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Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Power of His Resurrection # 9

A Survey (continued)

3. Having His Beginnings in Jordan

Finally, he had to come to the place where all his beginnings were at Jordan. The last step of that journey with Elijah, and the first step of his journey under the Spirit, were at Jordan. He went over with Elijah in death; he came back through Jordan in the power of resurrection. The sons of the prophets, fifty men, were watching, and as they saw his come back across the Jordan they said, "The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha." His beginnings, shall we say his roots, were in Jordan. We know that there has to be a rooting in the Cross of the Lord Jesus, life having its very beginnings in the death and resurrection of Christ experimentally known. Into the life of such an instrument of God there has to come an experience which registers, once and for all, that this life - in its good and its bad, in all its energies, even for the work of God - has been brought to an end, so far as that one is concerned. Even in Christian activities, and religious interests, and passions for service, that life has been brought to an end, and nothing is possible except in the power of His Resurrection. It is one thing to say that, and to hold that as a teaching; it is quite another thing to know that, and to have that registered in your being every time you seek to move in relation to the Lord; to know that every day of your life, so far as the Lord's interests are concerned, you draw all from Him, that everything is in the power of His resurrection, there is nothing else. To have that settled, registered, established once and for all, demands a deep Jordan experience. That is a deep death, a deep sinking into Jordan, but that makes possible a wonderful Testimony to His risen life. That is the opening of the door to the vast, the ever-growing knowledge of Him in resurrection life.

Calvary closes the door on man by nature, but Calvary open the door to the man who means that all is to be out from God, and not from himself. Elisha came to the place where all his beginnings were in Jordan; every bit of His future was born in Jordan. You and I have to learn to be vessels of this Testimony; those who know Him in resurrection life.

That is preparation. If all who have gone out in the Lord's service had gone out on that basis, a very different story would have been told. We cannot hold ourselves responsible for all who have not, but what we can do is to recognize this to be the truth, and, so far as we are concerned, ask the Lord to make it true in our case. It is a deep death! This is an end, but also a beginning. What is before us is Testimony in what e are - not first by what we say - as to Him in resurrection life. If that is what is before us, that can only be on the ground that we ourselves have ceased in every realm of knowledge and of life which is not that; and that is the meaning of our union with Him in His Cross. This is preparation. This is equipment. This is where the Lord begins with His vessels for the fullness of His Testimony.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 10 - "The Waters of Jericho")

Do No Be Ashamed

Do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God. (2 Timothy 1:8 ESV)

That which represents the testimony in its fullest and closest approximation to the ultimate purpose of God, then has to be shorn of much that has been good, necessary, and of God in a preparatory way, and must be shut up to what is ultimate. The captivity is not to a conceived truth or a superimposed doctrinal acceptance. It is wrought into the very fiber of the being by experience following revelation, and revelation interpreting experience. It is not the championing of some espoused interpretation: it is that it is the very Life of instruments and the instrument is that in its very being. It is not a matter of wanting to be or not wanting to be, but cannot be other, a prisoner, the sovereignty of God has done it.

This applied both to Paul and to those who were brought into touch with him. For the Apostle the settling in to the sovereign ordering of God in his imprisonment issued in increasing illumination leading to spiritual emancipation. No one can fail to recognize the tremendous enrichment of ministry as contained in what are called "the Prison Epistles." If he had been restive, piqued, rebellious, or bitter, there would have been no open heaven, and a spirit of controversy with the Lord would have closed and bolted the door to the fuller Divine unveilings and clarifyings. When all was accepted according to the mind of the Lord, then "the heavenly places" became the eternal expanses of his walking about, and earthly bondage gave place to heavenly freedom. So it must be with every instrument set apart in relation to the higher interests of the Lord's testimony.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Power of His Resurrection # 8

A Survey (continued)

2. Learning the Secret of Power From on High

Another lesson which Elisha had to learn was that although he was a man of energy, a man who gave himself very thoroughly and fully and used up all his natural strength in what he did, his power was from on high. What we have said as to a man being diligent and in earnest, and putting all his strength into things, does not in any way contradict this, that even such a man has to learn, before he can move into his full spiritual usefulness, that the power for that is not in himself, but from on high. The Lord may take account of that man before, but even as it was with Paul with all his zeal and all his earnestness, he has to come to the place where all his strength is drawn from above, and not from himself. Elisha had to learn that it was power from on high, the Spirit sent down, that was the secret of strength. It is only so, that we shall be living testimonies. It is only so that we shall be vessels of such a Testimony as this. We are not speaking of the general kind of Christian work, we are speaking of the Lord having His fullness of Testimony in us. The fullness of the Lord's Testimony is the expression of the power of His resurrection in our very being, and for that there has to be a coming to the place where we know, in every realm of our being, that our strength is not in ourselves, but in Him Who is above. It is the One Who has gone up to the right hand of God, Who is the Source of our strength, the Spring of our energies; because He lives, we live; by His power, and His power alone, we live and work. It is the Lord in glory Who is our energy. Elisha learned that in type. For all the future, his resource was the Spirit from above, the Spirit of his ascended master. We have to learn that in ever deepening ways.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 9 - "3. Having His Beginnings in Jordan")

Be Still!

Then there was a voice from above the platform over their heads when they stood still. (Ezek 1:25)

That is the letting down of the wings? People so often say, “How do you get the voice of the Lord?” Here is the secret. They heard the voice when they stood and let down their wings.
We have seen a bird with fluttering wings; though standing still, its wings are fluttering. But here we are told they heard the voice when they stood and had let down their wings.

Do we not sometimes kneel or sit before the Lord and yet feel conscious of a fluttering of our spirits? Not a real stillness in His presence.

A dear one told me several days ago of a certain thing she prayed about, “But,” said she, “I did not wait until the answer came.”

She did not get still enough to hear Him speak, but went away and followed her own thought in the matter. And the result proved disastrous and she had to retrace her steps.
Oh, how much energy is wasted! How much time is lost by not letting down the wings of our spirit and getting very quiet before Him! Oh, the calm, the rest, the peace which come as we wait In His presence until we hear from Him!

