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Monday, March 31, 2014

The Alpha and the Omega # 5

"Christ: First and Last in Redemption (continued)

And there is no end to it! Just as there is something more being added every year to the dictionary, so it is in the Christian life. I am not exaggerating. My experience through the years, and perhaps especially in recent times, is that Christ is just inexhaustible. There is more and more and more coming, all the time, that we did not know before. But it all began when we began with Him, and it has gone on ever since, and it is going on for eternity; for the Word says: "Of the increase of His government ... there shall be no end ... upon His kingdom" (Isaiah 9:7). No end! What a kingdom of fullness His is! But we have to begin with Him, we have to make Him our beginning before we can have any of it. He has got to be our "Alpha". But when once He is that, I say again, a new world opens up; a new fullness - and such a fullness! - begins to disclose itself. It is all in Him as our Redeemer.

This is what we have in the first chapter of the Revelation: titles of the Lord connected with Him in resurrection. And then we have words about what He has don in redemption. He "purchased unto God with His blood ..." (Revelation 5:9); He "loosed us from our sins by His blood; and He made us a kingdom, priests unto His God and Father" (ch. 1:5, 6). It is the work of redemption which has opened up everything new - wonderful fullness! He is the Alpha of Redemption.

"The Author ..."

Christ is not only the Beginning: He is the Beginner. It says here "the author"; "looking unto Jesus, the author and perfected ..." (Hebrews 12:2). He is the Beginner - the One who takes in hand this matter of beginning all over again and bringing us into a world that we have never known before. He is the initiator of t: it is in His hands: he does it. He has taken the initiative in our redemption; that i the point. I am so glad of that - so infinitely glad of that. With all that may be said about our quest - man's quest for God, man's search for God - that is nothing compared with God's search for man. What Jesus has come to reveal, and has revealed, is that God is the Seeker. Those wonderful and familiar parables about lost sheep, and lost pieces of silver, and lost sons (Luke 15), and other lost people: they are all meant to show us that God is the Seeker, that the initiative is with God. "The Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10).

Yes, He began this thing: you and I would never be rejoicing in salvation if He had not begun it. He said: "Ye did not choose Me, but I choose you" (John 15:16) - and that is why we are now numbered among His saved ones. And if we are now among those that belong to the Lord, it is simply because He sought us. Whether we were seeking or not, He was the Seeker;He was the Beginner; He began. No one else can begin to redeem us; no one else can save. There is no other given under heaven whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12); only His Name. There is no beginning of redemption without Him.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 6 - "...and Perfecter")

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Alpha and The Omega # 4

Christ: First and Last in Redemption

All this is by way of setting the Lord Jesus in His rightful place in God's universe. But we may feel that it is not very helpful to us. What comes nearer to us is this: that He is the Alpha and the Omega in redemption. He is the First and the Last in redemption. In that letter to the Hebrews again, we have this familiar word: "Looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith" (12:2). He is, then, the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega, of redemption.

Christ is, of course, the beginning of redemption in this simple sense, that there is no redemption until we come to Him. Just as there is no speech, no communication, no knowledge until we come to the alphabet, so there is no redemption until we come to the Lord Jesus. There is just nothing before "A"; there is nothing before Alpha: that is just where everything begins. And what is true in language is true in redemption: there just is no redemption, there is no salvation, until we come to the Lord Jesus. But when we come to Him, there is a new beginning. It is the beginning of everything - a whole new compass and range of possibilities, whether of communication, of knowledge and understanding, of wisdom or of pleasure.

What a wealth there is in Christ! What a wealth there is in Him as the Redeemer! When you take Him as the beginning, the Alpha, of salvation, what a marvelous world opens up! When you pick up a dictionary, and begin to turn the pages, what a world  opens up! As you go on and on, through the many thousands of words, in all their different shapes and forms, what a world is there! I cannot understand any person who cannot revel in a dictionary! But you see what I am getting at. When you come to Jesus as the Alpha, a new and vast and wonderful world begins to open up, a world that you never thought of. It is like coming upon new words in the dictionary - words that you never knew were there, and that opens up to you altogether new vistas. It is like that with the Lord Jesus: when He becomes your Beginning, an inexhaustible world opens up. Wealth, fullness, riches of knowledge - there are limitless possibilities when you begin with "A".

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 5)

Accepting God's Gift of Love

Many people simply can't believe that the Lord loves them. Others believe that He loves them, but only when they are pleasing Him in some way. Why is it so hard for us to accept His unconditional love?

One reason is that we have a hard time loving others without condition. We might say the words "I love you" to our spouse, children, friends, co-workers, or fellow believers but all too often are calculating in our mind whether or not they've lived up to our standard. We sometimes excuse ourselves from loving certain people because their behavior upsets or annoys us. The fact that we place restrictions on extending favor causes us to wrongly assume that the Lord does likewise.

Another reason is poor self-image. Considering ourselves unworthy, we refuse to accept God's love. You know what? None of us are worthy of the heavenly Father's goodness and mercy—so you can let go of that excuse once and for all. We're not coming to Him based on our worth. Rather, we're coming to Him based on His grace, and our position is secure in Christ. To put yourself down as "beneath His grace" is to trample on His loving, generous gift. God arranged an awesome divine way for us to be reconciled to Him, and His greatest desire is for relationship with each of us.

If you feel unloved or struggle to accept yourself, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of our heavenly Father's love for you—and to sink it deep into your heart. Receive the truth that He reveals. It will be a completely different story about your value as an individual.

~Charles Stanley~

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Alpha and the Omega # 3

Christ: Agent, Pattern, and Goal of Creation

Christ is the first and the last in creation, so says the Word. In that letter to the Colossians, to which we have just referred, the Apostle tells us clearly and precisely that "in Him were all things created", and that "He is before all things" (1:16, 19). The Apostle John, at the beginning of his gospel, tells us the same thing, that "all things were made through Him" (1:3). He is the beginning in creation. In the Letter to the Hebrews, we are told that the ages were made through Him, they came into being through Him (1:2). In this book of Revelation, we read: "These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God ..." (3:14). He is the Alpha and Omega in creation: here He is the Alpha, the very Agent and Instrument of creation.

