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Saturday, February 28, 2015

I Fell On My Face

"For our God is a consuming fire." (Hebrews 12:29)

Just because God cannot tell us "what" He is He very often tells us "what He is like." By these "like" figures He leads our faltering minds as close as they come to that "light which no man can approach unto" (1 Timothy 6:16). Through the more cumbersome medium of the intellect the soul is prepared for the moment when it can, through the operation of the Holy Spirit, know God as He is in Himself. God has used a number of these similitudes to hint at His incomprehensible being, and judging from the Scriptures one would gather that His favorite similitude is fire. In one place the Spirit speaks expressly, "For our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29). This accords with His revelation of Himself as recorded throughout the Bible. As a fire He spoke to Moses from the burning bush; in the fire He dwelt above the camp of Israel through all the wilderness journey; as fire He dwelt between the wings of the cherubim in the Holy of Holies; to Ezekiel He revealed Himself as a strange brightness of "a fire infolding itself" (Ezekiel 1:4)

"This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD, And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake." (1:28).

Great God, if I really saw You in all Your majesty I too would fall on my face before You. And this is only a glimpse of what You are! Show me Your glory, I pray. Amen


Emotion on a High Plane

"The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing." (Zephaniah 3:17)

Now the Bible teaches that there is something in God which is like emotion. He experiences something which is like our love, something that is like our grief, that is like our joy. And we need not fear to go along with this conception of what God is like. Faith would easily draw the inference that since we were made in His image, He would have qualities like our own. But such an inference, while satisfying to the mind, is not the ground of our belief. God has said certain things about Himself, and these furnish all the grounds we require.

The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing." (Zephaniah 3:17).

This is but one verse among thousands which serve to form our rational picture of what God is like, and they tell us plainly that God feels something like our love, like our joy, and what He feels makes Him act very much as we would in a similar situation; He rejoices over His loved ones with joy and singing.

Here is emotion on as high a plane as it can ever be seen, emotion flowing out of the heart of God Himself.

Oh, Lord, do You rejoice over me with singing? I often give You more cause for grief than for joy. Help me live in a way that is worthy of Your love. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

Jesus Is Our Master and Lord

My Master Abraham - Genesis 24:12
This worthy man, Eliezer, the steward of Abraham's house, was almost garrulous about his master. Count up the number of times in which he contrives to bring in the two words, "my master." We may learn from him how to speak of our Master, whenever we get the opportunity. "Rabboni, which, being interpreted, is, My Master."
We too can speak of the Lord God as our master. - The servant did not know Jehovah directly; it was enough that he had seen and heard Abraham pray to Him. This encouraged him to draw near for himself. So we are emboldened to draw near, because God is the God and Father of our Master Jesus. We love Him that was begotten, and are attracted to Him of whom Jesus said, "I ascend to my Father, and your Father; to my God, and your God."
We, too, ran plead for our Master's sake. - When asking for good speed to be sent to himself, he alleged as his plea that it would be showing kindness to his master Abraham. So when we ask great things from God, we can plead in the name of Jesus, and urge that in answering our petition God will be showing kindness to His Well-beloved.
Live, too, should bless in our Master's name. - When the answer was given, this reverent soul gave thanks as though the favor had been shown to his master. Indeed, all through his intercourse with Bethuel and Laban he seems to have lost his identity in Abraham. He could talk of nothing else but that one scheme; was only eager to carry his point for his master's sake; and when the errand was done, longed only to get back to his master's side. It is a beautiful lesson for those who call Jesus Master and Lord.

~F. B. Meyer~

Friday, February 27, 2015

Full Comprehension Is Yet To Come

"And the glory of the Lord abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six  days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud." (Exodus 24:16)

We know very well that the human mind cannot comprehend or encompass the person of God. We can know what God is not, but in this earthly life it is impossible for us to say, "I know what God is." We never can know because God belongs to a realm entirely different from ours. The great God exists in awesome wonder. He is uncreated holiness, high above all the things that the hands of mankind have made.

There is neither preacher nor teacher anywhere in the world who can say, "Let me tell you all about God!" God told Moses and Israel, and He tells us: "Always there will be the cloud about Me. Always there will be a veil covering My person. While you are on My earth, you will sense this obscurity, for I Am who I Am!"

And I can say this from personal experience: After you have known God and walked with Him by faith for fifty years, growing daily in His grace and the knowledge of Him, you will still see a cloud on Mount Sinai. You will still sense the obscurity. Your mind and your spirit will still bow before Him. Your day of full comprehension is yet to come.

I long for that day, Lord, when the cloud is completely removed and I shall know You completely. Amen


God is Ineffable

"For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." (1 Corinthians 2:11)

We can best conceive of God by conceiving of what He is not. We can always knows what God is not, but we can never know quite what God is. The greatness of God's mind leaves all our soaring thoughts behind. God is ineffable (incapable of being expressed in words), inconceivable and unimaginable.

