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Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Work of the Ministry # 9

The Work of the Ministry # 9

Manifested Glory Limited By An Earth Touch

The second passage - "Jesus saith...Loose him, and let him go". Do not forget that the glory of God is still governing, though that glory may be partially under arrest. The glory of God is found in the uncreated life of God, or the risen life of Christ, the life of the One Who is the Resurrection and the Life. The glory is inherent in that Divine eternal life. Lazarus has got to the point where he has the life, it is in him, he has come forth in the power of that resurrection life, but it is in limitation; therefore the glory is in limitation, and the full realization of the Divine intention, the full display of glory, requires that that life shall be loosed, shall be freed. From what? We say, Grave-clothes. What are the grave-clothes? Well, "dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return" (Gen. 3:19). The grave-clothes are just the 'earth touch'. That is a very very full phrase. It is some link with old mother earth, it is some still remaining tie with that cursed creation where nothing can go right through to fullness. Here it is the question of fullness of life, full release and resultant full glory; and, in any realm where the curse still rests, we know that the mark of the curse is that things go so far and then they fade out, die away, nothing really comes right through to fullness.

Here is Lazarus; he has got so far - but what is the good of this man tied hand and foot? Even though he has life, he cannot do very much, he cannot be of much use. He is not going to walk about and display the glory of God as a living corpse, always speaking of the grave - his own testimony being, even though he has life, the grave. He speaks of the grave bears, marks of the grave on him all the time - there is an earth touch. You see the comprehensiveness of application. We have to learn under the instruction of the Holy Spirit what and where is the earth touch in our case. It may be some ambition, natural ambition, some personal craving, something that we ourselves want for our own satisfaction. It may be any one of a thousand things that is still an earth touch, that means that we are not completely released for God, we are not really free for the Lord, still some ground of controversy,still some ground of bargaining with the Lord - If You will do this, then I will... There is still some earth touch somewhere, some bit of worldliness - oh, anything that touches that earth realm; and therefore, although we may have this wonderful life and have heard the call for the Son of God, we are still in limitation, still in straightness, still tied up, still not absolutely free and emancipated that the glory of God should be served in fullness. "Loose him, and let him go"; cut the earth ties.

I know, of course, that there is the dispensational outworking of this thing and that these grave-clothes dispensationally speak of the law, the Jewish law, because it is here, right in the midst of Judaism, that the testimony is born. This is Galatians. The whole letter to the Galatians is the words "Loose him, and let him go." Get rid of the legalism of the law and let this raised man go free. But there is a spiritual interpretation, and it is a wider one. There is this more extensive application, and the principle is universal - have an earth touch, and your life comes under arrest, the glory of God is limited. What is your earth touch? Well, let us ask ourselves, are we free? Are we really living in the fullness of this life and the effectiveness of this life in service? If not, why not? Are we still clinging to something for ourselves, still holding on somewhere to that which is banned by God, which cannot live? It is the death touch because it is the earth touch. The word is: "Loose him, and let him go."

satan's Opposition To The Manifestation Of The Glory

And the third passage - "the chief priests took counsel that they might put Lazarus also to death; because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus". Anything that is in the full way of the glory of God, loosed for Divine purpose that God may be glorified in it, becomes the object of satan's malice. That is a third truth, which perhaps we need not emphasize, for we know it well, that if God does something in our lives out of which He gets glory to Himself through His Son, it is not long before the hate and spite of the enemy is directed against us. That is a part of our fellowship with the Lord. If they are going to put Jesus to death, they are going to put Lazarus to death as well, because these two are one. We are bound up with the Lord in this, and we shall find that if the Lord is after getting glory in and through our lives, and yet more glory, then the enemy will make us the targets of his real venom and he and his will take counsel to put us to death.

But how far can he go? He cannot go any further at any time than the Lord of Life permits him to go, because now His Son has been offered at Calvary, and for us it is our privilege, not to be killed, but to lay down our lives of our own free will.

Well, three things - "not unto death, but for the glory of God". What is it that you and I are wrestling with? See in it the possibility of Divine glory: it may be something ordained of God - tragic as it seems to you - ordained of God to be in the long run for His glory. Get free from that which limits the glory and frustrates the purpose of God in you adversity and trial - that is, any earth touch, any personal clinging; and remember that, even when you have done that, you are not going to escape the attention of the enemy - you are going to be an object of his consideration; and if the devil thinks anyone or anything is worth his consideration, it must be of value to the Lord.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 10 - The Wondrous Ways of God)

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Work of the Ministry # 8

The Work of the Ministry # 8

"For The Glory Of God"

"This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby" (John 11:4).