He was creation's design, for all things were made to be a temporal and material expression of spiritual and moral realities in the Son of God. If we had eyes and understanding to see the deeper secrets of an unfallen creation, a vast universe from the hand of God, we should see, in everything, something that speaks of the Son of God - His spiritual, His moral character, and His supreme place in the whole system of God. He is the pattern of creation: "of Him, and through Him, and unto Him, are all things" (Romans 11:36); and He is declared to be the completion, the finish, of the creation of God. He is the Alpha and the Omega.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4 - "Christ First and Last In Redemption")

Cleared from Guilt

Romans 8:1
There is therefore now no condemnation.
Come, my soul, think thou of this. Believing in Jesus, thou art actually and effectually cleared from guilt; thou art led out of thy prison. Thou art no more in fetters as a bond-slave; thou art delivered now from the bondage of the law; thou art freed from sin, and canst walk at large as a freeman, they Saviour's blood has procured thy full discharge. Thou hast a right now to approach thy Father's throne. No flames of vengeance are there to scare thee now; no fiery sword; justice cannot smite the innocent. Thy disabilities are taken away: thou wast once unable to see thy Father's face: thou canst see it now. Thou couldst not speak with Him: but now thou hast access with boldness. Once there was a fear of hell upon thee; but thou hast no fear of it now, for how can there be punishment for the guiltless? He who believeth is not condemned, and cannot be punished. And more than all, the privileges thou mightst have enjoyed, if thou hadst never sinned, are thine now thou art justified. All the blessings which thou wouldst have had if thou hadst kept the law, and more, are thine, because Christ has kept it for thee. All the love and the acceptance which perfect obedience could have obtained of God, belong to thee, because Christ was perfectly obedient on thy behalf, and hath imputed all His merits to thy account, that thou mightst be exceeding rich through Him, who for thy sake became exceeding poor. Oh! How great the debt of love and gratitude thou owest to thy Saviour!

"A debtor to mercy alone,
Of covenant mercy I sing;
Nor fear with Thy righteousness on,
My person and offerings to bring:
The terrors of law and of God,
With me can have nothing to do;
My Saviour's obedience and blood
Hide all my transgressions from view."

~Charles Spurgeon~

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Alpha and the Omega # 2

No Knowledge of God Outside of Christ (continued)

"I am the Alpha". The very first syllable of the knowledge of God is the knowledge of Jesus Christ. It begins with A; it is the first lisp of a babe. "God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father" (Galatians 4:6). The first syllable of the Christian life begins with "A". "Father".  We do not know the Father until we know Jesus Christ: He it is Who has revealed the Father. The beginning of all knowledge of God as Father comes to us through Jesus Christ. What He said in Him prayer was indeed true: "I have manifested unto them Thy name" (John 17:6) - and that name was "Father" Do you want to know God? Do you want to know Him as Father? Do you want to know what He has to say to you, to make known to you? Do you want to know all or any of the vast wealth God would reveal to you? You can only know it in Jesus Christ; you can only know it in Him Who is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega. There is no knowledge without words made up of letters (except perhaps for our Chinese friends!), and all the letters are between these two. There is no knowledge that is knowledge indeed, knowledge that is life eternal, except in Jesus Christ. "This is life eternal, that they should know Thee the only true God, and Him Whom Thou didst send ... Jesus Christ" (John 17:3). There is no knowledge outside of Jesus Christ.

And there is no communication from God outside of Jesus Christ. Set Jesus Christ aside, and God is silent - He has nothing to say to you. If you fail to give His Son His place, God is just mute; He will communicate nothing. The more you honor the Son, the more the Father will come out to you and communicate with you.

All Need Comprehended In Christ

Secondly, Alpha and Omega not only comprehend all speech - they comprehend all need. You do not want anything outside of "A" and "Z"; you do not need to create any new letters; it is all there. It does not matter what big words you use - and there are some big words these days! - it does not matter how big the words, how long the sentences, or how great the utterances: you can meet the need of the biggest word, the longest sentence and the fullest utterance between alpha and Omega. For all these big new words, you have no need to create new letters: all that you need are here.

We are told by the Apostle Paul that "in Him" - that is, in Christ - "dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead" (Colossians 2:9); "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (2:3). "It was the good pleasure of the Father that in Him should all the fullness dwell" (1:19). We are very fond of that word of Paul's to the Philippians: "My God shall fulfill every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:19). Every need supplied on the scale of His riches in glory - can we fathom this, can we compass this? - but every need met according to that in Christ Jesus. In Him is all we need; He is Alpha and Omega. When Jesus says: "I am Alpha and Omega", He is saying: "I am all you need. You never can have a need, you never can invent or imagine anything for which I am not sufficient. No situation can arise that exhausts Me: in Me all the fullness dwells. I am Alpha and Omega.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3 - "Christ: Agent, Pattern, and Goal of Creation")

No Greater Love

Perhaps the most intense love and protective instinct in the experience of mankind is that of parents toward their children. There is little that most mothers or fathers wouldn't do for a baby. If a truck posed a threat to the little one, it wouldn't surprise us if they jumped in front of the moving vehicle without a second thought.

Wouldn't you like to be cared for with this kind of intensity? You are. In fact, the Lord's love toward you is far deeper and more secure than that of even the most caring, tuned-in human parent. And what God did for us is proof. Romans 5:8 says that while we were living in disobedience, He sent His only Son to die on the cross for us.

Think about a father giving up his child for people who choose to rebel against him. What a tremendous sacrifice and cost! Jesus' death took the place of the punishment that we deserved. If we accept this gift and decide to follow God, He no longer sees us as guilty. Rather, He justifies us, makes us righteous, and changes our ultimate destiny: instead of facing everlasting separation from Him, we will enjoy His presence eternally. What's more, almighty God adopts us as His children forever. Our heavenly Father guides, protects, and counsels us as we walk through life—and promises us that we are secure in Him throughout eternity.

How incredible that the Creator of the universe would love you and me in this way! Do you know and experience the security and sweetness of His care? Gratitude and praise should flow from your heart. In turn, love others deeply out of thankfulness for the love that you have received.  

