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Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Work of the Ministry # 4

The Work of the Ministry # 4

The Fruit of His Travail

Reading: Isaiah 53:10, 11; Psalm 22:22-31

In this passage in Isaiah, we get those words concerning the suffering, the Cross, of our Lord Jesus - "When Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed"; then that is enlarged further - "He shall prolong His days"; and finally we read in the eleventh verse - "He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied". The question which arises from this tremendous passage, this tremendous statement, is - What, after all, is it that will satisfy the Lord as the fruit of what He has endured? There is no doubt about it that the cost has been tremendous. We have only to read Isaiah fifty-three: the whole of that experience is called "the travail of His soul". This is a vital matter - the question to what end, after, did He endure so much, why did He go through it all? Such suffering must have an adequate fruitage; there must be that which causes out of what the Lord went through to justify it. Here, for our great encouragement, we read, "He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied". There is an end when it will be glory, when the Lord will be satisfied.

But, while, as in every other matter of the Word of God, there is an ultimate realization, an eternal realization, there is also a present or a spiritual realization before the end comes. There is a great peril among Christians of relegating everything to heaven; but the point is that the battle is here, and there are many things that ought to be operating here. That is what the Church is here for - to be the demonstration of heavenly things that one day will be eternal, so that God is able to point to the Church and say, 'Look at them! It is happening now, they have glory now, there is glory in the Church now. Is all the Lord's satisfaction to be withheld until the end is reached? Is the Lord never to have anything here and now that delights His heart?Surely there ought to be that which here and now brings joy to His heart: so that He is able to look upon it and say, 'This is what I have been wanting'. He should even be able to look at us sometimes and say, "This is what I wanted'. The Lord wants to be satisfied "now". "He shall see... and be satisfied". And we need to be very exercised about this matter.

What is it that the Lord gave Himself for, that was so costly? What was the point of the terrific scene in Gethsemane? "Not My will, but Thine, be done" (Luke 22:42). Well, let us say it straight away - it was unto something very great: not unto something small or partial, but unto something very worthwhile. The Lord is never satisfied with half a thing. The Lord wants the full thing, and this raises the great issue of what is the full fruitage of redemption. There are some statements in the Word that tell us: "To this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord..." (Rom. 14:9). He did not die and rise again for partial possession, but that He might be Lord. Everything belongs to Him, His rightful place is Lord. Here we get an explanation of what it is that satisfies Him.

Satisfaction In A Seed

"He shall see His seed." Satisfaction, first of all, in a seed. Notice it says "His seed". In Psalm twenty-two which is again the travail of His soul because it is the psalm of the Cross, we find the same expression used - "a seed" (vs. 20). "A seed shall serve Him"; out of His travail, in other words, there will be a seed or a generation who shall serve Him. And earlier in that passage, we find that He uses those words - I will declare Thy name into My brethren" (vs. 22). In Hebrews two, where that passage is quoted, the Lord uses the words - for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren", but a little further on another Scripture is quoted which says, "I and the children whom God hath given Me" (vs. 13). "As the Father hath life in Himself, even so gave He to the Son also to have life in Himself" (John 5:26); and "the Son... giveth life to whom He will" (John 5:21).

There is a very great word used about the Son of God, particularly in John's writings - "the only begotten". "We beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father" (John 1:14). "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son (one reading says 'God only begotten')... He hath declared Him" (John 1:18). That word 'only begotten' means that He is the unique One in that He derives His life from God Himself. He is unique as the only One directly driving life from God. The eternal God is in the Son. "In him was life" (John 1:4).

But the amazing thing is that He has a seed and imparts His life to those who become joined to Him. He is the life-giving Son of God, and those who become partakers of His nature are His seed. They derive their life, their nature, from Him. The Lord is a fruit of  His travail has brought into being a seed. And then it says that He shall see that seed, and there are two things that we need to recognize about the seed.

Travail Unto Full Growth

First of all, that the impartation of the life of Him Who is the Only Begotten is not the end of the process - it is the beginning of it. He puts the seed in, in order that the seed may germinate and develop and come to fullness. A child is always intended to be a full-grown man or woman,and what obtains in nature is always an illustration of an eternal reality. We are not satisfied with an undeveloped human life. However small it is, so long as it is developing properly, we are happy; but when development ceases, and ceases for months or years, then it is a serious thing, the life is not moving. The Lord is not satisfied with His seen being merely imparted, though everything begins there.

Do not minimize the coming of the life of God into a human being. That is new birth, that is eternal life; and "they shall never perish". "There shall be joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth" (Luke 15:7). Praise the Lord for the millions who have been saved because there is life for a look at the crucified One. New birth is a glorious thing. But the Lord Himself wants something more than that. His own nature is now there as a seed, but He wants to see it. He wants to see the nature coming to development and to full fruition. We are stupid about spiritual things. If we were planting an orchard, would we be content to put in little plants that never grew, and they were supposed to be fruit trees? Would you bring your friends around and say, 'Look at my dear little fruit trees'? But with many of us it almost amounts to that. The thing has never come to life. The fruit of the Spirit is "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control" (Gal. 5:22). It is the nature of Christ being expressed. It is something that take a lot of developing; it is the formation of Christ. The Lord is satisfied when He sees Himself reflected, when He sees that He is now beginning to take shape in many sons.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 5)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Work of the Ministry # 3

The Work of the Ministry # 3

The Meaning of the Incarnation - The Answer to All Our Need, continued -

Every time we gather at His Table and partake of the symbols, we are entering into the meaning of that covenant love, as the seed of Abraham. What a mighty covenant is in that Blood! What a mighty covenant in that body of the Lord Jesus! We are made partakers of His flesh, of His bone, of His very life. This is covenant love. What assurance that should bring to us, what strength for progress - for if we have not that assurance and hope, how slow we are to go on; how difficult it is to maintain a going-on position and course. We may take a step forward - and then there enter in thoughts about ourselves, some accusation from our own hearts: the enemy comes because of some thing that is in us, and we find ourselves two steps backward. A little on, and then a rest, and then back where we were, because of uncertainty springing from the humanity that we are.

Jesus In Glory Our Confidence

The absolute strength of certainty to keep going on is in our faithhold on the Humanity that is in heaven. "We behold". You see, this letter eventually arrives there. There are all those who have run this race of faith, and they were weak men many of them. They are not the pick of the world's best in themselves. The story of their failures, and of being men of the passions with ourselves is not covered up by the Lord, it is fully exposed, but they have run the race. And then it says, "Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus" - "crowned with glory and honor": the guarantee that we will be there crowned with glory and honor through faith in Him. You can have as little faith in yourself as you like, perhaps the less the better, but do not stay there with your no faith in yourself. Your strength to go on is in looking off from yourself unto "Jesus... crowned with glory and honor". Does it convey something to you, that here is a man tempted and tried, as we have been, through the fires of antagonism and evil that were always seeking to scorch Him, to mar Him? He got through, He triumphed, "crowned with glory and honor". Did He do it for Himself? No, He did it for us, as us. Our strength to go on is in looking off.

