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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Yes, God Loves Us

"We love him, because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19)

If we are to have any satisfying and lasting understanding of life, it must be divinely given. It begins with the confession that it is indeed the God who has revealed Himself to us who is the central pillar bearing up the universe. Believing that, we then go on to acknowledge that we have discovered His great eternal purpose for men and women made in His own image.

I heard a brilliant Canadian author  being interviewed on the radio concerning world conditions, and he said: "I confess that our biggest mistake is the fond belief that we humans are special pets of of Almighty God and that God has a special fondness for us as people."

We have a good answer: Man as he was originally created is God's beloved. Man in that sense is the beloved of the universe. God said, "I have made man in My image and man is to be above all other creatures. Redeemed man is to be even above the angles in the heavens. He is to enter into My presence pardoned and unashamed, to worship Me and to look on My face while the ages roll on!" No wonder we believe that God is the only certain foundation!

Dear Lord, thank You for Your unconditional love for me. I pray that I will not act like a spoiled child but that life will honor You in all my relationships. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

Friday, January 29, 2016

Our Charter Is From God

"Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18)

While we are right to thank God in appreciation for all of the great and good men in the history of the Christian church, we actually "follow" none of them. Our charter goes farther back and is from a higher source. They were rightly looked upon as leaders, but they were all servants of God, even as you and I are.

Luther sowed. Wesley watered. Finney reaped - but they were only servants of the living God.

In our local assemblies, we are part of the church founded by the Lord Jesus Christ and perpetuated by the mystery of the new birth. Therefore, our assembly is that of Christian believers gathered unto a Name to worship and adore the Presence. So, in that sense, the strain is gone. The strain and pressure to abide by traditional religious forms all begin to pale in importance as we function in faith as the people of God who glorify His Name and honor His Presence!

If all of this is true - and everything within me witnesses that it is - we may insist that God is able to do for us all that He did in the days of the apostles. There has been no revocation of our charter!

Dear Lord, thank You for the people in my life who have helped to shape me spiritually. And thank You that You alone are still the Source of new life. Amen

~A. W. Tozer~

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Man Has Lost God

"Thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust" (Psalm 104:29)

The average person in the world today, without faith, and without God and without hope, is engaged in a desperate personal search and struggle throughout his lifetime. He does not really know what he is doing here. He does not know where he is going.

The sad commentary is that everything he is doing is being done on borrowed time, borrowed money and borrowed strength - and he already knows that in the end he will surely die! It boils down to the bewildered confession of many humans that they have lost God somewhere along the way.

Man, made more like God than any other creature, has become less like God than any other creature. Created to reflect the glory of God, he has retreated sullenly into his cave - reflecting only his own sinfulness.

Certainly it is a tragedy above all tragedies in this world that love has gone from man's heart. Beyond that, light has gone from his mind. Having lost God, he blindly stumbled on through this dark world to find only a grave at the end!

Dear Lord, thank You for the hope that I have found in Christ. And thank You for giving meaning and purpose to my life. Help me to glorify You today. Amen

~W. W. Tozer~

If Worse Comes to Worst

"The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children" (Psalm 103:17)

If the world's foundations crumble we still have God, and in Him we have everything essential to our ransomed beings forever.

We also have Christ, who died for us and who now sits at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens making constant and effective intercession for us.

We have the Scriptures, which can never fail.

We have the Holy Spirit to interpret the Scriptures to our inner lives and to be to us a Guide and a Comforter.

We have prayer and we have faith, and these bring heaven to earth and turn even bitter Marah sweet.

And if worse comes to worst here below, we have our Father's house and our Father's welcome.

"The man of the year" cannot impress those men and women who are making their plans for that long eternity when days and years have passed away and time is no more.

~A. W. Tozer~

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

God's Truth Is Eternal

"Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein" (Jeremiah 6:16)

There are two errors that are pretty current with regard to old things. The first is that everything old is good, and everything new is bad.

That idea, of course ... harms progress and discourages all thought. It also petrifies the imagination and digs a grave for all expectation. I am afraid that when it comes to theology and spiritual thought, we have adopted the notion that the old is good and that everything new is bad. We have to go back yonder to discover a man who has spiritual imagination enough state things differently from that which is current in his time.

I will tell you what I would like to see for this critical age... a number of persons committed, manifested in the inspiration of
Scripture and the faith of our fathers so that it is impossible to go back theologically. The result would be truth related in an imaginative way for our time.

The truths of God  are not timely (that is, geared into time). The truths of God are eternal. They rule above time.

~. A. W. Tozer~

God Is Enough

"Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded" (Jeremiah 7:23)

The error that everything new is good and everything old is bad takes place in the realm of practice and worship and religious activity generally. This is a view that can lead, of course, to great rebellion against the truth.

We will never be where we ought to be until we go back to those old paths and learn to find God. Then we will cease to be bored with God. We will center our affections upon God and Christ and become specialists and experts in the realm of the spiritual life.

It is amazing how little outside stimulus we need if we have that inward stimulus. It is amazing how much God will meet our needs. It will not be God "and" something else. It will be God "everything."

And then, wisely, we will gear into our times and in a moment we will become alert to the needs of the world around us. At the same time, our great anchor will be God above. God will be enough.

May God give us the courage to be obedient to His truths in this tragic, critical and dangerous hour in which we live.

~A. W. Tozer~

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Private Place

"And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places" (Isaiah 32:18)

For those who want to relearn the ways of solitude and simplicity and gain the infinite riches of the interior life ... I offer a brief paragraph of counsel.

Retire from the world each day to some private spot. Stay in the secret place till the surrounding noises begin to fade pit pf your heart and a sense of God's presence envelops you. Deliberately tune out the unpleasant sounds and come out of your closet determined not to hear them. Listen for the inward Voice till you learn to recognize it. Stop trying to compete with others. Give yourself to God, and then be what and who you are without regard to what others think. Reduce your interests to a few.

Learn to pray inwardly every moment. After a while you can do this even while you work. Practice candor, childlike honesty, humility. Pray for a single eye. Read less, but read more of what is important to your inner life. Call home your roving thoughts. Gaze on Christ with the eyes of you soul. Practice spiritual concentration.

God is bound to give Himself to a heart that is detached. God would sooner be in a solitary heart than any other.

~A. W. Tozer~


Yesterday, Today and Forever

"Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father" (Galatians 4:6).

The Scriptures are open and plain. Jesus Christ is our Savour and Lord. He is our great High Priest, alive and ministering for us today. His person, His power and His grace are the same, without change, yesterday, today and forever!

He is the same Lord because He is the same God. He is the same, never having changed in substance, in power, in wisdom, in love, in mercy. In His divine person, Jesus Christ has always felt about everyone and everything.

Jesus will not yield to those who charge that He is an absentee, that He is far away and unavailable. Our faith tells us that Jesus Christ is close at hand, that He is a living force in our lives today. He is the Holy Spirit of God fulfilling His promises moment by moment.

We must stand together in our faith. Our Lord is as powerful now, as real now, as near to us now, as loving now as He ever was when He walked among the men and women on the shores of Galilee.

God always fills in all hearts all the room which is left Him there.

~A. W.Tozer~

Monday, January 25, 2016

God In The Flesh

"And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger" (Luke 2:16)

The mystery and miracle of the incarnation - God coming to take our humanity and our flesh, yet without sin. Luke quotes the message of the angel Gabriel to Mary.

"Thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest ... The Holy Spirit shall ... overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:30-32, 35)

The overshadowing of the Most High, the Father; the energy of the Holy Spirit; the enfleshment of the eternal Son - here were the Persons of the Godhead cooperating in a gracious act on behalf of lost men and women.

