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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Eternity of God

"For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." (Isaiah 57:15)

If I thought that the word "eternal" as referring to God meant only "lasting until the end of the age," I'd just fold my Bible up and go home and wait for the end. If I had a God that only lasted so long, that didn't have eternity in His heart, I couldn't possibly find it worthwhile to preach.

The Old Testament Hebrew has exhausted itself - wrung its language as you wring a towel, to get the last drop of meaning out of it - to say that God is forever and ever endlessly, unto perpetuity, world without end. The New Testament Greek has done the same. There aren't any other words in the Greek language that can be used to mean "unto perpetuity, having no end, going on and on and on and on endlessly and forever.

Eternal, everlasting, forever, unto perpetuity, world without end - all of those words mean just what they say. When God talks about Himself, that's what He means - the High and Lofty One who exists eternally, forever, unto perpetuity, world without end.

Lord, I bow today before the high and lofty One who far surpasses my comprehension. Holy is the Lord! Amen


There You Have God

"Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God." (Psalm 90:1-2)

Shake your head to get all the wheels going and try to stretch your mind all you can, then think, if you can, about the past. Think your hometown, our of existence. Think back to when there wasn't anything here but some Indians. Then go back and think all those Indians away, back to before the Indians got here. Go back before that and think away the North American continent. And then think away all this earth of ours. And then let's go back and think that there are no planets and no stars dotting the clear night sky; they have all vanished away and there is no Milky Way, no anything.

Go to the throne of God and think away the angels, the archangels, the seraphim and the cherubim that sing and worship before the throne of God. Think them all away until there is no creation: not an angel waves its wing, not a bird flies in the sky - there's no sky to fly in. Not a tree grows on a  mountain, there is no mountain for a tree to grow on. But God lives and loves alone. The Ancient of Days, world without end, to the vanishing point back as far as the human mind can go - there you have God.

Lord, before the foundation of the world You knew me and chose me to be Your child. I praise You today. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

Resurrection: Our New Body

2 Corinthians 5:1-10

What a scene will occur at the sounding of the Lord’s trumpet! The “dead in Christ” will emerge from their resting places all over the earth and soar into the sky; these saints’ resurrected bodies will reunite with their spirits, which will have been residing in heaven with Jesus. Close behind them will follow believers who haven’t yet departed this life—at that moment, they’ll miraculously be changed as they are “caught up . . . to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thess. 4:16-17).

The description sounds extraordinary, but in fact, the plan is practical. We’re going to need a body with which to enjoy the new heaven and new earth that Jesus is preparing for His followers. However, earthly flesh and bones will not do. They age, break, and succumb to sin. So God promised to transform our humble structures into glorious bodies like the one Christ had after His resurrection. Common temptations and limitations will be gone. In addition, our physical substance will be altered so that we are not restricted by time and space. 

Remember, Jesus didn’t bother with doors (John 20:19)! Our new bodies will be suited for the environment where we are to dwell forever—an ageless eternity in which all of our needs are perfectly met.

Each believer will still be him- or herself. Friends and family long separated will recognize one another; our personalities will be unchanged, except that we’ll be absolutely sinless. At last, you and I will be the persons that God intends for us to be. And we’ll be housed in a body fashioned like that of Christ—perfect, sinless, and complete.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Monday, March 30, 2015

God Is Far Above

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith 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 55:89)

I want to make it very clear that when I say "far above", I do not mean geographically or astronomically removed. It's an analogy. Because we are human beings, and live in this world, we learn to speak by analogy.

So when we say that God is far above, we're using an analogy. We're thinking about a star that's way above, way out yonder in space - but that isn't what we really mean when we think about the transcendent  God.

If you miss this point, you might as well stop reading, because this is critical to understanding what follows. When we say that God's transcendence is "farness above," we are not thinking about astronomical distances or physical magnitude. God never thinks about the size of anything, because God contains everything. He never thinks about distance, because God is everywhere; He doesn't have to go from one place to another, so distance doesn't mean anything to Him. We humans use these expressions to help us to think - they're analogies and illustrations.

Lord, even our human expressions of Your greatness amaze me. How much more wonderful must You be in all Your infinite glory! Amen


That Cross!

"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy leaden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29)

Saint Theresa, that dear woman of God, said that the closer we are to God, the more conscience we are of how bad we are. Oh, the paradox, the mystery, the wonder of knowing that God, that transcendent One who is so high above all others that there is a gulf fixed that no one can cross, condescends to come and dwell among us. The God who is on the other side of that vast gap one day came and condensed Himself into the womb of the virgin, was born and walked among us. The baby that tramped around on the floor of Joseph's carpenter shop, that got in the way and played with the shavings, was the great God so infinitely lifted up and so transcendent that the archangels gazed upon Him. There He was!

A great gulf lies between me and the transcendent God, who is so high I cannot think of Him, so lofty that I cannot speak of Him, before whom I must fall down in trembling fear and adoration. I can't climb up to Him; I can't soar in any man-made vehicle to Him. I can't pray my way up to Him. There is only one way: "Near, near thee, my son, is that old wayside Cross." And the Cross bridges the gulf that separates God from man. That Cross!

