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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Intercession - Day and Night

"Shall not God avenge His own elect, who cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them."

When Nehemiah heard of the destruction of Jerusalem, he cried to God: "Hear the prayer of Thy servant which I pray before Thy face day and night." Of the watchmen set on the walls of Jerusalem, God said: "Who shall never hold their peace day nor night." And Paul writes "Night and day praying exceedingly, to the end He may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before our God and Father." (1 Thess. 3:10-13).

Is such a prayer night and day really needed and really possible? Most assuredly, when the heart is first so entirely possessed by the desire that it cannot rest until this is fulfilled. The life has so come under the power of the heavenly blessing that nothing can keep it from sacrificing all to obtain it.

When a child of God begins to get a real vision into the need of the church and of the world, a vision of the divine redemption which God has promised in the outpouring of His love into our hearts, a vision of the power of true intercession to bring down the heavenly blessing, a vision of the honor of being allowed as intercessors to take part in that work, it comes as a matter of course that he regards the work as the most heavenly thing upon earth - as intercessor to cry day and night to God for the revelation of His mighty power.

Let us learn from David, who said: "The zeal of Thine house hath consumed me"; from Christ our Lord, of whom these words were so intensely true; let us learn that there is nothing so much worth living for as this one thought - how to satisfy the heart of God in His longing for human fellowship and affection, and how to win hearts to be His dwellng-place. And shall not we too give ourselves no rest until we have found a place for the Mighty One in ur hearts, and yielded ourselves to the great work of intercession for so many after whom the desires of God are going out.

God grant that our hearts may be so brought under the influence of these divine truths that we may in very deed yield ourselves to make our devotion to Christ, and our longing to satisfy the heart of God, the chief object of our life.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Intercessors God Seeks

"I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that are the Lord's remembrancers, take ye no rest and give Him no rest." (Isaiah 62:6-7)

Watchmen are ordinarily placed on the walls of a city to give notice to the rulers of coming danger. God appoints watchmen not only to warn men - often they will not hear - but also to summon Him to come to their aid, whenever need or enemy may be threatening. The great mark of the intercessors is to be that they are not to hold their peace day or night, to take no rest, and to give God no rest, until the deliverance comes. In faith they may count upon the assurance that God will answer their prayers.

It is of this that our Lord Jesus said: "Shall not God avenge His own elect, who cry to Him day and night?" From every land the voice is heard that the church of Christ, under the influence of the power of the world and the earthly mindedness it brings, is losing its influence over its members. There is but little proof of God's presence in the conversion of sinners, or the holiness of His people. With the great majority of Christians there is an utter neglect of Christ's call to take a part in the extension of His kingdom. The power of the Holy Spirit is but little experienced.

Amid all the discussions as to what can be done to interests young and old in the study of God's Word, or to awaken love for the services of His house, one hears but little of the indispensable necessity of the power of the Holy Spirit in the ministry and the membership of the church. One sees but little sign of the conviction and confession that it is owing to the lack of prayer that the workings of the Spirit are so feeble, and that only by united fervent prayer a change can be brought about. If ever there was a time when God's elect should cry day and night to Him, it is now. Will you not offer yourself to God for this blessed work of intercession, and learn to count it the highest privilege of your life to be a channel through whose prayers God's blessing can be brought down to earth?

Ever blessed Father, hear us, we pray Thee, and do Thou Thyself raise up intercessors, such as Thou would have. Give us, we beseech Thee, men and women to act as Thy remembrancers, taking no rest and giving Thee no rest, until Thy church again be a praise in the earth. Blessed Father, let Thy Spirit teach us how to pray. Amen

Monday, June 20, 2011

How to Know the Holy Spirit

The value of true spiritual knowledge in the Christian life is very important. A man whose inheritance comes to him is no richer if he does not know how to take possession of it. In the same way, the gifts of God's grace cannot bring their full blessing until we truly understand and possess them.

In Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. It is the knowledge of Christ Jesus for which the believer is willing to count all things but loss. It is because of the lack of true knowledge of what God in Christ has prepared for us that the lives of believers are so weak.

Paul prayed for the Ephesians - that the Father would give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him that they might know the hope of their calling and the riches of the inheritance and the exceeding goodness of the power working in them. This is a prayer we can never pray enough, whether for ourselves or for others.

But it is important that we know the teacher through whom all the other knowledge is to come! The Father has given each one of His children not only Christ, who is the Truth, but the Holy Spirit, who is the very Spirit of Christ and the truth.

Recognizing the Spirit

How do we know when it is the Spirit that is teaching us? If our knowledge of spiritual things is to be to us a certainty and a comfort, we must know the teacher Himself. Knowing Him will be to us the evidence that our spiritual knowledge is no deception. Our blessed Lord assures us that we will "know" the Spirit. Messengers and witnesses do not speak of themselves.

