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Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Holy Spirit's Teaching Makes Practical Christians!

The Holy Spirit's Teaching Makes Practical Christians

"But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name - He will teach you all things!" (John 14:26).

The Holy Spirit is the Teacher of the church. To Him the promise refers, "All Your children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children."

He taught the apostles all things necessary for their office and work.

He teaches the true ministers of Christ, leading them into the truth as it is in Jesus.

And He teaches every believer - all that is really necessary for him to know!

The Bible is the lesson-book,
the believer is the scholar,
the blessed Spirit is the teacher, and
experimental religion is the education!

No one teaches like Him!
He teaches us gradually, silently, and always effectually! For only what the Spirit teaches us - do we really know!

He teaches us what God requires in His Word, what He has provided in His gospel; what Christ is to His people, what His people are to Him.

His teaching makes practical Christians - for He always teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in the present world!

~James Smith~
______________________________

The Work of the Holy Spirit

I love to meditate on the work of the Holy Spirit, from whom we receive such great and invaluable blessings, and to whom we are so much indebted! To Him, I feel that I am indebted for every good thought, and for every good work. How wonderful His patience - that He should bear with me so long; and how wonderful His loving-kindness - that He should confer on me so much! O that I was more deeply sensible of my obligations!

It was the Holy Spirit who quickened me, subduing the enmity of my heart, the obstinacy of my will, the worldliness of my affections, and bringing every thought into subjection to the obedience of Christ.

Having quickened and conquered me, He comforted me, assuring me of a saving interest in the love of God, the perfect work of Jesus, the precious promises of the Word, and the eternal rest which remains for the people of God.

Having quickened, conquered, and comforted me, He sanctified me by separating me from the world, and setting me apart for my Redeemer's glory and praise.

As my Sanctifier, He became my Guide leading me into the truth, conducting me out of the paths of danger, and directing me into the everlasting way.

Not only my guide, but He became my Guard preserving me from danger, protecting me from foes, and becoming a wall of fire around about me.

Whenever I wander - He reproves me; when I willfully go astray - He corrects me, and makes me smart for my folly.

The work He began so long ago - He carries on; nor will He withdraw His hand from it, until it is perfected, and I am fully fitted for glory.

Reader, what do you experimentally know of the work of the Holy Spirit: 

Has He quickened you?
Has He conquered you?
Does He comfort you?
Are you sanctified by His presence, power, and operation in your heart?

Does He:

guide you by His counsel,
guard you by His power, and
correct you for your follies?

The work of the Spirit within us - is as necessary as the work of Jesus for us! For if the atonement of Christ entitles us to glory - it is the work of the Holy Spirit that prepares us to possess and enjoy it! We must be washed, justified, and sanctified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of God - or we cannot be saved!

~James Smith~


Don't Worry!

Don't Worry!

"So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matt. 6.34).

Half our pains and pleasures are drawn from the future. We are pleased with a thing not only when we have it, but while we are looking forward to having it. In the same way, the apprehension of evil, is often more painful than the evil itself. Made as we are with hopes and fears, we cannot but look forward. But in doing so we too often give way to worry.

Our Lord alludes here to the habit of the mind, the habit of anxiously looking forward to the future. "So do not worry about tomorrow," He says. He does not mean that we are to be careless about the future, making no provision for it and exercising no forethought about it. But He means  that we are not to worry about it, that we are not to pass our days in a state of continual apprehension as to what is to come.

"Tomorrow" takes in the whole of the future; but the use of this word sets the lesson before us in a striking way. We are not to worry about the future at all; not even about that part of it which is close at hand, the very next day: "Do not worry about tomorrow."

How comforting to be told this by our Lord Himself! Then certainly we need not worry - He Himself forbids it. If we give way to worry - then we are doing what He bids us not do. If we strive against anxious thoughts - then we are following His direction. Thus, what is right and what is happy go together.

