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Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Power of His Resurrection # 39

The Throne in Heaven (continued)

2. The Nature, Basis and Plan of This Union (continued)

(b) The Basis

The basis is life. That is what John brings out so clearly, by way of illustration, in his Gospel, and, by way of direct statement, in his epistle - "God gave unto us eternal life, and this life is in His Son." "He that hath the Son hath the life." That is a statement imposed upon the basic declaration that our fellowship is with the Father and with the Son. The fellowship is explained as being that of possessing His very life. The basis of union with God is that God's own life is given to us in new birth, and upon that God builds everything, on that He counts for everything. Where that is not, God can do nothing so far as union is concerned.

In order to reach and realize all God's thought, God must put Himself into man in the very essence of His being, His very life. God cannot realize spiritual, eternal, universal intentions on the basis of natural life. The Scriptures make it very clear that man's own natural life can never be the basis of the realization of any of God's purposes, that God's own life alone can be that. Thus for all His hopes God first of all provides His own basis. God's hope is in His own life, not in ours, and he puts the basis of His hope within at new birth, and on that basis He proceeds to the development of all His thought, and the realization of all His intention.

That life brings light. The light is the life. Without the life that can be no light. Light  is essential, because man is not a will-less creature, but is destined to realize God's ends by cooperating intelligently with God on the basis of one life. Therefore, light i necessary; and if we walk in the light, we have fellowship. The basis, then, of union is life, and life issues in light, by which again obedience comes.

You will notice that in all these activities of God in bringing about spiritual union with Himself, the Word is His instrument. Life comes by the Word. Light comes by the Word. In the beginning of the creation, in bringing the creation into living union with Himself for His purposes, it was the Word first of all which was the instrument. In the re-creation, or regeneration, it is the Word again. "In the beginning was the Word," and it always is the Word. That is why the Lord Jesus said: "... the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." So that life and light by the Living Word are the basis of union with God.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 40 - (c) The Place 

Have You Performed a Spiritual Checkup?

I don't look forward to getting my physical. They do a lot of tests, and they always check my blood pressure. The last time I went, they told me, “You know, your blood pressure is a little high.” I told them it was high because I knew they were going to take it.

So I told my doctor, “You walk into the room, and my blood pressure goes up. It is your fault. You need to sneak up sometime when I am not looking and then take it. I bet it will be lower.” We kind of joke back and forth a little. But we know it is an exam. I fill out a questionnaire, and he asks a lot of questions: Are there any lumps? Are there any growths? Are there any things out of the ordinary? It is an exam to determine my physical state.

There is a spiritual exam as well. The Bible says, “Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5). In other words, are you really a Christian? Or are you just pretending? You are really a Christian when you have put your faith in Jesus Christ and Christ alone to save you, and you are trusting in Him and walking with Him. It will show itself in the way that you live.

Sometimes when people go through hardship, they say that event or tragedy has shaken their life; it has shaken their faith. In fact, they say they have lost their faith. But the faith that can’t be shaken is the faith that has been shaken. If it is genuine faith, then it will stand up to the test.

~Greg Laurie~

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Power of His Resurrection # 38

The Throne in Heaven (continued)

1. The Fact of Union with the Lord

It would not take us long in turning to the Word to establish the fact. We should only have to take one part of the Scriptures alone to establish that quite definitely, but there is a very great deal more. If we were to take the Gospel of John, we should find there that union with the Lord is one of the great features of that Gospel. It is illustrated in various ways right from the beginning - in the second chapter, the third chapter, the fourth chapter, the fifth chapter, the sixth chapter - right on it is one many-sided presentation of the truth of union with the Lord. And then there comes a point at which the Lord, having illustrated it, emphasizes it. Having shown it to be the deepest reality of the relationship between Him and His disciples, and His disciples and Himself, He begins to speak of going away, and says much about not tarrying, of there being but a little while and He will have gone. By such utterances He has provoked in them considerable concern, so that they are much troubled.

Then, when that anxiety, that fear, that dread, that concern has reached a certain point of intensity in them, so that it is approaching the point of overwhelming depression, He changes the whole course of things with His Word of exhortation, "Let not your heart be troubled ..." From that point He goes on to show that all that He has been saying about union is to be a spiritual thing of a deeper, stronger character than all His earthly association with them. He shows that although He is going, He is yet remaining; although He will be in heaven, He will still be in them. The union is a tremendous reality. He is saying quite clearly that this is far more real than the association of people on the earth.

You move from this Gospel to John's first epistle, and you know how much the same thing is emphasized there; "... our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son ..." That is the basis of the epistle. The nature of that is expanded in the epistle, but we are not dealing with the nature, we are observing the fact of union with the Lord in heaven.

This is not merely the relationship between a god and his worshipers as in heathenism. There is a relationship between the gods of the heathen and their worshipers, but you can never call it a union. This is not relationship between a master and his servants, neither is this the relationship as of a workman and his tools. All these represent a relationship, but they never represent a union. What the Lord has designed is something very different from that kind of relationship. We fear that there are not a few people who know only that kind of relationship. God to them is a Creator, and they are His creation. God to them is God - perhaps the only true God - and they are worshipers of the true God. But that is not union. God has willed union. That is a great fact which is revealed throughout the Scriptures.

2. The Nature, Basis and Plan of This Union

(a) The Nature

The nature is that which carries it beyond such relationships as we have just mentioned. The nature of this relationship is essentially spiritual; that is, it is a union of spirit. "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit."  "... they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit..." because God is Spirit." The union then, is the union of spirit. That goes deeper than any other kind of union. We cannot go deeper than that. That defines the nature of man in the deepest, the most real part of his being, that is is fundamentally in the sight of God, spirit.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 39 - ((b) The Basis)

Jesus Is With Thee in the Fiery Trials

"I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction" (Isa. 48:10).

Does not the Word come like a soft shower, assuaging the fury of the flame? Yes, is it not an asbestos armor, against which the heat has no power? Let the affliction come--God has chosen me. Poverty, thou mayest stride in at my door; but God is in the house already, and He has chosen me. Sickness, thou mayest intrude; but I have a balsam ready--God has chosen me. Whatever befall me in this vale of tears, I know that He has chosen me.

Fear not, Christian; Jesus is with thee. In all thy fiery trials, His presence is both thy comfort and safety. He will never leave one whom He has chosen for His own. "Fear not, for I am with thee," is His sure word of promise to His chosen ones in "the furnace of affliction."
--C. H. Spurgeon

Pain's furnace heat within me quivers,
God's breath upon the flame doth blow;
And all my heart in anguish shivers
And trembles at the fiery glow;
And yet I whisper, "As God will!"
And in the hottest fire hold still.
He comes and lays my heart, all heated,
On the hard anvil, minded so
Into His own fair shape to beat it
With His great hammer, blow on blow;
And yet I whisper, "As God will!"
And at His heaviest blows hold still.
He takes my softened heart and beats it;
The sparks fly off at every blow;
He turns it o'er and o'er and heats it,
And lets it cool, and makes it glow;
And yet I whisper, "As God will!"
And in His mighty hand hold still.
Why should I murmur? for the sorrow
Thus only longer-lived would be;
The end may come, and will tomorrow,
When God has done His work in me;
So I say trusting, "As God will!"
And, trusting to the end, hold still. 

