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Monday, March 31, 2014

The Blessedness of the Unoffended # 2

Now it is necessary to remember the meaning of the word "offend." In its original form it is the very word we frequently use - scandalize, and has the force of causing to stumble. So we may translate and expand this saying of Christ as being: "Blessed is he who does not find in Me any cause of stumbling; who can keep his feet in My ways; who is not tripped  up by any obstacles in the path into which I have directed him." He uses the word quite frequently in this sense; as, for instance, when He speaks of a man's hand or eye being a cause of stumbling to him, when He denounces those who cause little ones to be offended, and when He declares that in the day of His glory all things that offend shall be rooted out of His kingdom.

But He never uses it so surprisingly as when He declares the possibility of men finding occasion of stumbling in Him. We are prepared to find it in the world, in the opposition of the devil, in the proven insincerity of others - but in Him! This is surely the most startling of all His warnings. For in Him we have already found life and salvation, guidance and peace, inspiration and satisfaction. And now to contemplate finding in Him also any cause of offence fairly staggers us. Had this word been applicable to men of the world, it would  have occasioned little, if any, surprise. For instance, we are not greatly taken aback when those who knew Him so familiarly should treat Him so contemptuously and say: "Is not this the carpenter's
son?" Nor are we entirely unprepared to find that the Pharisees were offended in Him when He spoke to them of the evil thoughts, adulteries, murders, and the like, which proceed from the hearts of men; for His words convicted them of sin. We are not much surprised that He should be a rock of offence to those who are avowedly disobedient to His demands. But that His own friends, those who really know Him, and have been admitted into the intimacies of fellowship with Him, should find cause of offence in Him is passing strange. And its very mystery warns us to take heed to ourselves.

The setting of the first of these gives us the key to their significance. John the Baptist was languishing in prison on the shores of the Dead Sea as the outcome of a life of the utmost faithfulness. He had been tremendously loyal to Christ, splendidly in earnest concerning his mission, wonderfully courageous in giving forth the message committed to him, and yet it had all ended in a dungeon.

What a test for such a man!

It seemed as though his faith, his self-restriction, his willingness to decrease that Christ might increase, had all been unrecognized and unvalued. His experience so entirely contradicted God's assurance, that it is easy to understand the perplexity of mind which led him to send his disciples to Christ with the pathetic query: "Art thou He that should come?" For here is One who has avowedly come to deliver captives, and yet He does not deliver the man who, more than all others, seemed to have claims upon Him. He has proclaimed His own mission in terms of sympathy and love for the heat-broken, and yet here is a crushed and heart-broken man of whom He apparently takes no notice.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Blessedness of the Unoffended

"Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in Me" (Matthew 11:6)

"These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended" (John 16:1)

One of the greatest perils of the Christian life lurks in the common pathway of discipleship. It is the peril of being offended in Christ. The fellowship to which the Gospel summons us inevitably brings a constant new and humiliating discovery of self; an unvarying disturbance of established order in our lives, as His will corrects and opposes our own; and a ceaseless effort to attain to the ideal; that is, to make our lives as followers increasingly correspond with His as Forerunner. And the danger is that we are apt to break down under the test and training of it all, to go back and walk no more with Him, to become, in fact, offended in Him. It is always possible, despite every sincere profession of the soul, that what God meant for blessing should become blight to us by our misconceptions. It is always perilously possible that the light of today may become deep and impenetrable darkness tomorrow, by our failure of obey and keep step with Him, by our lagging behind or turning aside from the compelling guidances of Christ's companionship. Men have, in this way, unconsciously and imperceptibly put themselves far out of the range of Christ's ordinary influences; and have become, like the derelicts of the ocean, occasions of danger and disaster to countless other lives.

But Christ, with that absolute frankness which is a large part of His attractiveness to men, cannot be held to blame for such pitiful defections. For He never disguises the otherwise unthought-of possibility. In His Evangel He combines welcome with warning as none other has ever done. His Word, while it opens the very heart of God to our consciousness, opens also our own hearts to us. By Him we come to know the Father, and by Him also we come to know ourselves. He reveals the entire faithfulness of God to us, but He reveals also the instability of our own wills, and the untrustworthiness of our own emotions. He treats us not as ideal but as real men; and forewarns us of the destruction that wasteth at noonday, as well as of the pestilence that walketh in darkness. Hence it is that to the most earnest and self-convinced of us all He says: "Blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in Me." The implicate is obvious and ominous. But the reality and richness of His grace is the sufficient and silencing answer to every one of our fears. The blessedness of the unoffended, despite all the danger without and the weakness within, is the possible acquisition of each one. And it is blessedness indeed.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2)

As Christ Loves Us

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

Valentine’s Day is celebrated as a day to express love and most notably, romantic love. The history of Valentine's Day, along with the saint for whom it is named, is shrouded in mystery. Both Christian and ancient Roman traditions make up its origins, but the exact details of what happened to St. Valentine are uncertain.  What is certain is that through a series of events dating back to the middle ages, February 14 became the date to commemorate Valentine’s Day. Roses and chocolates will be sold at exorbitant prices and in massive quantities, all in hopes to express our love in that special way. What is the most special way to express our love?

The thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians is known as the love chapter of the Bible. The apostle Paul writes about true love, what it is and what it is not. It “suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;” (verse 4). It “does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;” (verse 5). Paul puts it very simply in verse 8, “Love never fails.” Flowers fade and candies melt, but true love never fades, never dies, never fails. The most special way to express our love is to practice these qualities Paul speaks of as we learn to love beyond ourselves. 

Romantic love is a wonderful feeling and being in love is truly a gift from God. Those feelings of heightened joy and excitement seem to make everything else less significant.  But today, let’s ask the Lord to help us love beyond the feelings of the gifts and the favors. Let’s pray that we can love as Christ loves us and that we can express that love in ways that bless those around us more than anything else we can give. Why not make today a day to take love more seriously than you ever have before? Pray that love becomes the motivation for all that you do. Enjoy the flowers and candies and candlelight dinners, but remember to keep love in your heart, not just in the festivities.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Grace of God # 6

[please read this to the end. I think this is the best explanation of grace that one can read.  "It is a simple act of believing the truth (no matter what you think stands in the way of it) and then accepting to yourself that Christ died for us out of His pure love for us, and that if we believe Him and trust in Him to lead us through, and depend upon Him for everything,  and "My grace is sufficient for [each] of you.]