As I said, we are driving to the use of negative statements when speaking about God. When we speak of the self-existence of God, we say God has no origin. When we speak of God's eternity, we say God has no beginning. When we speak of the immutability of God, we say God has no change. When we speak of the infinity of God, we say that God has no limits. When we speak of the omniscience of God, we say that God has no teachers and cannot learn.

Well now, the Scripture takes this negative method too. Scripture says the Lord "fainteth not, neither is weary" (Isaiah 40:28) and that He "cannot lie" (Titus 1:2). It says "I am the Lord, I change not" (Malachi 3:6). It says "with God nothing shall be impossible" (Luke 1:37)....

Teach me, Lord, that I might know all of You that I can within the limits of my humanity. I await the day when I will more completely know who You are. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

God's Ways

Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands. - Psalms 119:5-6

This psalmist dealt with the same issues of guilt that we have today. When we consider all that God requires, His standard is too high. How is one to follow His ways when God's ways are perfect and we are not? Like the psalmist, we cry out, "Oh, I wish my ways were consistent in following and obeying You. Then I would feel better about myself."

The problem with thinking this way is that God wants us to be thankful for His provision and not think of ourselves any higher than we ought. Jesus provides us with all that we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). It is because of Jesus that we can have a relationship with the Father. When our shortcomings turn our focus to ourselves, we have guilt and condemnation. When our eyes are focused on Jesus, despite our shortcomings, we are thankful to Him. God wants us thankful. He already knows our shortcomings and knows the extent of our ability to sin, but He saved us anyway. And He loves us anyway.

Lately, everywhere I turn in the Bible, I am seeing that God desires a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. He wants me to sing to Him in gratitude for all He has done and is doing. The word sacrifice reminds us that giving Him thanks and praise is not easy when we are feeling guilty, angry, frustrated, depressed or miserable. But by praising Him during those times, it releases our faith to look to Him instead of to ourselves.

~Daily Disciples Devotionals~

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Just Humble Yourself

"Lord, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him! Man is like to vanity his days are as a shadow that passeth away." (Psalm 144:3-4)

Far better than the attempt to understand is the humility that admits its ignorance and waits quietly on God for His own light to appear in His own time. We will be better able to understand when we have accepted the humbling truth that there are many things in heaven and earth that we shall never be able to understand. It will be good for us to accept the universe and take our place in the mighty web of God's creation, so perfectly known to Him and so slightly known to even the wisest of men.

Probably David lying on his back on the green meadow at night, brooding over the mystery of the moon and the stars and the littleness of man in the total scheme of things, worshiping the God who had made him only a little lower than the angels, was a truer man than the astronomer who in his high pride weighs and measures the heavenly bodies. Yet the astronomer need not despair. If he will humble himself and confess his deep inward need, the God of David will teach him how to worship, and by so doing will make him a greater man than he could ever have been otherwise.

Lord, I can't even begin to understand all the vastness of Your universe, but I see Your hand in it. I humble myself before You today, that I might learn to worship You better. Amen


The Study of Theology

"And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life." (1 John 5:20)

That theology probably receives less attention than any other subject tells us nothing about its  importance or lack of it. It indicates rather that men are still hiding from the presence of God among the trees of the garden and feel acutely uncomfortable when the matter of their relation to God is brought up.

It is precisely because God "is", and because man is made in His image and is accountable to Him, that theology is so critically important. Christian revelation alone has the answer to life's unanswered questions about God and human destiny. To let these authoritative answers lie neglected while we search everywhere else for answers and find none is, it seems to me, nothing less than folly.

No motorist would be excused if he neglected to consult his road map and tried instead to find his way across the country by looking for moss on logs, or by observing the flight of wild bees or watching the movement of heavenly bodies. If there were no map a man might find his way by the stars; but for a traveler trying to get home the stars would be a poor substitute for a map.

Lord, there are so many questions in this life that cry out for answers. Be my road map, Lord, that I might find You and know You more. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

An Original

 1 Samuel 15:19-24 and 24 provide us with real insight into an area of anxiety for many people.  One that may control your life today.

This is Samuel talking to Saul,

"Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD?  Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the LORD?"

Saul gives his answer in verse 24,

Then Saul said to Samuel, "I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice."

Hmmm!  "I feared the people and obeyed their voice."  Saul confessed that he was worried about what other people thought of him and what other people would say about him.  As a result, he made a horrible decision that was counter to what God wanted.

Too many people, even good Christians, are eaten up with worry over what other people think and say about them.  Let me tell you, the worst place to have your peace is in somebody else's head.  As Proverbs 29:25 says, The fear of man brings a snare.

Saul is a perfect example.  He never fulfilled his destiny, he never fulfilled his purpose in life, because he was too worried about what people thought about him even though God chose him to be king.

Someone wisely said this:

"It is not what I think I am that molds me and drives me, and it is not what you think I am that molds me and drives me.  It is what I think that you think I am that molds me and drives me."

Is that your concern today?  If so, let me give you some advice:  Be yourself.  You were created by God as an original, and it would be a shame if you died a copy.

