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Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Cause and Ground of Blindness # 4

Spiritual Sight

I know you have to be careful how you take what I am saying It will only be safe for you as you are one who does not set yourself up as some independent party with the Holy Spirit, but who keeps perfect fellowship, humility, submissiveness, openness of heart, with readiness to listen to and obey what may come through others, as the Spirit bears witness to the truth. But all that depends upon your inward condition, whether you are on natural ground or on spiritual ground, on old creation ground or on resurrection ground. But being on resurrection ground, where it is not the life of nature but the Spirit that governs, beloved, you have the right and the privilege and the blessing of knowing the Spirit bearing witness in your heart and the anointing teaching you all things, with regard to whether any given matter is right or wrong. When will the Lord's people know that, recognize that?

You see it is this other thing all the time that is robbing so many of the light that the Lord would give them. The Lord would lead them into the greater fullnesses  of the knowledge of His Son, of the enlargement of their spiritual understanding, but they are neglecting the gift that is in them. They are neglecting the Holy Spirit as their Illuminator and Teacher and Instructor and Guide and Arbiter, and they are going to this one and that one, to this authority and that, and saying, What o you think about it? If you think it i wrong, then I will not touch it! It is fatal to spiritual knowledge to do that. That is going on to natural ground.

Now the Lord wants us off that ground. This matter of occupying resurrection ground, of living a life in the Spirit, is all-important in coming to the full knowledge of God's Son. How much more we could say about that! Let us be careful as to who our authorities are. So many dear children of God, individually and collectively, have come into dire and grievous bondage, limitation and confusion, by all the time going back to human authorities, to this great leader and that, to this man who was greatly used of God, this man who had a great deal of spiritual light. "The Lord has yet more light and truth to break forth from His Word" than even this or that servant of His possessed. Do you see what I mean? We get all the benefit of the light given to godly people and seek to profit by true light, but we will never come into bondage and say, That is the end of that matter! That must never be. We must maintain our resurrection ground. And who can exhaust that? In other words, who can exhaust the meaning of Christ risen? He is a boundless store, the land of far distances. No man yet has ever done more than begun to know the meaning of Christ risen. If there has been one man who has that meaning more than another, I suppose it was Paul. But to the last from his prison he still cries, "That I may know Him!": "I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my lord: for Whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse" (Phil. 3:8). Right at the end of a life like his, the life of a man who could say, Fourteen years ago I knew a man in Christ, caught up to the third heaven and shown unspeakable things, which, it is not lawful for a lawful for a man to utter (2 Corinthians 12:2, 3), he is still saying, That I may know Him! I say no man, not even Paul, has ever done more than begin to know Christ risen. "Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit" (1 Corinthians 2:9, 10). You see, the Spirit has the unsearchable riches to reveal to us. So much, then, for the blindness which comes by occupying natural ground in whatever form that may take.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 5 - "The Cause of Blindness")

Why Do Christians Doubt?





If we believe that God is who He says He is and will do what He has promised, why do so many of us habitually waver in our prayers? Instead of exercising bold faith, we come to the Lord “hoping” He will hear us and answer our requests, but we’re just not sure He will. With this kind of thinking, we cannot expect to receive anything from Him.

One reason we are so prone to doubt is that we fail to see God at work in our circumstances. We asked, and nothing happened. But the Lord is not some cosmic bellhop who jumps in response to our requests. He sees past, present, and future and knows the right time for every answer. His invisible hand is already at work on our behalf—arranging situations to accomplish His will, opening hearts, and preparing us to receive what He wants to give.

Another cause for uncertainty is ignorance. If we don’t know God’s ways, we will be disappointed in His response. All too often our prayers are accompanied by expectations of how He will work. When He fails to intervene according to our timetable or anticipated method, we start to doubt. But placing our faith in the Lord and trusting in His good and perfect ways gives us stability as we wait for His answer.

To overcome doubts, spend time in the Word to learn God’s principles and ways. Then you’ll begin to grasp what He wants to achieve in your life and how He goes about it. Examine your past from a biblical perspective—faith will grow as you see the unexpected ways He answered your prayers.

~Charles Stanley~

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Cause and Ground of Blindness # 3

Spiritual Sight

A Life In the Spirit

"Now the Lord is the Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2 Corinthians 3:17). Liberty from what? Why, liberty from the veil. "When it shall turn to the Lord, the veil is taken away"; bondage, limitation, is taken away. And "the Lord is the Spirit." To be on the ground of the Spirit, which is resurrection ground, with the life of nature set aside, is to be delivered from blindness and to be in the light. A life in the Spirit! Israel forever stands to declare with no uncertain note that religion is not necessarily enlightenment, and that even to have the Scriptures is not necessarily enlightenment. "When Moses is read, a veil lieth upon their hearts." "When Moses is read ..." Paul said a very strong thing about the Scriptures and the prophets which they read every day; that they know not what they mean, perceive not what they signify, but are still in blindness, in darkness. No, even to have the Scriptures does NOT necessarily imply enlightenment.

The message of 2 Corinthians is as much to Christians as it is to unbelievers, if it is not more so, this message about the veil, about blindness, about seeing; for where is the Christian who is fully and finally delivered from the life of nature? Enlightenment, after all, is only a comparative thing, that is, it is a "more or less" matter. Hence all those strong urges and exhortations to believers to walk in the light, to live in the Spirit, for only so can this matter of spiritual seeing and understanding develop and make progress. A life in the Spirit - that is only another way of saying, a life on resurrection ground.

What we have said thus far is that the blindness which is spread over the whole of the life of nature operates and has its strength in the choice and acceptance of that life of nature on the part of those concerned. It is not necessary, it is not God's will. God's desire is that we should dwell in the light, that we should see His glory, that there should be no veil at all. That is His desire, that the veil should be taken away. But one great thing is necessary, namely, that we should come to that Passover, to that death which is the death to the life of nature and which brings in a new life altogether, a life of the Spirit, in which a new faculty, a new power, a new capacity for seeing is created. That is  very important thing. I could well spend all the rest of the time available on that, it is so important to us as the Lord's people.

When will the Lord's people who have the Scriptures, and who know the Scriptures so well in the letter, when will they come to realize and to recognize that, if truly they have been crucified with Christ, if they have died in His death and have been raised together with Him, and have received the Spirit, they have light in their dwelling? "The anointing which ye received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any one teach you, but ... His anointing teacheth you concerning all things" (1 John 2:27).  When will believers, when will Christians, come to realize that? Why must Christians who have the knowledge of the Scriptures in the letter run about here and there to seek advice from others on matters which vitally affect their own spiritual knowledge? I do not mean that it is wrong to get counsel, wrong to know what other children of God of experience think or feel about matters. But if we are going to build our position upon their conclusions, we are in great danger. The final authority and arbiter in all matters is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of the anointing.  We may get help from one another, but I do hope that you are not going to build your position upon what I say now because I say it. Do not do that. I do not want you to do it. I do not ask you to do it. What I say is, listen, take note, and then go to your final authority Who is in you, if you are a child of God, and ask Him to corroborate the truth or to show otherwise. That is your right, your birthright, the birthright of every child of God, to be in the light of the indwelling Spirit of light, the Spirit of God.

