the place from which they moved out - Gilgal, the place of the rolling away, the place of the flesh set aside. But they did not go back to Gilgal after Jericho. They went straight on to Ai: whereas it was the custom always to go back to Gilgal after any advance or conquest - back to Gilgal and out again from Gilgal. This time they did not go back to Gilgal. They went on.

Let us keep near the Cross, and never assume that because the Lord has blessed and prospered and given success we can go on. Never for a moment must we get away from the Cross. The Cross is not something that lies back there, to be left. It is something to be with us all the time. It is our safety.

This is the heavenly way, the whole nature of the heavenly way, the way to God's end. The Lord keep us in it.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 32 - "The Significance of Levites in Relation to Heavenly Fullness")

Search the Scriptures

After Paul preached the gospel to the Bereans, they did something that others had not done—they searched the Scriptures.

These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so (Acts 17:11).

According to the next verse, the result of their search was that many of them believed.
Jesus said in John 5:39, "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me."

I once heard a Jewish believer share his testimony.  His daughter, who had become a Christian, challenged him to read through the New Testament.

He began in Matthew and was astonished to find so many Old Testament references to the Messiah being fulfilled by Jesus.

His initial reason for searching the Scriptures was to prove that his daughter was wrong, but instead, he ended up giving his heart to Christ.  The Scriptures testified of Jesus!
Look for Him as you read the Holy Scriptures, and encourage others to do the same.

~Bayless Conley~

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Pioneers of the Heavenly Way # 30

The Holy Spirit With a Drawn Sword

Well, now, that being established, the next thing follows - again an extraordinary thing. This One, as Prince of the host of the Lord, is standing with His sword drawn in His hand. 'Oh, this is battle, is it?' This is warfare, is it?' And so immediately the Holy Spirit takes charge and there is complete capitulation to Him. The battle is on. Make no mistake about it. Whatever you think about being baptizes with the Holy Spirit, and all that that may imply - whatever else it is going to mean, it means immediate and unceasing conflict. It may mean other things, but it means that - a warfare from which there is no discharge, an army from which there is no retiring. Here you will never be pensioned off. You are in it to the end.

Was it not like that with the Lord Jesus? It begins there - Jordan, the open heaven, the Holy Spirit, the wilderness, the devil. Immediately - "Then was Jesus led up" (Mark says 'driven', or 'impelled') "of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil" (Matthew 4:1). No sooner had the heavens been cleft for the advent of the Spirit, on that day called Pentecost, than the war was on. The Church was precipitated into it, and has never been out of it since. If it has, it has been to its own spiritual loss. Somehow this Lordship of the Holy Spirit immediately issues in that. The sword is in hand, and it will never be sheathed until the day's task is done.

Yes, but that is language. The Holy Spirit is not very interested in carnal and physical warfare. The warfare, the conflict, will be after His own kind. It will be spiritual, it will be after the spirit - because spiritual forces are in possession; and therefore it is spiritual warfare that is going to dispossess. That is one reason why it is so actually and truly a battle. The point hardly needs laboring. We know it. We know that there is not one step, one foot, of spiritual attainment that is not contested; not one movement or even gesture in the direction of spiritual increase but what there is conflict. It is true. It is spiritual warfare, and the nature of it is altogether beyond our power to comprehend. We think it will come one way - it comes another. It never comes where we expect and in the forms which we think we would recognize. The fact is that we rarely recognize the devil in his assaults. They seem to be so covered in either accident or mishap, or something going wrong - but you have only got to judge of the effect  in relation to spiritual life, and you know there is something more of design and intelligence in it than mere circumstances of life. It is spiritual warfare. The Holy Spirit has precipitated this.

Do understand that; it explains so much. How constantly the enemy works by the 'blind spot'! I think that probably by far the greater proportion of his success today is by blind spots among the Lord's people. Prejudice is called 'caution', suspicion is 'being watchful' - good names for bad things. The enemy is a past master at that. Your prejudice may be your blind spot which the devil has created. He has found the possibility of creating that, and it is standing right in the way of your own spiritual and heavenly fullness. The Lord's people are caught in that snare today, the world over. Enlargement and increase spiritually, in a heavenly way, is being withstood and frustrated by the prejudices and suspicions of God's people. "An enemy hath done this."

