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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Men Whose Eyes Have Seen the King # 38

The Glory of the Lord (continued)

Some Examples from the Old Testament

1. Abraham

We would all agree that, when God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees, and separated him to Himself, that was a new movement of God. There is no doubt about that. It was a clear-cut and defined breaking in to human history n the part of God, with a further stage in the Divine program in view. Now Stephen tells us that "the God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia" (Acts 7:2). Why the God of glory? The end toward which God was moving was glory - His own glory in a people, to be manifested among the nations. And so, as the God of glory He appeared to Abraham. He put the glory there as the principle, the law, the basis upon which He was taking that step, and upon which He was going to follow it through.

2. Moses

Some centuries later (revealed to Abraham even to the very period: see Genesis 15:13, 16; Acts 7:6), the Lord had that people out of Egypt. He brought them to Sinai; and there He changed them from a rabble crowd, an unconstituted and unorganized multitude, in to a corporate nation. That was the new move at Sinai. By the law and the testimony and the revelation given in the mount, the people were constituted a nation. And it was done in glory. Moses went into the mount, and saw the God of Glory, and came down with that glory on his face. Again God had put the principle at the beginning of His new move: He was moving on the pathway of glory.

3. David and Solomon

A further step in the Divine plan was reached in the days of David and Solomon. The temple was indeed a development of the Divine thought in representation; and it is all in glory. The issue there is glory: "the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord" (1 Kings 8:11, etc). It was a glorious time; it was a glorious place. It was all just enunciating and preserving this principle: God is moving all the time with this thought governing - glory!

4. Ezekiel

But we are told that the day came when the glory departed from Jerusalem. We know why. And that brings us to the prophets of recovery, and to this prophet Ezekiel in particular. Here, at the opening of these prophecies, in the day when the glory id eclipsed among the Lord's people as lifted up and departed from Jerusalem, the Lord of Glory appeared to Ezekiel: "This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord." It is impressive that that comes right at the beginning of the prophecies, is it not? Now everything that follows is going to be but the outworking of that law of glory. God is more concerned, and in these various ways He is showing His concern, for the end of glory to be reached.

Some Examples From the New Testament

1. The Incarnation

So much for the Old Testament. When we come to the New, we shall all agree that the Incarnation - the birth of the Lord Jesus into this world - is a new movement of God. That is indeed a great step forward in the Divine program. And therefore it is accompanied with glory - heavenly glory: "Glory to God in High Heaven!" (Luke 2:14). We sing it in our Christmas hymn. There is glory again at the inception of this new, mighty movement of God, because the end of that thing is indeed going to be glory: He has come for the recovery of the glory of God in this earth. That is Heaven's psalm.

2. Pentecost

We move on still, and again we will all agree that the Day of Pentecost is another great step forward in the plan of God. God is moving on, and this is a clear mark of that progress of God through the ages. The Day of Pentecost was a step of God from Heaven. And what glory! John tells us quite clearly that the coming of the Holy Spirit was upon the basis of Jesus being glorified. He said: "The Spirit was not given; because Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:39) - implying that when the Spirit was given Jesus was glorified. It was on that ground. God is moving on this basis all the way along.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 39 - "3. Peter")

Climb to the Treasure House of Blessings

And being absolutely certain that whatever promise He is bound by, He is able to make good (Rom. 4:20).

 
We are told that Abraham could look at his own body and consider it as good as dead without being discouraged, because he was not looking at himself but at the Almighty One. He did not stagger at the promise, but stood straight up unbending beneath his mighty load of blessing; and instead of growing weak he waxed strong in the faith, grew more robust, the more difficulties became apparent, glorifying God through His very sufficiency and being "fully persuaded" (as the Greek expresses it) "that he who had promised was," not merely able, but as it literally means "abundantly able," munificently able, able with an infinite surplus of resources, infinitely able "to perform."
 
He is the God of boundless resources. The only limit is in us. Our asking, our thinking, our praying are too small; our expectations are too limited. He is trying to lift us up to a higher conception, and lure us on to a mightier expectation and appropriation. Oh, shall we put Him in derision?
 
There is no limit to what we may ask and expect of our glorious El-Shaddai; and there is but one measure here given for His blessing, and that is "according to the power that worketh in us."
--A. B. Simpson
 
"Climb to the treasure house of blessing on the ladder made of divine promises. By a promise as by a key open the door to the riches of God's grace and favor."

~L. B. Cowman~

Friday, May 30, 2014

Men Whose Eyes Have Seen the King # 37

The Glory of the Lord

Ezekiel 1

"Above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone; and upon the likeness of the throne was a likeness as the appearance of a man upon it above" (Ezekiel 1:26)

"That working of the strength of His might which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and made Him to sit at His right hand in the heavenlies, far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in that which is to come: and He put all things in subjection under His feet" (Ephesians 1:19-22)

Let us focus, for the moment, upon the twenty-eighth verse of Ezekiel 1: "As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord."

That fragment seems to me to sum up all these prophecies. Not only does it apply to the first chapter in particular, but it can be taken all the way through; for everything in these prophecies is being governed by the glory of the Lord.

There is a very practical and immediate relationship between this word and ourselves. I am quite sure that most of us have a deep and strong sense of the need for the Lord to do a new thing. I believe that is felt very widely. What that new thing is may be given different interpretations. In the evangelical world that is much prayer and talk about "revival"; that is perhaps only another way of expressing this sense of a new thing. Others would put it in other ways. But it is there among Christians everywhere; the Lord must do a new thing; the Lord must take a fresh step.