I wonder where Paul would have been had he taken the opposite course to that which he did take? "When it pleased God, Who separated me from my birth ... to reveal His Son in me... straightway I conferred not with flesh and blood: neither went I up to Jerusalem to them that were apostles before me: but I went away into Arabia" (Galatians 1:15-17). I wonder what would have happened had he gone up to Jerusalem and laid every matter before those who were apostles before him? We know from subsequent events that one thing they would have said to him would have been, Look here, be careful, Paul! You tell us that on the Damascus road Jesus is supposed to have said something to you about going to the Gentiles; be careful! They would have put him back about this Gentile business. You know what happened afterward. You know how on that point even Peter was caught in dissimulation years after. You know how those apostles which were before him at Jerusalem were  all the time very cautious about this matter of the Gentiles, and had Paul capitulated to them, we should never have had the great apostle to the Gentiles, the great apostle of the Body of Christ, with is revelation of the mystery, of the oneness of all in Christ, Jew and Greek. He did not submit that thing even to those who were apostles before him, to ask them whether he was right or not, whether this was sound or not. Oh no! He had the anointing in Damascus; Ananias laid his hands upon him and he received the Spirit, and from that day, although Paul was quite ready and happy to have fellowship with his brethren, though he never took a superior or independent position, though he was always open to conference, nevertheless he was a man governed by the Spirit.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4

Our Heavenly Father's Unconditional Love



Scripture tells us that love is the very essence of who God is (1 John 4:7). So if you don't believe that He loves you unconditionally, you'll never really know Him or have genuine peace about your relationship with Him.

How do you define "love"? It is Jesus unselfishly reaching out to mankind, giving Himself to us and bringing good into our life regardless of whether or not we accept Him. Romans 5:8 tells us that His care and concern are so immeasurable that He laid down His life for us while we were still His enemies. In fact, the Bible says that He first began to express His love toward us before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:3-5). That means your actions had absolutely nothing to do with His love for you!

God's commitment to us has absolutely no conditions or restrictions and isn't based on whether we love Him back. Nor does He have more love for "good" people who may strike us as more worthy. He loves us even in our sin, even when we don't repent. Does that give us license to disobey? No. It gives us power to live holy lives, walk obediently with Him, and learn to love Him the way He deserves. To follow Him is to receive the love He has been offering all along.
Every single moment, whether awake or asleep, we all live under the canopy of the Lord's wondrous, absolute love for us. But to fully experience that love, you must receive it. Say yes to this amazing gift that God wants to pour out on you. Bask in it, and let it overflow to those around you.

~Charles Stanley~

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Cause and Ground of Blindness # 2

Spiritual Sight

Then came the Jordan; and it is but a reiteration in principle of the same thing, now made necessary, not by their naked condition, but by their recognition of it. It is doubtful whether in Egypt and at the Red Sea Israel had the subjective understanding of the meaning of what God was doing in the Passover and in the Red Sea, but now they have the subjective consciousness of its being a necessity. They have been discovering things for forty years and they agree at last; they agree with God that another ground altogether is necessary if they are to abide in the light. You see, God was persistently by every means seeking to get Israel to occupy and remain upon resurrection ground, from which there had been cut off entirely all the ground of nature. Their incorrigible unbelief had as it s main constituent the clinging to unresurrection ground or ground of nature.

The Consequence of Living On The Ground of Nature

What is the ground of nature? Well, look at Israel and you can see quite clearly what the ground of nature is. The ground of nature is always a drawing of things toward oneself and a viewing of everything in the light of oneself, just how it affects self. You see right at the beginning it was that. Yes, of course, the deliverance at the beginning affected us rather well, and so we were very happy. The mighty deliverance at the Red Sea is a good thing for us, so we are full of joy today. It will always be like that while things are good for us. But let us find that we are being tested at all, bring us tomorrow to this place and that, where it is not so obvious that it is all to our profit, and the song ceases, joy goes out, and murmuring comes in - "They murmured." Oh, how often it is said that they murmured! Why? Because they occupied carnal ground, natural ground, which in a word, means "how it affects me!" That is natural ground, and on that ground there will always be the uprising of unbelief.

The strength of unbelief is just that very thing, personal natural interests and considerations, looking at things in the light of our own advantage or disadvantage. Allow that kind of thing to come in for a moment, and it will not be long before you are questioning and doubting, and found in unbelief; for the essence of faith is the very opposite of that. When things are going against you and your interests, and you are losing your life and all that you have, and you believe God, you trust God, that is faith indeed, that is the essence of faith. But faith is not real faith when we believe God merely while the sun shines and all goes well. Israel occupied natural round so persistently that they were found more in unbelief than in faith. It was that which blinded them. So that blind unbelief, when we come to analyse it, is simply occupying ground that is other than resurrection ground; that is, we are occupying ground which God has put under the curse, which God has forbidden, upon which God has inscribed the warning to believers, Keep Off! If only we could see in our hearts those warning notices of God strewn over the whole territory of self-interest, worldly considerations, and so on, we should be saved from very much of the misery which comes into our lives.

Well, you see, the whole life of nature is a blind thing, and the measure in which we are ruled by nature is the measure of our blindness. "The natural man," says the Spirit of God, "receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God ...he cannot know them, because they are spiritually discerned" or "discerned by the spiritual" (1 Corinthians 2:14). The whole life of nature is a blind thing. The measure in which we occupy that ground is the measure of our blindness. God was seeking to get Israel off that ground on to resurrection ground, to be governed, not by nature, but by the Spirit: and being governed by the Spirit means to walk in the light, means to have light, means to see.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

How Can We Love Like Jesus Commands?



When a lawyer asked Jesus which commandment was the greatest, He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all you heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,” and “the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37, 39). What an overwhelming assignment!

In our own strength, none of us can live up to this obligation, but the Lord has provided a way for Christians to do the impossible. The indwelling Holy Spirit works to produce His fruit in us, and first on the list is love (Galatians 5:22). In fact, the other eight qualities are really just descriptions of its expression.

Whenever we demonstrate kindness, patience, or gentleness, we see the Lord’s love at work through us, especially when the other person has been unkind and doesn’t deserve such pleasant treatment. This fruit is not produced by trying harder to muster good will toward someone who is irritating or hard to get along with. Instead, think of the process more like sap running through a branch on a grape-vine. The branch doesn’t make grapes; the sap does. In the same way, the Spirit flows through us, producing God’s love in us, so that we can pass it on to Him and others.

Agape love is the reason we are able to care for someone who mistreats us—it’s God’s doing, not ours. Even the adoration we offer the Lord is not something that we can produce in our own heart apart from His assistance. Though the command to love is enormous,God’s grace makes it possible.