Why is it that the letter to the Ephesians, with all the heavenly fullness presented and in view, and the spiritual conflict in relation to it shown, the Apostle prays that the "eyes of their hearts may be enlightened" to see? What is that necessary? Because of this blinding work and these blind spots; because all can be lost by a prejudice, a bit of closed mind, a bit of suspicion, a bit of false fear, instead of trusting the Holy Spirit and knowing the anointing within which will "teach you concerning all things" (1 John 2:27) and show you what is right and what is wrong. You feel you must fortify yourself 'in case', and you may be fortifying yourself against the Holy Spirit. That is what so many are doing. That is the realm of the conflict. Spiritually it is like that. It is very sinister and subtle.

But there is another aspect to this spiritual conflict. Why does the Holy Spirit bring that about? Why does the Holy Spirit precipitate it? You would think that it would come from the enemy quite naturally, but why does the Holy Spirit start it up, or make Himself the occasion of it, every time? We have seen it in the case of the Lord Jesus. Deliberately - for it is a definite and positive and precise statement: "Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil" - the Holy Spirit takes the matter in hand to precipitate it, to bring it about. He did it with the Church - deliberately, knowing what He was doing. The effect of it is as though the Holy Spirit said, 'Now I am going to lead them into battle forthwith, straightway'. Why?

Well, for one thing, because this is a spiritual matter, a spiritual inheritance, because there are spiritual forces in possession and they have to be ousted; but also because we only grow spiritually by conflict. The Lord is interested in us. It is perhaps rather difficult for us, if a speaker stands on a platform and says, 'You are having a bad time because the Lord is interested in you; the devil is being allowed a lot of leash to assail you because the Lord has His highest interests in your well-being' - it is perhaps difficult for us to accept such a statement. The next time the enemy comes and begins to do his terrible work, you will be the last to say, 'Oh, the Lord loves me today'! We do not do that. But is it not a fact, its it not true to experience, true to history, and therefore true to principle, that we never make any progress spiritually, never increase at all, never grow at all, never go on at all, except by conflict? It is true. The only way we grow is by having something to overcome, where our spiritual life has somehow to get on top of something. It is a law in nature and in grace. There is no progress without contest. Would to God that we should be able to look at it like that every time! We believe it may be true as a fact - but, oh, save us from being involved in that truth!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 31)

Jesus! Master! Hear My Cry!

Matthew 9:6
The Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins.
Behold one of the great Physician's mightiest arts: He has power to forgive sin! While here He lived below, before the ransom had been paid, before the blood had been literally sprinkled on the mercy-seat, He had power to forgive sin. Hath He not power to do it now that He hath died? What power must dwell in Him who to the utmost farthing has faithfully discharged the debts of His people! He has boundless power now that He has finished transgression and made an end of sin. If ye doubt it, see Him rising from the dead! behold Him in ascending splendour raised to the right hand of God! Hear Him pleading before the eternal Father, pointing to His wounds, urging the merit of His sacred passion! What power to forgive is here! "He hath ascended on high, and received gifts for men." "He is exalted on high to give repentance and remission of sins." The most crimson sins are removed by the crimson of His blood. At this moment, dear reader, whatever thy sinfulness, Christ has power to pardon, power to pardon thee, and millions such as thou art. A word will speak it. He has nothing more to do to win thy pardon; all the atoning work is done. He can, in answer to thy tears, forgive thy sins today, and make thee know it. He can breathe into thy soul at this very moment a peace with God which passeth all understanding, which shall spring from perfect remission of thy manifold iniquities. Dost thou believe that? I trust thou believest it. Mayst thou experience now the power of Jesus to forgive sin! Waste no time in applying to the Physician of souls, but hasten to Him with words like these:-
"Jesus! Master! hear my cry;
Save me, heal me with a word;
Fainting at Thy feet I lie,
Thou my whisper'd plaint hast heard."

~Charles Spurgeon~

Monday, August 26, 2013

Pioneers of the Heavenly Way # 29

The Lordship of the Holy Spirit (continued)

What a profound difference there is between man-made 'conquests' (?) - shall I say, man-made revivals - and the work of the Holy Spirit! What a difference! This book of Joshua is the book of mighty differences. The difference here is such that it just leads man right out of it. He cannot reckon with this thing, he has no place in it, it is simply beyond his powers of calculation. The Lord has precipitated His people into a realm where it is altogether different from man's way of doing things. When the Holy Spirit is Lord you have not got to organize something to get it going. You have not got to plan and devise and scheme, in order to get something going, to make a work of God, to make a revival. It just goes. It is the going of heaven. And it requires you in that position - it requires this absolute government of the Holy Spirit. In every man-made activity there is always the 'earth touch' - means or methods or people, or all that paraphernalia, to guarantee its success - and the thing goes with a lot of noise and a lot of creaking, and it has to have a tremendous amount of human support, and at any moment it may fade out, if you do not prop it up with something more; it will collapse if you do not.