God's End Is Glory

We need to be very intelligent and understanding about this matter. The Lord has His ways and His means, and we need to know something about them if we are going to be in line with the Lord in any movement that He purposes to take. This word is therefore very appropriate to the situation. For whenever God has moved in a new and further step in His Divine purpose, He has prefaced that movement by bringing, first, an instrument, and then, through such an instrument, His people, to a fresh apprehension of His glory.

That is a statement which will bear investigation and confirmation. God's one end in all things is glory. Make no mistake about that. If you want to know what God is after, what He is moving toward, in all things - and that compasses countless details in every realm; in personal life and corporate lie; in the nations - the answer is that God's end is glory. That being so, it i to be noted that He always establishes that principle at the outset of every movement. He sets it there as the thing which is going to govern the step, or movement, or whatever it is, that He is about to undertake: it is going to be governed by the end which He has in view, in this as in every new beginning. That may sound a little difficult for the moment. But let us take some instances.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 38 - "Some Examples From the Old Testament (1.) Abraham")

The Amen

Revelation 3:14
The Amen.
 
The word AMEN solemnly confirms that which went before; and Jesus is the great Confirmer; immutable, for ever is "the Amen" in all His promises. Sinner, I would comfort thee with this reflection. Jesus Christ said, "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." If you come to Him, He will say "Amen" in your soul; His promise shall be true to you. He said in the days of His flesh, "The bruised reed I will not break." O thou poor, broken, bruised heart, if thou comest to Him, He will say "Amen" to thee, and that shall be true in thy soul as in hundreds of cases in bygone years. Christian, is not this very comforting to thee also, that there is not a word which has gone out of the Saviour's lips which He has ever retracted? The words of Jesus shall stand when heaven and earth shall pass away. If thou gettest a hold of but half a promise, thou shalt find it true. Beware of him who is called "Clip-promise," who will destroy much of the comfort of God's word. Jesus is Yea and Amen in all His offices. He was a Priest to pardon and cleanse once, He is Amen as Priest still. He was a King to rule and reign for His people, and to defend them with His mighty arm, He is an Amen King, the same still. He was a Prophet of old, to foretell good things to come, His lips are most sweet, and drop with honey still-He is an Amen Prophet. He is Amen as to the merit of His blood; He is Amen as to His righteousness. That sacred robe shall remain most fair and glorious when nature shall decay. He is Amen in every single title which He bears; your Husband, never seeking a divorce; your Friend, sticking closer than a brother; your Shepherd, with you in death's dark vale; your Help and your Deliverer; your Castle and your High Tower; the Horn of your strength, your confidence, your joy, your all in all, and your Yea and Amen in all.

~Charles Spurgeon~

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Men Whose Eyes Have Seen the King # 36

Born of God (continued)

Submissiveness and Simplicity

The next thing about Mary is her simplicity and her submissiveness. There is something very beautiful about her simplicity, is there not? We are often  too complicated about all these things. We make the Christian life far too complicated - projecting our mentalities and our arguments, our contentions, and our demands for explanation, and what-not - and we are standing in our own light as we do so. The Lord cannot get on; that is all rubbish in the way. He needs a heart like Mary's (and I am not setting up Mary to be worshiped): a heart that is simple, in this sense, that there is nothing argumentative, querulous, awkward, about it.  It is an open heart: perplexed, it is true; not understanding; wondering how it can be, and saying so. Nevertheless, because of the simplicity, honesty, purity of her heart, she arrived at this: "Be it unto me according to Thy word" - absolute submission, even to the mystery, and what it would involve. The trouble with so many of us is that we are so slow in our submission, our surrender, our giving way, out letting go. We will argue; we will demand an explanation. We go around and around this eternal circle, getting nowhere, because we will not let go - we just will not let go; and so we come back to the point from which we started a thousand times. Mary put her whole life into this: "Be it unto me according to Thy word." And the angel departed. That was what he was working toward.

In involved Mary in suffering - it involved her in suffering immediately. And then, forty days after the birth, Simeon told her: "A sword shall pierce through thine own soul; that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed." I think there is something there that is very helpful. When the Cross is at work in a life, people begin to betray themselves; their thoughts begin to accuse, to make charges; to say, This is because of so and so ... When someone is having a bad time, thoughts come out: people divulge what they are thinking and feeling about the one concerned - some are sympathetic and some antagonistic. "A sword shall pierce through thine own soul; that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed." It was necessary that men should show themselves, show where they stood, on that day of the Cross; Mary's suffering was a part of that.

This may seem to us something of a mystery. But the point is that this kind of thing that happened to her, and which happens to us, involves us in suffering. It involves us in the offence of the Cross; it involves us in much misunderstanding, even much ostracism. The angel left her. She knew what it meant then. But later on Simeon told her what was coming, along the line of this child. What it amounts to is this: that to be a child of God is no ordinary thing. It is something unusual, something different, something of God. It is the result of an intervention of God from heaven.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 37 - "The Glory of the Lord")

Stand Still - Wait

Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord" (Exod. 14:13).

These words contain God's command to the believer when he is reduced to great straits and brought into extraordinary difficulties. He cannot retreat; he cannot go forward; he is shut upon the right hand and on the left. What is he now to do?
 
The Master's word to him is "stand still." It will be well for him if, at such times, he listens only to his Master's word, for other and evil advisers come with their suggestions. Despair whispers, "Lie down and die; give it all up." But God would have us put on a cheerful courage, and even in our worst times, rejoice in His love and faithfulness.
 
Cowardice says, "Retreat; go back to the worldling's way of action; you cannot play the Christian's part; it is too difficult. Relinquish your principles."
 
But, however much Satan may urge this course upon you, you cannot follow it, if you are a child of God. His Divine fiat has bid thee go from strength to strength, and so thou shalt, and neither death nor hell shall turn thee from thy course. What if for a while thou art called to stand still; yet this is but to renew thy strength for some greater advance in due time.
 
