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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Discipline Unto Prayer # 27

"A House of Prayer for All People" (continued)

The Need for Prayer Ministry

Leaving the great spiritual truth, and coming to what is immediate, so far as one's own heart is concerned, in this world, I do feel that there has to be a fresh registration in our hearts of a call to this ministry and the need for it. We may pray a lot, but I feel that we have to take this matter of the prayer ministry even more seriously, to regard it as our supreme ministry. The order is everything by prayer; not everything and then prayer, but everything by prayer. Prayer comes first. Everything comes by prayer. Prayer is the basis of everything, and nothing else must be attempted or touched except on the ground of prayer. We have to gather into our prayer the universal interests of the Name of the Lord. "Because of Thy Name!" The Name is in view, and is involved. It is the interests of the Name which govern the functioning of the House, and all the interests of the Name of the Lord have to become the definite and solid prayer business of the Lord's people. Oh, the Lord cut clean across that thing which makes us so casual, and which makes corporate prayer times so optional, and bring into our hearts, with a strong, deep, set conviction, the witness that prayer is universal business, and that we are called to it!

It may be that before long there will be very little else that we can do. It may be that before long the Lord's people world-wide will find that their other activities are brought to a standstill, and they are shut up. What is going to happen then to the Lord's interests? Is that the end of ministry? Is that the end of functioning, of value, of effectiveness? It may be that before long the Lord's people in all the earth will need, as they have never needed before, the prayer cooperation of other members. It may be that the Lord's Name has suffered because we have not regarded this ministry as we ought to have done. We are not blaming anyone, but simply saying that there is room for far more serious entering into this tremendous thing which the Lord has appointed for us. Only to dwell upon the words quietly and thoughtfully will surely mean that their implication will come upon our hearts. The Lord has not said that He is going to move directly out to the universe. He has said: "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people." To put that in other words we might state it thus: 'I have ordained to meet universal need through an instrument, through a vessel, and My people, My Church, form that vessel. That is My appointed way. If my Church fails Me, if My instrument does not take this matter seriously, is occupied with itself rather than with the great world-wide needs of My Name, then I am failed indeed!'

Now this means that we must recognize that where but two or three gather into the Name, where it cannot be more, there is nothing merely local about such coming together in prayer, but that the farthest ranges of the Lord's interests can be advanced, helped, ministered to, by the twos and threes. If it is possible for more to gather, then the Lord desires that, but it is ministry to the Lord by prayer for which He looks to us. We must see to it that it is our first, our primary business to pray. It is strange that so many more will come to conference meetings than to prayer meetings! Is the mentality behind that, that it is far more important to hear teaching than it is to pray? Would it not be a great day and represent some tremendous advance spiritually, something unique, if the prayer gatherings were bigger than the biggest conference gatherings, or at least as big as the biggest?

Let us lay this to heart! Remember that the enemy is always seeking to destroy the essential purpose of the House of God. "Ye have made it a den of robbers." That was one attempt of his to put out the real purpose by changing the whole character of things. God forbid that anything like that should be true in our case,but it is just possible to allow the primary thing to take a secondary place. The primary thing is prayer for all peoples. That, the Lord says, is what His House is for, and that is our real ministry. We cannot all be in the ministry of the Word, but we can all be in this ministry. We can all be in spirit out to the Lord for the interests of His Name.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 28)

Alone


The hill was steep, but cheered along the way
By converse sweet, I mounted on the thought
That so it might be till the height was reached;
But suddenly a narrow winding path
Appeared, and then the Master said, 'My child,
Here thou wilt safest walk with Me alone.'
I trembled, yet my heart's deep trust replied,
'So be it, Lord.' He took my feeble hand
In His, accepting thus my will to yield Him
All, and to find all in Him.
One long, dark moment,
And no friend I saw, save Jesus only.
But oh! so tenderly He led me on
And up, and spoke to me such words of cheer,
Such secret whisperings of His wondrous love,
That soon I told Him all my grief and fear,
And leaned on His strong arm confidingly.
And then I found my footsteps quickened,
And light ineffable, the rugged way
Illumined, such light as only can be seen
In close companionship with God.
A little while, and we shall meet again
The loved and lost; but in the rapturous joy
Of greetings, such as here we cannot know,
And happy song, and heavenly embraces,
And tender recollections rushing back
Of pilgrim life, methinks one memory
More dear and sacred than the rest, shall rise,
And we who gather in the golden streets,
Shall oft be stirred to speak with grateful love
Of that dark day when Jesus bade us climb
Some narrow steep, leaning on Him alone.

"There is no high hill but beside some deep valley. There is no birth without a pang."

~L. B. Cowman~

Monday, September 29, 2014

Discipline Unto Prayer # 26

"A House of Prayer for all People" (continued)

The Fact of Representation

You begin with the representative fact, the fact of representation. Representation begins with two or three, and that immediately swings us completely clear of all earthly grounds of judging and estimating. It indicates the essential heavenly nature of the Church. In the Lord Jesus every member of the Church is included. If Christ comes, the whole Church comes. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the whole Body, uniting all the members in one. You cannot be in the Spirit and in Christ anywhere but what you are with the whole Body, and the whole Body is there spiritually. Two or three? "There am I!" The whole Body, then, is bound up with the two or three. The fact evidences the heavenlies of the Church, the Body of Christ. This is not a possibility on the earth. You cannot bring the whole Church together in any one place on this earth literally. It is not the Lord's way, and it cannot be done. The Church is scattered worldwide, so far as the earthly aspect is concerned. And yet the Church is a heavenly thing gathered up in Christ, its Head, by one Spirit baptized into one Body, and when we come into the Spirit, into the heavenly realm, we are in the presence of the whole Body; not with earthly intelligence, that is, the whole Body is not conscious of the fact from the earthly standpoint, but spiritually it is true. That is the whole Church represented in the two or three if truly "in the Name." What the two or three may do in the Holy Spirit becomes a universal thing.