--Julius Sturm

The burden of suffering seems a tombstone hung about our necks, while in reality it is only the weight which is necessary to keep down the diver while he is hunting for pearls.

~L. B. Cowman~

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Power of His Resurrection # 37

The Throne in Heaven (continued)

2. Blindness Brought to the Syrian Host

In the same way by that union power is put forth to bring blindness upon the great host sent by the Syrian king to take him. Because of that touch with the Throne Elisha takes command of the opposing forces, and becomes the governor, the ruler, or one in command.

Here is a foreshadowing, in a sense, of what happened with Paul on his voyage to Rome. He began the voyage, humanly speaking, by being a prisoner, and concluded it by being both in command of the commander and of all under his command - the ship, the crew, and everything else. It was simply a case of spiritual ascendancy because of his being in touch with the Throne.

Then again, the same thing is embodied in the turning of the famine recorded in chapter 7. There is a terrible and devastating famine, with horrible and ghastly aspects: the next day there is food obtainable for nearly nothing, and the hosts of the besieging army turning off because of a rumor, but so turned off as to leave all the provision of the hosts behind as resources for God's people. It is by the Word of the Lord at the mouth of Elisha that this is done.

In all these matters you see two things, or two parts of one thing. There is the power of life triumphant over death, but this as representing a union with the Throne. And in recognizing that, we should recognize that the supreme, the ultimate issue and intention of knowing Him, and the power of His resurrection, even here in this life, is union with the Throne. It is heavenly union with the Lord.

This is where that foundational thing in the life of Elisha comes out in its fullest, its highest, and its deepest expression. That is to say, Elisha commenced his life ministry upon the establishment of a spiritual union with his master who had gone into heaven. The spirit of Elijah having fallen on Elisha made them one, and Elijah in heaven and Elisha on earth are in oneness by reason of that spirit. All that comes through in the life of Elisha is simply the expression of what is implied by Elijah being in heaven.

In all this we can quite distinctly see the type of the exaltation of the Lord Jesus to the right hand of the Majesty on High. The Church as His instrument, His vessel on earth, is united with Him by the Holy Spirit, and is therefore in vital union with the Throne where He is. The Church is here to express the power, the dominion of that Throne of the ascended Lord. Into that all believers, individually and collectively, are called by the Lord.

Let us break that up, and first of all simply observe:

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 38 - (1. The Fact of Union With the Lord)

Why Is Christian Unity so Important?

Paul wrote [1 Corinthians 1:10–17] in a letter to the divided body of Corinthian believers. The church was allowing a disagreement to hinder their fellowship. Paul knew the steep danger of dissension among believers.

Scripture is clear about the church’s mission. Some of its highest goals include sharing the gospel with all nations, caring for those in need, and worshiping together, along with loving, encouraging, and admonishing one another in God’s truth. None of these is fully possible if a church is divided, whether physically or mentally.

God wants His people to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3, NIV). So if all Christians base their beliefs on the Bible, they should be able to settle every argument according to its truth, right? Unfortunately, it is not that simple. Our human nature, preferences, and different interpretations of Scripture can cause disagreements. Consider, for example, how many churches have experienced strife over music styles.

Tragically, when differences are divisive, our mission becomes blurred and we are ineffective. Just as fishermen cannot catch fish with a broken net, we are unable to effectively share Jesus with the world when our fellowship is not intact....

Are your actions and words strengthening your fellow Christians? Or do you gossip, express negativity, and push your own preferences and opinions? Be careful. God has mandated that our conduct positively impact the church’s unity. This is essential if we are to accomplish His purpose.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Power of His Resurrection # 36

The Healing of Naaman (continued)

This is the warning side of things. It is possible to come into a very close proximity to the Testimony, to be in touch with things - to hear, to see, to know, to have an association which is formal - and yet never to stand livingly on that resurrection ground. It is a terrible tragedy to be in a position like that; and yet there are many, who can talk the dialect, use the phraseology, reproduce the terms, but who have not life. We may be  in the privileges of association, and yet not in the life of union.

That word of warning cannot be left out as we come to the end of this story, but having struck the note of warning which we are obliged to admit into our consideration, let us close on the higher ground of noticing again to what the Lord calls us, and that is to an ever-growing knowledge of Himself in the power of His resurrection: and that increase of Divine Life is by the way of a yielding up of our own interests, our own considerations. There is no life except by death. That is no gain except by loss.

May the Lord speak that message into our hearts according as it is necessary in our case.

The Throne In Heaven

2 Kings 6:8-23

When we reach this part of the life of Elisha, we come to touch an ultimate feature of the power of resurrection. It relates to the Throne in heaven. That which comes out of the sixth and seventh chapters of the second book of Kings is that secret, mystic touch which Elisha had with the Throne above. You are here getting away from the things which are more of an incidental character, back behind things, and you find that there is a secret, hidden communion between Elisha and the Throne of God in heave. The very plans of the Syrian king, and his  purposes, are divulged. Elisha has secret information apart from men, apart from all human observation. He knows within himself what is taking place. He is in touch with the Fountain Head of all knowledge, and it is by reason of the secret spiritual touch with the Throne that he so acts, and so moves, as to frustrate plans which would involve in death and destruction.

In New Testament words, Elisha comes to the place where he is not ignorant of the enemy's devices, but is cognizant of them. It is spiritual perception; it is spiritual knowledge. It is knowledge which springs from a spiritual union with the Throne of government in the heavens.

When the king of Syria seeks to take him, two other things of the same character come before us.

1. The Opening of the Eyes of Elisha's Servant

The Lord opened the eyes of Elisha's servant to see what his master was already seeing, that of which he was already aware, the spiritual hosts on the side of the Lord's servant.

Here again is union with the Throne in a very real way, and with all the Throne resources.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 37 - (2. Blindness Brought to the Syrian Host)

They Shall Mount Up with Wings as Eagles

They shall mount up with wings as eagles (Isaiah 40:31).

There is a fable about the way the birds got their wings at the beginning. They were first made without wings. Then God made the wings and put them down before the wingless birds and said to them, "Come, take up these burdens and bear them."

The birds had lovely plumage and sweet voices; they could sing, and their feathers gleamed in the sunshine, but they could not soar in the air. They hesitated at first when bidden to take up the burdens that lay at their feet, but soon they obeyed, and taking up the wings in their beaks, laid them on their shoulders to carry them.

