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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Recognizing God's Handiwork

The work God does is creative. He made heaven, earth, and all living creatures. He formed Adam and Eve in His image and knitted each of us in our mother's womb.

His work is also powerful. Through His Son Jesus, He accomplished a great salvation for all who trust in the Savior. Our heavenly Father worked mightily to open a way for us to be reconciled to Him and adopted into His family. Not only that, but God's work is ongoing, and Jesus is the One who holds all things together (Col. 1:17).

In order to recognize God's handiwork, we need to pray in an active, persistent manner. Christ-centered prayers narrow our focus to the Lord. Then we can more readily identify His actions and see how to join Him. Self-centered petitions serve to distract us from Him.

The Father also wants our heart and mind yielded to His will. Pursuing our own agenda shifts the focus to ourselves and makes us lose sight of the Lord. But a submissive attitude prepares us to listen and obey. Regularly concentrating on God's Word will clear our minds and help us understand what the Lord is doing.

When we combine these disciplines with discernment and patience, we will have positioned ourselves to discover how God is working in our lives and in our world.

Our Lord is at work today--calling nonbelievers to saving faith and the redeemed to a closer walk with Him. His plans include individuals, families, and nations. Have you been too busy or distracted to notice what He's doing? Confess your inattention and refocus your heart and mind on Him.

~Charles Stanley~

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Men Whose Eyes Have Seen the King # 10

An Inward Reality

Well, just this, that is so true in the other cases, it was not only something before the eyes of Peter (and the others); it was something that happened to him, and afterward came into him. True, there was the event, the happening, in time, at a certain place. But, with it, something happened in Peter. You notice the immediate context: he is speaking of his departure. "Knowing that the putting off of my tabernacle cometh swiftly, even as our Lord Jesus Christ signified unto me." "I will seek that you have these things after my departure ..." He is at the end of his life, at the end of his ministry; but something has happened that has carried him through. It is not that something has remained as the memory of an objective experience, but that something has happened in him.

This is more than a doctrine, more than a theory, more than even something in the Holy Scriptures. To see the Lord does something in us. We can get the "truth" about anything and everything; all the truth that is available about the Lord Jesus Himself - His birth, His life, His works, His words, His death, His resurrection - all that there is; we can have all the "truth" about the Church - and what a lot there is available; we can have it all, know it all - nothing fresh to know about it; and any other thing you like to mention, in the Scriptures - and yet the fact can remain that nothing has happened in us as a result. I ask you: What has all your knowledge of the Church meant, as a "happening" in you, to effect something, to put you in a new place, with an entirely new conception, revolutionizing your whole life, so that one whole order of things just falls away as empty, and another heavenly order comes in? That is how it ought to be. True spiritual apprehension ought not just to be something in front of us - it ought to be something IN us. It was so with Peter, and we can trace this in his life.

Take again his great contemporary, Paul. Here is this fact, that, on the Damascus road, Jesus appeared unto him in glory - "brightness above the brightness of the sun." It was a tremendous objective "something" that was before him; it struck him as from the outside. But as you know, when speaking of it years afterward, he says: "it pleased God ... to reveal His Son in me" (Galatians 1:15, 16). It was not only to him - it was something IN him. The Apostle Paul's whole life and ministry was based upon and sprang out of that double event, to and in. And the Majesty of the Lord Jesus became an "inward" thing with him, and therefore a tremendously effective thing. The answer to the critics, who say that Saul of Tarsus was in a frenzy, and therefore was overtaken by a terrible hysteria, and began to "see things," and believed that they were real, and that that is the psychological explanation of the conversion of Paul - the answer is his life of endurance, and suffering, and service, and love; and his death for his testimony. You do not go that way, like that, on a dream, on an imagination, on an hysteria. I venture to say that a very small proportion of what Paul had to meet during the thirty years of his ministry would knock hysteria out of most men. No, something happened INside; the vision did something IN him, as well as being something to him.

And so we could go on with the other people, like John, who saw the Lord in His glory. But that is enough. The thing happened to him, but it happened IN him. It was an event, true; but it was also an abiding process. For, right on through their lives, this was the thing that was growing - this marvelous greatness of the Lord Jesus. They did not get t all at once, even in the wonderful event, but throughout their lives the one mighty thing that was happening was this growing realization. Jesus, in all the greatness of His glorified Person and position, was dominating their whole horizon and the whole course of their lives.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 11 - "The Principle of Spiritual Vision")

Consider Your Ways

Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, "Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: "Consider your ways!" You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes.” Haggai 1:3-6

The prophet Haggai was sent to speak to the group who had come back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple of the Lord. The Book of Ezra explains how the first group came back to begin the rebuilding process. Due to great opposition, the work came to a stop over the course of time. Haggai was sent by the Lord to re-start the work and get the people going again. The Lord was telling them to get their priorities straight. They had settled into their lives and homes but the temple was still not finished. They lived in paneled houses while God's house lay in ruins (Haggai 1:4). If they took a close look at their lives, they would see how their efforts had produced little.

Do you ever feel as though you work really hard, try to do the right things, yet nothing seems to come from it? Are you blessed? Do you see the Lord's hand in your work? If you feel as though you work to put your wages in a bag with holes, then maybe you need to "consider your ways." Check your priorities. Are you giving your first fruits unto the Lord? It is not just about your work for God that matters, it is about your heart before the Lord. Is He truly first in your life? Do you do things for Him because you love Him, or is it for other reasons?

These are the questions that we all must ask ourselves. Sometimes we get so focused on our own lives that we lose God's perspective. When that happens, we often begin to sense that things are not quite right. We do not see the blessings as we would expect or hope to see. As the Lord continued to tell His people through the prophets, “Repent and Return.” The message is the same for us today. Maybe it is time to put some new priorities in your life. Pray about what the Lord wants you to re-prioritize and ask Him to help you to make the changes He wants. Instead of pockets with holes, you will see storehouses that overflow with His blessings.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Monday, April 28, 2014

Men Whose Eyes Have Seen the King # 9

The Impact of the Presence (continued)

From one standpoint it is a glorious thing to see His majesty; from another standpoint it is always a fearful thing - that is, for the flesh, for the natural life. We cannot walk into this and take hold of it, make something of it for our pleasure and satisfaction. There is an impact in it, that is the point; it registers. If we pray for, and seek - as by His grace we surely shall - new vision of the Exalted Lord, we must be prepared to be brought very low, and to have all our own natural energies wasted; to realize that that Majesty demands nothing other than that we shall be on our faces. That is a good place to be when it is before Him.