The Prayer Meeting

What we are seeking to press home is that this is so different from having a local prayer meeting, in the usually accepted meaning of that term. Suppose that where such an outlook obtains the announcement is made: 'We will have a prayer meeting on Monday night.' Who will come to that prayer meeting? People will say among themselves: 'Shall we go to the prayer meeting?' or, perhaps: 'Well, it is only a prayer meeting!' That is one way to look at it, as a local thing in a certain place at a certain time. But if I were to say: 'Will you come and minister to the whole Church of Christ universally in such and such a place at a certain time, and your business is to go and minister in that range to the whole Church!' that puts another point of view. It gives an altogether new conception of what we are called to. Let your imagination take flight, if you like, and see the whole Church from the ends of the earth literally gathered together, needing to be ministered to, and the Lord saying to you: 'Now you come and minister to the whole Church! Thousands of thousands, and tens of thousands gathered together, and I want you to minister to them. I have placed the resource at your disposal and will enable you to do it.' Perhaps you might shrink, and be fearful, but you would see the tremendous significance. You would not stay away because you were unimpressed with the importance of it.

This is not exaggeration. We are not straining the point. We are seeking to get to the heart of this ministry which is ours. When two or three are gathered together in any place, and they pray in the Holy Spirit, that is what is possible and it happens. They represent the whole Church, and become the House of prayer, functioning for all peoples, a universal ministry. We need to lift the prayer business on to a higher level. When we see the range, the significance, the value of a time of prayer together in the Name of the Lord, we shall stop our trivialities and take things seriously. We shall come together saying: 'Now, here are nations to be entered into tonight, and things which are world-wide and of tremendous significance to the Lord Jesus, and we are called to deal with them in this place!' There is no greater ministry. It is a tremendous thing to have a ministry like that.

It all comes back to asking whether this is true of the Church. What does it mean? Is it merely a passage of Scripture? Is it a nice idea, but falling short of any real meaning? What is the meaning of: "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people?" It certainly does not mean that the whole Church can literally be gathered together in one place to pray, and it certainly cannot literally mean that the whole Church can pray together at the same time, though scattered. The situation is different in all countries. Day and night govern different parts of the world, and other factors come in. It is necessary to get away from the earth to explain this. And if you get off the earth and see that where two or three are gathered together into the Name of all the rest are represented, and because the one Spirit is there the whole is therefore touched through that one Spirit, as well as involved, then the possibilities are tremendous. "A house of prayer for all people" is God's ordained way of ministry.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 27 - (The Need for Prayer Ministry)

I Believe God


I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me (Acts 27:25).

I went to America some years ago with the captain of a steamer, who was a very devoted Christian. When off the coast of Newfoundland he said to me, "The last time I crossed here, five weeks ago, something happened which revolutionized the whole of my Christian life. We had George Mueller of Bristol on board. I had been on the bridge twenty-four hours and never left it. George Mueller came to me, and said, 'Captain I have come to tell you that I must be in Quebec Saturday afternoon.' 'It is impossible,' I said. 'Very well, if your ship cannot take me, God will find some other way. I have never broken an engagement for fifty-seven years. Let us go down into the chart-room and pray.'"

"I looked at that man of God, and thought to myself, 'What lunatic asylum can that man have come from? I never heard of such a thing as this.' 'Mr. Mueller,' I said, 'do you know how dense this fog is?' 'No,' he replied, 'my eye is not on the density of the fog, but on the living God, who controls every circumstance of my life.'"
"He knelt down and prayed one of the most simple prayers, and when he had finished I was going to pray; but he put his hand on my shoulder, and told me not to pray. 'First, you do not believe He will answer; and second I BELIEVE HE HAS, and there is no need whatever for you to pray about it.'"

"I looked at him, and he said, 'Captain, I have known my Lord for fifty-seven years, and there has never been a single day that I have failed to get audience with the King. Get up, Captain and open the door, and you will find the fog gone.' I got up, and the fog was indeed gone. On Saturday afternoon, George Mueller was in Quebec for his engagement."
If our love were but more simple,
We should take Him at His word;
And our lives would be all sunshine,
In the sweetness of our Lord.

~L. B. Cowman~

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Discipline Unto Prayer # 25

"A House of Prayer or All People" (continued)

The Ministry and Vocation of the House

That all leads the way to this particular thing, namely, the ministry and vocation of the House, of the Church. The House itself has to provide the Lord with a place, a sphere, a realm, a vessel, through which He can reach all people. That is the working outwards; that is God securing to Himself a means of universal blessing. God moves universally through His House, and therefore He must have a House constituted on a prayer basis. Do you notice the two movements in this chapter of 2 Chronicles 6: There is a movement outwards, and a movement inwards. The outward is through the House, with Solomon, so to speak, ministering the Lord. He is, as it were, bringing out from heaven the gracious goodness of God, the interventions, the undertakings and resources of God, world-wide. He is making the House the vehicle of what God is, and what God has, unto all peoples. When you reach a certain point in the chapter the movement changes, and you see people coming to the House because of the Name. That is the movement inwards. They shall "pray toward this house, because of Thy Great Name," said Solomon. That means that the circumference is going to find, not direct access to God, but its blessing through the House of the Lord.

I suggest to you that those two things very greatly govern the New Testament revelation of the Church, and the Church's vocation. The one thing which embraces all is that God in Christ has bound Himself up with His Church, the Body of Christ, for this world's good, and that the fullness of the Lord will never be known nor entered into in an individual or individualistic way; that anything like mere individualism, separatism, will mean limitation. Any kind of detachment and isolation leads to being deprived of the larger fullness of the Lord, or, to put it another way, to come into the fullness of the Lord we have to come into the fellowship of His people as the House of God. That is one law, and that is established.