Precipitancy cries, "Do something; stir yourself; to stand still and wait is sheer idleness." We must be doing something at once--we must do it, so we think--instead of looking to the Lord, who will not only do something, but will do everything.
 
Presumption boasts, "If the sea be before you, march into it, and expect a miracle." But faith listens neither to Presumption, nor to Despair, nor to Cowardice, nor to Precipitancy, but it hears God say, "Stand still," and immovable as a rock it stands.
 
"Stand still"--keep the posture of an upright man, ready for action, expecting further orders, cheerfully and patiently awaiting the directing voice; and it will not be long ere God shall say to you, as distinctly as Moses said it to the people of Israel, "Go forward.'
--Spurgeon
 
"Be quiet! why this anxious heed
About thy tangled ways?
God knows them all. He giveth speed
And He allows delays.
'Tis good for thee to walk by faith
And not by sight.
Take it on trust a little while.
Soon shalt thou read the mystery aright
In the full sunshine of His smile."
 
In times of uncertainty, wait. Always, if you have any doubt, wait. Do not force yourself to any action. If you have a restraint in your spirit, wait until all is clear, and do not go against it.

~L. B. Cowman~

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Men Whose Eyes Have Seen the King # 35

Born of God (continued)

The New Birth Is All of Grace

In conclusion, let us think for a few minutes of Mary herself, because she is characteristic in some ways of the vessel of the new birth. To whom, to what, upon what ground, will the new birth take place? Here there is a correspondence between the birth of the Lord Jesus and the new birth of every child of God. We have, of course, to recognize the Divine sovereignty of eternal election: "chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world." Let us accept that, and leave it for the moment. We come into the operation and activity of God in time. Upon what ground in time, in our own lives, will this thing come to us? Are there some grounds, are there some occasions, are there some conditions which will always obtain where God comes in in this way?

Yes, always. One of the beautiful things about Mary, as characteristic of a vessel of new birth, was that which the angel said to her: "Hail, thou that art highly favored of God." The margin perhaps gets nearer to the true meaning: "Hail, thou that art endued with grace." That is the beginning of every new birth - endued with grace. If there was one person in that little country in those days who was aware - and this comes out so clearly - of the wonder of this, the condescension of this, and her own unworthiness of it, it was Mary. "How should this thing be?" Before this wonderful thing can happen to us, we have often to be brought to the place where the only word that suits the situation in our consciousness is grace; it is God's grace; it is all of grace. "Thou art endued with grace."

That is simple, I know, but that is the beginning of everything for the Christian life, for this wonderful miracle of God: that we must see and be deeply impressed, as she was, with our own utter worthlessness in this matter: that this could never be to us if we, in ourselves, in our own state, were the deciding factor. It is only God's infinite mercy, His infinite grace. That is a humble and a contrite spirit, and God is with that. But the new birth is but the beginning. This which is of God and of Heaven, has to grow and grow; more and more that is to be an increase of Him; but it is all on the same basis - the emptying of ourselves, the pouring out of all that is selfhood, to make way for the grace of God.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 36 - "Submissiveness and Simplicity")

We Would See Jesus

John 12:21
We would see Jesus.
 
Evermore the worldling's cry is, Who will show us any good?" He seeks satisfaction in earthly comforts, enjoyments, and riches. But the quickened sinner knows of only one good. "O that I knew where I might find HIM!" When he is truly awakened to feel his guilt, if you could pour the gold of India at his feet, he would say, "Take it away: I want to find HIM." It is a blessed thing for a man, when he has brought his desires into a focus, so that they all centre in one object. When he has fifty different desires, his heart resembles a mere of stagnant water, spread out into a marsh, breeding miasma and pestilence; but when all his desires are brought into one channel, his heart becomes like a river of pure water, running swiftly to fertilize the fields. Happy is he who hath one desire, if that one desire be set on Christ, though it may not yet have been realized. If Jesus be a soul's desire, it is a blessed sign of divine work within. Such a man will never be content with mere ordinances. He will say, "I want Christ; I must have Him-mere ordinances are of no use to me; I want Himself; do not offer me these; you offer me the empty pitcher, while I am dying of thirst; give me water, or I die. Jesus is my soul's desire. I would see Jesus!" Is this thy condition, my reader, at this moment? Hast thou but one desire, and is that after Christ? Then thou art not far from the kingdom of heaven. Hast thou but one wish in thy heart, and that one wish that thou mayst be washed from all thy sins in Jesus' blood? Canst thou really say, "I would give all I have to be a Christian; I would give up everything I have and hope for, if I might but feel that I have an interest in Christ"? Then, despite all thy fears, be of good cheer, the Lord loveth thee, and thou shalt come out into daylight soon, and rejoice in the liberty wherewith Christ makes men free.

~Charles Spurgeon~

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Men Whose Eyes Have Seen the King # 34

Born of God (continued)

The Inevitable Antagonism Against Heaven

The next thing, of course, is the inevitable antagonism. It was not very long after the birth of the Lord Jesus before it broke out. The kingdom of satan knew who He was, and what He was. That kingdom had many a powerful instrument and means at hand, and Herod was one such. We are not to know what happened during the thirty years of His boyhood and young manhood - that is passed over. It would not be surprising if there were many narrow escapes even then. But we do know that, from the moment of His stepping out from His anointing at Jordan, to take up this work of bringing "the other sheep," bringing the other sons to glory, all hell was on His track. Whenever He came into a place, the atmosphere became charged with antagonism. We perhaps know something of those atmospherics, but how infinitely worse it must have been for our Lord, with His very sensitive spirit, to have known this terrible hatred and animosity of the evil powers toward Him, and working through men. Oh, the constant, almost monotonous repetition: "They sought to destroy Him ... they sought to destroy Him ... they sought how they might destroy him." That was the atmosphere in which He lived. Why?