For a little while the load seemed heavy and hard to bear, but presently, as they went on carrying the burdens, folding them over their hearts, the wings grew fast to their little bodies, and soon they discovered how to use them, and were lifted by them up into the air -- the weights became wings.

It is a parable. We are the wingless birds, and our duties and tasks are the pinions God has made to lift us up and carry us heavenward. We look at our burdens and heavy loads, and shrink from them; but as we lift them and bind them about our hearts, they become wings, and on them we rise and soar toward God.

There is no burden which, if we lift it cheerfully and bear it with love in our hearts, will not become a blessing to us. God means our tasks to be our helpers; to refuse to bend our shoulders to receive a load, is to decline a new opportunity for growth.
--J. R. Miller

Blessed is any weight, however overwhelming, which God has been so good as to fasten with His own hand upon our shoulders.
--F. W. Faber

~L. B. Cowman~

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Power of His Resurrection # 35

The Healing of Naaman (continued)

His Resources at the Lord's Disposal (continued)

At this point we are brought to another consideration. There was this proffered gift, but it was refused by Elisha simply because a peril was  recognized. Elisha had had no difficulty in accepting material kindness at the hands of the Shunammite, but he absolutely refused to accept anything at the hands of Naaman. These two people stood in altogether different positions spiritually. The peril which Elisha clearly discerned in this particular direction was lest  Naaman should go away feeling that, after all, he had some hand in this matter, and that he had paid for it. The Lord never wants any gifts, any resources placed at His disposal which carry with them the slightest suggestion that they are acts of patronage. He leaves no room for any reactions of the flesh, of nature, the gratifying of anything in that realm. So Elisha, recognizing that there might creep in, even at this point, some little bit of that natural life which loves to have satisfaction in itself because of what it does, closed the door to that, and refused to admit any possibility of it. He sent Naaman away with the blessing, but with no personal gratification.

At that point the tragedy of Gehazi went after him, made up a long story as from Elisha, his master, asked for the gift, and got it. We do not know what mischief that may have done with Naaman, but we do know that it brought Gehazi under a terrible judgment; "The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto they seed for ever."

What is the explanation of this? The Lord Jesus Himself seems to give us an insight into it in the Gospel by Luke, chapter 4:27-29:

"And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian. And they were all filled with wrath in the synagogue, as they heard these things; And they rose up, and cast him forth out of the city ..."

Gehazi had been in close touch with Elisha, had seen his works and head his words, and all that Elisha represented was available to Gehazi; but Gehazi, with all his knowledge of it and association with it, remained upon a merely official ground, and never came on to a vital ground. Now we can see what the Lord is saying to the Jews. Without saying so in as many words, He has transferred the situation of Gehazi to the Jews of His own day: "You have heard: you have been in close association with the vessel of Life: you have seen the works: you know all about it from the standpoint of close proximity to it, but you remain merely upon official ground as ostensibly representing God, and have never come through on to living ground. Your judgment is leprosy, death!" That is what happened to Israel.

Gehazi stood on official ground. You see him acting in an official way when the Shunammite's son died, and she laid him on the bed of Elisha, and went to seek him. The prophet said to Gehazi, "... take my staff in thine hand, and go thy way ... and lay my staff upon the face of the child." And we can see Gehazi taking the staff in his very official, pompous way, and going as the representative of the great prophet and putting the staff on the lad expecting to see some result, but nothing happened. Perhaps he tried moving the staff this way and that, to try to get some sort of response. But death never yields to what is merely official, death only yields to life. When the one who is in person the embodiment of life triumphant over death stretches himself upon that body, then death is swallowed up in life; but nothing official can do that.

The Jewish leaders were utterly impotent, although they were supposed to be the representatives of God. They were in close association with the life, yet they were dead. And because they did not come through to the position represented by Christ, but were self-seeking, like Gehazi (and their very self-seeking made them prejudiced) they came under judgment and perished. Their generations have been under that judgment ever since, and are there today. Leprosy and death clings to them for the age.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 36)

God''s Jewels Are Crystallized Tears

He hath made me a polished shaft (Isa. 49:2).

There is a very famous "Pebble Beach" at Pescadero, on the California coast. The long line of white surf comes up with its everlasting roar, and rattles and thunders among the stones on the shore. They are caught in the arms of the pitiless waves, and tossed and rolled, and rubbed together, and ground against the sharp-grained cliffs. Day and night forever the ceaseless attrition goes on--never any rest. And the result?

Tourists from all the world flock thither to gather the round and beautiful stones. They are laid up in cabinets; they ornament the parlor mantels. But go yonder, around the point of the cliff that breaks off the force of the sea; and up in that quiet cove, sheltered from the storms, and lying ever in the sun, you shall find abundance of pebbles that have never been chosen by the traveler.

Why are these left all the years through unsought? For the simple reason that they have escaped all the turmoil and attrition of the waves, and the quiet and peace have left them as they found them, rough and angular and devoid of beauty. Polish comes through trouble.
Since God knows what niche we are to fill, let us trust Him to shape us to it. Since He knows what work we are to do, let us trust Him to drill us to the proper preparation.

O blows that smite! O hurts that pierce
This shrinking heart of mine!
What are ye but the Master's tools
Forming a work Divine?
Nearly all God's jewels are crystallized tears.

~L. B. Cowman~

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Power of His Resurrection # 34

The Healing of Naaman (continued)

After the seventh time Naaman came again whole, not only of his leprosy, but with his flesh as the flesh of a little child. It is not only that the positive action of death has been removed, but he has come into a new realm altogether. The flesh of a little child speaks of entire newness, a new life, a new realm. For him, speaking typically, it was like beginning life all over again as a babe; everything was before him. A whole new world was stretched in front of him.

That is the spiritual effect of every fresh breaking through into resurrection life. Every time we are touched with some fresh experience of His life we are conscious that it is a new world. There are new possibilities. The limitations of the past have become as nothing in the fresh possibilities which have come to us on the ground of this measure of risen life. It is always like that. There we reach the point of newness of life in possession. What remains is simply the expression of that newness of life in certain directions.

A New Attitude Toward the Instrument Used for His Spiritual Good

Naaman was very angry with Elisha beforehand. He would go away in a rage. But now he came to Elisha. There is no question of reputation now, of personal importance now. He made his way instantly and directly to the tent of Elisha. He sought fellowship with the instrument of blessing. He was no longer ashamed of that.

You can make the broad application of the principle of fellowship being established in life, because life shared is the basis of fellowship, and when once we really share some life we have the foundations of fellowship, and all dividing elements are put away.