~Charles Stanley~

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Cause and Ground of Blindness

Spiritual Sight

Read 2 Corinthians 3:7-18; 2 Corinthians 4:1-6

We have been led in this conference to be concerned with the matter of spiritual sight. Here in the scripture which we have read we have another portion touching upon this very matter of blindness and seeing.

First, there is the fact of the blindness - "the god of this age hath blinded"; then thee is the cause - "the god of this age"; and then there is the reason or object, namely; "that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, Who is the image of God, should not dawn upon them." We will look at it, then, in that order.

The Fact of Blindness

You will notice that a parallel is drawn between Israel in the days of Moses and the unbelieving in the days of Paul. In both cases it is said that there is a veil over their hearts, over their minds, a veil which shuts out, which excludes, and which is in the nature of darkening blindness. Moreover there is an element of judgment and condemnation in the way in which the apostle speaks of it. Even with regard to Israel gathered to the door of the tent of meeting, when Moses read the law, he says, in effect, that while Moses had to put a veil over his face face because they could not bear to look upon the glory of his face, that was not really because the glory could not be beheld, but because of the state of their mind, of their heart, because of an inward condition in themselves. Had thee been another inward state, the veil would have been unnecessary; they could have beheld the glory and dwelt in the light. But the veil was an outward representation of an inward condition, hiding the glory of God. It was never the Lord's desire to hid His glory, but rather to manifest it, and that man should dwell in it, should enjoy it, that there should be no veil between God and man at all. Veils have always been as something between God and man because of a condition which God would rather not have.

The Blinding Power of Unbelief

Thus it must stand as  thing under condemnation and judgment this darkness, this blindness, this hiding, this shutting out of the glory of God, and that inward condition in the case of Israel in the time of Moses, and of those in like condition in the days of Paul, and in the case of all in such a position, that inward condition which acts like a veil is, as we know so well from all that is said about Israel, incorrigible unbelief. It was Israel's incorrigible unbelief which blinded them. But to say that is not to be altogether helpful. It is a statement of a fact, a very oppressive fact. We know our own hearts sufficiently well to know that there is an incorrigible unbelief in us all, and we want to understand why that unbelief is there, and what the nature of it is, so as to discover how the veil can be removed; that is, how the unbelief can be dealt with so that we behold the glory of the Lord and dwell in the eternal light.

Light On Resurrection Ground

Well then, let us look again to see what the Lord was  ever seeking to do in the case of Israel. We can put it this way: He was always trying to get them in heart, in spirit, in life, to occupy resurrection round. That is first made evident in the Passover in Egypt, when the firstborn in every home in Egypt was slain on that terrible night when death was everywhere. But Israel was not, as is too superficially supposed, exempt. The casual, superficial idea is that the firstborn in Israel were not slain, only the firstborn in Egypt. But the firstborn in all Israel were slain. The difference was that the first born in Egypt were slain actually, and the firstborn in Israel substitutionary. When that lamb was slain in every Israelitish home, for every household, that lamb representatively passed under the same judgment as the firstborn in all Egypt, and in that lamb Israel passed representatively from death into life. In that lamb Israel was virtually bought though death on to resurrection ground. For Egypt there was no resurrection ground: for Israel there was. That is the difference. But all died, the one actually, the other representatively. Thus God, right at the very foundation of Israel's national lie, sought to get them established upon the ground of resurrection, which mans that a death has taken place, an end has been brought about. One whole order of things has been wound up and another entirely different order of things has been brought in, and to get them to take their position upon that new ground, in that new order, was God's great effort and meaning in the Passover. The keeping of the Passover year by year as an established ordinance throughout all their generations and their history was God's way of showing that they belonged to another order, the order of the resurrection. While darkness was in every house of the Egyptians and over all the land of Egypt, the children of Israel had light in their dwellings; for light is always on resurrection ground, but only on resurrection ground.

Then at the Red Sea the same great principle was repeated, passing through and out on to resurrection ground; Egypt again swallowed up, but Israel saved. They all went into the same sea, but for Israel on the other side there is a pillar of fire to be their light on resurrection ground - the Spirit of light and of life. They kept the Passover as they went on year by year under God's order, in order to preserve the testimony as to the ground upon which they stood nationally.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2)

The Path to Marurity



1 Peter 5:10 provides a very critical principle for those times when we are going through trials, a principle that is easy to miss,

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

You need to realize that even though God did not initiate your trouble, He can still use it to work something good in you.  What the devil means for evil, God can turn into something good.
Even though the devil's purpose is to destroy you, if you will respond correctly, God can work good things.  Notice the verse says after you have suffered a short season, God will perfect.  It brings maturity to you.

While we might hate it, how we respond in times of trial makes us who we are—and it fits us to accomplish God's will.  I hate some of the things I have gone through!  But you know what?  I would not be who I am had I not experienced those things.  It has fitted me to do the will of God.
And while it may not seem like it, your present difficulty may be instrumental in your future success.

It reminds me of the guy who was shipwrecked on a deserted island.  One day he decided to go across the island for food.  When he got to the other side he looked back and saw a plume of smoke in the sky.  He ran back only to find that his shack burnt to the ground!
It stung him to the core!  Except the next morning a ship arrived and rescued him.  When he asked the sailors, "How'd you know I was here?" they said, "We saw your smoke signal."

Your present trials just may be fitting you for something you would never expect! 

~Bayless Conley~

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Man Who Receives Spiritual Sight # 3

Spiritual Sight

The Human Instrument

Now I do not want to take very much time, so I pass to the third of the three, the human instrument, Philip, the means by which, on the one hand, the blind seeker would have his eyes opened, and by which, on the other hand, the Holy Spirit will be able to accomplish His work. We all want to be in that position where really honest, genuine, business-meaning men and women can find what they are after through our instrumentality if God so will, and, on the other hand, where the Holy Spirit can find in us a vessel to hand where He sees such a need. Surely there is nothing we would desire more than that, just to be as Philip was.

But even in Philip's case, it was not that he was an automatic bit of machinery, something taken up willy-nilly. There were things about Philip which constituted the ground for the lord, very, very simple matters, and yet not such as are so easy in practical life and outworking.

Philip was at the disposal of the Holy Spirit, and that without any question, and when you look, you see that that meant something in his case. Philip was down there in Samaria. Many were turning to the Lord, a great work of grace was going on, so great a work that they had to send down apostles from Jerusalem to deal with the situation; and Philip was the chief instrument in that work in the first place. Now when you are right in the thing like that, and the Lord suddenly says, "Now, Philip, I want you to leave all this and go down by the way that is desert; I will not tell you why, I will not tell you what I am going to do, I simply say, go to the desert," a man might have big questions. He might have said, But, Lord, what about this? But, Lord, look at this big door of opportunity, look what I am doing, what I am in! What will happen here if I leave it? Many questions like that might have arisen. He could have had serious reservations and put them in the way of the Lord. But we do not read of anything like that. The Lord simply said it, and Philip was so much at the disposal of the Lord that, without any questions, he moved. What a tremendous thing it is to be free for the Lord, free to the Lord, to be so much at the Lord's disposal that it is not difficult at all to leave anything, to adjust ourselves to an altogether new situation, if the Lord says it. It is a great thing. So Philip was at the Lord's disposal, and that is a big factor in a work like this of bringing sight to blind seekers, and being, not only the answer to man's need, but the answer to the need of the Holy Spirit; at the Lord's disposal and unhesitating in response to the Lord's suggestion; no delay, but a swift answer. "The Lord has said it, let us get on with it and leave the responsibility with Him."