The Explanation Of God's Ways With Us

And as for God's ways with us, His strange ways, His sometimes seemingly hard ways. What about understanding all these? There is the explanation - "crowned with glory and honor", "conformed to the image of His Son." We are going through the fires; we are being tried, tested, up to the hilt; we are really having a difficult time in the hands of God. But what is it doing? Well, sometimes it seems that the fires are just making manifest all that is bad in us, ads it comes to the surface. But look again into the crucible. That scum, that dross, is on the surface, it has come to the surface all right. But what is underneath? The gold is underneath. We see what is on the surface; it is the things that are seen that we take note of - but God is doing something deep down. It would not be for our good to know all that God is doing deep down. We would, in our poor humanity, at once become spiritually proud. The last thing for our good is that. But He is doing something deep down underneath. He is refining the gold, even if we are more conscious of the surface dross than of anything else. He is going to crown us with glory and honor, that we should be held in honor before God. That is a mystery, but we have to accept it.

Jesus has actually taken our human nature and has carried it through into the presence of God, and it is there through all testing and difficulty and adversity. It is exalted. Our humanity is already exalted in the presence of God to glory and honor, and He, being there, is the pledge that, whereas the presence of God would be our utter destruction, we are going to abide the presence of God without destruction. He is the pledge of that.

The Need For Objective Faith

I close with this. If you have lost it, if you are in danger of losing it, or if you have never yet adequately grasped it, lay hold on your great objective faith. You may have become so subjective in your faith, in your doctrine, that you are wholly occupied with what is inside yourself, and that is a devastating thing. You never have any encouragement or hope along that line.

May the Lord recover our balance between objective and subjective faith, and restore to us the full balance of this great fact, this glorious fact, without which all the subjective will be for our undoing. There is One in the glory Who, tempted in all points like as we, sin apart, took our humanity through the fires, far keener and more intense fires than we know anything about. He is there as us - the pledge that we are going to be there. To me it is wonderful. This is the Gospel, this is the substance, the essence, the heart of Christianity. The incarnation is the very core of Christianity. Oh yes, we are not going, the longer we live, to have a better opinion of ourselves, to begin to be able to congratulate ourselves. It is going to be worse and worse along that line, but the counter to it all is "Christ in you, the hope of glory" - "crowned with glory and honor."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4 - (The Fruit Of His Travail) 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Work of the Ministry # 2

The Work of the Ministry # 2

A Man In The Glory

Read: Hebrews 2:5-12

This portion of the Scriptures is a condensation of all that the Bible, and especially the New Testament, is about. It is a strange thing to say, yet it is quite true, that at this late hour in the New Testament dispensation our greatest need, as the people of God, is to know what we have come into, what Christ means, and what we as the Lord's people, are called unto.

The Need Of Assurance

That need has several aspects. You will, I am quite sure, agree that one aspect of our need is that of assurance, of confidence, of being settled, rooted, grounded with an unwavering hope. We all have need of being so confirmed in the faith, so established, that we are not easily shaken in our minds nor moved in our confidence. That need is present with us, and that need, I think, is going to be felt more and more, as things become increasingly difficult - the need for the Lord's people in this world to be established and fully assured. There is need of strength, real strength, among the Lord's people, deliverance from weakness, from feebleness, so that they can go on, make progress, and really grow, for where there is uncertainty, where there is weakness, then there will be slowness of progress, then there will be real limitation in spiritual development.

The Need Of Understanding

Further, there is the great need of understanding, especially understanding of God's ways and God's dealings with His people, to know why the Lord deals with them and with us as He does, to have the meaning of the Lord's ways and the Lord's works which are so strange and often so difficult for us to understand. These are aspects of the great need which we all feel.

The Meaning Of The Incarnation The Answer To All Our Need

This passage of Scripture, as I have said, is a condensed statement of that which goes to the very heart of that need. It brings us to the infinite wonder and mystery of the incarnation. If we could grasp the meaning of the incarnation, God manifest in the flesh, we should have an answer to all our questions, and all our many-sided need would be met.

Notice this twofold "not". "For NOT unto angels did He subject the world to come" (verse 5), and "verily NOT of angels doth He take hold" (verse 16), "but He taketh hold of the seed of Abraham", "Not unto angels", "not of angels". The first is not angels, but man. What is man? The second, not of angels, but of the seed of Abraham. Man -that is humanity; the seed of Abraham - that is covenant love, love in covenant. You look in your margin and you probably find a reference, taking you back to the Old Testament, about the seed of Abraham (2 Chron. 20:7; Isa. 41:8), and you find the immediate context is 'Abraham, the friend of God' - of the seed of Abraham, the friend of God - God's covenant love. That is the direction in which this wonderful mystery of the incarnation lies, in the direction of man, of humanity, and in the direction of man brought into the covenant love of God.

Here is the upshot, the issue, the grand climax of this whole paragraph is - "We behold...Jesus". Oh, the music of that Name - for we are permitted in the right connection to use that name by itself. I know the modern school drops all the other titles, speaks not of Jesus Christ or the Lord Jesus, but is always talking about 'Jesus', making Him one among many, though perhaps somewhat better than other men; and that of course is evil. But here and there in the New Testament we have this name used by itself, and rightly so. "We behold...Jesus...crowned with glory and honor". Jesus is the name of Him Who emptied Himself, of Him Who became Man, Who took our humanity, a body like our body, a soul like our souls. He took our manhood - He, Jesus,crowned with glory and honor - to bring glory and honor our humanity, our manhood. That is the heart of Christianity.

Consider our humanity: let us look at ourselves, take account of ourselves, what we are as human beings; these bodies, at best, at worst; these souls - an everlasting trouble. Yes, our humanity: what a thing it is! Those of us who have come into touch with the enlightening Spirit of God in any real way have nothing to say for our humanity. We would be more inclined to apologize for "being" at all. And He has taken hold of our humanity to bring it to the place where it is crowned with glory and honor. That is redemption. That is why the passage goes back to the very first "Thou didst set Him over the works of Thy hands." "Thou crownedst Him with glory and honor" - potentially declared. "Thou didst put all things in subjection under His feet." That was man's creational purpose, but he failed of it, missed it all, and became the humanity that we know him to be. And there came from heaven One Who took hold of that humanity, and took it through all its trials, all its temptations, all its pressures and its stresses, through all its opposition and its antagonisms, through all the full force that came to bear upon it for its destruction. He took that humanity through it all, perfected it, took it to glory - our humanity, your humanity and mine, this troublesome thing, and made it fit to abide the very presence of the infinitely holy and glorious God. That was indeed "bringing many sons unto glory".

The Bible is full of that in figure, in portrait - the union of the Divine with the human. You have it in the figure of the Cherubim, and in the figure of the Ark of the Testimony - the wood, the common wood of the desert, overlaid with the gold. You have it right through. God is testifying - for this is the ark of testimony - testifying that from glory He has laid hold on humanity and is going to bring it through into the Most Holy Place where it is to abide for ever. The last picture of the ark of the testimony is in that Holy Place in the Temple, when they drew out the staves. It is there for ever in the presence of God. Its journey has ended, it is crowned with glory and honor - Christ and you and I in union in the presence of God. I say, that is the heart of everything, and if you and I need, as I have said, assurance and confidence, remember that God has entered into covenant love with us to do this. Do we want anything to give us greater and deeper assurance and confidence and hope than this, that God has entered into covenant love?

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Work of the Ministry # 1

The Work of the Ministry # 1

The Need of the Hour - Specific Ministry

As we take account of the situation in the Church today we feel more and more deeply convinced that the greatest need of the hour is for men of vision and courage.