Lord Jesus, reign in us, we pray,
And make us Thine alone,
Who with the Father ever art,
And Holy Spirit, one.

The Holy Spirit is indivisible from the Father and the Son, and He is all Gold and exercises all the rights of God and He merits all worship and all love and all obedience.

~A. W. Tozer~


Cultivating Simplicity and Solitude

"Thou desired truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom...Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow" (Psalm 51:6-7)

"The thoughtful soul to solitude retires," said the poet of other and quieter times; but where is the solitude to which we can retire today?

Our "vastly improved methods of communication," of which the shortsighted boast so loudly, now enable a few men in strategic centers to feed into millions of minds alien thought stuff, ready-made and predigested. A little effortless assimilation of these borrowed ideas and the average man has done all the thinking he will or can do.

This subtle brainwashing goes on day after day and year after year to the eternal injury of the populace. There was a time, not too long ago, when a man's home was his castle, a sure retreat to which he might return for quietness and solitude. I cannot refrain from remarking that the most ominous sign of the coming destruction of our country is the passing of the American home. Americans live no longer in homes, but in theaters. Let no one smile. Rather should we weep at the portent.

The mansions of the heart will become larger when their doors are thrown open to Christ and closed against the world and sin.

~A. W. Tozer~

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Where Life and Lips Join

"Not unto me, O Lord, not unto me, but unto thy name give glory ... our God is in the heavens" (Psalm 115:1, 3)

"Be thou exalted: (Psalm 21:13) is the language of victorious spiritual experience. It is a little boy to unlock the door to great treasures of grace. It is central in the life of God in the soul. Let the seeking man reach a place where life and lips join to say continually "Be thou exalted," and a thousand minor problems will be solved at once.

His Christian life ceases to be the complicated thing it had been before and becomes the very essence of simplicity. By the exercise of his will he has set his course, and on that course he will stay as if guided by an automatic pilot. If blown off course for a moment by some adverse wind, he will surely return again as by a secret bent of the soul.

The hidden motions of the Spirit are working in his favor, and "the stars in their courses" (Judges 5:20) fight for him. He has met his life problem at its center, and everything else must follow along.

The spirit of self-denial. It is the result of a calm, deliberate, invincible attachment to the highest good ... a voluntary renunciation that is consistent with the glory of God and good of our fellowman.

~A. W. Tozer~

Eternity Made Flesh

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good
will toward men" (Luke 2:14)

What is it you have always really wanted? It is not religion. You can trace that back - it is recent. It is not philosophy. It is not civilization. They are recent and temporary.

We have been betrayed by every prospect that man creates. But when we know that we are perishing, ready to perish, God's Holy Spirit is faithful, and He whispers, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1).

There is eternity, and eternity was made flesh and walked among us. If you had seen eternity walking around on baby, rubbery legs, tumbling and falling flat among the shavings, you would have run and picked Him up and dusted Him off, whispering, "It doesn't hurt. Be a big boy!"

He would have smiled, shaking away a tear, and toddled off for another tumble. That was eternity walking in flesh. It was God Almighty come to live among us to redeem us and to save us from the recent and the temporal and the transient - and to give us eternity!

Oh, come to my heart, Lord Jesus:
There is room in my heart for Thee!

~A. W. Tozer~

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Holy Spirit Is In The Word

"How sweet are thy words unto my taste! ... Through the precepts AI get understanding: therefore I hate every fake way" (Psalm 119:103-104)

Point five: Let us seek to know Him in the Word. It is in the Word we will find the Holy Spirit ... for the Holy Spirit wrote this Book. He inspired it, and He will be revealed in its pages.

What is the Word when we come to the Bible? It is "meditate". We are to come to the Bible and meditate. Let's open our Bible, spread it out on the chair, and meditate on it. It will open itself to us, and the Spirit of God will come and brood over it.

So be a Bible meditator. I challenge you: Try it for a month and see how it works. Put away questions and answers and the filling in of blank lines. Take A Bible, open it, get on your knees and say, "Father, here I am. Begin to teach me."

He will begin to teach you, and He will teach you about Himself and about Jesus and about God and about the Word and about life and death and heaven and hell, and about His own Presence.

After getting the heart filled with the Holy Spirit, it is well to get the head filled with the very facts and truth that should be there. The Bible speaks of grace and knowledge. They go well together.

~A. W. Tozer~


Cultivate His Presence

"Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee" (Joshua 1:9)

Point six: Cultivate the art of recognizing the presence of the Spirit everywhere. Get acquainted with the Holy Spirit and then begin to cultivate His presence. When you wake in the morning, in place of burying your head behind the newspaper, couldn't you get in just a few thoughts of God while you eat your grapefruit?

Remember, cultivating the Holy Spirit's acquaintance is a job. It is something you do, and yet it is so easy and delightful. Is this for ministers? This is for ministers, certainly. Is it for housewives? Yes, housewives, and clerks .. and students. If you will thus see it and thus believe it and thus surrender to it, there won't be a secular stone in the pavement. There won't be a common, profane deed that you will ever do.

The most menial task can become a priestly ministration when the Holy Spirit takes over and Christ becomes your all in all.

The sanctified life is God-centered. Ennuis is impossible with a soul full of the Holy Spirit. God is seen and felt in everything.