~Bayless Conley~

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

God Made Color

"And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O Lord: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints." (Psalm 89:5)

Some people are afraid of color. They think that spirituality consists in being drab. But God made color! He made all shades of colors. Look at the sunset - what is it, just something scientific? Do you think that God splashed the lovely, beautiful sky with rose, cerise, blue and white and wasn't smiling when He did that? Is that just an accident of nature, scientifically explained? Then you've got too much learning for your own good! Go empty you head and get your heart filled and you'll be better off! The Holy Spirit wrote 150 psalms and in those psalms He celebrates the wonders of God's creation.

We ought to stop thinking like scientists and think like psalmists.

This infinite God is enjoying Himself.  Somebody is having a good time in heaven and earth and sea and sky. Somebody is painting the sky. Somebody is making trees to grow where only gashes were a year ago. Somebody is causing the ice to melt out of the river and the fish to swim and the birds to sing and lay their blue eggs and build their nests and hatch their young. Somebody's running the universe!

Indeed, Lord, the heavens shall praise Your wonders! Thank You for running the universe with beauty, variety, intricacy and color. Amen


Divine Purpose

"The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand." (Isaiah 14:24)

Now, I think that God first makes things orderly for utility. Whenever He made something in this universe it was because He had a purpose for it. I do not believe there is anything in the universe that just got here by accident. Everything in the universe has a meaning.

My father was philosophical about many things and I remember that he used to sit during the summertime and ponder why God made the mosquitoes. I still do not have the answer, but I am just a human being, and just because I do not have that answer, I am not going to accuse the Creator of making a cosmic blunder. I know the mosquito is not a blunder - it is just a pest. But God made it.

The same principle is true of a great many other things. I do not know why God does some things, but I am convinced that nothing is accidental in His universe. The fact that we do not know the reason behind some things is not basis enough for us to call them divine accidents.

Lord, as I go about my day help me to remember that nothing happens by accident, but that everything is divinely controlled by Your eternal purpose. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

God Gets His Greatest Victories Out of Apparent Defeats

Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14).

God gets His greatest victories out of apparent defeats. Very often the enemy seems to triumph for a little, and God lets it be so; but then He comes in and upsets all the work of the enemy, overthrows the apparent victory, and as the Bible says, "turns the way of the wicked upside down." Thus He gives a great deal larger victory than we would have known if He had not allowed the enemy, seemingly, to triumph in the first place.

The story of the three Hebrew children being cast into the fiery furnace is a familiar one. Here was an apparent victory for the enemy. It looked as if the servants of the living God were going to have a terrible defeat. We have all been in places where it seemed as though we were defeated, and the enemy rejoiced. We can imagine what a complete defeat this looked to be. They fell down into the flames, and their enemies watched them to see them burn up in that awful fire, but were greatly astonished to see them walking around in the fire enjoying themselves. Nebuchadnezzar told them to "come forth out of the midst of the fire." Not even a hair was singed, nor was the smell of fire on their garments, "because there is no other god that can deliver after this sort."

This apparent defeat resulted in a marvelous victory.

Suppose that these three men had lost their faith and courage, and had complained, saying, "Why did not God keep us out of the furnace!" They would have been burned, and God would not have been glorified. If there is a great trial in your life today, do not own it as a defeat, but continue, by faith, to claim the victory through Him who is able to make you more than conqueror, and a glorious victory will soon be apparent. Let us learn that in all the hard places God brings us into, He is making opportunities for us to exercise such faith in Him as will bring about blessed results and greatly glorify His name.
--Life of Praise

Defeat may serve as well as victory
To shake the soul and let the glory out.
When the great oak is straining in the wind,
The boughs drink in new beauty, and the trunk
Sends down a deeper root on the windward side.
Only the soul that knows the mighty grief
Can know the mighty rapture. Sorrows come
To stretch out spaces in the heart for joy.

~L. B. Cowman~

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Ability To Wonder

"When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?" Psalm 8:3-4)

God made the world; it is a beautiful thing and something to venerate. It's a great loss - a tragic loss -that we've suffered in the last generation. We have lost the ability to wonder. We know so everlasting much and we're so sure of ourselves. But David stood and wondered in the presence of God's creation; he raised his eyes and said, "What is man, that thou art mindful of him?" (Psalm 8:4). And Isaiah and Jeremiah and Ezekiel and all the rest of them stood and wondered in the presence of God Almighty's creation.

The footprints of God are everywhere about us. And while we can't see Him, we can see His luminous trail like a bird that sings while hidden in a tree. As Middleton said, "The bird sings darkling." We can't see the bird, but we can hear her sing. God sings among His branches and sings in His universe. You and I cannot gaze upon Him, for no man can see God and live. But we can hear Him sing His song of creation and redemption. And we can feel the pressure of His breath upon us as we move though the world. We'll never see things rightly till we see them as garments of God.

I'll watch for Your footprints, God. I'll listen for Your song and be sensitive to Your breath. I will stand in wonder at what I see. Amen


I See the Glory of God

"But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord." (Numbers 14:21)

Let us learn to admire God in all things, great and small - in the soft play of a kitten on the rug as well as in the vast and breath-taking sweep of some galaxy around a point so remote as to stun the imagination and make language dumb.