Then, ah then, we can go like lightning, and turn not as we go but go straight forward whithersoever the Spirit goes. (Ezek. 1:1, 20)

“Be still! Just now be still!
Something thy soul hath never heard,
Something unknown to any song of bird,
Something unknown to any wind, or wave, or star,
A message from the Fatherland afar,
That with sweet joy the homesick soul shall thrill,
Cometh to thee if thou canst but be still.
“Be still! Just now be still!
There comes a presence very mild and sweet;
White are the sandals of His noiseless feet.
It is the Comforter whom Jesus sent
To teach thee what the words He uttered meant.
The willing, waiting spirit, He doth fill.
If thou would’st hear His message,
Dear soul, be still!”

~L. B. Cowman~

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Power of His Resurrection # 7

A Survey (continued)

1. The Test of Faith and Perseverance (continued)

Elisha went through the test; on the one hand, his own master being the occasion of the testing, and on the other hand, those who were in a spiritual position, sons of the prophets - supposed to be the people who had spiritual knowledge - being anything but encouraging, rather being discouraging factors. Very often those who ought to be helpful by reason of their spiritual position - officially, at any rate - are anything but encouraging; they would put us back. All that we are left with is: "The Lord  has called me; I know that in my heart. The Lord has led me this way. The Lord has caused me to take this step that I have taken. I have burned my bridges; I have cut all my ties; I have stepped out on the Lord. Now, although I have done that, the Lord is testing me, seeming to give me very little confirmation and encouragement, and the Lord's representatives - officially - are by no means helpful: "Nevertheless I stand to it, I am going on with God." A man or a woman who can go on like that is going to count for God. Elisha had nothing whatever to fall back upon save his inward knowledge of the Lord. He went through on that.

It is a very nice thing when we get encouragement from every direction in the way of our conceived call; when the Lord comes along and confirms it in all sorts of ways, and then everyone else, and everything else, says: "We are with you; we will stand by you; we are going to support and uphold you." We can get on all right that way. But if the Lord gives us no special conspicuous providences, sovereign acts; if He hides Himself, so that what we do see is rather discouragement from going on, even from the Lord's side - and one of the most difficult things is the hiding of the Lord, though He is there hiddenly doing things, and marvelously carrying through unto enlargement and enrichment, while allowing nothing that the flesh can take hold of - then it is a matter of faith going on wit God, even when the Lord seems to be hiding Himself, and allowing much of  discouragement to remain on our horizon. At such a time no one else can enter into it. Everybody else to whom we might look, and from whom we might expect something, is of no use to us at all. All that they have to say is something that is melancholy: "Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day?" Elisha seems to be a little impatient with that. It might have been expressed in this way: You are a morbid crowd, and I would sooner you kept quiet if you have nothing better to say! They are not inspiring at all. And that is very often how we find the people to whom we look for encouragement. They see the difficulties, they see the dark side of things, they tell us of what we are running our heads into, of the calamities that will overtake us. The question is: "Will you go on with God?" Elisha went on! The statement is: "They two went on." There is something in that which leads to a large place, which means much for the Lord.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with #8 - "2. Learning the Secret of Power From on High")

Jesus Is the Keeper of the Gates

Revelation 3:7
He openeth, and no man shutteth.
Jesus is the keeper of the gates of paradise and before every believing soul He setteth an open door, which no man or devil shall be able to close against it. What joy it will be to find that faith in Him is the golden key to the everlasting doors. My soul, dost thou carry this key in thy bosom, or art thou trusting to some deceitful pick-lock, which will fail thee at last? Hear this parable of the preacher, and remember it. The great King has made a banquet, and He has proclaimed to all the world that none shall enter but those who bring with them the fairest flower that blooms. The spirits of men advance to the gate by thousands, and they bring each one the flower which he esteems the queen of the garden; but in crowds they are driven from the royal presence, and enter not into the festive halls. Some bear in their hand the deadly nightshade of superstition, or the flaunting poppies of Rome, or the hemlock of self- righteousness, but these are not dear to the King, the bearers are shut out of the pearly gates. My soul, hast thou gathered the rose of Sharon? Dost thou wear the lily of the valley in thy bosom constantly? If so, when thou comest up to the gates of heaven thou wilt know its value, for thou hast only to show this choicest of flowers, and the Porter will open: not for a moment will He deny thee admission, for to that rose the Porter openeth ever. Thou shalt find thy way with the rose of Sharon in thy hand up to the throne of God Himself, for heaven itself possesses nothing that excels its radiant beauty, and of all the flowers that bloom in paradise there is none that can rival the lily of the valley. My soul, get Calvary's blood-red rose into thy hand by faith, by love wear it, by communion preserve it, by daily watchfulness make it thine all in all, and thou shalt be blessed beyond all bliss, happy beyond a dream. Jesus, be mine for ever, my God, my heaven, my all.

~Charles Spurgeon~

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Power of His Resurrection # 6

A Survey (continued)

Everything of Spirit (continued)

Again, this is very elementary, but it is very important. A great many go out on the strength of an appeal, or an urge of man, and that is always a very dangerous thing. It is equally dangerous for us to put our hands upon people, and to tell them what they ought to do, what God would have them do, what and where their call is. Let us seek to keep our hands off  people altogether as to their life, and leave them with the Lord. Run a thousand miles from them rather than try in any way to shape their life course for them. If God does not speak, we shall only make havoc of lives in trying to influence them of ourselves. We must never be influenced by anything but the Word of the Lord in our heart. Someone may speak, and through that someone there may strike home like a shaft the Word of the Lord, but we must have that extra element before there can be certainty. When we have that, we know it; God has spoken, and everything is changed.

It is interesting that we hear nothing more of Elisha from that day, until the day when Elijah finishes his ministry. It is fitting that it should be so. In 2 Kings 2, Elisha comes in in connection with the translation of his master, Elijah. There are three things in that chapter which are factors in this preliminary stage in the preparation of this vessel of the Testimony.

