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Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Cup and the Fire # 15

The Positive Nature of the Holy Spirit (continued)

Positive Fellowship

If you have the Spirit - and of course I am addressing those who are supposed to have the Spirit - you should know that, if you are out of joint with another member of the Body of Christ, to which you belong, it is, as it is with a dislocation in the natural physical body: there is an ache, a perpetual ache. The Holy Spirit sets up this ache in the spiritual Body, where there is a dislocation. And you know what happens in the natural body if that is not attended to. Two things happen. One is that the longer you leave it, the more difficult it becomes to put it right; and the other is that adhesions set in - something extra. Extra things begin to come in and complicate the whole situation, so that it is no longer a straight forward thing to put that joint back. The same thing is true in the spiritual. If you let it go on, it becomes very much more difficult and more complicated. All sorts of other things - accretions an adhesions - have bound themselves around that thing, to make it a very complicated thing now. The inflammation is there and the ache goes on.

By that inflammation and ache the Holy Spirit is giving a positive witness against this thing. But if you go on long enough, the Holy Spirit will withdraw and leave you to it, just because He is positive. He will not brook persistent negatives on these things; He just will not have it. He is going on and saying: 'All right, if you are determined to stay there, you can do so. I am going on.' And there arises a very, very serious situation. That is, of course, grim and terrible. But it all gathers around this truth that the Holy Spirit is positive on the matter of fellowship. The Spirit says: 'Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is, but so much more ...' (Hebrews 10:25). That is not a legal thing - that you must, under legal obligation, attend all the meetings, and so on. That is your very life, that is a spiritual things, that is the way of the Holy Spirit. You are violating the very movement of the Spirit, if you detach yourself and live an independent kind of life. That which you call 'legal,' which you are seeking to throw off, is really spiritual. There is a liberty which is not the liberty of the Spirit - it is the licence of our own souls.

If the Spirit is inactive, quiescent, not doing anything, not moving; if there are marks and signs that the Spirit is not at work, that is an abnormal situation. It means that from the standpoint of the Spirit of God, there is something wrong, something is not right. If everything were right, the Spirit would be active; He would be doing, going; there would be movement.

The Spirit will always be positive if He has His own ground. And what is His ground? It is the Cross - it is the cup. The cup and the fire, the fire and the cup, go hand-in-hand. The mighty energy of the Spirit, that positive element in the Spirit that is like fire - you know it when it comes near, or when you touch it; it is alive - that positive element of the Spirit goes hand-in-hand with the cup, which rules you out and rules m out in nature. His ground is the Cross applied deeply to us. If the Spirit has that, then He goes on, then He moves. His ground is always the Cross.

We must challenge our hearts about this. The Holy Spirit, normally, is always positive - I could almost say aggressive. He is never negative, He is never neutral. If He has to pause, it means that He is waiting for something; for it is not His nature to do that - He would go on. May the Lord fill us with the mighty energy of His Spirit!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 16 - (The Testing of the Fire)

The Clinging Hand of His Child


The angel of the Lord came upon him (Peter) and a light shined in the prison; and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off (Acts 12:7).

And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God... And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and every one's bands were loosed (Acts 16:25, 26).
 
This is God's way. In the darkest hours of the night, His tread draws near across the billows. As the day of execution is breaking, the angel comes to Peter's cell. When the scaffold for Mordecai is complete, the royal sleeplessness leads to a reaction in favor of the favored race.
 
Ah, soul, it may have to come to the worst with thee ere thou art delivered; but thou wilt be delivered! God may keep thee waiting, but he will ever be mindful of His covenant, and will appear to fulfill His inviolable Word.
--F. B. Meyer
 
There's a simplicity about God in working out His plans, yet a resourcefulness equal to any difficulty, and an unswerving faithfulness to His trusting child, and an unforgetting steadiness in holding to His purpose. Through a fellow-prisoner, then a dream, He lifts Joseph from a prison to a premiership. And the length of stay in the prison prevents dizziness in the premier. It's safe to trust God's methods and to go by His clock.
--S. D. Gordon
 
Providence hath a thousand keys to open a thousand sundry doors for the deliverance of His own, when it is even come to a desperate case. Let us be faithful; and care for our own part which is to suffer for Him, and lay Christ's part on Himself, and leave it there.
--George MacDonald
 
Difficulty is the very atmosphere of miracle -- it is miracle in its first stage. If it is to be a great miracle, the condition is not difficulty but impossibility.
 
The clinging hand of His child makes a desperate situation a delight to Him.

~L. B. Cowman~

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Cup and the Fire # 14

The Positive Nature of the Holy Spirit (continued)

Positive Testimony

This, in the first place, is the law of service, or testimony. Notice quite simply: "Ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be My witnesses ..." The principle of service or testimony is being positive. How many Christian lives get tied up in knots because they do not testify! They do not witness, they do not let their light shine; they are just negative. They are all the time thinking of what people will think or say, what the reactions from others will be. All sorts of considerations come in, in that way, and they just neutralize us, get us all tied up - and what poor specimens of Christians we are then!

Now note here: "They therefore that were scattered abroad upon the tribulation that arose about Stephen ..." (11:19) went everywhere, testifying. There was no ordination service, no putting on of special uniform, or a badge - 'Christian Worker!" It was spontaneous, because the Holy Spirit is positive, always. And again, while this may be very simple, I know of many lives which are tied right up on this very thing: they are not positive; they are negative, or they are neutral. The Holy Spirit is therefore not moving on His own normal and natural basis in their life; they are limiting Him. Be positive, and you will find the Holy Spirit is with you, and you will get surprises. Just take notice! That is what is in this very book of the Acts: 'the Spirit said ...' (10:19, 13:2), 'an angel of the Lord spake ...' (8:26), and the men responded. When Philip responds to the Spirit, when Peter responds to the Spirit, oh, what tremendous things happen! - to their surprise, to their amazement! The Spirit is positive. You be positive, and you will find that He is positive; He is with you in that.

