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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Into the Heart of God # 2

Oneness with God In His Repudiation of This World (continued)

The first five books of the Bible are books of a pilgrimage. The Bible opens with man at home. God had made a home for man, and he was there with God in that home. It was called 'Paradise;' but man lost his home, was driven out from it, and he became a stranger, a homeless stranger, a displaced person. He was a wanderer in the earth and a foreigner to God's hoe, all because he was out of friendship with God. When that friendship broke down, man lost his home, and he has been a pilgrim and stranger in the earth ever since. There is no restful home for the soul of man in this world because the world is no friend of God. That is how the Bible begins, and then that truth is broken up, firstly in the case of Abraham. All through his life Abraham was a pilgrim. We are told that he lived in a tent, and he moved up and down the land with that tent. You may think it is ll right to be in a tent for a week's holiday (although that depends upon circumstances) but I doubt whether there is anyone here who would like to spend their whole life in a tent. Abraham was one of those of whom it is written: "They are seeking after a country of their own" - a place which they could call 'home.'

We pass from Abraham to Israel, who for forty  years of their life were pilgrims and strangers in a wilderness. God had promised them all a home, a rest at the end of the journey, but they never received that promise in their lifetime - "These all died in faith, not having received the promises." Even when they went into the land of promise they never had rest. Why was this so? Because they were in a world which God had rejected and repudiated, a world with which God wan not in friendship, and a world which was no friend of God.

That brings us to our first stage in the spiritual pilgrimage, and we must  look at other passages of Scripture.

"Now these are the generations of Terah. Terah begat Abraham, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot. And Haran died in the presence of his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees." (Genesis 11:27, 28).

"Now the Lord said unto Abram, 'Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will shew thee and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.' So Abram went, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him" (Genesis 12:1-4).

"And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan" (Genesis 11:31).

God had said to Abraham: 'Get thee out of thy country, thy kindred, thy father's house, unto the land that I will give thee.' Many hundreds of years afterward Stephen said: "The God of glory appeared unto our Father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran" (Acts 7:2). How I would like to stay here to tell you something about Ur of the Chaldees! What a great city it was, and what a wonderful civilization existed right back there at that time! I would like, too, to tell you something about father Terah, and about his three sons, the eldest of whom was Abraham, and about the kind of life they were living in that great city; of how the son, Haran, died there, and of how Haran's son, Lot, joined himself to Uncle Abraham, but time will not allow us to talk about all that, however interesting it may be. We have come to this first step into the heart of God.

God had said emphatically and precisely: "Get thee out!" In those words it is quite evident that God had repudiated the old world of Abraham, and, so far as he was concerned, had finished with it, and finished with it in finality. In effect, He said to Abraham: 'Now that is absolutely finished with for you.'

This marks the first step into the heart of God. God's heart was not in Chaldea, but outside of Chaldea.

Now mark carefully: this was not a stage in the spiritual journey, but a definite, basis step. There was a point at which one foot of Abraham was in Chaldea and the other was outside, and when he lifted that one foot and put it at the side of the other he had crossed the line. There was just a line between Chaldea and outside of Chaldea. In our New Testament language: between the world and outside of the world. It was intended by God to be absolute and final at that point. He was allowing no compromise - Abraham's heart had to go over the line toward the heart of God. All the phases and the stages will follow that. This basic decision and step will afterward be applied and tested all through his life. Many situations, many trials and many difficulties will arise to challenge that step, and every one of those circumstances will ask the question: Did you really mean it when you began? How far did you really mean it when you said that you were going all the way with God?

You see,there stands right at the beginning of the spiritual pilgrimage, which ends in the heart of God, this crisis: the crisis which is in these words of God - "Get thee out!" All God's intention and purpose are bound up with our reaction to that first command.

Perhaps many of you older Christians do not need this word, but there are a number of young people, and there may be some older in years who are young in the journey. What God is saying is this: If you are at all concerned with finding a place in the heart of God, this is where you must begin. You must come to this first step of oneness with God in His repudiation of this world.

You see, what we are concerned with is the heart of God, that is, friendship with God. It is said of Noah that in building the ark "he condemned the world" (Hebrews 11:7). It was not a matter of whether the world believed that it was being condemned. The fact is that it was a condemned world, and it was only a matter of time before the flood came and destroyed it. It was a good thing that there were eight persons in the heart of God! They escaped the coming judgment.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

Clean and Committed

But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him.  For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7).

When God looks at us, the first thing He sees is the state of our heart.  In the next few devotionals we are going to look at several different aspects of the heart—things that must be present in order to experience the richer blessings of God.

·        A clean heart.  Psalm 51:10 says, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."

Every once in a while I have to clean out the drains throughout our house.  It is amazing how quickly they become clogged.  If I do not clean them, before long, the sinks get stopped up and the water will not flow through anymore.

If we don't periodically take time before God to have our hearts purified and cleansed, pretty soon His blessings can no longer flow to us or through us.

·        A committed heart.  2 Chronicles 16:9 (NIV) says, "For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him."

I believe it is important to be committed to God before seeking His blessings.

God told Moses to tell Pharaoh, "Let my people go, that they may serve me."  Most people want to be delivered from their captivity, but they are not so keen on the "serving God" part of the deal.

The Lord is looking for committed hearts.  Does your heart belong fully to Him?  If not, commit it to Him today!

~Bayless Conley~

Monday, September 29, 2014

Into the Heart of God

Oneness with God In His Repudiation of This World

2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23

We have announced that in these gatherings our subject is going to be: "Into the Heart of God," and when we speak about the heart of God, we mean friendship with God, for friendship means that the one has entered into the heart of the other. It is a matter of heart relationship.

It is a wonderful thing that that is possible between man and God! It was God who said of David that he was "a man after My heart" (Acts 13:22), and we have read that three times in the Bible Abraham was called "the friend of God." Indeed, God Himself said of him: "Abraham, My friend" which means that he had entered into the heart of God. That entering was progressive. It did not happen all at once, but was a lifelong movement, a spiritual pilgrimage which ended in the heart of God. It had eight distinct stages - there were eight different movements in the life of Abraham which ended right there in the heart of God, and we shall hope to consider some of these stages.