It turned out all right, it was quite a safe thing to do. Now, the Lord never does explain Himself in advance. The Lord never does tell us ahead how it is going to work out an what He is going to do. He always presents us with a challenge to faith in Him. All His requirements carry with them plenty of opportunities for arguing if you are so disposed; plenty of occasions, humanly speaking, of questions. The one who knows the Spirit knows well that the vindication will come along the line of swift obedience.

Well now, that is the story; simple, beautiful, but containing vital principles of enlightenment. If you want to see people go on, these are the things which the Lord requires. If you want to go on, these are the things which lie behind all real going on, all leaping into light, into knowledge, in the greater fullness of the Lord.

Well, look again at this man. It is a great story. You know that the Bible holds up Ethiopia as a type of darkness: but here is the darkness changed to the light, the full blaze of the noonday; for Christ is that: and that is the basis on which it is done, namely, a heart that is frank, humble, purposeful, and honest in its search.

I do not know what the Lord may be saying to you, but for us all the pivot of the whole matter is, Here is water! I am not saying that baptism is the pivot, but I am saying that it is represented by baptism. Are we ready for everything to go into the grave? Have we something we are holding on to; our position, our reputation, our status and all that, or is it all going into the grave? The Lord here has a man who does not say, "Is it necessary for me to be baptized; must I?"; but a man who says, "Here it is, what doth hinder?" That is another angle altogether. Tell me anything that hinders and I will deal with it! Get that kind of spirit. 'If you can show me anything that hinders my going on in the way that the Lord indicates, then I will deal with it. What does He want, Philip? Can you tell me of any hindrance?' Philip found no hindrance, but everything to help. Both went down together and Philip baptized him. The Lord just put into our hearts the meaning of that and give us to be good Ethiopians in this spiritual sense.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with - "The Cause and Ground of Blindness")

How To Be A Refuge for Your Children



If Daddy is afraid, where can a little child turn? Daddies are supposed to be safe. They are supposed to know what to do and how to solve problems and fix things and, most of all, protect the children from harm. But what happens if a child sees fear in Daddy's face? What if Daddy is as scared as the child, and doesn't know what to do? Then the child is utterly distraught and feels panic. He feels that the one strong and good and reliable place of safety is no longer safe.
But if Daddy is confident, then the children have a refuge. If Daddy is not panicking, but calm and steady, all the walls can come tumbling down, and all the waves can break, and all the snakes can hiss and the lions roar and the wind blow, and there will still be a safe place in Daddy's arms. Daddy is a refuge, as long as Daddy is confident.

That's why  Proverbs 14:26 says that "his children will have a refuge," if Daddy has a "strong confidence." Daddy's confidence is the refuge of his children. Dads, the battle to be confident is not just about us, it is about the security of our children. It is about their sense of security and happiness. It's about whether they grow up fretful or firm in faith. Until children can know God in a deep personal way, we are the image and the embodiment of God in their lives. If we are confident and reliable and safe for them, they will be much more likely to cleave to God as their refuge when the storms break over them later.

So how shall we have "strong confidence"? After all, we, too, are little children, clay pots, weak and broken and battling anxieties and doubts. Is the solution to put on the best show we can and hide our true selves? That will lead to ulcers at best, and God-dishonoring teenager-repelling duplicity at worst. That is not the answer.

Proverbs 14:26 gives another answer: "In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence." This is very strange. It says that the solution to fear is fear. The solution to timidity is fear. The solution to uncertainty is fear. The solution to doubt is fear.

How can this be?

Part of the answer is that the "fear of the Lord" means fearing to dishonor the Lord. Which means fearing to distrust the Lord. Which means fearing to fear anything that the Lord has promised to help you overcome. In other words the fear of the Lord is the great fear destroyer.
If the Lord says, "Fear not, I am with you, be not dismayed, I will help you," (Isaiah 41:10), then it is a fearful thing to worry about the problem he says he will help you with. Fearing that problem when he says, "Fear not, I will help you, is a vote of no confidence against God's word, and that is a great dishonor to God. And the fear of the Lord trembles at such dishonoring God.
If the Lord says, "I will never fail you nor forsake you," so you can confidently say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid; what can man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:5-6) - if the Lord says that to you, then not to be confident in the Lord's promised presence and help is a kind of pride. It puts our reckoning of the trouble above God's. That is why we read the amazing words of the Lord in Isaiah 51:12  "I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies And of the son of man who is made like grass?" Who are you to fear man, when God has promised to help you? So it is pride to fear man. And pride is the exact opposite of the fear of God.

So, yes, the Proverb is true and a great help to us. Fear God, dads. Fear God. Fear dishonoring him. Fear distrusting him. Fear putting your assessment of the problem above his. He says he can help. He is smarter. He is stronger. He is more generous. Trust him. Fear not to trust him.

Why? He works for those who wait for him (Isaiah 64:4). He will solve the problem. He will rescue the family. He will take care of the little ones. He will meet your needs. Fear not believing that. Then your children will have a refuge. They will have a Daddy who "has strong confidence" - not in himself, but in the promises of God, which he trembles not to trust.

Learning to fear the Lord for the sake of my children,

~John Piper~

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Man Who Receives Spiritual Sight # 2

Spiritual Sight

(c) A Seeker Who Meant Business with God

But enlightenment that came to him brought with it a fresh challenge, as it always does. Every bit of new light coming from the Lord carries with it a fresh challenge, a challenge to some practical obedience. Now I am not going to stay to deal with a most interesting, and I think a most profitable detail of the whole story, but let us note it. Isaiah 53 brought Christ into view and Philip preached from that scripture Jesus, and the very next thing we strike right up against is, "Here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?" Now, you have to do some filling in there, if you are to see how that arises with Isaiah 53. I leave you with that. Do not pass it over: you think about it. All I am going to say is that the revelation which came to the man then, the enlightenment of his eyes, brought with it a challenge to obedience, and this enlightened seeker was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision, but was swift to meet the challenge, quick to run in the way of His command, unhesitant in obedience to the light that had come. So far as the thing itself is concerned, all is very simple; but that is the substance of things. We see a man passing from darkness to light. We see a man passing from a quest to a heart-ravishing knowledge. We see a man fumbling, changed into a man who has a firm grasp, a man whose heart is disappointed changed into one who goes on his way rejoicing. And the two things which from his side make that possible are an utter humility, in that he makes no bones at all about his ignorance and does not feign to know more than he does know, and his swift obedience to light coming to him. You have to say about this man, Here is an honest heart.