But we use the word "vision" in the specific sense in which it is used in the Bible and not in the general sense of enterprise. That is, what is needed above all else is men who have had a Divine illumination by the Holy Spirit in their own hearts as to God's purpose in this dispensation, and as to the particular Divine emphasis for the present hour.

There can be much enthusiasm and zeal put behind a more or less generally conceived idea of what needs to be done, with a resultant activity and movement. The opposite of this, and that which we are seeing to be so much more needed, is a burdening of the hearts of 'chosen vessels' with God's own most pressing concern at this time, resulting in an all-consuming passion which will accept all the cost of its realization.

There are many earnest and devoted servants of God who are seeking to be faithful in the work to which they feel God has called them. There are passionate preachers, and men of full stretch for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God. What we are saying is no overlooking of this and of much more,neither is it an undervaluing of the great amount of devoted and sacrificial service to the Lord. Nevertheless we press our point. There are very few men in our day of whom it can be truly said, 'That man has a message from God for the time in which we live.

There can be all the difference between being saved and then going into Christian service with the consequent studying of the Bible, the preparation of sermons, addresses, lessons; collecting material, mastering themes and subjects, and so on, and giving this out as required or as opportunity affords - there can be all the difference between this and an open Heaven, an anointing, an unveiling by the Holy Spirit. It is the difference between our laboring to get, in order to meet a constantly recurring demand, and the Holy Spirit continually revealing Christ in us. This is a general difference, though it is a very real one, and it may represent all the difference between bondage and liberty, between limitation and fullness, even between life and death in ministry. But this is not our particular point. The need of the hour is not only for a higher spiritual level of ministry in general - it is for men with a specific anointing which will meet the situation as it is now.

No one who knows anything about present conditions will disagree with the statement that the Church is in tragic need of men with a message. Our point is that what is needed is the knowledge of what is the message for the time. That message must come from God to men chosen for the purpose. This is not a ministry which can be taken up. For such ministry there is usually a long and deep history with God, a history full of mystery and suffering. Many phases are passed through, all in the permissive will of God, or in His directive will, inasmuch as they are intended to educate and give experience and settled kind, and so big changes may be called for, each of which comes by a new spiritual crisis.

No one can do anything in the making of such vessels, however much they may be concerned for them. This is God's work alone, and they have to be left in His hands. We may sometimes almost despair as we look in vain for such, but there may be many more under the Lord's hand than we have any idea of, and He will produce them in His time. We do urge this need upon the consideration and prayers of the Lord's people today.

But what about courage? Men of vision and courage! Yes, and more courage will be required here than in any other realm of which we know.

A specific message may - to begin with - set a distance between such as have it and such as have not. This will give rise to many possibilities. Even the best servants of God who have not seen will probably stand back. It will mean loneliness, and going on alone perhaps for quite a time. It will mean ostracism, misunderstanding, misrepresentation, suspicion, closed doors (so far as man can close them).

Then, no commission from God is ever just verbal truth - it always involves practical issues. There practical issues will appear like the crystallizing of the truth, so that those who obey it will become marked people. This rises a new set of opposing elements. If God has given an unveiling concerning His purpose in Christ which is of such vital importance as to have called for all this special history and preparation, we must realize that it is of very great moment to satan's interests, and he will leave nothing unused to make its course impossible.

Let it be understood that in the line of a ministry such as Paul's the only way of fulfillment is that of Paul's abandonment and courage. Listen to him again:

"Circumcised the eighth day,
Of the stock of Israel,
Of the tribe of Benjamin,
A Hebrew of Hebrews;
As touching the law, a Pharisee,
As touching zeal, persecuting the Church;
As touching the righteousness which is in the law,
found blameless.
Howbeit what things were gain to me, these have I counted loss for Christ." (Phil. 3:5-7)

Here is birth, religious training, tradition, status, prestige, family, friends, reputation, all touched by his new revelation. he let them go as it became necessary in the fulfillment of his received heavenly vision.

And this was not all, for even in the apostolic circle Paul very largely stood alone.

If the greatest need of the hour is that of men of vision, along with it will go the need for willingness to  pay the price. But thee is another side, and that is God's side.

It is a great thing to be in possession of an open Heaven and of a mandate from God.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2 - A Man In The Glory)

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Manliness of Jesus # 3

The Manliness of Jesus # 3

Even in His trial, Pilate concluded, "I find no fault at all in Him." (John 18:38). Those nearest to Him - saw the most in Him to love and admire. This is not always true of men. Close association with them reveals faults, and unveils blemished and flawed traits. Too close intimacy is ofttimes fatal to admiration. Many people appear better at a distance then when near. But the life of Christ stood the test of close familiarity. He was gentle, thoughtful, patient, unselfish, full of sympathy. He loved men, not because he saw beauty in them - but always with a love which was ready to make any sacrifice to serve them. The Christian, after looking at Jesus from every viewpoint, declares, "Yes, He is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend!" (Song of Songs 5:16).

The world's idea of what makes a man is not always infallibly true. Some people call brutality manly. In some countries "the code of honor," as it is most falsely called, prevails as a canon of manly behavior. If a man thinks he is insulted, he must some way get revenge on his alleged insulter. If he does not, they call him a cringing coward, and he loses social standing. In some places, true virtue in a man is laughed at. They call purity unmanly. But these are low, debased standards. No man who looks God in the face and desires to grow into divine beauty will call brutality manly, or revenge, or sensuality, or dishonesty, or untruthfulness. The only standard of manly character is that set for us in the moral law, a transcript of the character of God Himself.

Jesus brought into the world a new standard of manhood - a divine standard. Jesus showed the world what it is to be truly a man. He showed us a pattern on which we  should all seek to fashion our lives. He was a true man from the crown of His head to the soles of His feet. His was the truest, noblest, strongest, bravest, most unselfish life that ever was lived on the earth! If we seek to grow into His likeness, we shall climb nearer to God and into the noblest, loftiest reach of humanity!

In the teaching of Jesus, too, we find the precepts which set forth the qualities of true manhood. Any man who feels that the gospel of Christ is not fitted to make men brave men, strong men, true men  should read over thoughtfully the sermon on the mount. It begins with the beatitudes, in which the great Teacher sketches in a few bold strokes of ideal manliness.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit.! The world would not write that beatitude; yet who will say that true, unconscious humility is not a shining quality in manly character?

"Blessed are the meek." Again the world would sneer. 'It is contemptible and cowardly to bear injuries patiently, to forgive wrongs, to repay hatred with love!' But true meekness is really manly. It is easier to let resentment blaze our, to let anger burn, to strike the retaliatory blow. But if strength is a quality of manliness, it takes strength to be meek. If generosity be a manly quality, then meekness is manly.

"Bless are the pure in heart." The world does not insist on purity as  a cardinal element in its manliness. But the more shame for the world. Who will stand up before men, in the clear light of day, and contend that impurity of life is not unmanly - that purity of heart is not a radiant quality in true manliness?

All of Christ's teachings, if accepted and obeyed, will help toward the truest manliness. There is nothing weak or unmanly in any quality of character which He commends. There is no easy-going virtue such as the world likes. There are no elements that are not pure, true, and right. A false-hearted man will not find his ideal manliness in Christ. The gospel deals mercilessly with all shams, all unrealities, all unworthy things in life. It denounces in burning words all untruth. Jesus had no patience with anything that was not right and beautiful.