The Holy Spirit, when He testifies of Christ and glorifies Him, must be known and acknowledged. In this way we can have the assurance that the knowledge we receive is indeed of God and not what our human reason has gathered from the Word of God. To know the King's seal is the only safeguard against a counterfeit image. To know the Spirit is the divine foundation of certainty.

How can the Holy Spirit be known? Jesus says, "Ye know Him, for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." The indwelling of the Spirit is the condition of knowing Him. As we allow Him to dwell in us, and allow Him to testify of Jesus as Lord, He will prove Himself to be the Spirit of God. "It is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth" (1 John 5:6).

The presence of the Spirit as the indwelling teacher of every believer is little known and recognized in the Church. As the result, the workings of the Spirit are few. There is much doubt and hesitation about the recognition of the witness of the Spirit. As the truth and experience of the indwelling of the Spirit are restored among God's people, and the Spirit is free again to work in power among us, His blessed presence will be sufficient proof. We will indeed know Him.
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But as long as His presence is so little recognized, and His power hindered, how is He to be known? If you honestly desire to know that you have the Spirit as a personal possession and teacher, study the teaching of the Word concerning the Spirit. Do not be content with the teachings of men about the Spirit, but go to the Word. Do not be content with your ordinary readin of the Word, or what you already know about its doctrines.

If you earnestly want to know the Holy Spirit, go and search the Word as one thirsting to drink deeply of  the water of life. Collect all the scriptures concerning the Spirit, His indwelling and His work, and hide them in your heart. Be determined to accept nothing except what the Word teaches, but accept it heartily. Study the Word in dependence on the Spirit's teaching. If you study it with your human wisdom, your study of it may only confirm you mistaken views.

If you are a child of God, you have the Holy Spirit to teach you, even though you do not yet know how He works in you, or how to listen to Him. Ask the Father to work through Him in you and to make the Word life and light in you. If you submit heartily to the Word, you will find the promise surely fulfilled: you will be taught by God. Give up all your thoughts and man's thoughts as you accept the Word. Ask God to reveal in you, by His Spirit, His thoughts concerning His Spirit. He will surely do so!!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Intercession

"Pray for one another." James 5:16

What a mystery of glory there is in prayer! On the one hand we see God, in His holiness and love and power, waiting, longing to bless man; and on the other, sinful man, a worm of the dust, bringing down God by prayer the very life and love of heaven to dwell in his heart.

How much greater the glory of intercession! - when a man makes bold to say to God what he desires for others, and seeks to bring down on one soul, or it may be on hundreds and thousands, the power of the eternal life with all its blessings.

Intercession! Would one not say that this is the very holiest exercise of our boldness as God's children, the highest privilege and enjoyment connected with our intercourse with God - the power of being used by God as instruments for His great work of making men His habitation and showing forth His glory?

Would one not think that the Church would count this one of their chief means of grace, and seek above everything to cultivate in God's children the power of an unceasing prayerfulness on behalf of the perishing world?

Would one not expect that believers, who have to some extent been brought into the secret, would feel what strength there is in unity, and what assurance there is that God will certainly avenge His own elect who cry day and night to Him? It is when Christians cease from looking for help in external union, and aim at all being bound together to the throne of God by an unceasing devotion to Jesus Christ, and an unceasing continuance in supplication for the power of God's Spirit, that the Church will put on her beautiful garments, and put on her strength too, and overcome the world.

Our gracious Father, hear our prayer and teach Thy Church, and teach each one of us, what is the glory, what the blessing, what the all-prevailing power of intercession. Give us, we pray Thee, the vision of what intercession means to Thee, as essential for carrying out Thy blessed purpose - what it means to ourselves as the exercise of our royal priesthood, and what it will mean to Thy Church, and to perishing men, in the bringing down of the Spirit in power - for Jesus' sake. Amen

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Justification and Sanctification: How do they differ?

Justification and Sanctification: How do they differ?

Too many believers are apt to look at nothing but the surface of things in religion, and regard nice distinctions in theology as questions of "words and names," which are of little real value. Justification and sanctification are two distinct things we must always remember. Yet there are points in which they agree and points in which they differ.

In what way are justification and sanctification alike?

1. Both proceed originally from the free grace of God. It is of His gift alone that believers are justified or sanctified at all.
2. Both are part of that great work of salvation which Christ, in the eternal covenant, has undertaken on behalf of His people. Christ is the fountain of life, from which pardon and holiness both flow. The root of each is Christ.
3. Both are to be found in the same persons. Those who are justified are always sanctified, and those who are sanctified are always justified. God has joined them together and they cannot be put asunder. (All of this, of course, depends on a person who is truly "justified" from the heart and not merely "head knowledge".)
4. Both begin at the same time. The moment a person begins to be a justified person; he also begins to be a sanctified person. He may not feel it, but it is a fact. (This too supposes that the person truly desires to want Jesus in their lives and not just in name only.)
5. Both are alike necessary to salvation. No one ever reached heaven without a renewed heart as well as forgiveness, without the Spirit's grace as well as the blood of Christ, without a "meetness" for eternal glory as well as a title. The one is just as necessary as the other.