Naaman Worshiped Jehovah

He worshiped Jehovah and said: "Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel" It is a test as well as a fact stated, that genuine knowledge of the Lord in resurrection life shows itself in an adoration of the Lord, worship of the Lord, devotion to the Lord Himself. If it is but the acceptance of a teaching it does not carry us that far. If it is the association with a movement we fall short of that. But if it is a personal knowledge of the Lord in the power of resurrection, the mark of our lives is a deep, reverent devotion to the Lord Himself That is really the Testimony. It is not what we have to talk about. It is not our teaching, not our system of things, and not our movement. It is not even our fellowship as representing something technical on the earth. It is our Lord! Let us never be found talking about the teaching which we have accepted, or which is represented by certain people in certain places. Let us see to it that for us it is a matter of the Lord, and if the teaching does not bring us to the Lord then thee is something wrong, perhaps not with the teaching, but with our apprehension of it. Worship must become the dominating feature of those who know Him in the power of His resurrection.

His Resources at the Lord's Disposal

The third thing noticeable is that Naaman wanted to place his resources at the service of the Lord in offering a gift. That has always been a feature of real life. It was so at Pentecost. When the Lord does something within and brings into a new fullness of Himself, we want all the fullness that we have to be at the Lord's disposal. At any rate that was the inclination of the heart of Naaman.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 35)

Keep Our Hands Off It!

Neither know we what to do; but our eyes are, upon thee (2 Chron. 20:12). 

A life was lost in Israel because a pair of human hands were laid unbidden upon the ark of God. They were placed upon it with the best intent, to steady it when trembling and shaking as the oxen drew it along the rough way; but they touched God's work presumptuously, and they fell paralyzed and lifeless. Much of the life of faith consists in letting things alone.

If we wholly trust an interest to God, we must keep our hands off it; and He will guard it for us better than we can help Him. "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass."

Things may seem to be going all wrong, but He knows as well as we; and He will arise in the right moment if we are really trusting Him so fully as to let Him work in His own way and time. There is nothing so masterly as inactivity in some things, and there is nothing so hurtful as restless working, for God has undertaken to work His sovereign will.
--A. B. Simpson

Being perplexed, I say,
'Lord, make it right!
Night is as day to Thee,
Darkness as light.
I am afraid to touch
Things that involve so much;
My trembling hand may shake,
My skilless hand may break;
Thine can make no mistake.'
Being in doubt I say,
'Lord, make it plain;
Which is the true, safe way?
Which would be gain?
I am not wise to know,
Nor sure of foot to go;
What is so clear to Thee,
Lord, make it clear to me!'
It is such a comfort to drop the tangles of life into God's hands and leave them there.

~L. B. Cowman~

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Power of His Resurrection # 33

The Healing of Naaman (continued)

That can be applied in many ways, and various people come up against the same deadlock along different lines. For some it is intellectual; they must have an intellectual salvation, and if they cannot bring everything into the realm of their intellect then the thing is not worth considering, it is beneath them. Others must have it in other vessels, and by other means which are suitable to them in nature. But, be it what it may, God has His own position as represented by the Cross, and God never deviates one he hair's-breadth from that. God's ground is utter self-emptying. That is the Cross! When we come to Jordan, that means that we have come to the place where all consideration for reputation, position, honor, or any such thing in the realm of the natural man has been fully set aside, and we can never come to Jordan until that is so. Naaman may have his battle, just as multitudes of others have had their battles, on exactly the same ground, until they could get through to the place where no consideration whatever for themselves, as being anything of any value at all, has a place. If the waters of Jordan remain symbolic of Divine judgment of man, then that puts man down into a very low place, that reduces man to something without a reputation, without honor. There can be no getting through to the Lord's fullness of life, only insofar as man by nature has been emptied out to where he no longer regards himself as being of any account before God.

These are simple truths, but they apply to believers as much as to unbelievers. The full implications of the Cross have not been kept clearly before the Lord's people through the ages. Unfortunately a great deal of Gospel preaching has laid all the stress upon the satisfaction of man, the good and the blessing of man, with the result that afterward, sometimes years afterward, the Lord has to bring home the fact of the Cross as ruling out man by nature. The consequence has been that we have had to  have conventions and special meetings to get Christians consecrated; and consecration is really a matter of full surrender. But what an obvious fault that is, when all that should have been done right at the beginning without any reservation at all. And had the Cross in its full implications been presented right from the beginning, then the believer would be living on the level of the convention life from the first. We have all suffered from the fault. Most of us, or many of us, have spent years in floundering along in a large measure of weakness and ineffectiveness, because we had never from the beginning seen the full implications of the Cross as to ourselves. We saw that Calvary was salvation for the sinner, but we had never seen clearly that Calvary was the setting aside of man utterly in himself; and it was not until we came to see that, that we came through into the fullness of life. We have brought over a very great deal of our natural life on to new creation ground, and, having tried to use it, we found that it was a constant burden and handicap, whereas the meaning of the Cross is that all things are of God. That is comprehensive and conclusive "all." All things are out from God.

For Naaman the full implications of the Cross were presented, and not one bit of consideration was given to his flesh. No provision was made whatever for his flesh. He came with his pomp and retinue to the tent of Elisha, and sent to announce his arrival, but the prophet did not so much as rise from his stool to look out and see what a wonderful man this was. He simply went on with whatever he was doing, and said: "Go and wash in Jordan seven times ..." The man of reputation felt the sting of the ignoring of "himself", and he was going away in a great rage, saying: "Behold, I thought, he will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and recover the leper." Elisha's attitude was: "Not in the least! that is the measure in which I respect the flesh!" That is the measure in which God takes account of man by nature!

It is a painful lesson for a great many servants of the Lord to learn. Not in the least does the Lord take account of what a man is in himself; not even as to what a saved man is in himself. That man does not come under the eye of God. The prophet would not even look out to see Naaman. That is God's attitude. The eye of God does not take into view what man is by nature; He simply ignores him and sets him aside. Calvary represents that.

It is the way of life, the way of fullness. It seems to be very much the opposite when you are going through those stages, when those principles are being applied. There seems to be no life at all in that direction, and little hope. it is quite true! The natural man may as well take it for granted that there is nothing for him in that direction, as the natural man. Our flesh will get nothing out of salvation when God has His way. Our natural life is not going to get any gratification. Taking up the Cross and denying ourselves is something of a very radical character when wrought out in spiritual terms. It is self denial!

That is the meaning of Calvary, and such a presentation discovered Naaman's real heart state, and illustrates for us what death is. Death working is, after all, only the working of the natural life. To men it may appear a great thing.  There may be that about it which man would call honorable. It may have a good deal of success in this world. There may be features of great ability. There may be a good reputation among men. But before God there is something else which renders all that as nothing, not to be taken into account; it is the reign of spiritual death. Naaman was put to a very thorough test as to whether he really meant business in this matter of resurrection life, life triumphant over death. He was fully extended as to whether to him this was a matter of life and death. "Go and wash in Jordan seven times." The meaning of "seven" is spiritual completeness. Naaman was being drawn out to a point of spiritual completeness.