A story is told of one who, reading thoughtfully the fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters of Matthew's Gospel, where so many duties that are strange to flesh and blood are taught, broke out, "Jesus, either this is not Your gospel or we are not Christians!" The lives of professing Christians seemed to him so far below the standard of the sermon on the mount, that he felt these could not be Christ's followers.

But Christ is more than a teacher. A teacher shows us lofty qualities and attainments, and then leaves us in hopeless weakness in the dust. But Christ is Helper, Friend, Saviour - as well as Teacher. He shows us what true manliness is and then comes into our life and inspires us to strive after the things He commends, and then breathes His life into us to help us to be what He teaches us to be.

It is not easy to be a man - a true, noble, Christlike man. It means continual struggle, for enemies of manliness meet us at every step; every inch of the way must be won in battle. It means constant restraint and repression of sin; for the "old man" in us must be subdued and kept under control by the new man we have resolved to be. It means constant, painful discipline; for the powers of nature are evil and unruly, and hard to tame and control. It means unending toil and self-denial; for we must climb ever upward, and the way is steep and rugged, and SELF must be trampled to death under our feet as we rise to higher life. It is hard to be a true man, for all the odds seem against us. But Christ lives, and He is Helper, Friend, and Guide to every man who truly receives Him as Lord and Master.

~J. R. Miller~

(The End)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Never Alone (and other devotionals)

Never Alone

"Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken"   (Isaiah 62:4).

"Forsaken" is a dreary word. It sounds like a knell. It is the record of I sharpest sorrows and the prophecy of direst ills. An abyss of misery yawns in that word forsaken. Forsaken by one who pledges his honor! Forsaken by a friend so long tried and trusted! Forsaken by a dear relative! Forsaken by father and mother! Forsaken by all! This is woe indeed, and yet it may be patiently born if the LORD will take us up. But what must it be to feel forsaken of God? Think of that bitterest of cries, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Have we ever in any degree tasted the wormwood and the gall of "forsaken" in that sense? If so, let us beseech our LORD to save us from any repetition of so unspeakable a sorrow. Oh, that such darkness may never return! Men in malice said of a saint, "God hath forsaken him; persecute and take him." But it was always false. The LORD's loving favor shall compel our cruel foes to eat their own words or, at least, to hold their tongues. The reverse of all this is that superlative word Hephzibah "the LORD delighteth in thee." This turns weeping into dancing. Let those who dreamed that they were forsaken hear the LORD say, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee."


~Charles Spurgeon~
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The Source of Your Success

There is no question we live in one of the most prosperous of ages.  And many Christians today live in tremendous prosperity.
It is pretty easy to look at all we have accomplished, and the wealth we have accumulated, and feel pretty good about ourselves.
Today, I want you to read Psalm 44:1-3.  It contains a powerful truth and reminder,
We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, the deeds You did in their days, in days of old:  You drove out the nations with Your hand, but them You planted; You afflicted the peoples, and cast them out.   For they did not gain possession of the land by their own sword, nor did their own arm save them; but it was Your right hand, Your arm, and the light of Your countenance, because You favored them.
Any good thing that you and I possess is the result of God's hand and nothing less.  It is not because we are something special or because we are so intelligent.
When everything is said and done, we are not going to be able to point to our own arm or our own intelligence or our own ability.  We will only be able to stand back and say, "Look what the Lord has done."
If you are prosperous today, I want you to know that it is the result of God's hand and God's arm working on your behalf. 
As you look to the future, if you are going to experience the fullness of what He has for you, it will indeed be the result of the power of His Spirit working in your life.  Not your ingenuity, not your human striving, not the power of your flesh, but the power of His Spirit.

~Bayless Conley~
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He opened not his mouth (Isaiah 53:7).

How much grace it requires to bear a misunderstanding rightly, and to receive an unkind judgment in holy sweetness! Nothing tests the Christian character more than to have some evil thing said about him. This is the file that soon proves whether we are electro-plate or solid gold. If we could only know the blessings that lie hidden in our trials we would say like David, when Shimei cursed him, "Let him curse;... it may be... that the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day."
Some people get easily turned aside from the grandeur of their life-work by pursuing their own grievances and enemies, until their life gets turned into one little petty whirl of warfare. It is like a nest of hornets. You may disperse the hornets, but you will probably get terribly stung, and get nothing for your pains, for even their honey is not worth a search.
God give us more of His Spirit, "who, when he was reviled, reviled not again"; but "committed himself to him that judgeth righteously." "Consider him that endureth such contradiction of sinners against himself."
--A. B. Simpson
"Before you" He trod all the path of woe,
He took the sharp thrusts with His head bent low.
He knew deepest sorrow and pain and grief,
He knew long endurance without relief,
He took all the bitter from death's deep cup,
He kept not a blood-drop but gave all up.
"Before you" and for you, He won the fight
To bring you to glory and realms of light.

--L.S.P.

~L. B. Cowman~

Monday, October 9, 2017

Antidotes!

ANTIDOTES!