Positive Fellowship

Thirdly, this is the principle of fellowship. The fellowship of the Spirit is the spirit of fellowship: but, again, it is positive. Fellowship is not a passive thing; it never can be a passive thing, because all the hosts of hell are out against it. If there is one thing that hell is against, it is the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, the fellowship of the people of God. Unceasingly, by any and every mean, those evil powers will seek to destroy that fellowship, because that fellowship spells their final undoing. Therefore fellowship can never be a neutral, passive kind of thing. You have got to fight for it, you have got to stand for it, you have got to be positive about this. Let some rift go on, and just see the havoc that a delay over putting that right will work!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 15)

Idolatry


The most predominant sin we find in the Bible that stopped the rain of God's blessing from falling was idolatry. Maybe you are thinking, "Well, that's great, but it doesn't really apply. I'm not tempted to go to the nearest pagan shrine and bow down and worship a carved image."

Hold on, though. As you read the New Testament you begin to realize it has a lot to say to us about idolatry. For example, 1 Corinthians 10:14 says, Flee from idolatry, and 1 John 5:21says, Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
Wycliffe in his commentary says, "An idol is anything which occupies the place due to God." An idol is anything in your life that competes with God.

Colossians 3:5 says, …covetousness, which is idolatry. In other words, your stuff can become an idol. Greed can become an idol; money can become your idol. If anything becomes the main pursuit of your life, other than God, then that thing becomes an idol.

It can be your job, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your husband, your wife, or even a child. It can be a sport, a hobby, fame, anything that comes before God in your life.

I once saw an interview of one of my favorite golfers. He was a brilliant golfer who had won major tournaments. In the interview he said, "I've had a love affair with the game of golf. But I want to tell you, it cost me my marriage. It's cost me my relationship with my kids. Golf has been my god."

The interviewer asked him, "If you had all of it to do over again, what would you do differently?" He said, "Nothing. I'd do it all the same." 

You will never experience God's blessing if there is an idol in your life. Is there?

~Bayless Conley~

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Cup and the Fire # 13

[A must read for those who are striving on the negatives]

The Positive Nature of the Holy Spirit (continued)

A Positive Walk

Now, this law of the Spirit is the principle of the walk of the Christian. The walk of the Christian is supposed to be a walk in sanctification; there must be a sanctified walk. That is what it means to walk in the Spirit. The definite statement is: "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16). Are you struggling, striving, fighting, not to fulfill the flesh? That is negative; you will get nowhere along that line. The way not to is to do something positive. The positive is the answer to the negative. "Walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not..." It is a great principle of deliverance. God's way is always a positive way. We are occupied so much with the negative, striving and wrestling not to do this, to stop this and that. And we do not find that we get very far in that, do we? The provision of the Lord is: "Walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not..."

What does it mean to walk in the Spirit? Well, it means to consort with the Spirit. You say, what does that mean? It is best understood by recognizing what we do. We, by nature, consort with the flesh: we are all the time consorting with ourselves - our poor miserable selves; occupied with ourselves, talking about ourselves, praying about ourselves, keeping ourselves, our miserable selves, always in front of us. When we are so continually occupied with what we are in ourselves, that is consorting with ourselves, is it not? How far do we get that way? Nowhere at all! We make no progress at all by consorting with ourselves.

And I am afraid there are some Christians who consort with the devil. It is not always easy to distinguish between ourselves and the devil, but you know he is always talking to us through ourselves. If there is something that is wrong with us, he adds to the trouble, he accentuates. Give him a little bit of his own ground, that he himself created for himself - for he created that ground of the old fallen Adam for himself and for his own purposes, to work out his own designs - give him a little bit of that which he has made for himself, and see what he will do with it. He will make everything of it, and it will not be long before people who do that will find that they are in terrible bondage to the devil through their own selves - their own make-up and faults and weaknesses and sinfulness. And that is consorting with the devil. He comes and accuses, and you listen; he makes a suggestion, and you take it on - you almost enter into a discussion with him. You consort with him, or you consort with yourself; and that is walking after the flesh.

Don't consort with the flesh, don't consort with the devil; have no dealing with them at all! Consort with the Spirit! The Spirit is the One Who has come alongside: the very meaning  of His Name, "Advocate" or "Comforter" is One Who is called alongside. Consort with the One alongside. Have your communion with the Spirit. Challenge yourself, and challenge the enemy, on this: Is this really of the Spirit, does this correspond to the Word of God, is this true according to the gospel of grace? If the answer is: No, of course it is not! then repudiate it! That is consorting with the Spirit, always moving on the ground of grace, the Spirit of grace.

That is a very simple beginning, but it indicates that the Holy Spirit is positive. All that other is negative: it is pulling back, it is draining, dragging; it is all a big "No." The Spirit never comes on that ground; He is against anything like that. As in the first creation He has nothing to do with, and no interest in vacuums, voids, or anything that is negative. Take positive ground, and you find the Holy Spirit is with you. Forsake your negative ground in your spiritual life.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 14 - (Positive Testimony)

How Do We Bear Spiritual Fruit?


"But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." (Matthew 13:23)

The concept of bearing fruit is used often in Scripture. In the Gospels, Jesus told the story of a sower who went out to sow seed. The seed fell on various types of ground. Some of the ground was rocky and hard. Other ground was receptive, but weeds choked out the seed. But there was a portion of ground that was not rocky or weedy, and the seed took root. Jesus said that this was a picture of the different people who hear the gospel. Those who are true believers are those who bring forth fruit (see Luke 8:4-15).
What is bearing fruit? Essentially, it is becoming like Jesus. Spiritual fruit will show itself in our lives as a change in our character and outlook. As we spend time with Jesus and get to know Him better, His thoughts will become our thoughts. His purpose will become our purpose. We will become like Jesus.
The Bible gives an excellent description a life characterized by the fruit of the SpiritGalatians 5:22-23 says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control."
Is that what others see in your life? If not, then either you don't know God or you are living outside of fellowship with Him. If that is the case, then a commitment or a recommitment to Him would be in order. God is not asking for a perfect life. But He is asking that these fruits be primary characteristics of a life that is lived for Him. 
~Greg Laurie~

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Cup and the Fire # 12

The Positive Nature of the Holy Spirit

Luke 12:49, 50; Acts 1:4, 5

"Wait for the promise of the Father ... not many days hence." The thought that I want to pass on to you concerns the positive nature of the Holy Spirit. We know that the Holy Spirit is the answer to the words of the Lord Jesus: "I came to scatter fire." The baptism of the Holy Spirit was a baptism of fire. Now fire is always positive; and if the Holy Spirit corresponds to the fire, it means that the Holy Spirit is also positive. Fire is neither cold nor neutral: fire is positive. When you touch it, or when it touches you, or when you get near it, you know that you are in the presence of an element that is positive.