That is the line which is more severe. There is a frown, perhaps, about that. It sounds hard. But it is the warning note which is very necessary, and especially in the light of the fact that there is a continuous, unceasing, incessant drive of the adversary in the direction of separation, isolation and detachment. It seems that at times the devil releases his forces and concentrates them upon people, to get them to run away, to get out of it, to break away, to quit because the strain seems so intense. Their whole inclination is to get away alone. They think that they are going to get an advantage by that. They are sometimes deceived into thinking that it will be for their good  if only they get right away alone. They sometimes put it in this way: that they 'want to get away and think it all out.' Beware of the peril of thinking it all out! You can never think our spiritual problems. The only way of solving them is to live through them. If you have tried to square down to your spiritual problems, and bring your mind to bear upon them, and to solve them by 'thinking it all out,' you know that you never get anywhere, and that the Lord does not meet you in that way. Spiritual things have to be lived through to clearness. We can only get through to clearness in spiritual things by living through them. If you do not understand that now, you probably will understand when you come up against another experience of this kind. Thus one aspect of the enemy's drive is to get you to run away. Why does the enemy want us to get away? Why is it that this whole force, this whole pressure, is to make us quit? He has a very good reason. He knows that it means loss and limitation. The Lord, to put it in a word, has bound up all His greater fullness with spiritual relatedness, and there can be nothing but grievous loss if we take ourselves out of God's appointed relatedness. Be very much aware of any kind of movement or tendency which is in the direction of either detachment or putting you into a place where you are apart. The enemy has many ways of getting his end. If he cannot drive us out from the midst of the Lord's people, he very often tries to give us a too prominent place in the midst of them. He can isolate us just as much by our being too much in the limelight, and we at once become uncovered, exposed. There is no more dangerous place than to be made too much fuss of, to be someone. There is such a thing as finding a hiding within the House of God.

But our particular consideration at the present time is this vocation and its outward direction, the House of prayer for all people. The Church, the Lord's people, form for Him a ministering instrument by which He has ordained to reach out to all the ends of the earth, a universal instrument wherever gathered together, even when represented only by two or three. The test of any company of the Lord's people, and of our position, is this vocation.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 26 - (The Fact of Representation)

Waiting for the Lord


In waiting, I waited, for the Lord (Psalms 40:1-6, margin).

Waiting is much more difficult than walking. Waiting requires patience, and patience is a rare virtue. It is fine to know that God builds hedges around His people--when the hedge is looked at from the viewpoint of protection. But when the hedge is kept around one until it grows so high that he cannot see over the top, and wonders whether he is ever to get out of the little sphere of influence and service in which he is pent up, it is hard for him sometimes to understand why he may not have a larger environment--hard for him to "brighten the corner" where he is. But God has a purpose in all HIS holdups. "The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord," reads Psalm 37:23.

On the margin of his Bible at this verse George Mueller had a notation, "And the stops also." It is a sad mistake for men to break through God's hedges. It is a vital principle of guidance for a Christian never to move out of the place in which he is sure God has placed him, until the Pillar of Cloud moves.
When we learn to wait for our Lord's lead in everything, we shall know the strength that finds its climax in an even, steady walk. Many of us are lacking in the strength we so covet. But God gives full power for every task He appoints. Waiting, holding oneself true to His lead--this is the secret of strength. And anything that falls out of the line of obedience is a waste of time and strength. Watch for His leading.
--S. D. Gordon

Must life be a failure for one compelled to stand still in enforced inaction and see the great throbbing tides of life go by? No; victory is then to be gotten by standing still, by quiet waiting. It is a thousand times harder to do this than it was in the active days to rush on in the columns of stirring life. It requires a grander heroism to stand and wait and not lose heart and not lose hope, to submit to the will of God, to give up work and honors to others, to be quiet, confident and rejoicing, while the happy, busy multitude go on and away.

It is the grandest life "having done all, to stand."

~L. B. Cowman~

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Discipline Unto Prayer # 24

"A House of Prayer for all People"

2 Chronicles 6; Isaiah 56:6, 7; Mark 11:17; Ephesians 6:18

My house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.

The sixth chapter of the Second Book of Chronicles is a magnificent example and illustration of these words of the Prophet. In the dedication of the House by Solomon, prayer of a universal kind inaugurated the ministry of the House, introducing its function. The characteristic words of that chapter are: "This house" and "Thy name." "When they shall pray toward this house, because of Thy name which is upon it ..."

You will remember the words of the Apostle concerning certain people, that they "blasphemed that holy name which was called upon you." The House is a link between the two passages historically and spiritually, and the Name called upon the House.

What was true of the temple of Solomon, as the House with the name called upon it, is true of the Church, the Church of Christ, with the Lord's Name upon it. We have no difficulty in identifying the antitype of Solomon's temple as being the Church. You are no doubt sufficiently acquainted with the Word to make it unnecessary to quote Scripture in this connection. Many passages will come to your mind which bear out that statement. The Church is God's House; "whose house are we," says the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews; "a spiritual house to offer up spiritual sacrifices," says Peter. The identification is not at all difficult. And that the Name is upon the House is also quite clear. It was because of the Name which they bore at the beginning that the Church was so mighty in its going forth. The power of the Name was ever manifesting itself in their ministry. That is all very simple and needs no laboring. Then there are those other factors.

Sonship Marking the House of the Lord

The temple of Solomon was really the temple of David. It came in in revelation through David, and in realization in sonship, David's son. We know that in the Word both David and Solomon are types of the Lord Jesus, that He is great David's greater Son, and that He combines all that is spiritually represented by David and Solomon of sovereignty, kingship, exaltation, universal triumph and glory. You will remember how the Lord sent Nathan to David, to tell him that though he himself should not build the House, he was nevertheless to be the one to gather all that was necessary for it, and so be the instrument of making it possible. This so satisfied David that in the inspiration of it, and the tremendous stimulus of it, he went out and subdued all those nations which had been historic thorns in the side of Israel. And when he had subdued all the nations round about, and a universal triumph had been established, then the House came into being through Solomon.

We carry that forward into the triumph of the Lord Jesus Christ by His Cross. He possesses the universal victory. He is exalted, enthroned, in virtue of all His enemies being overthrown by His Cross, and on resurrection ground the declaration is made: "Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee." A fresh declaration of sonship is made, by reason of resurrection, and in resurrection, and in that sonship He builds the House, and the Spirit of sonship enters into every member of that House, and it becomes a 'sonship House' (Acts 13:33; Galatians 4:6).

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 25 - (The Ministry and Vocation of the House)

Inwardly Compelled


It was love that motivated the Father to send His Son Jesus to redeem mankind. That same love has been poured out into the heart of every believer.
Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Romans 5:5).

God's love in us calls and compels us to do something about the plight of lost people.  Even as Paul says in   2 Corinthians 5:14 , For the love of Christ compels us.