My mind is at times harassed with fear, tormented with doubts, and burdened with a load of guilt. I have tried a variety of things in order to get relief, and have looked for deliverance in many ways. But experience has taught me, that the only way to conquer fear, dissipate doubts, and remove a burden of fresh-contracted guilt — is to look back to the cross! There, I see Jesus as the Sinner's Substitute, bearing our sins, in his own body on the tree, paying all the debt we had contracted, answering all the demands that can be made upon us, harmonizing all the perfections of God in our salvation, and providing a free and full salvation for us. As I look on the cross — I feel peace flow into my soul, and a holy quietness take possession of my spirit.
I ask, "What should I fear? Jesus has made a full atonement for all my sins. He has given full satisfaction, to the law and justice of God, for all my misdeeds.
Why should I doubt? God is love, or he would not have given his Son to die the just for the unjust. Having given his Son, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself — will he not deal graciously with me, and freely give me all things?
Why should I carry a load of guilt? Has not Jesus been punished for me, that I may not be punished? Did not Jesus die, that I may live forever? Is not the atonement of God's own Son sufficient? Does not the blood of Jesus cleanse from all sin? If Jesus suffered for me, if he died in my stead — then surely I may go free.
Thus looking back to the cross, and exercising faith in Jesus, I find my fears depart, my doubts remove, and my sense of guilt taken away. I have peace with God, confidence in God, and can leave all things with God.
Sometimes I feel sad and lonelyI have no one to whom I can open my heart, or into whose ear I can pour all my complaints. I need one who has a fellow feeling with me. One who has experienced what I do. One who can stoop to and help me. At such times I find it best to look up to the throne of grace, and sigh for fellowship with Jesus. He has been tried in all points like as we are. He has a human heart. He has carried the experience of earth, with him to Heaven. He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He is our brother still. He remembers the lonely mountain, the howling wilderness, and the gloomy garden. He never forgets how he felt the need of sympathy, and friendly fellowship, when he went backwards and forwards to his disciples, and found them sleeping. I will therefore lift up my eyes to Jesus in the Heavens, and will seek to pour out my heart before him, and receive comfort and consolation from him. I have always one who feels for me, and feels with me. One that will listen to me, and prove his love by sustaining, cheering, and delivering me.
O Jesus, Savior of my soul, when I look up to you, and believe that you are before the Father for me, and ever sympathize with me — I feel relieved, and the principal sense of loneliness and isolation leaves me! O my soul, whenever earth refuses to furnish you with a companion, a comforter, a friend who can identify himself with you — look up to Heaven, for Heaven will furnish what earth denies!
"Why should any living man complain?" Lamentations 3:39. Occasionally, I am tempted to complain of my hard lot — and think myself harshly dealt with. Ingratitude rises and works in my heart. This always makes me wretched. I then find it profitable to look down into Hell — and realize its horrors and agonies as my just desert.
If anyone ever deserved to go to Hell — I did!
If justice was ever honored in a sinner's damnation — it would have been in mine!
If anyone was ever saved by grace alone — I am the man!
Shall I then, who deserve to be in Hell — but am not; shall I who am an heir of Heavenly glory — though no one ever deserved it less; shall I, because of a few trials, troubles, and disappointments, or because I have rather a heavy cross to carry — shall I dare to murmur, or fret, or complain, or think myself harshly dealt with?
Shocking inconsistency! What are my present pains or sufferings — compared with the Hell that I deserve!
All the afflictions that I am called to endure here on earth — cannot even be compared with only twenty-four hours in Hell! And yet my desert is, not to be in Hell for a few hours — but forever! Surely every lost soul, every damned spirit — will be ready to rise up in judgment against me — if I complain of my present lot! What base gratitude — if I do not praise the Lord with joyful lips, for His rich, free, and sovereign grace!
O my soul, whenever tempted to complain of my difficult lot — think of my deservings! Think of what would have been my eternal doom — if God had not saved me by His sovereign grace! Yes, I do find that looking down into Hell . . .
silences my complaints,
awakens my gratitude, and
humbles me in the dust before my God!
Now and then, I get weary and ready to faint along the long and difficult way. The journey appears so long, the road is so rough, the seasons are so trying, the difficulties increase so fast — and my strength and courage are so small. Every littletrouble is magnified — and numberless mercies are overlooked! Then I find it of advantage to look forward to — the heavenly crown promised, the glorious mansion provided, and the eternal kingdom prepared. O what a splendid close to this dreary pilgrimage! O what a finish to this exhausting race!
heavenly crown — and a crown for the likes of me! A crown of life, a crown of righteousness! A crown of glory which fades not away.
mansion — a glorious residence in my Heavenly Father's house. A residence fitted up by Jesus expressly for me. A residence which anticipates all my wishes, gratifies all my desires, and far exceeds my highest expectations!
An eternal kingdom — and a kingdom prepared to express God's highest love, to display God's deepest wisdom, and to exhibit the exuberant riches of God's glorious grace!
Heaven! Oh, what will Heaven be! The vision of God. The presence of Jesus! "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand!" Psalms 16:11
Heaven! Oh, what I shall see, hear, feel, and possess in Heaven! "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined — what God has prepared for those who love him!" 1 Corinthians 2:9
Looking forward to Heaven — how can I do otherwise than pant for glory? What are the trials along the way — when I think of the end! What are the sorrows of earth — when I think of the joys of Heaven! What are my sufferings for Christ — when compared with the glory which shall be conferred by Christ!
May I, whenever depressed and disconsolate, whenever disheartened and cast down, whenever sad or sorrowful — look forward to the eternal rest which remains for the people of God — to the glorious inheritance promised, to that eternal city that has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. O the glory, the glory — which awaits the way-worn pilgrim, the toil-worn laborer, the exhausted sufferer in the cause of Christ!
And is it not the province and prerogative of faith to act thus? Does not faith ever look BACK to the cross of Jesus — for pardon, peace, and reconciliation to God? Does it not look UP to the throne of God — and sigh for fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ? Does it not look DOWN into the eternal pit, the prison, the torments, from which there is no redemption — in order to fill the soul with gratitude, love, and praise? Does it not also look FORWARD to the unfading crown, the eternal kingdom, and the glorious inheritance — and inspire with hallowed pantings for glory? Yes, it is even so!
Then, O gracious God, increase my faith, and help me to look BACK to Jesus crucified for me — that I may enjoy unspeakable peace, and solid satisfaction of soul!
Help me to look UP to your throne — that I may enjoy the closest, the sweetest, the most hallowed fellowship with you possible!
Help me to look DOWN to the gloomy regions of despair, the abode of misery and woe — that I may be grateful for my deliverance from such a fearful doom!
Help me to look FORWARD to the glory, the splendor, the unspeakable bliss — which is laid up for all who love you, and look for the appearing of your Son.

May my faith be strong, simple, and rightly directed. May it be influential and work by love. May it grow exceedingly, and be found unto your praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. Author of faith — work faith in me! Object of faith — be ever present with me! End of faith — let me embrace you, and rejoice in you forever!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Manliness of Jesus # 2

The Manliness of Jesus # 2

Take His self-control, as a token of His strength. The truly strong man - is he who has great capacities, feelings, passions, powers - and has perfect mastery over them. No matter how great a man may be in abilities, what tremendous energies he may carry in his life - if he is not able to control them, he is pitiably weak! The truly strong man has mighty internal forces, a soul of strength, intense passions, feelings, tempers - and all under perfect control. Jesus stood this test. In Him all human powers reached their highest development, and then He was perfect master of Himself. He was never swerved by opposition, by injustice, by torture - to speak a word unadvisedly. He never lost His temper. He never grew impatient. He never spoke rashly. He never showed envy or resentment. He never fretted, never complained, never was disturbed in the calm of His soul - by outward circumstances. He stood quietly on the boat in the midnight storm. He faced the violent maniac among the tombs - as if He had been a sleeping baby. He went in and out among the hostile Jews - as quietly as if they had been His dearest friends.

Think of His self-control in suffering. Never has any being undergone pain so deep and terrible - as was the pain of Christ in the garden and on the Cross! - but they are nothing, compared to those which Jesus endured! We have hints of the almost unbearable burden of His heart, in the strong cryings which came from Gethsemane, and in the word of forsakenness which breaks from His lips on the Cross. But through all His indescribable sufferings - He maintained the most perfect calm! He never murmured. His peace was never once broken. It is manly strength - which endured so quietly such incomprehensible suffering!

Or think of His patient bearing of wrong and enmity. From the beginning of His public ministry, He met injustice. He was rejected by those He sought to help. Toward the end, these antagonisms became more bitter. But He endured them all with heroic patience. He never showed the slightest fear. He never grew angry. Recall His patient bearing in His unjust trials - and His silence before the Jewish council, before Pilate, before Herod. Think of His silence and patient submission when crowned with thorns, mocked, scourged, spit upon! It takes a great deal more strength to bear indignities and reproaches quietly and sweetly - then it does to resent them, to resist them, to lift up voice and hand against them, especially if one has power to resist. Yet that was the strength Jesus had. "Do you think I cannot call my Father, and He will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matt. 26:53).

When about to be crucified, they offered Him a stupefying potion, to deaden His consciousness of pain. It was a kindness offered by Jewish women. But He quietly refused it, and accepted the full measure of pain which crucifixion involved, with every sense at its keenest. When the nails were driven through His flesh, the only cry wrung from Him - was a prayer for the men who were crucifying Him. Can anyone read the story of Jesus, and note the strength which marks it all - and then say that He was not a manly man?