Never is it like that in a work of the Spirit. But that earth touch - that is the point. The earth touch always means death, always means arrest. The absolute Lordship of the Holy Spirit demands that the earth touch be finished with - and that is what is meant by Joshua being commanded to take the shoes from off his feet. "What saith my lord unto his servant?" 'Go and conquer the land, go and take possession, go and lead the people in'? Not at all. 'Take your shoes off.' You get your shoes off, Joshua, and all the rest will follow. You destroy the earth touch, and see what will happen. You will only have to walk around Jericho. That is not how men would do it. Think of the tremendous campaign that would have been organized to capture Jericho if left to men! No, get your shoes off and see what happens!

If you question that interpretation, you have only to see what happened where he put his shoes on, or where Israel put their shoes on, a little later. What happened at Ai? What happened with the Gibeonites? They had got their shoes on, they touched earth: the result - arrest, compromise, limitation. Get your shoes off and keep them off. The principle of the heavenly is the principle of the Holy Spirit's moving on, is the principle of spiritual fullness. 'Put off thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is heavenly ground.' You have no standing here; the earth has no place here, the world has no place here, men have no place here. This is sacred and sanctified to heaven. From this point heaven takes over. Yes, even from the great instrument raised up to serve the Lord, heaven has taken over. Sovereignty in choice of a instrument never means that sovereignty gives place to human strength. It never condones wrong in the instrument. That works out even with Joshua and Israel, for Joshua, as we said earlier, is representative of all the saints and all the servants of the Lord.

The Holy Spirit Committed to God's Purpose

But notice this answer that came to his inquiry - "Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?" Which? For us? For them? For this? For that? 'Nay; I am not for this or for that, I am not for you or for them: I am for the Lord's purpose'. That is the real content of the answer. 'I am not for people, whoever they are: I am for the Lord's purpose. I am not for this work or that work that you are trying to do for the Lord. I am for the Lord's purpose, I am committed to the purpose of God - the eternal purpose.' "Nay; but ..." Oh, if only we could get the force of that in everything! We are wanting the Holy Spirit to sponsor our movements our work, our ministry. We are asking the Holy Spirit if He is 'for us.' He will never say He is. There is a sense in which the Lord is for His people. "If God be for us ..." But there is another sense in which the Lord says, 'I am not for you but for My purpose in you and through you; not for you, as you, in behalf of Israel, or Joshua the sovereignly chosen and anointed; I am not for you, I am committed to the purpose of God.'

My point is that we must identify the ground and object of the Holy Spirit's committal. We must know what the Holy Spirit is committed to. There is so much planning and arranging for the Lord, and so much failure on the part of the Lord to come and take it up and fulfill it. How much there is today in the world that is being arranged, planned and programmized for the Lord. It does not seem to go. The Lord does not seem to be committing Himself to it. That is just the point. We must identify the object of the Holy Spirit. The object of the Holy Spirit is not to do something and make something on the earth, not to set up something upon, and linked with, this earth which has 'shoes' on it. To establish something here is not His object at all. The Holy Spirit is committed to something that is absolutely heavenly, and His whole object is to detach everything, in a spiritual and inward way, from this earth. That must be shown more fully, perhaps, presently; but note that it is most important to know what it is that God will commit Himself to. He will not commit Himself to anything that is attached to this earth. He will only commit Himself to that which is attached to heaven.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 30 - "The Holy Spirit With a Drawn Sword")

True Satisfaction

Isaiah 14:12-15 records the fall of Satan.  Created as God's archangel, we read about the dissatisfaction that got him in trouble,

"How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations!  For you have said in your heart:  ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.'  Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit."

Clearly his problem was pride.  "I will, I will, I will…I am going to be like God."  He wasn't satisfied with being the archangel that God had created him to be.  He wanted to take God's place.