The story has nothing to say about Naaman stopping short after the second, the third, or the fourth time, and this shows that now he was really going right through with this whole thing, having once definitely faced the issue. His servants reasoned with him, and he had listened to reason. Then confronted with the issue, he said in effect: "Well, if this is the way, then I am going this way without any reservation. My alternative is to go back to my country as I came, in this living death. Am I prepared for that? or am I really prepared to go all the way with this matter without a reservation?" He decided, because of the seriousness of the issue, that he would go all the way. And so, although on any other ground or a less complete consecration he might have stopped after the second dip in Jordan, and said: "Well, there you are! Nothing has happened! Just as I expected!" we find instead that Naaman persevered. And now the third time, nothing! The fourth time, nothing! The fifth time, nothing! The sixth time, nothing! But he went through to the seventh time. His faith was tried on this matter right up to the end.

We know what that means in our own experience. God has placed before us an issue. That issue is no less a thing than life triumphant over death. That not only applies to the unsaved, that applies to saints. The full expression of that life was seen by the Apostle Paul to be bound up with a certain point of advancement, when he said: "Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect ... but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind ... I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus." "If by any means I may attain unto the resurrection [Greek - out-resurrection] from the dead," a resurrection which is a reward, and not a resurrection which is a general thing; some expression of the power of His resurrection which is not general but specific. So that you see the matter of life triumphant over death in its full meaning is something which concerns saints after Paul's type, and goes a long way on into the Christian life and experience. But beyond the initial expression of His resurrection in our salvation, and the ultimate full expression in the out-resurrection from the dead, there are continuous crises, progressive developments of that life, and each fresh stage issuing in further fullness is marked is marked by some crisis of this very character, namely, as to how much more of self we are prepared to leave behind. It may be that at a given point our own personal will is set against the Lord's will, or that a form of sin is present that we are not prepared to give up. On the other hand it may not be in the realm of definite and positive selfishness, but there are points of a fine character to which we come in the matter of our preparedness to let go something, some position, some relationship, and move on with the Lord into a new realm which is costly, and which means the setting aside in a new way of our own sensibilities, and our own feelings, and our own ideas, in order to attain unto that fuller power of His resurrection. We shall be challenged by these thing continually as we go on, and for us the power of His resurrection is bound up with the extending of our faith to some further point than ever before. That is the statement of facts. We shall know that that is true, if we are going on with the Lord, and perhaps the value of what is before us now will be found in our being able to say, when we come to such issues, and such crises: "This is jut that: the question for the moment is whether I am prepared to take this further step, which, involving me perhaps in further difficulties, means that my own personal considerations have to be set aside in a new way." Thus it is a step of faith more than ever before. But it is the way of life, the way of increase. Naaman went the whole way with God, and God went the whole way with him, even unto the seventh degree.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 34)

Condemned or Hopeful?

Psalm 24:4
He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
Outward practical holiness is a very precious mark of grace. It is to be feared that many professors have perverted the doctrine of justification by faith in such a way as to treat good works with contempt; if so, they will receive everlasting contempt at the last great day. If our hands are not clean, let us wash them in Jesus' precious blood, and so let us lift up pure hands unto God. But "clean hands"will not suffice, unless they are connected with "a pure heart." True religion is heart-work. We may wash the outside of the cup and the platter as long as we please, but if the inward parts be filthy, we are filthy altogether in the sight of God, for our hearts are more truly ourselves than our hands are; the very life of our being lies in the inner nature, and hence the imperative need of purity within. The pure in heart shall see God, all others are but blind bats. The man who is born for heaven "hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity." All men have their joys, by which their souls are lifted up; the worldling lifts up his soul in carnal delights, which are mere empty vanities; but the saint loves more substantial things; like Jehoshaphat, he is lifted up in the ways of the Lord. He who is content with husks, will be reckoned with the swine. Does the world satisfy thee? Then thou hast thy reward and portion in this life; make much of it, for thou shalt know no other joy. "Nor sworn deceitfully." The saints are men of honour still. The Christian man's word is his only oath; but that is as good as twenty oaths of other men. False speaking will shut any man out of heaven, for a liar shall not enter into God's house, whatever may be his professions or doings. Reader, does the text before us condemn thee, or dost thou hope to ascend into the hill of the Lord?

~Charles Spurgeon~

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Power of His Recurrection # 32

The Healing of Naaman

2 Kings 5

While, strictly speaking, this incident has its place within the realm of the salvation of the sinner, it has general principles of a wider scope and fuller application, and therefore becomes a matter for the serious consideration of the Lord's own people.

Let us remind ourselves, at this point, of the position typically represented by Elisha. It is not a study of the life of Elisha, nor of a book of the Bible with which we are occupied, but a seeking to know the Lord in the power of His resurrection. The power and fullness of resurrection life is what gives meaning to the life and ministry of Elisha.

The Natural Man

Naaman is a representation of the natural man, as he is outwardly, and as he is inwardly.

Naaman is said to have been a great man before his master, a man held in honor, a man of reputation, of position, of ability; a man of success in his own realm. And yet, with all that can be said for him as to his greatness, his reputation, position, ability, success, death is working in him. There is one thing set over against all the rest, which casts a shadow over it, and brings it all into a realm of death. Death is active, death is working, death is the master of the situation, and, therefore, all else is under the reign of vanity; that is, everything is subject to a lease, and can at best only go on for a while. It will all pass, unless something happens. That is the man presented, the man by nature.

Then he is brought into the realm of things Divine. Initiative in the matter is taken apart from himself, outside of himself. He is not the first one to move. The little serving maid of his wife is the instrument by which the link is made between him and the source of life. Sometimes quite small things become the means in the hands of God of bringing about such a link. Insignificant things, humanly speaking, are often used; and it is a thing to note in this story how the Lord's means and methods are of a different character altogether from those which Naaman would have considered suitable to his case. Grace very often moves for our good through means which we would hardly take account of, things which do not bear any mark of reputation whatever.

Through this simple, and, so to speak, insignificant (it proved to be very significant) instrumentality, Naaman is brought within the compass of the ministry of life. It looked like a chance thing. The thing seems to be so unarranged, so like a chance expression. This little serving maid said to her mistress: "Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! then would he recover him of his leprosy." It is little more than a sympathetic ejaculation - " I do wish that you could get into touch with such-and-such a means that the Lord uses!" And within a hint, a mere suggestion, there is the working of a Divine energy with tremendous issues involved.

Men organize great movements, and bring a good deal of pressure upon people as to why they should attend such-and-such a thing. The Lord very often effects His great ends in much more simple ways, which look to be merely accidental, incidental, at times. There is a wonderful simplicity and quietness about the ways in which the Lord gets His main ends. They just come about. A suggestion, a hint, an indication, an intimation, but lying in the direction of that there may be the ultimate things in the will of God.

