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Saturday, May 31, 2014

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 24

"I Was In the Spirit ... And Heard" (continued)

John was "in the Spirit" when he saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the Word of God and because of the testimony which they had maintained. He was "in the Spirit", and being "in the Spirit, " he was in the Realm of the Throne; and in the Realm of the Throne, the Lamb opened the seven seals to the "Book" that only He was worthy to open: - a "Book" that contained both the righteous counsels and judgments of the One which sat upon the Throne - counsels and judgments which had been foreordained in past-eternity but which were set into motion because the Lamb hath prevailed.

John was "in the Spirit", and with the spiritual eye, with the comprehending, perceiving eye of the Holy Spirit, he saw the Lamb open the seven seals and he saw that which was, that which is, and that which is to come: he saw intense spiritual warfare; he saw the antichrist spirit; he saw wars and pestilence and famine and death; he saw the wrath of God come upon satan and his host, and upon all that satan had ever instigated, etc. But in he midst of these seven seals, John also saw the fifth seal opened, and he saw the souls of those who had been slain because of the Word of God and because of the Testimony they held, and continued to hold and possess. The testimony they held, and continued to hold and possess, was not their own witness or testimony, but it was the Testimony of Jesus Christ. In the very first chapter of Revelation, we find the Testimony of Jesus Christ in His Own Words: "I AM Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending," saith the Lord, "Which is, and Which was, and Which is to come, the Almighty" ... "I AM the First and the Last: I AM He That liveth, and was dead; and behold, I AM alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death" (Revelation 1:8, 17, 18).

So the Testimony of Jesus Christ is that He is All the Fullness of God, He is the Lamb that hath prevailed, He is Alive for evermore. Furthermore, Revelation 19:10 tells us that, "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy"; in other words, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, our Crucified, Resurrected, Ascended Lord and Saviour, is the intrinsic value, the essence, and the substance of the Word of God. Jesus Christ is the Fullness of ALL-THAT-GOD-IS,c and He hath prevailed, and He is alive for ever more. This is the testimony of all who, like John, are "in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ ... because of the Word of God and because of the Testimony of Jesus Christ." And we shall see that the way they "held," the way they continuously held and maintained and possessed this testimony, the testimony of Jesus Christ, was through the work of the Cross in their lives. So John saw the souls of them who laid down their lives, who lived a life of self-sacrifice, who poured out their lives as a drink offering unto the Lord, in order tat they might fulfill the course God had set before them. This is not just speaking of those like Abel and Stephen, who were actually killed, martyred, because of the Word of God and because of the Testimony of Jesus Christ. But it is speaking of all who have lived, and of all who are living, and of all who will live, a life of self-sacrifice in spirit, in soul, in heart, and in body, in order that God have all that He purposed in Christ.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 25)

Faithful with Little, Given Much

"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own?” Luke 16:10-12

There is an ice cream man who has come to sell ice cream in my neighborhood for at least 8 years. His van is beat up with bald tires, poor paint, bumps and bruises on the exterior, well-worn and torn up seats inside, and a very loud stereo blasting the ice cream theme song. The music sings to “Do your ears hang low? Do they travel to and fro? Can you tie them in a knot? Can you tie them in a bow?” The song plays over and over, very loudly. And I can hear that song from blocks away. The ice cream man can barely speak English but has a great countenance and has smiled for 8 years, with the facial wrinkles to prove it.

My heart has broken for this man. I have told my children to go and buy ice cream to support him. It seems like a hard job for not too much in return, but his attitude is so good and he is so faithful to do his job well. Well, the other evening I went for a walk. I heard that familiar sound down the block. As I was walking by, to my surprise, the ice cream man got a brand new truck! It was the same man, same products, same advertisements on the side and the same song but a new truck. I was so happy for him.

God spoke to my heart while walking past the truck and explained something to me. When we receive the Holy Spirit in power, God uses the same person with the same personality and same body to be empowered in a whole new way. This man was faithful with little, so he has been given much (Luke 16:10). 

We too will receive more and more opportunities to be used by God in the power of the Holy Spirit if we are faithful with the smaller tasks He has given us. By being faithful in the little tasks, He can trust us with bigger ones. The choices we make in every day living matter to God. Are we smiling? Are we content? Are we faithful? Same person, same product, same advertisements but with a new power and passion that comes from a faithful heart. God is so good. But how we choose to live the every day job is up to us.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Friday, May 30, 2014

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 23

"I Was in the Spirit ... And Heard" (continued)

The Lamb is both Saviour and Conqueror; and since His Cross, His Resurrection, and His Ascension, it is the Lord's Day.  It is the Imperial Day of the Lord. That is why, along with everything else that is going on in the Realm of the Throne, there is always continuous, and everlasting, worship of the Lamb that was slain, of the Lamb that bears the wounds of the Cross in His Glorified Body, of the Lamb that hath prevailed.

"And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb That was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing." And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, "Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and every." And the four beasts said, "Amen." And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshiped Him that liveth for ever and ever" (Revelation 5:11-14).

And, beloved, when we are "in the Spirit" we dwell in the Ascended Life, and we are joining consciously, and at times unconsciously, with this innumerable host in everlasting worship of the Lamb that hath prevailed.

"Because of the Word and Because of the Testimony of Jesus"

So John was "in the Spirit" on [in] the Lord's Day; and he was "in the Spirit", even though he was on the island of Patmos, where he was in a time of great tribulation - a time of pressures from evils, a time of pressures from afflictions, a time of pressures from distresses, a time of great spiritual pressures that always occurs when God is bringing forth a greater increase of Christ's Fullness, and the satanic forces are out to stop it.

"I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and the kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos, because of the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus" (Revelation 1:9).

The context of the above Scripture indicated that John, along with many of the Lord's bondservants (Revelation 1:1) had been, and were now, companions, fellow-partakers, joint-partakers "in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus ..." This tells us that John, as well as many others of the Lord's people, who were not actually with him on the Island of Patmos, were fellow partakers of Christ's sufferings "because of the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus." By interpreting Scripture with with Scripture, we can comprehend what it means for the faithful to suffer in this way. We only have to prayerfully read Revelation 6;9-11, and 20:4, in order to grasp the intensity of both the sufferings, and the warfare, that the faithful of every age must endure "because of the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 24)

Ask Your Father

"The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!' " “My son,” the father said, “you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.”Luke 15:28-31

I was thinking about the difference between the prodigal son versus his brother. One of the biggest differences between the two was in their ability to ask. The prodigal son asked for his share of the inheritance. His father graciously gave it to him. Not long after that, this younger son left his father’s house and “squandered the wealth in wild living” (as quoted in the NIV). The older son kept faithfully working and obeying. When the younger son came home with a heart of repentance, the older son was angry because he felt as if he had been mistreated. But really, their father would have been just as fair. One asked and the other didn’t.