1. The Test of Faith and Perseverance

The first thing is Elisha's test of faith and perseverance after he had received the knowledge of a call. You notice and it is a familiar story how Elijah, on the one hand, seemed to be trying to shake off Elisha: "Tarry here ..."  "Tarry here ..."; "Tarry here ..." To every such urge of Elijah, Elisha rejoined: "As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee." On the other hand, the sons of the prophets in every place they visited said: "Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head today?" seeking to discourage, to deter him. There is no element of encouragement about this repetition. Elisha replies: "yea, I know it; hold ye your peace." It makes no difference to me: I am going to follow on to the end: I am going to see this thing through. It may be the Lord's will to take him away, but I am going to be there when it happens. And so, whatever the meaning of Elijah's repeated effort to get him to stay may  have been, he could not influence this man one bit, could not shake him off. Elisha was exercising faith, with a persistence and endurance which is the outstanding feature of this chapter.

In what connection is his faith being exercised, and in what connection is his persistence being tested? Well, Elijah has what he needs! It comes within that realm of some being discouraged, being able to be put off, and saying, while others go on, "These are hard sayings, who can hear them?" From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him." They are discouraged more or less easily, and they go away. And the Lord turns to the twelve and says: "Will ye also go away?" Simon Peter answers: "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life." The Master has what is needed, and there is no thought of going away, being put off, discouraged, but the thought is to go on with Him, because He has the essential elements of that life. Elisha knew that Elijah had what he needed for his life, for his ministry. So that when Elijah said: "Ask what I shall do for thee," Elisha relied: "Let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me." Elijah's rejoinder was: "Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee ..." Elisha knew that Elijah had the essential, and was not to be put off, or easily discouraged. Although it seemed that Elijah was trying to get rid of him, the other man refused to be got rid of; he was clinging to him for life. He was, moreover, being tested as to his faith, and as to his perseverance.

It is a part of Elisha's preparation, and that of all true instruments of the Lord. They will go through experiences in which they are tested to the very last ounce of endurance, along the line of it seeming to be that even the Lord is trying to shake them off. That is a very crude way of putting it; but so often there is every opportunity, if you are ready to accept appearances alone, to be discouraged, to feel the Lord does not want you, that after all, although you may have had the sense of a call, the Lord is not going through with it. Rather it looks as though you are being put back, and put back again. Can you be discouraged? Can you be shaken off? Can your faith easily give way? If so, you are of little use for this calling. If you are going to be an instrument of the Testimony of the power of His resurrection, you are going to have a very great deal that you will come up against, that will put you out of the fight, if you can be put out. It is very necessary to be established before you start; in some measure that proves that you are not one to be easily put off, easily discouraged.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 7)

Delight Thyself In The Lord

Psalm 37:4
Delight thyself also in the Lord.
The teaching of these words must seem very surprising to those who are strangers to vital godliness, but to the sincere believer it is only the inculcation of a recognized truth. The life of the believer is here described as a delight in God, and we are thus certified of the great fact that true religion overflows with happiness and joy. Ungodly persons and mere professors never look upon religion as a joyful thing; to them it is service, duty, or necessity, but never pleasure or delight. If they attend to religion at all, it is either that they may gain thereby, or else because they dare not do otherwise. The thought of delight in religion is so strange to most men, that no two words in their language stand further apart than "holiness" and "delight." But believers who know Christ, understand that delight and faith are so blessedly united, that the gates of hell cannot prevail to separate them. They who love God with all their hearts, find that His ways are ways of pleasantness, and all His paths are peace. Such joys, such brimful delights, such overflowing blessednesses, do the saints discover in their Lord, that so far from serving Him from custom, they would follow Him though all the world cast out His name as evil We fear not God because of any compulsion; our faith is no fetter, our profession is no bondage, we are not dragged to holiness, nor driven to duty. No, our piety is our pleasure, our hope is our happiness, our duty is our delight. Delight and true religion are as allied as root and flower; as indivisible as truth and certainty; they are, in fact, two precious jewels glittering side by side in a setting of gold.
"'Tis when we taste Thy love,
Our joys divinely grow,
Unspeakable like those above,
And heaven begins below."

~Charles Spurgeon~

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Power of His Resurrection # 5

A Survey (continued)

Everything of Spirit

The next thing in the case of Elisha follows closely upon the intimation that he was called. Elijah threw his mantle over him. Then it looked as though Elisha drew back; it looked as though he might be numbered with certain in the New Testament who said: "First suffer me to bid farewell to them that are at my house"; "Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father"; and soon. But there is the fact that something deeper had been registered in Elisha, which did not allow him to do the thing he had contemplated doing. We do not read of any he had contemplated doing. We do not read of any farewells in the way he suggested them to Elijah; but what we do read is that he went and rid himself of all that was behind. He burned his bridges, cleared up things straightway, distributed the proceeds, and went after Elijah. Again, the marks of thoroughness!

Here is a man who is not saying: "Well, in case things go wrong, and I do not get on very well in my new sphere of work, I had better keep these oxen alive, so that I can come back to this!" The thing had gone to his heart. He knew the hour had struck; he knew God had touched him; deep down in his being there was something which had made him a prisoner, from which he found no release; so he simply cleared up everything, and went in the way of that inward call.

The point is mainly this, that it was not Elijah's call that did it. On the strength of Elijah's word alone Elisha could look back; that is, he could contemplate going to have a valedictory; but there was something deeper than Elijah's word. Something had come through from God into his inner being, which put away all that was merely sentimental or earthly, and made him do a thorough work of breaking, and going out for the Lord. It is important for us to hear something deeper than the voice of man when we move into the work of the Lord. We must have something more than the outward appeal. We can have many appeals, strong urges, in meetings arranged for that purpose, to appeal for workers. We can have the appeal from the outside. We can  have the urge. We can even have people tell us that we ought to go, that God has really called us. But that is never enough. What we must know is that God has spoken more deeply than any kind of outward appeal. We must know that God has done something, and that because of this there is no question for us whatever of keeping in reserve the old relationships, the old associations, the old interests; that deeper challenge has settled everything, and the only thing we can do is to make a complete break, and go out with the Lord.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 6)

Faith Honors God - God Honors Faith

But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. (Luke 22:32)

Christian, take good care of thy faith, for recollect that faith is the only means whereby thou canst obtain blessings. Prayer cannot draw down answers from God’s throne except it be the earnest prayer of the man who believes.
Faith is the telegraphic wire which links earth to Heaven, on which God’s messages of love fly so fast that before we call He answers, and while we are yet speaking He hears us. But if that telegraphic wire of faith be snapped, how can we obtain the promise?
Am I in trouble? I can obtain help for trouble by faith. Am I beaten about by the enemy? My soul on her dear Refuge leans by faith.
But take faith away, then in vain I call to God. There is no other road betwixt my soul and Heaven. Blockade the road, and how can I communicate with the Great King?
Faith links me with Divinity. Faith clothes me with the power of Jehovah. Faith insures every attribute of God in my defense. It helps me to defy the hosts of hell. It makes me march triumphant over the necks of my enemies. But without faith how can I receive anything from the Lord?
Oh, then, Christian, watch well thy faith. “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”
—C. H. Spurgeon
We boast of being so practical a people that we want to have a surer thing than faith. But did not Paul say that the promise was, by FAITH that it might be SURE? (Romans 4:16)
—Dan Crawford.
Faith honors God; God honors faith.