Grace for Thee (continued)

So there is no real excuse for you. God's word is just as much for you as for any other - "My grace is sufficient for thee." Would you dare to tell the Lord that His grace is not sufficient for you? Is it sufficient for you? Well, you have been failing - but why have you been failing? The Apostle wrote to the Colossians of a day (and what a day!) "since ye knew the grace of God in truth." Wonderful things had been happening in these Colossian believers. They were growing, and increasing in holiness, and pressing toward the goal of glory, the goal which is set before us here. The goal of grace is the blessed appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and when you have the grace of God in your heart, you have that hope burning brightly. That is the goal - the blessed hope of Christ's appearing in glory, and of our having our inheritance with Him in that same glory. That is the end, and that end is for you, presented to you by the Lord - and yet you have been failing. Well, what is the matter? It is because you have not the experience that the Colossians had - and what was their experience? It is very simple! They knew the grace of God in truth. That is how they began. There was a day, not when they resolved to be Christians, but when they said: "Now we know the grace of God!" The Lord had spoken to them concerning their sin and their guilt and their need, and had said: "My grace is sufficient to save you!" They said: "Praise God, we believe it is - we are sure it is!" and that was the beginning.

But every step of the way, every phase, every aspect, meant for them a new knowledge of the grace of God, a new speaking into their hearts by the Lord of His word: "My grace is sufficient for thee."

Now the Galatians moved from that ground. They did not give up being Christians. They tried to be Christians, and that was their trouble. The Apostle said to them: "You have fallen from grace!" That does not mean that they had slipped into sin, though it does lead into sin. They tried to have their salvation by works and by their own efforts. Paul said: "You have made Christ of none effect! You have fallen from grace!" And that is the explanation of a lot of trouble in Christian lives. It is not that we are not trying to be Christians, but that we "are" trying to be Christians, and we have been deceived into the thought that we can be. We fall from grace, and we fail.

The true path of the just, that path which is "as a shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day," is just a simple walk of a continually increasing knowledge of the grace of God. It begins in its appearance for our salvation, whoever we are. It takes us through a life of learning, of being instructed, of being chastened, and of being trained in a way of holiness. It will take us through to that blessed hope, even the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us. That is the grace of God - Christ giving Himself, and that is the grace of God at every aspect. He gave Himself for us that He might give Himself to us, giving Himself to us to purge us from all iniquity and to purify unto Himself a people for His own possession. That is the same thing as the glory: glory for us being with the Lord, and glory for Him that at long last, after centuries upon centuries, He has a people who are His own peculiar treasure, precious above all else that He possesses - the peculiar treasure of a redeemed people. If you seek, and if in eternity it be sought, the secret that lies behind this people, the peculiar treasure precious to the Lord's own heart above all else - for He said: "All the earth is Mine" - it is just this: that they knew the grace of God in truth. The Lord said to them, kept on saying it, and the good of what He said remained: "My grace is sufficient for thee."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(The End)

Rejoice In the Lord

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4).

It is a good thing to "rejoice in the Lord." Perhaps you have tried it but seemed to fail at first. Don't give it a second thought, and forge ahead. Even when you cannot feel any joy, there is no spring in your step, nor any comfort or encouragement in your life, continue to rejoice and "consider it pure joy" (James 1:2). "Whenever you face trials of many kinds" (James 1:2), regard it as joy, delight in it, and God will reward your faith. Do you believe that your heavenly Father will let you carry the banner of His victory and joy to the very front of the battle, only to calmly withdraw to see you captured or beaten back by the enemy? NEVER! His Holy Spirit will sustain you in your bold advance and fill your heart with gladness and praise. You will find that your heart is exhilarated and refreshed by the fullness within.
Lord, teach me to rejoice in You - to "be joyful always" (1 Thess. 5:16).
The weakest saint may Satan rout,
Who meets him with a praiseful shout.
Be filled with the Spirit... Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.
--Ephesians 5:18-19
In these verses, the apostle Paul urges us to use singing as inspiration in our spiritual life. He warns his readers to seek motivation not through the body but through the spirit, not by stimulating the flesh but by exalting the soul.
Sometimes a light surprises
The Christian while he sings.
Let us sing even when we do not feel like it, for in this way we give wings to heavy feet and turn weariness into strength.
--John Henry Jowett
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and signing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
--Acts 16:25
O Paul, what a wonderful example you are to us! You gloried in the fact that you "bear on [your] body the marks of Jesus" (Gal. 6:17). You bore the marks from nearly being stoned to death, from three times being "beaten with rods" (2 Cor. 11:25), from receiving 195 lashes from the Jews, and from being bloodily beaten in the Philippian jail. Surely the grace that enabled you to sing praises while enduring such suffering is sufficient for us.
--J. Roach
Oh, let us rejoice in the Lord, evermore,
When darts of the Tempter are flying,
For Satan still dreads, as he oft did before,
Our singing much more than our crying.
~L. B. Cowman~

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Grace of God # 5

Grace for Character and Conduct (continued)

The Lord Jesus Christ came, so that now, by His Spirit and through His word in the gospel, the grace of God is manifested to us. It is not what we are doing, but God coming to our hearts and offering Himself in grace. You say: "I wish the Lord would do that to me!" Have you ever seriously faced this fact: that the Lord IS doing that to you? I think the matter becomes personal very often when we make it personal. "My grace is sufficient for thee!" Is that the Lord's word to you? Of course, if you heard it coming out of heaven you think you might believe that it was the Lord speaking to you. You would not know if this is the Lord speaking to you, because it does not come in some supernatural way. We do not know how it came to Paul, and we do not need to know. Many of us have known the Lord speaking His word to us just by reading it. It has come to us, not as the word of man, but as the Word of God, and we have known that it is the Lord speaking to us. Then we have doubted. Was it the Lord's Word? We have to say in faith: "It is the Lord's Word, and all the promises of God are Yea and Amen in Christ Jesus. The Lord is saying to me: "My grace is sufficient for thee." Well, then, I believe it and I stand on it!" That is so often how it happens - it becomes a matter of faith.