First of all, however, let us remind  ourselves that the Word of God reveals that there is a spiritual pilgrimage. Peter said: "Beloved, I beseech you as sojourners and pilgrims" (Peter 2:11), and the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews put it in this way: "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things make it manifest that they are seeking after a country of their own ... But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly" (Hebrews 11:13, 14, 16). You see what that says: They all died in faith, not having received the promises. They had seen them and greeted them from a long way off. All these heroes of faith mentioned in that eleventh chapter of the Letter to the Hebrews are still looking for  country, that is, waiting for their inheritance, and chapter twelve makes it quite clear that although they have left this earth, they are one with us in 'looking." They "all died in faith, not having received the promises ... God having foreseen some better thing concerning us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect" (Hebrews 11:1, 40). So Abraham is still "looking" with us for the heavenly country.

There is a whole group of New Testament words which describe the believer as a pilgrim and a stranger, and these many Greek words relate to people in the Roman Empire who had no settled abode anywhere. They were just visitors to the place. They had come to stay for a night, for a week, for a month, or for a year, but no matter how long they stayed, they did not belong to the place. They had no permanent residence there, and our New Testament is built upon that truth. All these Greek words are taken over and applied to Christians. When Peter said: "I beseech you as sojourners and pilgrims," he did not say: 'Be pilgrims and sojourners,' but "you Are."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2)

Criticizer or Encourager?

Verse 10 in the book of Jude talks about those who "speak evil of whatever they do not know."

Criticism, many times, stems from ignorance.  People tend to criticize things they do not know anything about.

A number of years ago, a man came up to me after a service.  He had never been to our church before, but he was pretty upset.  I had taught that particular night about the baptism in the Holy Spirit and what the Scripture had to say about speaking in other tongues.

He told me, "This church is really off-balance.  You overemphasize speaking in tongues."  I asked, "Really…how many services have you been to at our church?"  His reply was, "Just this one."

So I asked him, "How many of my recorded messages have you listened to?"  His response was, "None."  I told him, "That seems a little imbalanced.  Why don't you stick around for a while and find out what we're about, then see if you feel the same after staying here for a few months."

He said, "Okay, I will."  He ended up staying and loving the church.

Too often we are quick to criticize, even when we don't know the whole story.  Be careful about criticizing others.  Too often what you hear is just rumor. 

Do not be a criticizer.  Be an encourager.  Be a person who is known for always seeking to lift and bless, not speaking evil of whatever you do not know.

~Bayless Conley~

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Four Stages in the Life of the Lord's People # 4

4. Definite, Final Movement Towards the Land

This is the stage, where, Jordan having seen the voluntary laying aside of the exposed flesh, we go over into the land. It is not until we get a taste of the land, begin to know something of what spiritual life is; we have to know something of what it means to have the Lord working by us, and not our working for the Lord; to know what it is to have the Lord on command of things; to know what victory is; and to become partakers of more of the real fullness of Christ. We should be able to value our past history since we came out of Egypt. When we come into the land we see the wilderness in quite a different light. While we were in the wilderness, all we were able to think of was discipline, judgment, being emptied, broken, poured out. We wondered what God was after. There was a battle even to believe that the Lord was interested in us at all. Now we get through, and begin to taste of possessions, of Christ, the Land, and we can look back and say it was all right. That was necessary unto this. We should never have come to this position, this spiritual wealth, this spiritual knowledge and understanding if the Lord had not dealt with us as He did deal with u in the breaking and the emptying. We are able to appreciate it when we get there, but not before.

You know quite well your most cherished possession is a deep, real, inward spiritual knowledge of the Lord, it is something deeper than thought, emotion, argument or words. You have come to possess the Lord. You have a life between yourself and the Lord which is a very real life. It does not mean that now you can explain everything, interpret everything, but you know the Lord. People may ask you for an explanation, and you will have to say: "I cannot explain it, I cannot put it into words, I cannot argue it out, but I know, and this that I have the Lord inwardly is more to me than anything else. I know the meaning now of an opened heaven. I know what it is to have spiritual revelation of God through His Word. I am learning more and more of the fullness of Christ". You know that is more to you than anything in this universe, and you know, as well as you know that you have a being, that that was never possible until the Lord brought you to Jordan, and broke you, smashed you, emptied you, poured you out, and you said: "Oh yes, I understand that wilderness! I know it was quite right!"

It is another stage of things, in the light of which you understand the difficult times through which you went in the leading of God. Now you are moving to the land. You have not compassed all the land yet, but you are moving on.

In which stage should we put ourselves? It may be some are in the present enjoyment of the initial blessings of the Christian life, and their danger is to say: "You people may talk about a lot of wonderful, deep things and I do not know what you are talking about; I am perfectly satisfied with what I have". We rejoice in all that you are enjoying of the Lord, as in the first stage of the spiritual life. We would not discourage you for a moment by saying that the blossom will blow off sooner or later, but we want to tell you that there are stages.

It may be that some are in the second stage, and they are knowing blessing in the service of the Lord. They know a great joy in seeing what the Lord is after, and being actively at work with Him in it. This experience is not marked too much by difficulty. It is a good stage to be in, but it is inevitable that sooner or later you will pass into the third stage.

This is where the Lord begins to show you old Adam still in you, and that that old Adam has first to be recognized before it can be repudiated. And then sooner or later you come to Jordan, quite willingly, and say: "Jordan is a very necessary thing for me; I must die; there is nothing for me but to die". When you come there, accept death in union with Christ, you are in a very hopeful place. Death is not despair when it is recognized in that realm. When the Lord Jesus died He took our old man away, and made a way whereby you and I can go out, and Christ becomes the new Man - all the Lord Jesus. It may be, then, that some are at the third stage, having a bad time of exposing, breaking, emptying, and you are wondering if there will be anything left. You are wondering if all the joy of service is gone, and all the real joy of spiritual life has disappeared for ever. It is an important, necessary phase.

There is something beyond  that, and the day will come when you will begin to taste of the positive side, and you will say: "Now I understand why it was I went through that darkness; it was necessary; it has led to this". The fourth stage is that of beginning to know that heavenly life with the Lord Jesus. It is only a beginning, for it goes on for all eternity. There is no end to that stage. It begins here, and goes on hereafter, and you will discover as you go on more and more of the riches of Christ.