"Each day has enough trouble of its own." What does our Lord mean by this? Plainly, that He who provides for today - will provide for tomorrow also. "Your heavenly Father," He says before, "knows that you need all these things." He knows this, not only with regard to today, but with regard to tomorrow too. When tomorrow comes, the eye that is over us now - will be over us still; the same love and care will still be with us.

In ceasing to worry about the morrow - we are not leaving it to chance, but to God! We thus acknowledge Him as the God of tomorrow, as well of of today - and take things in the order which He has marked out. Step by step, day by day - is God's rule for us. We are to live in continual dependence on Him, again and again seeking blessings from His hand, and coming to Him continually as fresh needs arise.

The very title "Father," seems to convey this meaning. The child of an earthly family does not seek to lay up a private store for tomorrow, but is content to trust its parents care. The father may even be poor and find difficulty in providing daily bread for his children; but the child in general knows little of that, but looks every day for food and all necessary things, not doubting that its parent both can and will supply them.

In the same way would our heavenly Father have us to live day by day in simple trust in Him. There are no difficulties with the Lord of Heaven and earth - His power is as great as His will. If the child of an earthly parent does not worry - then surely the child of God should not worry.

In the very prayer that He gave us, our Lord taught us what to seek and how to feel: "Give us this day our daily bread, give us day by day our daily bread." He bids us ask, not for tomorrow's bread, but for today's. When tomorrow comes - then we may ask afresh. So we should pray, so trust, and so live.

 "Each day has enough trouble of its own." Trouble is the cause of worry. Such there is, and such there will be. But it comes day by day, not all at once. Each day's trouble, each day's provision, each day's blessing - by itself. The trouble of each day is enough. We could not bear the troubles of our life, if they all came altogether. Then we would be overwhelmed. But this is not how God sends our troubles.

Let us look back on past troubles; for such we have certainly had, if we have advanced far in life. How did they come? Not all at once, but one by one, with intervals of time and of rest.  Coming even so, they tried us greatly - but they would have overwhelmed us, had they come all together. But worry about the future makes them come all together - it heaps tomorrow's troubles upon today's, and thus makes the troubles of today overwhelming. God sends each day such troubles, difficulties, and cares, as He sees fit; and promises withal daily food, daily strength, daily help and comfort. We must not outrun His promises by our worry. 

Besides, trouble comes to us for good. Trouble is not really bad, if we receive it aright - and taken as God sends it. For then it is a fatherly chastisement, a loving discipline, part of our Father's wise and gracious training of us for His kingdom. But this benefit is likely to be lost, if we do not take trouble as God sends it, in His order and in His measure. Today's trouble is what is to do us good. If we add tomorrow's to it before tomorrow comes - then the good may be lost; for then we take it in our own measure and order, rather than in God's.

I have spoken of this exhortation as conveying comfort and blessing - and as showing that duty and happiness are linked together. It is indeed a blessing to be told by our Lord Himself not to worry about the future. But in order to take this comfort to ourselves, we must know God as our Father, our reconciled Father in Christ Jesus. Just before the text, our Lord says: "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness." And a few verses before, "You cannot serve both God and money." We must choose God before all - we must seek first His kingdom and righteousness - we must go to Jesus as our Saviour, seek pardon and peace through His precious blood, and become children of God by adoption and grace. Then, and then only - we shall find such words as those of the text to be precious to us.

Yes, precious indeed! For they give us a right to put away worry. "Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things." Why should any worry, to whom these words apply? "Your Father knows." Let that be enough for the child of God. What you need today, and what you will need tomorrow - all your needs, for body and for soul - just what is best for you - "your Father knows." And who is your Father? The great God Almighty, the Lord of Heaven and earth. Away with worry then! Away with doubts and fears about tomorrow's troubles, or tomorrow's needs!" "Your Father knows." Let that be enough.