The Spirit Abhors a Vacuum

Now here in these words at the beginning of this book, which we might call "The Book of the Scattered Fire," we have a pause, a suspense, a kind of parenthesis. The Cross with all its meaning is an accomplished fact. The work of redemption is finished. Everything has been done as to the basis of the future. And everything has been foreshadowed and foretold as to the purpose. Here it is: "Ye shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem ... Judea ... Samaria... unto the uttermost part of the earth" (1:8). Meeting His disciples after the resurrection, He had given them the great commission and told them what was to be their future ministry and work to the nations, to the remotest parts of the earth. Everything foreshadowed and foretold, as to the purpose: and yet, a pause, an interlude, with a big question hanging over it: a waiting. They can do nothing, with all that. With all that, it is still negative, it is still all in suspense, it is still in this state of question. And the Holy Spirit was the answer. The Holy Spirit moved right into that 'neutral zone' and turned it into a positive; changed the whole thing from negative or neutral or question, into a mighty, positive affirmative. The rest of this book is just the story of the positive activity of the Holy Spirit.

That may seem very simple; it may not strike you as having very much in it, or being very profound. But in fact there is a very great deal in that that we ought to think about, we ought to recognize. Let me say again: wherever you come upon the Holy Spirit in the Bible, you will find He is positive. He does not believe in vacuums. The Bible opens with a vacuum - and immediately it says: "the Spirit of God." "The Spirit of God brooded upon the face of the waters." The Spirit of God is reacting against a vacuum. 'Without form and void - empty ... and the Spirit of God ...'. You begin your Bible with this very positive characteristic of the Holy Spirit.

And so it is all the way through. If you run through your Bible, even from memory, with this thought in mind, when you come on the Holy Spirit in any expression, whether in symbol or in action, you will find that He is always tremendously positive. You have only to recall the beginning of Ezekiel's prophecies. The living ones, the wheels, and the Spirit - and they go! They go, and they go straight forward; they turn neither to the right hand nor to the left. It is the Spirit Who is the Goer; the Spirit of the positive, Who is against all that is negative, all that is neutral and all that is empty, always seeking to be on the move forward towards the great and consummate end. He is the  'Goer-Spirit,' if I may coin that phrase. He is always the executive of the Godhead, the energy of God in the things of God. He is always in action. So this book ought to be "The Acts of the Holy Spirit," for it is that.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 13 - (A Positive Walk)

Not Our Favorite Word


Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Colossians 3:18

The word "submit" is not one of our favorite words in the English vocabulary. I actually heard that on certain computer programs and websites, the word "submit" will be removed (Submit is usually the button clicked on a website when someone agrees to a purchase, accepts contractual terms for a software product or approves other related entries to get to the next link). For wives, the word "submit" is often scoffed at. The thought of it makes many of us downright angry at times. Why is it so hard for us to submit, especially to our husbands? Oh, there are lots of reasons…too many to list here.

Here is the key for us to get past this issue: we must place our feelings about it before the Lord and ask Him to help us. Why? Because the Bible tells us to submit. But, let me comment on a couple of notes about this. First, submission involves respect and honor, not a doormat mentality. Second, submission is a place of strength, not weakness because it gives God the power to work on our behalf. Our first submission is to God, then the rest will follow. The enemy will blind you with your own pride and selfishness to keep you from submitting to the Lord. Our pride keeps us from humbling ourselves and serving others, even our own husbands. Let the Lord work these issues out with you and you will see the power of God displayed in amazing ways in your life.

I learn something every day about submission, whether I like it or not. Just the other day, my husband asked my help in something and then demanded of me what he wanted me to do. With this specific task, I was truly clueless. After unsuccessfully pleading my case with him, I submitted and vowed to do whatever I could to help him. Behind the scenes, I begged the Lord to help me. I repented of my rebellious heart and I gave up the fight. I saw the Lord not only rescue me from the task, but also show my husband what to do to find the answers himself. It is simply amazing to watch the Lord move like that! For me, my heart was tested. Was I willing to humble myself and submit? This time I did…but believe me, I have to pray and ask for the Lord's help every single time I get into these struggles with submission. God will get the glory as we submit to Him first and then ask Him for His help towards others. 

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Cup and the Fire # 11

The Conflict of the Ages (continued)

It has been said, concerning the disciples' disputing with Rhoda about Peter, that they had prayed and prayed and prayed all night, and then when their prayer was answered they did not believe it; and some people have said that they could not have prayed in faith. But there are other points of view. Some of us pray with all our might about a dear brother now in prison. I beg to suggest that, if someone came to us and said: 'Brother... is at the door!' we should say: 'He can't be!' We should want a good deal of verification - not because we did not believe that the Lord could do it or would do it; but, somehow or other, when the Lord does the very thing that we ask for, our breath is taken away and we cannot believe it. Have mercy upon these believers, and do not impute unbelief. The fact is, that, though they may have prayed like that, and though there may have been faults and weaknesses, they were on the business, and they were one in it, and the Lord moved in.

How much came out of this! They saw through the whole situation and got to the real issue; they pushed aside all other considerations, and out of their travail something was born. You remember  what follows after chapter twelve. In the previous chapter (11:19-30) Antioch had come into view: and now from Antioch Paul and Barnabas are sent forth, and on and on you go. The fire is scattered to the ends of the earth - out of this: The Church prayed.

It is a wonderful story, but I find much difficulty in seeking to convey it. It is so true to life. There is always so much room for the mystery of God's ways. Why? Why? Why? If you stay with the 'why's' of God's wisdom, you will be paralyzed. Let me recall what we were saying at the beginning of our first message. Here is a law enunciated, declared, established - that there is no scattered fire without the cup, and that cup is always a mystery. It always expresses itself in ways concerning which you can say: 'Why this?...' 'Why does He allow this?...' Those 'why's' will paralyze you if you have not reached the established, settled position, that the cup has come to stay; it will be with us to the end.