~A. W. Tozer~

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Christ's Deposit with Us

Christ's Deposit with Us

J. R. Miller, 1902

Saving faith—is the committing of the life into the hands of Christ. It is spoken of in the Scriptures, as the depositing of all life's interests, with One who is surely able to keep them safely until the day of final revealing. The thought is very beautiful. Our life is hid with Christ in God.
Then, there is something else to correspond with this. There is another deposit. Christ commits something to us, something which we are to keep and care for and use, bringing it home and restoring it to Him at last unblemished, unwasted. In one of Paul's letters to Timothy we have an illustration: "What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us." 2 Timothy 1:13-14. Timothy was a young minister; and Paul, who was his spiritual father, and had taught him the truths of the gospel, is exhorting him to be careful and faithful in his holy trust. The preacher's work is very sacred. What if he should not deliver his message correctly?
In transmitting a telegraphic dispatch, the operator made a mistake, and left out just one little word. But the omission of that one word, changed the sense of the whole message. A large business transaction was involved, and great financial loss resulted. The company transmitting the telegram, was held responsible for the consequences of the mistake.
The preacher stands between God and human souls. If in delivering God's message, he makes mistakes, leaving out words, orinserting words of his own, or putting the emphasis in the wrong place, thus changing the meaning of the message, who can tell what the consequences may be? It is of vital importance that the preacher should hold the pattern of sound words which he has received.
An edition of the Bible was once printed; and when it was ready to be distributed it was discovered that the word "not" had been left out of one of the Ten Commandments. All the printed copies had to be destroyed.
Like care has not been exercised always by those who have undertaken to interpret the Words of God to man. Sometimes they have left out words, or added words, not giving their message as God delivered it to them!
People hang on the preacher's utterance to learn how to live, so as not to fail of eternal life. But suppose that the teaching is wrong—what will the consequences be? The minister's half hour on Sunday before a listening people—is a holy time. Not a moment of it should ever be wasted. Not a word should ever be spoken which is not after the pattern of sound words which God has given. A wrong interpretation, may start a soul on a course of fatal error!
A Christian woman has told how all her life has been over-shadowed by the effect of the preaching which she heard in her girlhood. Only the sterner aspects of truth were preached—God's justice and wrath. So she was made to dread God! His name meant terror to her! No thought of love, found a place in the conception of the Deity which the preaching of those early years left on her mind. Later, the truth of God's Fatherhood, with all that fatherhood, interpreted by the life, teachings, and death of Jesus Christ, means—was brought to her. But the early teaching had so wrought itself into the very fibre of her life, into all her thoughts, feelings, and motives—that its effect never has been altogether neutralized. Her life still suffers—from the mistaken teachings of her girlhood years!
Countless lives have been hurt or marred—by unfaithful or mistaken handling of God's Word—in those who were truth's ordained guardians!
The teacher of the young comes under the same responsibility.
The writer of books, to whom the gift of composition is entrusted, is charged with a sacred duty in this regard. There is no distinction of moral and secular, in the matter of authorship. It is just as important that the novelist, the romancer, and the poet shall follow the pattern of sound words—as that the writer of books of devotion or religious instruction shall do it. This puts a most serious responsibility upon everyone who writes—what people will read. Many a popular story has carried in its pages perversions of truth, misinterpretations, errors, insidious scoffs or sneers, which have marred life and wrecked destinies!
It is a serious thing to give a traveler who asks the way—a careless or mistaken direction by which he is led out of his course, perhaps to his own great loss or disadvantage. It is a serious thing to give unwise advice to a young person, or to anyone who is seeking guidance in perplexity. Wrong advice has wrecked many a destiny! We cannot too carefully weigh our speech—when we are speaking words which may influence or shape the lives of others, or determine the course they shall take!
All our influence over others is included in the deposit committed to us. Every person has his influence. God puts into the hands of each one of us, something which belongs to Him, which we are to carry through this world for Him, and bring at last to His feet. When a little child is laid in a young mother's arms, something of God's work which no other one can do, becomes hers. She is charged to guard the precious life in its journey across this world, and to lead it safely home to heaven. Her keeping includes far more than the child's body. Its whole being is entrusted to her—that she may develop beauty and strength in its immortal soul; that she may train the life for its eternal mission, and develop in it all its possibilities of ability and usefulness.
This work requires the best that is in the mother. She must teach her child the truth of God. In the ancient Jewish law—the greatest stress was laid upon home instruction. Parents were commanded to teach the Words of God continually to their children, until their very souls were saturated with the spirit of the holy precepts. Then, there was but one book—now there are many; but the duty of home instruction remains. No book should be permitted in the hands of children, which would bring to them anything that is not consistent with the Word of God. The mother should read the book before her child reads it, since she is set to hold for it the pattern of sound words in faith and love.
The home where children are growing up—should be made as beautiful, as sweet, as pure, as full of love and gentleness and all holy inspirations, as it is possible to make any spot in this world! The good thing committed to the mother—she is required toguard through the Holy Spirit. She cannot do her sacred work alone—without Divine help; she needs the help of God continually, and must live near the heart of Christ—if she would be fitted for her holy ministry.
The same is true of all influence. It is part of the deposit which the Master has made with us, something which we are to cherish and guard most sacredly, and use to its last particle for the betteringsweetening, and enriching of other lives!
A godly man on his last day wrote: "I die tonight; but the members of my own family and of my own circle of acquaintance will never be again as if I had not known them. My influence upon them for evil or for good—will be perpetuated in them—and through them to others, modifying distant generations! My influence will live for evermore, enduring as the waters of the deep, with countless changes, a power throughout all ages!" Such a trust as this—we must use with holy reverence.
This lesson has its bearing also upon friendship. When a man takes a new friend into his life—he has received a new depositfrom Christ. A good thing has been committed unto him, and he is bidden to guard it. Many people believe in guardian angels—that one of these heavenly ministers is appointed to attend each life from infancy to the grave. The thought is very beautiful, and it may be that such guardianship is assigned to each Christian in his passage through this world of danger. But there are alsohuman angels set to guard our steps on the earth. When a new friend comes into our life—we are ordained to a guardianship which is very sacred.
Perhaps we are not apt to think of the responsibility of being a friend. We find pleasure in friendship; and we are apt to welcome eagerly, those who come to us with trust and regard, not thinking what we owe to them, or must do for them, if we accept their confidence. We find cheer, inspiration, stimulation, and help in congenial companionship. Our friends meet our needs, satisfy our cravings, do us good. But we do not always think of the other side—what we are to them. The essential thing is not to havefriends—but to be a friend; not to receive—but to give; not what we get—but what we give.
We are seriously concerned, therefore, with the question: What kind of guardian angel are we to be—to the person whose life God has committed to us in friendship? We must bring our charge back to God, not only unblemished and unhurt—but also enriched and helped in every possible way. We dare not take a life into our hands—unless our hands are clean! What if we should put a stain upon the trusting soul—instead of a touch of beauty? What if we should guide the feet into wrong paths, paths leading to ruin? What if our influence should be hurtful—instead of helpful?
It is our responsibility, as far as it lies in us—to keep our friend from falling, and to present him faultless before the presence of God's glory. We can do this with joy—only by being faithful in every thought, word, motive, and influence. "That good thing which was committed unto you—guard through the Holy Spirit." We are fit to be a friend—only when our own life is under the power of the Divine Spirit!

The Birth of Jesus Through Joseph's Eyes

The Birth of Jesus through Joseph's Eyes

by R.C. Sproul

When we celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmastime, our attention is most often given to Luke’s account, because it gives us so much information. It tells us of the annunciation of the angel Gabriel to the peasant girl Mary. It includes the story of the shepherds as well as the infancy hymns that are sung by Zacharias and by others during that time. Matthew’s version is much briefer.
We notice at the outset that Matthew gives his account from the viewpoint of Joseph, whereas Luke tells his account from the viewpoint of Mary. Luke assures us that what he wrote in his Gospel was well researched from eyewitnesses, and tradition affirms that Luke got much of his information from Mary herself. Of course, when Matthew wrote his Gospel he had no opportunity to interview Joseph.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows (Matthew1:18). This opening assertion is rich in content, as brief as it is. The word used here for the birth of Jesus isgennesis. Our word genesis comes from the Greek ginomai, which means “to be, to become, or happen.” Matthew is asserting that this is how Jesus came to be, which, as we noted in the last chapter, places the birth of Jesus within the framework of history rather than mythology.

The Betrothal of Mary and Joseph
After his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18). This takes place after betrothal and prior to marriage. In our society, a betrothal is considered to be an engagement between two people who intend to become married at a certain time, yet there are countless occasions in which engagements are broken and the marriage never comes to pass. Among the Jews in Jesus’ day, however, a betrothal was far more serious. It was an unbreakable pledge customarily undertaken one year before the wedding, and it carried almost the weight of marriage itself; it was so close that it required virtually a writ of divorce to end it.

Following betrothal the bride remained under the roof of her parents. She would not move into the home of her husband until after the actual marriage. Therefore, it was serious when a betrothed woman was discovered to be with child; the implications of such a pregnancy were enormous in Jewish society and could, indeed, result in execution of the woman who violated her betrothal by becoming pregnant. Yet we are told here in Matthew that before Mary came together with Joseph, “she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.” The father of this child in Mary’s womb was not some illicit lover, nor was it Joseph; the paternity was accomplished through the supernatural activity of the Holy Spirit. In the Apostles’ Creed we recite, “Jesus Christ . . . was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary . . .” Those two miraculous aspects—His conception and His birth—were integral to the faith of the Christian church of the early centuries. Jesus’ conception was extraordinary, not natural but supernatural, accomplished by the divine work of the Spirit, and as a result a baby born to a virgin.

Perhaps no assertion of biblical Christianity fell under greater attack by nineteenth-century liberalism than the account of the virgin birth. For some reason more attention was given to that than to the resurrection. Because the story is so blatantly supernatural, it became a stumbling block to those who tried to reduce the essence of the Christian faith to all that can be accomplished through natural humanity.