~L. B. Cowman~

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Power of His Resurrection # 4

A Survey (continued)

Elisha's Preparation in His Natural Vocation (continued)

On the other side, when the Lord sees a man or a woman who, like Elisha, is putting all his energy, all his resources into his ordinary vocation, and doing it with all his might, the Lord marks that man or that woman, and the time will come when that life will be drawn into association with the Lord in something of peculiar value to Him.

You see this in the first phase, before any thought or suggestion had come to Elisha of prophetic ministry. It is not as if he were as one of the sons of the prophets preparing for his ministry. No suggestion whatever is made that he is to be a prophet. We do not know that he had any such idea. What we do know is that he was doing farm work, and that he was putting all his might into it, and the Lord took account of it. Before ever there was a thought of, what many people would call, spiritual work, this man was seen by God as one who would go a long way with Him. Of course Elisha was a godly man, not just a man of the world diligent in his business.

You may say: That is reckoning on the natural. Well, the Lord does take men into account as to their spirit, and although a man may be very often mistaken as to the method, and as to the way, the Lord looks on the heart. We are thinking of Paul himself. He was certainly very blind, and very mistaken in the way that he took, but he took it with all his might, and there was no question that what he did was with every ounce of his being, and we are not to say that the Lord did not take that into account. The Lord takes account of diligence and devotion and wholeheartedness, in whatever realm it is. When the Lord gets hold of men and women of that kind, He may have deep and mighty lessons to teach them, but He knows that He has a vessel that will be suitable to Him, and that will go on with Him.

That is a simple word, almost in the nature of a homily, but it is an important one, and we must never expect the Lord to say: "Come up higher," until we have given ourselves to the very last measure in the place where we are. We rejoice that there are men and women like Elisha, who just put themselves into the menial things, the ordinary things, the things which men would not call specifically spiritual service, until the Lord says, "That is enough." This is preparation; and remember the Lord is taking account!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 5 - "Everything In Spirit")

More Than Imaginable

And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. John 21:25

Verse 25 is the last verse in the Gospel of John, and what a great way to end this wonderful book. John is basically saying that it would be impossible to record every single one of the "things" that Jesus did while here on earth. John only knew Jesus for three years! My mind struggles to comprehend such amazing works but my heart rejoices in knowing that Jesus is that awesome. Jesus spent three years in full-time ministry, and from studying the Gospels, it is clear that He was all about His Father's business. Jesus spent His time doing the things He was sent to do. Jesus is our only true example of living a life sold out to God. Everything He did had one main purpose: to glorify His Father. One cannot glorify God and live a selfish life at the same time.

Often people will ask us questions that involve God's will for their lives; they want to know how to be used by God, they want to make sure that they are doing His will and pleasing Him. How can they be sure they are doing all God wants? We hear these questions and concerns frequently from people who truly desire to fulfill the calling God has on their lives. Many times, however, people are looking for a more awe-inspiring, spiritual answer than we can give. The answers are all in the Bible. God's Word is our living handbook for how to please God and live for Him. Once we learn of His ways, then we begin to learn how to apply His ways to our lives. Just studying the Gospel of John gives us more revelations of who Jesus is and what He did than we can even fully grasp. The world could not contain the books it would take to write everything down. Think about the magnitude of that statement.

For us today, there are a couple of things we need to take from this verse. First and foremost, we must know that Jesus was and is God. He was not just a good man who had a powerful ministry. No man could do what He did. Only God could do miracles beyond what the world could even record. Secondly, for us to do the things God has called us to while here on earth, we must learn from our Teacher. Jesus demonstrated for us how to live a life completely sold out to God. And He has given us His Holy Spirit to teach, lead and guide us today to live a life pleasing to God and in the center of His will. Start reading the Gospel of John today and commit to reading it from beginning to end. You will begin to get a greater understanding of what verse 25 is really saying. Pray that you fall in love with the Lord Jesus and that you glorify His name with your life.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Power of His Resurrection # 3

A Survey (continued)

Elisha's Preparation in His Natural Vocation

That which will occupy us now is connected with the preliminary stage in Elisha's life, before he moved out into this full expression. There is always a preparatory stage, and a preparatory dealing with us on the part of the Lord.

The first time Elisha comes before our notice is very significant of what the Lord takes account of, when He puts His hand upon a man or a woman, to make such a vessel of His fuller Testimony. It is found in 1 Kings 19:19-21:

"So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing, with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed over unto him, and cast his mantle upon him. And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, "Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee." And he said unto him, "God back again; for what have I done to thee?" And he returned from following him, and took the yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him."

Here you have some features of a life upon which the Lord looks, or has already looked, with a view to bringing that life into relationship with Himself and His Testimony in a way of fullness. The characteristics of Elisha here are such as the Lord looks for in His would-be servants.

What Elijah found was a man of whom, by reason of his thoroughness in what he did, a note was made in the Divine records, which goes down through the ages. He was ploughing with twelve yoke of oxen. He was putting all his resources into the work. In his ordinary course of life he was not having anything in reserve. Twelve yoke of oxen represent the doing of things thoroughly; doing what your hands find to do with all your might. Oxen are types of strength in service, and, although Elisha was but in his ordinary natural vocation, in that there was no half-hearted measures. He was doing it with a downrightness that is taken account of. It may seem to be a very simple thing, but the Lord puts His workers on a probation to watch for that very thing. We may be waiting for the time when we shall be able to serve the Lord with all our might and main, and in the waiting time we may be reserving ourselves just a little along other lines. That can be put in different ways, but you may take it as settled that the Lord will never put you into a ministry of manifesting the power of His resurrection, of being of any special value to Him in His Testimony, if He has seen slothfulness in the ordinary walks of life, if He has observed any trace of half-heartedness in other directions. There is an infinite peril associated with waiting for what we call our life work. The waiting should be of a positive character, and during that time we should be in nothing less than a hundred percent energy in what there is about us to do.