Without concentrating on the poor choices that the younger son made, I have been meditating on the relationship of two boys, living under the same roof, and their dad. What gave one the ability to ask? We see the same thing occur in Christianity today. Some of us have learned to ask our Father for more blessings and fruits, willing to take more risks. While others are obedient but angry that nothing extra or miraculous is done for them.

Which are you?  Many of us do not pray this way: “Lord, I know that I don’t deserve one thing for I am a sinner and Jesus has done everything for me already. But I ask for your blessings and for more of the Holy Spirit to do bigger and greater things. Not because of any works of righteousness do I ask, but because of Your mercy. Use me, empower me and fill me to be poured out as a blessing on others as You bless me. I want more Lord and You told me to ask.”

But when you learn to pray this way, miracles happen. 

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Thursday, May 29, 2014

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 22

"I was in the Spirit ... and Heard" (continued)

John was "in the Spirit" and be beheld the mighty workings of the Throne (Revelation four and five).

"In the Spirit" he beheld the One that sat on the Throne.

"In the Spirit" he beheld that in the midst of the Throne "stood a Lamb as it had been slain" - he beheld the Lamb that hath prevailed to open "the Book, and to loose the seven seals thereof."

"In the Spirit" he beheld, in the midst of the Throne, the seven Spirits of God - the sevenfoldness of the Holy Spirit, he beheld the Omnipotent Power and Energy of God's Spirit at work in the midst of the Throne.

"In the Spirit" he beheld, in the midst of the Mighty Workings of the Throne, the prayers of the saints - the intercession of those devoted to the Lord.

Revelation 1:9, tells us that John was on the Isle of Patmos, and that he was "in the Spirit on [in] the Lord's Day." Notice the Greek says, "in the Lord's Day," and it means that the Lord possessed the Day. It is speaking of the Supreme Realm of the Lord's Throne. This does not refer to a day set aside by the people of God for worship and rest. No, the Romans would not have allowed this because John was on the Isle of Patmos, and he was there because of the Word of God, and the Testimony of Jesus; and the Romans would have considered him a criminal. No, this was "in the Lord's Day!" This was, and is, and ever-shall-be the Supreme, Sovereign Day of God's Throne, and John was "in the Spirit on [in] the Lord's Day."

The Romans did not possess this "Day!" Nor do the earthly powers of our time, or of the time to come, possess this "Day!" Nor does that ancient serpent, called the devil, and satan, possess this "Day!" No, it is the Lord's Day because it is the "Day" the Lamb hath prevailed - "in the midst of the Throne ... stood a Lamb as it had been slain." - Though slain, the Lamb stands, and He stands in the midst of the Throne. - It is the "Day" that the Lamb, "bearing the wounds of the Cross in His Glorified Body," stands in the midst of the Throne.

The Lamb was slain, and He prevailed. He overcame, and conquered all His foes. He spoiled principalities and powers; He triumphed over them in His Cross (Col. 2:15). Hell and the grave could not hold Him! He is alive forevermore! He Arose from the grave and He ascended into the realm of the Throne! An now this Prevailing Lamb, through the Might of God's Spirit, is bringing all things into, and under, the Supreme, Sovereign order that God always intended!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 23)

The God Who Saves

Recently I was talking with a fellow about his spiritual life. When I asked, "Are you saved?" he answered, "No, but I'm working at it." When I pressed him, he explained that he was making some changes in his life. He had given up smoking and drinking, among other things. I knew that I should help him understand a few important principles, as his only guarantee so far was better health.

What this gentleman needed to realize was that what we do or what we give up for Jesus doesn't amount to much. The Lord isn't looking for people who change a few habits by sheer force of will; He's calling people to surrender themselves to Him. The only action God expects of a "seeker" is to believe in Jesus--that He is who He says, He will do what He says, He has the authority to forgive, and He will equip His people to live a godly life. Because of those convictions, a new Christian is empowered to turn away from his old life--in other words, to repent--and begin the process of becoming "a new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17).

We don't evolve into a saved people by deleting old habits and instituting better religious ones; we are transformed by the saving power of Jesus Christ when we believe in Him.

Since salvation isn't something we earn, no one can boast before God. All of our moral living, good deeds, and strenuous efforts to change bad habits amount to a pile of trash compared to the holiness of Jesus Christ (Isa. 64:6). Only His righteousness can cover our sins and make us right before the Father.

~Dr. Charles Stanley~

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 21

"I Was In the Spirit ... And Heard"

We began by sharing that the Lord had given a word from His Word; and that word was, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches" (Revelation 2:7). The Lord chose the apostle John to write these inspired words, and in Revelation 1:10 we find him writing: "I was in the Spirit on [in] the Lord's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet, saying, "Write in a Book what you see (implies the spiritual eye), and send it to the seven churches ..." (Revelation 1:10, 11).

John's words give us the key to hearing "what the Spirit saith unto the churches," for John said: "I was in the Spirit ... and I heard." And we must be "in the Spirit" if we are to hear what "the Spirit saith." Then after John had fallen at the feet of the Resurrected Lord, after John completes the letters to the seven churches, after he writes for the seventh time, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." After this, John saw that heaven's door was open. He saw a door set open  in heaven, a door that was already opened. This indicates that the door, that the Way into God's Presence had at one time been closed. But now the door is open, and it is open because of the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ; and this door will forevermore be open to all who are in Christ: "Having therefore, brethren, boldness [confidence] to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us ..." (Hebrews 10:19, 20).

Therefore, as John moved in the good of the shed blood of his Lord, he "heard" that same Voice the Voice of many waters, the Voice of the Resurrected Lord which flows to every one of His own whether they are in a high place or at a low place spiritually. John heard "The Voice" which was like the sound of a trumpet, the trumpet which in God's Word always calls His people together for a greater Revelation of Himself, or for war; and in John's case, and for those to whom "The Book" was to be sent, it was for both.