When Mary’s pregnancy was discovered, Joseph, being a just man—one who was also kind and gave detailed attention to the observance of the law of God, not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly (Matthew 1:19). He was not willing to call down the wrath of the courts upon his betrothed, and he decided to deal with it from a spirit of compassion. After he thought it over deeply and carefully, he decided to divorce her or put her away in a private manner, so as to save his betrothed from total public humiliation.

While he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David” (Matthew 1:20). The New Testament makes so much out of the fact that Jesus is the Son of David that it’s almost amazing to find Joseph being given that same title, but this is also important for the lineage of Jesus. For Jesus to be a Son of David in Jewish categories, legally His father also had to be a son of David. That is why the angel gives this honorific title to Joseph when he addresses him, saying, Do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20). This is the second time in this brief narrative that the conception of Christ in the womb of Mary is attributed to the work of the Holy Spirit.

In Luke’s version, when the angel Gabriel told Mary that she has conceived the child and will bring forth a baby, she was stunned and said, “How can this be since I know not a man?” (Luke 1:34). The angel replied, “With God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:35).

Then Gabriel explained to Mary how the birth would take place. The Holy Spirit would overshadow her so that the child would be born as a result of this supernatural work. Luke uses the same language that is used at the dawn of creation: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, and the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the earth” (Genesis 1:1), and then we are told that the Holy Spirit came and hovered over the waters, and God said, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3). In the act of creation, the Spirit is moving on the face of the deep, and out of the nothingness of that darkness God, through the power of His Spirit, brings forth the whole of creation.

From the biblical perspective, the genesis of life in the first place was through the power of the Spirit of life, of the Spirit of God. Gabriel was declaring to Mary that same power by which the universe was made; that same power that brought life out of the darkness originally is the power that will overshadow her womb and produce a son. God doesn’t need a human father to bring this to pass.

The Authority to Name

So do not be afraid, Joseph, to take Mary as your wife. She will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). It was the privilege of Jewish parents to name their children. The very first enterprise given to humanity in the garden was the scientific task of taxonomy, that is, the task of naming the animals, and in that task of naming, the superior names the subordinate. God gave to Adam and Eve the responsibility and authority to name everything in the animal kingdom. Yet throughout the Old Testament, when a child was born into specific historical and redemptive purposes, God took away the privilege from the parent and named the child himself, indicating that the child belonged to Him.

That is what happened with Zacharias in the birth of John the Baptist. God told Zacharias what to name his son (Luke 1:13). The same thing happens here in Matthew. The Lord is saying to Joseph, “You are not going to choose a name for this boy. You will name Him what I tell you to name Him, because ultimately He is my Son, and you shall call his name Jesus.” The etymology behind that name is “Jehovah saves.” Name Him Jesus “for He will save His people from their sins.”

The idea of salvation in the Bible in general means some kind of rescue from a threat of destruction or calamity, and the highest, ultimate sense of salvation is rescue from the worst of all possible calamities. The worst calamity that could ever befall human beings is to fall under the judgment of God for their sin. That is the calamity that awaits every person who does not rush to Christ for salvation. However, the baby is called “Jesus” because He is a savior, and He will save His people from the consequences of their sins.

The Virgin Birth
So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet saying, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us” (Matthew 1:22-23). This verse, in which Matthew is quoting Isaiah, was sharply attacked by the critics of the nineteenth century. In the Jewish language there are two words that can be used to describe a virgin. The most precise and technical word is not the one that Isaiah chose. Rather, Isaiah chose the other word, which can be translated “young woman” or, more appropriately, “maiden,” which presumes virginity but doesn’t necessitate it. The critics point to that and say that Isaiah wasn’t speaking of a virgin but saying only that a young woman, a maiden, would conceive. Therefore, the critics say, the Bible does not teach a virgin birth. That’s what we call the exegesis of despair, because if you just give a cursory look at the context of this text, there is no doubt that Matthew is teaching that Jesus was born from the womb of a woman who had never been with a man—a virgin.

Isaiah said, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14), but here in Matthew the angel says they will call His name “Jesus.” Those names are not the same, and they do not mean the same thing. Isaiah does not tell us why they will call Him “Immanuel.” The term Immanuel describes what Christ does. It describes the event of incarnation. He will be called Immanuel because He will be the incarnate presence of God with us, but His proper Jewish name will be Jesus, because “He will save his people from their sins.”

So Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus(Matthew 1:24-25). This reflects not only the obedience and submission of Joseph to what the angel had directed him to do but also that Joseph fully embraces Jesus as his son and fulfills the legal requirements of the genealogy that we examined in the last chapter. Joseph did this even though the child’s name was not selected by him but by the angel. In the ultimate sense, Jesus was named by God, who is His ultimate Father. In the proximate sense, Jesus was named by Joseph, who was given the unspeakable privilege of being the Lord Jesus Christ’s earthly father.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Holy Spirit - Holy Way

"All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies" Psalm 25:10).

The third point is: Let's walk in righteousness. The grace of God that bringeth salvation also teaches the heart that we should deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world.

There you have the three dimensions of life. Soberly - that is me. Righteously - that is my fellow man. Godly - that is God.

Let us not make the mistake of thinking we can be spiritual and not be good. Let's not make the mistake of thinking we can walk with the Holy Spirit and go a wrong or a dirty or an unrighteous way, for how can two walk together except they be agreed?

He is the Holy Spirit, and if I walk an unholy way, how can I fellowship with Him?

No matter how men deny and resist, the Bible teaches that the purification of the heart is the work of God. John states that it is while "we walk in the light," having fellowship one with another," that then "the blood of Jesus Christ... cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).

~A. W. Tozer~


Decorations in the Sanctuary

"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me" (Psalm 139:23-24)

The fourth is: Make your thoughts a clean sanctuary. To God, our thoughts are things. Our thoughts are the decorations inside the sanctuary where we live. If our thoughts are purified by the blood of Christ, we are living in a clean room no matter if we are wearing overalls covered with grease.

Your thoughts pretty much decide the mood and weather and climate inside your heart, and God considers your thoughts as part of you.

Thoughts of peace, thoughts of pity, thoughts of mercy, thoughts of kindness, thoughts of charity, thoughts of God, thoughts of the Son of God - these are pure things, good things, and high things.

Therefore, if you would cultivate the Spirit's acquaintance, you must get hold of your thoughts and not allow your mind to be a wilderness in which every kind of unclean beast roams and bird flies. You must have a clean heart.

The evil thought is the forerunner of the devil; for satan knows that if a Christian will allow the evil thought he will in time allow the originator of the temptation to come in.

~A. W. Tozer~



(Frank Hall)

"Oh that I knew where I might find HIM!" Job 23:3

Job's cattle were taken from him. 
His children were all killed. 
His flesh was covered with terrible boils. 
His wife treated him as a stranger. 
Even young children despised him. 

But Job did not exclaim, "Oh that I knew where I might find my donkeys, oxen, and sheep! Oh that my wife would have compassion on me! Oh that my children were restored to my care!" Though every earthly support had been stripped from him, Job did not groan after the earthly things that he had lost. Job longed after one thing only, the one thing needful--HIM! 

"I miss my children and love my wife, but I can live without either. These boils are tormenting my flesh, but I'll manage. I will survive without my servants, my cattle, and the respect of my companions--but I can't survive without Him! Take what you will O Lord, but don't take Him! Oh that I knew where I might find Him!"

The Universal Answer
The answer to every trouble, every question, and every difficulty in life is exactly the same--HIM! He is . . .
  the Solution to every problem,
  the Key that unlocks every door,
  the Sun that illuminates our path, 
  the Light that dispels the darkness within,
  the Physician that heals our sin-sick, broken hearts,
  the Nurse that dresses the soldier's wounds in bandages of grace,
  the Bed of Rest for the heavy laden sinner,
  the Way of Escape for those who are tempted and tried. 