But what can they do who know not God as their Father, when anxious thoughts arise? When trouble, loss, want, sorrow, apprehension come - what peace can be theirs? Ah, you have not yet cast the burden of your sins upon your Saviour - how can you take to Him and other burden? You have not yet gone to Him for the supply of your greatest need - how then shall you flee to Him for relief when lesser wants press upon you? When will you learn where true safety and happiness are to be found? Not in the vain attempt to serve two masters, not in seeking the world first and God second - but only in the full surrender of your heart to God in Christ. None but the child of God is really happy. None but the child of God is even safe. None but the child of God can truly lay aside worry about the future, and live day by day - trustful, peaceful, and happy.

~Francis Bourdillon~

(The End)

The Chief End of Life # 1

The Chief End of Life # 1

"This one thing I do. Forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).

We meet you today, young men, with our sincere and friendly congratulations, and in no merely formal or simulated manner, offer you the compliments of the season, and "Wish you a happy new year," more than this, a happy life, and still beyond this, a happy eternity. Time, with ceaseless flow rolls onward, and is ever bearing you on its resistless stream to the boundless ocean of eternity. Yes, to eternity! Yet now to eternal annihilation, but to everlasting conscious existence. As you stand upon the threshold of another year pause and ponder - the past is forever gone. Survey the scene before you, and learn your destiny, your dignity, your duty. An interminable prospect of perpetual existence, a vista of endless ages, yes, and of bliss too, open before you if you adopt, in the meaning he attached to it, the motto of the Apostle which heads this address, and say, in reference to that object - 'this one thing I do.' He intended by it, not his office as an ambassador of Christ, but his final salvation as an immortal being.

There is something striking in seeing a rational creature select one object from the many which surround him, holding it up to public notice, with the declaration, "for this I live," and from that moment pursuing it with the ardor of a lover, the fidelity of a servant, the courage of a hero, and the constancy of a martyr. Such a power of abstraction and concentration is a fine spectacle. But then the object selected should be worthy of it - and should repay the great effort. man has but one life to spend, and he should be careful, anxiously, yes almost painfully careful, not to throw it away upon an undeserving object. Think of his coming to the close of his brief and troubled sojourn in this world with the melancholy confession, "Life with me has been a lost adventure."

We would help you to guard against this catastrophe, and assist you so to select your object, and lay your plan, that after a prosperous, happy, and useful life, even death itself, instead of being the wreck of your hopes, shall prove the consummation of your hopes, and be your eternal gain.

This address comes to you from a body of young men, entitled "The Young Men's Christian Association," who are banded together by the ties of a holy brotherhood to encourage and assist one another in pursuing and securing the highest and noblest end of human existence. We have made our choice; our judgment and conscience approve the selection; it stands continually before us in the wilderness of life, visible, grand, and distinct, like the Pyramids of Egypt to the traveler in the desert; and in the exercise of a benevolence which the object itself inspires, we are anxious to engage others of our age, gender, and circumstances in the same pursuit.

Our one thing, our chief end of life, is the same as the Apostle's, the pursuit of glory, honor, immortality; our hope is the possession of eternal life; and our way of seeking it "a patient continuance in well-doing." There it is before you in all its simplicity, and, we may add, in all its sublimity. Can language furnish such a more striking arrangement of words; or thought, such another association of things? "Glory," that after which millions have panted, and to which the strongest aspirations of the human soul have been directed.

"Honor," or renown, which has inflamed the ambition of many of the loftiest spirits of our race, and made them willing to sacrifice ease, time, wealth, and too often, principle and conscience. "Immortality," after which "the whole creation travails in pain together until now." And all these merging in that one immense and infinite possession, "Eternal Life." Such is our one thing. Have we any reason to be ashamed of our choice? If this be little, where in all the universe is anything great? If this be degrading, where can anything be found to elevate?

