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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Union With Christ # 12

1. Eternal Union with Christ

Having been occupied with Christ Himself, the meaning of Christ, seeking to set the background, lay the foundation, in some little understanding of His greatness and of His place, we now should be able to follow on with the meaning of our union with Him. You will see that the New Testament gives us various conceptions of that union. These are not different unions that is to say, the similes used of these unions do not apply to different bodies of people. They are only aspects of the one union, but each one has its own particular significance and value.

Let us first of all look at the first chapter of the letter to the Ephesians:

"Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world" (verse 4).

"Having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will" (verse 5).

"In whom also we were made an heritage" (verse 11).

And if you ask, When were we made a heritage? -

" them that are called according to his purpose. For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son" (Romans 8:28-29).

"Elect ... according to the foreknowledge of God the Father" (1 Peter 1:1, 2).

"...The men whom thou gavest me ... thine they were, and thou gavest them to me ... Keep them in thy name which thou hast given me" (John 17:6, 11).

I ought at once to say that we are not embarking upon a theological discussion or argument. This matter of election or foreordination or predestination has passed almost entirely into schools of doctrine and has split the Church into parties through the ages, and it still remains largely an academic subject, to be debated, argued, wrestled with intellectually. For our part we will have none of it. It would be unprofitable, it would get us nowhere and we are not moving in that realm. We are seeking spiritual values, practical values for our own spiritual lives, and so we lift this matter right out of the realm of argument and debate and seek to see it in the light of Christ. It is entirely governed by Christ, for it is only in Christ that it exists.

But, before we go further, I want to say this. This matter of election relates to the Church and must be confined to the Church. (I would prefer to call the Church by the name of "the elect," because the very word "Church" has become an ecclesiastical conception.) It belongs to the Church, the Church belongs to it, and its real meaning has only been divulged in this dispensation. We are given to understand by the Word of God that all previous dispensations were pointing to, leading to and heading up to this dispensation, as though there were a drive behind them to reach a dispensation of fullness or completeness. They were all impartial, imperfect, unsatisfactory, all just reaching a certain phase passed to phase, and on to another phase, and still there was the waiting, the hoping, the expecting, the requiring, and then this age or dispensation came. It is called in the New Testament the "dispensation of the fullness of the times" (Ephesians 1:10). This is a very significant little phrase. The times are made full, all the times are made full, in this one. All those which lack fullness and finality are filled up in this one. This one gives that which they lacked and needed; this is the dispensation of the fullness, or completeness, of the times. This is what the Apostle calls "the ends of the ages" (1 Corinthians 10:11).

~ T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 13)

Our Divine Teacher

One of the reasons that many people—including believers—don’t read the Bible is because they can’t understand it. We would expect that to be the case for those who don’t know Christ, but why do so many believers fail to comprehend the truths of Scripture? Maybe it’s because they haven’t asked for help from their divine Teacher. One of the Holy Spirit’s chief responsibilities is to enable Christians to understand the things of God.

When looking at believers who know more than we do, we’ll sometimes think, I will never be able to reach that level. The issue, however, isn’t how much knowledge you have right now, but whether you are growing in your understanding. The Spirit will teach you what you need to know, not necessarily what others know. Because He wants to make us godly people, He’ll give us enough truth each day to change our lives. He will interpret the meaning and give an application designed specifically for each person.

The Spirit’s goal is not to fill your mind with information but to bring you to a deeper level in your relationship with the Lord. He wants you to understand the truth so you will fall in love with Jesus. Then you’ll long to spend time in the Word, thereby getting to know Him even better.

But all these treasures of God’s Word could remain out of reach if you never ask the Teacher to unlock them. Each time you read your Bible, ask the Lord for understanding. A wonderfully intimate love relationship with Christ awaits those who let the Spirit reveal to them the thoughts of God.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Union with Christ # 11

2. His Place - By the Love of the Father Infinite Divine Love the Motive and Power (continued)

b. Man Senses It

Man senses it, and having said that, everybody knows what that means. There is an instinctive rising up in man when mention is made of Jesus Christ in any way. It varies from ridicule and the charge of being "goody-goody" to open hostility, and it is because the conscience of man is touched, and he feels uncomfortable and out of place in the presence of this One; he feels there is something wrong with his being. You know it. Without so much as a word, you are marked, if Christ is in you. Man senses this spiritual and moral excellence, and he resents it. He senses the greatness of Christ and feels poor and mean and despicable and uncomfortable in His presence.

c. Hell Attests It By Attempted Corruption

hell attests it. We have said as much - hell attests it by attempted corruption. Because Christ is the object in view, the heir of all things, and because this inheritance is to be holy and incorruptible as conformed to the image of God's Son, the only way to cheat Him of His inheritance and defeat this Divine purpose, to circumvent the course of the Son of God, is somehow to introduce corruption. That is the history all the way through. Much springs into mind.

His Greatness Is Implicit In

a. His Satisfaction to God

His greatness is implicit in His satisfaction to God. That goes without saying. God, being what He is, infinitely holy, in attesting His Son as well-pleasing to Him and as offering a sacrifice well-pleasing to Him, thereby expresses His utter satisfaction regarding Him. In figures, in types, in symbols, the verdict on all that is of Christ is that God is satisfied. His greatness is implicit in His satisfaction to God.

b. His Redemptive Work

It is implicit in His redemptive work, for no sinner can save a sinner. You can profit no one beyond the level of your own life and experience. For Christ to achieve an uttermost, final, consummate redemption and salvation, He must be utterly and consummately sinless. His redemption is based upon that.

c. The Spirit's Operations

Again, it is implicit in the Spirit's operations, which means, firstly, that the Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus, and secondly,that He is the Holy Spirit. This makes everything subject to experiment, so to speak. The greatness of Christ is not a doctrine, not a declaration of some fact. It is open to practical proof along all lines. Now then, try to get away with known sin in the presence of the Holy Spirit, and see how you get on. Try to grow in the spiritual life without dealing with something upon which the Holy Spirit has put His finger, and see how far you get. There is your proof. The crown of all God's intentions is found in the gift of the Holy Spirit to dwell within, and all His operations are upon the ground of the absolute greatness and glory of Jesus Christ. He is working to the most minute point. Is that according to Christ? Is that glorifying to Christ? Does that reflect Christ? We are at once arrested in our spiritual life, and we will make no further progress, even were we to live for the next half century, if the Holy Spirit has said, "That is contrary to Christ," and we have shut our eyes to it and ignored it and have been rebellious. The Holy Spirit is jealous for Christ. What is the Christian life after all? It is not to conform to a set of doctrines, to obey a set of regulations. Christianity is Christ, and there is nothing else to it, and the Holy Spirit keeps us to that. Everything, therefore, is subject to testing. All that we have said is brought up as a practical issue by the Holy Spirit.