Thank You, Father, for the miracle of the Cross, the marvelous bridge that allows me to have fellowship with You. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

Bearing One Another's Burdens

If you are looking for a way to carry out Christ’s command to love your neighbor, Paul has a suggestion: bear their burdens. At some point, everyone struggles under the weight of an oppressive situation. Believers have an obligation to get under that load next to their brothers and sisters.

Jesus sets the pattern for burden bearing. He calls to Himself all who are heavy-laden and gives them rest (Matt. 11:28-29). Since God predestines believers to be conformed to Christ’s likeness, we must imitate His care and concern for those who suffer. Acts 4:32 shows that the early church followed His example. To lift the load of poverty, they pooled their resources so that no one was in need.

Paul’s letters make clear his concern for the physical and spiritual welfare of growing churches. He fasted and prayed for them and sent missionaries when he could. He felt it was his responsibility to strengthen them, even though he sustained a personal hardship—his thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. 12:7).

A believer cannot wait until his life is clear of obstacles before reaching out to others, since that day may never come. Even though we have our own needs, we can do all things through Christ’s strength—including sharing someone else’s adversity (2 Cor. 12:9).

When you’re willing to wade into someone else’s troubles to help that person hold up under the weight, two things happen. First, he or she receives desperately needed blessings in the form of aid, support, and love. And second, you fulfill God’s command to love a neighbor as yourself. 

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Sunday, March 29, 2015

God Does Not Need Our Help

"To whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." (Ephesians 1:11)

Almighty God, just because He is almighty, needs no support. The picture of a nervous, ingratiating God fawning over men to win their favor is not a pleasant one; yet if we look at the popular conception of God that is precisely what we see. Twentieth-century Christianity has put God on charity.

Probably the hardest thought of all for our natural egotism to entertain is that God does not need our help. We commonly represent Him as a busy, eager, somewhat frustrated Father hurrying about seeking help to carry out His benevolent plans to bring peace and salvation to the world.

Too many missionary appeals are based upon this fancied frustration of Almighty God. An effective speaker can easily excite pity in her hearers, not only for the heathen but for God who has tried so hard and so long to save them and has failed for want of support. I fear that thousands of younger persons enter Christian service from no higher motive than to help deliver God from the embarrassing situation His love has gotten Him into and His limited abilities seem unable to get Him out of.

Lord, may I always remember it is a privilege to be a servant of the Most High God in accomplishing Your divine purposes, for You don't need me to accomplish Your will. You are Almighty God. Amen


Divine Transcendence

"Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine, thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all." (1 Chronicles 29:11)

The term divine transcendence may sound like something that takes a lot of learning or at least a lot of profound thinking to understand, but it doesn't. Transcend simply means to go above, to rise above, to be above. Of course, it's very difficult to think of God as transcendent and also as immanent or omnipresent at the same time. It is difficult to understand how He can be here with us, in us, pervading all things, but at the same time transcending all things. It looks like a contradiction, but as with many other apparent contradictions, it is not at all contradictory; the two thoughts are entirely in accord with each other.

God is always nearer than you may imagine Him to be. God is so near that your thoughts are not as near as God; your breath is not as near as God; your very soul is not as near to you as God is. And yet, because He is God, His uncreated Being is so far above us that no thought can conceive it nor words express it.

There is a vast gulf between the great I AM and all created things. God's uncreated quality of life causes Him to be transcendent, to rise high above all creatures.

Lord, how awesome that You can be above all and yet so close. I am Your humble servant; may I act according to Your will today. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

Prayer Is the Forerunner of Mercy

Ezekiel 36:37
Thus saith the Lord God; I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them.
Prayer is the forerunner of mercy. Turn to sacred history, and you will find that scarcely ever did a great mercy come to this world unheralded by supplication. You have found this true in your own personal experience. God has given you many an unsolicited favour, but still great prayer has always been the prelude of great mercy with you. When you first found peace through the blood of the cross, you had been praying much, and earnestly interceding with God that He would remove your doubts, and deliver you from your distresses. Your assurance was the result of prayer. When at any time you have had high and rapturous joys, you have been obliged to look upon them as answers to your prayers. When you have had great deliverances out of sore troubles, and mighty helps in great dangers, you have been able to say, "I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears." Prayer is always the preface to blessing. It goes before the blessing as the blessing's shadow. When the sunlight of God's mercies rises upon our necessities, it casts the shadow of prayer far down upon the plain. Or, to use another illustration, when God piles up a hill of mercies, He Himself shines behind them, and He casts on our spirits the shadow of prayer, so that we may rest certain, if we are much in prayer, our pleadings are the shadows of mercy. Prayer is thus connected with the blessing to show us the value of it. If we had the blessings without asking for them, we should think them common things; but prayer makes our mercies more precious than diamonds. The things we ask for are precious, but we do not realize their preciousness until we have sought for them earnestly.

"Prayer makes the darken'd cloud withdraw;
Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw;
Gives exercise to faith and love;
Brings every blessing from above."

~Charles Spurgeon~

Saturday, March 28, 2015

An Uneasiness About the Uncreated

"Who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of hosts; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen" (1 Timothy 6:15-16)

The human mind, being created, has an understandable uneasiness about the Uncreated. We tend to be disquieted by the thought of One who does not account to us for His being, who is responsible to no one, who is self-existent, self-dependent and self-sufficient.