And that is how God deals with honest people. They get light and they get joy.

Before we leave him, let us say of him that he is clearly a man who means business. I like this man in his intentness upon knowing and doing. He is right on the mark. All the enervating effect of his Ethiopian climate had not robbed him of spiritual energy. He rose above that, he meant business with God. No element of compromise, excuse, or anything like that at all is found in him. He was simply set upon knowing, if it could be known, and doing whatever there was to be done when enlightened.

Well, to the man who is bent on thus knowing and coming into things, God is going to show Himself of the same kind. God is to us what we are to Him. God will be debtor to no man, and if you and I really mean business with God and are going right out for all teat God has for us, all that God wants us to have and to know, and are not going to take on any airs but get right down to the level where we really and genuinely are, in all humility, and we mean that whatever the Lord shows us we are going to do it by His grace without any hesitation, we shall find that, in the long run, God is not going to be our debtor, but He will meet us to the full. This man's story is given an immortal record. It comes in the Acts of the Holy Spirit and when you come to ask the question, Why is this man included in the record and his story handed down from age to age to last as long as time? the answer is just what we have said: he was a man who meant business with God, was open to the Lord, honest in heart, humble in spirit, and obedient to the light that he had.

The Holy Spirit

(a) The Ground He Requires

Well, then, the second party in the story is the Holy Spirit, and a brief word only needs to be said. Of course, in reality He was the first party in the whole business, but I mention Him second here because it is perhaps more helpful to examine the incident in this order. The Holy Spirit was aware of such a man, and the Holy Spirit is always aware of such a man. There is a sense in which an Ethiopian must go before the Holy Spirit. You understand what I mean by that. Before the Holy Spirit can really do His work, He must have something upon which to do it that meets His requirements, and the Holy Spirit was cognizant of this man, of his quest and of his heart, and the Holy Spirit is always aware of such people as to where they are.

(b) How He is Hindered

I think there is a very big story hanging upon a statement like that. If we did but know it, a lot of our problems are solved by understanding that. There is the big question which is always confronting us as to why is it that some leap into the light and go on, and others do not, but always lag behind, and never seem to see any more? Is it that there is a selectiveness on the part of God, a kind of elect of the elect that He has is it that He has favorites? I do not think so. I think a great part of the answer lies here, namely, in what God finds He has to deal with, whether people mean business with Him or not, whether He has a clear way or not, whether the ground is occupied or not already by that which is an obstruction to Him. I do not think anybody will fail to get all the light the Lord wants them to have if they really do mean business with God. The Holy Spirit knows us. He looks right deep down into our hearts and knows whether we mean business. He sees exactly what there is to hinder Him and how far He can go; for the Lord is not going to coerce anyone. If we are taken up with ourselves, occupied with ourselves, circling around ourselves, centering in ourselves, then the Holy Spirit has not a chance. We have to come to an end of ourselves. That is the trouble with so many. They have got a self-complex set up, and all the time it is a continuous going around in a circle and coming back to the same point at which they started, and it is all around themselves, and they are wearing themselves out. Before long they are going to have an awful crash that involves all that for which they are supposed to stand and  represent for the Lord, and it will come down with them. The Holy Spirit has not a clear way. We have to get out of the way, so far as this self-occupation is concerned, if we are going to move straight on, and to go on. He knows exactly where we are, whether we are tied up with things, religious things traditions and so on, and so tied up in them that we are not open to the Lord  to consider any further light at all. We have got it all, or our people with whom we are associated have got it all, and we are a part of that! You know what I mean. The Holy Spirit cannot do much with folk who are in a position like that; and He knows. His attitude is, It is no use, I cannot do much there, they  are too tied up. But, if we are prepared to put everything into the water, then the Lord can go on and get a clear way.

The Holy Spirit knows. He knows you and He knows me. He knows us a great deal better than we know ourselves. We may have thought that we meant business and have been praying very much a long time and crying to the Lord to do something, while the Holy Spirit knows quite well that we are not at an end of ourselves and our own interests yet. Something more has to be done to bring us to despair before He can do what He wants. But He knows: that is the point. He knew this man. He knew that He had not a great deal to do to make a start with every prospect of a clear way, and He took the opportunity presented, and He was able to act sovereignly. He did that in order to meet this need.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3 - "The Human Instrument")

Our Sins Are Like A Cloud


Isaiah 44:22
I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto Me; for I have redeemed thee.
 
Attentively observe THE INSTRUCTIVE SIMILITUDE: our sins are like a cloud. As clouds are of many shapes and shades, so are our transgressions. As clouds obscure the light of the sun, and darken the landscape beneath, so do our sins hide from us the light of Jehovah's face, and cause us to sit in the shadow of death. They are earth-born things, and rise from the miry places of our nature; and when so collected that their measure is full, they threaten us with storm and tempest. Alas! that, unlike clouds, our sins yield us no genial showers, but rather threaten to deluge us with a fiery flood of destruction. O ye black clouds of sin, how can it be fair weather with our souls while ye remain? Let our joyful eye dwell upon THE NOTABLE ACT of divine mercy-"blotting out." God Himself appears upon the scene, and in divine benignity, instead of manifesting His anger, reveals His grace: He at once and for ever effectually removes the mischief, not by blowing away the cloud, but by blotting it out from existence once for all. Against the justified man no sin remains, the great transaction of the cross has eternally removed His transgressions from him. On Calvary's summit the great deed, by which the sin of all the chosen was for ever put away, was completely and effectually performed. Practically let us obey THE GRACIOUS COMMAND, "return unto me."Why should pardoned sinners live at a distance from their God? If we have been forgiven all our sins, let no legal fear withhold us from the boldest access to our Lord. Let backslidings be bemoaned, but let us not persevere in them. To the greatest possible nearness of communion with the Lord, let us, in the power of the Holy Spirit, strive mightily to return. O Lord, this night restore us!

~Charles Spurgeon~

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Man Who Receives Spiritual Sight

Spiritual Sight

"And the angel of the lord spake unto Philip, saying, "Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, the same is desert." And he arose and went: and behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was over her treasure, who had come to Jerusalem to worship; and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the Prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said unto Philip, "Go near, and join thyself to this chariot." And Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the Prophet, and said, "Understandest thou what thou readest?" And he said, "How can I, except some one guide me/" And he besought Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the scripture which he read was this, "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and as a lamb before his shearer is dumb, so He opened not His mouth: in His humiliation His judgment was taken away: His generation who shall declare? For His life is taken from the earth." And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, "I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other?" And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this scripture, preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on the way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch said, "Behold, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?" And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more, for he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached the gospel to all the cities, till he came to Caesarea" (Acts 8:26-40).

In this simple but instructive incident we have three parties. We have the Ethiopian, the Holy Spirit, and the human instrument, Philip. The incident falls into the compass of our present meditation concerning spiritual sight.