There we must leave it for the time being, but are you just glimpsing now something of what union with Christ means? Oh, blessed be God, union with Christ means that God is utterly satisfied with Him, and therefore with me and you as in Him. Have you got hold of that yet? That is one of the fundamentals of the Christian faith, but how long we take to get hold of it. We are so afraid that we shall not be coming up to standard. You just get a firm faith-hold on Jesus Christ as your answer to God for all your needs, and the Holy Spirit has got His ground. It is Christ, not what I am, but what He is, and that covers all questions. God is satisfied in Him, and that has glory as the issue. "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27). You see, you can go on. He is the answer, and this is all of the grace of God, marvelous grace, boundless and free. Union with Christ answers every question, satisfies God and brings us to glory.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 12 - (1. Eternal Union with Christ)

God's Ways Can be Hard to Understand

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” - Isaiah 55:8-9

I learned these verses in my early years as a Christian. I have heard them quoted often, and I have spoken them many times, either to others or to myself. I am not always sure if they are comforting words or if they are confounding words. 

Intellectually, I know that God's thoughts and ways are not like mine. Of course my ways are not like God's, God is God and I am not. But when I go down a path that seems to make so much sense to me, then out of nowhere, the course dramatically changes: I must admit that I am more confounded than comforted. There are times when we pray for things or people and our prayers are answered just as we prayed them. Then, there are times when we pray and our prayers seem to go unheard, with no answer at all. We can usually handle both extremes because God is God and He can act as He pleases.

But what about those times when we pray about something specifically, and we clearly see God's hand in it? We pray, God leads and we are getting it. We can even see what is coming as God reveals things to us. Our faith is being increased and we are finally gaining some spiritual strength and understanding. Even though the course is tough, we are making steady progress. But… then… out of the blue, something happens that changes our course so drastically that we feel the air has been knocked out of us. All of sudden, we find ourselves in a place of desolation and despair. What happened? It seemed like everything was moving along so well.

It is in these moments that we all must glean a deeper understanding that God's thoughts and ways are not ours. God does not play by our rules and God is never in a rush. Keep one thing in mind today as you meditate on these verses. Our Lord loves us more than we can ever comprehend and everything He does is in our best interest. His main desire for us is that we are His, totally and completely. Do you feel as though God has abandoned you or maybe has just forgotten about your needs? Ask Him to help you understand more of His ways. Ask Him to open your mind to comprehend the Scriptures. Go to Him, repent if you have un-confessed sin and trust that His higher ways will always be what is best.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Friday, November 28, 2014

Union with Christ # 10

3. The Greatness of Christ is Spiritual and Moral

You may not like that word "moral," but I am using it in a particular and limited sense. "Spiritual" looks in a Godward direction, and speaks of His union with the Father. "Moral" is a word which comes in after the Fall, and relates to a whole system of things which originates with fallen humanity - morals; so that when we speak of moral, we mean that which touches downward, not upward, that which links with evil and not with God. Christ's greatness therefore is spiritual by reason of His life with the Father. His greatness is moral by reason of His perfect separation from that which is from beneath, the realm of the fallen nature with all that it means. That is all I mean at the moment in the use of those words - spiritual and moral, and as you read your Gospels that is what you find to be the background of everything. It is these two things all the time that are the ground of the challenge. Perhaps we shall see more of that as we go on.

But I want to remind you that the whole of the Old Testament is constituted upon the idea of a coming Holy One, or Righteous One, or Righteous Servant. "Neither wilt thou suffer thy holy one to see corruption" (Psalm 16:10). That is in a Psalm, and is quoted, as you know, by Peter on the day of Pentecost concerning Christ. "Thy holy one." That One, by that title, was recognized in the spiritual realm.

Demons knew Him altogether apart from incarnation. "I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God" (Mark 1:24). That takes you a long way back in the Old Testament. From a prophet we get Paul's quotation - "My righteous one." There was from the beginning, when sin entered through what we call the Fall, a quest for a holy one, for a righteous one. Heaven was in quest for a righteous one. Where shall a righteous man be found? If he can be found, he is the solution to the whole problem. Countless figures of the righteous One are given us. Abel had witness born that he was righteous. Because of his faith, Abraham was called righteous. Noah was a preacher of righteousness. You who know the Bible do not need me to follow that further. The figures of the righteous One are there in great numbers. But with all the figures there was failure, leaving the quest for the fully righteous One still unanswered and unmet, and the Old Testament closes still with the cry and sigh for this righteous and this holy One. The creation is left in suspense. Men were still awaiting the realization of a glorious intention, and destiny was hanging upon an essential state, and that an inward state of man; not a ceremonial state, but an inward state, that is, a state of inward righteousness and holiness. Everything was in suspense until that state was found in man. All this great and glorious intention and destiny was impossible of realization without a state. I want you to focus upon that and think much about it. God did His best to help men on, to encourage men on, to get them there, but may I say it reverently, there is a sense in which God's intentions broke down. The situation did not allow of His just getting a people through to glory by a sovereign act. God could not do that. Everything depended upon an inward state. There could be no realization, no answer to God's intention, no possibility of reaching the intended end without an inward state. He got them as far as he could by ceremonial conditions, but we know how that failed. The contrary inward state was far too much for the ceremonial. No, sacraments do not achieve it, there must be an inward condition of righteousness. 