Grace for Thee

"My grace is sufficient for thee." Now that is just exactly the point where the faith wavers a bit, if it does not fail. We have no doubt in believing that the Lord's grace was sufficient for the Apostle Paul, for it is very easy to believe things about him. We may even have no doubt that the Lord's grace is sufficient for other people. Have you never, in another human life, seen things that were unbearable and would altogether have handicapped and made a walk with God impossible, and then have you not seen that person overcoming and walking with God? Of course, the devil will say to you: "You are different!" But you are NOT. Why have they overcome? What have you been looking at when you have been looking at a true Christian's life? The value of being brought up in Sunday school and knowing Christian doctrines? No, thousands of people have had that and there is not a sign of the grace of God in them, so it is no that. Is it that you have been seeing people who are extraordinary people and have such a strength of ability that they can walk in the way of holiness and obedience to God? No!

But let us see other people's failures. Why? To encourage us to know that these are fallible people, capable of the most terrible collapse spiritually, and sometimes even morally. It is like that in the Word of God. What is God's purpose in doing that, and why does He allow some of us to be seen in our failures? Perhaps He is just pointing out a truth to some soul. Here is someone whom you thought was wonderful, but they are not so wonderful after all - and yet there is something wonderful about them! They are failing men and women, but the grace of God in them causes them not to fail. However, if they move from the grace of God for one moment, they are miserable failures - and that is true of all of us!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 6)

Go Away to the Hills

The hill country shall be thine (Joshua 17:18, RV).
There is always room higher up. When the valleys are full of Canaanites, whose iron chariots withstand your progress, get up into the hills, occupy the upper spaces. If you can no longer work for God, pray for those who can. If you cannot move earth by your speech, you may move Heaven. If the development of life on the lower slopes is impossible, through limitations of service, the necessity of maintaining others, and such-like restrictions, let it break out toward the unseen, the eternal, the Divine.
Faith can fell forests. Even if the tribes had realized what treasures lay above them, they would hardly have dared to suppose it possible to rid the hills of their dense forest-growth. But as God indicated their task, He reminded them that they had power enough. The visions of things that seem impossible are presented to us, like these forest-covered steeps, not to mock us, but to incite us to spiritual exploits which would be impossible unless God had stored within us the great strength of His own indwelling.
Difficulty is sent to reveal to us what God can do in answer to the faith that prays and works. Are you straitened in the valleys? Get away to the hills, live there; get honey out of the rock, and wealth out of the terraced slopes now hidden by forest.
--Daily Devotional Commentary
Got any rivers they say are uncrossable,
Got any mountains they say "can't tunnel through"?
We specialize in the wholly impossible,

Doing the things they say you can't do.
--Song of the Panama builders
~L. B Cowman~

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Grace of God # 4

Grace for Character and Conduct (continued)

First of all, "the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men," and I take it that this thought of salvation refers in the first instance to the inward life. The grace of God is sufficient for our inward life. It comes in the power of salvation for deliverance, and the sphere in which we need deliverance is inside, and not outside. Let us be quite sure about that. You would never dispute it in relation to anyone, man or woman, who does not know the Saviour. You know that, when you begin to speak to them of the Christian life, they will always say that in their circumstances, just where they are, it is not possible to live a Christian life. And the attitude of the natural man is always that it is the outward realm that needs changing, but we all know that it is not there. What we need is deliverance inwardly, and if we are free there, then we will be all right wherever we are.

Now, it is the grace of God which, appearing, brings salvation to all men. The Authorized Version says: "The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men," but that cannot be the meaning, for it is not true. Of course, the problem arises: Does the grace of God bring salvation to all men? Surely this is what it means: the grace of God has appeared and it is a grace which is capable of saving all men, of bringing salvation to every kind of man. There is none so weak or so handicapped that the grace of God is not sufficient for them, nor is there anyone so strong or so good that the grace of God is not their only sufficiency. It is for all men, and it does not matter where the word of the Lord finds you. There is only one solution to your problem, and that is the grace of God. There are so many realms in which we may need deliverance, but the grace of God comes bringing salvation. "The grace of God hath appeared," has been made manifest. The whole effort of the Spirit of God is to make us believe that this is something that God has in hand - and that is so true of the whole  Christian life. Your problem may be (and perhaps in this very thing you do not know the grace of God) that you have not yet realized how utterly and completely the whole matter of the Christian life is God's concern. It is His responsibility, and it is from His side. How do you know the grace of God? Well, God appears to you with it. You cannot say more than that!

This is what happened to Paul. It is true that he prayed three times, but he did not get deliverance by praying, and nothing was put on the credit side of his life for his helpfulness because he prayed three times. No, deliverance came to him when the Lord appeared. "He hath said unto me ..." Oh, when the Lord speaks to you, you know it! You see, this does not speak of a man wrestling a promise from God. It speaks of the grace of God, unmerited, unexpected, and very often unasked. And it appears to all. Blessed be His Name!

It appeared supremely in the Person of His dear Son, Who is the very embodiment of God's grace. Who was asking for Him to come? Who was expecting Him? There were very few who wanted Him, but He came, moved by His great Divine compassion and concern which we call the grace of God.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 5)

Faith That Goes Forward Triumphs

As soon as the soles of the feet of the priests... shall rest in the waters… the waters shall be cut off (Joshua 3:13).