The Ethiopian (a) A Confessedly Blind Seeker

When we look at this Ethiopian, we at once see a blind seeker. Though religious, though moving in the circle of long standing and well-established religious tradition, though having been to Jerusalem, to the temple, to the very headquarters, he is still blind, still a blind seeker. That is quite clear from the questions he put to Philip about the Scriptures of those with whom he was associated, and their prophets. "How can I understand, except some one shall guide me?" "Of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other?" He is manifestly a man in the dark, a man without spiritual sight, the eyes of his heart have not been enlightened; but the hopeful thing about him is that he is a confessedly blind man.

(b) A Humble Seeker

He was a very important man in this world, a man of considerable responsibility and influence and standing, and because of his position he might well have hedged things a bit. When challenged about his reading, he might have evaded the point or pointedness of the question and have given some kind o evasive non-committal answer. You know how people do who do not like to be thought ignorant, especially if they are people who are regarded as being of some standing, who have a position to keep up. This man, with all that he was among men on this earth, was a confessedly blind man. Without hedging or evasion, he answers the question quite directly and honestly and frankly. "Do I understand what I am reading? Well, how can I except someone teach me?" Then, in his openness, he pressed further for information, for explanation, for enlightenment. "Of whom speaketh the prophet?"

Now, that is very simple, I know, but it is fundamental. It is fundamental. It is fundamental to any kind of spiritual understanding, it is basic to all spiritual knowledge, it governs every degree of progress in spiritual things. The humility of this great man is the key to the whole story. He does not seek to give the impression that he knows what he does not know, to lead another to think that he understands when he does not understand; he starts right from the place where he truly and really was. He knew in his own heart that he did not understand and he gave no other impression, but let it be known that was exactly where he was, and that gave a fully opened way to the Lord. May it not be it was this that the Lord had seen long before and upon which He was acting all the time? He knew that He had a perfectly honest and humble man in the dark seeking light, and He could move sovereignly in wonderful ways over considerable distances and take some momentous steps; for these were momentous steps that were taken by the Lord in order to meet that life. You see what such a state of heart makes possible from the Lord's side, how much the Lord is prepared to do when He finds a heart like that. A blind man seeking light, but confessedly blind, and so it is not long before he is an enlightened seeker: for the Lord did not leave such a man in the dark; He gave him the light he was seeking.

And may we not say the Lord gave him a great deal more than he was seeking; for I do not thing we should be adding anything to the story if we said that, when he went on his way rejoicing, he felt that he had got a great deal more than he had set out to get. It is always like that. When the Lord does a thing, He does it properly. As Mr. Spurgeon once said, My cup runneth over, and my saucer also! When the Lord does a thing, He does it well. The man went on with a full and overflowing cup, an enlightened seeker. He had come to see what all the religious leaders of his day were not seeing, and were incapable of showing him.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2 - (c) A Seeker Who Meant Business with God")

The Fruitful Giver


2 Corinthians 9:6-15

If you've ever visited Israel, you have no doubt experienced the contrast between the Jordan River and the Dead Sea. The banks of the Jordan are surrounded by trees and greenery, but nothing lives around the Dead Sea. The reason is that there is no outlet. When the water flows into that sea, it stays there. Eventually the salts accumulate and poison the water.

This is a vivid picture of two different financial plans. The Dead Sea compares to the world's system, which is based on accumulation and preservation of wealth. The goal is to get enough so you can have enough, but this approach results in self-centered stagnation. Christians who follow this plan mistakenly believe it's the path to security. But what they fail to understand is that hoarding makes their lives spiritually unfruitful and hinders the good works God wants them to do.

The Lord's financial plan is like a river that moves continuously. As His provisions flow into our lives, we pass them on to others. This results in a fruitful life centered on building God's kingdom. Perhaps you've realized that He promises to supply "bread for food"to those who give, but did you know He'll also provide "seed for sowing" (v. 10)? He supplies enough to live and enough to give.

Have you hindered your spiritual growth by sowing sparingly? If you become a generous giver, God promises to "increase the harvest of your righteousness" (v. 10). There are needs in the church and the world that He wants to meet through your generosity. Let His blessings flow through you.

~Charles Stanley~

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Attainment of God's Objective # 2

Spiritual Sight

Seeing the Lord and Seeing Ourselves

Now, this is not just language, these are not just words and ideas. What I want us to see is this, for one thing, that the work of the Spirit of God in us, by which our eyes are opened to see the Lord, will result in our feeling that the only thing for us is to die, the best thing for us is to die, to come to an end. Have you got there? Of course, satan will play on that ground, as indeed he has with many people, trying to drive them to make an end of everything, to work upon something that the Spirit of God is doing and turn it to his own account and create a tragedy. Let us keep in the spiritual realm, and recognize that the Lord will work in us for His own glory and for glorious possibilities, by bringing us to the place where we feel deeply and terribly that the best thing for us is to die. Then He has got us in agreement with His own mind about us. I am undone! - and the Lord might well have said, And so you are: I have known it all the time. I have had difficulty in making you know it; you are undone.

Well now, when you come to that place, you have come to the place where we can start. While we are there, pressing in all the time, occupying the place like Uzziah, coming into the temple, into the house, into the sanctuary; busy, active; we in ourselves, what we are; while we are filling the temple, the Lord is not able to do anything. He says, Look here, you will have to go out, and you will have to come to the place where you hasten of your own accord to go out because you see you are a leper. That is put in there about Uzziah. "Yea, himself also hasted to go out." At last he realizes that this is no place for him. When the Lord has got us to that place - I am undone, this is no place for me! - then He can start on the positive side, He has the way open. This seeing is a terrible thing, and yet it is a very necessary thing, and in the outcome it is a very glorious thing. The commission came then.

The Reason for the Necessary Experience

I will just add this one thing. Do you see how necessary it was that a thing like that should happen with Isaiah? What was he going to do? Was he going to preach a great revival? Was he going out to tell the people, Everything is all right, the Lord is going to do great things: cheer up, there is a great day just about to dawn? No! Go, make this people's heart fat, close their ears, shut their eyes! This is not a very joyful kind of work. What does it amount to? Well you see, the Lord knew the state of the people's hearts. He knows quite well that they do not way to see in reality. In reality they do not want to see. If they wanted to see, oh, they would be taking different attitudes altogether. They would be free of all prejudices, all suspicions, all criticisms; they would be reaching out and inquiring; they would be showing their signs of hunger and longing; they would be investigating, and they would not be readily put off by other people's judgments and criticisms. But He knew that in their heart they did not want to see, they really did not want to hear, whatever they might say about it; and this prophet will say later on, "Who hath believed our report?" (Isaiah 53:1). The Lord knew, and judgment always comes along the line of a people's heart. If you do not want, you will lose the capacity for wanting. If you do not want to see, you will lose the capacity for seeing. If you do not want to hear, you will lost the capacity for hearing. Judgment is organic, it is not mechanical. It comes along the line of our life. You sow a seed of inclination or disinclination and you will reap a harvest of inability, and one effect of a ministry revelation and life only makes some people harder. The Lord knows it is there.