Another element of ideal manliness is true love, or generosity. We may call it by different names. It is large-heartedness. One writer puts it thus, "A sincere and kindly temper, which overlooks faults, which easily forgives wrong - is a part of any ordinary notion of manliness." There are men with many strong points, who are lacking in this quality. They are suspicious, jealous, envious, secretive, narrow, intolerant. They are envious of other men's prosperity. They are ungenerous toward other men's faults. They are selfish, exacting, thoughtless, resentful. They are brusque, stern, harsh in their talk. These are blemishes on their manliness. But those who read the story of the life of Jesus - find in Him at every point the finest spirit of kindness and generosity. He was the truest gentleman that ever lived. We have seen His courage and His strength; no less wonderful was the gentle side of His character. He was large-hearted, tolerant of other men, patient with men's weaknesses, sincere in all His words and acts, gentle and kindly in all His converse.

~J. R. Miller~

(continued with # 3)

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Manliness of Jesus # 1

The Manliness of Jesus # 1

The question has been raised, whether Christianity is not a religion for women, rather than for men. It has been claimed by some that the virtues it inculcates are feminine, rather than masculine; that it does not appeal to the manly instincts and sentiments, as it does to the womanly; that its principles and qualities are not those recognized among men as belonging to the truest and sturdiest manhood. There is at least a widespread impression, that in actual experience, Christianity is not making the best possible men. That is what the world charges. It says Christianity's men are lacking in the stalwart qualities, that they are sentimental and weak - and not always unalterably true, not always upright, lacking in virile force.

No doubt there are in Jesus, all the gentler qualities which we think of as belonging to woman. But are not these very graces, adornments also of manly character? Is it a shame for a man to be kindly, tender-hearted, patient, sympathetic? Yet while these gentler qualities undoubtedly appear in the character of Jesus - no less are there in Him the elements of strength, courage, heroism, justice, unflinching integrity. It takes both to make complete manliness.

F. W. Robertson says that Christ's heart had in it, the blended qualities of both sexes. "There is in Him," he says, "the woman heart - as well as the manly brain." There is something very beautiful in this thought, that in Jesus whatever is best and truest in both man and woman is found. A woman who is seeking for whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely in womanhood, the graces of refined character: gentleness, sweetness, lovingness - finds all these qualities in Jesus Christ. On the other hand, a man who is looking for whatever things are just, whatever things are honorable the elements of noble manhood, will also find these qualities in Christ. In Him all the excellences of manhood, as planned by God, found their perfection.

As Roberson says, "Once in this world's history was born a Man. Once in the roll of ages, out of innumerable failures, from the stock of human nature one bud developed itself into a faultless flower. One perfect specimen of humanity has God exhibited on earth." Other men, the best, the truest, the worthiest, have in them only a little fragment of a complete life; but in Christ is the perfect humanity, as if that which is best and truest in every man, and that which is tenderest, gentlest, and purest in every woman - were in His character.

What are the manly qualities? Thomas Hughes says courage is the foundation of all true manliness. He means not mere physical courage, which one may have and yet be a moral coward - but that courage which adheres to that which is right - quietly, firmly, in the face of all danger and all antagonism, and goes straight on, with unwavering persistence, to its goal. Do we find courage in Jesus? Recall the meaning of His mission. He came into the world to destroy the works of the devil. He was the second Adam, standing for the race. The first Adam had failed and fallen. What the consequences of ruin and sorrow were, we know in a little measure. Now Jesus came to fight the battle over, to reclaim what had been lost. The interests of the whole human race were in His hands that day, as the heavens opened and the Spirit came down upon Him.

Suppose He had failed. But He did not fail. He met terrible antagonism. He went from His baptism into the wilderness, where He endured terrific assaults from satan. Suppose He had failed then, what would have been the consequence? But He met the tempter in fierce battle, and stood like a rock. So it was through all His life. He never wavered in His purpose to be true. He had in His year of popularity, a sorer test of moral courage, than opposition. Many men yield to the seductions of flattery and favor - and fail to be true; who in the storm of enmity - are as faithful as the compass. But Jesus was not swayed by popularity, and never veered aside from the straight path.

Then opposition came. The crowds began to forsake Him. The rulers were against Him. Enemies gathered in increasing number. The end was drawing near, and He knew what the end would be. The shadow of the Cross fell upon His soul that day when He was being baptized. Every step of His life - was toward Calvary. Yet as the plots thickened, as the shadows deepened, He wavered not. He set His face steadfastly to go to Jerusalem though He knew what waited there for Him. Never before nor since has the world seen any other such trial of courage - as was Christ's. He was standing for our salvation, and He faltered not in the testing. "For I, the Son of man, must suffer many terrible things; I will be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and must be killed!" (Luke 9:22).

We praise the heroism of the soldier who stands unflinching, at the risk of death, in defense of his country. We praise the heroes at all life's posts of danger who are faithful to their trust. That is well. But the loftiest heroism of the ages - was that of Jesus!

Strength is another quality of manliness. It is good to be physically strong. But one may be a Hercules in body - and a pygmy in moral strength. Samson could carry off city gates - but could not withstand the temptations of idleness and lust. The strength of many men is marred by weakness of some sort. We say, "Every man has his weak point." But you will search in vain in the story of Jesus, for any betrayal of weakness in Him. We see His majestic strength, side by side with His courage, in His conflicts with the tempter, in His persistent devotion to the divine will, in His blamelessness and sinlessness amid all the seductions of life. Everywhere we see Him - He is kingly.

~J. R. Miller~

(continued with # 2)

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Shining Face # 2

The Shining Face # 2

I cannot tell you what a blessing this brought to my own heart when the Lord showed me what He had made the Lord Jesus to Himself on my behalf. I was always craving to bring to the Lord something that would satisfy Him in myself. If I could bring to the Lord a perfect life, that would please Him and satisfy Him, and He could be perfectly satisfied with me! But it was impossible and it seemed no good trying. The more you try, the further away you seem to be, and the longer you live the more you know the utter deceitfulness of your own heart.

Oh, to be able to come before the Lord with something that would please Him! And now the Lord says, "I have made the provision for all that. I have provided you with absolute spiritual and moral perfection. I have found those in One, and I have put them into your hands. I accept you in Him, I am satisfied with you in Him, you are accepted in the Beloved." You cannot bring perfection to God, and that is the only thing that will satisfy Him, but the Lord Jesus fulfills - fills full - all the Divine requirement.

In Leviticus, God speaks about the offering. "If any man desires to bring an offering," then the Lord provides as to the offering. You have got to desire to bring an offering. And you know quite well it is no use bringing to God anything that is not absolutely perfect, and where will you find that? That only which is according to Christ satisfies God. When this breaks upon us, it is rest. It is the shining, countenance. When we get to the perfections of His Son, we have found the good pleasure of God and we stand, not looking at God askance, but we stand by the side of God and we are both looking at the same thing and sharing the same glory. God's objective is the Lord Jesus.

Moses did not know that his face was shining. It is a great thing to be occupied with the Lord Jesus inside, and people will take note of it. "He wist not that his face shone," but others did, and that is the important thing.

Daniel's Secret Of the Shining Face

Daniel has learned the secret of the shining face, and there is something deeper here, more testing. Daniel is in Babylon. Babylon is in the ascendancy. Jerusalem is in ruins. We know what these things mean spiritually. We know that that which really is wholly according to God, that which was at the beginning, is not to be found today - that where the Holy Spirit absolutely governs and where it is all the Lord Jesus. You do not find that in the ascendancy today. It is the other religious system made by man that is in the ascendancy. That is Babylon. And the mass of the Lord's people are in captivity to it, a man-made Christian system.