The people were not to wait in their camps until the way was opened, they were to walk by faith. They were to break camp, pack up their goods, form in line to march, and move down to the very banks before the river would be opened.
If they had come down to the edge of the river and then had stopped for the stream to divide before they stepped into it, they would have waited in vain. They must take one step into the water before the river would be cut off.
We must learn to take God at His Word, and go straight on in duty, although we see no way in which we can go forward. The reason we are so often balked by difficulties is that we expect to see them removed before we try to pass through them.
If we would move straight on in faith, the path would be opened for us. We stand still, waiting for the obstacle to be removed, when we ought to go forward as if there were no obstacles.
--Evening Thoughts
What a lesson Columbus gave to the world of perseverance in the face of tremendous difficulties!
Behind him lay the gray Azores,
Behind the gates of Hercules;
Before him not the ghost of shores,
Before him only shoreless seas.
The good Mate said: "Now we must pray,
For lo! the very stars are gone.
Brave Admiral, speak, what shall I say?"
"Why, say, 'Sail on! sail on! and on!'"
"My men grow mutinous day by day;
My men grow ghastly wan and weak!"
The stout Mate thought of home; a spray
Of salt wave washed his swarthy cheek.
"What shall I say, brave Admiral, say,
If we sight naught but seas at dawn?"
"Why, you shall say at break of day,
'Sail on! sail on! sail on! and on!'"
They sailed. They sailed. Then spake the Mate:
"This mad sea shows its teeth tonight.
He curls his lip, he lies in wait,
With lifted teeth, as if to bite!
Brave Admiral, say but one good word;
What shall we do when hope is gone?"
The words leapt like a leaping sword:
"Sail on! sail on! sail on! and on!"
Then, pale and worn, he kept his deck
And peered through darkness. Ah! that night
Of all dark nights! And then a speck--
A light! A light! A light! A light!
It grew, a starlit flag unfurled!
It grew to be Time's burst of dawn.
He gained a world; he gave that world

Its grandest lesson: "On! sail on!"
--Joaquin Miller
Faith that goes forward triumphs.
~L. B. Cowman~

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Grace of God # 3

"Grace for Service

Is My grace sufficient for ministry? When the Apostle had that vision, it was not of himself with the Lord in glory. That is some people's idea of heaven, but it is not the Lord's idea, for it would not be very glorious to Him, and does not represent His purpose one little bit. No, the vision was of a great company of redeemed souls brought right through to glory in spite of their own hopelessness, of the tremendous pull of the world, of the power of sin, of the antagonism of the devil, and of sin and shame on their side. Paul saw that vision and his heart was moved with a great desire to serve the Lord in that. He longed to pour out all that he had and all that he ever could be in order that that might be realized, not just in him, but that he might serve the Lord in bringing others there, and then, doubtless just when he was most full of hope as to the glory and blessedness of this ministry, and he left all for the Lord to do that, he was smitten down. Some of us know something of what that means: the bitter disappointment of not being able to fulfill our ministry. And that is how it came to Paul. From a human point of view he was out of the ministry, and it was satan's work. That was a very bitter thought to Paul, but the Lord came to him after his third appeal, when he was really desperate, and assured him that, far from being out of the ministry, he was now coming into it, and that this experience was a part of it. "Paul, you shall fulfill a ministry with this suffering, this disability, such as you could never have fulfilled by any other way, but it will not be you. My grace is sufficient for you!"

I have said this in order that we may catch something of the thought of God's grace being a tremendous power, and a practical power, in the life.

Grace for Character and Conduct

When we turn to Titus, that is just exactly what Paul says. The Apostle, in writing to this younger brother, had gone to some length to set out the kind of life that the Lord's people should live, summing up the whole matter of our duty and life here in the world in one beautiful phrase in which he speaks of our "Adorning the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things." Then immediately he comes to the practical power that produces practical holiness, and what is it? "For the grace of God hath appeared." There is the secret of Christian conduct. We do not want to be neglectful of or indifferent to the whole matter of living here on earth lives that are a credit to the Lord and having nothing to be ashamed of before Him and before men, but what is the secret of that? It is the grace of God, and you will notice how the Apostle passes into one or two spheres in which the grace of God becomes a working, effective power.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4)

Lord I Love You But ...

Most of us are quick to declare our love for God, but at times our reluctance to serve Him tells a different story. Honestly consider whether you have ever found yourself saying or thinking, I love you, Lord, but don't call me to do that! Or perhaps you served Him, but with a flawed attitude: If no one else will do it, then I guess I will. What causes us to be reluctant servants?

Busyness: Sometimes our schedules are so full that there's no space to follow the Lord when we hear Him calling us to minister in a certain area. We all need "margins" in our lives if we want to abide in God's will.

Inadequacy: Perhaps you feel unqualified to serve, and you're thinking, Surely there's someone more gifted who could do that job. But that's just an excuse; the Lord promises to equip those He calls (2 Cor. 3:4-6).

Selfishness: Sacrificial service is never convenient. It may require that we change our plans, give up our comforts, or even make financial sacrifices.

Lack of love: This is the hardest for us to admit—that we just don't care enough. Our reluctance to serve others reveals a lack of devotion to the Lord. Those who love Christ with all their heart will joyfully serve Him by ministering to those in their families, workplaces, communities, and churches.

Are you quick to follow the Lord's leading when a need arises, or are you a reluctant servant who's preoccupied with your own plans and desires? Any service we offer in Jesus' name will not be in vain. You'll experience the joy of giving and the assurance that the Lord won't forget your sacrifice.

~Charles Stanley~

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Grace of God # 2

Grace More Than Comfort

I have said all that because it is very true and very precious, but there is something more that I feel we need to know, for the grace of God is much more than that kindly, comforting, sympathetic love. It is the mighty power of God for the fulfillment of His will in our lives. I believe it is a need that may be found in many of us to know the Lord saying - not just: "I will comfort you; I will cheer you up; I will pity you; I will assure you of My love!" but: "There is no need for the experience through which you are passing! There is no need for your failure, nor for those experiences of which you are ashamed and for which you are sorry, and which you feel need to be covered and hidden! All that sad story of failure is not necessary!" "Well," you begin to say, "look at the circumstances in which I am! Look at those people with whom I have to do! Look at my upbringing and my handicap, my circumstances, myself!" The Lord knows them far better than you do! Nevertheless, He does not accept that any one of them, nor all of them together, are the real explanation of your failure, of your wandering, of your place of difficulty, or of your experience of defeat. None of these things is the true reason why you do not know the will of God being fulfilled in your life. What, then, is the reason? It is that you do not know the grace of God. You may object to that, but I say it again. You do not know the grace of God, and that is your difficulty.