"He that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes; and His face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go" (John 11:44).

"But the chief priests took counsel that they might put Lazarus also to death; because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus" (John 12:10, 11).

You know quite well, but it may be as well if we remind ourselves, that in this Gospel there is brought out the one thing which governs all the interests and activities of God - namely, His glory, and His glory in the face of Jesus Christ: so that the one thing in view, giving meaning to everything, is the glory of God through the Lord Jesus. Let us keep that in mind, because if we detach anything from that we lose both its meaning and value, and probably lose our way. God is doing everything for His glory, and that particularly in the lives of those who are His.

God's Glory Manifested Against A Background Of Suffering

Let us now come to the first of three fragments in this wonderful illustration. "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God". The statement is the explanation and the interpretation of a very mysterious providence, a providence which lifts things which otherwise could be regarded as the common happenings in human life on to another level, and clothes them with majesty, with glory. It is not an uncommon thing that a man should be taken ill and die, and there are literally countless things which just happen like that, making up the sum of human life and experience, every one of which can be regarded as the as the common lot, the everyday experience; but here is something which, by the illumination of the Lord, has to be seen in another way - and another way which almost startles us. It is that the sovereignty of God, moving toward that great object of His own glory in His Son, acts to make a man ill, to bring sickness upon a man; and providence stands back and lets that sickness take its course, until the man dies and is more than dead, and all the features of an earthly human tragedy are there, of bereavement, of sorrow and heartbreak. They are all there - and yet God is in this thing, involved and implicated by His own act in a most remarkable way, and it is made known that this thing was determined by God Himself with a tremendous object in view, the greatest object in the heart of God - His own glory.

Now you see the far-reaching possibilities of such a consideration, and the tremendous range of application. We shall be content just now to take the fact that when God is seeking to glorify Himself, to bring His Son into His rightful place of recognition, of Lordship, those things which we may naturally regard and interpret as the haps and chances of human life, to which all are subject, may be something predestined of God, under God's control, to bring out something greatly to the glory of God, to God's satisfaction.

Now, friends, this is something to which you and I, have to seek quite diligently to adjust ourselves. Let us widen and enlarge the application from just human indisposition or sickness, even if it does culminate in death. Let us view in the light of this perhaps a lifetime of difficulty and adversity and suffering, perhaps something that has come to us for which we have more than thrice sought the lord that it might be removed, and the Lord has in effect said, 'No': there has been no removal; it is something that we are called upon to experience and endure. It may be something in our lives as a whole, or it may be some event in our lives of great distress. Oh, look at it, whatever it may be in you case that you would have removed, to which you would take the attitude that Mary and Martha took - This is a tragedy, this is a misfortune, this is a great adversity, this is an overwhelming sorrow, this is all against us, all contrary to our good and to our blessing and to our joy. The Word of God makes it clear in more than one place that there is a sovereignty behind the lives of His own, "the called according to His purpose", which may have not just let that thing happen, but actually ordained it, and made that very thing, ordered by the will of God, the means by which something should come from our lives very much to the glory of God. I know that it is not easy to take that attitude toward things when you are in them - it is the most difficult thing; but here is something which is concrete as a statement,and it says in a general way to us, "to them that love God... that are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28): 'You who love the Lord, there is some tremendous possibility for the Lord's glory, the Lord's satisfaction, wrapped up in that which you are inclined to regard as a trouble, suffering, adversity, a setback, a tragedy, if not a catastrophe, a strange and mysterious providence which has reversed your hopes and expectations - all that and much more. That may be something that the Lord has not only allowed to take place, but has arranged Himself.' In the end, of course, we recognize that and acknowledge it, and we shall not be sorry that we went through that thing. I do not think Mary and Martha were sorry afterwards that they went through it. I think there was tremendous gain there, but the point is in suffering something for God's glory, and if our hearts are set upon His glory, we shall share it. "If so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified with Him" (Romans 8:17).

That is just the first brief but quite real message to us, and it must be taken by every one of us according to our own hearts' secret bitterness and sorrow. You know the Lord has dealt with you in a strange way, upset all your plans, suspended all your expectations, reversed all your hopes, brought everything to a standstill, whatever it might be. Now "this sickness is not unto death". If Christ, the Resurrection and the Life, is involved in this, it is unto life; it cannot be unto death, but for the glory of God.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 9 - Manifested Glory Limited By An Earth Touch)

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Work of the Ministry # 7

The Work of the Ministry # 7

The Work of the Cross, continued -

That constitutes the next battle for the child of God. To begin with, the Holy Spirit, as it were, does not talk about this; He just gives the joy of salvation. But after a bit there is the discovery of the need of something deeper. What is the final solution to a defeated Christian life? It is the end of Romans seven - "I thank God through Jesus Christ", and he thanks God because what is in Romans six has been realized. "Our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin; for he that hath died is justified (released) from sin" (verses 6, 7). And the revelation of the Spirit comes as to the further meaning of the Cross as deliverance from the power of sin.