The root of Satan's pride was his discontent with the post and station that the supreme Monarch of the universe had assigned and allotted him.  He thought he deserved better.
We all have our sphere of influence, and we all have our gifting from God.  Your sphere of influence and gifting are different than mine, and mine are different than yours.  It is unwise to desire something that someone else has rather than exploring what God has given you and developing that to its highest potential.

When you look over the fence, it looks like the grass is greener on the other side, but when you hop over, you find out it is spray-painted!

You will only be satisfied if you will develop what God has put inside of you and take that to its highest level possible.  That is what you will be rewarded for.

~Bayless Conley~

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Pioneers of the Heavenly Way # 28

The Lordship of the Holy Spirit (continued)

But now the whole thing has come right up as a positive present issue, preparation having been made. We come to this passage which we have just read in Joshua v. 13-15. Joshua, standing over against Jericho, "lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand". The warrior spirit in Joshua evidently rose, and he went to challenge him: "Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?" - probably meaning that if he got Yes to the latter part of his interrogation it was going to be the worse for the man - for at this point he only saw a man. The answer revealed that He was more than a man. Joshua capitulated, dropped his attitude of challenge, bowed, worshiped, confessed himself the servant of this One, and asked for instructions.

Who is this One? As I said in a previous chapter, it is my own conviction that this One, in this particular part of the Bible, represents the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. That, I think, could be born out by  quite a lot of evidence, but, without arguing it from the Scriptures, let us see how it works out - if it is that - in effect.

There are a number of changes which have taken place at this point. Up to this point, the course, the way, the government of the people, had been by the pillar of cloud and fire. Everybody will accept that that is the Holy Spirit. That is objective, that is in evidence to the senses, that is characteristic of the wilderness. When you get over into the heavenlies, it is all the Spirit; but, although at this point He was seen, He was never seen again. He disappears from sensual perception, but He is there all through what happens, very much there, the unseen Prince of the host of the Lord. That is one change. There are many other changes. No longer the manna - now the old corn of the land; the bread of life, the heavenly food, in another sense; that which belongs to another realm: Christ in resurrection, not Christ in humiliation, the broken bread. This is Christ in resurrection, the food of a heavenly people. The one belonged to the wilderness; this belongs to the land. And so we might go on with the differences. You see, here, in this realm, everything is essentially heavenly, in a new sense; in other words, it is essentially spiritual; not sentient, not temporal, but essentially spiritual.

Now Paul says that the Holy Spirit is "an earnest of our inheritance" (Ephesians 1:14): so that the Holy Spirit coming here at this point is the guarantee that this purpose of God is going to be realized. He, although from this point unseen, is the absolute security of all the rest. We said in our last study that the presence of the Holy Spirit in anointing for Divine purpose, not only making it possible, but being the ground of the actuality. How does it become an actuality, as more than a doctrine, a truth, a precept - a present actuality?

God has given us the Spirit as an earnest: the guarantee, the security. The positive side begins with this firs - the Holy Spirit presented as Lord. You notice that the American Revised Version here says "as prince", and perhaps it is more true to the original than "captain". As Prince of the host of the Lord": He is presented in Lordship. The positive side of things begins there - with the absolute Lordship of the Holy Spirit among the people of God. He is presented and recognized, and something is done in relation to it. It is not an objective truth, but something that id done positively in relation to it. Joshua went down in absolute surrender and capitulation.

The Cross has led to that. The Cross always does lead to the Lordship of the Holy Spirit. So it is from the Jordan to His Lordship. The Cross demands that. If He is not in His place as Lord, and if there is no capitulation, you had better get back to the Cross - go back and have another look through the waters at those stones which are supposed to represent you. Something has gone wrong, you are not true to the fact of the Cross, if He is not Lord.