Two men stood on the shore watching the sun come up out of the sea. One was a merchant from London, the other was the poet, William Blake. As the bright yellow disk of the sun emerged into view, gilding the water and painting the sky with a thousand colors, the poet turned to the merchant and asked, "What do you see?" "Ah, I see gold," replied the merchant. "The sun looks like a great gold piece. What do you see?" "I see the glory of God," Blake answered, "and I hear a multitude of the heavenly host crying "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty. The whole earth is full of His glory" ' (see Isaiah 6:5).

Lord, as I go about my day may I not just see nature for what it is, but as a majestic expression of Your holiness. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

Go To The Ant

God is a masterful Creator. He has integrated many of His principles into the fabric of nature so that we can see His handiwork and learn of Him (Ps. 19:1-6). If you desire to acquire wisdom, do not neglect to look outdoors for His lessons.
Now, of course, the outdoors sometimes comes inside. If you’ve ever battled ants in your kitchen or pantry, wisdom probably isn’t the first trait you would attribute to them—you probably would choose a description more like determination. But to the lazy person, God points out these tiny creatures as an example of wise living. 

Simply consider how many characteristics of the ant people would be smart to adopt: preparation, cooperation, perseverance, diligence, unity, and the list goes on. So interacting with righteous men isn’t the only way to acquire wisdom. God also wants us to observe the lowly ant that He created to work in community.

There’s much to learn from the created world. By directing attention to the birds, Jesus challenges His followers to consider the folly of anxiety (Matt. 6:26). Birds do not reap or gather grain but rather assume their food will be supplied as it always has been. The lesson in this observation of nature is that the Lord who provides for birds can be trusted to meet His people’s needs as well.

Our quest for wisdom is to be rooted in Scripture and covered in prayer. But don’t overlook the many lessons unfolding right outside the front door. Ask God for “eyes to see” (Mark 8:18). Then take every chance to grow in understanding so your capacity to live by His principles will be strengthened.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Garden of God

"Sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving ... who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth ruin for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains." (Psalm 147:7-8

The heavens and the earth were intended to be a semi-transparent veil through which moral intelligences might see the glory of God (Psalm 19:1-6); Romans 1:19-20), but for sin-blinded men this veil has become opaque. They see the creation but do not see through it to the Creator; or what glimpses they do have are dim and out of focus. It is possible to spend a lifetime admiring God's handiwork without acknowledging the presence of the God whose handiwork it is.

With what joy the Christian turns from even the purest nature poets to the prophets and psalmists of the Scriptures. These saw God first. Their love of natural objects was deep and intense, but they loved them not for their own sakes but for the sake of Him who created them. They walked through the world as through the garden of God. Everything reminded them of Him. They saw His power in the stormy wind and tempest; they heard His voice in the thunder; the mountains told them of His strength and the rocks reminded them that He was their hiding place. The sun by day and the moon and stars by night ... recited the story of their divine birth.

Lord, may I be reminded of Your role as Creator by every created thing I encounter. Amen


The Wonders of Creation

"Behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth. " (Isaiah 40:26)

If you will really give yourself to study, you will discover that the Old Testament is a marvelous rhapsody on the natural creation. Start with Moses, and when you get beyond the Levitical order you will find him soaring in his acute consciousness of the presence of God in all creation.

Go on to the book of Job and in the closing sections you will be amazed at the sublimity of the language describing the world around us.

Then go on to the Psalms and you will find David literally dancing with ecstatic delight as he gazes out upon the wonders of God's world.

Begin reading in Isaiah and you will find the loftiest imagery. It is neither fanciful nor flighty but a presentation of the wonders of creation as the prophet observed them.

Those men, who were some of the holiest and godliest men of that ancient time, revealed in their writings that they were intensely in love with every natural beauty around them. But always they saw nature as the handiwork of an all-powerful, all-wise, glorious Creator.

Lord, I desire to glory in Your creation, not for nature's sake but because it is the work of a majestic Creator. I bow in wonder before Your mighty hand. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

How Do We Bear Spiritual Fruit?

"But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." (Matthew 13:23)

The concept of bearing fruit is used often in Scripture. In the Gospels, Jesus told the story of a sower who went out to sow seed. The seed fell on various types of ground. Some of the ground was rocky and hard. Other ground was receptive, but weeds choked out the seed. But there was a portion of ground that was not rocky or weedy, and the seed took root. Jesus said that this was a picture of the different people who hear the gospel. Those who are true believers are those who bring forth fruit (see Luke 8:4-15).
What is bearing fruit? Essentially, it is becoming like Jesus. Spiritual fruit will show itself in our lives as a change in our character and outlook. As we spend time with Jesus and get to know Him better, His thoughts will become our thoughts. His purpose will become our purpose. We will become like Jesus.
The Bible gives an excellent description a life characterized by the fruit of the SpiritGalatians 5:22-23 says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control."
Is that what others see in your life? If not, then either you don't know God or you are living outside of fellowship with Him. If that is the case, then a commitment or a recommitment to Him would be in order. God is not asking for a perfect life. But He is asking that these fruits be primary characteristics of a life that is lived for Him. 
~Greg Laurie~

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Royal Display

"In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry ground." (Psalm 95:4-5)

A new rich mine would be opened in our consciousness if we could learn to recognize God in nature as well as in grace. For the God of nature is also the God of grace.