The Apostle Paul, under the peculiarly acute trial which came upon him, was also in danger of failing and fainting, and to his cries to the Lord he received an answer, which was: "My grace is sufficient for thee!" The Lord did not mean: "It is all right Paul! You ave this trial and this suffering, and it is all very bitter and very hard, but I will just comfort you and give you the grace to bear it quietly!" The Lord did not only mean that. He was saying: "Paul, in spite of this thing, you will reach the goal. The heavenly vision will be realized. My grace is sufficient, not just to comfort you, but to get you through." Paul was feeling: "This thing is like a great stake that holds me to the ground. It is driven in by the devil, and here I am down here when I would be up there. Now, if the Lord, in His sovereign power, would rebuke the devil and remove the stake, then I could get busy climbing up there!" But the Lord said: "No, you do not get there that way. Let the devil drive in his stake that cripples you, handicaps you, and makes you, as you have never been before, aware of your own utter helplessness, but My answer is not to remove the handicap. My answer is that there is a spiritual power which I call My grace that will, in spite of everything, in spite of your own more conscious weakness, disability, inability, yet bring you to that heavenly goal. My grace is sufficient!" That was the Lord's word to the Apostle, and it is His word to us.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3 - "Grace for Service")

The Mystery of His Silence

He answered her not a word (Matthew 15:23).
He will be silent in his love (Zephaniah 3:17).

It may be a child of God is reading these words who has had some great crushing sorrow, some bitter disappointment, some heart-breaking blow from a totally unexpected quarter. You are longing for your Master's voice bidding you "Be of good cheer," but only silence and a sense of mystery and misery meet you --"He answered her not a word."
God's tender heart must often ache listening to all the sad, complaining cries which arise from our weak, impatient hearts, because we do not see that for our own sakes He answers not at all or otherwise than seems best to our tear-blinded, short-sighted eyes. The silences of Jesus are as eloquent as His speech and may be a sign, not of His disapproval, but of His approval and of a deep purpose of blessing for you.
"Why art thou cast down, O… soul?" Thou shalt yet praise Him, yes, even for His silence. Listen to an old and beautiful story of how one Christian dreamed that she saw three others at prayer. As they knelt the Master drew near to them.
As He approached the first of the three, He bent over her in tenderness and grace, with smiles full of radiant love and spoke to her in accents of purest, sweetest music. Leaving her, He came to the next, but only placed His hand upon her bowed bead, and gave her one look of loving approval. The third woman He passed almost abruptly without stopping for a word or glance.
The woman in her dream said to herself, "How greatly He must love the first one, to the second He gave His approval, but none of the special demonstrations of love He gave the first; and the third must have grieved Him deeply, for He gave her no word at all and not even a passing look.
"I wonder what she has done, and why He made so much difference between them?" As she tried to account for the action of her Lord, He Himself stood by her and said: "O woman! how wrongly hast thou interpreted Me. The first kneeling woman needs all the weight of My tenderness and care to keep her feet in My narrow way. She needs My love, thought and help every moment of the day. Without it she would fail and fall.
"The second has stronger faith and deeper love, and I can trust her to trust Me however things may go and whatever people do. The third, whom I seemed not to notice, and even to neglect, has faith and love of the finest quality, and her I am training by quick and drastic processes for the highest and holiest service.
"She knows Me so intimately, and trusts Me so utterly, that she is independent of words or looks or any outward intimation of My approval. She is not dismayed nor discouraged by any circumstances through which I arrange that she shall pass; she trusts Me when sense and reason and every finer instinct of the natural heart would rebel;--because she knows that I am working in her for eternity, and that what I do, though she knows not the explanation now, she will understand hereafter.
"I am silent in My love because I love beyond the power of words to express, or of human hearts to understand, and also for your sakes that you may learn to love and trust Me in Spirit-taught, spontaneous response to My love, without the spur of anything outward to call it forth."
He "will do marvels" if you will learn the mystery of His silence, and praise Him, for every time He withdraws His gifts that you may better know and love the Giver.
~L. B. Cowman~

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Grace of God

"Exhort servants to be in subjection to their own masters, and to be well-pleasing to them in all things; not gainsaying; not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. For the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men" (Titus 2:9-11)

"The word of the truth of the gospel, which is come unto you, even as it is also in all the world bearing fruit and increasing, as it doth in you also, since the day ye heard and knew the grace of God in truth" (Colossians 1:5-6)

"He hath said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee" (2 Corinthians 12:9)

"My grace is sufficient for thee." For the Apostle that solved a very great problem in his life, and met a need in such a remarkable way that he was still in the good of it fourteen years afterwards. You notice that he does not say so. He is speaking as if the Lord were continually saying this word to him, as if it were a present experience. In a sense he does not speak of it in the past, as something finished and over and written in history, but it is that past experience which still comes right up to the present moment and stands good today. "He hath said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee."

Now the grace of God, I believe, is, so far as we are concerned, one of the biggest and most vital truths of Divine reality, and the real burden of what I wish to say to you in the Lord's Name is something after this fashion. The grace of God - yes, it does express that loving, kind, considerate, thoughtful sympathy of the Lord for us. For the sinner it means that, though God might be angry with him, He is not; that, though He has every reason for hating him, hurling him into the abyss, and feeling an implacable resentment toward him, He does not. His feelings toward the sinner are those of kindness, of desire, of sympathy, of compassion. If you are tempted to wonder whether you have ever known the Lord or not, or if you are tempted to feel that God is against you, those temptations are of the devil, though he may be masquerading as an angel of light. There is a sphere, a realm, into which, in God's infinite mercy, we have been brought, and that means that His attitude toward us is one of grace. In the general sense that may even be said of those who do not know God, for, today being the day of grace, God is not,in the first place, angry with men except as they harden their hearts and refuse His grace.