~Charles Stanley~

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Alpha and The Omega

"I am the Alpha and the Omega, saith the Lord God, Which is and Which was and Which is to come, the Almighty" (Revelation 1:8)

"And He said unto me ... I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End" (Revelation 21:6)

"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End" (Revelation 22:13)

One of the titles which the Lord takes to Himself in resurrection is: "The Alpha and the Omega". The Lord Jesus here presents Himself as "the Living One", Who was dead, and is alive again - alive for evermore (Revelation 1:18). Those two letters, Alpha and Omega, are, as we know, the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet. The one is the same in form as the first letter in our own alphabet; the other is unlike any of our letters. Alpha and Omega - First and Last. In every alphabet there is something which corresponds to an "A" and a "Z", an Alpha and an Omega, a beginning and an end. It does not matter how complicated the alphabet may be, or if it only contains a poor twenty-six letters as in English: everything is bounded by the "A" and the "Z", the Alpha and the Omega. You cannot get anything outside of that; all is within that. The Alpha and the Omega comprehend all speech; there is no speech possible in any language outside of what comes between those two letters. All that can be said has to come between their compass; outside of their compass nothing can be said.

No Knowledge of God Outside of Christ

Now Jesus says that of Himself: "I am the Alpha and the Omega." The Word of God tells us that Christ is the fullness of God, and that God will sum up all things in Him. What is more, it shows us that God will never speak to anybody outside of His Son, Jesus Christ. He has bounded all His speech to man by His Son; He has made Christ the compass of all; He has nothing to say, and He will say nothing, outside of His Son. "No one cometh unto the Father, but by Me," said the Son (John 14:6). "And no one knoweth the Son, save the Father; neither doth any know the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son willeth to reveal Him" (Matthew 11:27). The Apostle who wrote the Letter to the Hebrews began by saying: "In old times, God spoke in fragments and in parts and in various manners, by different men and at different times; but at the last He summed up all that He had to say in His Son. In the end, He has spoken to us in His Son, Whom He has appointed Heir of all things." All that God will say, and all that God can say, to us, will be in Jesus Christ.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2)
Your heavenly Father knoweth (Matthew 6:32).

A visitor at a school for the deaf and dumb was writing questions on the blackboard for the children. By and by he wrote this sentence: "Why has God made me to hear and speak, and made you deaf and dumb?"

The awful sentence fell upon the little ones like a fierce blow in the face. They sat palsied before that dreadful "Why?" And then a little girl arose.

Her lip was trembling. Her eyes were swimming with tears. Straight to the board she walked, and, picking up the crayon, wrote with firm hand these precious words: "Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight!" What a reply! It reaches up and lays hold of an eternal truth upon which the maturest believer as well as the youngest child of God may alike securely rest -- the truth that God is your Father.

Do you mean that? Do you really and fully believe that? When you do, then your dove of faith will no longer wander in weary unrest, but will settle down forever in its eternal resting place of peace. "Your Father!"

I can still believe that a day comes for all of us, however far off it may be, when we shall understand; when these tragedies, that now blacken and darken the very air of heaven for us, will sink into their places in a scheme so august, so magnificent, so joyful, that we shall laugh for wonder and delight.
--Arthur Christopher Bacon

No chance hath brought this ill to me;
'Tis God's own hand, so let it be,
He seeth what I cannot see.
There is a need-be for each pain,
And He one day will make it plain
That earthly loss is heavenly gain.
Like as a piece of tapestry
Viewed from the back appears to be
Naught but threads tangled hopelessly;
But in the front a picture fair
Rewards the worker for his care,
Proving his skill and patience rare.
Thou art the Workman, I the frame.
Lord, for the glory of Thy Name,

Perfect Thine image on the same.

~L. B. Cowman~

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Hiding of His Power # 3

Habakkuk continues his discourse with his Lord, still somewhat discouraged but, also, encouraged for he says (1:12-17; 2:1):

" ... I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what He will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved."

And God answers Habakkuk and tells Habakkuk that His purpose and counsel will certainly come about in His timing (2:2-20:

"... For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry." - And God says, that during the time of waiting, the faith of the faithful will be tried! - "but the just shall live by his faith."

This is the only command that the Lord gave to Habakkuk: "But the just shall live by his faith." In the scripture, the word "but" is very important; it is an adversative conjunction; and it generally marks a distinctive contrast, a contradistinction to all that surrounds. In other words, the Lord is saying, "When things look the worse, and it seems the enemy is having his way: the just shall live by his faith." The Lord is telling Habakkuk that his life is to be a distinct contrast, it is to be diametrically opposed to all that satan instigates in the world, or among the people of God. Habakkuk is to live and move and have his being in the realm of faith.

Then the Lord continues to speak judgment, as well as many prophetic words which were (and are) very hard for the faithful to understand. However, right in the midst of all this judgment, He wondrously declares:

"For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. But the Lord is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him."

The, as God shares this with Habakkuk, Habakkuk breaks out into a glorious prayer which is a Psalm of praise as well as a warring prayer of the Spirit. For, even though it may look as if all things are not being worked out according to God's purpose, Habakkuk has come to realize that just the opposite is true: - God is truly "hiding His power," and in the unseen realm the enemy is being defeated, and the elect of God are being freed unto the glorious liberty of the sons of God.

"... and there was the hiding of His power ... and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: His ways are everlasting" (Hab. 3:4, 6)

Beloved, let us become prayer warriors such as Habakkuk by joining "the just" of all ages who, in the midst of their trials, have lived by the faith of the Son of God; and, let us embrace in the Spirit the burden of our Lord for His people- Habakkuk's name implies "embracer of the burden" - and let us sing as Habakkuk:

"Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds' feet, and He will make me to walk upon mine high places' (Hab. 3:17-19). Amen ... Amen...Amen.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(The End)

Extraordinary Prayer

"God heeded the voice of man" Joshua 10:14 

There are numerous scriptures and stories throughout the Bible that encourage us to pray. Prayer is so important in our lives as Christians, yet it often gets reduced to either 911-type cries for help or routine words that we are accustomed to praying. In the case of Joshua and the battle with the Amorites, he asked the Lord for a miracle of major proportions. Joshua dared to ask God that the sun would not set until their enemies were defeated. Not only did God answer Joshua's prayer but verse 14 further states that "there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord heeded the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel." The Lord listened and responded to the voice of man.