And here is Daniel seeing that which is according to God broken, ruined, and he sees this other thing, that is not according to God, holding sway and engulfing the mass of the Lord's people. The wonder of it all is that Daniel did not accept Babylon. He repudiated Babylon and clung to Jerusalem. If Jerusalem is literally in ruins, to Daniel it is not so. He does not accept the things seen. He knows that Babylon is only a temporary thing and that God is going to have His testimony again. And God is going, through a remnant, to get His house again. He knows that God cannot be defeated and so he will not defile himself with the king's dainties. God is his life and he repudiates that which seems to have the upper hand for the time being and clings to God.

Daniel also sees beyond and sees when Babylon and all the other kingdoms will be shattered. If you accept Babylon you will lose the shining face. If you accept religion as it is today and say, "It is the best there is," you will get involved in something that is not of God. And people more and more today are revolting, and are not satisfied. People say, "Oh, to be out of it, to find the real thing." God is going to have His real thing. God cannot be robbed of that thing which He has set His heart upon. Let us set our hearts upon it, and not accept anything else. It is so easy to say, "Christianity is in a mess, but we must make the best of a bad job." But there is no joy along that line. God is working today secretly even in Babylon. And when we come to the Book of Ezra, we find that God acts sovereignly. He stirs up the spirit of Cyrus and he makes a proclamation. That is God's outside action. But there is a company with whom God has secretly worked in Babylon.

And God is seen working in Babylon today with His own remnant and they are gradually moving in a detachment from this system so that when God's time comes He will have that which is after His mind. But Daniel was the first one. He represented that company. He stood for what was of God although it might not be manifested at the moment. Do not accept anything less than what God has set His heart upon. Daniel's secret of the shining face was in that He looked onto God's sure end and believed that in a dark day the ultimate purpose and thought of God was certain of realization.

Stephen's Secret

Stephen - all that were in the council, looking upon him, saw his face as it were the face of an angel. What is the secret? I believe the second passage is the secret, "And lifting up his eyes he said, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." Stephen was a man full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and the Holy Spirit had drawn Stephen's attention to the Lord Jesus in glory. Read Acts 7. It is almost matchless in New Testament literature, and see the place that he gives to the Lord Jesus. He heads it right up to the Lord Jesus in glory and, while he is under the test, that is the thing that sustains him, and when he comes to the last moment he sees literally with his eyes what he had been seeing with his heart all the way through. And that just means this - when we see the Lord Jesus in glory we have seen this, that God having got Him there, the Son of Man, having got one all-inclusive Man there, it is all right for us. He can get us there!

That One has simply fathomed all judgment, all death, all the power of satan and the grave. He has exhausted all and God has got Him there. He had all the sin of all the creation from Adam onward heaped upon Him, and then that One came to glory. He had all the power and fury of the devil heaped upon Him, and God got that One to glory; the power of death and hades being liberated upon Him, and God brought that One to glory. We will never have to go through all that He went through. Stephen saw that One man in the glory, being such a One as He was, is the guarantee that God could get him there, let all hell rush upon him. It is the secret of the shining face.

Sometimes we may, by reason of many things, wonder if we shall get to glory, if we shall hold out to the end, but blessed be God, He is capable of getting us there. It is not our doing, it is the Lord's doing. Why? Because He has already got our Forerunner in His presence. That bears you up in the time of opposition. And men filled with the Holy Spirit are especially the object of stones.

Paul's Secret

And now, finally, what Paul says about himself and about us. "We all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory" - transformed. It is by the Lord, the Spirit. And what is the secret of this shining face? II Corinthians 4:6, "God hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." The secret of the shining face in this case is not Christ objectively, but Christ subjectively. It is a blessed thing to realize that the One Who has gone up there in His great triumph is within us. But the Lord is inside us, Who has already overcome. We are familiar with the terms, but it is a great day when suddenly we wake up to know what Christ is in us. Has it ever come to you by a sudden flash of light? Christ in you! "Know ye not as to your own selves, that Christ is in you" (II Cor. 13:5). "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith" (Eph. 3:17). Get that, spiritually apprehended, and you have got the shining face. All that which is around you is no match for Him. "Greater is He That is in you, than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4).

Ask the Lord to make this live. To know this means a wonderful lot to the life. May the Lord take us back with that in our hearts which speaks of the Lord Jesus! That is the testimony. Our eye is upon what God's eye rests upon, our hope is set upon God's hope, our assurance upon God's assurance. And it is all the Lord Jesus!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(The End)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Shining Face # 1

The Shining Face # 1

Read: Daniel 1:8-16; Acts 6:15; 7:56

"And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai (with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount), that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while He talked with him. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him" (Exodus 34:29-30).

"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Cor. 3:18).

You will notice the common feature of all these passages is the shining face. We have been gathered together for a season up here on the mountain with the Lord and we have to go back, to be scattered in different places, and meet the difficult situations, and we want to go back with shining faces. But we want to know the secret of the shining face. That does not need to be taken literally. We may not always have a countenance that is cracking with mirth, but there is that which even in the midst of adversity and difficulty and suffering and trial speaks of something within the heart that is God's peace, God's rest, God's joy. It is possible to know the peace that passeth understanding. It is possible to know joy unspeakable and full of glory even amidst very great pressure and suffering. It is possible for there to be recognized, even in a pain marked countenance, something that is of God.

What one is speaking of is not necessarily just a shining of our faces, but something shining through our faces, something which our faces indicate which is more than merely human endurance, human bravery and courage; something of the deep strength and grace of God. That is what I mean by the shining face, and in these four instances of which we have read we have the secrets of the shining face in this sense. You know it is that that is the testimony. It is not always the things that we say,but that which is expressed through us in times of stress and trial and provocation and opposition and antagonism and suffering. It is then that that which is caught, as it were back of our faces, that is the testimony.

When it is known that we are undergoing trial, when it is known that we are in suffering, when it is known that others in a different realm would act and speak and react to things in the flesh, as men would react; there is just that betrayal o something of the Lord Jesus. That is the testimony. It is the betraying of the Lord Jesus in the right sense. And it will be very little good to the Lord, very little gain to Him or us, if as we go back and continue in the scenes of our life, and when there is a test, there is not some fuller indication of the Lord Himself in our hearts and lives. People will come to their conclusions on that basis - what we reveal under pressure, under trial.

That is the proof of the thing, not what we know and what we say. But when we pass through intense difficulties and adversity, what is revealed at such times. And in order that the testimony may be maintained, we want to understand what the secrets of the shining  face are. They are four-fold-

"Moses Wist Not That His Face Did Shine"

The first is in the case of Moses. Moses had been up in the mount with the Lord and the Lord had spoken with him. Moses had come to see that upon which the eye of the Lord was resting. He had stood by the side of the Lord and he had looked with the Lord's eyes as the Lord brought before him His own vision, and that vision was expressed in the type, in the tabernacle. It all passed before the eye of Moses in the most minute detail. From the ark, out to the Holy Place to the Court and all its contents, and the priesthood and the sacrifices, and he saw what God's eye was resting upon. And by reason of the Lord's speaking to him about that, he became alive with the very glory of the Lord.