But here, in spiritual interpretation, it is taken for granted that the Cross really is an established fact. While there are the faults and the weaknesses of the human life - they come out in Joshua - while there are faults and weaknesses and flaws still there in our humanity, nevertheless, so far as our hearts and our wills and our minds are concerned, the Cross has broken us and made a way for the Holy Spirit. That is what the Cross means: the way of the Lordship of the Spirit is open, and through the Lordship of the Spirit the way to heavenly fullness is open.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 29)

Christ In You

Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)

What does this mean? Not that I come before God saying, “I have had pure motives; I have been very honest, earnest and conscientious, and my intentions have all been of the best.” Let us stop talking nonsense. It is utter folly to talk like that. We do not know ourselves. Only God knows the truth about us, and none of that finds a place with Him or counts with Him for a moment. The point is, have I recognized that the Cross of the Lord Jesus was the smashing and ending of me, good and bad, so that I am not holding up before the Lord anything? I am as capable of the worst as any being in God’s creation is. For anybody to take the attitude that they are not capable of the worst is an attitude of the deepest deception. We do not know the power in our beings until we are put to it. If we have never committed the worst, it is because we have never been put to it in the mercy of God, but it is all there. The Lord puts His finger upon it in princ iple when He says, “He that hates his brother is a murderer.” It is the same spirit. You have only to extend that, provoke that anger enough, put that nature into certain circumstances, and you will discover that you are capable of things of which you would have stood in utmost horror at one time.

You and I have got to come down before God and admit that we are capable of the worst, not standing on the ground of our right. The only right one is Christ from God’s standpoint. The only safe one is Christ, and therefore the only one who stands in God’s eyes is Christ, and it is as you and I, in all the brokenness, frailty, conscious weakness and humility of our own beings, by faith cling to Christ that we shall find the way out, the deliverance, the salvation. We must look behind God’s words to see bigger things than words on the surface indicate. “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and that trembles at My word.” That statement embodies all that we are saying. To what one will He look? To the one who never says, “I am right!” but to the one who says, “I may be as wrong as ever a man or woman was wrong, there is nothing of which I am not capable; my o nly ground is Christ; so help me God, Christ is my ground!” To stand on Christ is to stand always in the consciousness and recognition that this other ground, ourselves at any point, is dangerous ground. He is so Other, and there is the great divide, there is no overlapping. Between Christ and us there is a gaping chasm. God never sees that bridged, but thank God He will put Christ into us by the Holy Spirit, and while the two will ever remain apart, the old creation will go one day and that which is of Christ, as wrought into us, will abide.

By T. Austin-Sparks

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Pioneers of the Heavenly Way # 27

Taking Possession of the Heavenly Land

(Joshua 5:13-15;  Ephesians 1:18)

I would make it clear at the outset that it is not my purpose to deal with the correspondence between the book of Joshua and the letter to the Ephesians. We are occupied in these studies with one particular thought, around which all this gathers, in which it centers: that is, that God's end is to have heavenly fullness expressed in this earth through and by a people. The whole course of His dealings through the ages, from the time when He established the heavens over the earth, has been, and still is, from man's point of view, like a spiritual pilgrimage, a moving spirituality heavenward: and that means, not to some place, necessarily, but to some order of things according to God's mind - that order to which the Lord Jesus referred when, speaking of the will of God, He said, "as in heaven" (Matthew 6:10); to have everything as it is in heaven. Toward this there is a heavenly way, a heavenly course, a heavenly journey, and we are seeking to see, among other things, the nature of that heavenly way. And then when we have seen that, since so many do not know more than the very beginning of that way in conversion, the Lord rises up instrumentalities in whom He does His very deep work in relation to heaven to pioneer the way for others.

Now we pursue this a little further. With the two passages which we have just read, we arrive at a particular point in this matter of coming to heavenly fullness. The second half of the book of Joshua, of course, is occupied with the people coming into the inheritance, the inheritance being divided and apportioned and possessed. Strangely, in the letter to the Ephesians - which corresponds to this - it is put around the other way. It is spoken of as God's inheritance in His people, "the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints"; and I would like to drop a word on that before we pass on, because it is not different, it is not something else. It is the same thing viewed from the other side.

The Lord comes into His inheritance when, and only when, His people really become a heavenly people. For the Lord to have His inheritance, they must be where they are seen to be in the letter to the Ephesians. When they really take position and possession and truly become a heavenly people, then the Lord has got His inheritance. To see "the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints" means, from the other side, that we come to the place where He can see it in us. He cannot see His inheritance in the saints until He sees them in the place where He would have them, until He sees them really the people that answer to His mind as a heavenly people. I am saying this in order to clear up any possible mental difficulty over talking about the people possessing the inheritance, and this word about the Lord possessing His inheritance.