Ah, well, blessed be God, the inward state of Christ was the state that made everything possible. Yes, the excellence of Christ was His inward state, not His legal status or His official position. Always remember that. He has gone far beyond all ceremonies, all sacraments, all rites, all ordinances, all that system which broke down. He surpassed it all because of what He was inwardly. That is His excellence!

a. Heaven Knows It

Heaven knows it, and that is why He was anointed of the Holy Spirit; for, while you have anointings in the Old Testament, they are partial and transient, there is no fullness and there is no permanence about them. They were for the fulfillment of a temporary purpose. He was anointed of God in fullness and finality. He evermore is the Anointed, and God gave to Him the Spirit without measure. To anoint, as we have often said, is simply a symbol of God committing Himself. Do you think God would commit Himself like that to any state that did not answer to His requirements? Haven attested Him: "Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

He triumphed through testing. His inward state was subjected to every form and kind of testing at the defiled hands of the evil one himself, and He triumphed over every attempt at spiritual defilement, that is, to get something in between Himself and God to spoil that relationship and fellowship and walk with God in purity, in holiness, in truth. He triumphed upward, and He triumphed over every effort to get Him to make a contact with the cursed earth, and so make a link with that which was outside of the blessing of God. That is His excellence. It is inward. Heaven knows it.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 11)

Do Not Be Anxious

Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. (Phil 4:6)

No anxiety ought to be found in a believer. Great, many and varied may be our trials, our afflictions, our difficulties, and yet there should be no anxiety under any circumstances, because we have a Father in Heaven who is almighty, who loves His children as He loves His only-begotten Son, and whose very joy and delight it is to succor and help them at all times and under all circumstances. We should attend to the Word, “In nothing be anxious, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
“In everything,” that is not merely when the house is on fire, not merely when the beloved wife and children are on the brink of the grave, but in the smallest matters of life, bring everything before God, the little things, the very little things, what the world calls trifling things—everything—living in holy communion with our Heavenly Father, arid with our precious Lord Jesus all day long. And when we awake at night, by a kind of spiritual instinct again turning to Him, and speaking to Him, bringing our various little matters before Him in the sleepless night, the difficulties in connection with the family, our trade, our profession. Whatever tries us in any way, speak to the Lord about it.

“By prayer and supplication,” taking the place of beggars, with earnestness, with perseverance, going on and waiting, waiting, waiting on God.

“With thanksgiving.” We should at all times lay a good foundation with thanksgiving. If everything else were wanting, this is always present, that He has saved us from hell. Then, that He has given us His Holy Word—His Son, His choicest gift—and the Holy Spirit. Therefore we have abundant reason for thanksgiving. O let us aim at this!

“And the peace of God which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” And this is so great a blessing, so real a blessing, so precious a blessing, that it must be known experimentally to be entered into, for it passeth understanding. O let us lay these things to heart, and the result will be, if we habitually walk in this spirit, we shall far more abundantly glorify God, than as yet we have done.
—George Mueller, in Life of Trust

Twice or thrice a day, look to see if your heart is not disquieted about something; and if you find that it is, take care forthwith to restore it to calm.

~L. B. Cowman~

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Union With Christ # 9

2. His Place - By the Love of the Father Infinite Divine Love the Motive and Power (continued)

In the Book of the Revelation this is taken up in the great concourse, "Worthy is the Lamb that hath been slain to receive the power, and riches, and wisdom, and might, and honor, and glory, and blessing" (Revelation 5:12). The Father honors the Son. I have not quoted from John's Gospel because there it is what the Son Himself says about the Father's honoring of Him. We accept that, but there is much more that confirms it. His place is by the love of the Father, therefore the Father demands that the Son be honored.

Now that is a very practical thing. Do you think that you will ever bypass Jesus Christ and get to God? The Father's appointments are all with His Son. Now, that is comprehensive and covers the whole creation. In Him, through Him, unto Him, were all things created,  therefore God's appointment was with His Son in the whole creation. That is to say, God would meet everything created on the ground of His Son. Now when the creation through its first overlord, Adam, made a breach with the crown rights of God's Son and handed them to the rival, satan, what did God do? According to Paul's marvelous statement, God acted at once and right at the heart of the whole creation He wrote "disappointment."  His jealousy for His Son to rival or rebellion. Paul says that "the creation was subjected to vanity" (Romans 8:20), and from that moment the creation has at its very heart disappointment. That is true about man. Whatever his attainments, his successes, his achievements, his inventions, the last word is disappointment. Whatever there is that is fair and beautiful in creation around us, it goes so far then fades and dies; everything is subjected to death and corruption. That is disappointment. The appointment is broken. The appointment for glory, for fullness, for consummation, is made with His Son, and outside of His Son there is no such appointment, but all is disappointment. Is that true? Why do not men see that? We Christians know it, if no one else knows it; but, blessed be God, we have come back to God's appointment and the disappointment has been wiped out. God has come back to us, to appointment in His Son, to union with Christ.

This union is not something official, something legal or formal. It is affectional. It is not obligation that governs here. Love never stops at obligations, but always goes on to the utmost possibilities. Union with Christ is of that character because it is the center of God's love. You will have, of course, to do quite a lot of quiet meditation on all this and relate all that we are saying about Christ to the Christian life. "Translated ... into the kingdom of the Son of his love" (Colossians 1:13). That aspect alone is amazingly wonderful and full - "the Son of his love." Union with Christ brings us on to that ground, into that realm. Oh, do not have comparative ideas of this love, as though the love of God were graded according to the degrees of goodness or of badness which He may find. His love for you and me is the love which He bears for His Son. That is the revelation. To be united with Christ is to be enfolded in all the dimensions of His relationship with the Father as the Son of his love. I have not said "in all the dimensions of His relationship with the Father as very God," but as Man, as His Son Jesus Christ.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 10 - (3. The Greatness of Christ is Spiritual and Moral)

The Blessing of God's Spiritual Influence

In the beginning of Isaiah 55  God invites His people to come to Him and fellowship with Him.  In verses 3 and 6 God says,

"Incline your ear, and come to Me.  Hear, and your soul shall live….  Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near."

In verses 10-11, we are told what happens to those who respond to this invitation, to God's call to come and seek Him and listen to Him,

"For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it."