A few years ago, late at night I would hear what seemed to be a very faint chime or bell.  Several times I got out of bed to try and find the source of the sound, but it always stopped before I could discover it.

Finally, one evening, I found out what it was.  It was an old watch I had, tucked away in a drawer under some junk.  Every evening, the alarm would go off at the same time.

The call of God's love in your heart can be like that.  Sounding regularly but seldom heard.  Buried under personal ambitions, cares and problems, daily routines and the general busyness of life.  But it is unmistakably there!

The same love that moved Jesus to heal the sick and minister God's life to broken people is in you!  Listen to it.  Get in touch with it and express it to someone in need.

~Bayless Conley~

Friday, September 26, 2014

Discipline Unto Prayer # 23

Gathered Of God (continued)

Gathered to Enjoy God's Full Approval in Christ (continued)

Many Christians who are rejoicing in the sacrifice of Christ as taking away all their sin, know very little of the deeper joy of being assured that in Christ God is satisfied with them. Does this sound presumptuous? What about Enoch? The whole secret of Enoch's walk of holy and happy fellowship with God was that he had the witness that he was bringing pleasure to the heart of the Lord. In ourselves we can never do this, but on the basis of Christ we can and we ought.

God does not merely tolerate the foreigner, but finds great pleasure in his company; and this, not because of anything inherently good in the man, but only on the basis of the altar. Christ is our burnt offering, to be daily appropriated as our sufficiency to bring pleasure to God. Even while we are seeking to walk nearer to the Lord, to be disciplined by His Cross and transformed by His Spirit, the very secret of our holy living is to rejoice in fullest acceptance in Christ. Thus the burnt offering will exercise a mighty sanctifying power in our lives.

And we are to do this in the house of God. Nothing must discourage or divert us from finding our place there. In active association with God's people we are to be rejoiced at the privilege of setting forth something of the perfection and glory of His Son. If we come by way of the altar God will welcome us and accept us - even the weaklings and the outcasts.

Gathered Into the Fellowship of Christ's Sufferings

This sacrifice has cost the stranger something. When Scripture speaks of God's acceptance of our offerings it refers primarily to the acceptance of Christ's offering on our behalf, but it also includes our sharing in the sufferings of Christ and the sacrifice of the altar. Those who are pledged to walk in faithfulness with the Lord will find that this is a costly way. That cost may be ignored or despised by others, be treated as the stranger's sacrifice would probably be treated by those who resented his intrusion. How few know the real nature of what we are bearing for the Lord! Men do no appreciate; perhaps some even misunderstand and despise; but God takes full note of the value of the offering. The house of God is not for human glory. Our offerings are not made for men, to be approved or praised by them. When in some solemn hour we joined ourselves to the Lord to minister to His pleasure, we were given a place in His house, not that men might praise us but that our sacrifices, through Christ might bring joy to the heart of God. He is dealing with us on this basis. So often we are tempted to discouragement; it is as we come close to God in His house that we know our sacrifice is precious to Him, and we hear His promise anew "I will ... make them joyful in My house of prayer."

Blessing For Others Because of the Gathered Ones

This will be bound to bring life and blessing to the scattered multitudes. True fellowship with God always provides a center from which blessing is ministered. If God truly  has the first place, if people live a life together in which Christ is supremely honored, then this provides an expression of the house of God which is a house of prayer for all peoples. "The Lord God, Who gathered the outcasts of Israel, saith, 'Yet will I gather others to him, besides his own that are gathered.'  When God's own people are scattered, wandering in unbelief and profaning His Sabbath, instead of being strong and united in loving communion in and with Him, there is little prospect of blessing for the outsiders. The gathering work must begin with the Lord's people. The house of God must be the place of joyful worship and communion before it can become a center of life and light. When the outcasts of Israel are gathered, then the Lord can gather in more, for there is a family and a home into which they can be welcomed. What the world needs is not merely a proclamation going out into all the nations, but a setting in the midst of them, however small and weak in itself, of a true representation of God's house of prayer, whose doors are wide open with a welcome for the lonely and outcast. What a need thee is for a gathering into true oneness of the scattered people of God, and so of a further adding to Christ of others besides!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 24 - (A House of Prayer for All People)

Showing Love Through Obedience?


According to John 14:21, we express love for Jesus by obeying His commands. To love Him wholeheartedly, we must develop a lifestyle of obedience. Let’s look at four aspects of such a lifestyle.

1. Our trust in the Father grows. This confidence comes from believing that the Lord is who Scripture says He is. And God’s Word tells us that He is good—as well as faithful to keep His promises (2 Corinthians 1:20). Psalms 86:15 calls Him merciful, gracious, loving, and slow to anger. His character remains unchanged by difficult or hard-to-understand circumstances (Hebrews 13:8).

2. We develop a deepening ability to wait on the Lord. Delays can be hard in our I-want-it-now culture. But we must resist temptation and wait on Him instead of running ahead.

3. We commit to obey God. Without such a resolve, we’ll vacillate at decision time or allow fear to prevent us from choosing His way.

4. Our study of Scripture becomes consistent. The Bible reveals God’s priorities, commands, and warnings. It acts as a light, illuminating His chosen path for us while revealing obstacles and dangers along the way (Psalms 119:105). Without it, we are like a person who walks in the woods at night without a flashlight.

Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean that obedience to the Lord is automatic. It’s a lifelong process of growing in our trust and patiently waiting on Him before we act. This requires a steadfast commitment to obey so that we can say no to ungodly choices and yes to God.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Discipline Unto Prayer # 22

Gathered of God (continued)

Gathered Into Fellowship with God Himself

There is an indication in verse 3 of the doubts and fears of the stranger who has joined himself to the Lord. To him the house of God seems so high and holy that he is inclined to despair of having a place in it. Seeing that he has no nature standing, no virtues or abilities of his own, he is worried as to whether he can claim admittance. He begins timidly to enter in, conscious all the time of his strangeness, and half expecting that before long someone will come up to him and tell him that he is an outsider who has no right to be there. It is as though while he is thus troubled, fearing that any moment he will surely be separated from God's people and turned away from His house, the High Priest himself comes forward and gives him a cordial welcome. He is taken by the hand and led, stranger though he is, not just into the outer court nor only into the holy place of priestly ministry - which he never expected to see - but taken right through into the very presence of the Lord. Far from being rejected, he finds that God Himself gives him a warm welcome, giving him full right of access to His holy mountain. No wonder that his heart overflows with joy! "I will ... make them joyful in My house of prayer."