The next thing is that the Cross begins to deal with the self-life itself, and we run into a deeper discovery of what self is - not actual sins and wickedness, but motives, a whole world of iniquity which is our self-life; and the end of it is that the Lord will lead us to a crisis, where we see that the Cross has dealt with that person, that self. Paul tells us in Romans six that the old man is crucified, and in Galatians two, verse twenty he says, "I have been crucified with longer I... but Christ". So the Cross is our deliverance from that.

But the deepest thing is that the work of the fall was undone by the Lord Jesus. Redemption was an adequate thing. He was manifested to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). Now, one thing that was injected into the human race was enmity against God. The enmity between man and God was dealt with at the Cross; we who were once enemies were reconciled, and there is peace with God. But the fall has always brought enmity between man and man; between each one of us and every other one there is an enmity. If we had to live with one other long enough and uncomfortably enough, trouble would soon blow up. There is something that is "I", and it is irritating. Well, the Cross has slain that enmity - of course, in the Lord Jesus - but that is our refuge. Our refuge is the Cross, and Ephesians two touches that very matter. It says, "That He might create in Himself of the two one new man", "having slain the enmity thereby" (verses 16, 17). The Lord is not satisfied with a lot of warring units. It is a travesty to think of having peace with God upwards while there is war between His children down here. The Lord says, I want to get among you all and clear that away, so that you become one. And the proof that the Cross has done its work is the oneness that is in Christ.

A Practical Expression

Now, this is not just theory: it is the thing that the Lord longs for, "I pray for them...that they may be one", and our first exercise must be to commit ourselves to the Lord's will in this matter. He may touch actual points where there is not absolute oneness. That is a practical issue that we have to face. "If a man say, I love God,and hateth his brother, he is a liar" (1 John 4:20). The proof that we are right with God is that we are right with one another. We are living in tremendous, terrific, days: every man of the world you talk to admits it. But, in the midst of all the chaos, the Lord has an answer. How encouraging that in Isaiah it says, "Darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon thee" (Isa. 60:2) As the darkness deepens, the Church is the answer, and that means corporate life. "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20). It does not mean two or three in a room; it means two or three who have been made one, who have been through the fires of the Cross until they are one and you cannot get a wedge between them; Christ has done something. And love is not sentiment - it is a miracle. You have to love people with whom you could not get on naturally. The Cross has to deal with that life, that the life of Jesus may be manifest; and it is one life. The Lord says, if even two or you are one, you can have anything you like. It is an immense thing to get two people really one.

What, then, is the answer to the day in which we live? It is the Church; it is Christ corporate; it is the "togetherness in Christ, at all costs, of the saints. "We ought to lay down our lives" (1 John 3:16). It is the losing of that natural independent self-life, whatever it costs, in the place where we live in order that the Church may be built. The churches are the expressions of Christ in His people, and that is what matters. There needs to be a closely related practical life in Christ to make this effectual. In other words, the Church has to be built. There has to be a knitting of member to member in order that the Lord's presence may be known.The Lord is not just present, in an indefinite way, in the middle of a room where the saints are. He is in saints who are one. The key to the whole situation in the earth is this matter of oneness in the saints, and I believe that it needs practical expression.

"I pray for them...that they may be one". The travail of His soul will not be satisfied until He finds something of His own likeness reflected in us, and that reflection requires our being close together. We must "grow up in all things into Him, Who is the head, even Christ", but we cannot grow separately.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 8 - For The Glory of God)

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Work of the Ministry # 6

The Work of the Ministry # 6

The Seed Is The Church, continued -

So you go down into death as an individual, but you come up as part of a whole. There is only one Christ, Christ and His members, and that is the Church. The Church is Christ as the life and the realm of His people. The Church is not a lot of people. It is one new man, and the only way to know the Church is through death and resurrection. You have got to go right out of the picture, or you will never know what the Church is; because it is not on this side - it is on that other side. There may be religion on this side, but it is not the Church. The Church is on that side, and it is just Christ. It is not a thing, an organization; it is a life in union with the living Lord and vital union with one another. We feel for one another, we care for one another. How the whole physical body hurries to the aid of the of the foot that is damaged, or anything else. How insensitive we can be to one another, how terribly self-occupied and self-centered. The Lord wants to deliver us from that and bring us on to a new ground where we "love one another from the heart fervently", where we really care what happens to one another.