This thing was never planned, never worked out beforehand, never elaborately arranged. In a very simple way, it just came about. It is something to take account of, lest the very simplicity of the ways of the Lord should catch us in an unwatchful state, and because we expected some voice from heaven, or some far more imposing method of God to get us into His full purpose, we miss those simple movements of life which were pointing in that direction. What a great deal hangs upon this very simple heart-expression of this maid!!

Out of that Naaman eventually comes into direct touch with the instrument, the vessel of life - life in its fullness, life which was to triumph over death at work in him. But then his real difficulties commence. It is not until he comes into touch with life itself that the real state of the man is made plain. He knows he is a leper; that is, he knows that despite everything he possesses there is a serious lack, and that unless that lack is made good, life for him is after all a disappointing thing, and could never satisfy him; everything has a shadow over it because of that one lack. In reality, however, the true character of the man's whole condition is not disclosed until he comes directly into touch with the means of his deliverance, when another kind of history commences, which really illustrates for us the nature of the natural man, even at his best.

Embodying it all in one comprehensive statement, his difficulties are the acceptance of the full implications of the Cross. He can accept the fact that he is seriously in need. He can accept the fact that his need might very well be met in a certain direction, and is prepared to go so far in that direction to have his need met. But then he comes up against the full implications of what that direction means, and he finds himself at that point unable to accept all the implications. Being the natural men, he requires some recognition of his own qualities. He needs to have himself taken into account in his own person. He is a man with a reputation, held in honor, and therefore he ought to be dealt with by quite reputable means, something quite in keeping this his standing. Thus when it is proposed that he should adopt means, and go by a way which to him, from his standpoint, was quite disreputable, he finds himself confronted with what Paul calls "the offence of the Cross." "Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them, and be clean?" Something with a reputation, something more suitable to such a one as I am! And that is the root of his trouble.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 33)

How Did Jesus Come "to Save"?

Commonly, most men, when they read the words "to save" consider them to mean salvation from hell. They are partially correct, but the notion is highly defective. It is true Christ does save men from the penalty of their guilt. He does take those to heaven who deserve the eternal wrath and displeasure of the Most High. It is true that He does blot out “iniquity, transgression, and sin” and that the iniquities of the remnant of His people are passed over for the sake of His blood and atonement.

But that is not the whole meaning of the words “to save.” “To save” means something more than just delivering penitents from going down to hell. By the words, “to save,” I understand the whole of the great work of salvation, from the first holy desire, the first spiritual conviction, onward to complete sanctification! All this is done of God through Jesus Christ.

Christ is not only mighty to save those who repent, but He is able to make men repent! He is engaged not merely to carry those to heaven who believe, but He is mighty to give men new hearts and to work faith in them. He is mighty not merely to give heaven to one who wishes for it, but He is mighty to make the man who hates holiness, love it, to constrain the despiser of His name to bend his knee before Him and to make the most abandoned reprobate turn from the error of his ways!

~Charles Spurgeon~

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Power of His Resurrection # 31

The Nature of the Life and Testimony of the Lord's People (continued)

2 Kings 3 and 4

The Supreme Need: Fullness of Resurrection Life (continued)

Here is a woman who had the child, and that is wonderful. When we are born again it is a miracle, a  glorious thing. But when the Lord takes  us through experiences to bring us to know Him in the power of His resurrection in our very being - not something done outside of ourselves, but something which has been done in us - and we are taken through deep depths, until in our very being we come to know Him and the power of His resurrection, that is sonship, that is the Testimony. The Testimony in its fullness is not bound up with spiritual infants, it is bound up with spiritual maturity. This woman was great, and yet there was a "but"! We may have a great deal, even in our Christian lives and in our Christian work, and yet there may remain that "but." There may be so much of it external, on the surface. The necessity is that that shall come right down into the depths of our inner being, so that we know Him in the very substance of our being as the Resurrection, and the Life.

It is only as the Lord's people come to that position that they are constituted a vessel of His full Testimony, and that explains why He takes us now, as His children, through the depths, that we may so learn to know Him.

Whatever the direction the principle remains the same, whether for conflict, as with the hostile forces around, or service, in the meeting of obligations, or in life, the coming to fullness of the Lord's thought. The one governing law is "Him and the power of His resurrection"; knowing the risen life of the Lord.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 32 - (The Healing of Naaman - 2 Kings 5)

An Appointed Time

For the Vision is yet for an appointed time…though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry (Hab. 2:3).

In the charming little booklet, Expectation Corner, Adam Slowman was led into the Lord's treasure houses, and among many other wonders there revealed to him was the "Delayed Blessings Office," where God kept certain things, prayed for, until the wise time came to send them.

It takes a long time for some pensioners to learn that delays are not denials. Ah, there are secrets of love and wisdom in the "Delayed Blessings Department," which are little dreamt of! Men would pluck their mercies green when the Lord would have them ripe.

"Therefore will the Lord WAIT, that He may be gracious unto you" (Isa. 30:18). He is watching in the hard places and will not allow one trial too many; He will let the dross be consumed, and then He will come gloriously to your help.

Do not grieve Him by doubting His love. Nay, lift up your head, and begin to praise Him even now for the deliverance which is on the way to you, and you will be abundantly rewarded for the delay which has tried your faith.

O Thou of little faith,
God hath not failed thee yet!
When all looks dark and gloomy,
Thou dost so soon forget--
Forget that He has led thee,
And gently cleared thy way;
On clouds has poured His sunshine,
And turned thy night to day.
And if He's helped thee hitherto,
He will not fail thee now;
How it must wound His loving heart
To see thy anxious brow!
Oh! doubt not any longer,
To Him commit thy way,
Whom in the past thou trusted,
And is "just the same today."

~L. B. Cowman~

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Power of His Resurrection # 30

The Nature of the Life and Testimony of the Lord's People (continued)

3. The Shunammite's Son 

Let us turn to the latter half of chapter 4, verses 8-37. We want to condense this into as concrete a thought as possible. There is a change here which is somewhat significant.

In the case of the wife of the son of the prophets we have a woman manifestly in poverty, in emptiness, in privation, and the oil brings to her fullness in her emptiness. When we come to this woman of Shunem we find that we meet quite another situation. She is called "a great woman." That means that, so far as temporal matters were concerned, she was well provided for; in comfort, in plenty, in affluence, in position; just the opposite of the other woman. Unlike the widow of Zarephath, to whom Elijah went and whom he sought to persuade to give him something to eat, this woman has to try to persuade the prophet to eat. It is quite the other way round. She has plenty in every way but one thing. The prophet contemplates this woman. He looks at her home, her table, her servants, her possessions generally, and does not see anything about her home that is lacking, and for him it is quite a problem how to enrich her. The needs are not obvious; it is something to cause consideration. What can be done for a woman like that? Gehazi touches the vital spot: "Verily she hath no son ..." A deeper depth is touched.  Everything but the one thing which can really mean more than everything else. One thing representing more than all these outward things. That fact is disclosed by the prophet's word concerning the son. The woman replied, "Do not lie unto thine handmaid." That seems to say: "There is one desire of my life, but it is impossible, and I have had to settle once and for all that that cannot be. I have fought my battle: I have accepted the denial; and now that is a closed door. Do not begin to bring me into a realm where that whole thing is raised again, and I have to fight my battles all over anew. Do not suggest things that, should they never come to pass, would put me back again into a place where all that I have means nothing to me because of that lack!" Nevertheless the prophet's word comes to pass, and from that time all things are swung over to this son. Then " fell on a day, that he went out to his father to the reapers. And he said unto his father, 'My head, my head.' And he said to his servant, 'Carry him to his mother.' and when he had taken him, and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died." She took him and laid him on the prophet's bed and went for the prophet. You know the rest of the story.