Philosophy and science have not always been friendly toward the idea of God, the reason being that they are dedicated to the task of accounting for things and are impatient with anything that refuses to give an account of itself. The philosopher and the scientist will admit that there is much that they do know; but that is quite another things from admitting that there  is something which they can never know. To admit that there is One who lies beyond us, who exists outside of all our categories, who will not be dismissed with a name, who will not appear before the bar of our reason... this requires a great deal of humility, more than most of us possess, so we save face by thinking of God down to our level, or at least down to where we can manage Him.

Lord, forgive my flimsy attempts to comprehend You. I bow humbly before the great Uncreated, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Amen


God Doesn't Need Us

"Neither is worshiped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things." (Acts 17:25)

The problem of why God created the universe still troubles thinking men; but if we cannot know why, we can at least know that he did not bring His worlds into being to meet some unfulfilled need in Himself, as a man might build a house to shelter him against the winter cold or plant a field of corn to provide him with necessary food. The word "necessary" is wholly foreign to God.

To admit the existence of a need in God is to admit incompleteness in the divine Being. Need is a creature word and cannot be spoken of the Creator. God has a voluntary relation to everything He has made, but He has no necessary relation to anything outside of Himself. His interest in His creatures arises from His sovereign good pleasure, not from any need those creatures can supply nor from any completeness they can bring to Him who is complete in Himself.

So lofty is our opinion of ourselves that we find it quite easy, not to say enjoyable, to believe that we are necessary to God. But the truth is that God is not greater for our being, nor would He be less if we did not exist. That we do exist is altogether of God's free determination, not by our desert nor by divine necessity.

Lord, You don't need me, yet You love me and choose me to be Your child. I don't deserve it, but I accept and thank You for Your gracious gift of life and love. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

By Myself I Can Do Nothing

By Myself I can do nothing. (John 5:30 NIV)

One of the most difficult lessons that the Lord's children have to learn is how to let go to God. Even in a matter that is right and in the purpose of God, there has to be the lessons which Abraham had to learn through Isaac. It is not in our personal clinging to a God-given thing, whether it be a promise or a possession, but faith's restful and fear-free holding on to the Lord Himself. If we had a thing from the Lord Himself we can rest assured that what He gives He will not take again without some larger purpose in view; and on the other hand, none can take from us what He has determined for us. But there are many dangers which arise from our own will in relation to a Divine gift or purpose.

The first is of making that thing ours instead of holding it in and for the Lord. This leads to fierceness and personal uprisings. Then jealousy will not be long in showing its ugly head, and jealousy with its twin – suspicion – soon destroy fellowship and spontaneity of communion. Does not jealousy declare most loudly the fact of personal possession, personal interest? If we realized how privileged we are to have even a very small part in the things of God, and how it is all of His Grace, surely we should be very grateful that we could just have the remotest connection with Him. Then further, when we hold things received or as promised or believed to be for us as only unto the Lord, in restful trust, we make it possible for the Lord to save us from being mistaken in the matter. It is not an unusual thing for a child of God to come to see that a thing which he or she most strongly believed to be God's will or way for them was not so, and it had to be surrendered. If there was any personal element of will in it the experience has proved terrible, and has left works of bitterness and mistrust. Yet once again, a strong personal mind and will in relation to things of God too often makes us a law unto ourselves. That is, we get into an attitude which implies that we only know the will of God in the matter. We do not trust that others also may be led of the Lord in this thing, and so the corporateness of guidance so necessary to the house of God is destroyed or paralyzed.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Uncreated One

"O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches." (Psalm 104:24)

You may find this hard to believe, but God is just as far above an archangel as he is above the caterpillar. You know what a caterpillar is - it's a little worm the size of your finger, with a fur coat. And of course, it's not a very high thing. It's never been out in society. It doesn't amount to much - its' jut a worm. And you have to watch it very carefully to know whether it's traveling west or east, because it looks the same all the way around. That's a caterpillar.

An archangel, on the other hand, is that holy creature that we see beside the sea of God, in the presence of God's throne. That mighty creature is a little higher than the angels, just as man was made for a time a little lower. That being can look upon the face of God with unveiled countenance. This is the archangel. It never was in sin, and no on knows how vast it might be. And yet God is just as far above that archangel as He is above the caterpillar.

Why? Because both the archangel and the caterpillar are creatures. And God is the uncreated One who had no beginning, the self-existent One who was never created, but who was simply God, who made all things.

Lord, how awesome it is that You are infinitely far above me and yet You love me! I worship You majesty and rest in Your love. Amen


God Has No Origin

"Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands." (Psalm 102:25)

God is self-existent selfhood. Novation, the church father, said, "God has no origin." Just those four words, "God has no origin," would be an education to the average person. Origin, you see, is a creature word. Everything came from somewhere. One of the questions that every child asks is, "Where did I come from?"

Everything has an origin. When you hear a bird sing, you know that once that bird was packed in a tiny little egg. It came from somewhere; it came from an egg. Where did the egg come from? It came from another little bird. And that bird came from another little egg, and that egg came from another bird, and so on, back, back, back to the heart of God, when God said, "Let the heavens bring forth, let the earth bring forth, let the dry land appear," as it says in Genesis 1.