It was a tremendous thing when Stephen saw his Lord in majesty and glory. It carried him through the awful ordeal of martyrdom, of being broken, shattered and slain, with all the hatred and malice that was being poured out by those who gnashed their teeth and ran upon him. It was a glorious emergence for Stephen to see the Lord in glory as he did: but it was a tremendously devastating thing for at least one man there. More than that, we could say that it was devastating for that nation; for, in what they were doing, they were only setting their double seal to what they had done to the very Man in the Glory. Again, it is impact. What I am trying to say is, not that such and such things characterize a visitation or a vision, but that we can never really see the Lord, and be in the presence of the Lord, without knowing it, and something happening - without it being tremendously effective.

Saul of Tarsus saw the Lord glorified, and no one will argue as to there being an impact on that occasion. John saw Him; when he was in Patmos he saw his Lord glorified, and he fell to the ground - it is like that. And, whatever might be the consequences and effects, we would all say, Let us have it so, rather than this impotent, helpless, weak, ineffective state, in which we so often find ourselves. The effect of the Transfiguration, that is, of the seeing of the Glorified Lord, is always something tremendous.

The Fact of the Transfiguration

Now here, in his letter, Peter is affirming the fact of the Transfiguration. He is setting it over against what he calls "cunningly devised fables" - cleverly concocted reports, over against anything merely fictitious or or imaginary. He says, "This is a fact! We were with Him; we saw; we heard." And, he says, "This has been abundantly confirmed: we gave the word of prophecy made more sure" - probably referring to what he said in the passage from his first letter that we read. The prophets all pointed on to that, to that suffering and glory which met on the Mount of Transfiguration, as Moses and Elijah spoke to Him about the Cross, His "exodus," about to be accomplished at Jerusalem. The suffering and the glory met there on that mountain. Peter says that the prophets were all pointing to that, and seeking and searching diligently to know what manner of time it would be, when they prophesied the sufferings and the glory. He says that the prophets searched diligently. And then he crowns it all by saying, "This is something that angels are desirous of looking into!" He says, "We have got it - we have got it all in fulfillment! We were there on the mount, and we have seen it working out ever since; we are living in the light and the power of that blending of suffering and glory, glory and suffering. The word of the prophets is confirmed, both in the event and in our history every since the event - it is made sure."

Probably Peter meant more than that, but he meant that. That is not the whole interpretation, but it is a part. What I am trying to underline is this fact that Peter himself is affirming here - the thing had happened. But, when Peter adds his word about "more sure," you notice he carries it beyond the event, that historic event, that occasion on the mount. There is something added to this, something added to the (if we may call it) "incident". Mighty incident! Something more - it has been "made more sure" in our case. What is it?

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 10 - "An Inward Reality")

Return, Return, Return to Thee

Genesis 8:9
Then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark.
Wearied out with her wanderings, the dove returns at length to the ark as her only resting place. How heavily she flies-she will drop-she will never reach the ark! But she struggles on. Noah has been looking out for his dove all day long, and is ready to receive her. She has just strength to reach the edge of the ark, she can hardly alight upon it, and is ready to drop, when Noah puts forth his hand and pulls her in unto him. Mark that: "pulled her in unto him." She did not fly right in herself, but was too fearful, or too weary to do so. She flew as far as she could, and then he put forth his hand and pulled her in unto him. This act of mercy was shown to the wandering dove, and she was not chidden for her wanderings. Just as she was she was pulled into the ark. So you, seeking sinner, with all your sin, will be received. "Only return"-those are God's two gracious words-"only return." What! nothing else? No, "only return." She had no olive branch in her mouth this time, nothing at all but just herself and her wanderings; but it is "only return," and she does return, and Noah pulls her in. Fly, thou wanderer; fly thou fainting one, dove as thou art, though thou thinkest thyself to be black as the raven with the mire of sin, back, back to the Saviour. Every moment thou waitest does but increase thy misery; thine attempts to plume thyself and make thyself fit for Jesus are all vanity. Come thou to Him just as thou art. "Return, thou backsliding Israel." He does not say, "Return, thou repenting Israel" (there is such an invitation doubtless), but "thou backsliding one," as a backslider with all thy backslidings about thee, Return, return, return! Jesus is waiting for thee! He will stretch forth His hand and "pull thee in"-in to Himself, thy heart's true home.

~Charles Spurgeon~

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Men Whose Eyes Have Seen the King # 8

"The Power and the Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ"

"For we did not follow cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory, when there was born such a voice to Him by the Majestic Glory. This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased: and this voice we ourselves heard born out of Heaven, when we were with Him in the holy mount. And we have the word of prophecy made more sure; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the daystar arise in your hearts" (2 Peter 1:16-19)

"Concerning which salvation the prophets sought and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what time or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did point unto, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glories that should follow them. To whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto you, did they minister these things, which now have been announced unto you through them that preached the gospel unto you by the Holy Spirit sent forth from heaven; which things angels desire to look into" (1 Peter 1:10-12)

In our earlier meditation we saw that the word "presence", used here by Peter, and by other writers, is a word which links the Transfiguration with the coming again of the Lord Jesus. The phrase is rightly translated "power and presence" - the presence. That word, as you see, is applied to the Transfiguration: the presence of the Lord Jesus in majesty, in power, in glory. That same word is used, and in the same way, concerning His coming again. It is called His "presencing," His "being present"; and we know that that presencing will indeed be in power, majesty and glory. If these are the accompaniments of the presence of the Lord Jesus, as they are clearly seen to be, again and again - we shall indicate some of these occasions as we go on - if these be the accompaniments of His presence, then the issue, not only in transfiguration and what it means, and in the advent at the end, but surely upon every occasion of the presencing of the Lord Jesus, must be to bring an impact upon the situation, the conditions, the place where He is present.

The Impact of the Presence

There is here, on the Mount of Transfiguration, an impact. The three men who were there in His presence fell on their faces with great fear. The Lord Jesus had to approach and lay His hand on them, and say: "Arise, and be not afraid" (Matthew 17:7). The presence of the Lord Jesus will lay waste all our own strength; all our natural wisdom; all our pride; all our impetuosity. Peter - and another evangelist recording it tells us this - Peter said: "Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles ..." The evangelist adds: "not knowing what he said" (Luke 9:33). Here he is in his own impulsiveness again, obtruding himself into this situation, taking the speech upon his lips, and the situation into his hands, wanting to organize this, and to perpetuate it, and to make something of it. In Matthew's version he says: "I will make ... three tabernacles ..." "I!" - Peter! "not knowing what he said," truly perhaps with the best intentions; nevertheless Heaven had to rebuke him, and put him in his place, and this was a devastating experience, both for him and his companions.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 9)

Why Does the Lord Thus Deal with His Child?

They sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb: “Great and astounding are your deeds, Lord God, the All-Powerful! Just and true are your ways, King over the nations! (Rev 15:3)

The following incident is related by Mrs. Charles Spurgeon, who was a great sufferer for more than a quarter of a century:
“At the close of a dark and gloomy day, I lay resting on my couch as the deeper night drew on; and though all was bright within my cozy room, some of the external darkness seemed to have entered into my soul and obscured its spiritual vision. Vainly I tried to see the Hand which I knew held mine, and guided my fog-enveloped feet along a steep and slippery path of suffering. In sorrow of heart I asked,
“’Why does my Lord thus deal with His child? Why does He so often send sharp and bitter pain to visit me? Why does He permit lingering weakness to hinder the sweet service I long to render to His poor servants?’
“These fretful questions were quickly answered, and through a strange language; no interpreter was needed save the conscious whisper of my heart.
“For a while silence reigned in the little room, broken only by the crackling of the oak log burning in the fireplace. Suddenly I heard a sweet, soft sound, a little, clear, musical note, like the tender trill of a robin beneath my window.
“’What can it be? surely no bird can be singing out there at this time of the year and night.’
“Again came the faint, plaintive notes, so sweet, so melodious, yet mysterious enough to provoke our wonder. My friend exclaimed,
“’It comes from the log on the fire!’ The fire was letting loose the imprisoned music from the old oak’s inmost heart!
“Perchance he had garnered up this song in the days when all was well with him, when birds twittered merrily on his branches, and the soft sunlight flecked his tender leaves with gold. But he had grown old since then, and hardened; ring after ring of knotty growth had sealed up the long-forgotten melody, until the fierce tongues of the flames came to consume his callousness, and the vehement heart of the fire wrung from him at once a song and a sacrifice. ’Ah,’ thought I, ’when the fire of affliction draws songs of praise from us, then indeed we are purified, and our God is glorified!’
“Perhaps some of us are like this old oak log, cold, hard, insensible; we should give forth no melodious sounds, were it not for the fire which kindles around us, and releases notes of trust in Him, and cheerful compliance with His will.
“’As I mused the fire burned,’ and my soul found sweet comfort in the parable so strangely set forth before me.
“Singing in the fire! Yes, God helping us, if that is the only way to get harmony out of these hard apathetic hearts, let the furnace be heated seven times hotter than before.”
~L. B. Cowman~

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Men Whose Eyes Have Seen the King # 7

The Present Need

All these are statements with which I imagine you will agree, both as to the significance and as to the issue. But we need an anticipation of the day of His coming, in the Church today - now.  We need something of the meaning of that final impact now - His presence in majesty and in power. What about it? One of the writers who recorded this event tells us that Jesus went up into the mountain to pray: "and as He prayed, the fashion of His countenance was changed" (Luke 9:29). And when He came down, the key  which He used for that desperate situation was the key of prayer: "This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting" (Mark 9:29). What are we to pray for? What is to be the burden of our prayer in relation to this matter of impact, recovered power? If you have any sense of this poor world's distracted condition, and desperate need, you will not control your praying; you will not regulate your praying; you will not make prayer a legal system of "you must," "thou shalt", and so on. If you are touched, as the Lord was touched, with this situation and this need, be it in an individual, or in a company, or in the world, or in the whole Church, the only thing that you will do - but you will do it - is pray.

And what will you pray for? What is it that will answer the need, the situation: what will touch it?

Now here is the point of departure. We feel the need; we are aware of the situation here and there, in this one and that, in this place and that; and of course, we do pray to the Lord and ask Him to do something about it; we do that. I trust I am not saying a wrong thing when I say that too often it is like of the effort of the nine - nothing happens! The thing goes on, persists and defies you. You see, the need is not for that kind of prayer. What is needed is the kind of prayer that brings in the majesty and the power of Jesus Christ; that is born out of a mighty apprehension of His glory, of Who He is, what He has done, where He is, and what He is doing now. That is what we need to recover.

About that we have much more to say. But - let us recognize it, and acknowledge it - what is needed is this: the secret of bringing the majesty of the Lord into a situation; putting that power upon it. It is executive; it is dynamic; it is something which registers, and the thing is done. Do you not agree with me that that secret is what we need? And for that, I repeat, we need a new, mighty mastery, in our inner being, of the greatness of the Lord Jesus. We all agree that He is great; we will sing "How great Thou art!"; we will not reserve or trim our words about the Lord Jesus in glory; but there is a gap between that and this situation. That is the tragedy and that is the problem and the perplexity of it. He is like that, and yet this is like this, and the two things are not brought together.

Why did He take those three disciples up? Not simply because He had a heart that longed for human fellowship. No! He knew who they were; He knew their future; He knew the position that Peter was going to take, and He knew the ministry that John was going to fulfill, right on beyond the lifetime of all the others. He took them there with him with this one object, I believe, in view: that, in those coming days, when they would meet these situations on this earth, in this world, they should be in possession of the secret of His majesty, and that they should be a link between Him in glory, and this situation of shame and evil.

Is not that the vocation of the Church?  - to be His link between Heaven and earth; to be the instrument of the registration of His Kingdom upon the kingdom of satan? Is not that what we are called for? If that is not it, I do not know what we are for. And if we fail in that, we can do ten thousand things, and still the enemy will laugh at us. With all our efforts and expenditure, he still holds the ground so terribly. Oh, for men whose eyes have seen the King! To have done so means a tremendous thing in the life of such men. That we shall see. But here is the preparation of the way.

Before we begin to pray over situations, let us pray for a new vision of the majesty and glory of the Lord Jesus, and then nothing will be impossible. I believe that is what was in the thought of the Lord when He said: "If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed ..."  It is not merely psychological make-believe. If only you have grasped the smallest meaning of His majesty, anything is possible; it is so great!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 8 - "The Power and Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ")

What Do You Boast In?