Now, to go on with a ministry like that is not a very comfortable thing. You have to be a crucified man to do that, you have to have no personal interest. If you are out for a reputation, for popularity, for success, for a following, then it is best not to go this way, not to see too much, best not to have insight into things; better put blinkers on and be an incorrigible optimist. If you are going the way of the Lord's purpose, of a people who really do answer to His thought, it is going to be a way which is cut clean through the mass who will not have it, and who let you know they will not have it, and you go a lonely way. They may thing they have a case, but the fact is that they are not hungry and desperate enough even to investigate, to inquire at first hand. They are easily turned aside by the slightest criticism of you, or of your position, of your ministry, and you have to go on with the few, the handful who are going on. It is the price of vision, the price of seeing. Isaiah had to be a crucified man in order to fulfill a ministry like that, and in order for you and me to occupy a position with God, we have to be crucified to that which was in Uzziah, a craving for position. Not satisfied with kingship, he must have priesthood. Nay, more than that, not satisfied with the blessing of God, he must have the very place of God. What a contrast is this! - on the one hand, king Uzziah; on the other, "mine eyes have seen the King."

Can you follow this? It is searching, it is tremendous, but oh, beloved, it is the way of the full desire and thought of the Lord. It is a lonely and costly way, and the effect is really to bring out what God sees in the heart of His people, and in order to do that - which is going to mean that we suffer for our revelation, for our vision, for seeing; we have to be well crucified, to come to the place where we say, Well, I am undone, I am deserving of death; there is nothing for it but that I should pass out! The Lord says, That is all right, that is what I want - for you to pass out; I wanted Uzziah to pass out: then I could fill the temple! Uzziah is self, it is man as he is, and God does not co-occupy His house with man. He must fill it.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 1 "The Man Who Receives Spiritual Sight")

A Great Voice From Heaven


Revelation 11:12
And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither.
 
Without considering these words in their prophetical connection, let us regard them  as the invitation of our great Forerunner to His sanctified people. In due time there shall be heard "a great voice from heaven" to every believer, saying, "Come up hither." This should be to the saints the subject of joyful anticipation. Instead of dreading the time when we shall leave this world to go unto the Father, we should be panting for the hour of our emancipation. Our song should be-
 
"My heart is with Him on His throne,
And ill can brook delay;
Each moment listening for the voice,
'Rise up and come away.'"
 
We are not called down to the grave, but up to the skies. Our heaven-born spirits should long for their native air. Yet should the celestial summons be the object of patient waiting. Our God knows best when to bid us "Come up thither." We must not wish to antedate the period of our departure. I know that strong love will make us cry,
 
"O Lord of Hosts, the waves divide,
And land us all in heaven;"
 
but patience must have her perfect work. God ordains with accurate wisdom the most fitting time for the redeemed to abide below. Surely, if there could be regrets in heaven, the saints might mourn that they did not live longer here to do more good. Oh, for more sheaves for my Lord's garner! more jewels for His crown! But how, unless there be more work? True, there is the other side of it, that, living so briefly, our sins are the fewer; but oh! when we are fully serving God, and He is giving us to scatter precious seed, and reap a hundredfold, we would even say it is well for us to abide where we are. Whether our Master shall say "go," or "stay," let us be equally well pleased so long as He indulges us with His presence.

~Charles Spurgeon~

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Leprosy of the Self-Life

Spiritual Sight

Seeing the Lord and Seeing Ourselves

And what was this leprosy? Oh, we say, of course, sin. Yes, sin; but what is this? Let us have a look at Uzziah and see what leprosy meant, what leprosy represented or betokened in the case of Uzziah. "He did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done," and while he walked in the ways of the Lord, the Lord made him to prosper. A man blessed of the Lord, walking in the light of the Lord and knowing the Lord's favor, and, alongside, that deeply rooted thing which is in every man's heart, always ready to rise up and turn the very blessings of God to his own account, to make a name for himself, to get a position for himself, to bring himself aggrandizement and glory and power and influence and satisfaction, to give him a reputation and a position. That is it. What is leprosy? What is this thing which is an abomination to God? It is just that self-lie which is in us all, which is ever even coming into the things of God and seeking to make them of personal advantage and account. The Lord blesses, and we become somebody in our own secret hearts because the Lord has blessed. We forget that the very blessings that have come to us have come through grace and the mercy of God, and secretly we begin to think there must be something in us to account for it. It is our ability, our cleverness, something in ourselves. We begin to speak about our blessing, our successes. Oh, it is that thing down there, the leprous germ in us all, the self-life in its manifold ways which produces pride, even spiritual pride, and causes us, like Uzziah, to press in to holy things in self-energy, self-strength, self-assertion, self-sufficiency. Yes, the leprosy is the root of self, selfhood, however it may express itself.

Therein - and it is another branch of things for which we have no time now - therein lies the peril of blessing and prosperity. Oh, how necessary it is for us to be crucified in the midst of our blessings! How necessary it is for God to make safe His blessing of us by continually showing us ourselves, and that it is all of grace, and that if He has given us any kind of blessing, any kind of success, any kind of prosperity at all, it is not because there is something in us in His sight, whatever men may think. Whatever we may be among men, in God's sight we are no better than lepers, and what matters is not how we get on among men, but We might arrive at some very high eminence in this world, but whether we arrive with God or not is the thing that matters.

Now perhaps this goes past most of us, because we are not all too conscious of having been blessed and prospered and having much to boast about. Most of us know the opposite, a good deal of emptying and humiliating. But let us get to the heart of the thing. Even down there in the depths there is a craving in us which is a self-craving, there is a revolt which is the revolt of this self-life.

Well, Uzziah is brought to light here in order to show that that is the thing in people and prophet which makes it impossible for God to reach His end; and it has to be dealt with, exposed; it cannot be overlooked; it must be dragged out, and we must see.

The Attainment of God's Object - The Fruit of Seeing the Lord

And so I just come at once and directly to this point, which is that God should get the end upon which His heart is set, a people, though it be but a tenth, a remnant, a people answering to His own heart-desire and satisfying Him in the full purpose of His will. For Him to get that, there must be a seeing, and one thing to be seen, which will do all the rest, is the Lord; and to see the Lord, as this makes so clear, is to see holiness; and when we see holiness we see leprosy where we never suspected it, in ourselves or in others. When we have seen the Lord, we see the true state of things in ourselves and in those around us, even of the Lord's people. To see the Lord is the need, in order that we should be in the way of that end toward which He is pressing.

"I saw the Lord"; "mine eyes have seen." What is the result? Well, it is a revealing of ourselves to ourselves, and it is a revealing of the spiritual state around us. When we have seen the Lord, we cry, I am undone! If you look at that word "undone", you will find that it just means this (but this it does mean), I am worthy of death. That is exactly the meaning of the Hebrew word there - worthy of death, I am worthy of death! You and I will see the need for union with Christ in death if our eyes are open to see the Lord; to see that there is nothing else for it, it is the only thing.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2)

"Why Art Thou Cast Down?"