Does God heed the voice of man today? James 5:16 says that the effective fervent prayers of a righteous man avails much. Jesus tells us to ask, seek and knock and that whatever we ask in His name will be given. The key to answered prayers, however, is in praying God's will. Because we have the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, we can know how to pray God's will for our lives (I should add "better know" because there are still times when we all struggle to truly understand how to pray the will of God.) But regardless of what we know or how we pray, the point is that we need to pray to the Lord for everything. We should not hold back from asking the Lord for anything we want. It is up to Him to decide if or how He answers.

This day in Joshua's life was extraordinary to say the least. God gave him extra daylight time to completely destroy the five kings who had fled from him. God not only answered Joshua's prayer, but He divinely intervened in this battle Himself. When God has a plan, no one can thwart or hinder what He is going to do. Sometimes we need to pray just for peace in the situation we are in, knowing that the Lord will have His way no matter what we do or do not do. God kept His promises to Joshua and the Israelites and He demonstrated His faithfulness to them in amazing ways.

Is this the same God in our lives today? Absolutely! Do not stop praying and do not allow the enemy to hinder your faith in your prayers. The Lord may not extend our days by keeping the sun from setting, but there are miracles that He does perform in our lives that hold just as much impact. Has God given you promises? Believe in faith that He will fulfill them in your life, maybe not in your timing or by your methods, but in His. He is the same God today as He was to Joshua. Are you expecting the same of Him?

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Hiding of His Power # 2

But, blessed be God, the end is revealed, and the accuser is cast down; the kingdom, power, authority of God and His Christ is seen as come. While we do not want to suggest that a satan complex should be developed, we would urge that a looking behind things to his part and place in them will be a great deliverance from the paralysis of the things themselves. Whether we are alive to it or not, "our wrestling is with ... spiritual hosts and wickedness," and not until we tackle the spiritual forces behind the things, in the infinite virtue of the blood of the Lamb, shall we stand possessed of the key to the situation. But let us remember the value of the "they." There is need for corporate action; and we should take much more seriously the united prayer against the spiritual forces. So, whatever may be the immediate meaning of the present experience, the need is the same, a people in spiritual strength to bring about satan's casting down, either in specific positions and situations, or in the final consummate disinheriting of the heavenlies.

The Lord strengthen us with might unto this warfare through as much of this new year as He wills for us to see.

Brethren, as we read this letter the phrase "The hiding of His power" stood out to us; and we found that it is only mentioned one time in the Scriptures, Habakkuk 3:4. When a phrase or word is mentioned only one time in the Word of God it is usually speaking of something that is important to God and His people. Habakkuk is a small prophetic book that was probably written at the same time Jeremiah prophesied and the nation of Israel as a whole was in a state of idolatry and apostasy "as it was in the days of Lot." Little is known of Habakkuk himself except from his writings, which immediately let us know that he is a prayer warrior who is deeply burdened for God's purpose. He was a man who must have had a shadowless communion with his Lord, for the three chapters of which this book consist are written in the form of a colloquy: which means a mutual discourse between those who are intimate and familiar with one another.

So, Habakkuk and the Lord were carrying on a reciprocal, Spirit to spirit, Soul to soul, Depth to depth communion; and, as their mutual discourse begins, we find Habakkuk is discouraged for he could not see in the temporal realm that god was working out things according to plan: - the wicked ruled and seemed to escape judgment and the righteous were suffering greatly.

Habakkuk prays (1:1-4

"Oh Lord, how long shall I cry, and Thou wilt not hear! ... Why dost Thou shew me iniquity (trouble, having special reference to the nature and consequences of evil-doing), and cause me to behold grievance (the oppression, or injustice that comes to the just and righteous)?: How long Oh Lord! How long! Habakkuk asked this question just as many of us do in times of trouble. However, one thing we need to know is that Habakkuk's cry is not for his personal desires, but he is praying in the name of all who suffered from the evil times.

God answers Habakkuk (1:5-11):

"Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you ..." Then the Lord goes on to speak of the judgment that is coming forth. The Lord is telling Habakkuk that, no matter how bad things may look in the natural, He is working all things after the counsel of His own will.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

To Seek Him Face to Face

So I said: "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 my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts." - Isaiah 6:5

As Christians, our desire is to be with Jesus. Personally, I would love to see Him face-to-face. I would talk to Him about my heart's desires and goals, and even if He didn't respond, I would love to read His facial expressions. To be in the presence of the Lord seems like the best thing imaginable. Isaiah did not have to imagine it; however, because he experienced it. Of course, his experience is more accurate than my imagination. Isaiah did see the Lord, but Isaiah did not talk about himself or go over his prayer requests in God's presence. Isaiah was confronted with his sin. Isaiah was also aware of the sins of the people and the inadequacy all of us face in the presence of the Lord. Isaiah realized that we are all undone, unworthy and unclean. We have no way of changing these things for we live in a midst of people and within a world of sinfulness. Seeing the Lord brings forth a holy fear that we are nothing and we deserve nothing.
It is amazing to me that Isaiah brings attention to his unclean lips (instead of his eyes having seen the Lord). The angel had a treatment for his unclean lips, touched by a coal from God's altar. With that process, Isaiah's iniquity was taken away and his sin purged. Why his lips and not his heart or his eyes? If you think about what Jesus taught, the lips make sense in the spiritual realm. Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). Isaiah's lips represent his heart. Isaiah would respond to the call of God, but in order to go and speak for God, his heart needed to be touched.

This same process starts with our eyes being opened to our unworthiness as we come before the presence of God. Then, we will realize that our heart needs to be cleansed so we can represent Him with the words of our lips. This is a continual process. It is easy to be swayed away and think we are being used by God because of our works of righteousness. It is not about us. We need to be about Jesus. Today, ask Him to send you. Respond to His call. But first, set your eyes on the Lord's majesty, awesomeness and purity. Understand that you are not worthy to be used but He has made a way to wash you through the blood of Christ so that you can speak for Him from a cleansed heart. All you have to say is, "Here am I! Send me."

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Hiding of His Power

Not long ago, we came across a letter in an old "Witness and Testimony" magazine that was written in January 1945; and, even though we know that in England they had been suffering through the intense years of World War II, it seemed that the ink was still wet and it had been written to the Body of Christ just yesterday.