Origin is a creature word. The trees had an origin, space had an origin, the mountains, the seas - all things have an origin. But when you come back to God, you come back to the One who has no origin. He is the Cause of all things, the uncaused Cause.

I worship You today, Lord, as the great Creator, the uncaused Cause behind my very existence. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

What Spiritual Temperature Are You?

know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Revelation 3:15-16

In my house, temperature can be a “hot” topic. In the winter, the thermostat can never be too hot for me, but my husband loves to sleep in the cold. I like foods taken straight out of the fridge but he likes them steaming hot out of the oven. One extreme or the other tends to dominate in several areas in our home, but how extreme am I when it comes to the things of the Lord? What is my spiritual temperature? How many areas of my life am I content with just being lukewarm, especially when it comes to living for Jesus?

We as Christians are often afraid to live at the extremes. We are uncomfortable standing out and speaking out too much. We rationalize our positions by saying that we do not want to offend anyone or come across as too zealous in our faith. We even justify sinful behaviors by telling ourselves that if we blend in with the crowd, then we can be a more effective witness. Where did these ideas really come from? Are they from the Lord? Not according to Revelation 3:16. Jesus says He will “vomit” us out of His mouth if we are lukewarm. He wants us to pick a position; we are either cold or hot, for Him or against Him. We either take up our cross and follow Him with our whole hearts or we follow our own desires. To live in the gray areas is unacceptable, regardless of our human rationalizations.

Where are you today? Do you have a lukewarm relationship with Jesus? I fear greatly for many people who sit in church every Sunday proclaiming to know Jesus but having no evidence of Him in their lives. Many of us look righteous on the outside but are numb on the inside. Our churches are filled with complacent Christians who are quite content to live in the gray areas, not wanting to get too uncomfortable. Will Jesus say “well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23)? Or will He say “I never knew you; depart from Me” (Matthew 7:23)?  Ask the Lord to light a fire in your heart today that will set a blaze in any area of your life that has become lukewarm and complacent. Life here on earth is but for a moment, but eternity is forever. 

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Beauty of the Lord

"One thing have I desired o the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple." (Psalm 27:4)

What does perfection mean? According to Webster, perfection means "the highest possible degree of excellence." That which is perfect lacks nothing it should have and has nothing it should not have. Perfection is fullness and completeness. Something that is perfect is not lacking in anything and doesn't have anything it shouldn't have.

When we apply perfection to God, we mean that He has unqualified fullness and completeness of whatever He has. He has unqualified plenitude of power. He also has unqualified fullness of wisdom. He has unqualified knowledge. He has unqualified holiness.

When I say that a man is a perfect singer, I qualify that in my mind. I think, Well, he does the best a person can. But when I say that God is holy, I do NOT qualify it. I mean it fully and completely. God is what He is and that's it. God's power and being, His wisdom and knowledge, His holiness and goodness, His justice and mercy, His love and grace - all of these and more of the attributes of God - are in shining, full, uncreated perfection. They are called the beauty of the Lord our God.

Lord, Your beauty is overwhelming in its perfection, and I wonder why we would ever want to look at anything else! Amen


God Is An Artist!

"The children of Israel did according to all that the Lord commanded Moses: so they pitched by their standards, and so they set forward, every one after their families, according to the house of their fathers." (Numbers 2:34)

I remember as a young Christian when I got my first awful, wonderful, entrancing vision of God. I was in West Virginia in the woods sitting on a log reading the Scriptures along with an old Irish evangelist by the name of Robert J. Cunningham, now long in heaven. I got up and wandered away to have prayer by myself. I had been reading one of the driest passages imaginable from the Scriptures where Israel came out of Egypt and God arranged them into a diamond-shaped camp. He put Levi in the middle and Reuben out in front and Benjamin behind. It was a diamond-shaped moving city with a flame of fire in the middle giving light. Suddenly it broke over me; God is a geometrician, He's an artist! When He laid out that city He laid it out skillfully, diamond-shaped with a plume in the middle, and it suddenly swept over me like a wave of a sea: how beautiful God is and how artistic and how poetic and how musical, and I worshiped God there under that tree all by myself.

Lord, You've displayed Your artistry and poetry throughout all of Your great creation. Help us not to miss the beauty around us and in doing so miss such an important aspect of Your person. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

Responding to God's Love

God has to be true to Himself. People are foolish to entertain the hope that He will ignore justice and sacrifice holiness in order to allow unbelievers into heaven. Living a mostly moral life will not satisfy a righteous Judge.

As much as the Lord loves us and desires to save us from our sins, He cannot deny His holiness by accepting sin in His presence. The Father is pristine perfection--a holy Being who, by His very nature, must condemn all sin.

 Therefore, it is the height of egotism to think that God will bend both His law and His nature to welcome one whom still bears the stain of wrongdoing.

There is not one person who's good enough to enter heaven on his or her own merit. Every one of us needs Jesus. The stain of sin is washed clean only by the sacrifice of God's holy and blameless Son. Those who believe in Christ are forgiven their wrongs and cloaked in His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21).