The Supreme Need: Fullness of Resurrection Life

What is it that comes out as the central reality, the thing which is the supreme factor in life? There may be many other things. There may be a condition such as was found in one of the Churches in Asia to which the Lord addressed these words: "Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.;' and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.!" There is a lack which by its very existence makes all else that you have as mere poverty. You may have all this, but the absence of one thing makes it plain that you have really no heart in all that. The thing which counts above all things is to know within our own being the power of His resurrection. We may have much that is good externally, even in a religious way, but the one thing upon which the Lord puts His finger as the primary, the paramount thing in the life of any child of His, is not the abundance of the things possessed, but  the knowing of Him and the power of His resurrection.

Look at Philippians 3. Paul there goes over all the things which were of value, which men would value and regard as things worth having. Then he sums them all up and says: "I count these, after all, great as they are in the eyes of men, as utter refuse, and suffer the loss of all things that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection." The son was given; that was wonder enough! And yet there might still linger some suggestion that nature had had something to do with it, that the gift of the son could somehow be accounted for along natural lines. Psychology had tended to undermine the whole realm of the objective and exclusive activity of God. But God is going to demonstrate that this was wholly outside the realm of nature: and so the son dies, and is brought back to life, and every question of nature having a hand in it has been silenced. There is no room for anything natural when it is a case of resurrection from the dead. That is the ultimate Testimony. That cannot be explained in any other way than "God"! Resurrection is knowing God. Psychology tries to explain a good many things in Christian experience, and some of us have had much painful experience over the psychological explanation of religious experience. But the Lord has put us outside of that realm by making us know something for which psychology can never give an explanation, even the knowing of "Him, and the power of His resurrection." Psychology cannot raise the dead. There is an inner secret history of knowing the Lord  in a way that cannot be accounted for on any other basis than the power of His resurrection.

That is where the Testimony reaches its final point. It is the Testimony that Jesus was raised from the dead. That may be but the basis of the Testimony, but it is not merely the creed, the doctrine, it is the inward knowledge of the risen Lord. That had to be wrought in principle into the very being of this woman, until it was beyond the reach of any question. What was the full thought? It was Sonship. Read Romans 8, and Galatians, and see what sonship is when brought through into its fullest meaning. When the child was born, that represented what the New Testament has to say about our being children of God by birth. When the son was raised, that represented what the New Testament has to say about sonship by resurrection. The New Testament teaches by its two distinct Greek words that by our new birth we are children of God, but that sonship is something in advance of childhood. It is childhood brought to maturity in the power of resurrection. "Adoption" is the word used, as we know. But in the New Testament adoption has nothing to do with the taking into the family of an outsider. It has only to do with the adopting of your own child at his majority in the place of honor and responsibility. The Greek father adopted his own son when his son came to his majority, and that was the moment when he ceased to be a child and became a son. That is the New Testament teaching.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 31)

The Sweet Voice of the Lord

Genesis 3:8
The voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.
My soul, now that the cool of the day has come, retire awhile and hearken to the voice of thy God. He is always ready to speak with thee when thou art prepared to hear. If there be any slowness to commune it is not on His part, but altogether on thine own, for He stands at the door and knocks, and if His people will but open He rejoices to enter. But in what state is my heart, which is my Lord's garden? May I venture to hope that it is well trimmed and watered, and is bringing forth fruit fit for Him? If not, He will have much to reprove, but still I pray Him to come unto me, for nothing can so certainly bring my heart into a right condition as the presence of the Sun of Righteousness, who brings healing in His wings. Come, therefore, O Lord, my God, my soul invites Thee earnestly, and waits for Thee eagerly. Come to me, O Jesus, my well-beloved, and plant fresh flowers in my garden, such as I see blooming in such perfection in Thy matchless character! Come, O my Father, who art the Husbandman, and deal with me in Thy tenderness and prudence! Come, O Holy Spirit, and bedew my whole nature, as the herbs are now moistened with the evening dews. O that God would speak to me. Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth! O that He would walk with me; I am ready to give up my whole heart and mind to Him, and every other thought is hushed. I am only asking what He delights to give. I am sure that He will condescend to have fellowship with me, for He has given me His Holy Spirit to abide with me for ever. Sweet is the cool twilight, when every star seems like the eye of heaven, and the cool wind is as the breath of celestial love. My Father, my elder Brother, my sweet Comforter, speak now in lovingkindness, for Thou hast opened mine ear and I am not rebellious.

~Charles Spurgeon~

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Power of His Resurrection # 30

The Nature of the Life and Testimony of the Lord's People (continued)

(c) A Little Oil (continued)

How are these obligations going to be met? The means will be the risen life of the Lord. First of all it will necessitate stepping out in faith on the Lord's Word. Then it will involve putting into operation the little that you have of the Lord. Do you know the Lord in a little measure? Have you the one pot of oil? Put it into operation in faith? So many of the Lord's people are wanting to know a great deal more of Him before they will move at all. They have just a little knowledge of the Lord, and the Lord's principle is that there is never any increase until we have extended to the full what we have. Have you some little knowledge of the Lord? Well, extend it to the full, and act in faith in relation to it, and you will find your increase comes that way. Believe that this life in God is a fullness of life, although your measure of it at present may be very limited. It is not the measure we have that is the ground of expectation, but that from which we received what we already have. It is the fullness, of which we have received perhaps only a small measure, that should be our confidence.

If the woman had simply fixed her attention upon that one pot of oil, and said: "That is the beginning and the end of all my hope and expectation," then nothing would have happened. But she had to see that vessel in relation to a fullness which was boundless. If you take your little as the all, you will not get very far, but if you relate your little to God's all, you can go on. It is His fullness, not just the measure that we have experienced of His fullness. The fullness of God is a fact lying beyond our present experience, but a fact concerning which we have to act in faith.