Than brings us to what I believe is the key to what was in the Lord's heart as He faced the Cross. I do not know where you think John seventeen took place. It looks as though it took place in the upper room, because chapter eighteen tells us that afterward they went into the garden, but it all seems bound up with Gethsemane. It was the same night, and more than once in John seventeen the Lord uses the actual words "I pray..." When He is facing the greatest issue that has ever been faced, He pours out His heart to His Father. This is, so to speak, the Holy of Holies. You could not have a greater opening of His heart really than John seventeen. He is letting us into His secret. What an extraordinary thing for those men to have been thee in His presence when He so prayed!

What does He pray for - the Saviour of the world, the One Who is going to the Cross as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world? "I pray for them; I pray not for the world" - is that not extraordinary? - "I pray... for those whom Thou hast given Me" (John 17:9). And what is the heart of His burden for those who are His children/ His one heart cry to His Father for His seed, His own ("they are mine", He says, "for they are Thine"). The Lord's burden is - not that people may exist spiritually, but they they may be one; not that they may be brought to birth, they shall be brought into oneness. The full fruitage of redemption is not merely their salvation. The Lord is not satisfied with countless saved souls. Saved souls can be a perfect travesty and a contradiction of everything. Some Christians are doing the most grievous harm, but you cannot say they are not saved. We have spoken to a Roman Catholic who was in the employ of a professing Christian. He says - 'Well, I am sorry, I know too much.' And your tongue is tied because sometimes you know things yourself - injustice, wickedness, lying -yes, but the man is saved. God's great issue is not only our standing in Christ, but the state is a very serious matter. There is no testimony by standing; the testimony is by the state. It is not until something happens inwardly in the life that there is any testimony, but being a Christian does not necessarily make you a witness.

Then there is one further thing. The travail of His soul requires something more than individual spirituality. You can as it were beget a lot of semi-spiritual people, because they have had the teaching and they have heard about the Cross; they are, as it were, going on with the Lord all by themselves, but there is very little impact in an unrelated, isolated spiritual individual. A ministry can so produce individuals, and the tragedy is that so often these individuals, if you meet them aside, fall into one of two categories. Either they think they have something a bit better than other people, therefore they cannot help feeling a bit critical of other people, and other Christians can smell their critical spirit miles off, and so are not interested - and so that testimony has gone out. Or, at the other extreme, they are going through such a time, because they are trying to go on with the Lord, that they are nearly always 'under the weather' - in other words, they are always having spiritual problems because they have heard this deeper thing and it has got them tired up. Even if you get quite a measure of spiritual life in a child of God as an isolated unit, and they go on faithfully and seek to be true to the Lord, the weight of things proves too much for them, and the more real they are, the more the weight of it is on them. They are nearly crushed out of existence. The Lord has another way, and the Lord's way is the Body - one life together, oneness. "That they may be one."

The Work of the Cross

The Cross has done a mighty thing. If we could see what the Cross has really done,we would all stand up and say, Hallelujah! It is tremendous, it is a mighty deliverance. It has taken away the whole sin of the world - yes; but that is not all, though that is big enough. When you and I had our sins forgiven, I wonder how many of us, after a little time, ran into a sticky patch? I did; I am sure most of you did. We discover that, although we have a new nature through new birth, unfortunately we also have another nature still there. "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit" (Gal. 5:17). We still have this other nature.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 7)

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Work of the Ministry # 5

The Work of the Ministry # 5

Travail Unto Full Growth, continued - 

So Hebrew two says: "It became Him, for Whom are all things, and through Whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Author of their salvation perfect through sufferings" (vs. 10); not 'in bringing many sons into eternal life', but "in bringing many sons unto glory"; and glory is moral glory, it is likeness to Christ. The only glory in us is the measure of Christ - not this wretched person. Glory is the presence of the One within, Who is there that He may increase and grow and develop, until His very features begin to appear in these poor vessels of clay: so that qualities and characteristics and beauties, which just are not in us at all naturally, begin to appear; and that is what the Lord is looking for. 'My seed", seed like that - because seed means nature. He is looking for the nature; He is looking for what which in Himself finds its fullness, manifested and brought through into actual expression in redeemed lives. The Lord's satisfaction with a seed is found not only where the life is implanted, but where it is increased and comes to expression.