In the same way rain brings blessing when it waters the earth (causing it to bring a bountiful harvest and fruitfulness into the lives of the people), so God's spiritual influence brings refreshment and fruitfulness to our lives.

What is God's spiritual influence?  It is the impact of His Word and His Spirit upon the hearts of His children. 

When you come to God, when you respond to His call to seek Him and incline your ear, He will speak to you.  And the effect His Word has when He speaks it into your life, into your heart, is the same effect that rain has on the earth.

His Word, as it penetrates your heart, will bring refreshment, enlightenment, and ultimately, fruitfulness.  It will bring revival into your heart causing spiritual growth and progress.

~Bayless Conley~

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Union With Christ # 8

2. His Place - By the Love of the Father Infinite Love the Motive and Power (continued)

b. By the Opposite of Love to All Divine Activities

But then this same fact is revealed by the opposite of love to all Divine activities. We always get something confirmatory from the opposite side. One of the strongest confirmations of this very thing comes from the intense antagonism of the adversary to this appointment and position which Christ holds by the love of the Father. Oh, what that has provoked through history, and does still provoke, in an opposite way! All the jealousy that you can see associated with those very figures that we have mentioned, suspicion, hatred, malice, prejudice, pride, murder, is but an expression of it. All these and much more have broken out against the Son of His love. How do you explain it? We sometimes sing:

Why, what hath my Lord done?
What makes this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run.
He gave the blind their sight.

Even a gross man of this world could say, "I find no crime in him" (John 18:38), "I wash my hands of the blood of this innocent man," Why this rage and spite? The answer is that it comes from hell below. It is because of this love of the Father and the position in which that love has placed Him. Do not think that this is just a statement of some facts. This lies at the very heart of our union with Christ. "As the Father hath loved me, I also have loved you." You see to what union with Christ leads us. Well, that in passing, lest you might think I am just passing on so much data and matter. No, hell has given its own mind on this matter. It is very significant. Anything, no matter what it is, which has the advancement of the interests of Christ in view immediately becomes the object of sinister jealousy, suspicion, hatred, prejudice, and, if possible, murder. This opposition springs up without reason so far as men are concerned, without investigation, without inquiry. It  simply, spontaneously comes into being, and, is encircled by the most unreasoning and unreasonable of attitudes, many of which collapse on honest inquiry. But there it is. The question still remains as to how men are caught in this kind of thing. But we know full well where it comes from, and it is the opposite of love to all Divine activities in relation to the Son.

c. By the Father's Demand That the Son be Honored

This is revealed, thirdly, by the Father's demand that the Son shall be honored. "This is my beloved Son," came the announcement from heaven, "hear ye him" (Matthew 17:5). Here we see the Father's jealousy for the position of the Son. He will not bypass Him, He will not allow even an ardent apostle to step in front of His Son. We see Jesus "crowned with glory and honor" (Hebrews 2:9). Peter, referring to the transfiguration, said many years afterward, "He received from God the Father honor and glory, when there was born such a voice to him by the Majestic Glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (2 Peter 1:17). He received from the Father honor.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 9)

The Face of God

The psalmist says in Psalms 30:7,

You hid Your face, and I was troubled.

One thing we should never want to experience is for God to hide His face, because the face of God represents His favor, friendship, and fellowship.
Now there is only one thing that causes God to hide His face from us.  It is found in Isaiah 59:1-2,

Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear.  But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.

Sin is the one thing that causes God's face to be hidden.  The Bible says we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God, which means the sin of mankind had hidden God's face.

But that is not the end of the story, thank goodness!  In Isaiah 50:6 we are told,
"I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting."

Because Jesus did not hide His face from shame and spitting, because He took your place and died for your sins, God's face can shine upon you.
He could have hidden His face; He could have avoided the whole crucifixion, but He didn't. He bore a shame that was not His as God the Father laid the sin of the world on Him.

Because Jesus did not hide His face, the face of God need not be hidden from any of us. The light of God's countenance can shine upon every one of us, and we can indeed be the friends of God. 

Thank you, Jesus, for what you did!

~Bayless Conley~

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Union With Christ # 7

2. His Place - By the Love of the Father Infinite Divine Love the Motive and Power

Having in our last meditation, covered the ground of the greatness of Christ in the Scriptures as the meaning of all things, the idea and nature of all things, and the final test of all things, we now go on to consider His place is by the love of the Father. Infinite Divine love is the motive and the power which lies back of His appointment to the position which has been given to Him.

This is revealed in several ways. It is revealed

a. In All the Scriptures

Many of these Scriptures will immediately spring to mind. Let me give you a small selection:

John 17:24; Hebrews 1:2; Hebrews 1:10

But before He laid the foundation of the world, before the world was, the declaration is that He was the Beloved of the Father.

John 5:20; John 3:35; John 10:17; John 9:9; Matthew 3:17; Ephesians 1:6; Colossians 1:13)

And so we could go on, but we have quoted sufficient to show very fully that the Scriptures reveal that Christ has His place by the love of the Father.

But not only is this so in direct and definite statements, but everything points to it. Every Old Testament figure of Christ brings out the idea of love with fullness and inheritance in view. I think we often overlook what seems to be the all-too-fleeting and transient glorious morn before Adam fell, but it is a picture of Divine love for the man whom God had created. Love - yes; love planning, love giving, love companioning, love desiring. It is a picture of love, and all with fullness, a great inheritance, in view. And did we but realize it, the rebellion and disobedience were a blow at the heart of God more than anything else, the God who so loved the world. Adam, we are told, was a figure of Christ (Romans 5:14) before the Fall, only a figure, but there is enough there to show the love-relationship between God an man, with desire for man's fullest inheritance. We will just glance at these outstanding personal representations or figures of Christ.

Isaac - it is impossible to be blind to the love element surrounding Isaac. He is the love of the father, a particular and peculiar love, and it was said that "in Isaac shall thy seed be called" (Genesis 21:12). The inheritance is along the line of the son of his love.