This word is just to help you to recognize the movements of the life of the child of God from one stage to another, to perhaps interpret your own experience and encourage you to go on to  God's full end. The Lord help us all to do so.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(The End)

How To Hold On

Job was a man who certainly knew trouble and temptation, and yet he boldly claimed, "Though He slay me, I will hope in Him" (Job13:15). That is commitment. Job had lost his children, his fortune, and his health, but he refused to abandon faith in God. The stricken man was determined to hold on because he trusted the Lord to do right.
Unwavering commitment to trust the Lord in all situations is a cornerstone of unshakable faith. From the vantage point of that foundation, we can focus our eyes upon God alone. It is easy to be distracted by circumstances and allow them to dictate our emotions. But if that's the case, then when life is good, we're happy; when times are tough, we're frustrated; and when hardship pours in, we're downright miserable and looking for escape.
Unlike Job, we are fortunate to have Scripture, which reveals God's nature and promises. And it is a wise believer who claims those promises when enduring hardship. For His Word tells us that our Father is always good, always just, always faithful, and always trustworthy. When we take our eyes off the whirl of day-to-day activity and concentrate on honoring Him and following in His way, we find a consistent peace that carries us through both plenty and poverty.
In order to hold on to God through any trial or temptation, commit to trust and follow Him all of your days. Lay claim to His promises: The unchanging Lord and Savior (Heb. 13:8) is committed to caring for you in all circumstances (1 Peter 5:7) and will never leave or forsake you (Heb. 13:5).

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Four Stages in the Life of the Lord's People # 3

Wandering in the Wilderness (continued)

The Lord has to take this third step with His people, in which He uncovers the depths of the human heart, even of His own. This is not to bring them under condemnation, because they are in Christ, and there is no condemnation, but to bring them to the place where they will recognize what that Red Sea meant. It also brings them to the counterpart of the Red Sea, the Jordan, the whole of the old man. The Red Sea is the judgment side of things. The Jordan represents the resurrection side of things. There is no hope in the Red Sea, but there is hope in Jordan. Jordan is something in which there is a work wrought which represents something more than the judgment of our sins. It represents our coming through to resurrection union with the Lord Jesus. In Israel's case there were forty years between the two, but in spiritual experience these two things are brought right up together, and you recognize that they are only two sides of one thing. One is judgment and death, as having been wrought by God. The other is your faith acceptance of that, to come out into a place of life.

The third stage is a very difficult, and trying, and sometimes seems a very long-drawn-out stage, and we are discovering that, although we are gloriously saved, in ourselves, that is, in our flesh, dwells no good thing. No man had a more glorious conversion than Paul, and perhaps few men, if any, had any more terrible exposure of the worthlessness of themselves after their conversion than Paul.

Do you notice where that third stage ends? It ends with the uplifted serpent in the wilderness. That is very significant when you move to John's Gospel, chapter 3. You remember that Nicodemus - a very religious man, a very upright man, so far as the law of Sinai was concerned - had been living under the regime of Sinai for a long time, perhaps all his life, and then the Lord said to Nicodemus: "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness ...", and He was saying, in effect: Nicodemus, you have come to Sinai, but you will have to come to Calvary, to the place where all the curse is wrought out, even in the case of a religious man, for there is no good even in the religious flesh. The third stage of exposing of the flesh, even in a saved people, ended with the serpent lifted up, and that is very significant. A very important part of our Christian life is the coming to know that, in our flesh, even as Christians, as Christian workers, dwells no good thing. We shall never come to Jordan, and never come through to the land, until we have come here.

Do not feel discouraged. Do not feel that everything has gone wrong when the Lord begins to do that. So many, when the Lord begins to expose the worthlessness of their own life, even as children of God, begin to feel, or allow the enemy to suggest, that after all they are not saved at all; everything has gone wrong and the Lord is against them. The Lord is NOT against you, but He is against your flesh all the way through. We have to bring our flesh to the place where, having seen that there is no good in it, it is repudiated. Then we shall come to the place of the fourth stage.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4 - (Definite, Final Movement Towards the Land)

Many Tribulations

Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God (Acts14:22).

The best things of life come out of wounding. Wheat is crushed before it becomes bread. Incense must be cast upon the fire before its odors are set free. The ground must be broken with the sharp plough before it is ready to receive the seed. It is the broken heart that pleases God.

The sweetest joys in life are the fruits of sorrow. Human nature seems to need suffering to fit it for being a blessing to the world.

Beside my cottage door it grows,
The loveliest, daintiest flower that blows,
A sweetbriar rose.
At dewy morn or twilight's close,
The rarest perfume from it flows,
This strange wild rose.
"But when the rain-drops on it beat,
Ah, then, its odors grow more sweet,
About my feet.
Ofttimes with loving tenderness,
Its soft green leaves I gently press,
In sweet caress.
A still more wondrous fragrance flows
The more my fingers close
And crush the rose.
Dear Lord, oh, let my life be so
Its perfume when tempests blow,
The sweeter flow.
And should it be Thy blessed will,
With crushing grief my soul to fill,
Press harder still.
And while its dying fragrance flows
I'll whisper low, "He loves and knows
His crushed briar rose."

If you aspire to be a son of consolation; if you would partake of the priestly gift of sympathy; if you would pour something beyond commonplace consolation into a tempted heart; if you would pass through the intercourse of daily life with the delicate tact that never inflicts pain; you must be content to pay the price of a costly education--like Him, you must suffer.

~L. B. Cowman~

Friday, September 26, 2014

Four Stages in the Life of the Lord's People # 2

2. The Erection of the Tabernacle

The second stage is at Sinai, and especially connected with the tabernacle. Here at Sinai a revelation has been of God's House, God's thought concerning His people, that they are to be not just a congregation but a family, not just a crowd but an ordered spiritual household. That revelation comes, and then the Lord calls all of them into fellowship and cooperation with Himself in constituting that. So that at Sinai you find all the people are called into fellowship and cooperation to provide the wherewithal for God's house, for the tabernacle. This thing has been laid upon them, and they go back to their tents to see what they can discover there in their own lives which can contribute towards this full thought of God for His house. Now the question is not just one of knowing how to live the Christian life, and finding that the Lord answers your prayers when you are in need. That is the infant stage. Now the question is one of cooperation with God in service. So they came to have a taste of the blessings of service, and the Lord blessed them in that work for Him. They were, the Word says again and again: "... of a willing heart", and they were having such a good time in the work of the Lord that at length they had brought more than enough, and they had to be restrained. The atmosphere is one of having great joy in the work of the Lord, in working together with God concerning His house. It is a taste of what it means to be in fellowship with God in a great purpose, a great work, a great divine thought, and to be in that and to know the joy of that.

3. Wandering in the Wilderness

Then there comes a third stage. That stage is from Sinai through the years of wandering in the wilderness. Whether it be actually or literally a long period or not, when you are in it, if it is only a day or two, it seems the longest. The very nature of it gives it a sense of eternity. The very meaning of it seems to make it never ending.