Some boast in chariots, and some in horses; But we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God. - Psalm 20:7

My friend had a blood test that came back questionable. I asked her mother about the doctor and the following steps that would be taken. Her mom’s answer ended in explaining to me the credibility of the doctor.

Intelligence, money and strength are three attributes that we love to measure in ourselves and others. Our intelligence can be measured by how hard one studied and the grades one received. We form an instant opinion when we hear certain colleges were attended with the credentials that were earned. Money tends to reflect our success. If someone is wealthy and manages their money well, we give credence as well as our respect. And strength is the last characteristic that helps us to form an opinion about someone. Are they athletic? Do they have high energy to get important things done? Do they have a disciplined body to maintain stressful positions and self control? These three things we assume we can boast about. These three things others boast about for someone else.

God does not value our intelligence, wealth or strength. God values a person who trusts and boasts in Him. All three of those characteristics are gifts—God given gifts. In light of eternity, they mean nothing and each one could be taken away in an instant through illness alone. It is great that we have good doctors to attend to us, but God is the Author and Sustainer of life. I would rather boast in the name of the Lord, my God than to put my trust in any person, despite their credentials. Turn to the Lord and seek His face. Know that you serve a God who gives gifts to men and the greatest gift given was Jesus. Do we really trust in Jesus each day?  And do we boast in His name?

Pray about it: Lord, let me not boast in my wisdom, nor in my strength, nor in my riches. I want to boast in knowing You, believing in You and understanding Your ways. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Friday, April 25, 2014

Men Whose Eyes Have Seen the King # 6

2. The Impact of the Presence of the Lord Jesus

And do you notice how Peter describes this? "We were eyewitnesses of His majesty" - His majesty. Is not the need for the impact of the majesty of the Lord Jesus upon this earth? It should be. Again, he says: "We made known unto you the Power and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ ..." I am sorry they have not translated that word thus: they have put "coming". Of course, the word is very frequently related to the coming again of the Lord Jesus, but the word itself cannot be isolated to that. The same word is used of the apostles, when they came into a situation. It is the same word, whether the "coming" or the "presence" of His majesty. Yes, that is the issue. The power, not as abstract and unrelated, but the power of His presence in His majesty - that is the holy mount; that is the high place; that is what the world needs.

Let me use the word again - "impact!"  If it should be ours to see the King in His glory; if it should be ours to catch a fresh glimpse of the glorified Lord, that is going to answer the cry and the need for impact. And conversely: there will never be an impact until we have seen Him as the glorified Lord. He is the answer to every need, and a vision of Him as exalted and attested by Heaven will bring new impact into our lives, into our ministries, into our churches, upon situations. Does not your heart cry, as mine does, Oh for a recovery of the Church's impact upon this world! And this is none other than the impact of the majesty of the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now, we know that that is how it will be when this word is actually fulfilled by His appearing at the end. When He comes, He will "smite the earth with the rod of His mouth" (Isaiah 11:4). The brightness of His presence will be devastating to evil. There is no doubt about it that when that presencing, that "parousia," takes place, there will be an impact. We cry for that; we pray for that. But the word is used not only of that, but in other connections, on different occasions. The same word, exactly the same word, as is used for the coming again of the  Lord Jesus, is used of apostles coming into a situation, or being present there. It is used of the Lord Jesus too in this motional sense. He came, in that sense, on the mount of transfiguration; it was His presencing in glory. Again and again He presenced Himself, and every time there was impact - all pointing to His final great presencing in glory. It is interesting, is it not, that Peter uses for the event on the mount of transfiguration exactly the same word as he uses for the coming again of the Lord at the end - the presence of the Lord.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 7 - "The Present Need")

The Perfect One

“How long will you keep us in suspense?  If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” John 10:22-24

Do you really believe that the Jewish religious leaders wanted clarity and confirmation that He is the Christ? No. Their mission was consistent in wanting Him to publicly declare that He was Messiah in order to justify attacking and eventually killing Him. Their motive doesn’t surprise me, but Jesus’ consistent patience, sincerity and honesty absolutely surprises me. He continually answers their questions and exposes their hearts. These religious men think that they are so perfect—perfect in their knowledge of the scriptures, perfect in judging and criticizing. And now they think that they are perfectly justified in killing the only Perfect person who ever lived. Jesus once again repeats over and over that they will not understand because they are not His sheep. Jesus’ sheep hear His voice, know Him and follow Him. Jesus tells us that His Father fully supports Him and loves Him. And so we know that no one will snatch us out of the Father’s hand either. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are united in their plans and purpose for sheep preservation. They are committed to the security and safety of the sheep. As His sheep, we have the responsibility to hear, obey and to follow where He leads. But if you know Jesus, regardless of how far you stray, He will eventually lead you back for nothing can separate you from the love of God.

Pray about it:Oh Lord, thank You for being my Good Shepherd. You know me, love me, call me by name, and lead me. You also tell me that nothing will snatch me away from You. I am so thankful that You will complete the work You started in me and that You will get me to where I need to be. Please help me to live by fully trusting You. I want the attitude of my heart and the meditations of my mind to be without fear, doubt, worry and insecurity. Thanks for taking care of me.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Men Whose Eyes Have Seen the King # 5

The Issue of the Transfiguration

We have to look for the issue of it in the incident that immediately followed, as they came down from the mountain. It is full of truth; too full for exhausting at this time. They came down, and are met by this distracted father - distracted over his boy, whom (in the original language) he calls "my only begotten son"; his one boy. There are many emotional elements bound up with it, of course, which we can leave. But here is this father with his boy, distressed over the situation, and disappointed over the nine representatives of the Lord Jesus, the majority of His disciples whom  He had left down below. He describes what is the matter with the boy, what happens to him, and tells the Lord that, although he had brought the boy to His disciples, they could not help him or do anything about it.

1. An Impotent Church

Here, surely, in the Holy Spirit's thought in giving these details, is the suggestion of an impotent church in the presence of this demon-driven humanity on the plain. It is representative of a condition in this world and in humanity. Would it be going to far to say that the description of this boy's trouble and how it affected him can be seen in counterpart in the world today? The world is under the domination of a power with which it cannot cope; a driving force, driving toward destruction; always driving toward self-destruction. It cannot help it; it is mastered by an evil power in this universe, driving, dominating, frustrating every effort; and in this scene of humanity's helplessness and need, a Church that does not know what to do with it, unable to cope.