Let me make it very clear that trusting Jesus is far more than giving intellectual assent to His existence--that's something even the Devil acknowledges. A true believer enters into a relationship with the One who loves his soul enough to save him from eternal punishment.

Those who remain tightly wrapped in their mantle of sin cannot hope to sneak into heaven. God's holy nature demands perfection, and since we can't provide this for ourselves, the Lord has given it to all who believe in Him. He has exchanged our filthy rags for a cloak of righteousness (Zech. 3:4).

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Exalted Worship

"Above it stood the seraphims ... and one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory." (Isaiah 6:2-3)

Now, because we are dealing with worship, let us consider the joys and delights of the heavenly creatures, the seraphim, around the throne of God.

We know very little about these created beings, but I am impressed by their attitude of exalted worship. They are close to the throne and they burn with rapturous love for the Godhead. They were engrossed in their antiphonal chants, "Holy, holy, holy!"

The key words then and the keynote still of our worship must be "Holy, holy, holy!"

I am finding that many Christians are really not comfortable with the holy attributes of God. In such cases I am forced to wonder about the quality of the worship they try to offer Him.

The word "holy" is more than an adjective saying that God is a holy God - it is an ecstatic ascription of glory to the Triune God.

Lord, I come before You this day and cry with the seraphim, "Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts." May I always approach You with such an attitude of worship. Amen


Struck With Awe

"Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." (Isaiah 6:5)

It should help us to be concerned about the quality of our worship when we consider that Isaiah's reaction was a feeling of absolute profaneness in the presence of the moral purity of the divine Being. Consider that Isaiah was a commendable young man - cultured, religious and a cousin of the king. He would have made a good deacon in any church. Today he would be asked to serve on one of our mission boards.

But here Isaiah was an astonished man. He was struck with awe, his whole world suddenly dissolving into a vast, eternal brightness. He was pinned against that brightness - red and black, the colors of sin.

What had happened? Isaiah, only human, had glimpsed One whose character and nature signaled perfection. He could only manage the witness: "Mine eyes have seen the King!"

Lord, how can I help but fall on my face before You if I once get a glimpse of Your great glory? Forgive my sinfulness s I fall before You in worship. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

Fred Not Thyself

Fret not thyself (Psalms 37:1).

Do not get into a perilous heat about things. If ever heat were justified, it was surely justified in the circumstances outlined in the Psalm. Evil-doers were moving about clothed in purple and fine linen, and faring sumptuously every day. "Workers of iniquity" were climbing into the supreme places of power, and were tyrannizing their less fortunate brethren. Sinful men and women were stalking through the land in the pride of life and basking in the light and comfort of great prosperity, and good men were becoming heated and fretful.

"Fret not thyself." Do not get unduly heated! Keep cool! Even in a good cause, fretfulness is not a wise help-meet. Fretting only heats the bearings; it does not generate the steam. It is no help to a train for the axles to get hot; their heat is only a hindrance. When the axles get heated, it is because of unnecessary friction; dry surfaces are grinding together, which ought to be kept in smooth co-operation by a delicate cushion of oil.

And is it not a suggestive fact that this word "fret" is closely akin to the word "friction," and is an indication of absence of the anointing oil of the grace of God? In fretfulness, a little bit of grit gets into the bearings--some slight disappointment, some ingratitude, some discourtesy--and the smooth working of the life is checked. Friction begets heat; and with the heat, most dangerous conditions are created.

Do not let thy bearings get hot. Let the oil of the Lord keep thee cool, lest by reason of an unholy heat thou be reckoned among the evil-doers.
--The Silver Lining

Dear restless heart, be still; don't fret and worry so;
God has a thousand ways His love and help to show;
Just trust, and trust, and trust, until His will you know.
Dear restless heart, be still, for peace is God's own smile,
His love can every wrong and sorrow reconcile;
Just love, and love, and love, and calmly wait awhile.
Dear restless heart, be brave; don't moan and sorrow so,
He hath a meaning kind in chilly winds that blow;
Just hope, and hope, and hope, until you braver grow.
Dear restless heart, repose upon His breast this hour,
His grace is strength and life, His love is bloom and flower;
Just rest, and rest, and rest, within His tender power.
Dear restless heart, be still! Don't struggle to be free;
God's life is in your life, from Him you may not flee;
Just pray, and pray, and pray, till you have faith to see.

~L. B. Cowman~

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

God's Holiness

"Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?" (Exodus 15:11)

They say that when Leonardo Da Vinci painted his famous Last Supper he had little difficulty with any of it except the faces. Then he painted the faces in without too much trouble except one. He did not feel himself worthy to paint the face of Jesus. He held off and kept holding off, unwilling to approach it knowing he must. Then in the impulsive carelessness of despair, he just painted it quickly and let it go. "There is no use," he said. "I can't paint Him."

I feel very much the same way about explaining the holiness of God. I think that same sense of despair is on my heart. There isn't any use for anybody to try to explain holiness. The greatest speakers on this subject can play their oratorical harps, but it sounds tinny and unreal, and when they are through you've listened to music but haven't seen God.

I suppose the hardest thing about God to comprehend intellectually is His infinitude. But you can talk about the infinitude of God and not feel yourself a worm. But when you talk about the holiness of God, you have not only the problem of an intellectual grasp, but also a sense of personal vileness, which is almost too much to bear.