So, as we touch every realm of human need in our lives as Christians, we are again touching a realm where the grace of God becomes such a precious thing, and in the hour of trial and of deep tribulation, of testing or of perplexity, of loneliness, or whatever be the peculiar trouble and difficulty of any one child of God, it is still true that the Lord has that attitude and sympathy and comes near with His own blessed presence as a balm and a comfort. In that sense (and it is in that sense that these words are usually applied), "My grace is sufficient for thee."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2 - "Grace More than Comfort")

Our Eternal Pilot

And, lo, I am with you alway (Matthew 28:20).
Never look ahead to the changes and challenges of this life in fear. Instead, as they arise look at them with the full assurance that God, whose you are, will deliver you out of them. Hasn't He kept you safe up to now? So hold His loving hand tightly, and He will lead you safely through all things. And when you cannot stand, He will carry you in His arms.
Do not look ahead to what may happen tomorrow. The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering or He will give you His unwavering strength that you may bear it. Be at peace, then, and set aside all anxious thoughts and worries.
--Francis de Sales
The Lord is my shepherd. Psalm 23:1
Not was, not may be, nor will be. "The Lord is my shepherd." He is on Sunday, on Monday, and through every day of the week. He is in January, in December, and every month of the year. He is when I'm at home and in China. He isduring peace and war, and in times of abundance or poverty.
--J. Hudson Taylor
He will silently plan for you,
His object of omniscient care;
God Himself undertakes to be
Your Pilot through each subtle snare.
He WILL silently plan for you,
So certainly, He cannot fail!
Rest on the faithfulness of God,
In Him you will surely prevail.
He will SILENTLY plan for you
Some wonderful surprise of love.
No eye has seen, nor ear has heard,
But it is kept for you above.
He will silently PLAN for you,
His purposes will all unfold;
Your tangled life will shine at last,
A masterpiece of skill untold.
He will silently plan FOR YOU,
Happy child of a Father's care,
As if no other claimed His love,
But you alone to Him were dear.

--E. Mary Grimes
~L. B. Cowman~

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Measure of Christ # 5

Growing Up Into Him (continued)

Why is spiritual growth so slow in some and so gloriously quick in others? Because some kick and question, or argue with God; go round and round the point asking, Does it mean this? Must I do this? Is it necessary? Can I, may I do this? and so on. Yet these very people are loudest in saying they want only the will of God; but their very affirmation often shows a struggle is going on, and their growth is fraught with a good deal of friction.

Others in a beautiful sincerity and purity of spirit are immediately letting go to the Lord, so He is able to lead them on, without waste of time in controversy with the will of God; and there is no weakness through there not being an utter abandonment and whole-hearted obedience and surrender to that will. There is a passion for the Lord Himself, and for Him to have His full way at whatever cost.

It all depends on our appreciation of the Lord Jesus. When we get a true value of Him, and see all that He is for us to the Father, and as by faith we appropriate Him, we quietly grow - "Beholding ... the Lord, are changed (transformed from within) into the same image, from glory to glory" (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The hindrance to growth is the regarding things as apart from the Person, the Lord Jesus. We would never walk round the Scripture, as we sometimes do, debating whether we would or would not, if we had a full appreciation of Him, if our passion was for Him to get the fullest glory possible; we should instantly yield, that Christ might get more glory.

Is not the difficulty often in our regarding aspects of the Christian life as something in themselves?

An adequate appreciation of the Lord Jesus gets rid of all the strain of spiritual growth. Christ is most glorified where Christ is most in the heart. Growth is bound up with the Beloved One; and growth is the outcome of being occupied with Him, giving the Lord Jesus His place in everything; He the first, and He is all, and in all. Conclusively it is a matter of the measure of Christ, we must see that everything is bound up with the Lord Jesus Himself.

Everything is a matter of knowing the Lord in our hearts, then the Lord has a clear way in us, and through us.

Get focused on Him, and see that He Himself is everything.

The Gospel of God is that we are saved to be conformed to the image of His Son; to come to the fullness of the "measure of Christ," "unto a full-grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13).

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(The End)

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
~L. B. Cowman~

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Measure of Christ # 4

The Universality of the Church

You cannot go outside of A and Z in the realm of literature, you box the compass of language with A and Z; likewise Christ Jesus is First and Last of God's new creation, and all that is in between: you cannot get outside that. We must never think of anything as outside of Christ; He is Salvation; He is Sanctification; He is Redemption, Justification, Peace; Wisdom, Love, Heaven. "Know ye not as to your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you," this Christ - in you! Do you see the possibilities and the tremendous reach of this?

God will transform His universe, not from without, but from within. How? By putting Jesus Christ within the believer by His Holy Spirit; and thence there will be a two-fold activity - being conformed to Him by His Spirit, and He being formed in the believe; thus He is going to make His new creation.

"Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27). "God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life" (1 John 5:11, 12).

"If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His? (Romans 8:9).

"The Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of His glory, according to the working whereby He is able even to subject all things unto Himself" (Phil. 3:20, 21).

"Put on the new man, that is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of Him That created him: where there cannot be Greek and Jew ... but Christ is all, and in all" (Col. 3:10, 11).

"The church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all" (Ephesians 1:22, 23).

Growing Up Into Him

The Christian life is not by effort, and not by struggle; not merely by trying to put into practice certain maxims, or by trying to attain to a certain measure; but from beginning to end, and all together, it is a matter of knowing the Lord Jesus within. Of course this implies response to Him, and a continual yieldedness to His working by His Spirit within, and so cooperating with Him in His purpose of conformity to His image.

We have all grown since we were born. How did we grow? Not by sitting down and considering that we ought to increase our stature; not by determining to grow so much today, and a little more tomorrow; not by painful efforts to increase our dimensions, and so on; but we "just growed," we had to respond to the laws of growth. So in the spiritual realm, we have to recognize the laws of growth, and where these are not responded to, or are violated, there can be no growth, but arrest, weakness and loss.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 5)

The Door of Trouble - The Door of Hope

He turned the sea into dry land; they went through the flood on foot: there did we rejoice in him (Psalms 66:6).