Joseph - there is perhaps no greater figure of Christ in the Old Testament than Joseph, but what a son of the father's love! And how did he come to glory, to fullness? By the jealous love  of One greater than his earthly father, because he was a figure of Him that was to come. There is no mistaking the prefiguring of Christ in Joseph. Sold for twenty pieces of silver, to all intents dead and out of sight, cast into the deepest dungeon, tasting the bitterest travail of soul, and raised to glory and power to bring life to his brethren. Well, it is patent that there is a figure of Christ, but the governing feature is love unto fullness.

Or take Israel. Surely, if there is a mystery in history, it is the mystery of God's love for Israel, when viewed in the light of all they proved to be. God spoke of Israel as "My son," "My firstborn." "I remember for thee the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals" (Jeremiah 2:2). God is there speaking like a lover concerning Israel. Amazing love, all with the inheritance in view. Is it not strange that the nation which has drawn out the love of God by way of example so utterly, should become the nation to exhibit so utterly the opposite of love for God, and for the Son of God? I could add much more as from the Old Testament to this story of figures of Christ in terms of love with fullness in view.

There is another whole series of symbols and types of Christ which carry the thought of preciousness and glory, preciousness, that is, in the eyes of God. There is a subject for you to study.  Glory is according to heaven's standard, and it is all Christ implicit. We leave it there. Is it not revealed in Scripture hat He holds His place by the love of the Father, both by direct statements and by numerous figures and symbols and types?

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 8 - (b. By the Opposite of Love to All Divine Activities)

A Worldly Heart

God warns us against misguided desires, because sinful passions can lead to emptiness, suffering, disappointment, pain, and even death. Wise believers let the Father direct their yearnings--and then make changes if necessary.
Impure desires have been part of the "flesh" nature since the fall of man, and they can be hard to see in ourselves. Instead of obvious things like theft, drugs, or immorality, they often involve more subtle attitudes and behaviors, like hoping for a rival's downfall, despising authority (2 Peter 2:10), obsessing about wealth (1 Tim. 6:9), or even speaking arrogant and vain words. Since worldly passions can cause great damage (2 Peter 2:18), believers are to deny them (Titus 2:11-12). But we can't overcome these desires on our own. Submitting to God's Spirit is the only way to live righteously.
The Lord knows what we really desire--and more importantly, what we need--even when cloudy judgment leads us astray. And He understands honest mistakes. When a believer misinterprets the Spirit's guidance or receives bad advice from a friend, God looks at the heart. He may allow the consequences of a poor choice to play out, but He won't shame His children for an honest mistake. He can turn a bad situation into something good (Rom. 8:28).
God can save us from worldly desires, but we must be willing to commit ourselves to Him and trust that His response is the best thing for us. When we put our lives entirely in the Father's hands, we can claim the wonderful promises He has for us and then rest in His grace.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Monday, November 24, 2014

Union With Christ # 6

Christ In the Old Testament (continued)

We close with what is perhaps the most difficult aspect and most difficult thing to say, but I believe it is here. This someone was manifested personally in the midst of the nations, that is, in Israel. You will recall the many theophanies, Divine appearances in man-form in Israel, and you will recall that in not a few instances it is impossible to discriminate between the one who is called the angel and the Lord Himself. They are interchangeable terms, synonymous words. Of the same person, first the word "angel" and then the word "Lord" is used. The angel, as it seemed, took up the conflict with Jacob, and he eventually cried, "I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved" (Genesis 32:30). The angel of the Lord appeared to Abraham and was confessed to be the Lord. The Lord said to Israel, "Behold, I send an angel before thee, to keep thee by the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Take ye heed before him, and hearken unto his voice: provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgression: for my name is in him" (Exodus 23:20, 21). Who is this? Paul said about the smitten rock, that the rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 4). But do you remember this, and this is the point of the whole incident, that when the Lord was giving commandment to Moses about smiting the rock, He said, "I will stand before thee there upon the rock" (Exodus 17:6). It was the Lord who was the rock, says Paul; it was the Lord who was smitten to save the life of His people, and you cannot smite the Lord twice. Once smitten, and, blessed be God, that is enough. Then it is said that the rock followed them (1 Corinthians 10:4), meaning, I think, that the waters of the rock, the values of he rock, the efficacy of the smitten rock, went with them on their way "and that rock was Christ," it was the Lord. "I will stand before ... the rock." So I could gather up many other of these instances, where the identifying of the one called the angel of the Lord  cannot be made without saying that it was the Lord Himself, and, seeing the connections, you cannot but see the Son of God. If that wants proving, go to the last book of the Old Testament, when mention is made of the messenger of the covenant. "The Lord, whom ye seek, will suddenly come to his temple" (Mal. 3:1). That word translated "messenger" is the same word translated elsewhere  "angel". Who is this angel or messenger of the covenant? "The Lord, whom ye seek, will suddenly come to his temple ... But who can abide the day of his coming?" It is none other than the Son of God. But there He was manifested in Israel, again and again personally present, not as yet incarnate, but in manifestation nonetheless.

Well, there is the Scripture. Now, you see, that is the Old Testament. It is shot through, we have said, with expectation, and anticipation. Someone must finally and fully come to answer to it all.

We know that the New Testament, on the other hand, is just brimful of testimony that all this related to and was fulfilled in Christ. The Bible says, in a word: He, Christ, must be made everything of. When we  glimpsed something of His greatness, we are at least in the way of glimpsing the wonder of union with Christ. Oh, what a great thing it is! Surely we can now confirm that with which we started. It is the hope of everything. Everything centers in Him and radiates from Him to the bounds of God's created universe. Union with Christ is the heart of all the revealed thoughts of God concerning man and man's relationship with God.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 7 - (His Place - By the Love of the Father Infinite Divine love the Motive and Power)


 You may wonder, what does trust really mean?  Let me help you understand by using the word T-R-U-S-T as an acronym.

"T" stands for trust…which means that if you are going to trust Him, you have to take Him at His word.  Even if it seems like it is not true, you take Him at His word.  If we will take Him at His word, He will guide us through the course of life and bring us across the finish line safely.