Then John says, "And immediately I was in the Spirit." Now we all know that no Christian is "in the Spirit" all of the time, for Christ is the only One Who perfectly lived a Live "in the Spirit." However, when it says that John was immediately "in the Spirit", it does not mean that John was so much out of the control of the Spirit that it was an effort for him, spiritually, to again become "in the Spirit." No, when John says, "immediately I was in the Spirit," this means that whatever John was doing at the time, whether it was hard labor in the rock quarries on the Isle of Patmos, or doing something else, he was living in the reality of the shed blood of Christ. Thus, when the Holy Spirit moved, John was, as a spontaneous result of his life in Christ, "in the Spirit."

Dear ones, whether was are having an Isle of Patmos experience, or whether we are just living our daily life before the Lord, we should come to a place in the Lord that we do not have to make an effort to get "in the Spirit". We should be living our lives in the good of all that Christ accomplished, so that when the Spirit moves, we become "in the Spirit." Consequently, we will be able to say like John, "Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold a Throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the Throne ..." John was "in the Spirit," and with the eyes of the Spirit John beheld the Realm where all things are being worked out (energized) after the counsel of God's Will.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 22)

David: A Model of Servanthood

David served God in many capacities--from simple shepherd boy to heroic ruler. Looking at the various stages of his life, we can see clearly how his godly devotion allowed the Lord to use him mightily.

Shepherd: David was anointed king long before commanding anything other than sheep (1 Sam. 16:1-13). Protecting the sheep was a job he took seriously, even killing a lion and a bear to do so. During those days, he learned to be strong and brave, and to take care of creatures weaker than himself. An early life of obedience to his human father taught him the humility he would later need in order to depend on God.

Psalmist: David's writings reveal his hunger for God. He is open about issues like fear, depression, defeat, loneliness, and sorrow. By describing valley experiences and communing with the Father in the night watches, David provided us with intimate glimpses of the God he knew so well.

Commander: Starting with David's encounter with Bathsheba, the king's life was plagued by heartache, pain, suffering, and conflict. David had sinned greatly, but God forgave him and continued to use him. He ruled Israel for 40 years, and his people called Jerusalem the "City of David." His restoration teaches us about the consequences of sin and the limitlessness of God's grace.

King David served God's purpose when he lived, and continues to do so hundreds of years later--every follower of Christ has been blessed by David's obedience, service, and literary skill. He is a great example of what God can accomplish through us if we yield our life to Him.

~Dr. Charles Stanley~

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 20

"Out of His Belly Shall Flow Rivers of Living Water" (continued)

Christ Glorified - The Holy Spirit Given (continued)

Therefore, no matter how mature or immature we may be in the Lord, we must also agree that each of us must heed the direct command of our Lord: "... be filled in the Spirit." Below we have quoted Bishop H. C. G. Moule's paraphrase of our Lord's command. So let us read this as our prayer for a fresh in-filling of God's Holy Spirit:

"But be filled, with a fullness habitual, normal, always supplied and always received, in the Spirit. Let the Holy One, Your Sealer and Sanctifier, so surround and possess you that you shall be as it were vessels immersed in His pure flood; and then, yielding your hearts without reserve to Him, you shall be vessels not only immersed but open; "in Him," and "filled" in Him, as He, continually welcomed, continually occupies all departments of your life. - Amen and Amen."

Sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise"

Now, most of us may wonder, and even despair at times, at the seeming impossibility of our being "filled up to the measure of all the Fullness of God." But God in His Mercy has given us the Holy Spirit, and it is the work of the Holy Spirit "to fill us up to the measure of all the fullness of God." In Ephesians 1:13, 14 we are told that "after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation - having also believed [in Christ], you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of Promise, Who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His Glory".

Thus, when we believe in Christ, when we are saved by His grace, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise. This seal not only assures us of our full redemption in Christ, but this seal is also God's pledge of our inheritance in Christ - and as His Church, our inheritance is to become the fullness of Christ. The Word says that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise; let us remember, the Holy Spirit of Promise, which is the Eternal Promise of the Father to the Son, was given upon the Day of Pentecost after Christ was Glorified. The Holy Spirit of Promise was given in order that the Church be empowered to become the Fullness of Him. Therefore, God has given the Holy Spirit to each one of us as His Seal, His Pledge, His Guarantee that we each have our portion in the Fullness of Christ.

John 1:12-16 tells us that each believer in Christ is given a portion, a measure, of the Fullness of Christ: "And of His Fullness, out of His Fullness, have all we received, and grace for grace" - grace in place of grace; new grace, continuous, and unintermitted. Ever fresh grace according to the need. These glorious words indicate that through God's ever-increasing Grace, our measure of Christ's fullness, will be forever increasing; for God's Fullness in Christ is limitless - boundless - endless - fathomless - exhaustless - measureless.

So each of us receive a measure of His Fullness when we are saved by His Grace; and it is the Holy Spirit's work to bring forth the increase of each and every measure, in each and every Christian, "unto all the fullness of God." This is the preeminent meaning of our Lord giving each one of us this command: "... be filled in the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18) - be being filled, be filled up, be fulfilled, be made complete in the Spirit.

There is sense of urgency in this command of the Lord, and this urgency emphasizes that being filled in the Spirit is essential if we are to fulfill our part in the Full Purpose of God in Christ. So, beloved, since the Lord commands us to "be filled in the Spirit", then we must willingly commit our life to His command. We must willingly choose to allow the Holy Spirit to do His Work in our lives. 

Fullness - The fullness of God! The Fullness of Christ! The Fullness of God in Christ! The Fullness of God in Christ in the Church, the Body of Christ! Oh, beloved, the Fullness of God in Christ in the Church has always been God's Desire, God's Will, God's Determined Purpose.

Therefore, the Fullness of Christ is the purpose and goal of the Holy Spirit as He works in each of our lives. So we are commanded to "be filled in the Spirit." We are commanded to be immersed into the Realm of the Holy Spirit where He is always bringing forth a greater increase o Christ's fullness.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 21 - "I Was in the Spirit ... And Heard")

God's Eternal Promise

I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. -Genesis 9:13-15

I was taught as a child that the rainbow symbolized God’s promise that He would never again destroy the earth with water. Every time it rained, I looked for the rainbow and I remembered God’s promise. Since moving to Southern California, I have seen fewer rainbows, mainly because it seldom rains here. But as the winter brings seasonal rains, I find myself once again searching the skies for that rainbow. What a joy to see that beautiful arc of colors when the sun breaks through the clouds!