In what way are justification and sanctification different?

1. Justification is the "reckoning" and counting a man to be righteous for the sake of another, the Lord Jesus Christ. Sanctification is the "actual making" a person inwardly righteous, though it may be in a very feeble degree.
2. The righteousness we have by our justification is "is not our own," but the everlasting perfect righteousness of our great Mediator Christ, imputed to us, and made our own by faith. The righteousness we have by sanctification is "our own" righteousness, imparted, inherent, and wrought in us by the Holy Spirit, but mingled with much infirmity and imperfection.
3. In justification our own works have no place at all, and simple faith in Christ is the one thing needful.
4. In sanctification our own works are of vast importance and God bids us fight, and watch, and pray, and strive, and take pains, and labor. Justification is a finished and complete work, and a person is perfectly justified the moment he repents. Sanctification is an imperfect work, comparatively, and will never be perfected until we reach heaven.
5. Justification admits of no growth or increase: a man is as much justified the hour he first comes to Christ and repents as he will be to all eternity. Sanctification is eminently a progressive work, and admits of continual growth and enlargement so long as a man lives.
6. Justification has special reference to our ourselves, our standing in God's sight, and our deliverance from guilt. Sanctification has special reference to our natures, the moral renewal of our hearts.
7. Justification gives us our title to heaven, and boldness to enter in. Sanctification gives us our ability to "fit in" in heaven, and prepares us to enjoy it when we dwell there.
8. Justification is the act of God about us, and is not easily discerned by others. Sanctification is the work of God "in us", and cannot be hid in its outward manifestation from the eyes of men.

Are There Few Saved?

Are there few saved? Then, if you are doubtful whether you are one of the few, make sure you find out at once, and be doubtful no more. Leave no stones unturned in order to ascertain your own spiritual state. Be not content with vague hopes and trusts. Rest not on warm feelings and temporary desires after God. Give diligence to make your calling and election sure. Oh, give me leave to say, that if you are content to live on uncertain about your salvation, you live like the unjust.

Are there few that be saved? Then, if you are one, do not wonder that you often find yourself standing alone. I dare believe you are sometimes almost brought to a standstill, by the corruption and wickedness that you see in the world around you. You see false doctrine abounding. You see unbelief and ungodliness of every description. Think not that Christ's purposes are being defeated. Think not that His work is not going forward in the world. He is still taking out a people to His praise. He is still raising up witnesses to Himself, here and there, all over the world. The saved will yet be found to be a multitude that no man can number, when all are gathered together at last. The earth will yet be filled with the knowledge of th Lord. All nations shall serve Him: all kings shall yet delight to do Him honor. But the night is not yet spent. The day of the Lord's power is yet to come. In the meantime all is going on as He foretold 1800 years ago. Many are being lost and few are saved.

Are there few saved? Then, if you are one, do not be afraid of having too much religion. Settle it down in your mind that you will aim at the highest degree of holiness, and spiritual-mindedness, and consecration to God, that you will not be content with any low degree of sanctification. Resolve that, by the grace of God, you will make Christianity beautiful in the eyes o the world. Remember that the children of the world have but few patterns of true religion before them. Oh, that every true3Christian would recollect that he is set as a lighthouse in the midst of a dark world, and would labor so to live that every part of him may reflect light, and no side be dim!

(J. C. Ryle)

What Does Being Saved Really Mean?

To be saved, is not merely to profess and call ourselves Christians. We may have all the outward parts of Christianity, and yet be lost after all. We may be baptized into Christ's church - go to Christ's table, have Christian knowledge, be reckoned Christian men and women - yet be dead souls all our lives, and at last, in the judgment day, be found on Christ's left hand, among the goats. No: this is not salvation! Salvation is something far higher and deeper than this. Now what is it?

To be saved is to be delivered in this present life from the guilt of sin, by faith in Jesus Christ, the Saviour. It is to be pardoned, justified, and freed from every charge of sin, by faith in Christ's blood and mediation. Whosoever with his HEART on the Lord Jesus is a saved soul. He shall not perish. He shall have eternal life. This is the first part of salvation, and the root of all the rest. But this is not all!

To be saved is to be delivered in this present life from the power of sin, by being born again, and SANCTIFIED by Christ's Spirit. It is to be freed from the hateful dominion of sin, the world, and the devil, by having a new nature put in us by the Holy Spirit. Whosoever is thus renewed in the spirit, and converted, is a saved soul. He shall not perish. He shall enter into the glorious kingdom of God. This is the second part of salvation. But this is not all.