"R" stands for rest.  The Bible tells us to rest in the Lord.  1 Peter 5:7 says, Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.  Do not worry.  Worry is like a rocking chair.  It gives you something to do, but you don't get anywhere.

"U" stands for understanding.  Proverbs 3:5 says, Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  Sometimes things just won't make sense to your understanding.

"S" stands for speech

The final "T" stands for thanksgiving.  We offer thanks to God in advance.  Philippians 4:6 says, Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  When we offer thanks to God, it is an expression of our faith. 

That's T-R-U-S-T!

~Bayless Conley~

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Union With Christ # 5

The Meaning of Christ (continued)

Christ In the Old Testament

Well, let us return again to this contemplation of His greatness as seen in the Scriptures. If we take the Scriptures as a whole, we find that the Old Testament is shot through with expectation and anticipation. From the very beginning someone is demanded, someone is foreshadowed, someone is proclaimed, and someone is manifested in the midst of the nations; for this Someone was manifested in Israel whom God planted in the midst of them.

Let us look at that for a few minutes. Someone is demanded, demanded because of a calamitous failure which has brought the whole creation under arrest, into what the Bible calls "vanity". Failure has made of the whole creation an abortion. Someone has demanded by reason of that failure, someone is required to repair it. Someone is demanded by intuition. Man feels intuitively that someone must come sooner or later.

This expectation and this demand can be traced in very remote civilizations. Universally we find that someone must come to answer to enigma of life and the world. The whole thing is an enigma, a problem a puzzle. Man is an abiding quandary, everything is a great contradiction. Many of those who have probed the most deeply in order to try to explain the problem had been driven into blank, terrible despair. Yet man must solve this problem. The Bible is just full of that.

But by continuous intimations someone is demanded. It seems as though there is a reaching of a certain point, and now there is an intimation that something is going to happen, and then it recedes, and after a time it comes on again like a tide, only to recede once more. These successive tides in history intimate all the time that something will happen, or someone will come; until you reach the day when He did become incarnate, and the spirit of expectation was ripe in just a nucleus, a remnant. They were waiting, expecting. "The Hope of Israel" (Acts 28:20). That hope was not only the hope of Israel, it was the hope of the whole creation. Paul tells us that the creation was subjected in hope (Romans 8:20); it was there throbbing throughout the centuries. Someone is demanded along every line, and that demand is revealed in the Scripture.

Someone is shadowed forth. The Old Testament is full of the shadowing forth of someone in personal types and in symbols, and, although typology and symbolism and the figurative aspect of the Old Testament has perhaps been a bit overdone and sometimes discredited by exaggerations and straining, there does lie right on the fact of things, without any straining at all, a whole system which speaks of something other than itself. It demands that which it signifies, typifies, symbolizes, for men cannot live for eternity on symbols, on types, on figures, on foreshadowings. Someone must answer to all this!

Someone is therefore proclaimed. The whole of the Old Testament contains the proclaiming of a someone by the Spirit of prophecy. Immediately Adam falls and the tragedy of sin occurs, the seed of the woman, who should put all this right, is brought into view and proclaimed. He is again proclaimed in Abraham - "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed" (Genesis 22:18). In Jacob: aged and dying, Jacob, in blessing his sons, came to Judah, and proclaimed those beautiful and classic words - "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the obedience of the people's be"; a bringer of peace looked for out of Judah. Did He come of Judah, He whose Name is Peace, Shiloh? All that while ago was He proclaimed. In Moses - "Jehovah thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me" (Deut. 18:15). Ours is an unfortunate translation in its use of the words "like unto me." It just gives a wrong turn to what Moses actually said. "Jehovah thy God will raise up unto thee, of thy brethren," not "like unto me," but, "as he raised me up." You can think about that. How did Moses raise Moses up? But here is the prophecy of the coming of this prophet. Then you want to read the whole statement in Deuteronomy 18 and 24. In both those chapters you will see that the reference is to a greater than Moses. Well, we cannot go on. All the prophets prophesy of Christ, they were all proclaiming Him.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 6)

Giving To God First

Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:17-19

We quote Philippians 4:19 frequently to ease our concerns about insufficient finances as we say, "I know that God will supply all my needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." However, did you know that the context of this verse is about giving, not receiving? According to the context of this Scripture, Paul was saying that we will receive from God if we are willing to give to God first. Paul was thanking the Philippi believers for giving to him. Paul also said that he had learned to be content in all circumstances and he was thankful that they gave, so that fruit may abound on their behalf.

Why is it so difficult to give first? How can we live with an eternal perspective when it comes to money? Because we need to pay real life monthly bills, make actual house payments and physically handle money, it is difficult to believe that our money will go the extra distance by giving tithes and offerings.  We can give away older things to replace them with newer things, although that kind of giving tends to be to our personal advantage.  We can give to our families and even to our own social life, but to tithe regularly seems impossible. The word "tithe" means a tenth or 10% and God specifies that the amount is subtracted from our first fruits (our gross salary). God also talks about "offerings." An offering is in addition to the tithe. This seems like it would require too much faith to even begin giving.

But God asks us to give so He can bless us, to give cheerfully, not with clenched fists.  If we open our hands freely to the work of God, we are in a position that we can freely receive from His open hand toward us. Corrie ten Boom said, "I have learned to hold on to things loosely because it hurts when God pries them away." The interesting thing about clenched fists towards God is that we can never protect what we have from God any way. Remember: God will supply all of our needs when we supply to His first.

Oh Lord, help me to give to You without my left hand knowing what my right hand is doing. Let me be a blessing to You first and I will trust You to take care of me.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Union With Christ # 4

In His Relationship with All Created Things (continued)

3. The Idea or Nature of All Things.

Further, Christ is the Idea or Nature of all things. I think here we only need two brief quotations.