~John Angell James~

(continued with # 2)


Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Essence of Christian Living # 2

The Essence of Christian Living # 2

2. A second element of Christian living is that we shall live BY Christ. So many when they are asked if they are Christians say, "I am trying to do the best I can. I am trying to live right." But they realize their trying is in their own human strength. Try as we will in this way, we can only fail, for we are to live as Christians BY Christ. We are to draw from Him, the strength and grace which will equip us to meet the difficulties of life and to overcome them. It is only by drawing from Christ day by day, that the things which are needful, the counsel, the wisdom, the understanding, and such like - that we can live as we know we ought to live.

The grace of Christ is free, and we have but to come to Him, draw upon that grace, and we shall be, not simply trying, but accomplishing; not straining and struggling, but living natural and victorious lives.

It is only when we realize our own inability to live up to the Christian standard by our own efforts and strength, that we feel the need of His help. How much we are conscious of this! But all too many who are thus conscious of their need, fail to get their daily need supplied, because they do not take those steps that are necessary to draw from Christ the needed help.

We must live by Christ. There must be the daily inflowing of divine grace. We must feel as did Paul, that we trust not in ourselves, but in the living God.

Then we must go forward, drawing from Christ each day by seeking His help, by opening our hearts that they may be filled, by communion with Him, by earnest seeking. Christ is our life, and by Him we must live, if we live as He would have us live.

There is no holding back on His part. He gives freely to those who ask Him. He satisfies the longing soul. But many are too occupied by other worldly things to seek that daily portion of Christ that they must have to live successfully. For them life cannot have the richness and the usefulness that might be theirs for the seeking.

3. Another of the essentials of Christian living, is that we live FOR Christ. To the extent that we are occupied with self and with self-interests, to that extent we narrow the limits of Christian life. Life must be lived for Christ to be Christian life. It must be dedicated life. The language of our soul must be, "I will live for Him who died for me." The life of unselfish devotion to the interests of Christ, is the life that shines with beauty and that has a sweet perfume.

"You are not your own," says the Apostle Paul. The more we cast out selfishness, the less we seek our own, the more we yield ourselves to Christ and His work, the more we live with the purpose of pleasing Him - the deeper and richer will be the current of the joy of living and of His grace that flows through our soul. If our Christian life is not satisfactory, then let us look into our hearts and see whether we are living for Christ, or for self. To the extent we are living for self, to that extent we are robbing ourselves and robbing God. We are robbing ourselves of that blessedness that comes from wholehearted devotion to His interests. We are robbing God of the service that we ought to give Him and of the opportunities to work through us as He would.

This is the very cause of the dearth and emptiness in the lives of many professors of Christianity. They are living for self - not for Christ; and the happiness that comes from selfishness - is the lowest of all forms of happiness.

When we live near Christ and by Christ and for Christ there will be a fourth element seen in our lives.

4. We shall live like Christ. The characteristics that were seen in Him, will be seen in us. We shall bear the fruits of the Spirit. We shall not show hatred, bitterness, envy, malice, nor any of the thousand other evils which spring from the natural heart. We shall be able to live like Him. Then we can say, "For me, to live is Christ," and with joy we can add, "To die is gain."

So let us join in our lives these four elements of Christian living and we shall bear all the fruits of righteousness - and peace, joy, happiness, and contentment will be ours;and we shall lead natural, useful, and blessed Christian lives and inspire others to live for Christ.

~Charles Naylor~

(The End)

The Essence of Christian Living # 1

The Essence of Christian Living # 1

Coal tar is a dark, sticky, unattractive substance of little apparent value. But by chemical processes, a great number of different chemicals are extracted from it which are used for many purposes. Some make dyes, some flavors; and by properly combining other chemicals - rich perfumes of various sorts are produced. Looking at the dark, unlovely coal tar, we would not dream that it contained anything so desirable, but under the magic of the chemical's power, many things are brought out of it to serve useful purposes.

In the same way, the human heart in its natural state is unlovely. It is like the coal tar. But when the divine Chemist by His wisdom and power separates the evil from the good, and makes Christians out of sinners - He produces a life-power within, so that we may live a life within and without that will have the same purpose and beauty as the lives of the angels in paradise.