To be saved is to be delivered in the day of judgment, from all the awful consequences of sin. It is to be declared blameless, spotless, faultless, and complete in Christ, whole others are found guilty, and condemned for ever. It is to hear those comfortable words, "Come ye, blessed!" while others are hearing those fearful words, "Depart, ye cursed!"  It is to be owned and confessed by Christ, as one of His dear children and servants, while others are disowned and cast off forever. It is to receive the reward prepared for the righteous, in the day of Christ's second coming. This is complete salvation. This is the redemption for which true Christians are bid to look and long. In the eye of God their final salvation is an absolutely certain thing. Their names are in the book of life. Their mansions in heaven are even now prepared. But still there is a fullness of redemption and salvation which they do not attain to while they are in the body. They are saved from the guilt and power of sin; but not from the necessity of watching and praying against it. They are saved from the fear and love of the world; but not from the necessity of daily fighting with it. They are saved from the service of the devil; but they are not saved from being vexed by his temptations.

Such is salvation. It is to be saved from the guilt, power and consequences of sin. It is to believe and be sanctified now, and to be delivered from the wrath of God in the last day. He that has the first part in the life that now is, shall undoubtedly have the second part in the life to come. Both parts hang together.

We want to see manifest work of the Spirit among people, an evident sense of sin, a lively faith in Christ, a decided change of heart, a distinct separation from the world, a holy walk with God. In one word, we want to see souls saved.

The matter for our consideration is not whether we go to church, whether we go through certain forms and ceremonies, whether we observe certain days, and perform a certain number of religious duties. The matter is whether, after all, are we saved? Without this all our religious doings are weariness and labor in vain.

(J. C. Ryle)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Increasing Opposition

Luke 6:1-5

Jesus and His disciples were passing along one of the paths which intersected the corn fields. The fact that the disciples plucked the ears of corn was in itself no crime. One of the merciful laws of the Old Testament laid it down that anyone passing through a corn field was free to pluck the corn as long as a sickle was not put into it (Deut. 23:25). On any other day there would have been no complaint; but this was the Sabbath. Four of the forbidden kinds of work were reaping, threshing, winnowing and preparing food; and technically the disciples had broken every one of them.

This passage contains a great general truth. Jesus said to the Pharisees, "Have you not read what David did?" The answer of course was, "Yes" - but they had never seen what it meant. It is possible to read meticulously, to know he Bible inside and out from cover to cover, to be able to quote it verbatim and to pass any examination on it - and yet completely miss its real meaning. Why did the Pharisees miss the meaning - and why do we so often miss it?

They did not bring to Scripture an open mind. They came to Scripture not to learn God's will but to find proof texts to buttress up their own ideas. Far too often people take their theology to the Bible instead of finding their theology in the Bible.

They did not bring a needy heart. The person who comes with no sense of need always misses the deepest meaning of Scripture. When need awakens, the Bible is a new book. When we read God's book we must bring to it the open mind and the needy heart -and then to us also it will be the greatest book in the world!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Lord's Prayer

The Lord's Prayer is without comparison the most holy and most excellent of all prayers, since Jesus Christ Himself was the framer and the teacher of it. It contains all the dispositions which are required of a Christian, both towards God and towards his neighbor; all that he is entitled to ask for the relief of his wants, either spiritual or temporal, and in particular the infallible means for obtaining pardon of his sins.

It is suited to the smallest capacity, yet contains a sublimity to which the greatest genius could never attain; a depth, which the most intense study and acute reflection would vainly attempt to fathom. It is adapted to every state and condition; to sinners desirous of returning to God, and to penitents; to the innocent, the just and the perfect. It is calculated to impart warmth to the lukewarm, increase of fervor to the pious, confidence to the timid, disinterested views to the selfish and narrow-minded, and the most exalted sentiments to great souls.

It is the will of Jesus Christ, that all Christians should say this prayer daily, and this His will is clearly expressed in the prayer itself. Few fail to comply with this will; but alas! with how little fruit. In every age of the church, the Lord's prayer has always formed a part of the holy sacrifice of  the worship service, and is said at the beginning of every division of the divine office.

Undoubtedly Jesus Christ has included in this divine prayer, short and simple as it may appear, all that can conduce to sanctification: but to effect this, it is not enough to recite it with the lips only, even attentively; we must also comprehend well its meaning, and be animated with the sentiments which it expresses. Nor is this all: we must have a practical knowledge of it, by making our thoughts, words and actions conformable to its dictates. Else instead of sanctifying us, it will serve only to condemn us on the great accounting day, when Jesus Christ will examine how far we have lived conformably to the prayer, which He prescribed to us for the rule of our conduct.

For many years we have recited the Lord's Prayer every day, and even often every day: yet have we ever applied ourselves to study it seriously, to understand it thoroughly? Are we deeply penetrated with the sentiments which it contains? We cannot be ignorant that all depends upon this; for we well know that God pays no regard to what issues from the lips, unless at the same time it has its source in the heart. In a word, is our life such that it can with truth be said to be an exact and constant practice of the Lord's Prayer? This is what never enters the thoughts of by far the greater part of mankind. The generality fondly imagine that they acquit themselves of their duty by rehearsing the Lord's Prayer like a set form of words, which they have been taught to lisp or mutter from their infancy, without ever reflecting that the study of their whole life ought to be to reduce this prayer to practice.