Well, it might be put down to many causes, but the fundamental cause was this: He belonged to Heaven, and the destiny of the Heavenly One and the heavenly ones is to possess this world and govern it, by the final abolishment of its prince and his whole kingdom. And they know. Said they: "I know Thee Who Thou art, the Holy One of God" (Mark 1:24). And they know every one who is holy, in that sense. There is an inevitable antagonism in the spiritual realm. Often it cannot be traced to any physical, material, or temporal cause, or to people; it is just there in the air. We know something of the antagonisms of a spiritual kind that the Christian has to meet in this world, without provoking deliberately or knowingly or really, by words or deeds. When you are born again, somehow or other the consciousness comes alive that you are a speckled bird, a marked man or woman. And so John says about these that are born of God: "For this cause the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not" (1 John 3:1). It "knoweth" us not. There is a deeper meaning in that word "knoweth" than just being aware of us, knowing who we are. It is being able to place us; being able to explain us, being able to trace us, as to what we are and where we came from. To the world there is something about us that is inscrutable; and that constitutes an antagonism.

Do not try to cut out that kind of antagonism. Be careful not to give unnecessary offence; try to "commend yourself to every man's conscience in the sight of God' (2 Corinthians 4:2); do things honorably before all men (Romans 12:17); give them no occasion for accusing you fairly as a Christian. But when you have done all, do not think that you will not meet this antagonism - if you are a child of God you will. You just cannot avoid it. Do not try to eliminate it; recognize that as a part of the very fact, a wonderful evidence of the fact that you are in the company of Jesus Christ. The world knew Him not; therefore it knows us not.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 35)

He Led Me

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed" (Heb. 11:8).
Whither he went, he knew not; it was enough for him to know that he went with God. He leant not so much upon the promises as upon the Promiser. He looked not on the difficulties of his lot, but on the King, eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, who had deigned to appoint his course, and would certainly vindicate Himself. O glorious faith! This is thy work, these are thy possibilities; contentment to sail with sealed orders, because of unwavering confidence in the wisdom of the Lord High Admiral; willinghood to rise up, leave all, and follow Christ, because of the glad assurance that earth's best cannot bear comparison with Heaven's least.
--F. B. M.
 
It is by no means enough to set out cheerfully with your God on any venture of faith. Tear into smallest pieces any itinerary for the journey which your imagination may have drawn up.
 
Nothing will fall out as you expect.
 
Your guide will keep to no beaten path. He will lead you by a way such as you never dreamed your eyes would look upon. He knows no fear, and He expects you to fear nothing while He is with you.
 
The day had gone; alone and weak
I groped my way within a bleak
And sunless land.
The path that led into the light
I could not find! In that dark
night God took my hand.
He led me that I might not stray,
And brought me by a new, safe way
I had not known.
By waters still, through pastures green
I followed Him--the path was clean
Of briar and stone.
The heavy darkness lost its strength,
My waiting eyes beheld at length
The streaking dawn.
On, safely on, through sunrise glow
I walked, my hand in His, and lo,
The night had gone.
--Annie Porter Johnson

~L. B. Cowman~

Monday, May 26, 2014

Men Whose Eyes Have Seen the King # 33

Born of God (continued)

The Divide of the New Birth

I speak to young Christians particularly, that this is the very nature of your new birth, that more and more it must be like that. And do not be afraid of it; do not rebel against it; accept it. It is a proof of something, of the greatest thing that God is doing in human history - breaking in to make this tremendous difference. It is on that ground that the Great Divide is going to be set up. We get our mental pictures of the judgment; well, we will not argue as to the material side of that. But I do know that this judgment has already begun, and it is going on (1 Peter 4:17), and the finality of it will be here: that there are those who belong here, and there are those who belong there, and there is no mistaking to which realm these people belong. The great divide has been made. The Lord is seeking to bring that about now. But oh, the tragedy of many Christians, and many young Christians, trying to bridge that gap - to hold those two things together; instead of allowing the gap to widen, while they stand on the side where they are moving further and further away from a judged world.

An Inherent Power to Overcome

The next thing that comes out in this matter of Christ's birth, and the birth of the children of God, is that by this birth there comes into us an inherent potency, an inherent power. Now, the Lord Jesus said: "Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). And John says: "Whatsoever is begotten of God overcometh the world" (1 John 5:4). In Christ, in the born anew child of God, there is an inherent power and virtue which is going to overcome the world. It is there in the very nature of things, in the very constitution of the new life: it is going to overcome. There may be failure - there may be frequent failure; there may be falling in the battle; there may be some casualties; there may be some dark patches; there may even be some going away. But it is a most remarkable thing, and a most heart-ravishing thing, to see how this life persists.

I sometimes have to smile. People tell me that they are going to give it all up; they cannot go any longer; and off they go, and you do not see them for a little while. But they are back again. And that happens a hundred and one times. How many people have said to me, and quite recently, "I am giving it all up; I am finished; I am going." And as far as they knew themselves, they meant it. But they cannot do it; they are just like moths around the lamp - they cannot keep away; back they come, and, yes - crestfallen and ashamed! You know, if it were natural, they would not do it; I would not do it: for every face saving, I would not come back again, show my face again after that. But there is something else, something more, that is stronger than our shame, stronger than our self-reproach, stronger than our self-despair, stronger than our constant delinquency: there is a persistence that brings us up, and brings us back. It is the history of most children of God. "That which is born of God overcometh the world."