But, in the mystery of suffering permitted by God, and in all that that cup means in a crucified Son of God and a crucified Church - in all that is the way of satan's undoing and the establishment of the heavenly Kingdom. May God settle it in us, and give us grace!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 12 - (The Positive Nature of the Holy Spirit)

Dying to Live


As dying and behold we live (2 Cor. 6:9).

I had a bed of asters last summer, that reached clear across my garden in the country. Oh, how gaily they bloomed. They were planted late. On the sides were yet fresh blossoming flowers, while the tops had gone to seed. Early frosts came, and I found one day that that long line of radiant beauty was seared, and I said, "Ah! the season is too much for them; they have perished"; and I bade them farewell.

I disliked to go and look at the bed, it looked so like a graveyard of flowers. But, four or five weeks ago one of my men called my attention to the fact that along the whole line of that bed there were asters coming up in the greatest abundance; and I looked, and behold, for every plant that I thought the winter had destroyed there were fifty plants that it had planted. What did those frosts and surly winds do?

They caught my flowers, they slew them, they cast them to the ground, they trod with snowy feet upon them, and they said, leaving their work, "This is the end of you." And the next spring there were for every root, fifty witnesses to rise up and say, "By death we live."

And as it is in the floral tribe, so it is in God's kingdom. By death came everlasting life. By crucifixion and the sepulchre came the throne and the palace of the Eternal God. By overthrow came victory.

Do not be afraid to suffer. Do not be afraid to be overthrown. It is by being cast down and not destroyed; it is by being shaken to pieces, and the pieces torn to shreds, that men become men of might, and that one a host; whereas men that yield to the appearance of things, and go with the world, have their quick blossoming, their momentary prosperity and then their end, which is an end forever.
"Measure thy life by loss and not by gain,
Not by the wine drunk, but by the wine poured forth.
For love's strength standeth in love's sacrifice,
And he who suffers most has most to give."

~L. B. Cowman~

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Cup and the Fire # 10

The Conflict of the Ages (continued)

Let us see where this was all wrought out. On the one side, Herod - wicked, wicked Herod, with all the cruelty of his long history, going back to Esau; the Jews, delighted that action was being taken against the followers of Jesus; the prison, the chains, the strong guard within and without - four quaternions of soldiers. These are things that represent great forces and great difficulty - all the things which are against. They are not just words; they are tremendous things, all of them, viewed from the natural standpoint. That is on the one side. On the other side, "an angel of the Lord:" and Herod, and the Jews, and the prison, and the chains, and the guard, are as nothing.
Where is is wrought out? In a prayer meeting, as it were right in between those two. Between the forces of hell and of heaven was the Church at prayer. The thing would not have happened otherwise. Those forces of evil would not have yielded to the heavenly authority of the ascended Christ through an angel, if it had not been for what was going on in that room. "But," it says, "prayer was made ... of the church ..." But ...But ... Away all the forces! Calculate them, take their full strength and meaning, and then put one word over it all - "But." "The Church prayed ..." And in response to that the angel - and all the other was as nothing.

The Church at prayer. What do you think about that? It says that "prayer was made earnestly," but that English word does not really convey the force of it at all. The Greek word means literally 'extendedly,' 'stretched out.' The Church prayed in a stretched out way; the Church was extended. satan was extended, heaven was extended, and these two powers came into collision because the Church was extended. It will never come about in any other way; it is just like that. What a tremendous thing is wrapped up with the Church at prayer!

As I dwell upon this story, many, many thoughts that are not in the story crowd into my mind. How different it might have been if the Church, instead of getting together and focusing upon the situation in oneness and in prayer like this, had said: 'Oh, if only Stephen had not said those things! If only so-and-so had been a little more discreet ... If only!' and a thousand other things of blame: blaming one and another and holding people responsible for this and putting it down to that, and that, turning in on themselves until they had got a whole situation of questions and reproaches and recriminations, and a 'case.' And the whole thing is sabotaged! Dear brothers and sisters, whenever this kind of thing happens we must look deeper. Behind all that is the strategy of Herod to frustrate the scattering of the fire. When the devil can get us turned in on ourselves and on our own problems, and upon one another's faults and weaknesses and failures, and so on, he has defeated the whole business of the Lord. You may pray and pray and pray, but if there is contradiction of division in the background, you pray in vain. The Lord will not come in.

They prayed as the Church in this 'stretched out' way. There is no other thing in mind; they are of one mind and heart. They are concentrated upon a satanic issue. There is a lesson in that. Oh, how our prayer is paralyzed by a thousand and one things which, if we only knew the truth, are not really the trouble - they are things that satan has got hold of. There may be faults. Was any one of the Apostles faultless? There may be weaknesses; but if only you are on the Lord's business, the Lord takes action.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 11)

Fret Not

Do not fret when wicked men seem to succeed! Do not envy evildoers!—Ps 37:1 

This to me is a Divine command; the same as “Thou shalt not steal.” Now let us get to the definition of fretting. One good definition is, “Made rough on the surface.” “Rubbed, or worn away”; and a peevish, irrational, fault-finding person not only wears himself out, but is very wearing to others. To fret is to be in a state of vexation, and in this Psalm we are not only told not to fret because of evildoers, but to fret not “in anywise.” It is injurious, and God does not want us to hurt ourselves.

A physician will tell you that a fit of anger is more injurious to the system than a fever, and a fretful disposition is not conducive to a healthy body; and you know rules are apt to work both ways, and the next step down from fretting is crossness, and that amounts to anger. Let us settle this matter, and be obedient to the command, “Fret not.”—Margaret Bottome

OVERHEARD IN AN ORCHARD
Said the Robin to the Sparrow:
“I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so?”
Said the Sparrow to the Robin:
“Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no Heavenly Father
Such as cares for you and me.”