"Whom he foreknew, he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of His Son" (Romans 8:29). The Idea or Nature of all things is expressed in those words, "the image of his Son." The other passage which is from Ephesians 4:10, I think bears that out. The object of His ascending up on high was "that he might fill all things." Those two complementary statements answer this Idea or Nature of all things. What is the Idea behind, what is the Divinely intended nature of all things? Well, just the image of His Son. Of course, that embraces the whole of that comprehensive teaching of the New Testament of likeness to Christ. It is a far-reaching and all-governing idea in the New Testament, likeness to Chris, or, as it has often been put, Christ-likeness. That is the Idea of the existence of all things, that is the Nature of the being of all things; to be filled with Him and conformed to His image. You never will be conformed to His image unless you are filled with Him. How much New Testament teaching you can put into that. It is everywhere.

4. The Final Test of All Things

Lastly, Christ is the final test of all things. In Acts 17:31 we have these words: "He hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead." The literal rendering is not, by a man, but "in a man whom he hath ordained." That word "ordained" means horizoned. God as made His Son the horizon of everything. Everything has to come within the horizon of this man and be judged according to Him. You see the point? Christ is the criterion, Christ is the standard, Christ is the measure of that great judgment of the world which God has fixed, the final test of all things.

That means that the judgment of the world will be according to how it measures up to Christ, its standing in the light of Christ, as to its attitude toward or relationship with Christ. God will not judge on any other ground. That is a very simple formula for judgment. If God has to take us one by one and judge us on the numerous things which belong to us by our inheritance, our birth, our upbringing, by the fortunes or misfortunes of our lives, well, He would have His hands full, speaking after the manner of men, and it would be something that would require a standard of righteousness so infinitesimal, so exhaustive, as to be almost unthinkable. God is not going to judge us upon the number of our sins, whether few or many, or upon our temperaments, or upon anything like that at all that comes down to us in the bloodsteam. His one simple solution is, What is your attitude to My Son? What is your relationship to My Son? How do you stand here in the horizon of Christ, not just as a person, but in relationship with Him as a kind, what He means in Himself? What is your attitude, relationship and measure where the Son is concerned? On that all judgment will be based.

And notice, that is a very righteous judgment. It says "he will judge the world in righteousness." Thank God, that takes in the very thing that so many complain of through their lives, the disadvantages of their inheritance, or heredity, of early training and so on. My dear friends, take heart from this, that on none of those matters is God going to judge at all; it would be unrighteous. He brings us all down to the one issue of our relationship to His Son. Where do you stand with Him? What have you done with Him? What are you making of Him? How are you progressing in your conformity to His image? That is the basis of judgment, and the only one. Christ is the criterion, the final test of all things.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 5 - (Christ In the Old Testament)

Gaining the Victory

We live in a society of addictions, of bondage to so many things.  Maybe you are in bondage to cigarettes, or alcohol, or pornography, or anger, or any number of other things.

Whatever the condition that has you in bondage today, God's hand and God's arm can lift you up and untangle you and set you free.  In Psalm 98:1 we are told,
His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory.

We find repeatedly throughout the Old Testament how, through God's mighty hand and His outstretched arm, He redeemed His people out of slavery and out of bondage.

Now here is the question.  Does it just sort of randomly happen?  Do we have to wait and see if we are one of the lucky ones God will choose to extend His mighty arm to help?  Or, is there anything that we can do to cooperate with God to see His arm extended in our behalf?

The answer is yes, we can, and we must cooperate with God.

In Isaiah 51:5 God tells us,

"My righteousness is near, My salvation has gone forth, and My arms will judge the peoples; the coastlands will wait upon Me, and on My arm they will trust."

The way we cooperate with God is to trust in His arm; not in our own arm, but in His.  If you want to see God's mighty arm move on your behalf, then trust Him alone!  Do not trust your intelligence, your ingenuity, your education, your status in life, your wealth, or any other thing.

Trust in God alone. And you will have the victory.

~Bayless Conley~

Friday, November 21, 2014

Union With Christ # 3

(b) In His Relationship with All Creation (continued)

2. The Heir of All Things

Christ is the heir of all things. "God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners, hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son, Whom he appointed heir of all things" (Hebrews 1:1, 2). The question immediately arises, When did God appoint Him heir of all things? Well, if all the former passages are right, Christ was appointed heir of all things before ever He have them. If all things were made through Him and unto Him, there was a point at which the Father made  Him heir of all things, and it is just on that very matter of His heirship that history turns. Firstly, then there was the marvelous conception of this universe as constituting the inheritance. You do not need that I should strain at trying to say anything about the universe as a conception. Then there is the conception projected, with a view to its being brought into execution, followed by creation, and immediately, or very soon it would seem; the inheritance disputed and marred, but instantly its redemption revealed. Redeemed, reconsituted, perfected, possessed: that is the history of the inheritance, and what a lot that history contains. I said a minute ago that if we understood all that is going on, we should see that it centered in and raged round Christ. Why? Because He is heir of all things, and this disputing of His inheritance is the reason for all that is going on. Oh, how much Scripture could be crowded into that. The destroyers of the earth, what are they doing? Well - blindly, of course - but through their evil inspiration and instigation, they are seeking to destroy the inheritance of God's Son, and because spiritual men and women are the best evidence of that fact, they know the concentration of more than ordinary forces upon them for their destruction; for they are the redeemed of the Lord being reconstituted and perfected unto a presentation to Him as His rightful inheritance at last in glory. We know that this is true, that it is the inheritance of God's Son which has involved us in this long, long story of destructive intention from evil powers.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4 - (The Idea or Nature of All Things)

Hold On, My Heart

Who is among you that feareth Jehovah, that obeyeth the voice of his servant? He that walketh in darkness and hath no light, let him trust in the name of Jehovah and rely upon his God" (Isa. 50:10, RV).

What shall the believer do in times of darkness -- the darkness of perplexity and confusion, not of heart but of mind? Times of darkness come to the faithful and believing disciple who is walking obediently in the will of God; seasons when he does not know what to do, nor which way to turn. The sky is overcast with clouds. The clear light of Heaven does not shine upon his pathway. One feels as if he were groping his way in darkness.

Beloved, is this you? What shall the believer do in times of darkness? Listen! "Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and rely upon his God." The first thing to do is do nothing. This is hard for poor human nature to do. In the West there is a saying that runs thus, "When you're rattled, don't rush"; in other words, "When you don't know what to do, don't do it." When you run into a spiritual fog bank, don't tear ahead; slow down the machinery of your life. If necessary, anchor your bark or let it swing at its moorings.