It is a wonderful thing to recognize that the Lord's glory became imparted to Moses by reason of that which became the common object of their eyes. What the Lord was looking at, Moses was looking at, and as they both looked at it together they shared the same glory. When does the Lord's own face light up with glory? When is the Father's face full of glory? When He looks upon the Lord Jesus. The tabernacle was only the Lord Jesus in a representation, and it was the Lord Jesus in all His Mediatorial, Priestly Person and work gathered up in a great system, but it was the Person of the Lord Jesus as relating to man's fellowship with God - the place, the sphere where God and man come into oneness, where God can, without sacrificing His holiness, have fellowship with man and where man can, without being consumed by the very holiness of God, have fellowship with God. From Him, the Lord Jesus Christ, with a central most reality of the mercy seat He will speak with you face to face.

God has set forth Christ as a propitiation. God sees beyond the pattern to the reality, His Son, and it was Christ Who was in the eye of the Father in all His wonderful, mediatorial work to bring men nigh to God and God nigh to man. When that is in the eye of God, His face is full of glory, and when we get what is in His eye, we partake of the glory of the shining face of God.

Simply, it just means that when we are occupied with the Lord Jesus in all that He is from the Father to us and to the Father for us, when are are occupied with Him, then we know the shining face. Be occupied with anything else and you lose the shining face. He occupied with yourself and your own spiritual life and condition, so that you are always self-analyzing, and it will not be long before you have lost the shining face.

Keep your eye upon Jesus and you will know the secret of the shining face. Look around on things as they are in the world and you will lose it. The secret of the shining face is to get God's thought about the Lord Jesus, to get your eye where God's eye is. That is tremendously important.

The only hope for God of the ultimate realization of His purpose is to look at the Lord Jesus. He has all the guarantee in Him. And He says, "Because He is what He is, My end is secure, I have My Sabbath, My rest, My eye is upon Him." And until we have seen that God has reached His end in Christ, and our eyes are upon Him, we have not got the secret of hope and confidence and rest and satisfaction. It is the secret. It is a wonderful reality.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2)

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Spiritual Sight # 20

Spiritual Sight # 20

The Right To Redeem

And into a world like that, into a race like that, God, in His Son, in terms of manhood, comes from the outside as the Redeemer-Kinsman. He has, first of all, the right to redeem. Why? Because He is the Firstborn of all creation. He has the First Place. This is no second place kinsman. He has the First Place. This is no second place kinsman. "He is before all things" (Col. 1:17). He is the Firstborn: He has the right because of place, the place He occupies, the First Place. Oh, think again of all that there is about the Lord Jesus as coming first, as being in the First Place, as being the Firstborn, and you will see that constitutes His right,for in the very nature of things in the Bible, it is the Firstborn, who carries the rights with him always. Here is Jesus, Son of Man, the first by appointment and placing of God. He has the right to redeem.

The Power To Redeem

He has also the power to redeem, that is, He has the resources for redeeming. Well, let us ask what is in the nature of things required for redeeming? The inheritance has to be redeemed not only for us but unto God. We in turn are God's inheritance, we are God's possession by right, and not only have we lost our inheritance, but God has lost His inheritance in us, and what we might be satisfied with as a return, God can never be satisfied with. If God is to get back in us that inheritance which He Himself has lost through man's sin and willfulness, its redemption must be according to God, something that satisfies God: and God cannot be satisfied with just anything. It must be something that wholly answers to God's own nature. So let us say at once that "we were redeemed, not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, from our vain manner of life... but with precious blood, as of a Lamb without blemish" (1 Peter 1:18, 19). What is it that satisfies God? It is an incorruptible something. That which can alone bring back to God His satisfaction must be incorruptible, undefiled, without spot or blemish. These are words which always relate to Christ: a Lamb, without spot, without blemish. That is the redemption resource, the redemption power. Redemption means by His Blood, because that Blood represents His life which is an incorruptible life, a sinless life, a life which wholly satisfies an utterly righteous and holy God. That is the price of redemption. Oh, to see the humanity of the Lord Jesus in its incorruptibility, is to see the mighty power to redeem. Set aside the Lord Jesus and you set aside the whole power of redemption, the whole right of redemption; there is no hope of redemption. We can never be redeemed unto God with such corruptible things as silver and gold. To be redeemed unto God means that a life must be forth-coming which is according to God's own nature.

Oh, this is where all the blindness is. We spoke in our previous meditation of the terrible blindness which is seen in evolution. But here is the awful blindness of that terrible gospel, which is not a gospel at all, which is being preached, namely, humanism, that it is in man's own power to become like God. The roots and seeds of perfection are deep down in man's own being if only he will dig deep enough for them; there is no need for intervention from the outside at all; it is not necessary for God to intervene, for Christ to come into this world. It is in man to rise, he can improve himself. He is a wonderful creature deep down in his being. WHAT BLINDNESS! You say, Amazing thing in the light of present happenings and present world conditions; amazing thing that any man can believe it, let alone preach it; amazing thing that with one breath they talk about the awful atrocities which are worse than those of the dark ages, and with the next breath they say it is in man to be godlike! Blindness! The real point is this: are men more noble morally today? Are men morally rising? Well, who can say Yes! in the light of what we know today.

And yet they are preaching this gospel of humanism, that man is steadily rising and Utopia is on the horizon; because man has it in himself to rise. That is blindness, terrible blindness. But oh! to see God's Son, the Son of Man, is to see the hope, the direction in which redemption lies; because redemption lies in the direction of another kind of humanity, and in a power to redeem, because there is something there which satisfies God, and anything which does not satisfy God, can never be a redeeming power. Has the Lord Jesus the power? We here all cry with one voice, Yes, He has the power, He has the resource for doing this.

The Liberty To Redeem

But another question arises. Is He free to redeem? One thing is taken for granted in this matter of the redeeming kinsman, and that is that he can only has one wife. If he is already married he is disqualified, because he cannot marry the person for whom he redeems the inheritance. That was the trouble with the other kinsman, in the case of Ruth. He was not free; he was married and had a family. But Boaz was unmarried, was free, and he could take Ruth as his wife, the way was perfectly clear.

Now we come into the realm of sublime things spiritually. "Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might redeem it from all iniquity" (Eph. 5:25); Titus 2:14). "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself up for it." The redeemed is to be joined to the Lord, and the Lord Jesus - may I say it reverently? - is only going to have one wife. There is only going to be one marriage supper of the Lamb. The Church is His only Bride. His redeemed are the only ones to be brought into such a relationship with Himself; and the way is clear. He stands perfectly free to redeem, and to take the consequences of redeeming, even of marrying the one for whom the inheritance is redeemed.

Does not redemption bring us into a very essential position with the Lord Jesus? That is the true significance of the title that attaches to Him as our Redeemer-Kinsman, that we should be joined to Him. Not redeemed as a chattel, not redeemed as a thing, but redeemed to be joined to Him forever in the holiest of all bonds. Married to the Lord. That is the meaning of the Son of Man. Yes, He is free. He can do it.

The Willingness To Redeem

Only one question remains. Is He willing? He has the right, He has the resource, He has the liberty. Will He? Oh, how Ruth and Naomi must have waited with bated breath and thumping hearts while that final question was being met and answered! Will he? Ah, but there may be no thumping heart here this afternoon, no bated breath. Will He? Is He willing? Well, what do we say to that? HE HAS DONE IT, and that answers the question. All that remains, if we are not in the enjoyment of it, is for us to accept it, believe it. He is willing!

May the Lord just ravish our hearts and enlarge our seeing of Jesus, the Son of Man. Amen

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(The End)