~L. B. Cowman~

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Cup and the Fire # 9

The Conflict of the Ages (continued)

That is the story here. In the mystery of God's ways the Church suffers, but its suffering comes from the enemy, whom God is drawing out by means of the Church - drawing him out and extending him. And when his cup of iniquity is full, God will smash him beyond repair. That is the issue of Herod. It is the Church that has brought this about. It is the sufferings of James and Peter and the Church in these days that have accomplished that. But is that not found right in the Cross? Look at the Cross! Is the Cross the extending of all the powers of evil in earth and in hell? It is that! When you see Him there on the Cross, dead, and know how it is brought about, and all that has gone to bring it about - the whole story of human and satanic malice and spite - you ask: Is there anything more that they can do? No! What is the answer? The scattered fire! That is the answer. It is in the cup, it is in the Cross; it is an integral part of this whole matter. The sufferings of Christ which abound unto us, unto the Church, are working satan's undoing - and for us a 'far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory' (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Why does God allow it? Wait, if you can, in patience and in faith. "Here is the patience of the saints" (Revelation 13:10; 4:12). Do you remember that word? If you can wait, you will see that, on the one side, your suffering, or your sufferings, wrought havoc in the kingdom of satan, brought him to an end of his power: they drew him out, they were the marks of his coming out. On the other side, the sufferings have worked glory for you. And in the meantime there has been spiritual increase, spiritual progress, scattered fire.

God uses the work of satan for satan's undoing. But it is the Church and it is the saints who are the instrument. It is in their soul that this battle is fought out. "Now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenlies ... made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God" (Ephesians 3:10). Something is happening in the unseen.

The progress of the Word of God is a costly thing. It involves much suffering - it involves the cup; but that is His way. Here, then, we see God using satan's work - on the one side for satan's own undoing and overthrow, and on the other side for the progress of the Word, for the Church's advance and for the glory of God. All that is wrapped up in this anguish of fellowship with His sufferings.

You and I have a good deal of difficulty in understanding why Paul should long to know the fellowship of His sufferings. It is one of the most difficult prayers for us to pray, is it not? But Paul knew this secret, that that is the way of the progress of the Gospel, that is the way for the destruction of this that is set against it: the fellowship of His sufferings; for that is the heart of the Cross of the Lord Jesus Himself.

And all this is inherent in the cup. The cup ceases to be an object, it ceases to be just a thing: it becomes something living, something potent. That cup is a mighty force in this universe. When you and I come to the Lord's Table next time, may God give us some larger conception of what a tremendous thing is there, touching every realm in His universe. It is the representation of something living. This blood speaks, this blood tells, this blood counts. Blood is vital; it is a terrific force in this universe. When w take the cup, and thereby accept the baptism, the passion, let us recognize that in faith we take also the tremendous victory that it sets forth. It is costly!


~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 10)

Every Year Hath Its Winter


Therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you (Isa. 30:18).

Where showers fall most, there the grass is greenest. I suppose the fogs and mists of Ireland make it "the Emerald Isle"; and whenever you find great fogs of trouble, and mists of sorrow, you always find emerald green hearts; full of the beautiful verdure of the comfort and love of God.

O Christian, do not thou be saying, "Where are the swallows gone? They are gone; they are dead." They are not dead; they have skimmed the purple sea, and gone to a far-off land; but they will be back again by and by.

Child of God, say not the flowers are dead; say not the winter has killed them, and they are gone. Ah, no! though winter hath coated them with the ermine of its snow; they will put up their heads again, and will be alive very soon.

Say not, child of God, that the sun is quenched, because the cloud hath hidden it. Ah, no; he is behind there, brewing summer for thee; for when he cometh out again, he will have made the clouds fit to drop in April showers, all of them mothers of the sweet May flowers.

And oh! above all, when thy God hides His face, say not that He hath forgotten thee. He is but tarrying a little while to make thee love Him better; and when He cometh, thou shalt have joy in the Lord, and shalt rejoice with joy unspeakable. Waiting exercises our grace; waiting tries our faith; therefore, wait on in hope; for though the promise tarry, it can never come too late.
--C. H. Spurgeon

"Oh, every year hath its winter,
And every year hath its rain--
But a day is always coming
When the birds go north again.
"When new leaves swell in the forest,
And grass springs green on the plain,
And alders' veins turn crimson--
And the birds go north again.
"Oh, every heart hath its sorrow,
And every heart hath its pain--
But a day is always coming
When the birds go north again.
"'Tis the sweetest thing to remember,
If courage be on the wane,
When the cold, dark days are over--
Why, the birds go north again."

~L. B. Cowman~

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Cup and The Fire # 8

The Conflict of the Ages (continued)

Someone tersely put it: 'The men that have turned the world upside down have come hither' (17:6). "Now about that time Herod the king ..." You see? That is the explanation. Out of this baptism of the passion of the Lord into which the Church has been brought, the fire is spreading; but the enemy is moved - deeply moved. Herod 'puts forth his hand' - and there is a hand behind that hand - "to afflict certain of the church. And he killed James ..." he proceeded further. I would like to say with all those fragments, because there is a message in every one of them. Herod is carried on by his own momentum. Have a little success, and see what it will do for you!

However, we turn away from that for a moment to the other side - the aspect of this that we may call a drama indeed, that of the sovereign Kingship of the Lord. It is all summed up in three things: "Herod ... put forth his hands to afflict ... an angel of the Lord smote him ... but the word of God grew and multiplied" (12:1, 23, 24). That is tremendous, is it not? We begin the story with Herod  putting forth his hands; we end the story with Herod eaten of worms and giving up the ghost. You begin with the Church a victim and martyr; you end with the Word of God growing and multiplying. This is the story of another King. It is the story of two kings pitting themselves against each other. It is, as I said at the beginning, the microcosm of this long history of the conflict between the forces of evil and those invincible forces of the Spirit, which always triumph in the long run.

But here a pressing question arises. When you think of the beginning - that he killed James with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also - the question that clamors for an answer is: Why does God allow this kind of thing? Why did He not intervene before James was killed with the sword? Why did He not stop this thing before Peter was thrown into prison? Ah, that is another key to another large history, is it not? The mystery of God's permissive will: God allowing His servants, His so useful servants, to be killed or cast into prison; allowing the Church to suffer like this. Why does God allow it?