Because sin has injured us so deeply, and because the whole transaction of repentance and deliverance from the guilt and power of iniquity makes such a mighty impression upon us emotionally, we naturally tend to appreciate the work of God in redemption more than in nature. But everything God does is praiseworthy and deserves our deepest admiration. Whether He is making or redeeming a world, He is perfect in all His doings and glorious in all His goings forth.

If we miss seeing God in His works we deprive ourselves of the sight of a royal display of wisdom and power so elevating, so ennobling, so awe-inspiring as to make all attempts at description futile. Such a sight the angels behold day and night forever and ask nothing more to make them perpetually satisfied.

Lord, I so often look at the grandeur and the infinite variety of Your creation, and I bow in worship before the great Creator. Thank You for providing this natural world for us as a glimpse of Your majestic nature. Amen


God's Stamp

"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork." (Psalm 19:1)

Consider why we think like we do in today's society. We are participants in a new age - a scientific age, an atomic age, a space age. We have been conditioned by our sciences. No longer have we any great sense of wonder or appreciation for what God continues to do in His creation. Amid our complex engineering and technological accomplishments, it is difficult for us to look out on God's world as we should.

As believers in God and in His plan for mankind, we must not yield to the philosophies that surround us. We have a God-given message to proclaim to our generation: The world was made by Almighty God. It bears the stamp of deity upon it and within it.

An architect leaves his stamp upon the great buildings he has designed. A notable artist leaves his mark and personality on his paintings. The same principle applies to the visible and invisible worlds.

Great Creator, Your stamp is so evident, yet I so often credit Your work to less noble sources. I bow in wonder and in worship before my Creator God. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

In the Stoms and Swept by the Blasts

And there arose a great storm (Mark 4:37).

Some of the storms of life come suddenly: a great sorrow, a bitter disappointment, a crushing defeat. Some come slowly. They appear upon the ragged edges of the horizon no larger than a man's hand, but, trouble that seems so insignificant spreads until it covers the sky and overwhelms us.

Yet it is in the storm that God equips us for service. When God wants an oak He plants it on the moor where the storms will shake it and the rains will beat down upon it, and it is in the midnight battle with elements that the oak wins its rugged fibre and becomes the king of the forest.

When God wants to make a man He puts him into some storm. The history of manhood is always rough and rugged. No man is made until he has been out into the surge of the storm and found the sublime fulfillment of the prayer: "O God, take me, break me, make me."

A Frenchman has painted a picture of universal genius. There stand orators, philosophers and martyrs, all who have achieved pre-eminence in any phase of life; the remarkable fact about the picture is this: Every man who is pre-eminent for his ability was first pre-eminent for suffering. In the foreground stands that figure of the man who was denied the promised land, Moses. Beside him is another, feeling his way -- blind Homer. Milton is there, blind and heart-broken. Now comes the form of one who towers above them all. What is His characteristic? His Face is marred more than any man's. The artist might have written under that great picture, "The Storm."

The beauties of nature come after the storm. The rugged beauty of the mountain is born in a storm, and the heroes of life are the storm-swept and the battle-scarred.

You have been in the storms and swept by the blasts. Have they left you broken, weary, beaten in the valley, or have they lifted you to the sunlit summits of a richer, deeper, more abiding manhood and womanhood? Have they left you with more sympathy with the storm-swept and the battle-scarred?
The wind that blows can never kill
The tree God plants;
It bloweth east, it bloweth west,
The tender leaves have little rest,
But any wind that blows is best.
The tree that God plants
Strikes deeper root, grows higher still,
Spreads greater boughs, for God's good will
Meets all its wants.
There is no storm hath power to blast
The tree God knows;
No thunderbolt, nor beating rain,
Nor lightning flash, nor hurricane;
When they are spent, it doth remain,
The tree God knows,
Through every tempest standeth fast,
And from its first day to its last
Still fairer grows.

~L. B. Cowman~

Saturday, February 21, 2015

An Overwhelming Sense of Dismay

"Moreover he said, I am the God of thy Father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God." (Exodus 3:6)

In the olden days men of faith were said to "walk in the fear of God" and to "serve the Lord with fear." However intimate their communion with God, however bold their prayers, at the base of their religious life was the conception of God as awesome and dreadful. This idea of God transcendent runs through the whole Bible and gives color and tone to the character of the saints. This fear of God was more than a natural apprehension of danger; it was a nonrational dread, an acute feeling of personal insufficiency in the presence of God the Almighty.

Wherever God appeared to men in Bible times the results were the same - an overwhelming sense of terror and dismay, a wrenching sensation of sinfulness and guilt. When God spoke, Abram stretched himself upon the ground to listen. When Moses saw the Lord in the burning bush, he hid his face in fear to look upon God. Isaiah's vision of God wrung from him the cry, "Woe is me!" and the confession, "I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips" (Isaiah 6:5).