Beloved of God,

What a time of faith's testing the saints are in just now! And what a time of satanic fierceness! What does it all mean? There seems to be only two answers. Either the Lord is preparing for some fresh, and perhaps final, movement to the consummation of His purpose on the earth; which movement requires a state that will guarantee depth, strength, and lastingness, so that real fullness shall mark the ingathering to glory at His appearing; or else this is the end of a phase and the Lord is coming for the ripe fruits. If Revelation 12 represents an end-time situation, then there is very much just now that conforms to it. The words there are undoubtedly prophetical, for the "Revelation" was not written as history but as prophecy - in the main, that is, not what was past, but what was, and was to be. The great issue of that chapter is "Now is come the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down ..."

In "Salvation" there is "deliverance from every calamity, victory over enemies, recovery from disease, and release from captivity." The kingdom and authority referred to are withstood by the great accuser, and a great warfare in heaven is waged to circumvent the establishment thereof by the emancipation of the elect from the realm of satan's power. Does not this throw light upon the test of faith and the intense conflict through which the saints are passing? Here is the explanation to long unfulfilled manifestations of answer to prayer; the deferred deliverances, the passing of the power of God from the temporal to the spiritual realm in our experience - "THE HIDING OF HIS POWER."

The combination of tested faith in relation to things seen, and the intense conflict in the spiritual life, is very true to this issue. As we have cried for "salvation" in one or other of its forms, and have only been conscious of conflict and delay, the accuser has come and raised the ultimate questions of our relationship to God, and of His to us. It is the old issue - "If Thou be the Son." So, to cast us down, he accuses and seeks to make us accept a setting aside, a casting off, a having finished with us by God. Triumph over this by the witness against him by the blood of the Lamb, the declaration of our testimony, and the elimination of self-interest and concern - loving not our life unto death, is to result in his casting down, and this is the nature and object of the trial and the battle. What an immense issue is bound up with a little word - "if". If ... then why? That was Gideon's question. That was presented to Christ.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2)

The Power of Unity

1 Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. 4 And they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth." 5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. 6 And the Lord said, "Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Genesis 11:1, 4-5

The tower of Babel is a familiar story in the Old Testament. After the flood, Noah and his sons were fruitful and multiplied, populating the "whole earth." The people had one major commonality: they all spoke the same language. In the course of time, many of them moved into the same region and decided to build a city together. This city would have a tall tower, one so spectacular that they would be well-known for creating such an awesome sight. Their intentions concerned the Lord as He looked upon what they were doing. Once again, man was heading in a direction of self-serving, self-loving ambition that would only lead them farther away from God. God intervened and confused their speech. No one understood each other anymore, hence Babel means confusion. The tower of Babel represented the place where the people's language was no longer of one accord. God scattered the people abroad, with only those who understood each other staying together and multiplying.

Though this story is quite familiar, as I read through it again, I noticed something very interesting. In verse 6, the Lord recognizes that the people have a unity of such power that "nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them." The NIV Bible uses the phrase "nothing will be impossible" for them. Even though these people were in sin, their unified focus gave them an extraordinary ability to achieve the impossible. How much more can we achieve if we work together as the body of Christ? The apostle Paul tells us that gifts were given individually to those in the body of Christ to work together as one for the whole body of Christ.
As Christians, we need to recognize our power in being unified together. When we stand together for a common purpose, surely nothing can stop us. Unfortunately, we too often stand alone. Pray about getting involved in your church ministries. How can you join forces with the body of Christ to help achieve certain goals? The only thing that usually stops us is fear. But don't worry, instead of God coming down to confuse our language, He will come down to help us better understand each other through His Word.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Attaining Unto the First Three # 5

4. Inclusively - Standing for the Fullness of Christ

This is the test of spiritual stature; firstly, seeing God's full thought and accepting nothing less, being committed to that; secondly, initiative and responsibility where that thought of God is concerned so that we do not have to be told what is needed, nor urged nor coerced into doing it: we are alive to it, and on the spot, and doing it because it has become a matter of personal concern to us; and then, thirdly (to change the metaphor), having put our hand to the plough, no looking back, no half-ploughed field, no breaking off because things are getting monotonous or difficult, but going through with it even though it be in weariness.

I do not know that there is much else to say about this. There is no doubt about it, we are in the counterpart of such a situation today, and the majority of people are not prepared to pay the price. It is easier to accept a lesser thought of God, one that is not so costly. But the point is, are we going to attain to the first three, or are we going to be in the second group of in the third group? That is the question we have to answer. When we have said everything else, what does it amount to? In a word, it is the establishment of the Absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ, and of the Absolute Sovereignty of God's full thought as embodied in Him. David represented that. He was the embodiment of God's full thought. Fullness was to come in with him, and it was to come in along the line of his absolute headship, and lordship. Well, that is a type of the Lord Jesus.

A Way of Faith

I might add this word. It was a day of faith. These men truly perceived that the Word of God for its fulfillment lay in the direction of David, but you must remember David was a lonely man at this time. He had very few with him, and those with him were in a real state of weakness; they had been denuded of everything; and the whole country was with Saul.  Saul had the reins of government in his hand. It was a risky thing to break with that. You did not know, humanly speaking, whether David's cause was going to succeed or not, and you did not want it to be one of those small revolts that would be suppressed and then everything would be lost. You were risking everything. Ah, but it was a day of faith, a day when all who took that line had to take it by faith, they committed themselves to the line of faith. Surely it is like that. To abandon ourselves to God's purpose in its fullness (which is not the general objective of God's people) and become an apparently small nucleus who are after something more than the average, and to believe that it is going to have any success at all, a lot of faith is needed for doing that. If you want an easy time, you will not take that way. But there is the test again. Is that not just the whole point of Hebrews 11, when you reach the summary of it all - "What shall I more say? for the time will fail me if I tell of ..." You notice that David is mentioned and it is said, among other things, that those concerned "subdued kingdoms ... waxed mighty in war ..." They did exploits. I think these men of David's come in thee, and it was the triumph of faith. That was the test of their spiritual measure.