As beautiful as the rainbow is, there is still nothing as beautiful as another symbol that Christians look toward. The symbol of a cross representing thecross of Christ. Just as the rainbow is a sign of God’s promise to not destroy the earth with water, the cross is a sign of God’s eternal promise of salvation. As Jesus, Son of God, died on a cross, the cross would forevermore represent God’s covenant of grace and love. The cross is a symbol reminding us that Jesus died for our sins. For those who believe in Jesus, the cross represents a covenant of everlasting life with God in heaven.

Rainbows and crosses are just two ways that God reminds us of His covenants, or promises, to us. What other ways does God remind you of His promises for your life? Be encouraged and hopeful because the Lord will never let you down, He will keep every promise. Sit down with His word and ask Him to show you His promises for you today. You might be surprised at the reminders that He will give you. And never let a rainbow or a cross go unnoticed…take a moment when you see them and give God praise for keeping His promises.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Monday, May 26, 2014

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 19

"Out of His Belly Shall Flow Rivers of Living Water" (continued)

Christ Glorified - The Holy Spirit Given

So now we have the answer to the question that we asked before: what does it mean in John 7:39, when the Scripture says, "The Holy Spirit was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified ...?" We have the answer because we know that Christ has been Glorified! The Hour has come! The Father has glorified the Son! His Cross, His Resurrection, and His Ascension is now, and forevermore, a Living Reality. The Holy Spirit has been given because Christ has been Glorified! The Holy Spirit has been poured forth because of the Cross, the Resurrection, and the Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ! The Day of Pentecost has fully come!  The Promise of the Father has been given to the Son; and the Church, which is the Body of Christ, has been baptized, immersed, in the Spirit - The Church has been empowered to become the Fullness of Christ.

Now, it is true that the whole Church was baptized in the Spirit upon the Day of Pentecost; but it is also true that each one of us, each member of many-membered Body of Christ, MUST BE BAPTIZED IN THE SPIRIT, MUST BE "FILLED IN [THE] SPIRIT." IF OUR PORTION OF THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST IS TO BECOME A REALITY. It is at this point that the majority of the confusion about the Holy Spirit in Christianity has taken place: some believe that we received all of the Holy Spirit that we need when we are saved; some believe that we must be baptized in the Spirit after we are saved; and there are many other beliefs about the gifts, and power, and ministry, etc. Most of these different beliefs are based on the Scripture. But the trouble is that most of us have not seen the Fullness of the Holy Spirit's Work in God's Eternal Purpose in Christ. Most of us see only a part of what it means to be "filled with and by and in the Spirit". Most of us see only a measure of that great realm of the Holy Spirit, the realm in which the Holy Spirit's Eternal Goal is to fill up all the redeemed unto ALL the fullness of Christ.

Whatever our belief about the in-filling of the Holy Spirit, as long as it is truly based upon the Holy Scripture, we can all agree that we, each one of us, are not yet truly "filled unto all the Fullness of God." We can all agree that we are not yet "filled up to the measure of all the Fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:19). We can also agree that the Church His Body is not yet "the fullness of Him (of Christ) that filleth all in all" (Ephesians 1:23). And we are sure we can all agree that we do not yet "Pray at all times - on every occasion, in every season - in the Spirit with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty" (Ephesians 6:18).

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 20)  

The Value of Seeking the Lord

We all have ambitions and desires. And while these are not necessarily wrong, we should analyze our priorities: Where do I invest my time and energy? What or who occupies my thoughts? As important as our earthly pursuits, responsibilities, and relationships may be, they cannot compare to the value of a life spent seeking the Lord.

First of all, consider what it means to seek something. The word connotes a strong desire and an energetic quest to achieve it.Suppose you discovered a very productive vein of gold on your property. You wouldn’t just stroll out and look at it occasionally. No, you would gather some equipment and diligently go out each day to chip away at the rocks and collect the precious metal.

In the same way, seeking the Lord is not a quick and occasional encounter, but a wholehearted effort to know Him more intimately and follow Him more closely. Those who unreservedly pursue this kind of fellowship with God are determined to spend time with Him; they also want to forsake anything that could hinder growth in their relationship with the Lord. God’s committed followers boldly claim His promises and trust Him to fulfill His Word. Their experiences with the Lord bring amazing satisfaction yet cause them to hunger for more of Him.

The Christian life is meant to be a pursuit of God. To walk through the door of salvation and stand still, never drawing any closer to Him, is to miss the treasures that are available in Christ. Those who seek Him soon discover that knowing Him is the greatest reward of all.

~Dr. Charles Stanley~

Sunday, May 25, 2014

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 18

"Out Of His Belly Shall Flow Rivers of Living Water" (continued)

"Upon That Great Day of the Feast ..." (continued)

It had always been the Father's plan that His Son would be glorified through His Cross, His Resurrection, His Ascension: - Life out of death had always been God's Way of reaching His End. In John, chapter eleven, this Divine Principle of Life out of death is especially brought to our attention when the Lord Jesus Christ raised Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, from the dead. The Word tells us that Jesus loved (agape) Martha, and her sister Mary, and their brother Lazarus very much. It also indicates that He had a special brother to brother love (phileo) for Lazarus (John 11:3-5). So why, when He heard that Lazarus was sick, did He not go to them at once instead of waiting two days? The Lord Jesus Himself answers our question: "Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany ... but when Jesus heard it, He said, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it" (John 11:1-4). The Lord Jesus was saying, "This sickness is not unto death, death will not be victorious here, for I AM the Resurrection, and the Life." We know that Lazarus died, but we also know that death could not hold Lazarus because Christ raised Lazarus from the dead.

The Mighty power and glory of God was manifested when Christ raised Lazarus from the dead, and because of this, many of the Jews believed in Him. Nevertheless, the ultimate result of Lazarus being raised from the dead was the Cross, the Crucifixion of Christ. When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard what Jesus had done, they were greatly disturbed. They feared that all men would believe on Him and that they would loose their religious and political positions. So they called a council, and they decided that they must kill this Jesus as soon as possible. Now the instigator of this wicked gathering was satan himself. The raising of Lazarus from the dead brought the hostility of satan against Christ to a climax, for his evil claim to the power of death was threatened. Hence, through these religious leaders of the Jews, satan set his final strategy into motion, a strategy that would result in the crucifixion of Christ, a strategy that satan believed would place Christ under his power of death. The Word of God makes it quite clear that satan, the devil, had tried over and over again to stop The Christ, The Seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15), through the power of death - Abel, Joseph, Baby Moses, Israel at he Red Sea, David and his seed, the whole nation in Esther's time, etc.

