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Saturday, July 23, 2011

For Me to Live is Christ

"For me to live is Christ." (Philippians 1:21)

The believer did not always live to Christ. He began to do so when God the Holy Spirit convinced him of sin, and when by grace he was brought to see the dying Saviour making a propitiation for his guilt. From the moment of the new and celestial birth the man, or woman,begins to live to Christ. Jesus is to believers the one pearl of great price, for whom we are willing to part with all that we have. He has so completely won our love, that it beats alone for Him; to His glory we would live, and in defense of His gospel we would die; He is the pattern of our life, and the model after which we would sculpture our character. Paul's words mean more than most believers think; they imply that the aim and end of his life was Christ - nay, his life itself was Jesus! In the words of an ancient saint, he did eat, and drink, and sleep eternal life. Jesus was his very breath, the soul of his soul, the heart of his heart, the life of his life. Can you say, as a professing Christian, that you live up to this idea? Can you honestly say that for you to live is Christ? Your business - are you doing it for Christ? Is it not done for self-aggrndizement and for family advantage? Do you ask, "Is that a bad reason?" For the Christian it is. He professes to live for Christ; how can he live for another object without committing a spiritual adultery? Many there are who carry out this principle in some measure; but who is there that dare say that he hath lived wholly for Christ as the apostle did? Yet, this alone is the true life of a Christian - its source, its sustenance, its fashion, its end, all gathered up in one word - Christ Jesus. Lord, accept me; I here present myself, praying to live only in Thee and to Thee. Let me be as the bullock which stands between the plough and the alter, to work or to be sacrificed; and let my motto be, "Ready for either - Your will, my Father."

~Charles Spurgeon~

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Christ and Adam

You can always tell the difference between the two Adams. When the first Adam sins he begins to make an excuse. Man must have an excuse always ready for his sins. When God came down and said, "Adam, where art thou? What have you been doing? Have you been eating of that tree? he hung his head and had to own up that he had; but he said, "Lord, it is the woman that tempted me." He had to charge it back upon God, you see. Instead of putting the blame where it belonged, on his own shoulders, he tried to blame God for his sins. That is what the first Adam was like.

We have it right here every day in our discussions. Men and women trying to charge their sins back on God instead of getting up and confessing them. They say, "Why did God tempt me? What did God do this and that?" That was the spirit of the first Adam. But, thank God, the second Adam made no excuse. He took it upon Himself to bar our sins upon the tree. The first Adam looked upon the tree and plucked its fruit and fell. The second Adam was nailed to the tree. "Cursed is everyone that is nailed to the tree." He became a curse for us.

The two remarkable events that have taken place in the world are these, that when the first Adam went up from Eden he left a curse upon the earth, but when Christ went up from the Mount of Olives He lifted the curse.

When the first Adam was tempted he yielded to the first temptation. When the second Adam was tempted He resisted. satan gave him a trial. God won't have a Son that He cannot test. Christ was tried; He was tempted; He took upon Himself your nature and min and withstood the temptation. The first Adam was tempted by his bride. The second Adam was tempted for His bride, the church, that He might win her for himself.

In 1 Corinthians 15:45 we are told of two federal heads, two Adams. We are all in the first Adam and can be in the second Adam. The first Adam was the chief of all created things; he was intelligent, he gave names to all. The second Adam was the chief of the universe but humbled Himself to become "servant of all." The first Adam was conquered by the world. The second Adam conquered the world. The first Adam charged sin back on Go, the second Adam bore our sins in His own body on the tree. The first Adam brought sin in, the second drove it away. The first Adam fell in a garden, the second rose in a garden. This dark world will bloom under the second Adam. The first Adam disobeyed, the second was obedient.

~D. L. Moody~

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Beatitudes

The man who is poor in spirit is the man who has realized that things mean nothing, and that God means everything. (William Barclay)

If the sermon on the Mount is the precis of all Christian doctrine, the eight beatitudes are the precis of the whole of the Sermon on the Mount. (Jacques Benigne Bossuet)

We have too many men of science, too few men of God. We have grasped the mystery of the atom, and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. (Omar Bradley)

The character which we find in the Beatitudes is, beyond all question, nothing less than our Lord's own character, put into words. It is the description set side by side with an example. (Billy Graham)

"Poor in spirit" refers, not precisely to humility, but to an attitude of dependence on God and detachment from earthly supports. (Ronald Knox)

The more we live and try to practice the Sermon on the Mount, the more shall we experience blessing. (Martyn Lloyd Jones)

Meek endurance and meed obedience, the accepting of His dealings, of whatever complexion they are and however they may tear and desolate our hearts, without murmuring, without sulking, without rebellion or resistance, is the deepest conception of the meekness which Christ pronounced blessed. (Alexander Maclaren)

Beatitudes, just by virtue of having been spoken by Him, have enriched our moral existence beyond imagination, putting a yeast of love into the unlovely dough of human greed and human spite and human willfulness so that it can rise marvelously. (Malcolm Muggeridge)

The beatitudes are a call to us to see ourselves, to live with ourselves, in a way that probably does not come easily to most of us. (Simon Tugwell)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Face to Face Encounter with God

Looking back on our spiritual journeys, we will see that we have held on to our own way too much of the time. When we come to the end of ourselves, God can begin to take control. The Scripture asks: "Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?" (Amos 3:3). We cannot enter into the profound truths of God until we relinquish control, for "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption" (1 Cor. 15:50).