This challenges us. Are we going to be second-rate, third-rate, or first-rate, recognizing that it is an extra cost that is involved, and that the Lord is in need of it? David was desperately in need of this kind of helper, and we are not wrong in saying the same thing of the Lord - He is desperately in need of people like this. There are not many, and His cause is very largely suffering because He has not this type. Surely He is calling us to face the challenge which this presents.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(The End)

Grounded in Truth

If we'll let the truths of Scripture fill our minds, guard our emotions, and influence our conduct, God will richly reward us. I'm talking about spiritual blessings here (though He at times chooses to bless materially as well). By reading and meditating on His Word, you'll learn to understand His ways. This isn't something we can figure out on our own, because His ways are unlike ours—they are higher, bigger, and eternal.

Also, your relationship with the Lord will grow increasingly more intimate because He chooses to reveal Himself to those who seek Him and obey His instructions. When you see that God always keeps His promises, your confidence in His faithfulness will soar. No matter what the situation, you'll know you can trust Him. Then He'll transform your worries into joyful anticipation about what He's going to do next in your life. Even if hard times await, you'll be convinced that the Lord will work them out for good.

A life grounded in truth is powerful. Those who live by the Word develop spiritual discernment, which guides their choices and guards against deception. Because they demonstrate wisdom and godliness, the Lord enables them to impact others greatly. Since He knows they can be trusted, He also gives them greater responsibilities and opportunities for service in His kingdom.

With all this available to us, wouldn't it be wise to invest our time and energy in building the truth of God's Word into our lives? The other activities which clamor for our attention seem so important or pleasurable, but none of them can offer us the spiritual riches of a life grounded in truth.

~Charles Stanley~

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Attaining Unto the First Three # 4

2. A Sense of Responsibility

Then you find these men were characterized by a very real sense of responsibility. They seem never to have needed any encouraging, or to have anything said to them, to urge them on. They took the initiative in the matter of responsibility. They each one said, in effect, "Well, this supreme matter of God's full thought becomes a personal matter with me; I bring it right down to myself. The others may have gone, there may be no one else here for it, but because I have seen it I refuse to abandon it. I take this thing up myself." And so, whether against three hundred or eight hundred or the whole unnumbered band of Philistines, these men take their stand, though alone. It is the whole responsibility of this full testimony taken up by the individual as though it rested upon him alone for the time being. That is superior greatness. There are people who can move in crowds, and who will act when they have others supporting and encouraging them, but many fade out when it is a case of facing this tremendous thing alone. Superior greatness is shown by taking personal responsibility whether others do so or not.

Look at Paul. From his conversion to the end of his life he seems to have been like that. At the end we hear him saying, "All that are in Asia turned away from me" (2 Timothy 1:15). This one has gone, that one has gone - "Only Luke is with me" (2 Timothy 4:11). He is practically alone, but he is not giving up. It is just at that time, more than ever, that he stands for God's full thought; and we get the fruit of his stand in his prison letters. Superior greatness is willingness to stand for what God has revealed as His will, though we have to stand alone. It may be one against many, there may be a considerable amount of aloneness, but that is where the test of our spiritual measure comes in, in initiative and responsibility that does not wait for an organisation to come into being to deal with the situation, but makes it a personal matter - and a thorough-going one, too.

3. Spiritual Stamina

Then it does seem that the measure of their endurance in seeing the thing through to a finish was a feature of their spiritual greatness. A thing that seems characteristic of them all is said about one of these men - "his hand clave unto the sword" (2 Samuel 23:10); that is, he had held on so firmly and so persistently that he now could not let go when he wanted. His sword had almost become a part of his hand. He is in great weariness with the fight, but he sees it through to the end. And this is very important. There are plenty of people who can take up things and start them with zest, but who leave a whole host of unfinished things all over the place. Their lives are marked by unfinished things. They begin in good spirit, but nothing is carried through to the end. There comes a point of tedium, of weariness, a point where the cost or the danger increases, and then the hand slackens and the thing is not finished. There is a lot in the New Testament about enduring unto the end. Spiritual stamina is a test of greatness. Oh, we do need spiritual stamina to stick to a task and go through with it and not give up, our hand cleaving to our sword: we have got into this thing, and we just cannot let go. It is not even a question now of whether we want to let go, we are so committed that we cannot. A mark of greatness is that stamina which goes beyond the initial zest and the first enthusiasms, beyond all the stimulus of a fresh challenge, of a new situation. When tedium sets in and all romance has gone out of it, it is a grim, grim business: now we have simply to stick at it. So Eleaszar's hand clave to his sword. He was weary, but he finished the job; he was not put off half-way through. That is what is written over all that these three men did. They finished the task; it was very costly, but they got through, they proved their stamina. It may be all right to go down into a pit and slay a lion,and get it all over in a few minutes; or to go up to a giant and give him one blow, and that is the end of the business. But it is another thing to stand and fight man after man, raid after raid, rush after rush, repelling constantly renewed attacks. You may take it these bands of Philistines did not make just one assault on each of these men. One after another the enemies fell before him; they reformed and others came on - whether it were three hundred or eight hundred of them. They came on until the last of them was done; and David's warriors did not give up until the fight was finished. The stamina of these men is remarkable. In like manner we find Paul continuing to the end. Yes, weary, heart-sick, worn out in the battle, but he can yet say, "I have finished the course" (2 Timothy 4:7). There was no giving up.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 5 - "4. Inclusively - Standing for the Fullness of Christ")

Developing a Tender Heart


The Lord wants to give each of us a "heart of flesh" so that we will be pliable and responsive to Him. When touched by the finger of God, a tender heart yields to the pressure and assumes the form He desires, much like a lump of clay that allows the potter to determine the shape of the vessel.

To aid in this process, God has sent the Holy Spirit to indwell each believer and awaken responsiveness in him or her. By yielding to the Spirit's promptings with ready obedience, the heart becomes increasingly tender and sensitive to His leading. The Lord is able to impart greater understanding of His Word to a soft heart because it has faithfully accepted and obeyed previous teachings.

Any resistance to God will result in hardening. But those who are accustomed to intimacy with Christ—which is the result of submission to Him—will be quick to deal with sin and return to the place of obedience and blessing.

People with tender hearts stay closely connected to the body of Christ, seeking to build up and encourage others in their walk of faith. Such individuals are not only receptive to what God wants to tell them; they are also teachable, in that they are willing to listen and be corrected by others.