What is the meaning of this third stage? (Mark you, it is progress. It does not seem like it, but it is a phase of the progress, unfortunately necessary.) What is it? It is the period in which all that God cannot accept in His people is being brought out to the light. It is as though God had said: "You are Mine; I am with you; I am wanting to be your all; and I want to have you in the full, joyous fellowship with Me in My purpose. But, having given you a taste of that, having won your hearts for that, having given you a vision of that, having allowed you just to have some little experience of that, it is now necessary for Me to show you that to live in all the deep meaning of that continuously, there is something to be done. It is not living in the emotional, external, superficial pleasure of it, but the deep meaning of it, which is deeper than emotion." Then there is something to be done by way of getting rid of all that which belongs to you by nature. It will not do to take up the blessings of God in the flesh; it will not do to take up the work of God in the flesh. To get rid of the flesh God must expose the flesh to us, let us know what our own flesh is like. And so there comes that period which seems to be the longest of all, in which we are discovering that, after all, there is such a lot of evil in our own hearts, and a lot of that which is contrary to God. The fact that the Lord has blessed does not mean that the Lord now is not willing to bless and will not bless, either in spiritual experience between ourselves and the Lord, or in service, but it means that the Lord is seeking to make a way whereby all His purpose and thought for us can have the deepest root in us.

It is equally true in experience that when people begin to take hold of the blessings of the Lord, the answers to prayer that the Lord has given, and rejoice in them in the flesh and make a great thing of them, as though they were the supreme things, or when they begin to take hold of the work of the Lord and success of the work of the Lord, and make everything of the success, counting heads and so on, it is not long before the spiritual life shows itself to be very shallow. The disciples were in danger of something like that when they came back from their first taste of the work of the Lord apart from Him. They said: "Even the demons are subject unto us." This is a natural rejoicing in the blessings of the Lord, and the Lord said: "...rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you ..." In other words He was saying: Do not make a great deal of the success of your work; your glorying must be that your names are written in heaven.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

Christians Are Like the Cedars of Lebanon

Psalm 104:16
The cedars of Lebanon which He hath planted.

Lebanon's cedars are emblematic of the Christian, in that they owe their planting entirely to the Lord. This is quite true of every child of God. He is not man-planted, nor self-planted, but God-planted. The mysterious hand of the divine Spirit dropped the living seed into a heart which He had Himself prepared for its reception. Every true heir of heaven owns the great Husbandman as his planter. Moreover, the cedars of Lebanon are not dependent upon man for their watering; they stand on the lofty rock, unmoistened by human irrigation; and yet our heavenly Father supplieth them. Thus it is with the Christian who has learned to live by faith. He is independent of man, even in temporal things; for his continued maintenance he looks to the Lord his God, and to Him alone. The dew of heaven is his portion, and the God of heaven is his fountain. Again, the cedars of Lebanon are not protected by any mortal power. They owe nothing to man for their preservation from stormy wind and tempest. They are God's trees, kept and preserved by Him, and by Him alone. It is precisely the same with the Christian. He is not a hot-house plant, sheltered from temptation; he stands in the most exposed position; he has no shelter, no protection, except this, that the broad wings of the eternal God always cover the cedars which He Himself has planted. Like cedars, believers are full of sap having vitality enough to be ever green, even amid winter's snows. Lastly, the flourishing and majestic condition of the cedar is to the praise of God only. The Lord, even the Lord alone hath been everything unto the cedars, and, therefore David very sweetly puts it in one of the psalms, "Praise ye the Lord, fruitful trees and all cedars." In the believer there is nothing that can magnify man; he is planted, nourished, and protected by the Lord's own hand, and to Him let all the glory be ascribed.

~Charles Spurgeon~ 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Four Stages in the Life of the Lord's People

Exodus 14

It is our thought to begin with the end of this chapter, and go on to the end of the book. What is in view, as illustrated by the book of Exodus, is the stages of the life of the Lord's people. We shall suggest four stages in the progress of the life of the people of the Lord, as seen from the end of chapter 14 onwards. We shall draw very simple lessons from the Word here, leaving out a very great deal; perhaps only noting one thing about each of these four stages.

1. The Red Sea to Sinai

Without dealing with any of the detail, we notice that the first stage, from the Red Sea to Sinai, was peculiarly marked by a series of needs arising, and needs being wonderfully met.

The first need was that of deliverance from a pursuing enemy, and with the end of chapter 14 you have the pursuing Egyptians overwhelmed in the Sea leading to the great song of redemption on the part of God's people.

Then there are other various needs arising. The bitter waters; the experience of bitterness, so early coming into the experience of the people of God, changed in a marvelous way, and very swiftly, to sweetness. It seems that, no sooner had they tasted of bitterness, the bitterness was changed to sweetness. It was not a long-drawn-out experience; it was but a taste of bitterness, and then wonderfully and instantly the bitterness changed for sweetness.

The next thing was hunger; and immediately God provided the Manna. Then thirst again; thirst of a deeper kind; thirst of a more enduring character. The waters of Marah represent just a temporary experience, but now they have come to the serious situation that water is essential to life, without which there is no living, and again, wonderfully and instantly, water is given from the smitten rock.

Instantly Amalek comes out to withstand progress, and the first experience of an active enemy, an active adversary to spiritual progress, is entered into. Again marvelously Amalek is overthrown and routed out, and the people are delivered.

So you have a series of acute needs arising and an almost instant stepping in of God in a wonderful way to meet those needs. It represents a clearly defined phase and period of spiritual life, and it is the first phase. How true to history this is. Have not most of us had this experience, that when we were first brought to the Lord, the Lord marked that stage  of our Christian life by wonderful answers to prayer, wonderful responses, where it seemed that a need arose and the Lord was at hand. We only had to turn to Him, and He was there.  The first state of the Christian life was full of romance, full of wonder, all so clearly marked by the grace of God.

That has been the experience of so many. It is that experience which led a certain hymn writer to pen a familiar hymn:

"Whee is the blessedness I knew when first I saw the Lord?
Where is the soul-refreshing view of Jesus and His Word?"

It is a reflection upon an experience at the beginning of the Christian life which has now disappeared, and a longing to have that wonderful time all over again. It is just the first stage, and it is marked by swift, wonderful, amazing touches of the hand of God. There was a balance being kept by the Lord, so clearly that the lesson was hardly discernible. What it was the Lord was seeking to teach and lay down as a foundation thing for life by that means, was not very thoroughly learned. Afterwards perhaps we pick it up and see it, but not always at the time.