Now, our point is not just the truth of there being an inheritance in Christ, either for us or for the Lord; not just the truth, set forth in the Word, that, when we are in union with Christ through death, burial and resurrection, and on the other side, we come into the realm of Divine fullness. The point that we are underlining is the point of actually becoming a heavenly people, actually taking possession - not doctrinally, not theoretically,  not Biblically, but "actually". I am quite sure that you, in your hearts, embrace the idea; but the trouble is that all this is known so well - it has been taught to so many, but they are not there. They have not actually come to that position where they are this - and what is the use or good of all our doctrine, teaching, interpretation, contemplation and all the rest, if we are not there? So we have to look at the way to, shall I say, get there, so that it shall become an actuality.

The Lordship of the Holy Spirit

And the very first thing after that preparatory work of which we were speaking earlier: the Jordan, the leaving something in the bed of Jordan, our old man crucified and left there; after leaving him there and letting him be covered over and going away from him: after that and after Gilgal - that is, the negative side, the putting off - now comes the positive side, the putting on, the real, the actual taking possession or entering; the becoming the thing that has always been in view. For this has always been in view, or it has been ever since coming out of Egypt. It was mentioned in the song of Moses. Yes, it was pre-visioned in that great prophetic song on the deliverance side of the Red Sea. It has always been there as a notion, but it has been remote, somewhere out there, more or less vivid, as the days have gone on: sometimes strong and clear and positive and gripping;at other times fading, weak and far off, an abstract.

~. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 28)

Proven Faith

Faith is perhaps the most central element in the Christian life because it is the means by which we enter into salvation. But that’s only the beginning. From then onward, our faith—or lack of it—shapes our lives and determines what happens to us when the winds of adversity blow. Some Christians never lose their footing even in hurricane-force winds, but others are toppled by the slightest gust. To understand why this is true, we need to examine the source of our faith.
Inherited faith: If you grew up in a Christian home, you probably adopted some of the beliefs of your parents. This kind of godly foundation is a wonderful gift from the Lord, but eventually, each person must assume responsibility for his own beliefs.
Textbook faith: The Bible is the ultimate guide for establishing our beliefs. But that’s not the only source of influence. Books, preachers, teachers, and friends all impact our convictions. Our theology may in fact be sound, but faith is merely mental acceptance until it’s put to the test.
Proven Faith: Only when we trust the Lord through the fires of adversity will we have faith that can stand. It is no longer based on what others have told us or what we’ve accepted as true but on our firsthand experience of His faithfulness.
To evaluate your faith, consider how you react to adversity. Do you cling to the Lord or get angry at Him? Is your attitude one of rejoicing because He’s making you more like His Son, or are you bitter? No one can escape adversity, but those with proven faith will benefit from it.

~Charles Stanley~

Friday, August 23, 2013

Pioneers of the Heavenly Way # 26

The Natural Man Ruled Out

When you come to the passage of Jordan and when they are over, Joshua commands that there shall be taken a man representing every tribe of Israel and that they shall take twelve stones and put them in the bed of the Jordan and leave them there. All Israel has been left in the bed of Jordan, every man. That is what he is in God's sight - right down there, and left there. Something is left behind in Jordan. That which goes through and comes out on the other side is a testimony to the fact that something has been left behind, because Gilgal follows immediately. Something has been left behind. We cannot bring that over here; that has to be left in Jordan. This has no standing over here in heaven. This natural man, this Corinthians idea of man - he is down there, and God has left him there. The waters cover him and flow on, and he is underneath, buried for ever. "They are there, unto this day" (Joshua 4:9). It is the way of enlargement.

But God has to bring that home to us, and it seems to me that Gilgal was the practical application of the principle implicit in the stones in the river-bed. Those stones represented the union of God's people with Christ in death and burial - the natural man who was so in evidence in the wilderness being put out of sight. Gilgal takes up that truth and applies it perpetually. Colossians 2:11-12 confirms this. We have to experience in our souls - our flesh - the severing work of the Cross - the death of Christ. We can believe all the doctrine of Romans 6, and yet there may be great contradiction of it in ourselves. Heaven will not commit itself to the flesh or natural life. If we are occupied with ourselves; talking about ourselves, our work, our having been used, and so on, we are not in the full values of an open heaven. It is so easy to slip all unconsciously from giving glory to God to glorifying a piece of work or glorying in the work itself, and when this happens the atmosphere changes and spiritually sensitive people know that something has happened, a cloud has descended. Heaven is so transparent that no earth-vapour can come there, and heavenly fullness demands transparency in our spirit.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 27 - "Taking Possession of the Heavenly Land")

The Source of Jealousy

Most likely, you have been caught off guard by a wave of jealousy at some point in your life. Was it a spiritual attack? Did the Enemy make you covetous? Was someone or something working to make you resentful?