Make me that sensitive to Your holiness, O God, that  I might indeed be aware of my vileness and fall before You in humility and confession. Amen


Language Is Inadequate

"And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off  thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." (Exodus 3:5)

I will endeavor to discuss the holiness of God, the Holy One. We cannot comprehend it, and we certainly cannot define it.

Holiness means purity, but "purity" doesn't describe it well enough. Purity merely means that it is unmixed, with nothing else in it. But that isn't enough. We talk of moral excellency, but that isn't adequate. To be morally excellent is to exceed someone else in moral character. But when we say that God is morally excellent, who is it that He exceeds? The angels, the seraphim? Surely He does - but that still isn't enough. We mean rectitude; we mean honor; we mean truth and righteousness; we mean all of these -  uncreated and eternal.

Language cannot express the holy, so God resorts to association and suggestion. He cannot say it outright because He would have to use words for which we know no meaning.

God cannot tell us by language, so He uses association and suggestion and shows how holiness affects the unholy. He shows Moses at the burning bush before the holy, fiery Presence, kneeling down to take his shoes from his feet, hiding his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.

Lord, I don't often stop to contemplate the reality of Your holiness. Give me a glimpse of Your holiness today, even if I have to hide my face in fear. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~ 

Sow Good ... Reap Blessing

God wants to bless your life, and the richer, more frequent blessings come to those who do a particular thing.  We find that thing in Galatians 6:9-10,

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

The seasons of blessing come due more often to those who consistently sow, to those who seize opportunities that are afforded them to do good.  Notice again in verse 9, Let us not grow weary while doing good.  Verse 10 says, Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all.

This same truth is reinforced by verse 7, which states,

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

If we sow good, we will reap good.  A season of blessing will come.
What many Christians tend to do is stand before a field in which they planted no seed, and pray, "God, give me a miracle harvest."

Now, God is God, and He certainly can do things out of the ordinary.  But He also works according to laws and principles that He has set into motion.  One of those laws is the law of sowing and reaping.

Whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap.  Therefore, do not grow weary while doing good.  In due season, you will reap, if you do not faint.  When you have opportunity, do good.  Get some seed in the ground.

Because the richer and more frequent blessings come to those who sow good. 

~Bayless Conley~

Monday, March 23, 2015

Divine Immanence

"And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not." (Genesis 28:16)

What does the divine immanence mean in direct Christian experience? It means simply that God is here. Wherever we are, God is here ...There can be no place where He is not.

Jacob had never been for one small division of a moment outside the circle of that all-pervading Presence. But he knew it not. That was his trouble, and it is ours. Men do not know that God is here. What a difference it would make if they knew.

Always, everywhere God is present, and always He seeks to discover Himself to each one. He would reveal not only that He is, but what He is as well. He did not have to be persuaded to reveal Himself to Moses. "And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord" (Exodus 34:5). He not only made a verbal proclamation of His nature but He revealed His very Self to Moses so that the skin of Moses' face shone with the supernatural light. It will be a great moment for some of us when we begin to believe that God's promise of self-revelation is literally true, that He promised much, but no more than He intends to fulfill.

Our pursuit of God is successful just because He is forever seeking to manifest Himself to us.

Lord, You are indeed in this place, even when I am unaware of You. I pray that I might know the reality of that truth and be sensitive to Your presence today. Amen


Near or Far Away

"But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works." (Psalm 73:28)

To speak of being near to or far from God is to use language in a sense always understood when applied to our ordinary human relationships. A man may say, "I feel that my son is coming nearer to me as he gets older," and yet that son has lived by his father's side since he was born and has never been away from home more than a day or so in his entire life. What then can the father mean? Obviously he is speaking of experience. He means that the boy is coming to know him more intimately and with deeper understanding, that the barriers of thought and feeling between the two are disappearing, that father and son are becoming more closely united in mind and heart.

So when we sing, "Draw me nearer, nearer, ,nearer, blessed Lord," we are not thinking of the nearness of place, but of the nearness of relationship. it is for increasing degrees of awareness that we pray, for a more perfect consciousness of the divine Presence. We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts.

Lord, I long to be near to You in experience, in intimate awareness of our Father/child relationship. Draw me close, I pray. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

Our Heavenly Father's Unconditional Love

Scripture tells us that love is the very essence of who God is (1 John 4:7). So if you don't believe that He loves you unconditionally, you'll never really know Him or have genuine peace about your relationship with Him.

How do you define "love"? It is Jesus unselfishly reaching out to mankind, giving Himself to us and bringing good into our life regardless of whether or not we accept Him. Romans 5:8 tells us that His care and concern are so immeasurable that He laid down His life for us while we were still His enemies. In fact, the Bible says that He first began to express His love toward us before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:3-5). That means your actions had absolutely nothing to do with His love for you!

God's commitment to us has absolutely no conditions or restrictions and isn't based on whether we love Him back. Nor does He have more love for "good" people who may strike us as more worthy. He loves us even in our sin, even when we don't repent. Does that give us license to disobey? No. It gives us power to live holy lives, walk obediently with Him, and learn to love Him the way He deserves. To follow Him is to receive the love He has been offering all along.