What does this period, this phase, from the Red Sea to Sinai mean? The Lord is saying, on the one hand, by permitting these experiences to arise, these difficulties, these needs to come about, "I want you to come to see that this earth has nothing for you but bitterness, dissatisfaction and heart-hunger"; this earth can never bring the deep, settled satisfaction of God's own life to the believer. The believer has come out into a realm where this earth can no longer satisfy. This earth is a place of unsatisfied longings, of conflict and adversity, of bitterness and sorrow, when once you have come out to be the Lord's. Now it is the Lord Himself Who is your satisfaction. You will find that, while here there is a state of bitterness, knowing the Lord means that in the midst of the bitterness there can sweetness. Here there may be starvation, but the Lord can be your sustenance, your provision. Here there may be a deep-seated longing for life. The Lord only is your life. This earth can do nothing. Here there is conflict, an adversary, but the Lord is your victory in conflict.

It is a very simple lesson, but that is the balance which the Lord keeps so marvelously in this first stage, and it is just marked by that instant grace of God, seeking to teach the lesson that now the Lord has brought you out to Himself, and you will discover as never before how needy you are, and what the real situation is here in this earth. But you will also discover what the Lord can be to His own. And so, in the first state of the spiritual life from above, it seems as though the Lord is more to you than He ever is afterwards. That is, there is a way in which you see it as you may not see it afterwards. Although the reality becomes very much deeper afterward, you just do not see it.

It is like the blossom on the trees in spring. The blossom is so beautiful, it is all so wonderful to look at, you just feast your eyes upon it. And then the winds of March come, and all the blossom goes, and you say: "Where is the blessedness I knew...?" Well, the blossom has got to go before you can get the fruit, and when the fruit comes later you say: "The blossom was very beautiful, I enjoyed it, the blossom days were great days, but I think things have gone deeper now." You will not live so much on the surface, you are getting the inner fruit; but it is a real experience of the spiritual life. It seems so often that the Lord deals with you and me on the outside of things in spiritual infancy. It is marked by the grace which is seeking to show that the earth can give no satisfaction, and the Lord Himself has determined to be the satisfaction of those who have come out from the world to be His own.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2 - (The Erection of the Tabernacle)

Of the Will of God I Stand

Thou couldst have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above (John 19:11).

Nothing that is not God's will can come into the life of one who trusts and obeys God. This fact is enough to make our life one of ceaseless thanksgiving and joy. For "God's will is the one hopeful, glad, and glorious thing in the world"; and it is working in the omnipotence for us all the time, with nothing to prevent it if we are surrendered and believing.

One who was passing through deep waters of affliction wrote to a friend:

"Is it not a glorious thing to know that, no difference how unjust a thing may be, or how absolutely it may seem to be from Satan, by the time it reaches us it is God's will for us, and will work for good to us?

For all things work together for good to us who love God. And even of the betrayal, Christ said, "The cup which my Father gave me, shall I not drink it?"
We live charmed lives if we are living in the center of God's will. All the attacks that Satan, through others' sin, can hurl against us are not only powerless to harm us, but are turned into blessings on the way.
In the center of the circle
Of the Will of God I stand:
There can come no second causes,
All must come from His dear hand.
All is well! for 'tis my Father
Who my life hath planned.
Shall I pass through waves of sorrow?
Then I know it will be best;
Though I cannot tell the reason,
I can trust, and so am blest.
God is Love, and God is faithful,
So in perfect Peace I rest.
With the shade and with the sunshine,
With the joy and with the pain,
Lord, I trust Thee! both are needed,
Each Thy wayward child to train,
Earthly loss, did we but know it,

Often means our heavenly gain.

~L. B. Cowman~

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Ultimate Issue of the Universe # 15

The Way of Its Attainment (continued)

The Significance of the Cross (continued)

When this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality ... Death is swallowed up in victory" (! Corinthians 15:54). He has stated that. From the judicial He is moving to the practical. Why the Cross? To remove satan's rights in us. satan's ground in us, to make the judicial the actual where we are concerned. It is the process of the Cross. Do not despise or reject the subjective side of the Cross. Do not become too subjective yourself, but remember that the Lord is doing something inside, on the ground of what He has done by His Cross. That is the answer. Why the Cross? To deal with this ultimate thing in His universe. He is not just going to take us as we are, and, in a moment, make us like Himself. He takes us, and He begins to work in us, and He works and He works, by every means, satan himself and satan's work so often being employed. He is following on the trail of the serpent, and making seeming misfortunes,  mishaps, everything that seems so commonplace and ordinary, to turn to spiritual account, all to remove the ground of this other one, this evil one, to remove his ground from us, and get His own ground in us. Herein is one of the wonders of grace, one of the great triumphs of the Lord. Is it not true that, very often, those who have suffered most for their Lord, have been the most worshiping people the Lord ever had? Is that not true, and is that not strange? Those who really love the Lord, and know the Lord, and worship the Lord most fully, are those who have suffered most with their Lord. That is the triumph.

Well, I am not going to pursue this matter any further. What I have said is indicative of many other things. We are enunciating a great truth. We are set in a great spiritual background, with an immense question being answered. We know, as we have already seen, that is just what the book of Job means, why it is in the Bible. It is set there by Divine order, and it is set there with this object - to sum up this whole drama of the ages, and show God working out an answer to an antagonist, in the very soul and  body of a man. "Doth Job serve God for nought?" That is not human nature! No man ever does that, no man serves anybody for nought. You may take it if Job serves God, it is to his advantage to do so! All right, says God, I will answer that question in the very soul and body of this man; all that makes up a man's life, what a man lives for, works for, take everything from him, strip him! If a man loses his health and is in perfect physical misery, he has not much more to lose. God answers satan in that man's soul and body, and satan's ground of argument is simply wiped out. That is Job. I am saying, while we are not Jobs, we are not going to claim to be Jobs, we are to some little extent in the succession. That is why we read Revelation 4, 5 and 7. Is it not a glorious picture and prospect? They are worshiping, they are bringing all back to Him that sitteth on the Throne, and to the Lamb. satan is not getting a look in there.

I would like you to read again the story of Daniel in the light of this - I merely mention it in closing - and you see the working out of all the principles that I have enunciated, and more. Daniel purposes in his heart that he will not defile himself with the kings meat. He is having none of it. Why? Turn to Chapter 3 and put your pencil underneath one word, and you find your answer. That word is "worship." The king sets up an image which all must fall down and worship. When it comes to these other friends of Daniel - Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego - what is the thing said about them?  These men "yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God." "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice" (Romans 12:1). Sanctification means having no contact with that other realm of worship, keeping ourselves wholly for the Lord. "I saw ... one like unto a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed" (Daniel 7:13-14). You see the way to the Throne. It is the way of the Cross, the way of the yielding to God rather than to satan, at any cost, presenting your bodies living sacrifices. At the end, a Kingdom, a Throne, and it is said to Daniel, "And thou ... shalt stand in thy lot, at the end of the days" (Daniel 12:13). The book of Revelation shows us what it means to stand in our lot at the end; a great multitude, worshiping the Lamb, standing at the end of our lot.