We could spend much time on the great secret of that increase of Christ. There is a New Testament Scripture that bears right on this matter - Galatians four and verse nineteen. Paul, who has been used to bring into being a nucleus of believers called 'the churches in Galatia', says to these Christians, these saved people, "I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you". "Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now perfected in the flesh?" (Gal. 3:3). 'Having started in the power of that new God-given life, are you now going on in the energy of this same old one that you had before? You have a tradition, you have doctrines that you hold on to, you observe days and years - you are trying to be pleasing to God by doing things. That is all a dropping out of the realm of this new life which has made you sons of God; you have become withered, you have become babes again; and now I am in travail until Christ is formed in you.' Travail unto the full measure of Christ - that is the first thing.

The Way of Growth

The second great matter here is that not only is the seed a life imparted that it may come to fullness, but that fullness never comes without a basic work being done in the life. Paul touches on that in Galatians. He says, "Walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Gal. 5:16). We have the corollary of this in Romans eight and verse thirteen: "if ye live after the flesh, ye must die." If you ask, How can I live in the realm where Christ increasingly becomes my life" - the answer is: "They that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof" (Gal. 5:24). Only if we have repudiated the old natural basis of life and said, 'I have finished with it, I want it to be no longer I but Christ', only if we have decided that it must be Christ, can it so be. Do you want it to be you or the Lord? You have to make up your mind. The Lord says, "If any man would come after Me" the first thing he will have to do is to "deny himself" (Matt. 16:24). The word "deny" in the Greek is a deliberate and final repudiation of self. Baptism declares that; but baptism does not end the process, rather does it begin it - because from that crisis, what happens? Then all that is not Christ in us begins to come to light, bit by bit. You say, I did not know it would mean that! Then crisis follows crisis. But if you have wholly committed yourself, then there will be that further word of the Lord: "let him deny himself, and take up his cross" - in one case it says "daily" (Luke 9:23). As far as self is concerned, all the way of the Cross is the only way of the increase of Christ. 'Not I, but Christ.

But that has to be a heart matter settled secretly with the Lord. When a child of God settles that with the Lord, the Lord's mighty hand closes on him. He says, 'I will see you through'. How blessed it is to see children of God who come up to crisis after crisis; perhaps you see them meet the crisis, and you can tell from their faces what they are going through, it may be for two or three days, and then life breaks, and they seem more gentle. You have some fellowship with them: they say, 'Praise the Lord, that is done!' With those who mean business, it is remarkable how often that others,and how quickly they grow. You do not have to engineer your own crisis - the Lord does it. The Cross is the only way for Him to "see...and be satisfied". Can the Lord be satisfied with the carnal Christian - with someone full of their own importance, going their own way? Does heaven look down and say - "That satisfies God"? It is nonsense! The Lord is looking for something quite different. He is looking for the ruling out of that, that His Son may come into view.

The Seed Is The Church

But the further meaning of this seed, I believe, is that it is a corporate term. The Lord has not died and risen again merely with individuals in view, though it begins with individuals; but as we come into Christ, we become His seed, a kind of person - many persons, of course, but of a certain kind - and in that kind of person the mere persons begins to be very much at a discount. It does not mean that personalities and individuals are ruled out, but they become something more than just a lot of unites: and that brings us to that word in Galatians three and verse sixteen, where Paul is speaking about Abraham's seed, "He saith not, And to seeds, as of many, but as of one, 'And to thy Seed,' Which is Christ." Christ Himself is, of course, the seed of God, the Only Begotten, but in Christ we become a seed or a generation which is Christ corporate. What we are naturally is all under judgment at the Cross and ruled out. God is only seeing a new creation altogether,where He sees but one person - His beloved Son; one Christ, and every one of us in Christ.

Therefore the fruit of the Cross is not just individual salvation. The fruit of the Cross is the Church. The fruit of the Cross is a very big thing: it is oneness.Will you look at Galatians three,verses twenty-six, through twenty-nine: "For ye all all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ. There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus. And if ye are Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, heirs according to promise." As individuals, each with our background, our opinions, our personal angle on things, which seem so real to us - if I am a Jew, well, I see everything Jewishly, and if I am a Greek, I cannot abide Jews, and therefore I see everything Greekishly. But then there is a grave, and we say, 'Lord, I want it to be You and not me'; there is resurrection on that side. How many Jews and Greeks are there over there? You cannot find one; there is nobody there at all except Christ.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 6)

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~

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~

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. B. Cowman~

Monday, October 9, 2017



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!