The answer—which may surprise you— is no. Jealousy actually springs from within us, even though we might try to deflect the blame. For example, we may say, "Well, they just shouldn't have that. They don't deserve it, so I'm perfectly justified in feeling this way."

Do you see what is actually going on here? We are not only feeling envious of someone, but we're also saying that our jealousy is the other person's fault! That's simply not true. We are each 100 percent responsible for our own feelings of envy.

Jealousy is a product of the flesh. In the Bible, it is listed among such sins as idolatry, immorality, drunkenness, and sorcery—sins which stand against our holy God and are described as "earthly, natural, demonic" (Gal. 5:17-21; James3:15).

Envious feelings can lead to unhealthy comparison of one's own success to someone else's. That pattern can grow into a competition to out-perform others—and may result in full-blown fear and resentment. What a horrible way to live!

Though jealousy is a common emotion, it has no place in a believer's life. So each of us should try to look objectively at our heart motives. Are you plagued with an attitude of jealousy today? Lay your honest feelings out before the Lord, and ask Him to cleanse you of this sinful attitude.

~Charles Stanley~

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pioneers of the Heavenly Way # 25

Sovereign Grace

The next movement was to send spies. Joshua sent out the spies. What was the upshot? 'All the land lies before you: I have given it to you.' "This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel." There is immense fullness in view. Well, then, surely there must be something very dignified about this? No. Rahab, a harlot, is the key to the whole situation. A woman without reputation, or with a bad reputation, who has no status or standing at all in the world of repute: everything is bound up with that. That is sovereign, and that is grace: and you are not going to get into the land of heavenly fullness except through those two things. Even the great Joshua-to-be finds that everything becomes dependent upon a woman of ill-fame.

God has strange ways of humbling us. How often we look for something wonderful and big and glorious and noble, something of repute, in relation to the great things of God: and then God brings us down to having to accept something that has no recognition at all, no acceptance at all; puts us in a position where, if we want commendation, that will not commend us; if we want something that will introduce us as an influence in the realm of usefulness, well, this will not do it. There is no chance of getting anywhere along that line in this world. See what influence that woman had in Jericho. Do you think her word would have carried any weight? Not at all. There was no introduction from high quarters. If this is not of heaven, then everything is against it. We are getting no help. No; rather are we out of court here, we have no way, no ground here, if it is not of heaven. He has not got people with influence at court in this matter. It is all of heaven; it is sovereign or not at all.

And it is of grace, for Rahab is in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Wonderful! When you come to that New Testament genealogy - Rahab! Oh, grace! What can recommend Rahab? What can put her on the inspired record, into Holy Scripture, in the line of Jesus Christ? Nothing but grace, and that is of heaven. It is all like that. If there is going to be anything of real value, it will be because of sovereign grace, and nothing else; no commendation. We are out of court; we have nothing to support our claim, nothing to go upon naturally. It is right down on the level of Rahab. Think of a great Joshua having to come there. But it is the principle all the time through the Word of God. If only I could show you how again and again it is that. You would say, 'Why, God seems to go out of His way to prejudice Hi own interests, to prejudice the success of His purposes, really to make it difficult. He might at least have chosen a respectable person, even if  they were not important or prominent.' But He takes a disreputable person; He goes out of His way to keep this thing true to principle. It is of heaven or it is nothing, and less and worse than nothing. That woman is the key to Jericho and Jericho is the key to the land. That is the kind of key He uses.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 26 - "The Natural man Ruled Out")