That action of faith demanded on the part of this woman the bringing of vessels. Those who have ministry in the Word know quite well of what we are speaking: for example, that you do not stop gathering the Lord's people together because you feel empty. In the consciousness of emptiness, weakness, smallness of resource, you go on, and you find the Lord meets the need as you go on in faith. If at times we were to act according to our own feelings we would say: "We will not have a meeting today, we have nothing to give." But the Lord is our Resource, and as we go on the Lord comes in and fills the emptiness. It is a sound principle for the Lord's servants to work upon. If we are in the way of the Lord's Testimony we can trust the Lord to meet all the need, though we may have a very small measure consciously at any given moment. Do we believe that the Lord can meet the need, and fill wherever that need exists? There is no need represented in this world which, if brought before the Lord, cannot be met. If you have any doubt about that, there the Testimony stops. The point where you cease to believe a situation to be capable of solution by the Lord is the point where your Testimony fails; you are contradicting the power of His resurrection. The power of the risen life of the Lord Jesus is without limit, and there is no situation and no life which truly represents a need of Him which cannot be met.

For this woman it was a case of keeping on keeping on! She set the limit, not the Lord. When she ceased to find vessels then the oil stayed. The limit is not on the Lord's side.

The Testimony is along those lines. There will be differing ways of application. You and I will know how it touches us and out situation. From time to time we shall find that this applies to the position in which we find ourselves. It would be quite impossible for us to cover all the ground of application, but here is a fact stated. It is the power of His resurrection which meets the obligations; not what we have but what He is; not the measure of what we have already received, but the measure of what there is yet to receive. The Lord's though for us is fullness, but we shall not have it all at  one time. His fullness will come to us progressively. We shall not always be living in the consciousness of being full, but we can live continually in the knowledge of being filled again and again as the demand arises.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 30 - (3. The Shunammite's Son)

The Promise of God

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  John14:27

Today, everyone is looking for peace. We want our desires fulfilled and we think that will bring us happiness.  We hear promises of fulfillment on radios, see promises on billboards, become a part of them through television and after hearing these promises enough times, we sing about them and make daily choices because of them.  What is the primary message that these slogans promote?  The answer, “We’ve got what you need.”  Promises, promises!  Promises of a fulfilled life, an improved life, a happier life and a more peaceful life suggest that this life is attainable through the things of this world. Commercials promise that you can “have it your way,” “we do it all for you,” “you asked for it, you got it,” and “you deserve it.” But can these promises really be true? And will these products bring us the peace we are all seeking?

Because of the inability to have these promises truly fulfilled from the world, it then seems hard to believe that all the promises from the Lord will come true. Unlike the promises of the world that are conditioned upon our spending money and time to benefit from their product, Jesus has given us the promises of God, which are free. The Lord does require something from us: our trust, belief and obedience. And in return He promises peace to His people. Our attitudes, goals and desires should not depend on the promises of the world, but on the promises of the Word.  It’s that peace that makes us different and gives us something that others want. That peace will affect the way we live in our actions, behaviors and attitudes. Acts 10:36 says, “You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.”  Jesus promises us peace, not from this world, but from Him. His promises are not empty slogans but a way of life: for He is the way, the truth and the life.
Do you need to experience His peace today? If so, begin by asking Jesus to fill you with His loving peace. His promises will never fail you.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Power of His Resurrection # 29

The Nature of the Life and Testimony of the Lord's People (continued)

(b) The Power of the World Over "The Church"

This is quite clearly the thing that is happening today. The world is using "the Church" for its own ends. It is the world that is getting gain out of "the Church" today, though not in a spiritual and right sense. "The Church" is in bondage to the world today. The Church is simply on its knees to the world. Every concert, every bazaar, every entertainment, everything like that in "the Church" is her unwonted, perhaps unintended, confession that it cannot live its own independent life. It is dependent upon the world for its very life. It says by these things, "It is no use trying to get on; we cannot maintain things even as they are, we cannot make ends meet, only as we recognize the claims of the world, recognize the strength of the world." Why do you provide entertainments and such things in your "Church" for your young people? Because you will never have your young people unless you do. They must have something of the world in order to hold them to "the Church" (so called), and thus "the Church" is slavishly in bondage to the world, on the knee of to the world. 

So the creditor comes to take and to despoil "the Church" of its real spiritual value. "The Church" is in a position where it cannot meet its obligations out from itself. It has not the spiritual resource with which to do so.

(c) A Little Oil

"The Church" has a little oil, like this widow. It is not altogether devoid of the Spirit, not absolutely and finally bereft of the Lord, but not by any means has it enough to stand up and live its own life independently of outside resources. To put that in another way, is to say that the fullness of life is not in itself, therefore it cannot face the demands made upon it. It has become an institution, enlarged by human effort, extended by man's organization, and therefore has become involved in the demands which are beyond its own spiritual growth. Its own spiritual growth has not kept pace with its external development. The life is not commensurate with what it has taken on, and attempted to do. That is the situation. That situation cries out, as through the voice of this woman: "There cried  a certain woman ..." It is a pathetic position.

What is the remedy? It is the same remedy, only applied in another direction. It is Elisha, to begin with, the power of resurrection again, the risen life of the Lord, the full issue of the work of the Cross in absolute ascendancy over spiritual death. Thus Elisha comes into touch with the situation. Here we see that the need in all such times of spiritual inability to meet spiritual demands, is a fresh knowledge of the Lord in the fullness of His risen life.

It will work at one time as to the pressure of the world from without in its antagonism, as represented by Moab. At another time it will we expressed by reason of the inward impoverishment of the Lord's people to meet the demands which are legitimately laid upon them. Paul recognized those demands and did not say that they were wrong. "I am debtor" he said, "both to Greeks and to Barbarians ..." He was under obligation to meet the  spiritual needs of all men. But the spiritual needs of the world can only be met as we know the fullness of the risen life of the Lord.

"What hast thou in the house?" "Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil." "Go borrow thee vessels ... not a few." You notice that in every one of these movements for renewal (revival, if you like), the knowing again of the Lord in the power of His resurrection, there is a challenge to faith. "Make this valley full of trenches." See these men, with no sign whatever that there would be any rain, with no idea whatever as to where water could come from, yet in obedience digging away and making the valley full of trenches. Their part was the obedience of faith. They had to leave the rest with the faithfulness of God. "Go borrow vessels..." The natural man would have reacted to such a suggestion with the question, "But where is the oil coming from for the vessels? I do not see how it can be done!" That is always the attitude of nature; wanting first of all a demonstration to the senses before it will act. God's principle is the obedience of faith. "Go borrow vessel abroad of all thy neighbors ..." "But what will the neighbors say? They will laugh at me!" Nevertheless obedience of faith often involves us in situations which to the world are very ridiculous. Such obedience involved Abraham in what looked like a very ridiculous situation: "Now the Lord said unto Abram, 'Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred ... unto the land that I will show thee,' ".  "... and he went out, not knowing whither he went." To all inquiries as to where he was going he would have to answer? "I do not know." How ridiculous that would appear to the world! However, that is just where faith has its real value, in that it is prepared to move, not caring what other people think, but trusting God.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 30)