God comes out to the man who approaches Him on the grounds of grace. He had been forced to reject many who claimed a place of prominence, because they sough to be something in themselves, and to deal with Him on purely natural grounds. They felt that their name, their education, their orthodoxy or their experience gave them the right to demand God's approval. It was these men and this spirit which really caused the destruction of God's house. The greatest enemy to God's house has never been the enemy from without, but religious pride within. Uncrucified flesh spells the destruction of true spiritual fellowship. There is a spiritual significance in the fact that  the foreigner, timid and different, and the eunuch, weak and despised, are particularly singled out as being welcomed to fellowship; in the restoration God bases His acceptance on pure grace.

This entrance into the house of prayer is described as being taken up into God's holy mountain. A mountain is a place of vision. The Lord's mountain is where everything is seen in its right proportions in relation to Him. When we are in the valley even small things seem to tower over us, and we are easily governed by petty and personal considerations. True fellowship in the Spirit will raise us into heavenly realms, not away from practical realities but into the clarity and breadth of things as God sees them - to spiritual ascendency, and to fellowship with God in His great universal purposes of grace and glory.

Gathered To Enjoy God's Full Approval In Christ

The second reason for rejoicing is that "their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon Mine altar." What an amazing experience this stranger is having! He feared that he would not be permitted to enter at all, but now he finds not only that he is welcome, but that all his offerings are brought to the altar and received the seal of God's approval. No wonder that he is glad! Somehow nothing else seems to matter if we know that the Lord is pleased with us. This is the meaning of the burnt-offering - that God is well pleased with the offerer. It is a blessing indeed to know that our sin offering is accepted, for that means that God has nothing against us. Those who have known deep conviction and concern about their own guilt will know the value of the sin offering and the blessed relief of being sure that God has nothing against them. But when heaven's verdict was given upon the Lord Jesus the voice did not say, "This is My Son and I have nothing against Him." God affirmed, "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17). The burnt offering identifies us with this good pleasure, in Christ.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 23)

God In Nature


God has made Himself known to mankind in a powerful way people often ignore…His creation.  Romans 1:18-20 tells us,

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.

God speaks to people through nature…through His creation.  I am confident that there is a point in every person's life where there comes an awareness of God.  Whether it is looking at a shooting star, or at a sunset, or at a blade of grass, the thought occurs to them, "This didn't just get here.  This didn't just happen.  There must be a God."

Creation speaks to us of the Godhead.  It is a revelation of God.  The book of Psalms says, Night unto night shows forth knowledge.  And it says the heavens declare the glory of God.  The firmament shows His handiwork.  Creation speaks to us of God.

But notice what this passage says.  This revelation of God has come to men, but some have wanted to suppress it.  They came to that point and thought, "You know what?  If I find out about this, then I'm going to become responsible.  So I don't think I want to know."

The natural bent of men and women is to suppress the truth, but God is speaking loudly and clearly of His greatness and reality through His creation.  Praise Him today for revealing His beauty and power through nature, and use it to point people to Him.

~Bayless Conley~

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Discipline Unto Prayer # 21

Gathered of God (continued)

Scattered Ones Gathered Into Fellowship In God's House (continued)

During the captivity there was no place on earth where the Lord could truly reign among His people. There were individuals like Ezekiel, or those of whom we read in Daniel, who faithfully represented Him and maintained the testimony to His universal sovereignty. These, however, did not cease to long and pray for the day of recovery, when the house of God would once again come into being. They knew that the Lord's purposes required a re-gathering of His scattered people, with their establishing in a united fellowship in Him. This is the spiritual meaning of the house of God. For us it is not a building or a locality, nor must we be content to regard it merely as something doctrinal into which we enter when we become the Lord's. It is a practical life together in the fellowship of the Spirit.

Gathered On the Basis of Grace Alone

Isaiah's ministry was one of comfort, or perhaps better, of encouragement. The purposes of God are so often hindered by timidity or lack of inspiration among His people. There are so many objections, so many arguments and questions, that we tend to accept the low level of things as they are, instead of responding to the heavenly vision and call. The house of God seems to be a dream or a vision; we gaze upon it but take no active steps to enter it in a practical sense and to enjoy the blessings that are to be found therein. From the words of Isaiah we gather there were two groups particularly susceptible to a spirit of discouragement, the eunuchs and the foreigners. The prophet's message is to assure them that they are to share in God's gathering. He speaks to those who are ineligible on natural grounds, assuring them of the abundant grace of God. His house is not concerned with what we are in ourselves; admittance cannot be governed by human considerations; grace has made it a house of prayer for all peoples.

But there must be some qualification, for God's house is holy. Why are these outcasts received, and given so warm a welcome? How is it that God says, "Even them will I bring ... and make them joyful in My house of prayer?" There are three statements which seem to give the answer to this question. They love the name of the Lord, they keep the Sabbath and they hold fast His covenant.

Gathered In Virtue of Christ's Finished Work

The second and central feature really includes the other two. They are true keepers of the Sabbath. This stress upon Sabbath observance is the more remarkable since the prophet is particularly strong in expressing God's indifference to mere ritual. Nobody could be more emphatic than Isaiah in assuring the people of God that the whole realm of religious observance, even though prescribed by the Scriptures, is in itself of no value to the Lord and rejected by Him. His message to the people was often in such terms as, "Your new moon and your appointed feasts My soul hateth; they are a trouble unto Me; I am weary of bearing them" (Isaiah 1:14). In spite of this, Isaiah lays great stress on the need for keeping the Sabbath. This is surely because of the spiritual meaning attached to that day.