It is a striking assertion, "through the floods" (the place where we might have expected nothing but trembling and terror, anguish and dismay) "there," says the Psalmist, "did we rejoice in him!"
How many there are who can endorse this as their experience: that "there," in their very seasons of distress and sadness, they have been enabled, as they never did before, to triumph and rejoice.
How near their God in covenant is brought! How brightly shine His promises! In the day of our prosperity we cannot see the brilliancy of these. Like the sun at noon, hiding out the stars from sight, they are indiscernible; but when night overtakes, the deep, dark night of sorrow, out come these clustering stars--blessed constellations of Bible hope and promise of consolation.
Like Jacob at Jabbok, it is when our earthly sun goes down that the Divine Angel comes forth, and we wrestle with Him and prevail. It was at night, "in the evening," Aaron lit the sanctuary lamps. It is in the night of trouble the brightest lamps of the believer are often kindled.
It was in his loneliness and exile John had the glorious vision of his Redeemer. There is many a Patmos still in the world, whose brightest remembrances are those of God's presence and upholding grace and love in solitude and sadness.
How many pilgrims, still passing through these Red Seas and Jordans of earthly affliction, will be enabled in the retrospect of eternity to say--full of the memories of God's great goodness--"We went through the flood on foot, there--there, in these dark experiences, with the surging waves on every side, deep calling to deep, Jordan, as when Israel crossed it, in 'the time of the overflowing' (flood), yet, 'there did we rejoice in Him!'"
--Dr. Macduff
"And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the door of trouble for a door of hope: and she shall sing THERE" (Hosea 2:15).
~L. B. Cowman~

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Measure of Christ # 3

The All-Inclusiveness of Christ (continued)

This is also true in the matter of sanctification and service. Any service that is not fulfilled on the ground of the indwelling Christ as the worker cannot effect the purpose of God, for only the Lord Jesus by His Spirit can do the work of God. Yes, you are called to be a servant in a service you can never fulfill! Service is the bringing of the Lord Jesus into view, and any service that does not do that is not the service of the Holy Spirit, but man's service which does not fulfill God's ends; it will be tested by the fire, and proved valueless.

Christianity is not a doctrine, not truth as truth, but the knowledge of a Person; it is knowing the Lord Jesus. You cannot be educated into being a Christian. Christianity is the knowledge within of a Person, knowing Him as dwelling within us.

The Universality of Christ

"God has singled out a Person, and gathered into that Person all the Divine perfections; everything is inseparably bound up with His Son; He has put all the fullness of eternity and of the universe into that Person, and bound up all the fullness in Him; not a fragment can be had apart from Him; that which is to characterize the new creation is in Him. The predestined end of God is a full presentation of the fullness of Christ - "The church, His body, the fullness of Him That filleth all in all" (Ephesians 1:23).

Every corner of the universe will speak audibly of Jesus Christ; so that we shall not be able to go into a place, or touch a life, without finding an expression of the Lord Jesus.

"Christ in you, the hope of glory" - this is heaven. You walk in the presence of the Lord Jesus. Think of the whole universe like that; a universal expression of His Son in fullness. That is the end God has in view, that Christ shall fill all things; that, looking into everything, it shall be found to be full of Christ. All is made for Him, and in the new creation all will speak of His presence and show forth some characteristic of Him. Oh! the joy, even now, when you touch a life and find immediately that life is full of the Lord Jesus, and the Lord Jesus is the fullness of that life; what a benediction it is!

God has singled out a Person and set Him forth to be seen of all - the Man Christ Jesus.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4 - "The Universality of the Church")

Go To The Lord First

He also hired a hundred thousand fighting men from Israel for a hundred talents of silver. But a man of God came to him and said, "O king, these troops from Israel must not march with you, for the LORD is not with Israel-not with any of the people of Ephraim. Even if you go and fight courageously in battle, God will overthrow you before the enemy, for God has the power to help or to overthrow." Amaziah asked the man of God, "But what about the hundred talents I paid for these Israelite troops?" The man of God replied, "The LORD can give you much more than that." - 2 Chronicles 25:6-9

Amaziah was king of Judah and though he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, he did not follow the Lord wholeheartedly. One day Amaziah decided to muster his army, so he took count all of his able-bodied fighting men. Thinking he needed more troops, he hired another hundred thousand fighting men from Israel. Now at this time, the kingdoms of Judah and Israel were divided, each with their own kings. The Lord was with Judah because of His covenant with David but the Lord was not with Israel, especially as their kings were evil, wicked and against the Lord. So, the Lord sent a prophet, "a man of God," to speak with Amaziah about sending the men from Israel back home.

 Even though Amaziah did as the man of God instructed, his first concern was about the money that he had already spent. The response from the man of God should speak to our hearts even today; "The LORD can give you much more than that."

Sometimes we fail (or forget) to realize that our God is in charge and has ownership of all things, even all the money of the world. We can get so caught up in making things balance out that we think we do not need to depend on the Lord. Many of us hate to waste money or waste things of value. We try to be good stewards. We try to make the right decisions. But, sometimes we act before we pray and we make decisions that may not be God's will for us.
The best course in making decisions is to take them all to the Lord first. But if you find yourself in a place of looking backwards (as we all do at times), then ask the Lord to work it out and even to replace what was lost. You will be amazed to watch how God works through our situations, even our mistakes, and He can replace what was lost in the process. Do not bear the burden alone—take it to the Lord. He loves to rescue. 

The rest of the story of Amaziah? He went into battle after sending the hundred thousand troops home and the Lord delivered him the victory. He will give us the victory when we seek His help in all things.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Measure of Christ # 2

The All-Inclusiveness of Christ

Spiritual service, vision, vocation, glorification, have no existence apart from Christ; they are not things as things, and cannot be had except in the Person of the Lord Jesus.

To many salvation is as a thing. It is detached and regarded as something by itself; to be given by itself, for the good of those who receive it. Sanctification is wrapped up in the same way. So often we think of salvation and sanctification in relation to the persons in view, and so some thing for them, but it is Christ Himself Who is salvation. He is sanctification, and He is within as these.

It is the same with service and vocation; these are often seen only in regard to the persons themselves. "Saved to serve" is only part of the truth and is a dangerous slogan, for the motive, so often, is the service itself and not the Lord. You may be so driven with the service that He is left out. We have detached the thing from the Person, and we find we are gripped and wrapped in the claims of "service"; it becomes the drive of service, and in the end it breaks us. And again, when service becomes hard and difficult, we say we will give it up, we will resign, thus showing we have separated service from the Person, and have been occupied, day in and day out, with it, the work, and not with the Lord Himself.

And so with glorification; yes, this stirs us, we love to sing hymns about our glorification; but God means it to begin now and it must begin now. What is glorification? It is the full manifestation of Jesus Christ in us. God regards salvation, sanctification, vocation, service, glorification, as related to His Son, and of no value apart from Him; He is salvation, He is sanctification, etc.