If it is true that all the distress, disruption, discord, and misery through the ages is to be attributed to this divided worship, then the new creation the new and joyous order prophesied in the Scriptures, will come about, or will be realized, on the sole basis of God being "all in all." This has its rise in every individual in whom divided allegiance is ended. It takes its larger and corporate form in the Church "which he purchased [for this purpose] with his own blood." This, again, is the motive and dynamic of every Holy Spirit-initiated and energized movement of the Evangel and it gives meaning to all His urges to holy living, loving fellowship, patient enduring, and spiritual warfare.

All that we have said is but a hint at the very great realities. May the Lord find in us those who are utter and of an undivided heart.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(The End)

(Next: (Four Stages in the Life of the Lord's People)

The Blue of Heaven Is Larger than the Clouds

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

Why, then, do we dread the clouds which now darken our sky? True, for a while they hide the sun, but the sun is not quenched; he will be out again before long. Meanwhile those black clouds are filled with rain; and the blacker they are, the more likely they will yield plentiful showers.

How can we have rain without clouds? Our troubles have always brought us blessings, and they always will. They are the dark chariots of bright grace. These clouds will empty themselves before long, and every tender herb will be gladder for the shower. Our God may drench us with grief, but He will refresh us with mercy. Our Lord's love-letters often come to us in black-edged envelopes. His wagons rumble, but they are loaded with benefits. His rod blossoms with sweet flowers and nourishing fruits. Let us not worry about the clouds, but sing because May flowers are brought to us through the April clouds and showers.
O Lord, the clouds are the dust of Thy feet! How near Thou art in the cloudy and dark day! Love beholds Thee, and is glad. Faith sees the clouds emptying themselves and making the little hills rejoice on every side.
--C H. Spurgeon

What seems so dark to thy dim sight
May be a shadow, seen aright
Making some brightness doubly bright.
The flash that struck thy tree--no more
To shelter thee--lets heaven's blue floor
Shine where it never shone before.
The cry wrung from thy spirit's pain
May echo on some far-off plain,
And guide a wanderer home again.
"The blue of heaven is larger than the clouds."

~L. B. Cowman~

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Ultimate Issue of the Universe # 14

The Way of Its Attainment (continued)

The Significance of the Cross

Come to the Cross. We have asked, Why the Incarnation? Now, Why the Cross? The answer is found in the same spiritual realm, set there ultimately. Historic, and in a certain place on this earth, on a certain date? On "a green hill far away, outside a city wall"? Yes, true, but that is as nothing in comparison. Set it in its right place. "Now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up ..." (John 12:31-32). "Now shall the prince of this world be cast out"; and when He died, all creation registered it, and responded. "Darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour" (Luke 23:51-52). Paul tells us more: Paul tells us what is going on. "Having put off from himself the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it" (His Cross) (Colossians 2:15). That is the setting. That is where the Cross touches the greatest range and  the greatest depth. It is set among the great forces of this universe, the ultimate things. It touches us here, but if it had not touched there, it could not help us here: it is out there.

Why the Cross? Because this challenge of God's place and God's rights had brought in pollution, and corruption, and a false reign, and a false order and nature of things. The whole realm had been touched by that uncleanness, which was first in the heavens, and then came to the earth, corrupting, distorting, and twisting, and making things altogether different, and no longer acceptable to God. Now both source and river must be dealt with; the spring and its outflow had to be destroyed. Christ crucified goes to the very spring, the evil one himself, and judicially deals with the situation there, and then touches the consequence of the evil one, our sin, our sinfulness, our state, our nature, our twisted, distorted humanity, morally and spiritually. His resurrection is a triumph over two things, firstly over satan, arch-adversary, and then, over the humanity which he has touched to corruption and distortion; add in His risen Self, you have One Who is absolutely Lord of satan and the Lord of righteousness. Why the Cross? Well, that, briefly, comprehensively!

We must remember - it is just a little technical point - we must keep a line between the judicial and the actual work of Christ on His Cross. satan still is, sin still is, a distorted humanity still is. In many ways, things are just as they were before Calvary; but judicially they are no longer that. He has entered into judgment, into the state of judgment. He has born the judgment, He has died under the judgment, and He has judicially removed the ground from satan. The judicial side is finished, the practical side is being carried out. That is Christian experience; that is where the Cross comes in, has abiding efficacy for us. What is happening? He has come to dwell within, and now He begins at the center, at our spirit, bringing it to new birth with His own indestructible and incorruptible life. We have eternal life; a kind of life, not only of duration. We have it i Christ in our spirit. From our spirit, He works out to our soul, our mind. The Holy Spirit is dealing with our minds; and, praise God, the day is coming when it will work out to the body.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 15)

How Can God say No to Something He Has Promised?

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:4).

When a shipwright builds a vessel, does he build it to keep it upon the stocks? Nay, he builds it for the sea and the storm. When he was making it, he thought of tempests and hurricanes; if he did not, he was a poor shipbuilder.

When God made thee a believer, He meant to try thee; and when He gave thee promises, and bade thee trust them, He gave such promises as are suitable for times of tempest and tossing. Dost thou think that God makes shams like some that have made belts for swimming, which were good to exhibit in a shop, but of no use in the sea?

We have all heard of swords which were useless in war; and even of shoes which were made to sell, but were never meant to walk in. God's shoes are of iron and brass, and you can walk to Heaven in them without their ever wearing out; and His life-belts, you may swim a thousand Atlantics upon them, and there will be no fear of your sinking. His Word of promise is meant to be tried and proved.

There is nothing Christ dislikes more than for His people to make a show-thing of Him, and not to use Him. He loves to be employed by us. Covenant blessings are not meant to be looked at only, but to be appropriated. Even our Lord Jesus is given to us for our present use. Thou dost not make use of Christ as thou oughtest to do.

O man, I beseech you do not treat God's promises as if they were curiosities for a museum; but use them as every day sources of comfort. Trust the Lord whenever your time of need comes on.
--C. H. Spurgeon

Go to the deeps of God's promise,
And claim whatsoever ye will;
The. blessing of God will not fail thee,
His Word He will surely fulfill.