We bring upon ourselves needless misery and pain, when we lean on the arm of the flesh for support. We subject ourselves to unnecessary disappointment when we run to and fro seeking assistance from the helpless helpers of this world. 

Free salvation and almighty strength are in Him! 
Undying support and eternal satisfaction are in Him! 
Heavenly comfort and divine consolation, along with legions of other nameless blessings are all in Him! 

The answer to all of your problems, my troubled friend, is not within, but without! Do not run to family or friends for help--they are . . .
  wells without water,
  leaky cisterns,
  helpless helpers,
  and broken crutches. 
They may help you with financial trouble, but not with soul trouble. 

The solution to every problem is always the same--Him! Oh that you knew your need of Him!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

How To Cultivate the Spirit's Companionship

"Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" Amos 3:3)

Now this is what is known as a rhetorical question; it is equivalent to a positive declaration that two cannot walk together except they be agreed, and for two to walk together they must be in some sense one.

They also have to agree that they want to walk together, and they have to agree that it is to their advantage to travel together. I think you will see that it all adds up to this: For two to walk together voluntarily they must be, in some sense, one.

I am talking now about how we can cultivate the Spirit's fellowship, how we can walk with Him day by day and hour by hour. I am going to give you a few little pointers to help you into a better life.

Point one is that the Holy Spirit is a living Person. He is the third Person of the Trinity. He is Himself God, and as a Person, He can be cultivated; He can be wooed and cultivated the same as any person can be.

No true Christian can be habitually more engaged in the service of the world and of sin, than in the service of God. His obedience, though not perfect, is habitual.

~A. W. Tozer~


Jesus Must Be Glorified

"That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 15:6)

The second point is: Be engrossed with Jesus Christ. Honor Him. John said: "But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Spirit was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:39).

I ask you to note that the Spirit was given when Jesus was glorified. Now that is a principle. Remember... He came and spread Himself out as a flood upon the people because Jesus was glorified. He established a principle, and He will never, never flood the life of any man except the man in whom Jesus is glorified.

Therefore, if you dedicate yourself to the glory of Jesus, the Holy Spirit will become the aggressor and will seek to know you and raise you and illumine you and fill and bless you.

To glorify Jesus is the business of the Church, and to glorify Jesus is the work of the Holy Spirit.

It is no task to the Christian to obey the commandments of God. The glory of God is the great end of his being.

~A. W. Tozer~

The Power Within

The Power Within

God's Spirit works in every believer. He does not limit Himself to pastors and missionaries. If you've received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, then residing within you is the same great power that raised Christ from the dead (Rom 8:11) The Holy Spirit pours His energy into creating godly character in all who follow the Lord.

The fruit of the Spirit is so named because it is the character and conduct that the Holy Spirit produces in believers. These are qualities that we can't generate consistently on our own. The most powerful message we can give isn't a testimony or sermon; it is the life we live when the pressure is on, temptation is tremendous, or we are buried under an avalanche of problems.

What the world most needs to see in this modern culture is godly families loving one another, business people working with integrity and frugality, and young men and women who choose moral purity. In a word, the world needs to be exposed to believers who are obedient.

By showing peace instead of anxiety or practicing patience rather than speaking a sharp word, a Christian bears witness to the beauty of the gospel. We attract unbelievers to Christ through our words and deeds. They may turn down a doctrine, but they cannot ignore a righteous life.

The strongest gospel message does not come from a pulpit. The most powerful witness for Jesus Christ where you work, where you live, and where you relax is you. Submit to the Holy Spirit's work, and He will produce a great harvest of spiritual fruit in your life. 

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Saturday, January 16, 2016

A Preliminary to Daybreak

"The Spirit and the bride say, Come ... Whosoever will let him take the water of life freely" (Revelation 22:17)

Maybe you feel in your heart that you just can't go on as you are, that the level of spirituality to which you know yourself called is way beyond you. If you feel that there is something that you must have or your heart will never be satisfied, that there are levels of spirituality, mystic deeps and heights of spiritual communion, purity and power that you have never known, that there is fruit which you know you should bear and do not, victory which you know you should have and have not - I would say, "Come on," because God has something for you.

There is a spiritual loneliness, an inner aloneness, an inner place where God brings the seeker, where he is as lonely as if there were not another member of the Church anywhere in the world.

Ah, when you come there, there is a darkness of mind, an emptiness of heart, a loneliness of soul, but it is preliminary to the daybreak. O God, bring us, somehow, to the daybreak!

When the renewal of the Spirit of God comes to your life there may be only one term to describe it - exploding love.

~A. W. Tozer~


How To Receive the Holy Spirit

"How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?" (Luke 11:13)

Here is how to receive the Holy Spirit. First, present your body to Him (Romans 12:1-2). God can't fill what He can't have. Are you ready to present your mind, your personality, your spirit, your love, your ambitions, your all? That is the first thing.

Now the second thing is to "ask" (Luke 11:9-11). He could give the Holy Spirit without our asking, but He chooses to have us ask. "Ask of me, and I will give thee" is always God's order; so why not ask?

Acts 5:32 tells us the third thing to do. God gives the Holy Spirit to them that obey Him. Are you ready to do what you are asked to do... to live by the Scriptures as you understand them? Simple, but revolutionary.

The next thing is, have faith (Galatians 3:2). We receive Him by faith as we receive the Lord in salvation by faith. He comes as a gift of God to us in power.

The power to sin is one thing, the promises to do so is another. Sanctification takes out the latter, but leaves the former, which is an attribute or necessity in a free moral agent.

~A. W. Tozer~

The Great Idol!

The great idol!

(George Everard, "Backwards or Forwards--Which?")

"Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye. But Ruth clung tightly to Naomi." Ruth 1:14 

If you are faithful, if you live godly in Christ Jesus--you will find that the reproach of the cross has not yet ceased. In some shape or other, you will have to bear this burden for Him, who bore the terrible burden of your sin.

Orpah was unwilling to give up the idols of Moab--Baal, Ashtareth, and the like. She preferred them, to the thrice holy Jehovah whom Naomi worshiped. 

With the professor now, as with Orpah then, it is no easy thing to give up the idols which hitherto have reigned in the heart. Bear in mind that . . .
  whatever you love best, 
  whatever eclipses the Sun of Righteousness in your soul,
  whatever rules on the throne of the inner man
--that is your idol, that is your God!

With Lot's wife, it was the society of Sodom.
With Balaam, it was Balak's silver and gold.
With the young ruler, it was his "great possessions." 
With Demas, it was "this present evil world."

With you it may be one or other of these, or it may be something widely different. It may be . . . 
  a friend or a relation,
  success in a lawful calling, 
  the comfort of your own happy fireside, 
  the praise of man, or 
  some of the varied pleasures which the world offers. 

But there is one idol more hard to part with than all these--I mean the great idol SELF! Self, in its thousand shapes, is ever claiming the first place in our hearts. Self-love, self-will, self-wisdom, self-importance, self-righteousness--all these are not easily cast out, and rise again and again to re-assert their power!

Be assured, my reader, that if any of these are uppermost, the day will most likely come that you will very plainly renounce that Savior whom you profess to have chosen. Or if you should carry the name of Christian even to the end--yet you are not Christ's. He reckons you not one of His. You have not chosen that good part which can never be taken from you. He has said, "Whoever does not forsake all that he has--he cannot be My disciple." Luke 14:33. That is, unless Christ is so preeminent in your affections, that you are willing to forsake all, even life itself, when it comes into competition with Him--you cannot be numbered among those who follow Him.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Best Friend!