This week when you read your Bible and pray, let your heart be soft toward the words of God. As He pokes His finger into each hard area, listen to His instructions, and rely on the Spirit's power to help you yield and obey. Let Him shape you into a beautiful and useful vessel.

~Charles Stanley~

Friday, March 21, 2014

Attaining Unto the First Three # 3

Marks of Supreme Greatness

1. The Perception of God's Full Thought

You will ask, Well, what are the marks of this kind of preeminence? I do not know that it was altogether what these men did that made them excel, although what they did was certainly outstanding. There were others who did very remarkable things. One other went down into a pit and there slew a lion, in time of snow. Well, get into a pit with a lion! A lion at bay is quite a proposition; it presents a challenge and needs a good deal of courage. Others engaged in battle  with mighty giants and slew them. These were exploits. These three, perhaps, did something even more outstanding than that. But I do not think it was altogether in what they did that their superiority lay. Of course, Adino slew three hundred men single-handed. (1 Corinthians 11:11 gives number as three hundred, and 2 Samuel 23:8 as eight hundred; the discrepancy we will not discuss at the moment.) Single-handed he tackled this overwhelming situation, and did not stop until the task was accomplished and the last man lay dead. Then of Eleazar we read that there was a band of Philistines threatening  to attack a plot of ground full of barley. The rest of Israel fled before them, but Eleazar stood in the midst of the plot and defended it, and slew the Philistines until his hand was weary and clave to his sword (1 Chron. 11:12-14). And what of Shammah? In similar manner he defended a plot of lentils from the marauding Philisitines when all others had fled, and slew the enemy, and thus preserved the food of the people of God.

The above exploits may have their own symbolic significance, but that is not the point. The point is this: these mighty men lived in a day when things were in transition. Something not according to God's full thought for His people was holding the ground. Saul was on the throne, and that was not God's thought. The people had been brought under the domination of this other order of things, and were therefore all the time in peril of spiritual starvation, of defeat, in weakness, bondage and uncertainty. They did not know where they they were nor which way to go. Everything was indefinite and in a most unsatisfactory state, because another thought than God's thought was prevailing among the Lord's people. God's full thought in fullness was centered in David; and the first characteristic of the mighty men, all of them, was that they perceived the state of things. They saw that the word of the Lord revealed as God's mind something more and other than what was prevailing, and that "seeing" was the beginning of the movement, the transition, the secession, to David. That is the first thing - to see what is not generally seen by the Lord's people: the thing which the Lord really would have: that which, if only it were established, would mean such a big change for the people of God. In what greater fullness and on what a higher level they would be living! That is the beginning of the greatness that in principle is here before us. They perceived the thought of God, the direction in which that thought lay, and they said, "We have done with this other! We have been a part of it, but we have finished with it. From now on, we are out for God's full thought, and we are not going to take anything less." They committed themselves to it. That was the beginning of the greatness.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4 - "2. A Sense of Responsibility")

Know, Believe and Understand

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

I remember the time that I stood up in Sunday School class and quoted John3:16 by memory. My voice cracked and my knees knocked as I nervously recited the words of this verse. To this day it remains one of my life verses, not only for this life, but also for my eternal one as well. The love of God has given me the assurance of everlasting life because I believe in His Son and what He did on the cross. I know He loves me.

More than once we have had people come up to us after one of our teachings and share with us that they have finally believed that God truly loves them. Many people who have known the Lord for years and have served Him in faithful works do not fully understand or believe that God loves them unconditionally. The world is seeking to find true love, but in all the wrong places. True love can only be found in the One who created us, our Heavenly Father. For God so loved the world...and yet so many refuse to believe.

I pray today that you will know the love of God. It is His will for us to "know, believe and understand" who He is. (Isaiah 43:10) If you are struggling with knowing the love of God, ask Him to show you and to help you believe and understand who He is and who He wants to be in your life. Do not waste another day out the truth.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Attaining Unto the First Three # 2

Different Categories of Spiritual Greatness (continued)

Paul sought to encourage Timothy to be no second-rate servant of God, but to attain unto the first, to be outstanding and not just one of a crowd; to be of particular, special account to the Lord. That is the principle, I think, lying behind all that is here. We can be classified. We can be of the thirty, of that category which has a certain quite real spiritual value, significance and accountability. Such people are not by any means nominal. Indeed they are something far more than the nominal crowd of men in Israel. But even so it is possible to go more than one step higher: you can go further and then still further. There is a place which is represented by the first three. I think Paul himself was the embodiment of the spirit of the first three when he said, "One thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:13-14). "What things were gain to me" (and they were not wrong things at all), "these have I counted loss for Christ. Yea verily, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord" (Phil. 3:7-8). "The excellency"; the thing which excels; the excelling knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. That is the embodiment of the spirit of that which is first with the Lord.

A Question of Attaining

Now Paul uses this very word "attain". "If by any means I may attain ..." (Phil. 3:11). It is a question of attaining. This has nothing to do with our initial salvation. We do not attain unto salvation in the initial sense, for that is not the result of any effort or resolve on our part. Salvation, in the sense of our being brought from judgment to reconciliation to God and the abundance of forgiveness and assurance, and so on, is given to us. But then there does arise again and again in the New Testament the matter suggested by this word "attain". One man came to Jesus and said, "What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" (Mark 10:17). The Lord Jesus did not say you cannot inherit it. He said substantially that you can inherit it, but that there is also something more to be attained unto. Attaining is something beyond our conversion, it is something more than our receiving the gift of eternal life. There is a position to be reached of value to the Lord which is the position par excellence, the supreme position. The Lord wants to find in us the determination that, by His grace, we are not going to accept anything less than the highest and the fullest that God means in respect of our   value and usefulness to Him.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3 - "Marks of Supreme Greatness")

Finding Clear Guidance

How can you be sure you’re making the right decision? Sometimes it may seem as if God plays hide and seek when we’re trying to know His will, but that’s not the way He operates. He wants to give us clear direction. The real question is, What do you need to do to hear His voice?

Clear the pathway. We have two main obstacles that hinder our discernment: sin in our life and our own strong desires about the situation. To receive the Lord’s guidance, we must repent of all known sin and make our desires secondary to His.