We are to simply trust God. While we trust, God can work. Worry prevents Him from doing anything for us. If our minds are distracted and our hearts distressed; if the darkness that overshadows us strikes terror to us; if we run hither and yon in a vain effort to find some way of escape out of a dark place of trial, where Divine providence has put us, the Lord can do nothing for us.

The peace of God must quiet our minds and rest our hearts. We must put our hand in the hand of God like a little child, and let Him lead us out into the bright sunshine of His love. He knows the way out of the woods. Let us climb up into His arms, and trust Him to take us out by the shortest and surest road.
Remember we are never without a pilot when we know not how to steer.

"Hold on, my heart, in thy believing--
The steadfast only wins the crown;
He who, when stormy winds are heaving,
Parts with its anchor, shall go down;
But he who Jesus holds through all,
Shall stand, though Heaven and earth should fall.
"Hold out! There comes an end to sorrow;
Hope from the dust shall conquering rise;
The storm foretells a summer's morrow;
The Cross points on to Paradise;
The Father reigneth! cease all doubt;
Hold on, my heart, hold on, hold out."

~L. B. Cowman~

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Union With Christ # 2

The Meaning of Christ

We come then, to consider the meaning of Christ. Understand that we are underlining the title "Christ." That very title carries the significance of a mission. It is not the title of His essential Godhead. Anointing, which is what the word means, is unto a mission. "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth" (Acts 10:38). Let that govern all that will be said, otherwise it might be easy, if you were so inclined, to raise your eyebrows at different points and scent, as you might think, false doctrine.  In our consideration of union with Christ, we are keeping a very distinct line between His Deity and His Christhood as Son of man. Having said that, let us think now for a little while of His greatness.

His Greatness in the Scriptures

His greatness as in the Scriptures is seen in several relationships.

a. In His Relationship with God

Firstly, His greatness is seen in His relationship with God. Here we have only to cite several familiar passages, but always with new inspiration and stirring of heart.

"Who is the image of the invisible God' (Col. 1. 15)

"The effulgence of his glory, and the very image of his substance" (Hebrews 1. 3). Quite remote from our comprehension and understanding, and certainly from our explanation; sharing the Divine glory before the world was. We commenced to read of it. "Father... glorify thy Son"; and then just a little further on, "Glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was" (John 17:5) I say, we can never begin to understand or evaluate the meaning of union with Christ until we have sensed something of that stupendous thing which has happened in His coming forth out of such a state and, in the form of man, going the way of the Cross. The most amazing thing that has ever happened in the whole history of the universe is found in the combination of the words which I have just quoted from the Scriptures. And then, that this Man who was the effulgence of God's glory, and the very image of His substance, "the image of the invisible God," sharing the Divine glory before the world was, should be spat upon, mocked, jeered at, and meet all that terrible sin. It is wonderful that we should be called into union with Him; not just to be His friends, not just to have some kind of formal relationship with Him which we call a union, but to be one with Him in an utterness which we are going to see later. "We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones" (Ephesians 5:30). "Joined to the Lord ... one spirit" (1 Corinthians 6:17). Something has happened to make that possible, and therein is the whole story and wonder of the infinitude of God's condescending love. Well, the Scriptures, in the first place, set forth His glory, His greatness, in His relationship with God, and many hours could be spent in tracing it out. We pass on.

b. In His Relationship With All Created Things

Next, His greatness is seen in the Scriptures in His relationship with all created things. Our analysis divides this into four heads.

1. The Meaning of All Things

Christ is the meaning of all things.

"All things were made through him" (John 1:3)

"The world was made through Him" (John 1:10)

"One Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things" (1 Corinthians 8:6)

Also, Col. 1:16; Hebrews 1:8, 10; Hebrews 2:10

The meaning of all things; that is, the "way" of all things, the answer to the question, What does it all mean? Go abroad in the earth, plunge down into the ocean, soar into the constellations, compass the created universe, comprehend all celestial intelligences and say, "What does it all mean?" and the answer will be in a perfected universe showing forth and expressing the glory of the Son of God, Son of man, and so you will know what it all means. That is no flight of imagination. That could easily be tested and proved up to a convincing point. Given that we had the ability and a certain mass of data, with Divine enlightenment resting upon it, that is capable of substantiation now. If we knew the inner meaning of the created things, we should see Divine meanings, eternal, spiritual meanings, all of them finding their explanation in Christ. That, of course, is a universe of inexhaustible wonder, but that whole universe, the Scripture says, is going to be filled with Him and manifest Him eventually, and when this universe, redeemed and perfected, reaches the end for which it was brought into being, it will be one mighty, comprehensive and still inexhaustible expression of God's Son. That is the meaning of it. He is the key to everything that is happening. Oh, that we had eyes to see and understanding to grasp the significance of things that are happening! Christ is the explanation, He is the meaning of all things.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3 - (2. The Heir of All Things)

God's Provision for Your Failure

Psalm 37:23-24 states,

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way.  Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the LORD upholds him with His hand.

When you first read these verses, it is easy to focus on the truth that God orders the steps of a good man, someone who is following God.  That is certainly a comforting, motivating, and powerful truth.

But I want to point you to the second sentence,  Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the LORD upholds him with His hand.

What an amazing statement!  Even when your steps are being ordered by the Lord, you can still goof up!  God affirms that you may be seeking to walk with Him and you can still mess up, there is always that human factor.

Our flesh gets in the way.  Sometimes we make wrong decisions.  Sometimes we can be a bit stubborn.  And sometimes we blow it, even when that is the last thing we want to do!

Here is what I want you to grasp today:  Even if you mess things up, even if you stumble and fall, God will not utterly abandon you.  He will support you, and He will lift you up with His hand.

The Bible says in the book of Deuteronomy that God is our refuge and our strength and that underneath us are His everlasting arms.  That brings me a lot of comfort.

You and I may stumble, you and I may fall, but we are not going to stay down, because God's arms and His hands are underneath us, and they will uphold us.
Thank God for that! 

~Bayless Conley~