Although there are already in every language a great variety of expositions of this divine prayer, it is hoped that the addition of one more will not be deemed superfluous, as care will be taken to make it neither too long nor too short, but to accommodate it to the generality of Christians. To adapt it to the interior state and personal wants of each individual would require as many particular expositions as there are different classes of Christians: but this must be the work of the Holy Spirit, to whom alone it belongs to proportion His lights and inspirations to the interior dispositions of the faithful. This grace He is ever willing to grant to our humble and fervent petitions: let us solicit it with earnestness.

(continued with a breakdown of individual lessons on the Lord's Prayer)

(John Nicholas Grou)

Monday, June 13, 2011

What is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?

In-depth Christian Studies - The Spirit of Christ (post #9)

What is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?

What we see in Jesus teaches us what the baptism of the Holy Spirit is. It is NOT the grace by which we turn to God, become reborn, and seek to live as God's children. When Jesus reminded His disciples (Acts 1:5) of John's prophecy, theywere already partakers of this grace. Their baptism with the Spirit meant something more.

It was to be to them the conscious presence of their glorified Lord come back from heaven to dwell in their hearts. It was to be their participation in the power of His new life. It was to them a baptism of joy and power in their living fellowship with Jesus on the throne of glory

All that the disciples were further to receive of wisdom, courage, and holiness was rooted in the relationship between the Holy Spirit and Jesus. What the Spirit had been to Jesus when He was baptized, as the living bond with the Father's power and presence, He was to be to them. Through Him, the Son was to manifest Himself, and Father and Son were to make their abode with them.

"Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining in Him, the same is He which baptizeth with the Holy Spirit." This word comes to us as well as to John. We wnt to know what the baptism of the Spirit means; how we are to receive it; from whom we are to receive it. To understand these things we must see the One upon whom the Spirit descended and remained.

We must see Jesus baptized with the Holy Spirit. We must try to understand why He needed it; how He was prepared for it; how He yielded to it; and how in its power He died His death and was raised again. What Jesus has to give us, He first received and personally appropriated for Himself. What He received and won for Himself is available for us. He will make it our very own.

In regard to this baptism of the Spirit there are questions that we may not find easy to answer, and to which all will not give the same answer. Was the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost the complete fulfillment of the promise? Was that the only baptism of the Spirit, given once and for all to the newborn church?

The Holy Spirit came upon the disciples in the fourth chapter of Acts, on the Samaritans in chapter eight, on the heathen in the house of Cornelius in chapter ten, and on the twelve disciples at Ephesus in chapter nineteen. These incidents must also be regarded as separate fulfillments of the words, "He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 3:11).

Is the sealing of the Spirit given to each believer when he is born again to be considered as his baptism of the Spirit? Or is it, as some say, a distinct, definite blessing to be received later on? Is it a blessing given only once, or can it be repeated and renewed?

(continued with post #10)

Live by Will, Not Just Emotion

Hebrews 13:20-21

We have no direct control over our feelings, but we have control over our will. God does not hold us responsible for what we feel but for what we "will."  Furthermore, in His sight, we are not what we "feel" but what we "will." Let us, therefore, not live in the summerhouse of emotion but in the central citadel of the will, wholly yielded and devoted to the will of God.

When we are in communion with the Lord, our soul is often flooded with holy emotion, the tides rise high, the swelling tides of joy rise, and every element in nature joins in the choral hymn of rapturous praise. But tomorrow comes, and life has  to be faced in the trying workplace, the dingy shop, the noisy factory, the godless workroom. As the soul compares the joy of yesterday with the difficulty experienced in walking humbly with the Lord, it wonders whether it is quite as devoted and dedicated as it was. But during such a time, how reassuring it is to say with confidence that the "will" has not altered its position by a hair's breadth.  We can sincerely declare, "My God, the spring tide of emotion has passed away like a summer brook, but in my heart of hearts, in my will, You know I am as devoted and as loyal to You as during the blessed moment of communion with You." This is an offering with which God is well pleased.

Why is it important to live according to what we "will," and not by what we "feel?" What makes this hard to do sometimes?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Leading of God

You ask me how you can discern between the leadings of God within you and your natural thoughts and ideas. Unfortunately, there is no positive way of knowing! If there were, your transformation would become easier, assuming your intentions are pure. You must walk with God with a total sense of abandonment and uncertainty. You must risk making mistakes which are unavoidable when you start out in this inward way. Let me also say that if you are looking for some, great divine revelation for matters which your own reason and common sense can figure out, you set yourself up to be deceived.

The believer must act simply and without certainty, being assured that what is good comes from God, and what is not comes from self. You will grow purer as the activity of self diminishes. Mistakes will happen less and less. You will more readily sense within you that which is of God. This is because you are becoming more and more an instrument for the indwelling Lord to use, so the self gets in the way less and less. Your Lord within you, with all His wisdom, is able to speak to pressing matters. He is established more deeply within you as you give yourself wholly to Him. "When they bring you before magistrates and kings, etc., it shall be given you in that hour what you shall speak."