It was true of Jesus. How did He overcome? Not by physical force; not by resolve of will, not by power of brain and mind and argument. He never did being the world under His feet in those ways. By sheer force of Divine character; by the kind of Man He was; by the Divine nature in Him, He overcame. And so, with every child of God: in so much lesser degree than in His case, perhaps; so much slower in expression and manifestation; nevertheless it is there. Every true child of God knows quite well that, had it not been for that inward grip of something, or Someone, not themselves, they would not be where they are today, still seeking the things of God. No! It is inherent in that which is born of God to overcome.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 34 - "The Inevitable Antagonism Against Heaven")

I Trust In Thy Word

I trust in thy word" (Ps. 119:42).

Just in proportion in which we believe that God will do just what He has said, is our faith strong or weak. Faith has nothing to do with feelings, or with impressions, with improbabilities, or with outward appearances. If we desire to couple them with faith, then we are no longer resting on the Word of God because faith needs nothing of the kind. Faith rests on the naked Word of God. When we take Him at His Word, the heart is at peace.
 
God delights to exercise faith, first for blessing in our own souls, then for blessing in the Church at large, and also for those without. But this exercise we shrink from instead of welcoming. When trials come, we should say: "My Heavenly Father puts this cup of trial into my hands, that I may have something sweet afterwards."
 
Trials are the food of faith. Oh, let us leave ourselves in the hands of our Heavenly Father! It is the joy of His heart to do good to all His children.
 
But trials and difficulties are not the only means by which faith is exercised and thereby increased. There is the reading of the Scriptures, that we may by them acquaint ourselves with God as He has revealed Himself in His Word.
 
Are you able to say, from the acquaintance you have made with God, that He is a lovely Being? If not, let me affectionately entreat you to ask God to bring you to this, that you may admire His gentleness and kindness, that you may be able to say how good He is, and what a delight it is to the heart of God to do good to His children.
 
Now the nearer we come to this in our inmost souls, the more ready we are to leave ourselves in His hands, satisfied with all His dealings with us. And when trial comes, we shall say:
 
"I will wait and see what good God will do to me by it, assured He will do it." Thus we shall bear an honorable testimony before the world, and thus we shall strengthen the hands of others.
--George Mueller

~L. B. Cowman~

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Men Whose Eyes Have Seen the King # 32

"Born of God" (continued)

The Need for Sensitiveness to This Difference

Beware, young people, that you do not blunt the edge of your new birth, by accommodating yourself to this world's ways, its forms and customs and acceptances, and taking it all as something inevitable. Ask the Holy Spirit to keep you very sensitive to sin, very sensitive to evil; to keep alive this difference, which is your birthright - a part of your very birth. If you are a true child of God, you know something about the difference, as you go out into the world, not only in the matter of sin, but in all kinds of ways. You are different; something has happened to you.

At some point, this difference should have become quite clear to yo, so that you know it - not just because you are told, not because your parents are Christians and do not like you doing certain things and you have got a sort of conscience which is you parents' really, and not your own - but in your own heart, in your own self, you have got this consciousness of being different, fundamentally different, from those who are not the Lord's. If that is not true as to a crisis in your life - or all do not have a violent breaking in as in the case of Paul on the road to Damascus - nevertheless, there has to arrive at some point this sense: "I am a child of God; I am different; something has happened; a great difference has been made deep down somewhere; I am not the same; and I am not the same as those who are not the born again children of God."

But, also, it is the nature of spiritual growth that that difference becomes more and more accentuated. It is the thing that is making this world more and more a "strange and foreign" land to us - it is not our home, not our place; and conversely, "making heaven" truly more and more to be our home. Now, where heaven is I cannot tell you; but I do know this, that, whatever heaven means, that is where I belong. And more and more I am discovering that I belong there, and that I do not belong here.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 33 - "The Divide of the New Birth")

Vengeance


David said to Abigail, "Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands.”  1 Samuel 25:32-34


Have you ever found yourself in a situation in which you truly felt that you were being paid evil for good? You reached out to help someone or extend certain acts of kindness to your neighbor only to discover later that they would not do the same in return. Or, worse, that same person comes against you to cause you harm in some way. As humans, our response in the flesh tends to lean towards revenge. When they were in the fields together David and his men had protected Nabal's men who were tending their sheep. Even though David was in need of provisions, he never took anything from them. When David heard that Nabal was shearing his sheep, he sent messengers to ask Nabal for some food and whatever else he could spare. Nabal's response was harsh. No way would he going to help David. David became angry and, as a man of war, David immediately sought retaliation. But God intervened through Abigail, Nabal's wife, before David could act.

Abigail intervened on behalf of her husband, without Nabal knowing it. The sovereign Lord led Abigail to David to prevent him from taking steps that would lead to bloodshed. The Lord impressed upon Abigail the fore-knowledge that David would one day be king, and as king he would not want to bear such a burden of guilt. You see, God knows all things. God allows all things that happen to us. We may not understand why suffering seems to be such a permanent and prominent part of our lives, but God does. It is hard to deal with people who hurt us, especially when we have been kind to them. But God is with us through every situation, just as He was with David. Abigail was sent by God to speak words of wisdom to David. David was wise enough to listen. David gave his vengeance to the Lord and the Lord dealt with Nabal (he died a few days later).