How can God say no to something He has promised?

~L. B. Cowman~

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Ultimate Issue of the Universe # 13

The Way of Its Attainment (continued)

The Significance of the Incarnation (continued)

That is perfectly clear so far as the Lord Jesus is concerned, though there is a great deal more in it than that. I simply state the fact, the principle, the law. You will have to look it up, to think about it, to bring the Scriptures in. You will understand then why the Son says, "Lo, I am come... to do thy will, O God" (Hebrews 10:7). "Thy will, O God" - that is the essence of worship. And when He draws His disciples to prayer, He gives them the principle of worship - "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." That is answering the great universal challenge. It is not just a prayer to be recited every so often. It is an immense thing. The Lord Jesus was not concerned with ritual; He was concerned with the immense principles which govern this universe. Thy will, O My God, Thy will! That is worship. We get to the place of most utter worship when at last, after some conflict, some battle over some issue, we go down before the Lord and say, Thy will, Lord; not resignedly, but, Thy will shall be done! It shall be Thy will! That is worship, the Lord is getting His rights. The will of God in this universe is worship.

There is so much more as the Son's relationship with the Father. You read John's Gospel, anew perhaps, in the light of this. Our space does not allow of the detail.

The Spirit of Sonship in Us

We are chosen unto the adoption of sons. "Foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ" "... in bringing many sons unto glory". So the Scriptures could be gathered. I am only trying to show that you and I, in the thought and intent of God, are bound up with this tremendous question of sonship, and the same object governs, and is at work. The incarnation principle is pursued when Christ, by the Holy Spirit, takes up residence within; our bodies become the temple of the Holy Spirit, the sanctuary of God; that is the individual: then the Church. The spirit of sonship has entered in, we have received the Spirit of sonship, the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father (Romans 8:15). I am not saying that we, in the same sense as Jesus Christ, are sons of God, but we come into this relationship by receiving the Spirit of His Son; we are sons with the same object; the same process at once begins. The issue is now bound up with the Church of the firstborn sons, to bring everything back to God. The honor, and the glory, and the rights of God now become bound up with believers and with the Church. The battle is carried out into the heavenlies, our lives are set in this great spiritual backgrounds and the one issue all the time for us, day by day, year in and year out, is, Who is going to get the worship from our lives? How far, by means of us, is this great question going to be furthered toward its consummation, when God shall be all in all? It is a practical one, not  a doctrinal one, not a theoretical one. It is a practical one - we know it every day of our lives. There is hardly an hour in the life of any of us when this great, eternal question may not be the very basis and issue of the situation. Who is going to have the worth-ship? Who is going to get glory out of that, the good from this? satan or God? You see why it is that at length the Church is to come into oneness with Him in His glory. "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever (Ephesians 3:20). You only need those hints. Sonship is our point at the moment. We are called to sonship, which means we are called into the fellowship of God's Son, for the settling of this issue in a practical way. God is not a God of theories; He is a God of practicalities: and what I want you to realize, especially the younger ones, is that your lives, when you have come into a vital oneness with Jesus Christ, are not just things of hap or chance. Everything in your life has a spiritual setting, a background which is so vast as to involve this great question of the Incarnation, why God was manifest in he flesh, why sonship.

Take it into your business life, all the difficulties, the adversities, the trials, the testings; your home life; anywhere. Do no take things as natural things that happen. There are two kingdoms looking on and very interested in the life of everyone of us; two whole hierarchies of intelligences are watching and actively connected with the life of everyone, each seeking to get from our lives and through our lives the good, the worth-ship. Sonship is a tremendous thing; to be sons of God is a glorious thing, but what a vocation is bound up with it, what a calling, and what an issue! I leave that there because of space, and pass on. My difficulty is to keep all sorts of matter out; we should be overwhelmed if I let it in. We could have seen what we might call this super-earthly interest in the Incarnation. What does Bethlehem represent really? Does not the birth of the Lord Jesus uncover the other world's interest in this? Heaven is interested, coming in, most evidently coming in. All earth is represented; and hell is there, watching with sinister purpose; to destroy that life, and that Man. That Son of man has not gone this earthly road without much attention from the spiritual realm. I leave you to follow that.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 14 - (The Significance of the Cross)

When the Storm Cloud Darkens, Sing!

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

Observe, I entreat you, how calamitous a circumstance is here supposed, and how heroic a faith is expressed. It is really as if he said, "Though I should be reduced to so great extremity as not to know where to find my necessary food, though I should look around about me on an empty house and a desolate field, and see the marks of the Divine scourge where I had once seen the fruits of God's bounty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord."

I think these words are worthy of being written as with a diamond on a rock forever. Oh, that by Divine grace they might be deeply engraven on each of our hearts! Concise as the form of speaking in the text is, it evidently implies or expresses the following particulars: That in the day of his distress he would fly to God; that he would maintain a holy composure of spirit under this dark dispensation, nay, that in the midst of all he would indulge in a sacred joy in God, and a cheerful expectation from Him.
Heroic confidence! Illustrious faith! Unconquerable love!

Last night I heard a robin singing in the rain,
And the raindrop's patter made a sweet refrain,
Making all the sweeter the music of the strain.
So, I thought, when trouble comes, as trouble will,
Why should I stop singing? Just beyond the hill
It may be that sunshine floods the green world still.
He who faces the trouble with a heart of cheer
Makes the burden lighter. If there falls a tear,
Sweeter is the cadence in the song we hear.
I have learned your lesson, bird with dappled wing,
Listening to your music with its lilt of spring

When the storm-cloud darkens, then's the TIME to sing.

~L. B. Cowman~

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Ultimate Issue of the Universe # 12

The Way of Its Attainment (continued)

The Significance of the Incarnation

Firstly, the Incarnation, of course, of God in Christ. The question is, why the Incarnation? Why God manifest in the flesh? Why Jesus Christ, Son of God, Son of Man? In other words, why sonship? - for it is with Him that the whole principle and meaning of sonship is introduced. Why all this in the Gospels about Father and Son, Son and Father? The question will be transferred to ourselves later. Why the Incarnation?