Why art thou cast down, O my soul (Ps. 43:5).

Is there ever any ground to be cast down? There are two reasons, but only two. If we are as yet unconverted, we have ground to be cast down; or if we have been converted and live in sin, then we are rightly cast down.

But except for these two things there is no ground to be cast down, for all else may be brought before God in prayer with supplication and thanksgiving. And regarding all our necessities, all our difficulties, all our trials, we may exercise faith in the power of God, and in the love of God.
"Hope thou in God." Oh, remember this: There is never a time when we may not hope in God. Whatever our necessities, however great our difficulties, and though to all appearance help is impossible, yet our business is to hope in God, and it will be found that it is not in vain. In the Lord's own time help will come.

Oh, the hundreds, yea, the thousands of times that I have found it thus within the past seventy years and four months! When it seemed impossible that help could come, help did come; for God has His own resources. He is not confined. In ten thousand different ways, and at ten thousand different times God may help us.
Our business is to spread our cases before the Lord, in childlike simplicity to pour out all our heart before God, saying, "I do not deserve that Thou shouldst hear me and answer my requests, but for the sake of my precious Lord Jesus; for His sake answer my prayer, and give me grace quietly to wait till it please Thee to answer my prayer. For I believe Thou wilt do it in Thine own time and way."

"For I shall yet praise him." More prayer, more exercise of faith, more patient waiting, and the result will be blessing, abundant blessing. Thus I have found it many hundreds of times, and therefore I continually say to myself, "Hope thou in God."

~George Mueller~

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Seeing the Lord and Seeing Ourselves

Spiritual Sight

Chronicles 26:1-5, 26:16-21; Isaiah 6:1-10

This is a very impressive and striking story, and it circles around the matter which has been brought before us at this time, namely, that of spiritual sight. "I saw the Lord"; "mine eyes have seen ..."; and everything gathers around that.

What arises from the whole incident is this, that king Uzziah was spiritually and morally a representation of Israel, and of Israel's prophets to a large extent. That is the significance of the double statement by Isaiah the prophet - I am a man of unclean lips, and I am your prophet; and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips. And that, as is very clear, connects with Uzziah; for you know that a leper had to put a cloth upon his upper lip and go about crying, Unclean! The significance of the words "I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips" is just that: we are all lepers. Isaiah is saying, in effect, What was true of Uzziah is true of us all, prophet and people. You do not realize it, and I did not realize it until I saw the Lord. We were all terribly, deeply, impressed with what happened in the case of Uzziah: we have been living in an atmosphere charged with the awfulness of that thing, we have been speaking under our breath about it, saying what a terrible thing it was, what an evil thing Uzziah did, and how awful that our king should turn out to be like that, and have an end like that, what a horrible thing leprosy is; and we have been speaking hard things about Uzziah and thinking many thoughts, how grievous his case was, but I have come to see that we are all in the same case. I, who have been preaching to you (do not forget that five chapters of prophecy have preceded this sixth chapter of Isaiah, this is not the commencement of a preacher's life, but somewhere in his life when he wakes up by a new revelation), I who have been preaching and prophesying, I have come to see that I am no better than Uzziah. You people, going on with your round of religious rites and ceremonies, you, attending the temple, you, offering the sacrifices, you, using your lips in worship, you are in the same case as Uzziah: we are all lepers. You may not realize it, but I have come to see. And how have I come to see? I have seen the Lord! "Mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of hosts." "I saw the Lord ... high and lifted up." I say this is very impressive when you think about it.

Well, what are we going to make of it? Perhaps we would do well just to steal away and be quiet with that a little while, just think it out.

Let us dismiss one thing immediately. It is a popular idea which somehow has sprung up, and by which most of us have been taught, that it was this vision that made Isaiah a prophet or preacher. We have heard that, perhaps we have said that. Oh no! Why, if the Book is inspired and governed by God, should it come long after he had been prophesying so much? Look at those five chapters of prophecies. What tremendous things are in those chapters. No, it was not this that was making him the prophet, the preacher. God was dealing with a man, not a prophet; God was dealing with a people, not with an office. He is getting down to what we are in His own sight. So we cannot just transfer it to a class of people called prophets or preachers, and feel that some of us are not involved because we are not in that class, we are just ordinary simple folk who do not aspire to be prophets and preachers. It is not that. The Lord is getting down to people here and seeking to make clear to them how He views them in themselves, even though they may have been preaching a lot; what they are, after all, in His sight, in themselves. Sooner or later that reality has to break upon us to safeguard everything and to secure His end.

What God Is Seeking

What is God after? If you can see, if you can have your eyes opened to see what God is after, then you will understand His method, and why He employs this method. Chapter 5 makes clear what God is after; He is after a people who satisfy His own heart. It is called a remnant. It is called that simply because such a people will be but a remnant. He knows quite well that the whole people will not conform to His thought. He has foreseen that history of His people right up to the days of the coming of His Son, and what this very people will do with His Son. He knows their hearts. That is why He tells Isaiah those terrible things that he is to do: make this people's heart fat, close their ears and their eyes. He knows.

But nevertheless, there will be those who will respond. They will be but a remnant, and that remnant is mentioned specifically at the end of Chapter 6 in these words - 

"And if there be yet a tenth in it, it also shall in turn be eaten up: as a trebinth, and as an oak, whose stock remaineth, when they are felled; so the holy seed is the stock thereof."

In the stock that has been felled - and you notice what precedes is the felling of the trees; Israel would be felled by the nations whom God is going to call to cut down Israel, to use as His instruments of judgment, and they would fell this tree of Israel, but the stock will remain - and in the stock, there will be a tenth, there will be a remnant, a holy seed in the stock when the whole tree has been dealt with. God is after a company, even out from the whole general company of His people, who will satisfy His heart, and to secure that remnant He lays hold of Isaiah and deals with him in this way, and gives him this vision. Beloved, in order that God should get His end, we have to be thoroughly disillusioned and have our eyes opened to see very clearly what we are in ourselves in the sight of God. Terrible revelation! Anything which is a suspicion or a suggestion of self-satisfied with our present condition, will disqualify from being in the remnant or in any way instrumental toward God's end, God's purpose.

So, after this man had set out to speak of the wide ranges of the sovereign judgments of God in the first five chapters of Isaiah, suddenly it seems God arrests him. There is a crisis in his own life and in his own ministry. God takes him to the depths of an eye-opening as to what he is, and what the people are, in His sight. He and they who had judged and condemned, and spoken those words with bated breath about the terrible thing that had happened to Uzziah, were shown to be just as bad; there was no difference. In God's sight, they were all with the cloth upon their upper lips, called upon to cry, Unclean, unclean!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with - "The Leprosy of the Self-Life"