The Best Friend!

J.C. Ryle

"This is my Friend!" Song of Solomon 4:16

friend is one of the greatest blessings on earth. Tell me not of money — love is better than gold; sympathy is better than lands. He is the poor man — who has no friends!
This world is full of sorrow — because it is full of sin. It is a dark place. It is a lonely place. It is a disappointing place. The brightest sunbeam in it, is a friend. Friendship halves our troubles — and doubles our joys!
A real friend is scarce and rare. There are many who will eat, and drink, and laugh with us in the sunshine of prosperity. There are few who will stand by us in thedays of darkness — few who will love us when we are sick, helpless, and poor — few, above all, who will care for our souls!
Does any reader of this paper want a real friend? I write to recommend one to your notice this day. I know of One "who sticks closer than a brother!" (Proverbs 18:24.) I know of One who is ready to be your friend for time and for eternity, if you will receive Him. Hear me, while I try to tell you something about Him.
The friend I want you to know is Jesus Christ. Happy is that family in which Christ has the foremost place! Happy is that person whose chief friend is Christ!
I. Do we want a friend in NEED? Such a friend is the Lord Jesus Christ!
Man is the neediest creature on God's earth, because he is a sinner. There is no need as great as that of sinners: poverty, hunger, thirst, cold, sickness — all are nothing in comparison. Sinners need pardon — and they are utterly unable to provide it for themselves; they need deliverance from a guilty conscience and thefear of death — and they have no power of their own to obtain it. This need, the Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to relieve. "He came into the world to save sinners!" (1 Tim. 1:15.)
We are all by nature, poor dying creatures. From the king on his throne, to the pauper in the workhouse — we are all sick of a mortal disease of soul. Whether weknow it or not, whether we feel it or not — we are all dying daily. The plague of sin is in our blood. We cannot cure ourselves — we are hourly getting worse and worse! All this, the Lord Jesus undertook to remedy. He came into the world to bring in health and cure; He came to deliver us "from the second death;" He came "to abolish death, and bring life and immortality to light through the Gospel." (Jeremiah 33:6; Rev. 2:11; 2 Tim. 1:10.)
We are all by nature imprisoned debtors. We owed our God millions — and had nothing to pay. We were wretched bankrupts, without hope of freeing ourselves. We could never have freed ourselves from our load of liabilities, and were daily getting more deeply indebted. All this the Lord Jesus saw, and undertook to remedy. He engaged to "ransom and redeem us." He came to "proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound." "He came to redeem us from the curse of the law." (Hos. 13:14; Isaiah 41:1; Galatians 3:13.)
We were all by nature shipwrecked and cast away. We could never have reached the harbor of everlasting life. We were sinking in the midst of the waves — hopeless, helpless, and powerless; tied and bound by the chain of our sins, foundering under the burden of our own guilt, and likely to become a prey to the devil. All this the Lord Jesus saw and undertook to remedy. He came down from Heaven to be our "mighty helper." He came to "seek and to save those who are lost;" and to "deliver us from going down into the pit." (Psalm 89:19; Luke 19:10; Job 33:24.)
Could we have been saved without the Lord Jesus Christ coming down from Heaven? It would have been utterly impossible. The wisest men of Egypt, and Greece, and Rome never found out the way to peace with God. Without the friendship of Christ — we would all have been lost for evermore in Hell.
Was the Lord Jesus Christ obliged to come down to save us? Oh, no! no! It was His own free love, mercy, and pity — which brought Him down. He came unsought and unasked — because He was gracious.
Let us think on these things. Search all history from the beginning of the world — look around the whole circle of those you know and love — you never heard of such friendship among men. There never was such a real friend in need as Jesus Christ!
II. Do you want a friend in DEED? Such a friend is the Lord Jesus Christ.
The true extent of a man's friendship must be measured by his deeds. Tell me not what he says, and feels, and wishes; tell me not of his words and letters — tell me rather what he does"A friend is measured by what he does."
The doings of the Lord Jesus Christ for man are the grand proof of His friendly feeling towards him. Never were there such acts of kindness and self-denial — as those which He has performed on our behalf. He has not loved us in word only — but in deed.
For our sakes, He took our nature upon Him, and was born of a woman. He who was very God, and equal with the Father, laid aside His glory for a season, and took upon Him flesh and blood like our own. The almighty Creator of all things — became a little babe like any of us, and experienced all our bodily weaknesses and infirmities, sin only excepted. "Though He was rich — He became poor; that we through His poverty — might be rich." (2 Corinthians 8:9.)
For our sakes, He lived thirty-three years in this evil world, despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. Though He was King of kings — He had nowhere to lay His head; though He was Lord of lords — He was often weary, and hungry, and thirsty, and poor. "He took on Him the form of a servant, and humbled Himself." (Philippians 3:7, 8.)
For our sakes, He suffered the most painful of all deaths, even the death of the cross! Though innocent, and without fault, He allowed Himself to be condemned, and found guilty. He who was the Prince of Life — was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and poured out His soul unto death. He "died for us." (1 Thessalonians 5:10.)
Was He obliged to do this? Oh, no! He might have summoned to His help, more than twelve legions of angels, and scattered His enemies with a word. He sufferedvoluntarily and of His own free will, to make atonement for our sins. He knew that nothing but the sacrifice of His body and blood — could ever make peace between sinful man and a holy God. He laid down His life — to pay the price of our redemption. He died — that we might live. He suffered — that we might reign. He bore shame — that we might receive glory. "He suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us — so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (1 Peter 3:18; 2 Corinthians 5:21.)
Such friendship as this surpasses man's understanding. Friends who would die for those who love them — we may have heard of sometimes. But who can find a man who would lay down his life for those that hate him? Yet this is what Jesus has done for us. "Christ died for the ungodly. God commends His love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners — Christ died for us. When we were God's enemies — we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son!" (Romans 5:6, 8, 10.)
Ask all the tribes of mankind, from one end of the world to the other — and you will nowhere hear of a deed like this! None was ever so high and stooped down solow — as Jesus the Son of God! None ever gave so costly a proof of his friendship! None ever paid so much and endured so much to do good to others. Never was there such a friend in deed as Jesus Christ!
III. Do we want a MIGHTY and POWERFUL friend? Such a friend is Jesus Christ.
Power to help, is that which few possess in this world. Many have desire enough to do good to others — but no power. They feel for the sorrows of others, and would gladly relieve them if they could; they can weep with their friends in affliction — but are unable to take their grief away. But though man is weak — Christis strong; though the best of our earthly friends is feeble — Christ is almighty! "All power is given unto Him in Heaven and earth." (Matthew 28:18.) No one can do so much for those whom He befriends, as Jesus Christ. Others can befriend their bodies a little — He can befriend both body and soul. Others can do a little for them in time — He can be a friend both for time and eternity!
(a) He is able to pardon and save the very chief of sinners. He can deliver the most guilty conscience from all its burdens, and give it perfect peace with God. He can wash away the vilest stains of wickedness, and make a man whiter than snow in the sight of God. He can clothe a poor weak child of Adam in everlasting righteousness, and give him a title to Heaven that can never be overthrown. In a word, He can give any one of us peace, hope, forgiveness, and reconciliation with God — if we will only trust in Him. "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin!" (1 John 1:7.)
(b) He is able to convert the hardest of hearts, and create in man a new spirit. He can take the most thoughtless and ungodly people, and give them another mind by the Holy Spirit whom He puts in them. He can cause old things to pass away, and all things to become new. He can make them love the things which they once hated — and hate the things which they once loved. "He can give them power to become the sons of God." "If any man is in Christ — he is a new creature." (John 1:12; 2 Corinthians 5:17.)