Every single moment, whether awake or asleep, we all live under the canopy of the Lord's wondrous, absolute love for us. But to fully experience that love, you must receive it. Say yes to this amazing gift that God wants to pour out on you. Bask in it, and let it overflow to those around you.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Sunday, March 22, 2015

At Once Far Off and Near

"Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there." (Psalm 139:7-8)

Few other truths are taught in the Scriptures with as great clarity as the doctrine of the divine omnipresence. Those passages supporting this truth are so plain that it would take considerable effort to misunderstand them. They declare that God is immanent in His creation, that there is no place in heaven or earth or hell where men may hide from His presence. They teach that God is at once far off and near, and that in Him men move and live and have their being.

This truth is to the convinced Christian a source of deep comfort in sorrow and of steadfast assurance in all the varied experiences of his life. To him "the practice of the presence of God" consists not of projecting an imaginary object from within his own mind and then seeking to realize its presence; it is rather to recognize the real presence of the One whom all sound theology declares to be already there, an objective entity, existing apart from any apprehension of Him on the part of His creatures. The resultant experience is not visionary but real.

Lord, I want to be cognizant of Your presence throughout the day today. I know the fact; I pray for the realization. Amen


We Are Never Alone

"I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved." (Psalm 16:8)

The certainty that God is always near us, present in all parts of His world, closer to us than our thoughts, should maintain us in a state of high moral happiness most of the time. But not all the time. It would be less than honest to promise every believer continual jubilee and less than realistic to expect it. As a child may cry out in pain even when sheltered in its mother's arms, so a Christian may sometimes know what it is to suffer even in the conscious presence of God. Though "alway rejoicing," Paul admitted that he was sometimes sorrowful (2 Corinthians 6:10), and for our sakes Christ experienced strong crying and tears though He never left the bosom of the Father (John 1:18).

But all will be well. In a world like this tears have their therapeutic effects. The healing balm distilled from the garments of the enfolding Presence cures our ills before they become fatal. The knowledge that we are never alone calms the troubled sea of our lives and speaks peace to our souls.

Thank You for Your calming peace, Lord, in the midst of what often are troubled seas. Go before me today, I pray. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

Your Real Adversary

As we continue to think about the reality of trials in our lives, and the challenge it is to handle those trials, I want to point you to another important teaching about trials in today's devotional.

You need to realize who your adversary is.  It is not God; it is the devil.  Look at 1 Peter 5:8-9,

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

Some of the trials and sufferings that we experience are the direct result of the adversary's work.

Some people want to blame God for everything, but the Bible says it is the thief— the devil—who comes to steal, kill, and destroy.  Jesus came to give us life and more abundantly.

Peter makes this even clearer in verse 10,

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

Our God is the God of grace.  The devil is seeking to devour.

Frankly, I hate the middle part of this verse, After you have suffered for a while….   Clearly, God wants us to understand that suffering is going to happen.  Trials are going to happen.  No matter how much you may say, "I don't receive it!", it is still there!  You are going to go through difficult times.  It is part of the human experience.

But when you go through that time of trial, remember not to blame God.  It is the devil who is your adversary! 

~Bayless Conley~

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Near to Everything and Everyone

"But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?" (1 Kings 8:27)

I want to explain briefly what omnipresence is and then show what it means in human experience. That God is omnipresent is of course believed by all churches who believe in the Bible. I am not introducing anything new. Omnipresence means that God is all-present.  God is close to (for that is what the word means - "close to, near to, here") everywhere. He is near to everything and everyone. He is here; He is next to you wherever you may be. And if you send up the furious question, "Oh God, where art Thou?" the answer comes back, "I am where you are; I am here; I am next to you; I am close to everywhere." That's what the Bible says.

We talk about God being close to us or about the problem of God being far away. We don't think right because we think geographically or astronomically; we think in light-years or meters or inches or miles or leagues. We're thinking of Him as dwelling in space, which He does not. Rather He contains space so that space is in God. There is never any problem about God being anywhere, for the fact is, as the text says, God is everywhere.

Lord, help me to take this truth out of the realm of theological concept and to realize the practical implication, today, of Your being right here with me. Amen


But God Seems Remote

"Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart." (Ephesians 4:18)

The reason we sense that God is remote is because there is a dissimilarity between moral characters. God and man are dissimilar now. God made man in His image, but man sinned and became unlike God in his moral nature. And because he is unlike God, communion is broken. Two enemies may hate each other and be separated and apart even though they are for a moment forced to be together. There is an alienation there - and that is exactly what the Bible calls that moral incompatibility between God and man.

God is not far away in distance, but He seems to be because He is far away in character. He is unlike man because man has sinned and God is holy. The Bible has a word for this moral incompatibility, this spiritual unlikeness between man and God - alienation.

Thank You, gracious Father, that You have provided the remedy for the alienation between You and Your children. Thank You for the blood of Jesus, whereby our blindness can be lifted and we can be brought near to You. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

Friday, March 20, 2015

Amazing Grace

"That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:7)

For us who stand under the disapproval of God, who by sin lie under sentence of God's eternal, everlasting displeasure and banishment, grace is an incomprehensibly immense and over-whelming plenitude of kindness and goodness. If we could only remember it, we wouldn't have to be played with and entertained so much. If we could only remember the grace of God toward us who have nothing but demerit, we would be over-whelmed by is incomprehensibly immense attribute, so vast, so huge, that nobody can ever grasp it or hope to understand it.