That situation can be found in ten thousand things. We are all up against situations with which we cannot cope. Perhaps in your assembly, perhaps in your own family, perhaps in your own self, you meet with forces that are too much, driving; and it is always in the direction of self-destruction, of evil, of harm, of hurt, of injury; toward the fire and the water, to destroy and to quench. That is a good description of the evil work of the evil one in human life, and we have this small representation of it in this boy. Without indulging in unworthy criticism, and taking account of all the noble sacrifice and service and labor and toil of the servants of the Lord, we have, nevertheless, to say that the Lord's people, very largely and in a great many things, are impotent in the presence of these forces. The evil powers are holding the ground; they are defeating and defying every effort.

It is quite patent that those nine disciples had made an effort. "Why could not we cast it out?" They had evidently tried and failed. Their effort and labor was for nothing, and the enemy was laughing at them, holding his ground, while no doubt the critical world around was very pleased that these disciples were such poor expressions of their Lord, letting Him down like this.

What is the issue of the Transfiguration? Surely it is this, that there must be brought upon these situations an impact of the exalted and glorified Christ. It is a question of impact! When I use that word, I am quite sure you will say, Yes, that is what we need: that is what the Church needs; that is what local companies need; that is what I need in my own life - an impact upon situations, upon places. This is what happened later, did it not? These men who had come to understand the meaning of the Transfiguration; these men whose eyes had seen the King - Jesus, perfected, glorified, exalted, attested by Heaven - men who had seen His thus, went everywhere; and what an impact! Rarely, if ever, did hey fail to register on this earth, in the kingdom of satan.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 6 - "2. The Impact of the Presence of the Lord Jesus")

Can We Know His Thoughts?

Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing His plan to His servants the prophets. Amos 3:7

Truly we, as believers, can know His plans before they happen. Many times, we hear others say, “I knew that was going to happen.” But how easy it is to say that after the fact! God is saying that we can know before.

I learned early in my walk with the Lord to be quiet before Him. I would read a Scripture passage until I felt God was speaking to me. I would determine that the Lord was speaking because the verse would seem special in some way, applicable in some way or I considered the verse to be a new thought. I would just stop and ponder and pray it back to God, asking Him to make His message clear to me for the day. In the quietness, the Lord would speak to my heart. It would start as an impression at first. I would pray about it and ask God questions about the impression until His wisdom became “louder or firmer” than my thoughts, questions and distractions. Next, I would step out in faith and test the message. If it is the Lord, He would confirm it through bringing it to pass or giving me similar messages through His Word or others.

Today, I pray this verse to the Lord, knowing that He will reveal His plan to me because I long to be His servant and want to live in His will. God is faithful and if you ask, He will answer. If you learn to be still, He will speak. If you listen, He will reveal His plan. After years of relating to the Lord like this, you will then know that you know His will before the fact, for He promises that He does nothing without revealing His plan to His servants the prophets. So the first step is to find out if you are His servant.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Stop To Hear His Voice

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." Isaiah 30:21

Which way? This way or that way? Today, there are so many paths we can follow. We have the advice of our family, friends, the media and then there is our own instinct. But how do we know the right way? How do we discern which way is really best for us?

The other day, I counseled a woman who was convinced that she was doing God’s will by serving the church. She gave of herself, her finances, and her time. She experienced the Lord’s help as He gave her great ideas and even multiplied her time to keep going. But, soon, she came to me full of bitterness, disillusioned by the people and the staff. She felt confused and angry. She asked questions like, “How could this be God’s way? How could they so disregard her following the Lord? And where was He in their actions?”

We ask the same questions, “Which way Lord? What is Your will, Lord?” and then we follow the direction He gives. But sometimes, we find ourselves angry and resentful. How come? What happens? Frequently, God answers our prayer and uses us and guides us. However, once He has shown us what He wants, frequently we stop asking for further wisdom and counsel and just go on our own way in the name of the Lord. This verse talks about God speaking from behind us. And why would God need to speak from behind us unless we have run ahead of Him? So often, He leads us to a certain place, position, or calling, then we run ahead. When we run ahead, we lose His way and make it our way. That is what happened to my friend who was seeking counsel. She knew that the Lord had one job for her to do. When that job was completed and very blessed, she determined in her heart to do more. More wasn’t asked of her by the church or by the Lord. And it is because of the “more” that she grew angry. God now called to her from behind to lead her forward in a new direction or way to walk.

God is faithful. He will lead you and answer you when you call out to Him. Just remember to keep asking continually as you proceed. Always follow His leading. If you begin to experience anger, bitterness and judgmental thoughts, you have probably run ahead of God. Stop until you can hear His voice from behind you.  He will lead you back into His way and help you to walk in it.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Men Whose Eyes Have Seen the King # 4

3. The Offset to the Cross

Now, it is here that the Lord Jesus introduces, in a direct, frank way, the matter of His Cross. If there had been any hints before, the apostles and their representative, Peter, were completely oblivious to those hints; but now, at this time, the Lord Jesus comes to the matter quite positively, quite deliberately. Peter rises up as the spokesman of the others, in rebellion; he will not have it. But here it is. The Transfiguration was to be the offset to the Cross for these men, at the time when they should come to realize that the Cross was not (as they were then thinking it would be) the end of everything: shame and failure, reproach, dishonor, and despair. When they should come to see that the Cross was just the opposite of all those things, then the Transfiguration would take a new place, and they would see, as Peter says in his letter.

If you will read back in his first letter, you will hear Peter saying this: "The prophets sought and searched diligently ... what time or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did point unto, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glories that should follow them" (1:10, 11). Peter has got it right now; he has got it round the right way. First, when he would repudiate the sufferings, he is all for the glory - he is putting that first. The disciples were after the glory and were not going to have any of the sufferings; the Cross was something they would not hear about or accept. Glory, yes, but not the suffering. He has got it round the right way now: "the sufferings, and the glory that should follow."

Is that what Moses and Elijah were talking to the Lord Jesus about on the Mount? - "the exodus that He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem" - the suffering and the glory? The Transfiguration was the great offset to the suffering, to the Cross; and it was intended not only for the Lord Himself. It was intended for these leaders among His servants, that they should have the ground laid, the foundation put down, upon which presently the Holy Spirit would alight for seeing that not only the Cross of Calvary, but all its outworking, were in the light of the glory, had in view the glory at the end. These sufferings were toward the glory. They came to see that later.