Exercise patience. Sometimes it takes a great deal of strength to stand still when everything within you is shouting, “Hurry! Time is running out!” But if you rush ahead of God, you may miss His will.

Persist in prayer. The Bible clearly instructs us to keep coming to the Lord with our concerns. As we continue to pray, He will gradually weed out anything confusing until we come to His conclusion about the matter.

Search the Scriptures. The Word of God has an answer for every need, and the Holy Spirit knows just how to point us in the right direction. I remember times while I was reading the Bible that a verse jumped off the page and supplied the exact answer I needed to make an important decision.

So often when we’re faced with a critical choice, all we want from the Lord is a quick answer. But He delights to meet with us in order to deepen our relationship with Him. Don’t let the urgency of your need keep you from enjoying the intimacy of His presence as you seek His will.

~Charles Stanley~

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Attaining Unto the First Three

"These are the names of the mighty men whom David had ... Adino ... Eleazar ... Shammah" (2 Samuel 23:8-12)

"(Abishai) was made their captain: howbeit he attained not unto the first three" (2 Samuel 23:19)

We are not so much concerned at the moment with the details of the exploits of these three men as with the fact that David had a number of mighty men who came to him when he was in the stronghold in the wilderness, shut up because of Saul, and that the thirty chief men were divided into groups, each group representing a standard. The thirty were, shall we say, of one more of less general standard of excellence, and then they were divided into smaller groups, each of which represented a higher standard of excellence, until we arrive at the three named above, who are called the first three. Of all the others it is said that they attained not unto the first three. The point which I want to deal with is that of attaining unto preeminence in the estimation of the Lord.

Why was this story written? Why have we the record of these men and their feats of strength? Do you think it is just to include in the Bible some thrilling stories of wonderful things that certain men did? Sometimes some of them seem almost phenomenal. But do you think that the record is here just for that purpose? If the Bible is written really on the basis of spiritual principles and not just to record human stories, earthly things, there is something which is spiritual behind everything.

Different Categories of Spiritual Greatness

If we look behind these exploits for the principle which the Lord has desired to enunciate and illustrate, surely we find it to be this - that is possible to be first, second or third rate people; that is, it is possible to be put into different categories of spiritual greatness and effectiveness. That is the first thing. 

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2)

Two Gates, Two Ways

Have you ever been accused of being a narrow-minded Christian? Those who level such accusations against us certainly mean it as an insult. According to Jesus, however, that’s the only way to walk if we want to experience abundant life now and eternal life with Him in heaven. But it will require a deliberate choice on our part, because no one automatically drifts onto this pathway.

The broad way is easy to find. In fact, unless you make a conscious choice to avoid it, you’ll find yourself on it. Most people like this wide path because it encompasses all philosophies and belief systems. Everything is acceptable, and everyone’s “truth” is valid. It even seems like the loving path because no one is left out. There are no restrictions, and freedom is unlimited. Or is it?

What those who travel this road fail to realize is that it’s a downward descent into destruction. All the promises it gives of satisfaction and fulfillment end in disappointment because it’s a path without God. But those who enter by the narrow gate of faith in Christ find the peace and joy of a relationship with Him that satisfies the heart. The gate is small because truth guards the entrance. The way is narrow because the Lord protects us with wise boundaries.

Which path are you traveling? You can’t have one foot on each, because they’re going in opposite directions. When you tolerate everything, you’re headed for destruction. But when you choose the narrow way, your life truly begins. You’ll walk with Christ day by day until He walks you home to heaven.

~Charles Stanley~

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Some Principles of the House of God # 5

The Meeting of Mercy and Judgment

Then, let me remind you that the threshing floor of Ornan, the site of the temple, was the place where judgment and mercy met. We sing 

"With mercy and with judgment My web of time He wove."

There must be judgment. It was so in the case of David. But judgment is only one side. Judgment and mercy met on that threshing floor that day and kissed each other, and the temple resulted. Judgment has to begin at the house of God, but, thank God, it is not judgment unto utter destruction. It is mercy mingled with judgment, and the end is the triumph of mercy over judgment. That is Calvary, that is the house of God. We shall find it like that all the time. There  will be judgment; it has to be; we know it quite well.

The Lord does not let pass things that are contrary to the principles of His house. If we only knew it, as Paul tried to make the Corinthians know it, many are suffering today in numerous ways because they are not observing the principles of the house of God (1 Corinthians 11:30). There is that side; it goes on. But oh, God only does that in order to have mercy. It is mercy that is His end. So He founds and so He builds His house.

God Under No Debt to Man

No indebtedness to man is allowed to be represented by God's house. How insistent David was, how alive now to Divine principles! The refining fires wake us up to principles. It was so with David on another occasion. You remember how the ark was put on the cart. David had forgotten the Scripture. He went through a time of suffering until at last he came to see the Divine principle in the Word of God and put things right (1 Chronicles 13, 15). Here is is alive to principles again. When Ornan wanted to give David the threshing floor, David said, "No, I will pay you in full. No man shall ever say that the house of God is in debt to men; no other shall ever be able to say afterward, "Yes, I gave God that; the site of that temple is my gift".

No, Ornan is bought out of all holding. Man has no place as a creditor in the house of God; there is no debt to man, he is bought right out. You can apply that.

The Threshing of the Corn

This was a threshing floor, the place where all is threshed out before the Lord. No chaff here; nothing that is not real, genuine, true, solid; nothing that will not contribute to building up. It must be the true corn. God is always seeking to do this. The house of God is a threshing floor. All our chaff, our vanity, our emptiness, is being got rid of, all that really does not count. God is after that which builds His house, or, to change the metaphor, the Body. He is after the corn. The chaff must go. In our very relationship to the Lord among His people, as forming His house, we find He is winnowing, threshing, getting rid of  our vanity, our unreality, our chaff. But in so doing He is getting reality, He is getting what is solid, what will stand, what will feed. This is the basis of His building.

All that we have said should work out in very practical ways. The figures employed are but types and symbols, but the realities are in the hands of the Holy Spirit, and He will unceasingly press for their fulfillment in the lives of God's people. Let us see to it that as He  works in our case He has our full cooperation.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(The End)