So in a little town called Bethany, about one and three fourths miles from Jerusalem, the greatest battle of the ages was in process. He that is the Resurrection, and the Life, met him that had the power of death! And this battle would find both its end and triumph upon the Cross of Christ. Through the raisin of Lazarus from the dead, God was revealing one of the greatest principles in His new Creation in Christ, Life out of death = Resurrection Life.

Therefore, as Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha, suffered under the throes of the power of death, Jesus said: "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby." Let us note the preposition, "for", in the phrase, "for the glory of God"; because, in this instance, the word, "for," has the underlying sense of "a sacrifice in behalf of." Therefore, this sickness of Lazarus was not unto death, but it was a sacrifice in behalf of the Glory of God.

God did not cause Lazarus to be sick - this was the work of him that had the power of death, the devil. But God, through His Omniscient Foreknowledge, knew what would take place in that little village of Bethany, not many days before His Son would lay down His Life. And,so, before He laid the foundation of the world, He planned that the sickness of Lazarus WOULD NOT BE unto death, it would not be a victory for him who had the power of death, BUT IT WOULD BE FOR "the Glory of God" in order that "the Son of God might be glorified thereby." Behind Lazarus' sickness was the glory of God's sacrifice of His Son - and through the sacrifice of His Son, through the Son laying down His Life for the Father and for ALL that His Father had purposed, The Son would be glorified - His Cross, His Resurrection, His Ascension would become an Eternal Living Reality!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 19)

Why Did Jesus Weep During the Triumphal Entry?

As Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the crowds were celebrating. They were laughing. They were cheering. They were having a great time. And what was Jesus doing? He saw the city, and He wept over it. Here was the crowd, whipped into a frenzy, and Jesus was weeping. The crowd was rejoicing, and Christ was sobbing.

Why did Jesus weep when He saw Jerusalem? Being God and having omniscience, Jesus knew these fickle people who were crying out, "Hosanna!" would soon be shouting, "Crucify Him!" He knew that one of His handpicked disciples, Judas, would betray Him. He knew that another disciple, Peter, would deny Him. He knew that Caiaphas, the high priest, would conspire with Pilate, the Roman governor, to bring about His death. And, He knew the future of Jerusalem. Looking ahead 40 years, He saw the destruction that would come upon the city at the hands of the Emperor Titus and his Roman legions.

Jesus also wept because His ministry was almost over. Time was short. He had healed their sick. He had raised their dead. He had cleansed their lepers. He had fed their hungry. He had forgiven their sins. Yet for the most part, He had been rejected. John 1:11 says, "He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him." And so He wept. This broke His heart, and it still does.

Unbelief and rejection breaks God's heart, because He knows the consequences. But when the door of the human heart is shut, He refuses to enter forcibly. He will only knock, wanting to gain admittance. He has given us the ability to choose. But when we choose the wrong thing, He knows the repercussions that will follow—in this life and the one to come. And His heart is broken.

~Greg Laurie~

Saturday, May 24, 2014

What It means t be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 17

"Out of His Belly Shall Flow Rivers of Living Water" (continued)

"Upon that Great Day of the Feast ... (continued)

Now we want to examine this closely because John 7:37 tells us that the Glorification of Christ, through His Cross, His Resurrection, His Ascension, is the ground upon which we who believe receive the Spirit. The Glorification of Christ is the ground on which we, the Church His Body, receive the power, the enabling "Power from on High," to become the Fullness of Christ.

In the gospel of John, the Word of God declares:

The Father Glorifies Christ (John 8:54): and
Christ Glorifies the Father (John 17:4): and
The Holy Spirit Glorifies Christ:

"for He [the Holy Spirit] shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine [of ALL that Christ is], and shall disclose it to you [to all who believe]" (John 16:14)

In John 8:54, we are told that it is the Father Who glorifies Christ: "Jesus answered, "If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father Who glorifies Me".  It is My Father Who Extols, Who Exalts, Who Honors, Who Magnifies ALL that I AM. Hence, in John 12:23, we find Jesus saying, "The hour is come, that the Son of Man should be glorified." And it is clear from the context of these Scriptures, that this "Hour," that this Eternal Hour in God's Purpose, includes the Cross, the Resurrection, and the Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, for Jesus said: "I lay down My Life, that I might take it again ... I have power (authority) to lay it down, and I have power (authority) to take it again ..." (John 10:17, 18). "Verily, verily, I say unto you, "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit" (John 12:24).

Beloved, even the betrayal of Judas speaks of the sacrifice, and the power, and the authority of the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. For after "satan entered into him (into Judas)," the Lord commanded Judas, which means that He commanded satan, "That thou doest, do quickly" (John 13:27-31). It was the Lord Jesus Who had power to lay down His life, and power to take it again. Therefore, when Judas "was gone out" to betray Him, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man Glorified, and God is Glorified in Him."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 18)

God's Dwelling Place

And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.Exodus 25:8

Does it matter to you where you live? Are you satisfied with your house or do you hope for something more, something better? For many of us, our physical dwelling place tends to keep us longing for a something a little nicer. If we live in the same house for a long time, we probably have redecorated most of it more than once. As humans, we get bored and want a fresh look at the things around us, especially our homes. As physical structures, our homes deteriorate in the elements and require repairs and fix-ups over time. Regardless of the reasons, we all must deal with where we dwell. So what about where God dwells?

Where does God dwell? The verse above tells us that God had a place made just so He could dwell with His people. But this place was no ordinary dwelling; it was a holy place, a sanctuary where His people could enter into the presence of the Lord. This sanctuary was built to the finest detail using the best fabrics, stones and precious metals. As the Israelites transported this mobile dwelling place throughout their travels in the desert, they never needed to upgrade, redecorate, or fix-up…even after 40 years! The Presence of the Lord kept all things restored, refreshed and renewed.

But were the Israelites completely satisfied with the things given to them by God? How could these people have been anything but eternally grateful and in awe of the Lord’s miraculous power in their lives? But the Bible tells us that they were stiff-necked and continually complaining. What about us? Are we satisfied with what God has given us? Even more so, what about His promise we have that His Holy Spirit lives within us? John 1:14 says that the Word became flesh and tabernacled (dwelt) among us. Jesus came to earth to dwell with us. He left us His Holy Spirit who dwells in us today. Paul tells us in First Corinthians 6:19that our bodies are the “temple” of the Holy Spirit, so we are now God’s dwelling place, for those who have accepted Jesus as Savior.