Jacob's name means "supplanter." When Jacob came to the end of his plans, God had a better plan. How slow we are to see that there is a better way.

The glory is never so wonderful as when we realize our helplessness, throw down our sword, and surrender our authority to God. Jacob was a diligent worker, and he would go through any hardship if he could have his own way. In numerous situations, he had his way; all the while, he was ignorant of how gloriously God preserved him from calamity. There is a good; there is a better, but God has the best, a higher standard for us than we have yet attained. It is a better thing if it is God's plan and not ours.

Jacob and his mother had a plan to secure the birthright and the blessing, but God planned the ladder and the angels. Isaac, Jacob's father, agreed that Jacob should go "to Padan Aram, to the house of Bethuel [his] mother's father" (Gen. 28:2). On his way there, Jacob rested his head on a stone. In his dream, he saw a "ladder ... and its top reached to heaven". Above the ladder, Jacob saw God and heard Him say: "The land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants". He also heard God tell him: "I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you". What a good thing for Jacob that in the middle of carrying out his own plan, God found him at the right place. The trickery to obtain the birthright had not been the honorable thing to do, but here at Bethel, he found that God was with him.

Many things may happen in our lives, but when the veil is lifted and we see the glory of God, His tender compassion covers us all the time. How wonderful to be where God is. Jacob experienced twenty-one  years of wandering, fighting, and struggling. Listen to his conversation with his wives: "Your father has deceived me and changed my wages ten times, but God did not allow him to hurt me" (Gen. 31:7). To his father-in-law, Jacob said:  Unless the God of my father ... had been with me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God has seen my affliction and the labor of my hands"

~Smith Wigglesworth~

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Nothing Goes Unnoticed

John 6:61-65; Psalm 139:1-6

Christ has a perfect knowledge of the hearts of men. We read that "He knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him."

Sentences like this are found so frequently in the gospels that we are apt to underrate their importance. Yet there are few truths which we shall find it so good for our souls to remember as that which is contained in the sentence before us. The Saviour with whom we have to do is one who knows all things!

What light this throws on the marvelous patience of the Lord Jesus in the days of His earthly ministry! He knew the sorrow and humiliation before Him and the manner of His death. He knew the unbelief and treachery of some who professed to be His familiar friends, allowing one whom He knew to be about to betray Him to be one of His apostles. It was doubtless meant to teach us that false profession must be expected everywhere and most not surprise us. How much we ought to tolerate and put up with, if our Lord tolerated Judas near Him! But "for the joy that was set before Him" he endured it all (Hebrews 12:2).

What light this throws on the folly of hypocrisy and false profession in religion! Let those who are guilty of it recollect that they cannot deceive Christ. He sees them, knows them and will expose them at the last day, except they repent. Whatever we are as Christians and however weak, let us be real, true, and sincere.

Finally, what light this throws on the daily pilgrimage of all true Christians! Let them take comfort in the thought that their Master knows them. However much unknown and misunderstood by the world, their Master knows their hearts and will comfort them at the last day. Happy is he who, in spite of many infirmities, can say with Peter, "Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee" (John 21:17)

~Daily Readings~

It is the Holy Spirit that Quickens

John 6:61-65; Ezekiel 37:1-10

Our Lord says, "It is the Spirit that quickens." By this He means that it is the Holy Spirit who is the special author of spiritual life in man's soul. By His agency it is first imparted and and afterwards sustained and kept up. If the Jews thought He meant that men could have spiritual life by bodily eating or drinking, they were greatly mistaken.

Our Lord says, "The flesh profiteth nothing." By this He means that neither His flesh nor any other flesh, literally eaten, can do good to the soul. Spiritual benefit is not to be had through the mouth, but through the heart. The soul is not a material thing and cannot therefore be nourished by material food.

Our Lord says, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life." By this He signifies that His words and teachings, applied to the heart by the Holy Spirit, are the true means of producing spiritual influence and conveying spiritual life. By words thoughts are begotten and aroused. By words mind and conscience are stirred. And Christ's words especially are spirit-stirring and life-giving.

The principle contained in this verse, however faintly we may grasp its full meaning, deserves peculiar attention in these times. There is a tendency in many minds to attach an excessive importance to the outward and visible or "doing" part of religion. They seem to think that the sum and substance of Christianity consists in baptism and the supper of the Lord, in public ceremonies and forms, in appeals to the eye and ear and bodily excitement. Surely they forget that it is "the Spirit that quickeneth" and that the "flesh profiteth nothing." It is not so much by noisy public demonstrations as by the still quiet work of the Holy Spirit on hearts that God's cause prospers. It is Christ's words entering into consciences which "are spirit and life."

Truth and life come by God's Word and God's Spirit. Never separate the two.

~J. C. Ryle~