Because God leads you in this way - a moment at a time - it allows you to be free and unattached, always ready for the slightest breath of the Holy Spirit within. This breath in you is like a gentle breeze and not a whirlwind that shakes the earth. Do not try to anticipate what God will communicate to you, nor try to know His will before you need to know it. After years of experience in this matter, it is my observation that God only makes known His will to you when He wants you to act upon it.

If you, wholly submitted to God, begin to do something that is not the will of God, you will feel a slight drawing back within yourself. You should then stop at once. If you feel no such warning, then go ahead and act, simply in faith.

A mother watches over her child as it walks; but if the child should start to go astray, she will call it back. This gentle calling in your soul is just like the mother calling her child away from danger.

(Jeanne Guyon)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Streams from the Fountain

God reveals Himself to the pure of heart, and through them He blesses others that are receptive. These little streams which water others flow from the Fountain who is the Lord Himself. It is the Fountain alone that determines which way the streams will go. It is the nature of God to want to share Himself. God would cease to be God if He stopped sharing and revealing Himself through love to the pure in heart. As air rushes to fill a vacuum, so God will fill you when you are emptied of self.

The apostle John was perhaps the best prepared of any of the apostles to receive the Word incarnate within him. It is on the bosom of Jesus - lying close to the heart of Christ - that John learned the heights and depths of divine love. It was because of this that Jesus, from the cross, could commit his mother to John's care. He knew the heart of John would give her a place to stay. God communicates Himself in proportion to how you are prepared to receive Him. In this same proportion you are transformed by Him into His image.

How deep is God's love! He gives Himself to those who have made a place in their hearts for Him. He becomes their end, their fullness, their everything.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

God Demands Obedience

Isaiah 1:19-20

Sometimes a person comes to a spiritual advisor and says, "I have no joy, and I've experienced very little for years."

The older, wiser Christian asks, "Did you once have joy?"

"Yes, for some time after my conversion to God."

Again, the advisor asks a question: "Are you aware of a time when you refused to obey some distinct command, a directive from God that you ignored?"

Then the face is cast down, the eyes fill with tears, and the answer comes with difficulty: "Yes, years ago I used to think that God required a certain thing of me. I felt sure God was calling me to do something, but I did not heed the call. I did not do what He wished and was uneasy for some time about it. After a while, though, it seemed to fade from my mind, and now it does not often trouble me."

The mature Christian responds, "My friend, that is where you have gone wrong, and you will never regain your joy until you go back through the weary years to the point where you dropped the thread of obedience. Retrace your steps and complet that one thing God requested of you so long ago. Then watch and see how the burden is lifted."

Isn't this the cause of problems for thousands of Christian people? They are God's children, but they are disobedient to their Father. The Bible rings with one long demand for obedience. The key phrase of the book of Deuteronomy is this: "Observe and do." The cornerstone of Christ's farewell discourse is, "If you love Me, keep My commandments." We must not question, reply, or excuse ourselves. We must not pick and choose our way. We must not think that obedience in other areas will compensate for disobedience in another. God gives one command at a time, and He expects obedience. If we obey all along the way, He will flood our soul with blessing and lead us forward into new paths and pastures. But if we refuse to heed the Master's call, we will remain stagnant and waterlogged, lacking power and joy.

In which areas of your life do you find it particularly difficult to obey God fully? Why do you think God calls us to complete obedience?

Is Christ Reigning Within You?

An external religion, with its rules and forms, has taken the place of an inward experience with Christ. The saints of old - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Enoch and Job - knew and experienced God inwardly in a personal and vital way. For Christ to truly reign within you everything must be submitted to Him without reservation. There are many who oppose such a total surrender to this reign.

Many pray, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," but have no intention o giving up their own ways, nor allowing the cross to deal with their most deeply held desires. God wants to take each one of us, although we naturally resist it, through a desert time of experiencing the cross. He does not want to make it hard on us for no reason, but only so that we might enter the quiet rest of the promised land with Him.

Many refuse His call, choosing what they think to be an easier path by "going back to Egypt". They are really only going back to slavery of their own desires. You see, most people would rather suffer anything than to allow themselves to be dethroned in the kingdom of their own heart.

It is a common idea that Jesus Christ will come again one day and reign over the entire earth. But we should ask, "Who speeds His return by giving up to His reign everything within them, here and now?"

The Lord gave you no strict rituals to follow. He teaches you to "enter into your closet," that is, to quiet yourself, open your heart, and without many words, to touch your Lord who is within you.

The Sabbath is not just a day of outward rest, but the continual rest that you are privileged to enjoy when you are in union with God. How I wish that all Christians would know this deep, restful union with God: to live in God and have God live in them!