What is the spiritual meaning? It is simplicity and utterness of faith as to the finished work of Christ. This is a term which we make much of in relation to the salvation of sinful men; we rejoice that redemption is secured by the finished work of Christ upon the Cross. But what is true as to the justification of the ungodly is equally true in regard to every phase of spiritual life and experience. The whole work is completed in Christ. Human effort can provide nothing at all, for God's rest is based upon the fact that in Christ and by His Cross all the work is finished. We are called on to find all our life and energy on this basis - that we keep God's Sabbath. Some people, of course, talk a lot about the finished work of Christ and yet live lives which are not glorifying to Him. This is as though they were approving of the idea of the Sabbath - marking it, as it were, upon their calendars - and yet failing to be governed by it in a practical way. God is calling for those who are true keepers of His Sabbath, those who by faith are proving in ever new ways and ever greater fullness the glorious perfection of the new creation in Christ.

We can profane the Sabbath in two ways. The first is by trying to do something, or thinking that we can do something, to add to God's work in Christ. It is the intrusion of self-wisdom or self-effort into the spiritual life. The second is by failing to count on the Lord's sufficiency. If we are governed by some lack or weakness of ours, or succumb to our own sense of unworthiness, the purposes of God in our life are hindered and we are in effect denying the finished work of Christ, profaning the Sabbath.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 22 - (Gathered Into Fellowship With God Himself)

Search the Scriptures


After Paul preached the gospel to the Bereans, they did something that others had not done—they searched the Scriptures.

These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so (Acts 17:11).

According to the next verse, the result of their search was that many of them believed.

Jesus said in John 5:39, "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me."

I once heard a Jewish believer share his testimony.  His daughter, who had become a Christian, challenged him to read through the New Testament.
He began in Matthew and was astonished to find so many Old Testament references to the Messiah being fulfilled by Jesus.

His initial reason for searching the Scriptures was to prove that his daughter was wrong, but instead, he ended up giving his heart to Christ.  The Scriptures testified of Jesus!

Look for Him as you read the Holy Scriptures, and encourage others to do the same.

~Bayless Conley~

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Discipline Unto Prayer # 20

Gathered Of God

Isaiah 56:6-8

In the latter part of his prophecies Isaiah concentrates on the return from captivity and the restoration of the Lord's testimony in Zion. It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of this recovery, for at its heart, the goal and explanation of it all, we find the house of God. It is God Himself Who is most concerned about re-gathering His people, for this is essential to His own will and glory.

Scattered Ones Gathered Into Fellowship In God's House

The Lord's declaration that His house "shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples" does not primarily mean that it shall be a place from which prayer shall go out on behalf of men everywhere. It is true that the house does become a center from which there radiates a ministry of life and blessing in answer to believing prayer, but the context shows clearly that the first thought  is of that house as a center of gathering, a rallying point to which all who will may come. The Spirit's work is to unite in practical fellowship those who have been delivered from the kingdom of darkness, and to unite them under His own authority in His own house. It is, of course, a blessed privilege for those concerned. They have trusted and proved the Lord in their scattered state, but they have known that they were not experiencing the fullness.  There is always something lacking when believers know the Lord in isolation only or in sectional groups.

The Word of God had set before the "outcasts of Israel" prospects which were far beyond their present experience - promises of the glory of God in the midst and of feasts of fat things in the mountain of the Lord. All this was to be accomplished by a great Divine gathering of those who had hitherto been scattered and in limitation. God would make them joyful in His house of prayer. The greatest values, however, were not to be personal and local, but universal and Divine.

It is God's great desire to manifest Himself in and through His people: "That now ... might be made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God" (Ephesians 3:10). When God's scattered people are freed from every bondage and brought together in true oneness, the impact of His presence and kingdom will be tremendous in its range. This gathering is of supreme importance to the Lord, for it provides Him with His house and ministers to His satisfaction. Who can calculate the effect of the unrestricted and ungrieved presence of God in a people? The house of God is no hollow pretence; it is not a relic of what used to be, nor a vain ideal of what ought to be; it is meant to be a present, spiritual reality. "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20).

They are not gathered together for their own name, nor for any other earthly name; not for any personal interests, nor even for the furtherance of a cause. They have been drawn by the Spirit into the house of God where all things are of Him and all things are for Him. In that house God is given His rightful place in everything.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 21)

True Redemption


The passage of Scripture I want to call your attention to today is Ephesians 4:8-10,

Therefore He says:  "When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men."  (Now this, "He ascended"—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?  He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)


Before Jesus ascended, what did He do?  He descended.  I didn't write that.  The Bible says that.  And when He descended, what did He do?  He led captivity captive.  That refers to the Old Testament saints who were in what is called "Abraham's bosom" or Paradise.
Jesus went down there.  They were in captivity in the sense that they could not go to heaven until Christ's sacrifice.  But after Christ died, having paid the price for our sins, He went and emptied Paradise and He led captivity captive.  He brought those saints up to heaven.

Here is what I want you to picture.  Jesus, through His death and resurrection,  defeated hell and death.  He took the keys away from the devil, stripped him of his power and his authority, and won redemption for the human race.  Then He went to Paradise and there He saw Abraham, David, Moses, Ezekiel, Joshua, Esther, Ruth—all of the people who served the Lord under the Old Covenant.

He threw the door open and said, "Hey, guys!  Time to come home!   It's been done!  The thing the prophets prophesied about, here I am!  I am the reality.  Time to leave this place and come to heaven with me!"

Then He who descended, ascended, leading all of those Old Testament saints to heaven with Him!  And He sent back the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost to empower us to tell the story of His resurrection and His victory.

Let us make that our passion!  To proclaim the resurrected Jesus who has paid the price for our redemption.

~Bayless Conley~

Monday, September 22, 2014

Discipline Unto Prayer # 19

"Whither the Tribes Go Up"

Psalm 122:4; Psalm 50:5)

It was a beautiful thought in the mind of God when, in His divine economy, He prescribed for the periodic convocations of His people. Away back in the time of Moses, He commanded that all the males in Israel should journey three times in every year to some place of His appointment (Deuteronomy 16:16), the details of which are worth noting. It is clear that David laid great store by such convocations. Psalm 122 is by its heading attributed to David, as were other "Songs of Ascent," or pilgrimage. It was due to division resulting from spiritual decline that such gatherings ceased for so long, until Josiah had a great recovery celebration (2 Chronicles 35:17-19). It was therefore a sign of spiritual recovery and strength when the Lord's people so gathered from near and far.