We should be very thankful that the Lord does not get bored with His temples, or His dwelling places today. What if He became dissatisfied to the point of looking for something better? He is God and He has every right to want more, to want the best. And thankfully for us, that something better is just what He has in store for us, not here but in heaven. Jesus promised that He would go to prepare a place for us (John 14:2). The key for us: get our eyes off our earthly houses and fix them upon Jesus, our eternal home with Him. 

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Friday, May 23, 2014

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 16

Out Of His Belly Shall Flow Rivers of Living Water" (continued)

The gospel of John tells us that these Words of the Lord Jesus, spoken on the last great day of the feast, had an even fuller meaning, for His Words were speaking of a new beginning for those who believed. The Words of the Lord Jesus Christ were speaking of the Holy Spirit, "Which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified."

So, what does it mean that the Spirit was not yet given because that Jesus was not yet glorified? In the Gospel of John, the word "glory," or "glorify" is used at least 42 times. Beloved, as Christians, we must see that no matter how mankind may apply the word glory, the word "glory" can only be attributed to God and to the Lord Jesus Christ. This is because the word "glory," in its truest sense and meaning, speaks of the manifestation of ALL that God Was, and Is, and Ever-Shall-Be - and the manifestation of God's Glory can only be found in His Son. - "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ... And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His Glory, the Glory as the only begotten of the Father, Full of Grace and Truth" (John 1:1, 14).

We have seen that the Gospel of John is the book of Glory. It is the manifestation of ALL that God is in His Son: "I AM the Bread of Life - I AM the Light of the World - I AM the Good Shepherd - I AM the Resurrection, and the Life - I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life - I AM the True Vine." Thus, the Gospel of John makes it clear that Christ is the Full and Complete Manifestation of the Glory of God.

However, John 7:37-39 tells us that when Christ spoke these Words on the last day of the feast, Christ was not yet glorified. The Lord Jesus Christ was the glory of God, but He Himself was to be glorified by God. We shall see that this glorification of Christ is one intricate whole that includes His Cross, His Resurrection, His Ascension. Out of His Cross, out of His suffering and death came His triumph over death, His Resurrection. Out of His Resurrection came His Ascension, His Victory over principalities and powers as He ascended far above all the Heavens and was seated at the Right Hand of God, which is the Realm of the Throne - The REALM OF ABSOLUTE SOVEREIGNTY, THE REALM OF ALL POWER AND AUTHORITY. Out of this Realm the Lord Jesus poured forth the Holy Spirit - out of His Belly, out of His innermost Being, flowed rivers of Living Waters unto and into and out of those who believe.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 17)

Look Upon My Affliction and My Pain

Psalm 25:18
Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.
It is well for us when prayers about our sorrows are linked with pleas concerning our sins-when, being under God's hand, we are not wholly taken up with our pain, but remember our offences against God. It is well, also, to take both sorrow and sin to the same place. It was to God that David carried his sorrow: it was to God that David confessed his sin. Observe, then, we must take our sorrows to God. Even your little sorrows you may roll upon God, for He counteth the hairs of your head; and your great sorrows you may commit to Him, for He holdeth the ocean in the hollow of His hand. Go to Him, whatever your present trouble may be, and you shall find Him able and willing to relieve you. But we must take our sins to God too. We must carry them to the cross, that the blood may fall upon them, to purge away their guilt, and to destroy their defiling power. The special lesson of the text is this:-that we are to go to the Lord with sorrows and with sins in the right spirit. Note that all David asks concerning his sorrow is, "Look upon mine affliction and my pain;" but the next petition is vastly more express, definite, decided, plain-"Forgive all my sins." Many sufferers would have put it, "Remove my affliction and my pain, and look at my sins." But David does not say so; he cries, "Lord, as for my affliction and my pain, I will not dictate to Thy wisdom. Lord, look at them, I will leave them to Thee, I should be glad to have my pain removed, but do as Thou wilt; but as for my sins, Lord, I know what I want with them; I must have them forgiven; I cannot endure to lie under their curse for a moment." A Christian counts sorrow lighter in the scale than sin; he can bear that his troubles should continue, but he cannot support the burden of his transgressions.

~Charles Spurgeon~ 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 15

"Upon that Great Day of the Feast ... Out of His Belly Shall Flow Rivers of Living Water" (continued)

We are told by scholars of the Old Testament, and of Jewish customs, that for seven days as a part of this great feast, the people led by a priest had made their way to the Fountain of Siloam, where the priest filled a golden pitcher, and brought it back to the temple amid music and joyful shouts. Then the priest, advancing to the altar of burnt-offering, at the cry of the people, "Lift up thy hand," emptied the pitcher of water toward the west, and he also emptied a cup of wine toward the east, while the people chanted, "With joy ye draw water out of the wells of salvation."

Now, it is not certain whether the Jews repeated this same ceremonial procedure on the last day, the eighth day of this great feast, but we do know that it was a day of great joy, of loud jubilation, and of sounding of  trumpets. And there can be no doubt that the Words of the Lord had reference to this ceremony of the pouring out of the water and wine, a ceremony that had taken place each year for centuries.

In the Greek the phrase, "Jesus stood," implies that Jesus was standing and watching the people participate in this great feast; the sense behind these words also indicate that His heart and thoughts were full. And from what He said on the last day of the feast, His thoughts were full of the great change that was about to take place, for He knew the Cross was imminent. He knew that this change would bring the old ways to an end, and that in Him would be the New and Living Way. He knew that out of Him, out of His Innermost Being would flow Rivers of Living Waters. First of all, Jesus said these words of Himself; then, because we are in Him, it is in the measure that we are filled in the Spirit that this River of His Life, that the Livingness of His Life, shall by the Spirit flow through us - "Out of His Belly shall flow Rivers of Living Water."

Now we do not know exactly when Jesus spoke these words on the last day of the feast, but we do know that they were said exactly at God's appointed time, for Jesus said, "I can of Mine Own Self do nothing" (John 5:0). We know that the people who heard His Words would understand some of the significance of these Rivers of Living Waters, for they had witnessed the pouring of the water on the altar for seven days. We know that the Words of Jesus must have reminded them of the river of water that had gushed out of the rock in the wilderness (Exodus 17:6). Also, when Jesus said, "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink," it must have called to their minds the prophetic words of Isaiah: "Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters" (55:1). Some of them must have surely thought of Ezekiel and his "waters to swim in" (47:1-5). Jesus' Words spoke of all these Scriptures, and of many others, because Jesus Himself is the fulfillment of them.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 16)

The First Empty Tomb

Jesus is the only person who has an empty tomb. Everyone else who's died has returned to the dust, but Christ is alive and seated at the Father's right hand. Because He overcame death, His followers are also guaranteed empty tombs someday. When Jesus returns for His church, those who have died in Him will be resurrected into glorious bodies. And believers who are alive at that time will instantaneously be changed.