Does external faith come from the heart? What is the difference between external (head knowledge) faith, and a heart-felt faith that comes from within?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Be Filled with God

In this life, as well as the next, it is possible to hunger no more and thirst no more. Not to hunger for the husks that the swine eat because we are filled with the provisions of the Father's table. Not to thirst for the pools at which the children of the world seek to quench their thirst because the pure water that springs up to eternal life is within. Not to clamor for crumbs and scraps that the world throws our way because there is so plentiful a provision of manna.

It is a blessed thing to be filled with the Holy Spirit, to be full of joy and peace, to be fulfilled with God's grace and heavenly benediction, to be filled with the fruits of righteousness, to be filled with the knowledge of His will. The heart is restless until it is full, but when it has realized this blessed fullness, dipped deeply into the fullness of God and lifted out dripping with flashing drops, evil has no lure to charm, the fear of man cannot intrude, and the attractions of sin are neutralized. What more can the soul want than to be filled with You, O God, who made us for Yourself.

Which people in your circles of influence do not yet know Jesus and are trying to quench their spiritual hunger and thirst with the wrong things? Pray that God will open up opportunities to share the fullness only God can provide.

Various Qualities of True Devotion

True devotion is uniform and invariable. It is a permanent adhering of the heart of God, independent of all the changes incidental to the spiritual life. It remains the same in dryness as in consolation, in privation as in enjoyment, in the trouble of temptations as in the calm of peace, when God seems to forsake it as when He favors it with the most intimate union. However He treats me, says the devout soul, He is always what He is, and merits to be served just the same. My devotion must never change, since He who is its object is Himself unchangeable.

It is simple, and has only one aim. God alone! is its motto. It studies to purify its motives, raising itself above everything in order that it may see only God and His will. There is no keeping one eye on God and another on itself. The devout souls sees itself, but in God and in His good pleasure, which means everything to it.

It is fervent. That is to say, it is always determined to do and to suffer whatever God wishes, cost what it may. For I do not call fervor those passing transports which a sensible grace produces in the soul. Beginners are apt to be deceived by this: they consider that they are then capable of everything, and beg God to put them to the test. But let this sensible grace pass and they soon change their notions and language, and realize their weakness. True fervor resides in the depths of the will, and subsists as long as the will does not yield to tepidity, laxness and weariness, but preserves the same adour, courage and zeal.

It is faithful, and carries its attention and precision to the point of extreme delicacy, yet without scruple or anxiety. It is faithful in little things as in great; in what is of perfection as of obligation; to the least sign as to the most express commandment. Its principle, from which it never departs, is that nothing is little in the service of so great a Master, whose will alone is what gives value to that service. Indeed, we cannot testify to our love better than by acting the moment His pleasure is known, without waiting for an express command.

It is discreet, and always quick to follow the mind of God. It is never inconsiderate, rash or reckless. It loves order and does everything in its proper time and place, and knows just when to be firm or to adapt itself to the weakness of others; when to be exact in its pious exercises or when it should relax temporarily from a spirit of charity. It refuses to pay any attention to the imagination, which is the great stumbling block of most pious persons. It troubles and upsets them, presents them with a thousand fears, causes them to take up a good work and then leave it only half done. It is for ever tempting them to go off at a tangent, to every kind of extravagance, caprice and inconstancy. But in spite of it all, true devotion makes a particular point of despising and dominating the imagination, and so finds a great peace, an evenness of temper which nothing disturbs, and a serenity of soul which extends to the exterior and preserves a gay countenance in the face of the most difficult situations.

Seek God's Unerring Guidance

Isaiah 58:11

So much of our power and peace consists in knowing where God would have us be - and in just being there. If we are precisely where our heavenly Father wants us, we are perfectly sure that He will provide food and clothes and everything besides. When He sends His servants to Cherith, He will make even the ravens bring them food (1 Kings 17:1-6).

How much of our Christian work has been ineffective because we have persisted in initiating it for ourselves instead of ascertaining what God was doing and where He required our presence! We dream bright dreams of success. We try to command it. We call to our aid all kinds of resources, questionable or otherwise. At last we turn back, disheartened and ashamed, like children who are torn and scratched by the brambles and soiled by the quagmire. None of this would have happened if only we had been, from the first, under God's unerring guidance. He might test us, but He could not allow us to err.

Children of God who long to know their Father's will turn to the Bible and gain confidence by noticing how in all ages God has guided those who dared to trust Him completely, even as those people must have at th time been as perplexed as we often are now. We see how Abraham left all that was familiar and started, with no other guide than God, across the trackless desert to a land he didn't know. We see how for forty years the Israelites were led through the peninsula of Sinai, with its labyrinths of red sandstone and wastes of sand. It is impossible to think that God could guide us at all if He did not guide us always. So we are bidden to look for guidance that will embrace the whole of life in all its myriad necessities.

In which areas have you sought your own guidance rather than God's?  What happened??

Abide in Him Always

Psalm 27:4

Every crocus pushing through the dark soil, every firefly in the forest, every bird that springs up from its nest, everything that is - all are as full of God's presence as the bush that burned with His fire, before which Moses bared his feet in acknowledgement that God was there.