But Christian living is not a single thing. It is a compound. It is made up of a number of things. Four of these we shall notice:

1. The first element that goes to make up Christian living of the attractive and worth-while kind, is living NEAR Christ. The Bible teaches that the Christian lives in a close relationship with Christ. We are "no more foreigners and strangers," but children of the Most High God. We are no more "afar off," but are "brought near by the blood of Christ." His invitation is, "Come unto Me." So to live the kind of Christian life that will breath out a fragrance to all those around us, we must live near to Christ. It is our privilege to live near to Him. There are too many who live too far away from Him. To them He is "Lord and Master." He is enthroned in majesty, and seems all too unapproachable.

This is the Christ of the universe. This is our Christ - but it is only one side of His character; still it is the only side that some people seem to see. He is not only Lord and Master - He is Brother; He is Saviour; He is Keeper' He is Companion along life's way. He dwells in our hearts. It is not His relation of Lord and Master which brings out in us the beauty of Christian character, but that more intimate relation of Brother and Friend. It is the Christ to whom we draw near in full assurance of faith without fear, and without shrinking, without timidity, and without a sense of His overpowering greatness.

Christ is our Lord and Master, but He condescends also to come down upon a level with us and lets us approach Him in the same familiar way as Mary approached Him when she sat at His feet, and as the disciples did in their daily fellowship, and as the children did in their play.

Ah, yes, we can draw near Him unafraid, unabashed by His greatness, or by the sense of our weakness. We can live near Him every day. We an be in the inner circle of His friends. We can have His presence with us. We can have with Him that sweet sense of understanding that we have with our dearest and most-loved friends. Yes, He comes closer than even our dearest friends. He understands where they cannot understand. He can help where they cannot help.

So we need to come close to Christ, to live close to Him. We need to cultivate that intimate relationship, that union of soul which gives one a continued sense of His presence and friendship, and more than all, of His tender love. Without this intimate, personal sense of Christ's bring with us and helping us, understanding us, and shedding the beneficent influence of His life over us - our life will lack one of the sweetest qualities of genuine Christianity.

It is our blessed privilege to be near Him. But to have this association, we must cultivate a nearness to Him and a sense of nearness to Him - by daily drawing near to Him, and communing with Him and pouring out our love to Him. There is nothing that draws us to Christ, like loving Him. And love is cultivated by drawing near to Him each day and many times a day, and pouring our our soul's love and devotion to Him. We can live near Him even in the most troublesome times. And when we live near Him, our lives will never be stale nor lack the sweet perfume of holiness.

~Charles Naylor~

(continued with # 2)

What Is Eternal Life?

What Is Eternal Life?

Is eternal life simply a place you will go to after you are dead? Is it a peculiar feeling inside?

The apostle John tells us clearly what it is: "God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life" (1 John 5:11-12).

Jesus Christ and eternal life are synonymous terms; eternal life is none other than Jesus Christ Himself, of whom it is written, "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men" (John 1:4). If you have eternal life at all, it means that you have SOMEBODY; you have the Son, JESUS CHRIST, just as He Himself affirmed; "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14
Eternal life is neither an inward feeling, not an ultimate destination after you are dead. If you are born again, eternal life is that quality of life that you possess right now, at this very moment, indwelling your physical body, with your own two feet on the ground, and in this world today. Where does this life come from? Only from Him. He is that Life. The life you possess is all of Him, and this is true salvation.

When I was a kid of twelve, a man told me about Jesus in a way I could understand. Then, unknown to him or anybody else, at a quarter till nine on a Saturday night, the thirteenth of August, 1927, I said in my heart, "Lord Jesus nobody ever told me this before, that You died in my place. I gladly receive You so that You can forgive me." I knew He had become my Saviour, and I have had that assurance ever since. I have never again had to receive the Lord Jesus Christ into my life because He did it then, according to His promise, and He always means what He says.