The answer lies deep down within the cup. If you get deep enough into the cup, you will find the answer. Let me put it the other way - it is deep within the Cross. God' in the mystery of His will and His ways, uses the Church as He used Israel, to draw out the evil forces to their own destruction. 'God moves in a mysterious way ...' Is it the Church, or is it the forces against it, that are destroyed eventually? You see the answer in history. It is here in this chapter, in representation. Here you have Israel in Egypt. What a tremendous extending of Pharaoh - drawing him out, drawing him to the limit of his own resources to give an answer through the magicians, and then going on and going on, further and yet further, all Pharaoh's resources are exhausted, and then God smashes him. The sum total of his whole resource is broken and destroyed - and God has used a suffering people to draw it all out.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 9)

Do Not Be Anxious


Do not begin to be anxious (Phil. 4:6, PBV).

Not a few Christians live in a state of unbroken anxiety, and others fret and fume terribly. To be perfectly at peace amid the hurly-burly of daily life is a secret worth knowing. What is the use of worrying? It never made anybody strong; never helped anybody to do God's will; never made a way of escape for anyone out of perplexity. Worry spoils lives which would otherwise be useful and beautiful. Restlessness, anxiety, and care are absolutely forbidden by our Lord, who said: "Take no thought," that is, no anxious thought, "saying what shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed?" He does not mean that we are not to take forethought and that our life is to be without plan or method; but that we are not to worry about these things.

People know you live in the realm of anxious care by the lines on your face, the tones of your voice, the minor key in your life, and the lack of joy in your spirit. Scale the heights of a life abandoned to God, then you will look down on the clouds beneath your feet. 
 
It is always weakness to be fretting and worrying, questioning and mistrusting. Can we gain anything by it? Do we not unfit ourselves for action, and unhinge our minds for wise decision? We are sinking by our struggles when we might float by faith.

Oh, for grace to be quiet! Oh, to be still and know that Jehovah is God! The Holy One of Israel must defend and deliver His own. We may be sure that every word of His will stand, though the mountains should depart. He deserves to be confided in. Come, my soul, return unto thy rest, and lean thy head upon the bosom of the Lord Jesus.
Peace thy inmost soul shall fill
Lying still!

~L. B. Cowman~

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Cup and the Fire # 7

The Conflict of the Ages (continued)

"About that time Herod the king put forth his hands to afflict certain of the church ... And when he saw that it pleased the Jews ..." (verses 1, 3). Now why should Herod do this Jew-pleasing thing at that time? It might look just like a human story, it might seem to be something very simple, but we are in the unfolding of this much deeper thing. satan, as we know, is very deep, but God is deeper still, and that is what is happening here. If you look back to the chapter before this, you will find that there was a great famine. "Now in these days there came  down prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be a great famine over all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius ... Now about that time..." (Acts 11:27, 28; 12:1).

The simple answer is this: the Jews were a very difficult people to rule. That is perfectly clear, of course; we know that. But add to the normal, usual, common difficulty a famine. You know there is nothing that leads to revolution more quickly than famine and hunger. We are told later in the story that the people of Tyre and Sidon, in Phoenicia, were fed from King Herod's province (verse 20). It is a question of food, and it has become very acute. There is seething and surging and a rising, and Herod must do something to get these people diverted from their troubles, get them preoccupied. Something must be done for them; there must be some diversion. He cannot provide the food and avoid the famine; it has come, it is a fact. Then, if he is going to maintain his position and hold these people and keep them in check, he must do something to please them. And there is your answer!

It sounds like a human story, a bit of trickery, politics, or whatever you like to call it; but that is one part of the answer. "Now about that time ..." Why must he please the Jews? Well, that is the answer. how will he please the Jews? He knows their hatred for the Christians - that is a long story, too - and so he will "put forth his hands to afflict certain of the church." The Christians were being used to buttress up this ramshackle, false kingdom of Herod, to keep his throne intact. He is using them for his own ends. Well, that is only part of the answer - Herod's part. It is a very simple one.

But let us get behind Herod, because Herod is not acting alone. There is something more, something deeper. The deeper and the more real answer to the question is found in the satanic realm behind the man. Let us look at chapter eleven again, verse 19: "They therefore that were scattered abroad upon the tribulation that arose about Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, and Cyprus, and Antioch, speaking the word to none save only to Jews."

"They ... that were scattered abroad upon the tribulation that arose about Stephen ..." That is a profoundly inclusive word. There is something happening. Oh, what a lot has been happening! That takes us back to chapter seven - the martyrdom of Stephen. Stephen is stones; that is the cup. It looks like an immense triumph for the devil. Stephen was a mighty man of the Spirit; they were tremendous hopes for the Church bound up with the life of that young man. Some have said, after reading his discourse and studying it, that he was the equal of Saul of Tarsus at least. And there he is, murdered. It looks as though satan has really triumphed.

But what after that? From that very point there was a scattering of the believers far and wide, and they went everywhere, testifying. Saul of Tarsus is converted, and what a tremendous thing that is!  Peter is led to the house of Cornelius, away up there in the north; and we know what happened there - the door is opened to the Gentiles. Things of the greatest significance are coming out of the cup, the cup of the Lord; out of the baptism and passion into which the Church has been baptized. Believers were constantly  added to the Church (9:31, 42; 11:21, 24). The thing is growing. The fire is spreading; satan's kingdom is being shaken.  The kingdom of satan is being stirred to its depths, and something must be done about it.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 8)

Hiding From God


Woe to those who seek deep to hide their counsel far from the Lord, and their works are in the dark; they say, "Who sees us?" and, "Who knows us?" - Isaiah 29:15


I watched my dog hide a bone the other day. Most dogs bury bones outdoors in the dirt, but my dog buries his bones in the house, preferably under my pillow on the bed. Fortunately, his "bone" is a kind of chewy rawhide so at least there is less mess to deal with (unless of course he has brought his "bone" once buried in the dirt into the house to then re-bury in the bed, not a pretty picture). The funny thing is that unless he knows I am watching him, he acts as though he is doing it in secret. In other words, if he does not see me, then I must not be seeing him. And that is how we act with the Lord at times. We somehow think that because we cannot see Him we can hide things from Him as if He were not watching.
God knows everything about us. He is omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful) and omnipresent (ever-present). He has no boundaries or limits. He has known us from the beginning of time and already has seen our last day here on earth. We cannot hide from Him. Instead of trying to hide from God, we need to be open and honest with Him. Things done in the dark will ultimately come under His light. Others may never need to know what we have done, but Jesus always knows and He will eventually expose the truth to us. Why? Because He knows that unless we are made aware of these sins, we will continue down a path of destruction. Our flesh seeks darkness, not the Light. John 3:19 says, "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." Jesus came as the Light to set us free from the darkness. Why would we want to stay in it?