This is a word of warning, and a word that we are constrained to give. It is not the sort of thing we like to say, and yet it is a word which those of us who have had time to observe, to watch the preparation of many lives for the work of the Lord, feel to be a necessary word. We mark how that the time before the Lord can visit a life and say, "Now the hour has come for you to move out into that for which I have prepared you," is a time that is so often marked by a lack of whole-hearted abandonment to the ordinary natural vocation; that the things which we call "natural" are put in a place second to the spiritual, and regarded as of less importance, and as  calling therefore for much less diligence.

We need not increase words, but it is a thing for us all to guard very carefully. The Lord is watching in the ordinary vocations of life, in the things which we may regard as by no means of any great spiritual value, to see if in those very things we are diligent. We must remember that His own words are: "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much." That is a law; and faithfulness in that which is least is qualification for increase.

~ T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4)

Oh Wretched Man That I Am!

Daniel 5:27
Thou art weighed in the balances and art found wanting.
It is well frequently to weigh ourselves in the scale of God's Word. You will find it a holy exercise to read some psalm of David, and, as you meditate upon each verse, to ask yourself, "Can I say this? Have I felt as David felt? Has my heart ever been broken on account of sin, as his was when he penned his penitential psalms? Has my soul been full of true confidence in the hour of difficulty as his was when he sang of God's mercies in the cave of Adullam, or in the holds of Engedi? Do I take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord?" Then turn to the life of Christ, and as you read, ask yourselves how far you are conformed to His likeness. Endeavour to discover whether you have the meekness, the humility, the lovely spirit which He constantly inculcated and displayed. Take, then, the epistles, and see whether you can go with the apostle in what he said of his experience. Have you ever cried out as he did-"O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death"? Have you ever felt his self-abasement? Have you seemed to yourself the chief of sinners, and less than the least of all saints? Have you known anything of his devotion? Could you join with him and say, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain"? If we thus read God's Word as a test of our spiritual condition, we shall have good reason to stop many a time and say, "Lord, I feel I have never yet been here, O bring me here! give me true penitence, such as this I read of. Give me real faith; give me warmer zeal; inflame me with more fervent love; grant me the grace of meekness; make me more like Jesus. Let me no longer be 'found wanting,' when weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, lest I be found wanting in the scales of judgment." "Judge yourselves that ye be not judged."

~Charles Spurgeon~

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Power of His Resurrection # 2

A Survey (continued)

The Waters of Jericho

We begin with the new cruse and the salt. By these means the waters were healed, and the fruit of the ground delivered from the bondage of death and corruption, and made living, abiding, and full. Then

The Three Kings in League

were in a most paralyzing situation for want of water, in danger of being delivered into the hands of Moab. There was the digging of the trenches in the valley by faith, and silently, without noise or demonstration, the torrents of water coming down; then the deliverance from captivity to the enemy, from the hand of the spoiler. It is the power of resurrection life in fullness.

The Widow's Oil

A calamity had overtaken her, leaving her in a predicament. There were the vessels, not a few. The fullness of life is typified in the poured forth oil, the limitation of which was not on the Divine side but on the human side. Then we have

The Woman's Son

given, taken, raised from the dead. That speaks for itself as to the power of resurrection, and as to the fullness of life.

The Poisoned Pottage

The sons of the prophets found death in the pot, and by the casting in of the meal the death elements were destroyed - death turned to life, the fullness of the power of His resurrection.

The Loose Axe Head

We have the sons of the prophets again, building their place of instruction; the incident of the axe head coming off; falling into the water and sinking; the casting in of the branch of the tree, causing the iron to float. Once more is seen the miracle of life triumphant over death, and fullness of satisfaction. There follows

The Feeding of the Multitude

with a small amount of bread;

The Unseen Horsemen

in the day of peril and threatened death;

The Arrows,

which were the arrows of deliverance; and finally

Elisha's Death

and a man brought to life by touching his bones.

So Elisha, from start to finish, is a most conspicuous type of the power of resurrection, and of what that means as fullness of life.

All these are aspects of the one comprehensive truth, and each has its own particular message to bring in connection with it. We are not going to touch any of them in particular until later. They have been reviewed simply for the purpose of getting our minds clear as to what Elisha really stands for, and of giving us a further point from which to move forward.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3 - "Elisha's Preparation in His Natural Vocation")

Is It Raining, Little Flower?

In everything ye are enriched by him (1 Cor. 1:5).

Have you ever seen men and women whom some disaster drove to a great act of prayer, and by and by the disaster was forgotten, but the sweetness of religion remained and warmed their souls?

So have I seen a storm in later spring; and all was black, save where the lightning tore the cloud with thundering rent.
The winds blew and the rains fell, as though heaven had opened its windows. What a devastation there was! Not a spider’s web that was out of doors escaped the storm, which tore up even the strong-branched oak.

But ere long the lightning had gone by, the thunder was spent and silent, the rain was over, the western wind came up with its sweet breath, the clouds were chased away, and the retreating storm threw a scarf of rainbows over her fair shoulders and resplendent neck, and looked back and smiled, and so withdrew and passed out of sight.

But for weeks long the fields held up their bands full of ambrosial flowers, and all the summer through the grass was greener, the brooks were fuller, and the trees cast a more umbrageous shade, because the storm passed by–though all the rest of the earth had long ago forgotten the storm, its rainbows and its rain.
–Theodore Parker
God may not give us an easy journey to the Promised Land, but He will give us a safe one.

It was a storm that occasioned the discovery of the gold mines of India. Hath not a storm driven some to the discovery of the richer mines of the love of God in Christ?