Remember today that our Lord is sovereign. God is in control of all things. He knows every circumstance of our lives. The decision for us is how we will choose to respond to our circumstances, especially when we must deal with being hurt or betrayed by someone. Know that God will work in your life through every situation. If someone is sent to help you, ask the Lord to give you wisdom and discernment to listen to them. Maybe God has an Abigail in your life. Or, maybe you could be an Abigail to someone who seeks revenge. Regardless of where circumstances place us, our only answer is to seek the Lord's guidance and allow Him to handle it on our behalf.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Men Whose Eyes Have Seen the King # 31

Born of God (continued)

Not Only A Newness, But A Difference (continued)

And that which results from the intervention contains this fundamental difference in its very constitution. Oh, that all who bear the name of Christian, all who are children of God, were fully alive to this! I think this is where the weakness lies with so many, and it will not hurt us, even though we know it well, to be reminded of it, to face it again. It is something that we need to keep with us in our consciousness continually. Our new birth is different from all other births, and by new birth we are made fundamentally and constitutionally different from  all other births, and by new birth we are made fundamentally and constitutionally different from all other beings. You know it perhaps in some measure in experience. The birth of the Lord Jesus was so patently a different kind of birth. It was not in the usual natural way; nature had nothing to do with it; man's will, choice, decision, had nothing to do with it. And "that which is born shall be holy": can you find that in nature anywhere? It is of a different kind and a different order of being - that which is, in its very essence, holy.l That is the contrast with every other creature and every other birth. The Psalmist cries: "I was born in sin, shapen in iniquity" - and that is true of us all.

The New Birth Brings Us Into a Heavenly Kingdom

Now when I say that that principle holds good in every new birth, it needs this explanation. We know quite well that it is not our bodies that are born again; therefore they are not holy. We know that it is not our souls that are born again: if our souls are our minds - our reasoning powers, and our emotions, and our power of choice - well, they are not different. It is the trouble of our whole Christian life that we still have so much of that which is not holy with us, in mind and heart and will. It is the realm of our conflicts, our battles, our sorrows. Nevertheless, something, somewhere, has happened, something has come in, that is not of that kingdom at all, that is of another heavenly kingdom; and that, which is born of God, is holy. Do you know that? Even if it has never been explained or  defined to you, you know it in experience. You know that there is that within you that revolts against sin and unholiness; you know that one of the great blessings of your life is an inward power of reaction when things are not right, not god. As we go on, we do become more and more sensitive to evil, to the sin of this world. Our peril may be sometimes to accept its presence; to take it just because it is there.

Now, we are in a world like that, but nevertheless it is true of every child of God that there is that feeling about it - something of a tremendous inward revolt and reaction to sin, to evil, to unholiness. What a safeguard that is! What a gift of God it is to have that! God forbid that ever we should lose our sensitiveness in that realm, or cease to be moved by the sinfulness of sin.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 32 - "The Need for Sensitiveness to This Difference")


The Cross the Believer's Motivation



Paul was single-minded in the message he preached. The cross was not only his primary subject; it was also his motivation for living. When we begin to understand all that Jesus did for us at Calvary, we, too, can receive fresh motivation to live for Him. For instance, we can...

Walk humbly before God. Since the power to live the Christian life is supplied by Christ, there is no room for pride. When Jesus died, our "flesh" nature was crucified with Him so that we could live in newness of life. Any success we achieve in living righteously or walking in obedience is possible only because He is working through us.

Serve the Lord faithfully. At the cross, we were placed "in Christ," and He is in us (Gal. 2:20). We are now His body on earth, created for good works which God has prepared for us to do (Eph. 2:10). Jesus wasn’t crucified so we could sit in pews each Sunday and listen to sermons. He has specific tasks for each of us to achieve during our lifetime.

Share our faith. Knowing all that Jesus accomplished at the cross should motivate us to share the gospel with others. This world is filled with hurting people who know nothing about salvation. Since their eternal destiny is at stake, how can we keep our mouths closed?

Too often we view the cross only as a past event that secured our eternal destiny, and we fail to see how it can motivate daily choices and activities. Stop to contemplate all that God is continually accomplishing in you though the cross. Let it be your motivation to live wholeheartedly for Christ.

~Dr. Charles Stanley~

Friday, May 23, 2014

Men Whose Eyes Have Seen the King # 30

Born of God (continued)

The Coming Test of Our Standing

I have sometimes wondered - maybe wrongly - whether the enemy is not very pleased with putting countless multitudes of people in a false Christian position, because he knows the day is coming when the winds will carry them away; and for a Christian to fall away is a greater reproach to the Lord perhaps than anything. Oh, how we do need to get our roots down; how we need to be grounded in the truth, and in the truth of our very nature as children of God. That is why we come to this message. The day is coming when our standing as Christians will be deeply and terribly tested - there will be a great shaking. The Prophet Ezekiel is very up-to-date; I believe these words will have perhaps a larger fulfillment in a not very distant future, than they had when Ezekiel uttered them: "I will overturn, overturn, overturn ... until He comes whose right it is" (Ezekiel 21;27). There is going to be a great overturning of what is not true - of what is false. This judgment must begin at the House of God. So you will understand this present emphasis.

We begin here. As with Christ, so it must be with every child of God: they must, at the very beginning of their Christian life, be the result of a Divine intervention in human history, in their own human history, in their human life. But that is the great basic fact. Thank God that there are many who understand that, and know what it means. They are able to say: "God intervened in my life; God broke into my life; God came out, even, as it were, from Heaven, into my life." If we have the experience, we know the truth; but it is sometimes helpful to have it defined. This is it: When you and I were saved, God broke out of Heaven - nothing less than that. It was as though God Himself came out of His Heaven into a human life; broke into its world, and interrupted its course of history. Things could never be the same after that.