Are you trying to hide from the Lord today? Are you engaging in activities of which you think He is unaware? If you are a child of God, then you know your sin because the Holy Spirit will convict you and impress you to turn and repent. The enemy will lie to you and tell you that you are hidden and no one will ever find out. But God already knows and you cannot live with the deception and condemnation. You will slowly self-destruct in the darkness. God's love beckons you back today. God's mercy and grace promise that He will forgive. You can start fresh just by asking for His light to shine on you and lift the darkness. Take the steps of obedience to turn and walk towards the Lord. Put away the sins done in secret, and embrace the freedom that comes when you throw off those things that bind you. Just ask for His help. He is waiting and longing to be gracious to you.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Cup and The Fire # 6

The Conflict of the Ages

Acts 12; Luke 12:49, 50

In our first message we were mainly occupied with the cup and its consequence in the scattering of the fire, with a view to taking fresh account of the relationship between those two things: that there is no scattering of the fire, and all that that means of the progress of the Gospel and the growth of the Church, except in so far am the meaning of the cup is established as the foundation of everything, right at the very heart of the life of the people of God.

We are now going to look at the twelfth chapter of the Book of Acts, for this chapter is a microcosm of the history of the cup and the fire. That, of course, is true of the whole of this book: it is the cup, undoubtedly - the Church in suffering relationship with the Lord. But it is also the book of the scattered fire. This chapter, as I have said, is a miniature of that whole great truth; indeed, it is a miniature of the struggle of the ages between the powers of evil and the invincible spiritual forces which eventually triumph. The tremendous amount of history and truth packed into this chapter never fails to move and stir us when we read it. I wonder whether there is a chapter in the Bible so pregnant with phrases and clauses, piled one upon another, every one of which could, without exaggeration, occupy our whole chapter.

Take some of these clauses, only a few of the many: "Now about that time ..." What a key that is, and what a lot that key opens up you stay with it! We shall probably make use of it presently. "Herod the king ..." There is far more in that than you recognize.  "To vex certain of the church ..." The vexation of the Church or the attempted vexation of the Church. "Killed James ..."We pointed out previously that it was this James and John who came to the Lord requesting places on the right hand and on the left hand in glory, to whom the Lord immediately uttered the challenge: 'Are you able to drink of the cup that I drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism wherewith I am baptized?' And they said: 'We are able.' 'You shall ...' "And he killed James with the sword ..." "When he saw that it pleased the Jews ..." 'It pleased the Jews!' There is a lot in that. "He proceeded further ..." And so we might go on. The whole chapter is full of phrases and clauses like that which are just packed with meaning.

Let us look at the message of this chapter. "Now about that time ..." About what time? It is full of significance to put your finger on that and note the time. The answer is a very large one, but it has two main features. There is the answer lying within Herod himself, and there is the answer which lies behind Herod, much more deeply - the answer of satan. Let us consider the answer in Herod.

"Herod the king" (verse 1). There are six Herods in the Bible. All of them were Idumaean in origin: they are gathered under that symbolic name of "Edom." That is, they were descendants of Esau, not of Israel. All that is very significant. This man before us was the first and the last of them properly to hold this title of 'king.' None of them up to him had officially held that title, and after he died the title "king" was taken away.

We are witnessing here the heading up of a long history. The prophecies of Obadiah should be read in order really to get the substance of this - this historic antagonism between the flesh and the Spirit, between heaven and hell, between Esau and Israel. There is a long history here, headed right up to this man who now takes the title of "king." What irony that the Jews should come to be ruled by a descendant of Esau and not of Israel, and that that ruler should be appointed by pagan Rome! It is something to think about. We are in the presence of a tremendous drama here, profoundly fascinating - but oh, how deeply instructive!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 7)

The Cross: A Picture of Love?


For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

The verse above is one of the most powerful verses in the Bible. It describes the most extraordinary moment in the history of mankind.

When Jesus died on the Cross, a magnificent exchange took place. Jesus, who was sinless, pure, and blameless, literally took upon himself your sin and mine… the sin of the world. As Jesus became sin for us, all the judgment of God that was intended for us fell upon him!

The cross of Jesus Christ was, and still is, the world’s most astounding picture of love. It was the moment in history when Jesus took our sins upon himself and blotted out your transgression. And in that divine moment, God found the one worthy sacrifice to pay for all our sin, Jesus Christ.

Let me ask you, have you recognized that sacrifice? Jesus took the death and the judgment that you deserved. And through his sacrificial act on the cross, the blood of Jesus Christ cleansed you from every sin, every stain, and every shame.
Have you received Jesus’ tremendous gift of forgiveness and love? He’s waiting for you even now. Ask him to be Lord of your life right now. It’s a decision you’ll never regret.

~Jack Graham~

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Cup and the Fire # 5

The Relationship Between the Cup and the Scattered Fire (continued)

The Cup Needed for the Fire (continued)

And it rests upon, not only our oneness with Him, but our oneness IN Him. Souls will not be saved while there is disruption in the instrument; souls will not be saved while there is divisions among those who are seeking their salvation. The work will not grow and expand and enlarge if satan is allowed a place to divide the people of God. Christ Himself has pointed to the established law; we cannot get away from it. We may try, make our efforts, do all that we can, but they are just not getting there. What is the matter? The matter is, that there is sin somewhere, or there is division somewhere. There is some circling around people, or making parties; and we are simply destroying our own work if it is like that.

You see, this is corporate - it is the Church that the Apostle is talking about and writing to. He is speaking about the Church again and again in these Corinthian letters. 'When you come together as the assembly, as the Church ...' This fellowship in the cup, for the scattering of the fire, is a corporate matter.

We need to ask ourselves: Have we a right to have the Table, to have the cup? Have we the ground for this? We have got to get our basis, our foundation right, before we can have anything else. It would be lovely to go on with the scattering of the fire, to see the thing working out on the side of the glory and power. Yes, we would like to be caught up in that; but we have got to get our basis right, and the basis is the cup.