But we do not always realize it. We often pass hours, days, and weeks seeking assurance that He is with us. We sometimes engage in seasons of prayer, hoping for a special word from the Lord or touch of His hand. We go from one activity or meeting to another. Still he is a shadow, a name, a tradition, a dream of days gone by.

If only we could feel, as the apostle put it on Mars Hill, that God is not far away. He is with us, near us, and in us always. We should understand what David meant when he spoke about dwelling in the house of the Lord all the days of his life, beholding His beauty, inquiring in His temple, and hiding in the secret of His pavilion (Ps. 27). Let us endeavor to learn the blessed secret of abiding, ever in the secret of His presence and of being hidden in His pavilion.

What does it mean to abide in Jesus' presence each day?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Make Time for Stillness and Solitude with God

1 John 2:6

When Jesus redeemed us with His blood and presented us to the Father in His righteousness, He did not leave us in our old nature to serve God as best we could. No, in Him dwelled the eternal life, the divine life of heaven. Everyone who is in Him receives from Him that same eternal life in its holy heavenly power. So nothing can be more natural than the claim that the person who abides in Jesus, continually receiving life from Him, must also walk as He walked.

This mighty life of God does not work as a blind force, compelling us ignorantly or involuntarily to act like Christ. On the contrary, walking like Him must come as a result of a deliberate choice, sought in strong desire, accepted by a living will.

When He calls us to abide in Him that we may receive that life more abundantly, He points us to His life n earth and tells us that the new life has been bestowed so we will walk as He walked. We are to think, speak, and act as Jesus did. As He was, so we are to be.

What specifically does it men to "walk like Christ" in daily life? How can you more closely follow His example this week?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Trust in Our Gentle, Loving, Caring God

I found this "introduction" in a little book entitled, "Day By Day". I am inspired to make this "introduction" available to all.

I have been asked to write an introduction to a collection of extracts from my books. I gladly do so as an acknowledgement of the love that has actuated the labor, and to bid the little book Godspeed on its way. When a servant of God knows that he has a message, however defective its delivery be, it is a joy to know that it has reached our hearts, and that it is by them being passed on farther.

If anyone asks me what the message has been, I think I may say honestly that it was nothing but this - that our Lord Jesus is willing to be far more to us than we know. All that we have enjoyed of Him is only a beginning. He  is waiting to dispossess and deliver from the life of self and self-effort, and to let the life, and the light, and the love of God fill us and be our life in a degree and a power we have very little idea of. For all that the Lord has allowed me to say of the possibility of abiding in Him, of being like Him, of entering with Him into the secret of prayer and intercession, into the Holiest of All, I humbly praise Him. That in all things He may have the pre-eminence! Let this be our watchword. Let an enthusiastic devotion to His presence and working prove that He is all in all to us. As the soul turns from itself and the creature to allow Him to become its life; it will begin to know what it was God created us for, and to be fitted for more effectually passing on to others that life which it has in Him.

With my loving greetings to all,
Ever yours in Christ Jesus,
Andrew Murray
November 2, 1898

 (My comment: God is a gentle, loving, caring, patient Father to each of His precious children. All it takes from us is to desire and love Him with a heartfelt love and prayer to have Him come to reside within each of us. God never gets upset with our mistakes, our mis-steps, our blunderings. No. He quietly waits for us to catch up to Him, and then continues leading us on toward Him. Don't ever be afraid of God! He isn't cranky, or hard to please. He leads each of us according to our own abilities and understandings. Give your entire being to Him with all the heart-felt love for Him that you have and allow Him to guide you to the upper reaches of a life here on earth where nothing can harm us and where are preparing for a glorious eternity in heaven with Him. (KS)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Prophecy Can Lead us to Praise

1 John 3:2-3

Prophecy can lead us to praise - and it can also lead us to purity. We think about Christ's Second Coming, and we may speculate about what we're going to be like after He returns. Have you ever wondered, "What age will we be in eternity"? Will we recognize one another? What kind of clothes will we wear? There's so much we don't know. But we do know this: we're going to be like Jesus!

The mark that you really believe Jesus Christ is coming and that you're going to be made like Him is that you're living a clean life. When Jesus returns, you don't want Him to find filth in your life and hatred in your heart, do you? Just think - if Christ is coming at any moment, you could be face to face with Jesus in the next few seconds! Bible prophecy tells us that He's coming, He's coming soon, and when He comes He will make us like Him. This is our blessed hope as Christians - not something we "hope" will happen, but a steadfast promise that fills us with joyful expectation. And that should make us want to be ready for His return.

Don't you want to be as clean and as pure as you can be while waiting for Jesus to come? Ask Him right this moment to cleanse you and help you purge out the things in your life that you wouldn't want Him to find if He were to come today. Take this opportunity to heed His Word and turn prophecy into purity!

(Tapestry - Promises & Prophecy)