(c) He is able to preserve to the end all who believe in Him, and become His disciples. He can give them grace to overcome the world, the flesh and the devil, and fight a good fight until the last. He can . . .
lead them on safely in spite of every temptation,
carry them home through a thousand dangers, and
keep them faithful, though they stand alone and have none to help them. "He is able to save them to the uttermost, all who come unto God by Him." (Hebrews 7:25.)
(d) He is able to give those who love Him the best of gifts. He can give them in this life — inward comforts, which money can never buy — peace in poverty, joy in sorrow, patience in suffering. He can give them in death — bright hopes, which enable them to walk through the dark valley without fear. He can give themafter death — an unfading crown of glory, and a reward compared to which, the Queen of England has nothing to bestow.
This is power indeed! This is true greatness! This is real strength!
Go and look at the poor Hindu idolater, seeking peace in vain by afflicting his body; and, after fifty years of self-imposed suffering, unable to find it.
Go and look at the benighted Romanist, giving money to his priest to pray for his soul — and yet dying without comfort.
Go and look at rich men, spending thousands in search of happiness — and yet always discontented and unhappy.
Then turn to Jesus, and think what He can do, and is daily doing for all who trust Him. Think how He . . .
heals all the broken-hearted,
comforts all the sick,
cheers all the poor that trust in Him,
and supplies all their daily need.
The fear of man is strong,
the opposition of this evil world is mighty,
the lusts of the flesh rage horribly,
the fear of death is terrible,
the devil is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour
 — but Jesus is stronger than them all, Jesus can make us conquerors over all these foes!
And then say whether there was ever was so mighty a friend as Jesus Christ.
IV. Do we want a LOVING and affectionate friend? Such a friend is Jesus Christ.
Kindness is the very essence of true friendship. Money and advice and help lose half their grace, if not given in a loving manner. What kind of love is that of the Lord Jesus toward man? It is called, "A love that surpasses knowledge." (Ephesians 3:19.)
Love shines forth in His reception of sinners. He refuses none who come to Him for salvation, however unworthy they may be. Though their lives may have been most wicked, though their sins may be more in number than the stars of Heaven — the Lord Jesus is ready to receive them, and give them pardon and peace! There is no end to His compassion! There are no bounds to His pity! He is not ashamed to befriend those whom the world casts off as hopeless. There are none too bad, too filthy, and too much diseased with sin — to be admitted into His home! He is willing to be the friend of any sinner. He has kindness and mercy and healing medicine for all. He has long proclaimed this to be His rule: "Whoever comes unto Me — I will never cast out." (John 6:37.)
Love shines forth in His dealings with sinners, after they have believed in Him and become His friends. He is very patient with them, though their conduct is often very trying and provoking. He is never tired of hearing their complaints — however often they may come to Him. He sympathizes deeply in all their sorrows. He knows what pain is — He is "acquainted with grief" (Is. 53:3.) In all their afflictions, He is afflicted. He never allows them to be tempted above what they are able to bear. He supplies them with daily grace for their daily conflict. Their poor services are acceptable to Him. He is as well pleased with them as a parent is with his child's endeavors to speak and walk. He has caused it to be written in His book, that "He takes pleasure in His people," and that "He takes pleasure in those who fear Him." (Psalm 147:11; 119:4.)
There is no love on earth that can even be named together with this! We love those in whom we see something that deserves our affection, or those who are our relatives — but the Lord Jesus loves sinners in whom there is no good thing. We love those from whom we get some return for our affection — but the Lord Jesus loves those who can do little or nothing for Him, compared to what He does for them. We love where we can give some reason for loving — but the great Friend of sinners draws His reasons out of His own everlasting compassion. His love is purely unselfish — purely free. Never, never was there so truly loving a friend as Jesus Christ.
V. Do we want a WISE prudent friend? Such a friend is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Man's friendship is sadly blind. He often injures those he loves by injudicious kindness. He often errs in the counsel he gives — he often leads his friends into trouble by bad advice, even when he means to help them. He sometimes keeps them back from the way of life, and entangles them in the vanities of the world, when they have well near escaped. The friendship of the Lord Jesus is not so — it always does us good, and never evil.
The Lord Jesus never spoils His friends by extravagant indulgence. He gives them everything that is really for their benefit. He withholds nothing from them that is really good. He requires them to take up their cross daily and follow Him. He bids them endure hardships as good soldiers. He calls on them to fight the good fight against the world, the flesh, and the devil. His people often dislike it at the time, and think it hard — but when they reach Heaven, they will see it was all well done.
The Lord Jesus makes no mistakes in managing His friends' affairs. He orders all their concerns with perfect wisdom — all things happen to them at the right time, and in the right way. He gives them . . .
as much of sickness — and as much of health,
as much of poverty — and as much of riches,
as much of sorrow — and as much of joy —
as He sees their souls require.
He leads them by the right way to bring them to the city of habitation. He mixes their bitterest cups like a wise physician, and takes care that they have not a drop too little — or too much.
His people often misunderstand His dealings — they are silly enough to imagine their course of life might have been better ordered. But in the resurrection-day, they will thank God that not their will — but Christ's will was done.
Look round the world and see the harm which people are continually getting from their friends. Mark how much more ready men are to encourage one another in worldliness and levity — than to provoke to love and good works. Think how often they meet together, not for the better — but for the worse; not to quicken one another's souls in the way to Heaven — but to confirm one another in the love of this present world. Alas, there are thousands who are wounded unexpectedly in the house of their friends!
And then turn to the great Friend of sinners, and see how different a thing is His friendship from that of man. Listen to Him as He walks by the way with His disciples — mark how He comforts, reproves, and exhorts with perfect wisdom. Observe how He times His visits to those He loves — as to Mary and Martha at Bethany. Hear how He converses, as He dines on the shore of the sea of Galilee: "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" (John 21:16.)
His company is always sanctifying.
His gifts are always for our soul's good.
His kindness is always wise.
His fellowship is always to edification.
One day with the Son of Man — is better than a thousand in the society of earthly friends! One hour spent in private communion with Him — is better than a year in kings' palaces. Never, never was there such a wise friend as Jesus Christ.
VI. Do we want a TRIED and PROVED friend? Such a friend is Jesus Christ.
Six thousand years have passed away since the Lord Jesus began His work of befriending mankind. During that long period of time, He has had many friends in this world. Millions on millions, unhappily, have refused His offers, and been miserably lost forever; but thousands on thousands have enjoyed the mighty privilege of His friendship and been saved. He has had great experience.
(a) He has had friends of every rank and station in life. Some of them were kings and rich men, like David, and Solomon, and Hezekiah, and Job. Some of them were very poor in this world, like the shepherds of Bethlehem, and James, and John, and Andrew. But they were all alike Christ's friends.
(b) He has had friends of every age that man can pass through. Some of them never knew Him until they were advanced in years, like Manasseh, and Zacchaeus, and probably the Ethiopian Eunuch. Some of them were His friends even from their earliest childhood, like Joseph, and Samuel, and Josiah, and Timothy. But they were all alike Christ's friends.
(c) He has had friends of every possible temperament and disposition. Some of them were simple plain men, like Isaac. Some of them were mighty in word and deed, like Moses. Some of them were fervent and warm-hearted, like Peter. Some of them were gentle and retiring spirits, like John. Some of them were active andstirring, like Martha. Some of them loved to sit quietly at His feet, like Mary. Some dwelt unknown among their own people, like the Shunamite. Some have gone everywhere and turned the world upside down, like Paul. But they were all alike Christ's friends.