There is no doubt that the ruin of the Church's testimony and ministry is so often resultant from either or both of these two things: either a contradiction to the cup right in its midst, or else an avoidance of the cup - trying not to face the cup and accept the involvement in the sufferings. We will have a good time, and make everything like that; but the cup - no! The ruination of testimony and ministry comes as much by avoiding the cup as by contradicting it. But the cup is there; it has to be taken.

I think those two disciples were a little frivolous. How profoundly and terribly right the Lord was when He said: "You know not what you ask." 'We are able,' they said. 'Very well, you shall.' The first one of those was the prototype martyr of the New Testament. We shall think about him perhaps later. He drank the cup. Herod killed James with the sword. 'You shall ... you shall...' This is something very real. Nevertheless, we shall see that it worked out for the furtherance of the Gospel.

If our attitude to the cup is right, the other will follow. It will follow quite naturally, quite spontaneously. The cup leads to the scattered fire; the scattered fire waits for the cup. 'He took the cup and gave it to them and said ..."Take... drink... drink y all of it."

Let us ask the Lord just how this word applies, where it applies, what it means. May He give us grace to receive it!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 6 - (The Conflict of the Ages)

He Opened Not His Mouth

He opened not his mouth (Isa. 53:7).

How much grace it requires to bear a misunderstanding rightly, and to receive an unkind judgment in holy sweetness! Nothing tests the Christian character more than to have some evil thing said about him. This is the file that soon proves whether we are electroplate or solid gold. If we could only know the blessings that lie hidden in our trials we would say like David, when Shimei cursed him, "Let him curse;... it may be... that the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day."
Some people get easily turned aside from the grandeur of their life-work by pursuing their own grievances and enemies, until their life gets turned into one little petty whirl of warfare. It is like a nest of hornets. You may disperse the hornets, but you will probably get terribly stung, and get nothing for your pains, for even their honey is not worth a search.

God give us more of His Spirit, "who, when he was reviled, reviled not again"; but "committed himself to him that judgeth righteously." "Consider him that endureth such contradiction of sinners against himself."
--A. B. Simpson

"Before you" He trod all the path of woe,
He took the sharp thrusts with His head bent low.
He knew deepest sorrow and pain and grief,
He knew long endurance without relief,
He took all the bitter from death's deep cup,
He kept not a blood-drop but gave all up.
"Before you" and for you, He won the fight
To bring you to glory and realms of light.

~L. B. Cowman~

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Cup and the Fire # 4

The Relationship Between the Cup and the Scattered Fire (continued)

The Unifying Work of the Cup

These things may sound simple, but they are profoundly challenging. Let us look again at this First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 10, verse 16: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion of (participation in) the blood of Christ?" Now look just over the next chapter. We come to this: "First of all, when ye come together in the church", "I hear that divisions exist among you; and I partly believe it". You see the contradiction? It is not just that we participate with Christ, but together we are on common ground in our participation: it is collective, it is corporate - a common participation, a together participation, a one participation. It is the Church. 'Now when you come together as the Church, there are divisions among you' - that is a contradiction, it is a violation of the very meaning of that cup.

You know, when you go back to the beginning of that letter, the Apostle has much more to say about this matter of divisions. He so early opens up the matter of divisions (1:10-13). 'There are contentions among you: one says, I am of Paul and I am of Apollos, and I am of Cephas.' It represents parties, does it not? Parties in the Church. The point is this, that the Apostle is steadily working his way towards the matter of the Table, and he makes that the climax. He is saying, in effect: 'You cannot have the Table in reality while it is like that - the reality of the Table is impossible - the reality of it - while it is like that! It is a contradiction, it is a denial, it is a mockery; it is the fundamental subverting of the very meaning of the cup, if it is like that. You cannot have it in reality - but you can have it to your own undoing and judgment.'

The Cup Needed for the Fire

"I have a baptism to be baptized with ..." "Are ye able to drink the cup that I drink? or to be baptized with baptism that I am baptized with?" (Mark 10:33). What the Lord was really saying, in other words, was this: 'I have a cup to drink; and, until I have drunk it, that very purpose for which I have come is in suspense. I have come to scatter fire into the earth.' The two things go together.

We shall perhaps see later the fire scattered. You see, we are all very interested in the scattering of the fire - put that how you will: if you like, the progress of the Gospel, the extension of the Kingdom, the salvation of souls, the expansion of testimony. It is all the same thing; it is the scattering of the fire. The earth has got to feel the touch of something from Christ - to register something against which it cannot stand. "I am come to scatter fire in the earth."

But note - that is all dependent upon the cup, from first to last, and upon all that the cup implies. You notice that Second Corinthians entirely rests upon those two things, "For as the sufferings of Christ abound unto us ..." (1:5): there is the cup. "Therefore seeing we have this ministry is, as you know, the letter of the ministry, but notice that it begins with the sufferings of Christ abounding unto us. The scattering of the fire, the fulfillment of the ministry, the service of the Lord, the expansion of the Gospel - however we may put it - rests upon the cup: and not merely upon the cup as for our salvation, but the cup in all those other aspects of a holy life, of an inward separateness, of something apart for the Lord.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 5)

God's Heart


It is easy for us to think of Christ as this majestic, powerful figure in the heavens, unfazed by what is going on in our lives.  But Hebrews4:15 paints a very different picture,
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Have you ever thought about the fact that Jesus sympathizes with you?  The King James Version says He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities.  God is not aloof, distant, and unconcerned, and He does not look at you through some clinical, cold eye.  He is moved; He is touched!

I want to show you a verse that, to me, is quite amazing.  It is Isaiah 63:9, and it is talking about God and His people.  It says,

In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His Presence saved them; in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bore them and carried them all the days of old.

When you suffer, God suffers.  He is not untouched; He is not unmoved; He is not unsympathetic.

Then there is Jeremiah 31 where God says (speaking of Israel as one single person), I earnestly remember him still; therefore My heart yearns for him.  I will surely have mercy on him, says the LORD.

Finally, look at Psalm 145:8-9,

The LORD is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy.  The LORD is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.

God feels and sympathizes.  He is moved and touched and afflicted as you walk through the difficulties of life.  He understands.  And He yearns to give you tender mercy.

That is the compassionate and gracious heart of God!

~Bayless Conley~