Not Only A Newness, But A Difference

That is perfectly clear, is it not, in the case of the Lord Jesus? An angel indicated this intervention of the Holy Spirit from heaven - and it is no less than that in principle and fact with each new birth. But the next thing that is clear in the case of the Lord Jesus is that this was something different; it was not only something new that had not happened before, but it was something different. This birth is different from all other births. We cannot dwell too much upon the details of the account, but that is what it amounts to. The angel made that perfectly clear, and Mary knew it; that was her problem, her perplexity, her wonder - How? How? It was the perplexity of Nicodemus,  his great question - How?  This contains profound mystery which constitutes a deep, a mighty difference. This is not the common thing; this is not the usual thing; this you cannot find, except here; it is different.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 31)

Seek His Heart


But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 15:7


I don’t blame Samuel for thinking that Jesse’s first son was God’s chosen man to replace Saul as King. Saul was described as “a choice and handsome man, from his shoulders and up he was taller than any of the people.” Samuel anointed Saul as King but Saul’s heart turned from following God. God was grieved that he had made Saul the King of Israel. Now Samuel was to anoint someone after God’s own heart. Like Samuel, we judge by appearances. It would be natural to think that the outward appearance mattered because of Saul’s appearance. However, God exhorts Samuel to listen to Him, instead of his own instincts.

David was anointed that day. He was the youngest son, out tending the sheep. He too was described as “ruddy with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance,” but God was choosing David for his heart. 

To do God’s work, we have to be sensitive to His leading. If we continue to do what we think is right by our own natural inclinations, we might not be representing God’s heart. We can’t read or judge someone’s heart. But if God has our heart, we can discern His ways. We need to pray for the Lord’s discernment. Today, be sensitive to pray before you make any decisions. Then, wait to hear if the Lord is ready to answer. He will make known His will if you are willing to seek His heart.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Men Whose Eyes Have Seen the King # 29

Born of God (continued)

The New Birth A Divine Intervention

The first thing, which is quite patent, is that the birth of the Lord Jesus was a Divine intervention in human life: and that is true of the new birth of every believer; it is nothing less than a Divine intervention in human life. We do not stay with all the minute details of Christ's birth, but it is perfectly clear in  this way, that out from Heaven there came a Heavenly Visitant, making an announcement; and, from the same heaven, the Holy Spirit came into human life and intervened, and did something - something that we shall see, I trust, in a minute. The point is that here is a breaking in of Heaven into human life.

Perhaps you wonder why this should be stressed, and given such emphasis. But let us be clear that that is not what is very largely conceived and taught about the new birth. Even with the best intentions the new birth is so often placed to man's side - it is what man does. Man has got to do something - either raise his hand, or make some statement, or sign some document, or make a decision, make a profession, accept certain things that are being stated, and so on. Perhaps such things are meant to open the way for God; but, even if we allow that, people are often left with this idea that it is something they have done. They have accepted Christ; they have accepted Christianity; they have made a gesture; they have done something; they have become Christians by what they have done, by their own lot.

Born Not of the Will of Man But of God

Now, being fully generous, and not critical at all, it is very important to recognize that the new birth never necessarily takes place by anything that we do. It never really is consummated by some act of our own will, or of our own desire, or of our own mind - not at all. "Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man ..." - the man being the case in point, or the other man who would seek to bring it about - "... but of God." If God does not intervene in human life and in human history; break right in, as it were, from Heaven; if the Holy Spirit does not overshadow, and Himself produce that new life, that is NOT new birth; there is something lacking.

You are wondering, perhaps, why this message. I will tell you why. With a growing concern - and concern is a weak word - as one moves about the world touching Christians and Christianity, the one thing that is born in upon one's heart, overwhelmingly, sometimes almost to the point of despair, is the need that those who bear the name of "Christian" should know the real nature of what it means to be a child of God. They seem so many of them, to have taken on something from the outside, by their own volition, choice and act, and so many have really not the faintest idea of what it means to be "born" out from Heaven. And in all the needed work of recovery, in every department of Divine purpose at this time, this is one of the needs - a recovery of the real meaning of new birth, of what it is to be born from above, to be a child of God.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 30 - "The Coming Test of Our Standing")

Submit and Resist


Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.James 4:7

On numerous occasions, we have received comments from women who have issues with the word “submit,” specifically as to how wives are supposed to submit to their husbands. I remember someone in my small group who literally walked out during a discussion on the biblical teachings of wives submitting to their husbands. Since she made more money, did more work and handled practically all of the family responsibilities, how dare someone tell her to submit to anybody, especially her less-than-equal husband? Who is she really taking a stand against – her husband or the Lord? Our first act of submission is to the Lord.

Today’s verse does not address the issue of wives submitting to their husbands but it does address two other areas in which we all need to obey. The word “submit” actually means to come under an authority and to obey that authority. For all of us the first Authority is the Lord. When we submit to Him, we are giving Him full authority over our lives. The devil wants to harass us and attack us from all sides. By submitting to God, we are able to resist the devil. We do not realize that by refusing to submit, we are actually empowering more of the devil’s attacks against us. We hinder the power of the Lord to work through us fighting off the attacks.

If you have areas of your life in which you struggle against submission, take them to prayer and ask the Lord for wisdom to help you understand. Do not let the devil deceive you into thinking that submission equals weakness. He knows that it really equals a power that can cause defeat for him and victory for the Lord!

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Men Whose Eyes Have Seen the King # 28

Born of God

"The power of the Most High shall overshadow thee: wherefore also that which is to be born shall be called holy, the Son of God" (Luke 1:35)

"As many as received Him, to them gave He the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor the will of man, but of God" (John 1:12, 13)

"That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6)

"These things have I spoken unto you, that in Me ye may have peace. In the world ye have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33)

"Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God: and such we are. For this cause the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not. Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if He shall manifested, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him even as He is" (1 John 3:1, 2)

"For whatsoever is begotten of God overcometh the world" (1 John 5:4)

In bringing these Scriptures together, those about the birth of the Lord Jesus and those about the birth of believers, I am not failing to recognize a great difference. One has always to safeguard this matter o the Person of the Lord Jesus. He was Very God of Very God; "God manifest in the flesh"; "Emmanuel, God with us." In that He stands alone, unique; there is not another like Him. His birth was different, even, from the new birth of every child of God: it was different in kind; it was different in degree.