Spiritually Satisfied

I have a friend who, at one point, was a self-confessed shopping addict. Recently, his family realized that this activity had stopped, though he hadn't intentionally curtailed it. Why, they wondered, did his longing to acquire more goods seem to dissolve?
The reason was that my friend had become more satisfied with the Lord. He no longer needed fulfillment from what the world had to offer. What a terrific illustration of growth in Christ.
In addition to finding fulfillment in God, there are many other growth indicators that are noticeable to the believer. For instance, offering forgiveness becomes easier over time. Consider our Savior, who asked God to forgive even those who crucified Him on the cross.
Also, as we mature, our faith will increase. God loves us, and He gracefully and gently builds our confidence in Him. Then, as our trust grows, we realize how faithful He truly is--which grows our assurance even more.
Another mark of a closer walk with Christ is an expanding concern for others' spiritual condition. And finally, as our relationship with the Lord deepens, we will increasingly desire to obey Him. This desire is born not out of fear but out of love for our heavenly Father. Similarly, when we do sin, our hearts will become saddened and repentant.
Are you satisfied spiritually? Or do you have a growing, insatiable hunger for more of Jesus? Friend, if you think that you've come far enough in your journey with Christ, you have made a terrible mistake. You are missing great fulfillment and the excitement that comes from getting closer to Him.

~Charles Stanley~

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pioneers of the Heavenly Way # 24

The Servant Spirit

Just look at Joshua himself. Remember that Joshua here is representative in the thought of God of all God's saints and all God's servants, and what God did in Joshua is what God is going to do in all those to whom he is to minister. God did it in him in relation to the larger company. Well, how does it begin? The book begins like this: "Now it came to pass after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister ..." - that word is really 'attendant.' With all that is in view in this book, you
would think that he would get a better start than that. Moses the servant of the Lord, and Joshua just his attendant. He is not brought in with some official title, which as 'the servant of the Lord.' He is not brought in on that official ground at all. All that he is is an attendant. Follow that word through and see where it will lead you. The same word is used of John Mark - "they had also John as their attendant" (Acts 13:5). What is an attendant? Well, if there is one thing about an attendant, surely it is that he knows that kind of subjection that makes it possible for him to do as he is told. That is the mighty Joshua that is to be, and that is where he begins.

We are well aware of the great significance of Elisha. What a tremendous place Elisha came to have, with a double portion of Elijah's spirit and greater works than Elijah did! You remember what was said about Elisha. "Elisha ... poured water on the hands of Elijah" (2 Kings 33:11). He was his attendant. That is where he began.

In Joshua chapter 10, when Joshua commanded the sun, "Stand thou still", it says, "there was no day like that before it or after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man". This man is touching heavenly things. That is tremendous. Where does it begin? With Moses' attendant! He has learned subjection: to do as he is told, to do trivial things, to be obedient, to take a humble position. And do not think it was easy for Joshua. Joshua had as much soul as anybody else. There was a time when there were others in the camp prophesying, and it was Joshua who went to Moses and said, "My lord Moses, forbid them". And Moses said, "Art thou jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord's people were prophets ...!" (Numbers 11:26-30). Joshua had a soul; Joshua could assert his own ideas. He was a young man then. But here at last he comes out at the commencement of his great life work; now he is emerging into the real purpose of the sovereign calling of God: and the narrative begins - "Moses the servant of the Lord ... Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister". Is that not a principle? There is something in that. We must always remember that the Holy Spirit wrote the Bible - and the Holy Spirit, if He is anything at all, is consistent with spiritual principles. It does not matter in what guise they are found: it does not matter when, where or how: the principle remains exactly the same.

The Levites commenced this ministry at the age of 25, but they were not allowed to assume full responsibility until they were 30. They were understudies of fully-fledged Levites for five years. This principle of the Attendant is maintained all through the Scriptures. A probationary period or phase always precedes full approval. Fullness is suspended until the particular purpose of that period as an Attendant is learned. It is the inculcating of ability to obey, to take orders, to be in subjection, to serve. We must not assume that we are anything. What we may be has to come naturally out of what we have been made. Do not expect that, if God calls you to serve Him, there will immediately and inevitably be some great demonstration of His power and fullness. Joshua was the Attendant of Moses long before he was his successor and before the manifestation of the spirit of Moses was seen in Joshua. God digs deep. He has no pleasure in superficiality, and the measure of our usefulness in relation to His full purpose will be the measure of our discipline by testing. We shall never be spiritual leaders until we have learned meekness as faithful Attendants.

Remember, then - succession is never official in the things of heaven. It is never by human selection. It is never assumed by the persons concerned. You cannot assume that you are the successor of what God has been doing. You cannot assume that you come in and have place there, and certainly no one can put you into it. If it is heavenly, succession is sovereign and spiritual! You never know how the Divine sovereignty is going to work, but you  can be fairly sure that the Divine purpose is going to work contrary to your expectation, your ideas.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 25 - "Sovereign Grace")