That moment and that event was not my salvation, however. My salvation, which I did not understand until about seven years later, is that Christ, having died for me to change my destination when I died, also rose again from the dead to live His Life in me  and to change my character. His indwelling Life in me overcomes that old Adamic nature, the carnal mind that is at enmity with God and which can only abuse, misuse, and prostitute my humanity.

Salvation is so much more than a change of destination from hell to heaven! The true spiritual content of our gospel is not just heaven one day, but Christ here and now. In the economy of God, conversion is only an essential preliminary to discipleship, which is a lifetime of allowing Christ to live in you and do His work through you.

Your salvation is also a million times more than simply knowing your sins are forgiven. As a forgiven sinner you are to be re-inhabited by your Maker, re-invaded by Deity, so that your humanity becomes intelligently available to an intelligent God for the intelligent purpose for which He intelligently created you. That is true sanctification, as the Bible explains it. [and that was God's original intention for Adam and Eve before they sinned].

"And this is eternal life: [it means] to know (to perceive, recognize, become acquainted with, and understand) You, the only true and real God, and to know Him, Jesus Christ (the Anointed One, the Messiah), Whom You have sent." (John 17:3).

1. Do you have full and continual assurance of your salvation in Jesus Christ?

2. What does eternal life mean to you?

3. What does salvation mean to you?

~W. Ian Thomas~

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Out of Heaven and Into Us

Out of Heaven and Into Us

You are driving down the highway in your car, and you see a fellow standing next to his car which is parked beside the road. Out of the kindness of your heart you stop and say, "Can I help?"

You discover that his car is out of gas. It does not have what it takes to keep going.

You happen to have a tow-rope in your trunk, so you offer to tow his car to the next town where he can fill up, and he agrees.

After you make it to the gas station and his car is filled with gas, the man tells you, with great embarrassment, that he just realized he has no money or even a credit card to pay for the gas. Again, out of the generosity of your heart, you pay the bill. You pay a debt you did not owe because he owes a debt he cannot pay.

What does that sound like? Redemption? That is what happened for us on the Cross.

There is a purpose behind your payment of that man's debt. What is it? To fill the tank and give the man what it takes for his car to go, so he can be on his way.

After you pay for the man's gas, he thanks you profusely, and you turn and walk away. As you get into your own car, you look back to wave goodbye. To your astonishment, your see the man straining behind his car, pushing it.

So you go back to him. What will you say? Probably something with words similar to these: "Poor, silly, thoughtless, unreflecting, senseless man!" - just the way Paul addressed the Galatians (Gal. 3:1) for failing to live simply by faith in the power of the indwelling Christ through His Spirit.

When you and I received Christ as our Redeemer, He gave us, through His Holy Spirit, the fullness and power of His resurrection. He has given us everything we could ever need at any time, under any circumstance. He gave us a car with a full tank; have you instead been trying to push it?

Whenever the gasoline is gone, it is not time for new upholstery, new spark plugs, or new tires; it is time to fill up the tank? Likewise if our spiritual tank is empty, it is time to fill it. With what? With Christ!

The Lord Jesus came from heaven to earth not just to get us out of hell and into heaven - though He is the only One who can and does, if we let Him - but to get Himself out of heaven and into us.

He gave Himself for us to give Himself to us, the gift of His Life so that we may enjoy a wonderful, personal relationship with Him that never changes, because "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). Grasp this well, for otherwise your Christianity will remain boring, sterile, and impersonal. Christ Himself is the very life-content of the Christian faith. He is oil for the lamp and gas for the car. Only He makes everything "tick".

Christ did not die simply that you might be saved from a bad conscience, or even to remove the stain of past failure, but to "clear the decks" for His divine activity through you.

"Christ is All and in all" (Colossians 3:11).

1. In what ways at this time is your relationship with Christ very wonderful and personal? Give Him thanks for this.

2. In what ways is your Christianity in any way boring, or sterile, or impersonal?

~W. Ian Thomas~