Is it raining, little flower?
Be glad of rain;
Too much sun would wither thee;
‘Twill shine again.
The clouds are very black, ’tis true;
But just behind them shines the blue.
Art thou weary, tender heart?
Be glad of pain:
In sorrow sweetest virtues grow,
As flowers in rain.
God watches, and thou wilt have sun,
When clouds their perfect work have done.

~L. B. Cowman~

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Power of His Resurrection

A Survey

The Link Between Elisha and Elijah

The second Book of Kings has very largely to do with the life and ministry of Elisha, the prophet; and Elisha undoubtedly brings before us the Old Testament illustration and type of the Church living and working in the power of the resurrection. We are familiar with the point at which the ministry of Elijah gives place to that of Elisha. When the Lord took up Elijah in a chariot of fire to heaven, Elisha's connection with that rapture, that ascension, was a matter of his being on the spot and seeing his master taken up, and of having fulfilled in himself the request that he should receive a double portion of the spirit of Elijah.

Elijah thus very clearly becomes a type of the Lord Jesus ascending, and the Holy Spirit as a double portion of His Spirit coming upon the Church, fulfilling His own words: "...greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto the Father." In the case of the Lord Jesus the Church followed, proceeding in the fullness of the Spirit to work out the ministry of Christ on a larger scale than He in the days of His flesh had been able to accomplish. His own prayer in those days was that the baptism with which He had to be baptized might be accomplished, because He had come to scatter fire on the earth. That scattering could not be until the baptism of the Cross was a realized thing, and He longed therefore for His emancipation from the limitations of the flesh. When that baptism of passion was fulfilled, and He was translated to the glory, the fire was scattered in the earth, and His desire was fulfilled through His Church; His limitations were removed.

That has its foreshadowing in the ministries of Elijah and Elisha. So that which came in with Elisha is that which comes in with the Church - fullness by the Spirit in the power of resurrection. There we begin, with Elisha coming in on resurrection ground for the purpose of showing forth the fullness of the ascended Head. The fact that Elisha does speak of the power of resurrection, and the full meaning of life on that ground, is amply born out by the outstanding incidents of his life. If you cast your eyes over them you will see that it is, firstly, a matter of changing from death to life, and then, secondly, of changing from limitation to fullness.

We begin with 

~T.  Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2 - "The Waters of Jericho,")

The Gentle Holy Spirit

And the Lord’s slave must not engage in heated disputes but be kind toward all, an apt teacher, patient, (2 Tim 2:24)

When God conquers us and takes all the flint out of our nature, and we get deep visions into the Spirit of Jesus, we then see as never before the great rarity of gentleness of spirit in this dark and unheavenly world.

The graces of the Spirit do not settle themselves down upon us by chance, and if we do not discern certain states of grace, and choose them, and in our thoughts nourish them, they never become fastened in our nature or behavior.

Every advance step in grace must be preceded by first apprehending it, and then a prayerful resolve to have it.

So few are willing to undergo the suffering out of which thorough gentleness comes. We must die before we are turned into gentleness, and crucifixion involves suffering; it is a real breaking and crushing of self, which wrings the heart and conquers the mind.

There is a good deal of mere mental and logical sanctification nowadays, which is only a religious fiction. It consists of mentally putting one’s self on the altar, and then mentally saying the altar sanctifies the gift, and then logically concluding therefore one is sanctified; and such an one goes forth with a gay, flippant, theological prattle about the deep things of God.

But the natural heartstrings have not been snapped, and the Adamic flint has not been ground to powder, and the bosom has not throbbed with the lonely, surging sighs of Gethsemane; and not having the real death marks of Calvary, there cannot be that soft, sweet, gentle, floating, victorious, overflowing, triumphant life that flows like a spring morning from an empty tomb.
—G. D. W.

“And great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33).

~L. B. Cowman~

Saturday, July 19, 2014

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 71

The Victory of the Cross of Christ (continued)

The Tribulation, The Kingdom and the Patient Endurance Which are in Jesus Christ (continued)

Therefore, we see that the Herods have become the agents of satan's antichrist spirit as satan attempts to usurp the Throne of the Most High. It is the antichrist spirit of satan that gives the beast, that gives all that is antichrist, his power, and his throne; it is the antichrist spirit of satan that gives the beast the power to make war with the saints, and to overcome them (Revelation 13:7). It was the antichrist spirit of satan that was working his evil through the Herods!

But, let us remember, satan and all his antichrist evils and counterfeits are doomed. "If anyone has an ear, let him hear ... Here is the patience [the endurance] and the faith of the saints" (Revelation 13:9, 10). Beloved, when Herod beheaded James, he did not overcome James or John or Peter or the Church that was fervently praying, he did not overcome those who had gathered the house of Mary, the mother of Mark, to pray. No, James and the others overcame Herod, James and the others overcame all that which was, and is, antichrist, for Revelation 20:4 proclaims:

"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them; and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years."

In this Scripture, we find what was really taking place when James laid down his life. Acts twelve does not give us many details concerning the death of James; but in the above scripture, the Holy Spirit, Who knows that which the natural eye has not seen and the natural ear has not heard, reveals to us that a tremendous unseen conflict was taking place between the Lord and the antichrist forces of satan.

Herod, through the instigation of satan, moved to afflict evil upon the Church, he moved to discourage and weaken the Church by putting their leaders out of the way, but, instead, the Church prayed. James laid down his life "because of the Word of of God and because of the  Testimony of Jesus." And because of this, James got the victory "over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name." In a different way Peter and John would also lay down their lives because of the Word of God and because of the Testimony of Jesus. Peter and John would also overcome all that is antichrist as they would go on to finish the course the Lord had set before them. These three were joint-sharers "in the tribulation," and "in the kingdom" and "in the patient endurance" which are in Jesus Christ. And the Lord, not satan, wrought a great victory that strategic season when Herod put forth his evil hand to afflict the Church. In that "strategic season" one of the most important portions of God's eternal purpose in Christ was birthed out of the tribulation, and travail, that those brothers and sisters experienced. For Acts 12:24, tells us: "But the Word of the Lord continued to grow and to be multiplied". And not long after this, another brother names James would be inspired by the Holy Spirit to pick up his pen and write a letter to the Christians who had been scattered abroad because of tribulation: - and the New Testament was begun.