Lord, when do I ever get that sense of sinfulness and guilt, fear and dismay in my encounters with You? Forgive me for my casual approach to You and renew in me a fear and wonder in Your presence. Amen


Lord God, Thou Knowest!

"And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest." (Ezekiel 37:3)

To those who have (unintentionally) degraded their conception of God to the level of their human understanding it may appear frightening to admit that there are many things in the Scriptures and more things about the Godhead that transcend the human intellect. But a few minutes on our knees looking into the face of Christ will teach us humility, a virtue whose healing qualities have been known by God's elect from time out of mind.

Coleridge gave it as his considered belief that the profoundest sentence ever uttered by human lips was the spontaneous cry of the prophet Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones when asked by the Lord whether those bones could live: "And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest." Had Ezekiel answered yes or no he would have closed off his heart to the mighty mystery which confronted him and would have missed the luxury of wonder in the presence of the majesty on high. For never forget that it is a privilege to wonder, to stand in delighted silence before the Supreme Mystery and whisper, "O Lord GOD, thou knowest!"

Lord, today I stand in wonder as I contemplate Your person and Your working. I delight in Your mystery and cry with Ezekiel, "O Lord GOD, thou knowest!" Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

The Hope of Peace

Despite man's best efforts, the world's longing for peace remains unfulfilled. Each new generation has high hopes for reconciliation among people and nations but in the end faces disappointment.

One day Christ will return and make everything right. Until then, believers are called to be His ambassadors of peace. However, becoming a Christian does not automatically change us into people who pursue kindness and unity.

At times we're quick-tempered and impatient and find it hard to live in harmony with others. We may have trouble letting go of attitudes or habits that hurt those around us—and occasionally we don't even want to. God knows our true character and has provided the Holy Spirit to transform us into Jesus' likeness. The Spirit opens our minds to understand and apply Scripture. He gives us the power to say no to ungodliness and to replace me-centered thinking with a Christ-centered viewpoint. He patiently produces His fruit in us, which includes love, joy, and peace (Gal. 5:22-23). With His help, we can become peacemakers who work to bring about reconciliation between God and others (Matt. 5:9).

While our world keeps hoping for peace through man's solutions, we know the only source of lasting unity is Jesus Christ.

The Lord wants our hearts to be ruled by His peace (Col. 3:15) and our relationships to be marked by a spirit of oneness. How encouraged other people will be when they realize it's the transforming power of God in our lives that brings about reconciliation in our marriages, families, and churches.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Concept of Majesty

"For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the Lord made the heavens. Honor and majesty are before Him: strength and beauty are in His sanctuary." (Psalm 96:5-6)

I refer to the loss of the concept of majesty from the popular religious mind. The Church has surrendered her once lofty concept of God and has substituted for it one so low, so ignoble, as to be utterly unworthy of thinking, worshiping men. This she has done not deliberately, but little by little and without her knowledge; and her very unawareness only makes her situation all the more tragic.

The low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us. A whole new philosophy of the Christian life has resulted from this one basic error in our religious thinking.

With our loss of the sense of majesty has come the further loss of religious awe and consciousness of the divine Presence. We have lost our spirit of worship and our ability to withdraw inwardly to meet God in adoring silence.

Lord, fill Your Church with a renewed sense of Your majesty. We may have lost the awe little by little, but we need to recapture it quickly! Amen


The Rediscovery of Majesty

"For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward." (Deuteronomy 10:17)

Modern Christianity is simply not producing the kind of Christian who can appreciate or experience the life in the Spirit. The words, "Be still, and know that I am God," mean next to nothing to the self-confident, bustling worshiper.

This loss of the concept of majesty has come just when the forces of religion are making dramatic gains and the churches are more prosperous than at any time withing the past several hundred years. But the alarming thing is that our gains are mostly external and our losses wholly internal; and since it is the quality of our religion that is affected by internal conditions, it may be that our supposed gains are but losses spread over a wider field.

The decline of the knowledge of the holy has brought on our troubles. A rediscovey of the majesty of God will go a long way toward curing them. It is impossible to keep our moral practices sound and our inward attitudes right while our idea of God is erroneous or inadequate. If we would bring back spiritual power to our lives, we must begin to think of God more nearly as He is.

Lord, we've forgotten how to be still and witness Your majesty. May I rediscover You in a way that affects my entire life. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

A Changed Heart

And Jacob saw the countenance of Laban, and indeed it was not favorable toward him as before. Then the Lord said to Jacob, "Return to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you." So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field, to his flock, and said to them, "I see your father's countenance, that it is not favorable toward me as before; but the God of my father has been with me. And you know that with all my might I have served your father. Yet your father has deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me.   Genesis 31:2-7

God is God and He can change the heart of people for your advantage. Jacob knew that despite all his efforts and hard work, Laban's heart was changing towards him. Jacob described it as "not favorable toward him as before." This would seem like an injustice to Jacob since he had worked for Laban who had deceived him and changed his wages unfairly 10 times. And through it all, Laban was completely blessed because of Jacob. However, for some strange reason, Laban's heart changed towards Jacob and his work. With the unfair treatment and Laban's change of heart, Jacob wanted to move on. Why? Because God wanted Jacob to leave and when leaving, God did not want Jacob to ever look back and regret his decision. So God allowed Laban to test Jacob unfairly and to cause Jacob to desire to leave.