You and I need that message. The message of the Transfiguration at this particular point is this: It is not now all "transfiguration:; there is a lot that is of the plain and of the valley; there is the Cross. You notice that the Lord Jesus, in speaking of the Cross, said: "He that would save his life shall lose it." There is much of that to be gone through and experienced. But this is saying that all that - the Cross, His Cross, and the outworking of His Cross in the experience of His own servants - is unto this glorious end, that they shall be glorified together with Him.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 5 - "The Issue of the Transfiguration")

A Blind Man's Prayer Request

And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Mark 10:47

In Mark 10:46-53, Jesus left the city with a large crowd following close behind. Most likely this crowd was creating a great deal of noise and excitement. A blind man begging for help would be sensitive to hear the activities as the people scuffled by.  It is amazing that a blind beggar would know about “Jesus of Nazareth” and somehow would know that Jesus could help him. The blind man cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” While Jesus walked on earth, He answered that kind of prayer frequently. It must have been music in our Savior’s ears, because that is why Jesus came, to grant mercy to blind beggars like you and me. Jesus stopped, called to him and asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” This man could have asked for money or help with some other desperate need, but instead he asked specifically for his sight. Jesus said that his faith healed him as the beggar immediately received his sight.

There are many situations and circumstances in our lives where we are blind to the will of God. But how many of us cry out to God for mercy?  How many of us really bring our specific need to the Savior to ask for His touch? Too many times, we are faithless to ask for what we really want. Too many times, we hear that Jesus is near but are apprehensive to call out to Him. This blind beggar received what he asked for. This blind beggar knew that Jesus could touch him and change him. He did not hold back but yelled into a crowd full of people. Jesus says in Matthew 7:7 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”We need to take Jesus at His word. We need to understand that God desires to grant mercy and He wants us (the spiritually blind) to see. Are you in need of His mercy today? Tell Jesus what You want Him to do for you…tell Him that you need Him today. Just think, it is not necessary to yell or push through a crowd – He is just a prayer away.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Monday, April 21, 2014

Men Whose Eyes Have Seen the King # 3

1. Humanity Perfected

I think it meant two things in one. It certainly represented and set forth the absolute perfecting of His humanity. Here He has reached the point of His own personal perfecting as a Man. This glorifying, this transfiguring, was Heaven's testimony to His utter and perfect sinlessness as a Man: that in all respects, whether of hell's assaults and temptations and subtleties and efforts, or men's hatred, malice, trickery and what not, He had triumphed, completely triumphed. If we were to analyze it, we should have to look at the word sin. But we can say this, that the sum of sin, from the beginning in the garden to the end, is unfaithfulness to God - a breach of fellowship with God through  mistrust. That is the very core of sin. Everything was concentrated upon Him, from every realm, if by some means, in some way, a breach could be made between Him and God That would be sin.

But in His case it never happened. He met it all and triumphed. The first Adam failed, and all his seed have been involved - but here is a Man perfected. Humanity that God intended is here achieved and realized, and is therefore glorified. So far as He was concerned, that was the first meaning: Sin, with all its horrible entail, has been completely defeated in and by this Man; and therefore death must go. There can be no death, for death is the result of sin. If Adam had never sinned, he would never have died. This One never sinned: He could not die - He could only be glorified!

2. The Return of His Glory

There is another aspect as to its meaning to Him. I think it is quite clear that the Lord Jesus carried in His heart a great longing and a prayer for the glory that He once had. This is where I think John touches this matter very closely. In the seventeenth chapter of his gospel, he records that great prayer of the Lord Jesus: "Father, glorify Thou Me with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was" (vs. 5). That opens a window and lets us see that the Lord Jesus had a consciousness of His eternal glory past: He carried it with Him; He knew about it - marvelous thought! - and that the consciousness of that former glory was ever prompting Him to pray toward, long toward, the day when He would return to it and it would return to Him. "Father, glorify Thou Me with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was."

The Mount of Transfiguration had become an answer to His heart's prayer and cry and longing - at least a touch of it. A fleeting touch, but for Him it was one of those things which perhaps you know a little about in your Christian life. The Lord just does something - it passes, but you know by it that you have been heard; you know that there is sympathy in the Father's heart for your need and situation. It may only last for a day, or a night, for an hour, or for a little while, and then pass, because the end of the road is not yet; the eternal glory has not yet come; but the touch by the way is something that carries us on. We know the Lord has heard; we know the Lord has taken account of that inner cry and longing, and has given us a token of His sympathy. It was like that with the Lord Jesus - the answer to His own cry.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4 - "3. The Offset to the Cross")

Child-like Faith

 “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” Mark 10:15

My sister and I had a good laugh the other day as we shared a conversation she had with her granddaughter. There was a minor problem with her car engine so my sister reached in the glove compartment for the owner’s manual. As she was looking through the pages, her granddaughter said, “Mamaw, why are you looking in that book?” To which my sister replied, “Because I want to fix this problem with my car.” At that point, little 4 year-old Emma ran into the house and came out with her own book. “Here, Mamaw, this book will tell you how to fix your car.” My sister looked at the book and said, “It is your Bible, Emma.” “Yes, Mamaw, everything you need to know is in this book, even how to fix your car.” What great faith!

I wonder how much more God would fix in our lives if we truly lived out what the Bible teaches us. Little Emma is right when she says that her book has all of the answers. God’s Word has the answer for every question we have and for every step we need to take. The only thing we need to do is to have the faith to believe it and obey.

Pray for that child-like faith today and ask the Lord to plant His Word on your heart and mind. “Study this Book of the Law continually. Meditate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written in it. Only then will you succeed.” (Joshua 1:8) 

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Men Whose Eyes Have Seen the King # 2

Matthew 17:1-21; 2 Peter 1:16-19

Peter goes on to speak to them about the 'trial of their faith" - the trial of your faith is more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried in the fire" (1 Peter 1:7). These scattered saints were knowing something of the "fire" of tried faith. There is much more in his letters indicating a not too helpful situation for the people of God. The key to his letters is "grace"; they needed to know grace. There was opposition; there was there was persecution; there were false prophets, false teachers. And, in that situation, Peter wrote and introduced this matter of the transfiguration.

This is significant. There is something for the people of God in this great matter in days of difficulty and adversity: indeed, what they and we all need at such times is a new vision of the King. That, among other things, is what the Lord Jesus meant for that little band of men. The three were commanded to say nothing about it for the time being, until He was risen from the dead. Someone has used his imagination in that connection, as to how difficult it was for these three men to hold their tongues, and say nothing about it, even to the others; but then, when He was risen, how gladly and eagerly they told the others and everybody of this wonderful experience. It goes to the heart of everything. If this is true - that is, if the Transfiguration was true - then anything and everything in the Bible can be true. If it was not true, then we can doubt everything. But it was true!