Thus, many years later, we find the Holy Spirit using John to write one of the last books of the Bible, the Book of Revelation. We fin John writing to us of the tribulation that all who are overcomers must experience. This should not discourage us, for the Word of God confirms that those who suffer with Christ, will reign with Christ. Beloved, John was 'in the Spirit" when he wrote the Book of Revelation, just as James was "in the Spirit" when he laid down his life; and when we are "in the Spirit" we are brothers and companions with those like Samson and Hannah, those like Peter, James and John. When we are "in the Spirit" we are brothers, and companions in the tribulation, in the kingdom, in the patient endurance which are in Jesus Christ.

We have seen that in the measure we allow the Cross to work in our lives, in the measure that we deny our self, that is the measure we are "FILLED IN THE SPIRIT." And if we allow the Cross to do its work in our lives, we will be empowered by the Spirit to overcome all that is antichrist. We will be joint-sharers with those who have gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name (Revelation 1:9; 15:2).

We have seen that the time came when James and John and Peter drank of the Lord's cup, the time came when they became joint-sharers in their Lord's sufferings. Dear ones, whether we are to be martyred like James, or whether we die after living a long life for the Lord like John, or whether we live out our lives like those unnamed brothers and sisters who "fervently prayed" at the house of Mary, the mother of Mark, we are called to lay down our lives for the Lord. We are called to be joint-sharers in the tribulation, in the kingdom, in the patient endurance which are in Jesus Christ. We are called to drink of His cup. We are called to endure the Cross. "Here is the patience [the endurance] and the faith of the saints."

Beloved, our Lord has commanded: "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." May our answer be: "I was in the Spirit ... and heard."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(The End)

(Next: "The Power of His Resurrection)

All Things Work Together for Good

And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, (Rom 8:28)

How wide is this assertion of the Apostle Paul! He does not say, “We know that some things,” or “most things,” or “joyous things,” but “ALL things.” From the minutest to the most momentous; from the humblest event in daily providence to the great crisis hours in grace.

And all things "work’—they are working; not all things have worked, or shall work; but it is a present operation.
At this very moment, when some voice may be saying, “Thy judgments are a great deep,” the angels above, who are watching the development of the great plan, are with folded wings exclaiming, “The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.” (Ps. 145:17)

And then all things “work together.” It is a beautiful blending. Many different colors, in themselves raw and unsightly, are required in order to weave the harmonious pattern.

Many separate tones and notes of music, even discords and dissonances, are required to make up the harmonious anthem.
Many separate wheels and joints are required to make the piece of machinery. Take a thread separately, or a note separately, or a wheel or a tooth of a wheel separately, and there may be neither use nor beauty discernible.

But complete the web, combine the notes, put together the separate parts of steel and iron, and you see how perfect and symmetrical is the result. Here is the lesson for faith: “What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter.”

In one thousand trials it is not five hundred of them that work for the believer’s good, but nine hundred and ninety-nine of them, and one beside.
—George Mueller

“GOD MEANT IT UNTO GOOD” (Gen. 50:20).
“God meant it unto good”—O blest assurance,
Falling like sunshine all across life’s way,
Touching with Heaven’s gold earth’s darkest storm clouds,
Bringing fresh peace and comfort day by day.
’Twas not by chance the hands of faithless brethren
Sold Joseph captive to a foreign land;
Nor was it chance which, after years of suffering,
Brought him before the monarch’s throne to stand.
One Eye all-seeing saw the need of thousands,
And planned to meet it through that one lone soul;
And through the weary days of prison bondage
Was working towards the great and glorious goal.
As yet the end was hidden from the captive,
The iron entered even to his soul;
His eye could scan the present path of sorrow,
Not yet his gaze might rest upon the whole.
Faith failed not through those long, dark days of waiting,
His trust in God was recompensed at last,
The moment came when God led forth his servant
To succour many, all his sufferings past.
“It was not you but God, that sent me hither,”
Witnessed triumphant faith in after days;
“God meant it unto good,” no “second causes”
Mingled their discord with his song of praise.
“God means it unto good” for thee, beloved,
The God of Joseph is the same today;
His love permits afflictions strange and bitter,
His hand is guiding through the unknown way.
Thy Lord, who sees the end from the beginning,
Hath purposes for thee of love untold.
Then place thy hand in His and follow fearless,
Till thou the riches of His grace behold.
There, when thou standest in the Home of Glory,
And all life’s path ties open to thy gaze,
Thine eyes shall see the hand which now thou trustest,
And magnify His love through endless days.

`L. B. Cowman~

Friday, July 18, 2014

What it Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 70

The Victory of the Cross of Christ (continued)

The Tribulation, the Kingdom and the Patient Endurance Which Are in Jesus Christ (continued)

Herod put forth his hands to "vex", to maltreat, to afflict with evil, "certain of the Church." There is something very sinister and cunning, very malicious and venomous, behind these words. This is the first time one of the Herods have been mentioned since the Cross of Christ, and this Herod, Herod Agrippa 1, comes on the scene with murder in his heart. This Herod is from a long line of Herods who had murder in their hearts against the Lord and His chosen ones. It was Herod the Great who murdered the innocent children when Christ was born in order to stop Christ from becoming King of Israel (Matthew 2:16). It was Herod Antipas who, under the influence of Herodias, ordered the beheading of John the Baptist (Matthew 14:1-11); and Herod Antipas also took part in the condemning of Christ to the Cross (Luke 23:7). And now Herod Agrippa 1, moves to maltreat the Church, and he beheads James, the brother of John.

The Herods were descendants of the Edomites, which traces them back to Esau, the firstborn son of Isaac. In the Scripture, Esau was given the name Edom when he sold his birthright to Jacob for a meal of lentil pottage (Genesis 25:30-32; 32:3). Esau allowed the desire of his natural man to rule him, and he "despised his birthright"; he gave up his inheritance in the Lord, the Promise that God made to Abraham, in order to satisfy his natural man. Later he became very bitter when he realized Jacob had tricked him so that he might gain the birthright. Jacob was wrong in his way of accomplishing this, but right in his desire for the Lord. Nevertheless, the Lord would deal with Jacob until His Way, the way of the Cross, became Jacob's way. But we do not want to miss the point, Esau had a compromising, fornicating [idolatrous], bitter spirit, and the Bible makes it clear that he passed it on to his descendants (Hebrews 12:15-17; Numbers 20:18-21; 1 Samuel 14:47). This bitter, compromising murderous spirit, reached full fruition in the Herods, and as the New Testament opens, the Herods were kings in Israel. And the Holy Spirit records that the Herods directed their murdering spirits against Christ and against those who are His.