Would God have put up with us this long if He had only a limited amount of grace? If He had only a limited amount of anything, He wouldn't be God.

God's immensity, God's infinitude must mean that the grace of God must always be immeasurably full. We sing, "Amazing Grace" - why, of course it's amazing! How can we comprehend the fullness of the grace of God?

Lord, how amazing it is that Your grace extends infinitely beyond the depths of my sin. May I remember that as I go about my day. Amen


That's Just the Way God Is

"And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day." (Jude 6)

There are two ways to think about the grace of God: One is to look at yourself and see how sinful you were and say, "God's grace must be vast - it must be huge as space to forgive such a sinner as I am." That's one way and that's a good way - and probably that's the most popular way.

But there's another way to think of the grace of God. Think of it as the way God is - God being like God. And when God shows grace to a sinner He isn't being dramatic; He's acting like God. He'll never act any other way but like God. On the other hand, when that man whom justice has condemned turns back on the grace of God in Christ and refuses to allow himself to be rescued, then the time comes when God must judge the man. And when God judges the man He acts like Himself in judging the man. When God shows love to the human race He acts like Himself. When God shows judgment to "the angels which kept not their first estate", He acts like Himself.

Always God acts in conformity with the fullness of His own wholly perfect, symmetrical nature.

Father, I'm thankful that You always act like Yourself - with grace and justice. Your constancy produces great peace within me. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

There Is No Change In His In the Tender Love of God's Heart

The man spake roughly to us - Genesis 42:30

He spake roughly, but he did not feel so.
When he had spoken in these harsh tones, he restored their money; turned aside to weep (Genesis 42:24); and did his best to alleviate the toils of travel. So sometimes God seems to deal harshly, and speak roughly; but there is no change in the tender love of His heart. It costs Him immeasurably more than it does us. Often when some unusual severity has been evinced, if we could but see His face, it would be full of pity, pain, and pleading on our behalf. He feels yearnings over us which He restrains, and dares not betray till the work of conviction is complete.
He spake roughly to awaken conscience. - It had slept for twenty years. They had almost forgotten that scene at the pit's mouth; but as he repeated their tones, and words, and treatment, it all came back again, and they cried, "We are verily guilty concerning our brother." There must be repentance and confession before God can take us to His heart. We must confess the wrongs done to our Brother in heaven and our brothers on earth; and many of the roughnesses of God's Providence are intended to awaken us, and bring our sin to remembrance.
He spake roughly to test them. - How did they feel toward each other: was there rivalry, or bitterness, or angry feeling? Beneath his biting words, Joseph would mark their behavior! Would they disown each other, or cling to one another? There was an opportunity for their doing one or the other; and he was glad to notice how their love approved itself. So we are led over stony roads, that God may know what is in our hearts. He gives us opportunities of showing our real feeling toward our brothers, that He may test our love toward Himself.

~F. B. Meyer~

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Grace Abounds

"Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." (Romans 5:20).

Grace is God's goodness, the kindness of God's heart, the good will, the cordial benevolence. It is what God is like. God is like that all the time. You'll never run into a stratum in God that is hard. You'll always find God gracious, at all times and toward all people forever. You'll never run into any meanness in God, never any resentment or rancor or ill will, for there is none there. God has no ill will toward any being. God is a God of utter kindness and cordiality and good will and benevolence. And yet all of these work in perfect harmony with God's justice and God's judgment. I believe in hell and I believe in judgment. I also believe that there are those whom God must reject because of their impenitence, yet there will be grace. God will still feel gracious toward all of His universe. He is God and He can't do anything else.

What God is, God is! When Scripture says grace does "much more abound," it means not that grace does much more abound than anything else in God but much more than anything in us. No matter how much sin a man has done, literally and truly grace abounds unto that man.

Lord, I am so horribly rebellious and sinful in the light of Your perfect holiness. Thank You that were sin abounds, Your grace abound even more! Amen


Everybody Receives Grace

"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." (Isaiah 64:6)

Everybody receives in some degree God's grace: the lowest woman in the world; the most sinful bloody man in the world; Judas; Hitler. It is hadn't been that God was gracious, they would have been cut off and slain, along with you and me and all the rest. I wonder if there's much difference in us sinners after all.

When a woman sweeps up a house, some of the dirt is black, some is gray, some is light-colored, but it is all dirt, and it all goes before the broom. And when God looks a humanity He sees some that are morally light-colored, some that are morally dark, some that are morally speckled, but it is all dirt, and it all goes before the moral broom.

So the grace of God is operated toward everybody. But the saving grace of God is different. When the grace of God becomes operative through faith in Jesus Christ then there is the new birth. But the grace of God nevertheless holds back any judgment that would come until God in His kindness has given everyone a chance to repent.

Lord, each one of Your children has sinned and deserves to be swept away. Thank You for Your saving grace that reaches out to all of us in our sinfulness. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~