(d) He has had friends of every condition in life. Some of them were married, and had sons and daughters, like Enoch. Some of them lived and died unmarried, like Daniel and John the Baptist. Some of them were often sick, like Lazarus and Epaphroditus. Some of them were strong to labor, like Persis, and Tryphena, and Tryphosa. Some of them were masters, like Abraham and Cornelius. Some of them were servants, like the saints in Nero's household. Some of them had bad servants, like Elisha. Some of them had bad masters like Obadiah. Some of them had bad wives and children, like David. But they were all alike Christ's friends.
(e) He has had friends of almost every nation, and people, and tongue. He has had friends in hot countries and in cold; friends among nations highly civilized, and friends among the simplest and rudest tribes. His book of life contains the names of Greeks and Romans, of Jews and Egyptians, of bond and of free. There are to be found on its lists . . .
reserved Englishmen and cautious Scotsmen,
impulsive Irishmen and fiery Welshmen,
volatile Frenchmen and dignified Spaniards,
refined Italians and solid Germans,
crude Africans and refined Hindus,
cultivated Chinese and half-savage New Zealanders.
But they were all alike Christ's friends!
All these have made trial of Christ's friendship, and proved it to be good. They all found nothing lacking when they began — they all found nothing lacking as they went on. No lack, no defect, no deficiency was ever found by any one of them, in Jesus Christ. Each found his own soul's needs fully supplied; each found every day, that in Christ there was enough and to spare. Never, never was there a friend so fully tried and proved as Jesus Christ.
VII. Last — but not least, do we want an UNFAILING friend? Such a friend is the Lord Jesus Christ.
The saddest part of all the good things of earth is their instability
make themselves wings and flee away;
and beauty are but for a few years; 
of body soon decays; 
and intellect are soon exhausted.
All is perishing.
All is fading.
All is passing away.
But there is one splendid exception to this general rule, and that is the friendship of Jesus Christ.
The Lord Jesus is a friend who never changes. There is no fickleness about Him. Those whom He loves — He loves unto the end. Husbands have been known to forsake their wives; parents have been known to cast off their children; human vows and promises of faithfulness have often been forgotten. Thousands have been neglected in their poverty and old age — who were honored by all when they were rich and young. But Christ never changed His feelings towards one of His friends. He is "the same yesterday, today, and forever." (Hebrews 13:8.)
The Lord Jesus never goes away from His friends. There is never a parting and good-bye between Him and His people. From the time that He makes His abode in the sinner's heart — He abides in it forever. The world is full of leave-takings and departures; death and the lapse of time break up the most united family; sons go forth to make their way in life; daughters are married, and leave their father's house forever. Scattering, scattering, scattering — is the yearly history of the happiest home. How many we have tearfully watched as they drove away from our doors, whose pleasant faces we have never seen again! How many we have sorrowfully followed to the grave — and then come back to a cold, silent, lonely, and blank fireside! But, thanks be to God, there is One who never leaves His friends! The Lord Jesus is He who has said, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5.)
The Lord Jesus goes with His friends wherever they go. There is no possible separation between Him and those whom He loves. There is no place or position on earth that can divide them from the great Friend of their souls. When the path of duty calls them far away from home — He is their companion. When they pass through the fire and water of fierce tribulation — He is with them. When they lie down on the bed of sickness — He stands by them and makes all their trouble work for good. When they go down the valley of the shadow of death, and friends and relatives stand still and can go no further — He goes down by their side. When they wake up in the unknown world of Paradise — they are still with Him. When they rise with a new body at the judgment day — they will not be alone. He will own them for His friends, and say, "They are mine! Deliver them and let them go free." He will make good His own words: "I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." (Matthew 28:20.)
Look around the world, and see how failure is written on all men's schemes. Count up the partings, and separations, and disappointments, and bereavements which have happened under your own knowledge. Think what a privilege it is that there is One at least who never fails, and in whom no one was ever disappointed! Never, never was there so unfailing a friend as Jesus Christ!
And now, allow me to conclude this paper with a few plain words of APPLICATION. I know not who you are or in what state your soul may be; but I am sure that the words I am about to say deserve your serious attention. Oh, that this paper may not find you heedless of spiritual things! Oh, that you may be able to give a few thoughts to Christ!
(1) Know then, for one thing, that I call upon you to seriously consider whether Christ is your Friend, and you are His.
There are thousands on thousands, I grieve to say, who are not Christ's friends. Baptized in His name, members of a Christian Church, attendants on His means of grace — all this they are, no doubt. But they are not Christ's friends.
Do they hate the sins which Jesus died to put away? No.
Do they love the Savior who came into the world to save them? No.
Do they care for the souls which were so precious in His sight? No.
Do they delight in the His Word? No.
Do they try to speak with the Friend of sinners in prayer? No.
Do they seek close fellowship with Him? No.
Oh, reader, is this your case? How is it with you? Are you or are you not, one of Christ's friends?
(2) Know, in the next place, that if you are not one of Christ's friends — then you are a poor miserable being.
I write this down deliberately. I do not say it without thought. I say that if Christ is not your friend — then you are a poor, miserable being.
You are in the midst of a failing, sorrowful world — and you have no real source of comfort, or refuge for a time of need. You are a dying creature — and you are not ready to die. You have sins — and they are not forgiven. You are going to be judged — and you are not prepared to meet God: you might be — but you refuse to use the one only Mediator and Advocate. You love the world better than Christ. You refuse the great Friend of sinners, and you have no friend in Heaven to plead your cause. Yes, it is sadly true! You are a poor, miserable being! It matters nothing what your income is — without Christ's friendship, you are very poor.
(3) Know, in the third place, that if you really want a friend — then Christ is willing to become your friend.
He has long wanted you to join His people, and He now invites you by my hand. He is ready to receive you, all unworthy as you may feel, and to write your name down in the list of His friends. He is ready to pardon all the past, to clothe you with righteousness, to give you His Spirit, to make you His own dear child. All He asks you to do, is to come to Him.
He bids you to come with all your sins; only acknowledging your vileness, and confessing that you are ashamed. Just as you are — waiting for nothing — unworthy of anything in yourself — Jesus bids you come and be His friend.
Oh, come and be wise! Come and be safe. Come and be happy. Come and be Christ's friend.
(4) Know, in the last place, that if Christ is your friend — then you have great privileges, and ought to walk worthy of them.
Seek every day to have closer communion with Him who is your Friend, and to know more of His grace and power. True Christianity is not merely the believing a certain set of dry theological propositions — it is to live in daily personal communication with an actual living person — Jesus the Son of God. "To me," said Paul, "to live is Christ." (Philippians 1:21.)
Seek every day to glorify your Lord and Savior in all your ways. "He who has a friend, should show himself friendly" (Proverbs 18:24), and no man surely is under such mighty obligations as the friend of Christ. Avoid everything which would grieve your Lord. Fight hard against besetting sins, against inconsistency, against backwardness to confess Him before men. Say to your soul, whenever you are tempted to that which is wrong, "Soul, soul — is this your kindness to your Friend?"
Think, above all, of the mercy which has been shown you, and learn to rejoice daily in your Friend! What though your body is bowed down with disease? What though your poverty and trials are very great? What though your earthly friends forsake you, and you are alone in the world? All this may be true; but if you are in Christ, then you have a Friend, a mighty Friend, a loving Friend, a wise Friend, a Friend that never fails. Oh, think, think much upon your friend! Yet in a little while, your Friend shall come to take you home, and you shall dwell with Him forever. Yet in a little while, you shall see as you have been seen, and know as you have been known. And then you shall hear assembled worlds confess, that he is the rich and happy man, who has had Christ for his friend!