Christ said, "Beware ... of the leaven of Herod" (Mark 8:15). The Lord was not speaking of doctrine or teaching. No! He was warning His disciples, both then and now, that allowing the natural man to rule in our lives is like leaven, and it will ultimately give satan the ground he needs to bring forth that which is of the antichrist, that which is against Christ and His Fullness. In Esau's natural man was a root of bitterness, and when he allowed his natural man to rule his life this bitterness fermented like leaven, and the Bible says: "A little leaven leaventh the whole lump" (Galatians 5:9). The Edomites and the Herods were the result of Esau allowing his natural man to rule; and bitterness was the result. Bitterness is an attribute of satan, and even the smallest amount of bitterness gives satan the ground he needs to produce that which is of the antichrist, that which is against Christ. No wonder the Holy Spirit is grieved when we allow bitterness to have a place in our lives (Ephesians 4:30-32). Ephesians 4:32 tells us that there is only one way to deal with bitterness, and that is "forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 71)`

satan loves to ruin God's Children

because everyone who has been fathered by God conquers the world. This is the conquering power that has conquered the world: our faith. (1 John 5:4)
At every turn in the road one can find something that will rob him of his victory and peace of mind, if he permits it. Satan is a long way from having retired from the business of deluding and ruining God’s children if he can. At every milestone it is well to look carefully to the thermometer of one’s experience, to see whether the temperature is well up.
Sometimes a person can, if he will, actually snatch victory from the very jaws of defeat, if he will resolutely put his faith up at just the right moment.
Faith can change any situation. No matter how dark it is, no matter what the trouble may be, a quick lifting of the heart to God in a moment of real, actual faith in Him, will alter the situation in a moment.
God is still on His throne, and He can turn defeat into victory in a second of time, if we really trust Him.
“God is mighty! He is able to deliver;
Faith can victor be in every trying hour;
Fear and care and sin and sorrow be defeated
By our faith in God’s almighty, conquering power.
“Have faith in God, the sun will shine,
Though dark the clouds may be today;
His heart has planned your path and mine,
Have faith in God, have faith alway.”
“When one has faith, one does not retire; one stops the enemy where he finds him.”

~L. B. Cowman~

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What It Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit # 69

The Victory of the Cross of Christ (continued)

The Tribulation, the Kingdom and the Patient Endurance Which Are In Jesus Christ (continued)

The Lord knew that the twelve had discussed and argued among themselves who was the greatest among them. Jesus knew how ambitious their natural man was, but He also knew that their heart was wholly dedicated to Him (except for Judas). He knew that after the Cross had done its work in their lives that they would be "able." They would, in measure, have their Gethsemane; so He said to James and John: "The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I AM baptized." - And in saying it to them, He said it to all who will take up their cross and follow Him.

You know, beloved, when Peter said, "Lo, we have left all, and followed Thee," he was referring to earthly things, and earthly riches, and earthly ties (Mark 10:29). But when the Lord Jesus answered Peter, He was not speaking of the earthly realm. He was speaking of the hundredfoldness, limitless, spiritual blessings of the Kingdom of God. When Christ spoke of houses, brothers, sisters and mothers and lands etc., He was not speaking of the earthly realm, He was speaking of the spiritual blessings and the unsearchable riches which are In Him. Christ also said that this hundredfoldness of His Kingdom was to be received by us now, in the present age, "along with persecutions." He also said that we would receive this hundredfoldness, the unsearchable riches that are In Him, throughout eternity.

Christ was speaking of His Kingdom, which is not of this world. He was speaking of the Kingdom of God in which the greatest is the One Who is the servant of all, and only Christ is the Greatest; and in this Kingdom those who reign with Him must suffer with Him. - The Tribulation, the Kingdom, and the Patient Endurance which are in Jesus Christ are irrevocably linked together.

So the Lord Jesus Christ said to James and John, "The cup that I drink ye shall drink"; and "The cup He drank" always leads us to the agony of Gethsemane and the suffering of the Cross. Thus, in the Word of God, it is by Divine Design that the last two times Peter, James and John are recorded as being together is at Gethsemane, and then at Jerusalem, 12 or 15 years later, when the Holy Spirit solemnly tells us: "Now, at that strategic, significant period [in the growth of the Church and the success of the gospel message], Herod the king laid his hands upon certain of those who belonged to the Church for the purpose of maltreating them. And he put James, the brother of John, out of the way, beheading him with a sword ... and ... he put him (Peter) in prison" (Acts 12;1, 2).

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 70)

He Giveth Songs In the Night

But no one says, ‘Where is God, my Creator, who gives songs in the night' (Job 35:10)
Do you have sleepless nights, tossing on the hot pillow, and watching for the first glint of dawn? Ask the Divine Spirit to enable you to fix your thoughts on God your Maker, and believe that He can fill those lonely, dreary hours with song.
Is yours the night of bereavement? Is it not often at such a time that God draws near, and assures the mourner that the Lord has need of the departed loved one, and called “the eager, earnest spirit to stand in the bright throng of the invisible, liberated, radiant, active, intent on some high mission”; and as the thought enters, is there not the beginning of a song?
Is yours the night of discouragement and fancied or actual failure? No one understands you, your friends reproach; but your Maker draws nigh, and gives you a song—a song of hope, the song which is harmonious with the strong, deep music of His providence. Be ready to sing the songs that your Maker gives.
“What then? Shall we sit idly down and say 
The night hath come; it is no longer day? 
Yet as the evening twilight fades away, 
The sky is filled with stars, invisible to day.
The strength of the vessel can be demonstrated only by the hurricane, and the power of the Gospel can be fully shown only when the Christian is subjected to some fiery trial. If God would make manifest the fact that “He giveth songs in the night,” He must first make it night.

~L. B. Cowman~