We can briefly summarize the values in the Lord's thought for such convocations:

1. They were times when the universality of God's church, or "Holy nation," as on the basis of the Passover (the Cross) was preserved in the hearts of His people. "They left their cities;" that is, they left exclusively parochial ground. By the gathering from all areas they were preserved from all exclusivism, sectarianism, and the peril of isolation. They were made to realize that they were not the all and everything, but parts of a great whole. Thus the ever-present tendency to make God in Christ smaller than He really is was countered.

2. Thus, they were times of wonderful fellowship. People who belonged to the same Lord, but had either never met before, or had been apart for so long, discovered or rediscovered one another, were able to share both "their mutual woes, and mutual burdens bear," or tell of the Lord's goodness and mercy. Loneliness, with all its temptation and false imaginations, was carried away by the fresh air of mutuality. New hope, incentive, and life sent the pilgrims back to their accustomed spheres with the consciousness of relatedness.

3. They were times of consolidation. The Psalm says: "For a testimony unto Israel." The testimony of the great thing that the Passover (the Cross) means in the heart of His people. A testimony to the unifying power of the blood and body of Christ. The gatherings held a spiritual virtue in the livingness of the presence of the Lord. If they had been assailed by doubts, fears, and perplexities, they went away confirmed, reassured, and established in their common faith.

4. They were times of instruction. The Word of God was brought out, read and expounded. They were taught, and they "spake one to another." In a word, they were fed. There was spiritual food. The initiation of these convocations was connected with three "Feasts" (Deuteronomy 16). Eating and drinking in the presence of the Lord. They returned fortified, built up, enlightened, and with vision renewed.

5. They were times of intercession. Possibly not every individual was able to "go up." For various reasons - infirmity, age, responsibility, or some other form of detention - kept some from the blessings of joining with the pilgrims. But God's idea of the gatherings was - as put into later words - "My house shall be a house of prayer for all peoples." The New Testament is clear and strong on this point, that the representation of the "Body of Christ" in any place can, and should have real spiritual value for all its members because "the Body is one."

So, let the lonely, detained and isolated ones realize that when the Lord's people are together, they are being supported. And let those who are not so deprived of the "gathering together" realize how vital it is, and what a necessity there is in expressing this Divine thought.

Would to God that all our gatherings were after this sort!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 20 - (Gathered of God)

True Satisfaction


Isaiah 14:12-15 records the fall of Satan.  Created as God's archangel, we read about the dissatisfaction that got him in trouble,

"How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations!  For you have said in your heart:  ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.'  Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit."

Clearly his problem was pride.  "I will, I will, I will…I am going to be like God."  He wasn't satisfied with being the archangel that God had created him to be.  He wanted to take God's place.

The root of Satan's pride was his discontent with the post and station that the supreme Monarch of the universe had assigned and allotted him.  He thought he deserved better.
We all have our sphere of influence, and we all have our gifting from God.  Your sphere of influence and gifting are different than mine, and mine are different than yours.  It is unwise to desire something that someone else has rather than exploring what God has given you and developing that to its highest potential.

When you look over the fence, it looks like the grass is greener on the other side, but when you hop over, you find out it is spray-painted!

You will only be satisfied if you will develop what God has put inside of you and take that to its highest level possible.  That is what you will be rewarded for.

~Bayless Conley~

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Discipline Unto Prayer # 18

"Gather My Saints Together" (continued)

The Nature of the Gathering Together

Having then in view the kind who are concerned, which forms a test as well as a testimony, we are able to look at the nature of the gathering together.

We are well aware that there is a widespread doubt as to whether we are to expect anything in the way of a corporate movement or testimony at the end. Indeed, it is strongly held by some that everything at the end is individual, and this conviction rests, for the most part, upon the phrase "If any man," in the message to Laodicea.

Let us hasten to say that we here have nothing in mind in the nature of an organized movement, a sect, a society, a fraternity, or even a "fellowship" if, by that, any of the foregoing is meant.

Having said this, however, there are some things on the other side which need saying quite definitely.

The Church of the New Testament never was an organized movement. Neither was there any organized affiliation of the companies of believers n various places with one another. It was a purely spiritual thing, spontaneous in life and united only by the Holy Spirit and mutual love and spiritual solicitude. There were other factors which acted as spiritual links which we will mention presently. Further, and still more important, was the abiding fact that a "Body" had been brought into being. This is called "the body of Christ." You can divide a society and still it remains, but you cannot divide a body without destroying the entity.

Are we to understand from  the exponents of the individualistic interpretation that all the teaching of the Lord, in nearly all the Scriptures concerning the House of God, and in nearly all the Letters of Paul concerning the Body of Christ, is now set aside or is only an idea without any expression on the earth? Are we to blot out the mass of the New Testament and live our own individual Christian lives with no emphasis upon working fellowship with other believers? Surely not. This would be contrary to all the ways of God in history, and would certainly spell defeat, for if there is one thing against which the adversary has set himself it is the fellowship of God's people.

Ultra-individualism is impossible if the truth of the "one body" still stands, and what is more, the Lord's people are becoming more and more conscious of their absolute need of fellowship, especially in prayer. The difficulty of 'getting through' alone is becoming greater as we approach the end.

What then is the nature of this gathering together? It is a gathering to the Lord Himself. "Gather My saints together unto Me"; "our gathering unto Him."

In times past there have been gatherings to men, great preachers, great teachers, great leaders; or to great institutions and movements, centers and teachings. At the end the Lord will be very much more than His vessels or instrumentalities.

God's end is Christ, and as we get nearer the end He must become almost immediately the object of appreciation.

Our oneness and fellowship is not in a teaching, a 'testimony,' a community, a place, but in a Person, and in Him not merely doctrinally, but livingly and experimentally.

Any movement truly of God must have this as its supreme and all-inclusive feature, that it is the Lord Jesus Who is the object of heart adoration and worship.

The two great purposes of the 'gathering' are prayer and 'building up': supplication for all saints," and spiritual food. These two things have ever characterized Divine gatherings or convocations - representation before God, and feeding in His presence.

This, then, is the meaning of "call a solemn assembly" (Joel 1:14; 2:15).  The need more than ever imperative as "the day" approaches is the gathering together unto Him.