The Significance of the Transfiguration

You are aware that the Transfiguration marked the turning point in the mission of the Lord Jesus on this earth. He had gone to the farthest point of His travels north; from that outermost rim of His ministration, He would immediately turn about, with face to the south - to Jerusalem, and to the Cross. A resolute, purposeful, meaningful decision was reached on the mount; it was a crisis, a turning point. We might say that it represented the very heart of His time here on this earth, if we could see it. But what did it mean so far as He was concerned?

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3 - "1. Humanity Perfected")

Serving Christ

Stop for a moment and consider the purpose of your life. Are you living to pursue your own interests or success? Does your energy revolve around your family members? Perhaps your ambition is to change the world for the better.

All of these aims—even the last one, which sounds so selfless—are futile. The only goal of lasting value and fulfillment is serving Christ. As His followers, we should model our life after His. And Mark 10:45 tells us that "even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” We honor Him by doing likewise.

Yet, sometimes we can feel overwhelmed when we consider the amazing ways that other believers are serving the Lord. With God on His side, King David led great armies into war. Today, there are evangelists who speak to tens of thousands, and many lives are saved. How could anything we do compare to accomplishments like these? And while comparisons may discourage us, Christians use other excuses for not trying—such as a lack of experience or having the wrong personality for the task. But God’s call for each person is unique. He will provide the words, ability, and circumstances so that you can achieve what He wants done. Remember, our Father is the one who makes the difference. We are merely tools, and we’re blessed to be used by Him.

Are you demonstrating your love for the Lord by serving others? Live in such a way that each evening you can tell Him, “Lord, as best I know how, I have attempted to serve Your purpose today.”

~Charles Stanley~

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Men Whose Eyes Have Seen the King

Eyewitnesses of His Glory

Matthew 17:1-21

"For we did not follow cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased. And this voice we ourselves heard come out of  heaven, when we were with Him on the holy mount. And we have the word of prophecy made more sure; where unto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts" (2 Peter 1:16-19)

That little clause in the hymn by M. E. Gates that we often sing might be the title of our present meditations - "men whose eyes have seen the King." Men whose eyes have seen the King! As we, in that hymn, pray the Lord to send such men, I am sure we all feel deeply and strongly that that is the great need of our time. The world needs such men; the Church needs them; and at all times when the Lord has had such men, and has sent them forth, the need has been met - His need and the need of others.

I think it is the "seeing of the King" that really sums up this whole matter of the Transfiguration. That is why the Lord took the three leaders from the twelve up the mountain, in order that presently, with that vision made alive with meaning and power by the Holy Spirit, they might go forth as men who had seen the King. And what happened? We are living today in the ever-growing value of that vision.

The Setting of the Transfiguration

The very setting in the Word, in both of the places in which the Transfiguration is referred to, as we have read, is significant and helpful. As you know, three of the four gospels - Matthew, Mark and Luke - record this matter of the Transfiguration, indicating, surely, that with these men this matter was of some particular importance. If John did not actually record the event, I am not sure that he passed it over, or did not have it in mind. We may come to that as we go on. But you will recall that, at the time of the Transfiguration, things were becoming increasingly difficult for the Lord. The growing hostility in all directions was pressing Him in weighing heavily upon His Spirit, and making His ministry more and more difficult, more and more limited. The shadow of the Cross was lengthening on His path. It is of this very matter that He now speaks frankly to His disciples for the first time: He speaks frankly about the Cross. The atmosphere was just charged with a sense of pending crisis - something is going to happen. It was at that time, in those conditions, that He took three from the twelve into the mountain apart, and was transfigured before them. It had a great relatedness to the situation which was developing.

In the case of the many years later, when Peter wrote about the Transfiguration, we know from his letters something of the situation. He begins his first letter by addressing himself to the saints "scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia" - scattered saints. Perhaps you know what it means to be of the "scattered" people of the Lord, in distant places, in lonely places; distance and loneliness creating their own problems and heartaches. How things seem to ease up when we are together! There is such a sense of fellowship, a sense of life and of joy, when we are all together. These saints had perhaps known something of the great "togetherness" of Jerusalem or elsewhere, but were now scattered, with all that that means.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2)

In Step with God

People are saved when they trust Jesus Christ as Savior and choose to follow Him. Right then, most Christians realize that they will dwell with Him forever in heaven. But many don’t understand what they can expect for the remainder of their lives on earth.

One benefit that’s available immediately is a growing relationship with the Lord. The Father’s oneness with Jesus (John 10:30) illustrates the intimacy God wants to have with His children. He had this type of closeness in mind at creation—a relationship with man is an avenue for Him to express His love and for us to worship and understand our Maker.

Another advantage is that Christ-followers are promised clear guidance through God’s Holy Spirit. Decision making is a part of everyday life. It is impossible for a mere human to know every variable and nuance before choosing which path to take. But the Lord knows all things—past, present, and future. With godly wisdom available, it’s hard to understand why anyone would prefer to trust his own hunches.

Provision is yet another blessing guaranteed for believers. There will be hard times, but God gives Christians everything necessary for following Him (Phil.4:19). And His grace will always prove more than sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9).

How abundantly God gives to His children! One word of caution, though: these gifts are effective only when believers walk obediently with Him. Sin can stifle them.
The heavenly Father desires that all of His sons and daughters have these blessings; if you’re living in obedience before Him, they are available to you. Is anything getting in the way of your total submission to Him?

~Charles Stanley~

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Fast I Have Chosen

"Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? Isaiah 58:6 

I remember the first time I ever fasted. I spent most of the time looking at the clock and thinking about my stomach. But I have kept the practice of fasting regularly, despite the discomforts in my body. Throughout the years, I have committed to several different types of fasts and for different, yet specific, reasons. I have experienced mountain-top highs and dark-valley lows during times of fasting. I have learned that fasting in its essence is a time of cleansing and purifying, which means I spend a lot of the time confessing and repenting of my sins. When all is said and done; however, fasting has been one of the most powerful tools in my walk with Christ.
The main thing I had to understand very early in my experiences with fasting was that if I tried to do it on my own, then failure seemed to be the result. I have proclaimed fasts for reasons that were not from God. I have determined the type and the length of a fast, then seen it completely fall apart in my weakness. Now when I fast, I try to make certain that it is the fast God has chosen, otherwise, I end up feeling worse.