The Correspondence Between Christ's Birth and Ours

Nevertheless, there are factors in His own birth which constitute the nature of the birth of every believer. Deity apart - Godhead left with Him - there is yet something in these passages about the believer's new birth that corresponds to His birth. It is to some of these features that we are now to give attention. You will not confuse the two, I trust, at any point, on that matter of His uniqueness. At the same time, and on the other side, I do trust that you will be able to recognize what John said, that that which is true in Him is, in its own realm, and after its own kind, also true in us (1 John 2:8). And, in this matter of the birth and the new life of the children of God, we shall be able to understand better if we recognize some of these features in the birth of the Lord Jesus. For His birth does, as I have said, hold all the factors which go to make up a true child of God.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 29 - "The New Birth A Divine Intervention")

Wisdom's Benefit Package



When someone applies for a job, a common question is: “What does the benefit package include?” Since the world’s advice about how to have a good life is in sharp contrast to what the Bible recommends, we might want to consider asking a similar question about the value of living according to God’s wisdom: What are the benefits? In other words, Why should we seek to live in obedience to the instructions given in the Scriptures?

First of all, in seeking God’s wisdom, we will acquire a deeper understanding and knowledge of the Lord (Prov. 22:4-6). Our perception of life is greatly enhanced when we know Him intimately. He’ll give us the ability to see ourselves, others, and situations from His perspective. As biblical principles permeate our minds, they will shape our thinking and responses to all of life’s situations and challenges.

Second, God promises divine guidance and protection if we walk wisely (vv. 7-10). Nothing outside His will can penetrate the shield of protection around those who seek to obey Him. When we let His wisdom enter our hearts, discretion watches over our desires and emotions, preventing us from entering into foolish or sinful relationships that would draw us away from Him (vv. 11-20).

Godly understanding and protection don’t become ours simply because we want them. Such benefits come to people who diligently seek divine wisdom. If you receive the wordsof Scripture and let them fill your heart and mind, the Lord will reveal Himself to you and give you His discernment.

~Charles Stanley~

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Men Whose Eyes Have Seen the King # 27

Beholding ... Changed ... Transformed (continued)

The Impact of the Glory

But this is something that involves the glory - that is the point. There is such a thing as the power of the Holy Spirit in the glory. We spoke as the power of the Holy Spirit in the glory. We spoke of it on a previous occasion as the "impact" - the impact of the transfiguration upon those men; and the impact of a seeing of the Lord by anyone afterward - what it registered of power. Now, you and I perhaps covet and crave as much as anything that there should be impact in our lives, that there should be power, that our lives should register, that our presence should not just leave things as they were. We long that, as we go on, and when we have passed on, something may have been left of an impress, at least through our presence, and perhaps through our ministry - something that shall remain. Yes, impact is a very good word.

That is bound up with the glory - that is the glory. It registers; it is something that remains.Things may come in, and for a time the glory may be veiled, but there is something there that will come up again. I confess that I have had difficulty in understanding - and yet there is some understanding, because we are all made alike - how three men, and one of them in particular, could be on the mount of transfiguration, yet in His hour of need they all could forsake Him and flee for their very lives. Or how one among them, who by a revelation of the Father had declared that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God - how that man could yet, when it came to it, deny Him with oaths and curses. And yet all this was only a veiling for the time being; the glory came up afterward. It came up with Peter at the end. Many years afterward he remembered: "We were with Him in the holy mount." It remained. There was a temporary eclipse, but it was something that they did not forget. God forbid that sch an eclipse should ever be true of us; perhaps we shall never have to go quite the same way as they went. But there is a permanence abut this matter - and abiding effect of really having Christ revealed in the heart; and, by that inward revelation of Him, there is a manifestation of His character, something that remains.

Now it is clear that we cannot say this of all that is called "ministry." It is a sermon, an address, something given, and it passes. And it goes on like that in a routine, week after week, week after week. But, of course, we do not want it like that; we really do not want that we should come and go, should be just passing things, and not leave any abiding mark. No, there is an impact bound up with this. So, it is not a matter of what we call the "ministry" - something external. The "ministry" with Paul is nothing less than, nothing other than, what is true of Christ coming out of the life of His servants, of His people; being there and coming out.

"Therefore seeing we have this ministry, even as we obtained mercy ... we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by the manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God" (2 Corinthians 4:1, 2).

~T. Austin-Sparks~

continued with # 28 - "Born of God")

It Pleased God

It pleased God… to reveal His Son in me. (Galatians1:15,16)

If Christ, the Son of God’s love, is central and supreme in the heart of the believer so much else goes down, it must go down. Controversies with God will divide, but those artificial things, those things resultant from man’s activity and his projecting of himself, insinuating of himself into the interests of God, those things cannot abide where there is an adequate inward revelation of the Lord Jesus; they cannot be. These two things are before us: one, because of the revelation of Jesus Christ in our hearts we have a passion for Him; on the other hand, because of the absence of a sufficient revelation of Christ in our hearts we are out for other things which we would say are in His interests, and for Him, but which can never, never satisfy God’s heart. It is the satisfaction of the heart of the Father, which is in view.

Beloved I am speaking about the individual. I am not justified, and you are not justified, in claiming to be Christians except in the measure in which Christ is manifested in me, in you; and all the force and weight and ingenuity of hell is out against that. Believers have far more to provoke them to un-Christ-likeness than anyone else in the world. Believers have far more assaults to churn them up and to make them betray Christ than anyone else. Hell is dead set against the revelation of Jesus Christ. Everything begins with this, the revelation of Jesus Christ within.

By T. Austin-Sparks