May we see more of this as His Divinely inspired movement to meet the so great need!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 19 - ("Whither The Tribes Go Up")

The God of All Comfort

Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee who passing through the valley of weeping, make it a well (Psalms 84:5-6).

Comfort does not come to the light-hearted and merry. We must go down into "depths" if we would experience this most precious of God's gifts--comfort, and thus be prepared to be co-workers together with Him.

When night--needful night--gathers over the garden of our souls, when the leaves close up, and the flowers no longer hold any sunlight within their folded petals, there shall never be wanting, even in the thickest darkness, drops of heavenly dew--dew which falls only when the sun has gone.

I have been through the valley of weeping,
The valley of sorrow and pain;
But the 'God of all comfort' was with me,
At hand to uphold and sustain.
As the earth needs the clouds and sunshine,
Our souls need both sorrow and joy;
So He places us oft in the furnace,
The dross from the gold to destroy.
When he leads thro' some valley of trouble
His omnipotent hand we trace;
For the trials and sorrows He sends us,
Are part of His lessons in grace.
Oft we shrink from the purging and pruning,
Forgetting the Husbandman knows
That the deeper the cutting and paring,
The richer the cluster that grows.
Well He knows that affliction is needed;
He has a wise purpose in view,
And in the dark valley He whispers,
"Hereafter Thou'lt know what I do."
As we travel thro' life's shadow'd valley,
Fresh springs of His love ever rise;
And we learn that our sorrows and losses,
Are blessings just sent in disguise.
So we'll follow wherever He leadeth,
Let the path be dreary or bright;
For we've proved that our God can give comfort;
Our God can give songs in the night.

~L. B. Cowman~

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Discipline Unto Prayer # 17

"Gather My Saints Together"

Psalm 50:5; 2 Thessalonians 2:1; Hebrews 10:25

In all of the above passages there is this one common factor, that an end-time movement and feature is dominant. It must be remembered  that the Psalms themselves represent what remains when a history of outward things as to the general instrumentality has ended in failure. The history of Israel in its first great phase closed with the Book of "Kings" in a calamitous and shameful way. Weakness, paralysis, declension, reproach, characterized the instrument in general. But out of that history now so concluded the Psalms are carried forward, and they represent what has spiritually been gained and is permanent. This is preeminently a personal, inward, spiritual knowledge of the Lord gained through experience. That is why they always reach the heart and never fail to touch experience at every point. To them the saints have turned in times of deep experience. They are the ministry of experience to experience, the only ministry which is permanent. The end-time instrument will always be that which inwardly knows the Lord in a deep and living way through history fraught with much experience of the heights and depths. What David gave to the Chief Musician for the wind instruments and the stringed instruments touches the highest and deepest note of a mortal's knowledge of God. Worship, Salvation, Sorrow, Appeal, Victory, Battle, Faith, Hope, Glory, Instruction, are all great themes interwoven with the mass of matters touched, but the point is that all came in real life; He passed through it all. It is this, and this alone, which can serve the Lord when what He first raised up has failed Him as a public instrument. So the Lord would take pains to secure this, and this may explain much of the suffering and sorrow through which He takes His chosen vessels.

It does not need pointing out that, in the other two passages with which we commenced, the end-time is in view; they definitely state it.

There is a further common feature, however, which is more particularly the subject before us. They all definitely  refer to gathering together as something related to the end-time. The Day is drawing nigh, therefore there is to be a  "so much the more" assembling together. The Lord is coming, and there is a gathering to Him.

A history of a religious system which sprang out of something which the Lord raided up in the first place has ended in weakness, chaos and shame. Therefore, there is to be a re-gathering to the Lord of His saints.

Before we deal with the nature of this end-time gathering, we must get clearly in view those that are concerned in it. The passage in the Psalms would embrace and include those referred to in the other two passages.

"My Saints ... Those That Have Made A Covenant With Me by Sacrifice"

It need hardly be remarked that when all has been said and done through type, symbol and figure, the covenant means an entering into what the Lord Jesus has done by His shed Blood. It is an appreciation and apprehension of Him in His great work by the Cross. The Lord, by His Blood, has made a "New Covenant" by sacrifice, and we, His spiritual people, have entered into that covenant and set our hand to it. Christ as "the mediator of a new covenant" stands for both parties, for a covenant requires two parties. On one side He is God, "The Son of God;" on the other side He is Man, "Son of Man." In Christ we are made the humanity side of the covenant, and by taking our place by faith in Him we enter into the covenant. Just as, in Christ, God has come out to us in a great committal, so also - as in the case of Christ - we in Him go out to God in a like utter committal. The Blood seals the covenant, that is, makes us wholly the Lord's, and the Lord wholly ours.

If we see the meaning of "a covenant by sacrifice" then we shall see who it is that will be in this gathering  together. It will certainly be only those to whom the Lord is everything, to whom He is all and in all; and those who are all for the Lord without a reservation, a personal interest, or anything that is less or other than Himself. Spiritual oneness is only possible on this basis.

The Lord's word to Abraham in the day of covenant was, "Now I know that thou fearest God." Malachi's end-time word was "Then they that eared the Lord ..." The fear of the Lord is an utter abandonment to Him at any cost; His will being supreme, claiming and obtaining the measure of a whole burnt offering.

~T. Austin-Sparks~ 

(continued with # 18 - (The Nature of the Gathering Together)


Six Times We Should Seek God


But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul (Deuteronomy 4:29).

In today's devotional, I want to show you the first three of six times we should seek the Lord:

1.  When we have sinned. 

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).

If you sin, do not run from God, run to Him.  Do not allow shame to keep you away.

2.  When we are feeling dry spiritually.

O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water (Psalm 63:1).
When you sense a distance between you and God, or if you feel dry spiritually, do not delay!  Seek Him early.

When my potted plants feel dry, I water them.  I do not wait until they turn brown and are almost dead.  If the soil is dry and the leaves begin to droop, they are in need of water right then, and so it is when you are feeling spiritually dry.

One of the keys to keeping potted plants—and our spiritual lives—healthy is to tend to them early.

3.  When we are fearful.

I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears (Psalm 34:4).
When you are fearful or anxious, it is time to seek the Lord.  When you seek Him you can expect to be delivered from all of your fears! 

~Bayless Conley~