"When all things have been subjected unto him" - that is, the Son - "then shall the Son also himself be subjected to him that did subject all things unto him, that God may be all in all" (1 Corinthians 15:28). That is a word of finality, and that is also a word of transition. It sees a purpose fulfilled, an end reached. In a word, it says that sonship had a purpose, and that purpose would be fulfilled. I am saying that this passage of Scripture indicates an object achieved by a certain means, and therefore that means changing its place from fulfilling to fulfilled purpose; and the end is God ... all in all." Sonship, therefore, or the Incarnation, was and is with view to securing all God's universal rights unto Himself. It throw a lot of light, beautiful light I think, upon the whole matter of sonship, the relationship of son and father, father and son. It lifts the earthly, human conception on to a very high level, as one of the things of which we were speaking in our previous meditation, all the things in the Bible, which have back of them something so much greater than themselves, something of God. Human relationships are intended to be indications of Divine things. Oh, that they were more truly that! - human relationships real indications, representations, of Divine things. That is what they were intended for, and her among the human relationships is father and son, son and father, and it shows why the firstborn in Israel was of such consequence, such value, import, significance, honor; the firstborn in whom all sonship was summed up. The father might say, These are my sons, but this is my son, my firstborn. And why, when God ordered the family life of His people as in Israel, why did the firstborn son have such a place of honor and importance? Because bound up with him were all the father's rights and honor and glory and purpose. The father, with all the meaning of his fatherhood as a true father, was gathered up into that son. If that son failed, the dishonor fell upon the father. If he went wrong, the father came under that shadow. If that son died, the father's heart went with that son. The father was wrapped up in his firstborn. He was the heir; the best that the father had was his. Vested in him was everything of value and concern to the father. He was supposed to stand for the absolute honor, glory, satisfaction of his father. We know the principle holds good throughout. As we said in our previous meditation, pick up Scripture anywhere at random, if you look close enough you will find behind it something of God that is immense, endowed with the measure of God.

"Honor thy father" (Exodus 20:12). What is that? - just something to govern social conduct, make us behave ourselves? Oh no, it involves this immense thing. God the Father is wrapped up in the Son, and the Son has no less that all His Father's rights, honor, influence, in His hands. That is a Divine truth. That lies behind the Incarnation. Something has happened in this universe affecting God, and has been taken up by the Son. The Son will answer that, the Son will meet that, the Son will finally settle the issue. Sonship is that which brings everything back to God. It is the very meaning of the Incarnation to bring everything back to God, to answer all disputes.

Do you see this challenge affecting God's creation, and in the creation, man? Man is one; a race, a son-race. God's rights in man have been disputed and challenged, and it is in man that God's rights have to be secured so it requires Incarnation and Sonship. Why Incarnation, why Sonship? That!  and when He shall have subjected all things unto the Son, then the Son Himself shall be subject, that God may be all in all. Sonship has done its work, brought everything back to God.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 13)

Proven Faith

Faith is perhaps the most central element in the Christian life because it is the means by which we enter into salvation. But that’s only the beginning. From then onward, our faith—or lack of it—shapes our lives and determines what happens to us when the winds of adversity blow. Some Christiansnever lose their footing even in hurricane-force winds, but others are toppled by the slightest gust. To understand why this is true, we need to examine the source of our faith.
Inherited faith: If you grew up in a Christian home, you probably adopted some of the beliefs of your parents. This kind of godly foundation is a wonderful gift from the Lord, but eventually, each person must assume responsibility for his own beliefs.
Textbook faith: The Bible is the ultimate guide for establishing our beliefs. But that’s not the only source of influence. Books, preachers, teachers, and friends all impact our convictions. Our theology may in fact be sound, but faith is merely mental acceptance until it’s put to the test.
Proven Faith: Only when we trust the Lord through the fires of adversity will we have faith that can stand. It is no longer based on what others have told us or what we’ve accepted as true but on our firsthand experience of His faithfulness.
To evaluate your faith, consider how you react to adversity. Do you cling to the Lord or get angry at Him? Is your attitude one of rejoicing because He’s making you more like His Son, or are you bitter? No one can escape adversity, but those with proven faith will benefit from it.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Ultimate Issue of the Universe # 11

The Way of Its Attainment

Revelation 4:8-11; 5:1-14; 7:9-17

Without attempting to go back over the ground which we have covered in these studies, I want to try, for a few moments, to indicate to you what it is that I feel the Lord has brought for our attention at this time. I think it can be best gathered up in this way. We have been occupied with the great fact that everything is set in relation to a great spiritual drama, which God is working out in the Unseen. By certain Scriptures, we were taken back and shown the commencement of that drama; in some place unspecified, some time unmentioned, a big issue arose between loyal and disloyal intelligences, involving the great question, the ultimate question of the supreme and unrivaled Lordship of this universe. Then we followed out from that initiation of the question and contest into this world, its repercussions in this creation, the crisis which made it a part of everything here in this world. Then we saw how all through the spiritual history of the universe, and of this world in particular, that issue has been to the fore, and has been governing everything. Who is going to be worshiped without question and reserve? So we saw that the issue which bounds the universe, and governs everything in it, is the issue of worship that worship is something which comes down to the very minutia, the smallest details of life. Who is going to have the supreme place, who is going to be Lord, who is going to have the worth-ship? We have seen this whole question set in the super-earthly realm; and we have seen that, with the very commencement of Christ's spiritual ministry, it was set there. "If thou wilt fall down and worship me," said the adversary to our Lord in the wilderness. The thing is unveiled, uncovered, exposed, again and again, in the Word of God. In the book of the Revelation, it stands stark naked. The end, as revealed in that book, is - "And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God the Almighty, and the Lamb, are the temple thereof." "And there shall be no curse any more." The issue is settled, the matter of worship is finished, summed up in God and the Lamb.

In some few practical ways in our previous meditation, we sought to see that everything with which we have to do is set in that realm, that unseen but most real of all realms. We saw what it means to be a Christian - not just that we come to believe certain doctrines or truths, ascent to them, and are marked as those who believe these stated things: not just that we have decided, even by the grace of God, to live a good life, to refrain from a lot of things that are wrong, and do a lot of things that are right; that we change our form of behavior, conduct and procedure. No, not these things. But the Christian life means that we have entered actively, directly, immediately into that realm where the ultimate issue of this universe becomes the primary thing in our very existence. We are a part of something immense, going on out of sight. Everything that belong to our Christian life has to be seen in that light. We are at a loss, altogether at a loss, until we are fully aware of that - that things are not just happenings. There is a background of immense spiritual significance and meaning to everything; when we become livingly related to the Lord, we then become livingly related to the thing which He is doing. The thing that He is doing is answering that challenge, and securing its full and final answer for eternity, and that in us first, and then through us. "Now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places might be made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God." We are set in a very large realm with a very large meaning. That has been the import of our previous meditations.

I want now to bring that down to one or two more very practical matters, the first of which is the significance or meaning of the Incarnation.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 12 - (The Significance of the Incarnation)