Has this ever happened to you? It happens in all kinds of circumstances where people form close ties that are mutually beneficial. A person's heart can change towards a friend when they fear they are losing something of value, but God can change a heart simply for His purposes, even when the innocent one is treated unfairly. It is hard being the one who is mistreated because the heart of a friend has changed against you. But God knows your heart as well as the heart of your former friend.

If you are finding yourself in this place, completely trust in the Lord. Even though you might not have ever left, He still may change circumstances and hearts to get you to change. Some of us pray for years to have our circumstances change. For others of us, we are so surprised when God intervenes and changes a heart. But if you really examine your prayers, the change should not catch you off guard. God is good like that. You can trust Him. He knows where you need to be and He will perform miracles to get you there. 

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Our Mental Image of God

"That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him." (Ephesians 1:17)

The gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the mos portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid, for her silence is often more eloquent than her speech. She can never escape the self-disclosure of her witness concerning God.

Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, "What comes into your mind when you think about God?" we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man. Were we able to know exactly what our most influential religious leaders think of God today, we might be able with some precision to foretell where the Church will stand tomorrow.

Lord, give Your Church and its leaders a spirit of wisdom and revelation, that we might indeed have an adequate appreciation of who You are. Amen


The Perfections of God

"Praise ye the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul. While I live will I praise the Lord. I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being." (Psalm 146:1-2)

My conviction has been growing for years that we must recapture the concept of the perfections of God. We must see again how awful (awe-full) God is, how beautiful and how perfect. And we must begin to preach it, sing it, write about it, promote it, talk it, tell and pray it until we have recaptured the concept of majesty, until the awareness of the divine is back in our religion again, until we have regained the ability and desire to retire within our own hearts and worship God in the silence of our own spirits.

 If we continue as we are, spreading our impaired religion, our weakened Christianity, over a wider area until the Lord comes, the Lord will break through the clouds and will show Himself majestic and wonderful in heaven above and earth beneath and under the sea, and everywhere they shall bow and own Him as Lord and King. But I'd like to see it brought back to the Church before that dramatic hour comes. I'd like to see us know it now.

Lord, I too long to see Your Church recapture a sense of Your majesty. I commit to spreading the knowledge of Your perfection to those in my own life. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

What Is The Power in the Blood of Christ?

Blood is throughout Scripture, but what does Christ's blood mean to us?

His blood redeems us. There was a price against us that we could not pay, but the blood of Jesus redeemed us. First Peter 1:18-19 says, "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect."

His blood brings us into fellowship with God. According to Ephesians 2:13, "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ." Without the blood of Christ, man is a long way from God.

His blood makes peace with God. Man, by nature, is at war with God; and we can only come to God on His peace terms—the blood atonement. The Bible says in Colossians 1:20, "And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself ..."

His blood cleanses. Not only does it remove the punishment of sin, it removes the pollution. I don't care what sin you've committed; "the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).

His blood gives power over the devil. It's the blood that Satan fears. Revelation 12:11 says, "And they overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb ..." The devil doesn't want you to learn about the blood. He hates it!

Before this planet was ever swung into space, God had determined in His heart that He would send His Son to die upon the cross. How wonderful it is to trace the scarlet thread of the blood of Christ woven throughout the Bible! How much more wonderful to experience its redemption personally. Praise God for the blood of His Lamb!

~Adrian Rogers~

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

If We've Lost Majesty

"They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power; to make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom." (Psalm 145:11-12)

If you want to pray strategically, in a way which would please God, pray that God might raise up men who would bee the beauty of the Lord our God and would begin to preach it and hold it out to people, instead of offering peace of mind, deliverance from cigarettes, a better job and a nicer home.

What good is all our busy religion if God isn't in it!? What good is it if we've lost majesty, reverence, worship - an awareness of the divine? What good is it if we've lost a sense of the Presence and the ability to retreat within our own hearts and meet God in the garden? If we've lost that, why build another church? Why make more converts to an effete Christianity? Why bring people to follow after a Saviour so far off that He doesn't own them?

We need to improve the quality of our Christianity, and we never will until we raise our concept of God back to that held by apostle, sage, prophet, saint and reformer. When we put God back where He belongs, we will instinctively and automatically move up again; the whole spiral of our religious direction will be upward.

Lord, may I learn to see You not as a functional God who fulfills my requests but as a beautiful God of glorious majesty. May I hold that concept out for others to see, that they might also behold Your majesty. Amen


The Common Man and the Common God

"I will speak of the glorious honor of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works. And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts: and I will declare thy greatness." (Psalm 145:5-6)

We also seem to have gotten away from the concept of majesty altogether. This is the age of the common man and along with the common man has come the common god.