Knowing this, we naturally wonder, What kind of body will I have? The best way to answer that is to see what Scripture reveals about Christ's body after He rose from the dead. He didn't come invisibly in the form of a ghost but rather had a literal, physical body. He talked, walked, and ate with His disciples. Yet although He was recognizable, He was somehow different, and at times it took His words or actions to jog their recognition.

Here's one thing I can tell you about the resurrection: you will look better than you do today! God is going to give you a strong, glorious, eternal body which is perfectly fitted for your life in heaven. Believe me, you will not be disappointed, because God has far more in store for us on the other side than we can ever imagine. You will be more alive there than you could ever be here.

A more important issue we must face is how to get ready for that day. This life is just a puff of wind compared to our eternity. It's my personal opinion that the way we live here on earth will determine our capacity to enjoy heaven. The time to begin living for God is now.

~Dr. Charles Stanley~

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 14

"Out of His Belly Shall Flow Rivers of Living Water" (continued)

Now, we began looking into these feasts of the Lord in order that we may comprehend more fully what the Day of Pentecost really means, and that we might further understand its purpose in the Full Purpose of God in Christ. We saw that the "Day of Pentecost" was so called because it took place on the fiftieth day, a day which was counted from the second day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Therefore, the "Day of Pentecost" was counted from the day of the offering of the sheaf of the firstfruits, which in God's Eternal timing is the Third Day - the Day that Christ Arose from the dead. And Jesus said, "I AM the Resurrection, and the Life" (John 11:25).

We also found that the number fifty, as it is used in connection with the Day of Pentecost, means the perfect consummation of time; thus, the "Day of Pentecost" is the Divine Result of the Cross, the Resurrection, and the Ascension of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. And on the Day of Pentecost, an Eternal Day in the Lord's Purpose, the Lord God completed one of the most important portions of His Plan: the Church was baptized in the Spirit: the Church was empowered to become the Fullness of Christ.

In John 7:37, 38, we find the Lord Jesus Christ Himself describing that which took place "when the Day of Pentecost was fully come." We find Him describing the Promise of the Father, the Promise given to him before the Foundation of the World, the Promise that the Church His Body would be empowered to become the Fullness of Him. Hence, in the last day, that great day of the Feast [of Tabernacles], Jesus stood and cried, saying, "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scriptures hath said, out of His belly shall flow rivers of living waters." Then John goes on to tell us: "But this spoke He of the Spirit Which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified."

Jesus spake these Words about the Holy Spirit on the last day of the Feast of the Tabernacles. The Feast of Tabernacles was celebrated about six months after the Day of Pentecost, and it was also called the Feast of Ingathering, because it spoke of, or came at the time of, the final ingathering of the harvest.This feast was the most joyful and jubilant of all the feasts; and this last "great day" of the feast climaxed all their celebrations.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 15)

Don't Look Back

But Jesus said to him, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." Luke 9:62

I have come across this verse four times in a week so I am getting the feeling that the Lord wants my attention. There are so many things that compete for our attention. The home, the kids, work, our health, keeping the car tuned up, relationships and of course, the things that entertain us. If we continue to just try to stay afloat without thinking or praying, we find ourselves surviving instead of thriving. It is so easy to not get rid of bad habits because we at least know what to expect and what to do. When God starts helping us to focus on something better and healthier, we are at a loss for awhile on how to live with the change. That’s why it is so much easier to look back.

The Israelites really struggled with this when leaving Egypt. They struggled with looking back so much that they never made it forward. All they could think about was the comparison between the luxuries in Egypt with the barrenness of the desert. Even though God completely provided miracles for them and freed them from the cruelty of slavery, they could not stop thinking of the comforts of their bad lifestyle over the freedom of their new lifestyle. And they never learned to work it out with the Lord. They just complained about it. As much as we hate to admit it, we struggle with the same things at times.

If we really think about it, life was not better before we became a Christian. The difference is that we didn’t have anyone to blame our issues on then, but now we can blame them on God. How silly but how true! Life is so much better knowing the Lord. We have the power of prayer, the indwelling Holy Spirit, the promises of hope for an everlasting life. We have fellowship with Him, and we should have a great attitude. But we need to learn how to put the Lord first in everything and have Him lead us, instead of figuring out our own needs and asking the Lord to meet them. By giving our lives to Jesus, we should never look back. There is nothing back there worth living for any way. If you are struggling with bringing the past into the future, ask the Lord to help you become more fit for the kingdom of God. Confess that sin and ask the Lord to help you open your heart to receive all He has for you. Then move forward in His Name!

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 13

"And When the Day of Pentecost Was Fully Come" (continued)

Christ Our Passover (continued)

Oh, may we be like Peter and the others who continued to follow Him, however imperfectly, all the days of their lives. May our answer be the same as theirs when the Lord asks,

"Will you also go away? -
Are ye also wishing to withdraw? -
Will you refuse to take ME as your ALL?"

Then Simon Peter answered Him,

"Lord, to whom shall we go?

Thou hast the Words of Eternal Life.
And we believe [we have learned to believe and trust]
And are sure that Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God."

"These things are written that ye might have life".

When we believe in Christ, we are given Eternal Life; and when we partake of Him, our life in Him is sustained by Him. All of this came about because He, Who is the True Passover Lamb, shed His blood for us upon the Cross! All this came about because He, Who is the Incorruptible Unleavened Bread, gave His Incorruptible Life for us! But, beloved, we would never have Eternal life in Him, nor the privilege of partaking of Him as Life, if He had not been Resurrected from the dead. That is why when God decreed that the Feast of the Passover be celebrated on the 14th day of Nisan (usually our month of April), and that the Feast of Unleavened Bread be celebrated on the 15th day of Nisan, He also decreed that ion the following day, the 16th day of Nisan, "ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest," an offering of the Firstfruits of your Harvest, a wave offering before the Lord (Lev. 23:9-11). The wave offering always symbolized Life - "But not is Christ Risen from the dead, and become the Firstfruits of them that slept" (1 Cor. 15:20).