Today’s verse gives us an example of the type of fast God chooses for us. Fasting is an excellent weapon against the enemy’s strongholds and bondage in our lives. God appoints certain times of fasting for us to find freedom from wicked bonds and heavy yokes that burden us down. The question for us: are we willing to make the sacrifice for spiritual freedom? It is not easy, but it is so worth it. Are you struggling with an area of bondage? Do you feel burdened and cannot seem to overcome? Pray for clear direction as you ask the Lord to lead you in to a specific fast for your situation. He may impress upon you to fast from certain foods or television shows or daily activities. I believe God honors any attempt we make at fasting, whether it is a food fast or something else. I also believe that He needs to be involved from the very beginning; otherwise, we may ditch it earlier than planned. Pray about fasting and see what God shows you. This may be just the break you have been waiting for.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

True Bethanies # 12

Outward and Upward

Now we close by noting the last thing in Luke 24:50-52

"And He led them out until they were over against Bethany: and He lifted up His hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy."

Three words: "led out," "blessed," "carried up": out with the Lord, in His place apart; under His blessing; and linked with Him in heaven - to use Paul's words, "made ... to sit together with Him in the heavenlies."

That is Bethany, that is the Church, that is what the Lord wants to have in the life of His people today.

Go back over Bethany again and just allow your heart to exercise itself on these things, and seek very definitely that the Lord shall have in you just these features which are according to His own mind. And what we do individually, let us seek to do in those fellowships, those assemblies, with which we are connected, that they shall be true Bethanies, the village expression of the great city of God, the Heavenly Jerusalem.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(The End)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

True Bethanies # 11

"Celebrating His Victory

We pass from chapter 11 of John to chapter 12. "Jesus therefore six days before the Passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus raised from the dead. So they made Him a supper there: and Martha served" (evidently she had not gathered, from the Lord's words to her, that service was wrong; she is still serving - it is all right now); "but Lazarus was one of them that sat at meat with Him. Mary therefore took a pound of ointment of spikenard, very precious, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment."

Here we have the feast, and the feast has several elements. One, represented by Mary and her action, speaks of worship. Once again, it is the appreciation of Christ that is in view. That is worship. Worship - according to God's thought - is always simply the appreciation of the Lord Jesus; bringing up before God the sweet odor of a heart-appreciation of His Son. That may sound simple, but worship in its purest essence is what we think of the Lord Jesus, expressed to the Father. That is worship. The assembly is for that. Bethany speaks of that.

Martha - yes, Martha served. But it is adjusted service. She is still serving, but it is all right; there is no rebuke now. Thee is no circling around of her face with anxiety now; she is not drawn around with care: she is serving in a resurrection house. Here is adjusted service, and service in the Lord's house is quite according to His mind when the service is in fellowship with, and in right proportion to, the worship. There is an adjustment between the sisters now, you see. They were disjointed before, because things were ill-proportioned and out of balance; now the adjustment has been made and they are just getting on constantly together. It is adjusted service.

Lazarus sat at meat, and of course he is the principle of life, resurrection life. That, again, is a mark of the Lord's spiritual house.So we have worship, adjusted service, resurrection life.

Yes, but there is always some sinister thing not far away: "Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?" When you get the assembly just as the Lord wants it you will always find that the devil is lurking very near. That may be a compliment to the assembly, for anything that the devil does not cast his eye on jealously will surely not be that which is satisfying the heart of the Lord. But it is always like that. Just begin to get something that is according to the Lord's heart, and you find a sinister thing begin to circle around with a view to destroying that worship, to divert that appreciation of the Lord. It becomes a feature of the very assembly itself, that the devil jealously casts his eyes upon what the Lord is getting, and would have that for himself.

You see, the Church is that which brings to the Lord Jesus what He ought to have, and from eternity the devil has been out to rob Him of that, and he will do it in the assembly if he can, because the assembly is that in which the Lord does get what His heart is set upon.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 12 - "Outward and Upward")

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

True Bethanies # 10

The Power of His Resurrection (continued)

We shall come to the place where Abraham came, who became the great type of faith which moved right into resurrection: "He considered his own body now as good as dead" (Romans 4:19). That is the phrase used by the apostle about Abraham: "as good as dead." And Paul came into that: "We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God Which raiseth the dead" (2 Corinthians 1:9). Whatever else men may be able to do in the realm of creation, they stop short when death has actually taken place; they can do no more. Resurrection is God's act, and God's alone. Men can do very many things when they have got life, but when there is no life it is only God who can do anything. And God will allow His Church and its members often times to get into such situations as are altogether beyond human help in order that He may give the display, which is His own display, in which no man has any place to glory.

So said the Lord Jesus: "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby." Glorified! We have dedicated ourselves to that course of things - that is, we have dedicated ourselves to a line of human despair; but how slow we are to accept it in its outworking. When things get to a desperate situation, we kick so much and think that all has gone wrong. It may be just going right for the Lord! Oh, yes, it is desperate; that consideration does not take away from the desperateness of it, the awfulness of it; but if it is going to provide the Lord with His supreme opportunity to raise His preeminent testimony, then it is right - that is, it will be right in its issue.

When at last, in eternity, we read the story of the Church, which is His Body, and see all that it really did come through, we shall have to confess that no human institution, no man-made thing, could have survived, could have gone through that which the saints went through. When it is understood in the light of eternity and appraised by true spiritual standards, we shall say that none but God Almighty could have achieved that, could have brought it through: that it has undoubtedly become the vehicle of the expression of "the exceeding greatness of His power" (Eph. 1:19); and that is saying a great deal. If "the exceeding greatness of His power" is necessary to this, well, that says much for what we have to be brought out of, doesn't it? If "the weakness of God is stronger than men" (1 Cor. 1:25), what must "the exceeding greatness of His power" represent?

Well, that is in resurrection; as you know, the words are connected with that: "the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to that working of the strength of His might which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead" (Eph. 1:19-20). That is  "to usward who believe." Now the Church, the Bethany testimony, is to be a testimony to the power of His resurrection, and if His methods with us are making that necessary, then let us take encouragement and comfort from the fact that we are thus to be a true expression of what He desires of His Church.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 11 - "Celebrating His Victory")