The modern Christian has lost a sense of worship along with the concept of majesty, and of course, reverence as well. He has lost his ability to withdraw inwardly and commune in the secret place with God in the shrine of his own hidden spirit. It is this that makes Christianity, and we have all but lost it. Added numbers, yes, but lost fear. Multiplied schools, yes, but lost awareness of the invisible. Tons of literature being poured out, of course, but no consciousness of the divine Presence. Better communication, certainly, but nothing to communicate. Evangelistic organizations, yes, but the concept of majesty and worship and reverence has almost left us.

Oh, God, restore to Your Church a sense of majesty, worship and reverence that sends us to our secret closets in awe! Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

Making Us Comforters

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God (Isaiah 40:1).

Store up comfort. This was the prophet's mission. The world is full of comfortless hearts, and ere thou art sufficient for this lofty ministry, thou must be trained. And thy training is costly in the extreme; for, to render it perfect, thou too must pass through the same afflictions as are wringing countless hearts of tears and blood. Thus thy own life becomes the hospital ward where thou art taught the Divine art of comfort. Thou art wounded, that in the binding up of thy wounds by the Great Physician, thou mayest learn how to render first aid to the wounded everywhere. Dost thou wonder why thou art passing through some special sorrow? Wait till ten years are passed, and thou wilt find many others afflicted as thou art. Thou wilt tell them how thou hast suffered and hast been comforted; then as the tale is unfolded, and the anodynes applied which once thy God wrapped around thee, in the eager look and the gleam of hope that shall chase the shadow of despair across the soul, thou shalt know why thou wast afflicted, and bless God for the discipline that stored thy life with such a fund of experience and helpfulness.
God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters.
--Dr. Jowet

They tell me I must bruise
The rose's leaf,
Ere I can keep and use
Its fragrance brief.
"They tell me I must break
The skylark's heart,
Ere her cage song will make
The silence start.
They tell me love must bleed,
And friendship weep,
Ere in my deepest need
I touch that deep.
Must it be always so
With precious things?
Must they be bruised and go
With beaten wings?
Ah, yes! by crushing days,
By caging nights, by scar
Of thorn and stony ways,
These blessings are!

~L. B. Cowman~

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

All Eloquence Is Done

"Who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord? who can shew forth all his praise." (Psalm 106:2)

Old Novatian said, "That in the contemplation of God's majesty, all eloquence is done," which is to say that God is always greater than anything that can be said about Him. No language is worthy of Him. He is more sublime than all sublimity, loftier than all loftiness, more profound than all profundity, more splendid than all splendor, more powerful than all power, more truthful than all truth. Greater than all majesty, more merciful than all mercy, more just than all justice, more pitiful than all pity. Nothing anybody can say about Him is enough.

If God is not the biggest thing in the world to you, not all your talk with ever impress me. We ought to be where God is everything, where we walk into a meeting and God and think God and feel God. We ought to see God all around us, where He comes down over us and we see Him in a vision, in the cool of the day. We ought to see Him on the Cross in blood and tears, and coming down through the sky, riding a white horse, and sitting on a throne judging the nations. But always, we see God and God is everything.

Lord, You are worthy of praise, though words are inadequate to express Your majesty. Today I bow in silence for what have I to say about the God who is everything? Amen


A Right Conception of God

"For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods... O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker." (Psalm 95:3, 6)

The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man's spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God.

A right conception of God is basic not only to systematic theology but to practical Christian living as well. It is to worship what the foundation is to the temple; where it is inadequate or out of plumb the whole structure must sooner or later collapse. I believe there is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics that cannot be traced finally to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God.

It is my opinion that the Christian conception of God current in these middle years of the twentieth century is so decadent as to be utterly beneath the dignity of the Most High God and actually to constitute for professed believers something amounting to a moral calamity.

Lord, establish in me a proper conception of You, our great King, that I will have a strong, foundation for my life of faith. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

The Power of Fasting?

There is a lot of misunderstanding today about fasting. Some people think it is related to dieting and the body. Others think its purpose is to impress God with the intensity of their desire. Others hope their self-denial will speed up the Lord’s answer. None of these are true.

Fasting is a spiritual work in which we temporarily eliminate distractions so that we can give our undivided attention to our heavenly Father. It is a time of spiritual preparation through exclusion of earthly interruptions. As we abstain, other things begin to lose their sense of importance; in their place is a heightened awareness of God's presence and His priorities for our lives. Our agenda is replaced by His as we connect with Him in deeper intimacy and receive all that He has to tell us. It can be one of the most powerful experiences of the Christian life.

Fasting can be carried out in several ways: going without food, eliminating activities, or forgoing sleep in order to seek Him. You can also set aside the intimate sexual relationship between husband and wife for a period of time. The intent is always to be in the Lord's presence without disturbances so that His voice can be heard.

Have you avoided fasting because it appears too hard or too confusing? Think instead of the joy you will experience from a deeper communion with your loving God, and step out in faith. Giving your unhampered attention to the Lord for a period of time is one of the wisest things you can do.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~