Salvation and sanctification are often held up to people a things to be received for their good; the object being for them to benefit from something received; often it is salvation for salvation's sake. God has not saved a single soul for salvation's sake. God is not after salvation as an end in itself, but for the sake of the Saviour, for the glory of the Son It is not salvation that is in view, but the Saviour. If people are rejoicing in salvation merely as something received for their own benefit, the full end will be hidden by the first step. Is not this the cause of arrest and hold up?

The worker has to be brought, by the way of seeing no deep fullness of result from his work to the place where he cries out, "I can do nothing." So he comes to see the true nature of salvation, and that to save another soul is utterly beyond him, and is the work of God. So he comes to see God's object in salvation, which is the glory of His Son. Salvation is not "something", it is the mighty incoming of a Person; "He that hath the Son hath life"; (1 John 5:12). "To as many as received Him" (John 1:12).

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3

Obstacles Ought to Set Us Singing

I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth (Isaiah 58:14).

Those who fly through the air in airships tell us that one of the first rules they learn is to turn their ship toward the wind, and fly against it. The wind lifts the ship up to higher heights. Where did they learn that? They learned it from the birds. If a bird is flying for pleasure, it goes with the wind. But if the bird meets danger, it turns right around and faces the wind, in order that it may rise higher; and it flies away towards the very sun.
Sufferings are God's winds, His contrary winds, sometimes His strong winds. They are God's hurricanes, but, they take human life and lift it to higher levels and toward God's heavens.
You have seen in the summer time a day when the atmosphere was so oppressive that you could hardly breathe? But a cloud appeared on the western horizon and that cloud grew larger and threw out rich blessing for the world. The storm rose, lightning flashed and thunder pealed. The storm covered the world, and the atmosphere was cleansed; new life was in the air, and the world was changed.
Human life is worked out according to exactly the same principle. When the storm breaks the atmosphere is changed, clarified, filled with new life; and a part of heaven is brought down to earth.
Obstacles ought to set us singing. The wind finds voice, not when rushing across the open sea, but when hindered by the outstretched arms of the pine trees, or broken by the fine strings of an Aeolian harp. Then it has songs of power and beauty. Set your freed soul sweeping across the obstacles of life, through grim forests of pain, against even the tiny hindrances and frets that love uses, and it, too, will find its singing voice.
Be like a bird that, halting in its flight,
Rests on a bough too slight.
And feeling it give way beneath him sings,
Knowing he hath wings.
~L. B. Cowman~

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Measure of Christ

"Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:27)

Read the whole verse carefully, fragment by fragment, to get the full import of its wonderful truth: "God was pleased to make known - what is the riches of the glory - of this mystery ... which is, Christ in you." The riches of the glory, Christ in you!

"Know ye not as to your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you?" (2 Corinthians 13:5). That interrogation of the Apostle is not without point, "Know ye not as to your own selves," - know ye not that Christ is in you? Do you not know this wonderful thing?

"My little children, of whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you" (Galatians 4:19). "Till Christ be formed in  you"; this is a step on.

"Whom He foreknew, He also foreordained to be conformed to the image of His Son" (Romans 8:29). Marvelous words! No man would dare to say this; they are here by revelation of the Holy Spirit.

"Unto each one of us was the grace given according to the measure of the gift of Christ ... till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God ... unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:7, 13). "The measure ... of the fullness of Christ."

We want immediately to focus everything in and upon the Lord Jesus Christ for it is He Who is in view. What we have before us is not teaching or truth; that is, to be possessed of more knowledge of truth; it is not service; but it is the Lord Himself.

The object of the Father from first to last is that the Son, the Lord Jesus, shall fill all things, and all things shall be filled with Christ. The value of everything in the eyes of God is according to the measure of the manifestation of Christ in it. It is from that standpoint God determines the importance of everything.

If we become focused there, it will make a great difference, much will have to go because it is not manifesting the Lord Jesus. We must understand that the Father has set the Lord Jesus before His eyes, and the Father's eyes are full of only one object, that is the Beloved, His Son; and in the eyes of God the value of everything is determined by the measure in which His Son is manifested and glorified; that is His end and that is His object.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2 - "The All-Inclusiveness of Christ")

You Are Called By Name

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: "See, I have called by name Bezalel… And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship. And I, indeed I, have appointed with him Aholiab… and I have put wisdom in the hearts of all who are gifted artisans, that they may make all that I have commanded you” Exodus 31:1-6

Do you know that the Lord has called you by name and that He has a specific purpose for your life? Do you know that not only has He called you but also that He has filled you with His Holy Spirit who will teach you all things? (1 John 2:27) Even if you answer “yes” to these questions, you may not fully grasp the meaning, most of us probably do not. The two men named in the above verses were appointed and anointed by God to complete a specific task to design and construct  the tabernacle. Ordinary men performed an extraordinary and supernatural task. We also have the indwelling Spirit of God who wants to guide us in performing extraordinary and supernatural tasks. But, how?

We first must believe that God’s Word is true, without exception or compromise. He has promised us His Holy Spirit to be our Helper and Teacher (John 14:26) and further says that we are sealed with this promise (Ephesians 1:13). Throughout the Book of Acts several accounts are mentioned regarding the infilling of the Holy Spirit. When we accept Jesus into our hearts, He enters in and lives within us through His Spirit. But the first step is to believe.
As we claim this promise as truth, we need to start asking for the same kinds of gifts as given to the two men in Exodus chapter 31.  We should pray for wisdom, knowledge and understanding so that in all things we are seeking to do God’s will and to fulfill His purpose. Paul says in Ephesians 4:1 “to walk worthy of the calling in which you were called” and the only way we can truly know our calling is to seek a spiritual wisdom and understanding that only comes from God. Through His Holy Spirit, He will teach us and lead us to perform and complete the tasks He has chosen for us.

To summarize, if you have received Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you are filled with His Holy Spirit. But to truly live out your calling, you must believe in faith in what His word teaches and pray for the spiritual wisdom, knowledge and understanding to apply His guidance to your life. Bezalel and Aholiab were ordinary guys called for a supernatural purpose. They received, they believed and they performed. Start praying today for the Lord to train you to yield more to His Spirit and to teach you with His wisdom how to walk worthy of your calling. 

~Daily Disciples Devotional~