The sheaf of the Firstfruits was to be waved on the morrow after the sabbath, the day after the feast of Unleavened Bread began. This was the day that Christ Rose from the grave, this was the Third Day. And in Revelation 1:17, 18, we find the Resurrected Lord of Glory, the Lord Jesus Christ, THE I AM, summing up what took place in those three days; not just days according to our time, but Three Eternal Days in God's Eternal Purpose:

I AM the First and the Last:
I AM He that liveth, and was dead; and behold,
I AM Alive For Evermore, Amen ...

And in John 14:19 where He is speaking of His Cross, and His Resurrection, He says: "Because I Live, ye shall live also."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 14 - "Upon That Great Day of the Feast ... Out Of His Belly Shall Flow Rivers of Living Water")

Their Strength is to Sit Still

Their strength is to sit still. (Isa. 30:7).
In order really to know God, inward stillness is absolutely necessary. I remember when I first learned this. A time of great emergency had risen in my life, when every part of my being seemed to throb with anxiety, and when the necessity for immediate and vigorous action seemed overpowering; and yet circumstances were such that I could do nothing, and the person who could, would not stir.
For a little while it seemed as if I must fly to pieces with the inward turmoil, when suddenly the still small voice whispered in the depths of my soul, "Be still, and know that I am God." The word was with power, and I hearkened. I composed my body to perfect stillness, and I constrained my troubled spirit into quietness, and looked up and waited; and then I did "know" that it was God, God even in the very emergency and in my helplessness to meet it; and I rested in Him.
It was an experience that I would not have missed for worlds; and I may add also, that out of this stillness seemed to arise a power to deal with the emergency, that very soon brought it to a successful issue. I learned then effectually that my "strength was to sit still."
--Hannah Whitall Smith
There is a perfect passivity which is not indolence. It is a living stillness born of trust. Quiet tension is not trust. It is simply compressed anxiety.
Not in the tumult of the rending storm,
Not in the earthquake or devouring flame;
But in the hush that could all fear transform,
The still, small whisper to the prophet came.
0 Soul, keep silence on the mount of God,
Though cares and needs throb around thee like a sea;
From supplications and desires unshod,
Be still, and hear what God shall say to thee.
All fellowship hath interludes of rest,
New strength maturing in each poise of power;
The sweetest Alleluias of the blest
Are silent, for the space of half an hour.
0 rest, in utter quietude of soul,
Abandon words, leave prayer and praise awhile;
Let thy whole being, hushed in His control,
Learn the full meaning of His voice and smile.
Not as an athlete wrestling for a crown,
Not taking Heaven by violence of will;
But with thy Father as a child sit down,

And know the bliss that follows His "Be Still!"
~L. B. Cowman~

Monday, May 19, 2014

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 12

"And When the Day of Pentecost Was Fully Come" (continued)

Christ is Our Passover (continued)

Now, there were varied reactions among this company who had sought Him out: most of them misunderstood Him completely and went away confused; "the Jews" heard His Words and rejected Him and continued to make plans to destroy Him, but the Word also tells us that "many therefore of His disciples, when they had heard this said, "This is an hard saying; who can hear it?' " Why were both "the Jews" and the disciples so disturbed? First of all, we need to recall that they all knew that it was the Passover season; and they knew or suspected that Jesus was saying that no longer would the temple in Jerusalem, or the temple worship they loved so much, be the way of worship - all the ceremonies, all the ordinances, all the festal activities, all the methods, whether emotional or formal, were at an end, for God is seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. The times has come, and now is, that they were to take Christ as their Life; and whether they were priests or Pharisees or prophets or scribes or ordinary everyday working people or mothers or children CHRIST WAS TO BE THEIR ALL.

Now, when we read this, we may wonder how they could give these things the preeminence over the Lord - the laws, the feasts, the priests, the ceremonies, etc. We may wonder why many of His disciples followed Him no more. But is not this the great problem of Christianity today, something other than Christ!? something that satisfies the natural man other than Christ!? Brethren, many things can take the preeminence of Christ in our lives: a Church organization, a Bible school, a pastor, a doctrine, a teaching, a method, even what we call deeper life teaching, etc. But only Christ can truly satisfy our hearts!

Christ is not saying I give you the Bread of Life; He is saying, "I AM the Bread of Life," and only as you partake of ALL THAT I AM will God have what He desires in your life. Only then will you have the True Reality that I AM in your life, for "I AM the Way, The Truth, and The Life." And as we have seen, for those who would wholly follow Him, this includes the partaking of the sufferings of Christ (1 Peter 4:13; Col. 1:24). So many of His disciples turned away and followed Him no more; many were offended at His Words, for His Words indicated that Life came out of death. In Luke 9:22, 23, we find this confirmed when the Holy Spirit significantly places the following Words of Christ just after He feeds the 5,000. We find Him alone and praying, and His disciples were with Him, and He said: "The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third Day." And He said to them all, "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 13)

Are You Hiding by the Baggage?

Therefore they inquired further of the Lord, "Has the man come here yet?" So the Lord said, "Behold, he is hiding himself by the baggage." 1 Samuel 10:22

One day, Saul went out to search for his lost donkeys. The next day, Saul was anointed to be the first king of Israel. Saul found something for which he wasn’t searching. Even though he was anointed by Samuel, Saul hid himself by the baggage when it came time to reveal his anointing as Israel’s first King. The Scriptures tell us that he was empowered by the Holy Spirit and changed internally. But on the outside, not much changed. He went back home and plowed the fields until one more day. At that point, Saul was ready to accept his calling and outwardly became what God had already changed in him inwardly.

The same thing happens to us. Many times God calls us to do something that we weren’t searching for either. We know that the prayers that we are praying seem impossible. We know that something is changing on the inside of our hearts, but to break free and become that person on the outside is beyond our doing. We then struggle between the God-given prayers on our hearts and the person we are in the flesh. How can the two become one?
And when? The answer is time or should I say, “in His time.” Regardless of what the Lord has put on your heart, you can’t receive all He has for you until you have the character to keep you there. In the passing of time, the Lord is molding you through different circumstances, conflicts and experiences as training for the real deal. Take every encounter you go through seriously. Praise Him through the difficulties and maintain self control when He pushes you to your limit. He will exalt you in due time. As the Scriptures say in Galatians 6:9, “And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.”

~Daily Disciples Devotional~