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Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Stewardship of the Mystery # 93

1. Judas - The Indwelling of satan In Its Outworking

2. The Heavenly Man - The Indwelling of God (continued)

Here is Judas representing one who has been brought into touch with the Lord, and to whom all the blessings are open that are open to the rest of the Lord's own, and this is how he turns out. It is a picture of man in himself. Is it not true? The full development of old Adam, of the first Adam, in whom God does not dwell, is here shown to us. Just at the point where this man is surrounded with all the advantages, all the facilities, all the blessings, all the opportunity, all that could have been his, just at that point he goes out to betray his Lord: "... and it was night" (John 13:30). There is a world of meaning in that.

The Heavenly Man of God's Election

Instantly that man has gone out the Lord Jesus says, "Now is the Son of Man glorified ..." What does this mean? This is God's answer to all that. God has another Man, Whose path is to be wholly different from that tragedy, that dark calamity, a Son of Ma Who can be glorified. God has prepared His own Man to take the place of this other man, as soon as he has reached his end: and what an evil end it is! Do you see what is signified in the end of Judas? When he goes out God brings in His Man Who can be glorified.

Do you see why the Lord Jesus chose Judas? Do you see why it is that when he was gone out Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified?" There is the one who represents the Adam man and what he comes to in spite of all God's grace and mercy which is at his command. Until there is something in him other than himself, that is what he comes to. And just when that nature, that man, that race is seen in its full awfulness, its full outworking, lifting its heel in treachery against the God of all grace; just when that man reaching fullness goes out into the dark, the eternal night, God begins His new day by bringing in His new Man to take his place.

What is the secret? What kind of man will be glorified? We have seen the man who cannot be glorified, who goes out into the darkness. What kind of man is he who can be glorified? What is the principle and secret of His glorifying of the Lord Jesus? It is the breaking forth and manifesting of the Father in Him, of that secret which makes Him other than the type represented by Judas. The hope of glory in His case, the certainty of glory, was the Father dwelling in Him. "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him ..." That is a full-orbed statement about the glorifying of the Son of Man. It is remarkable that this statement should be found in the Gospel by John, in which the Lord Jesus is preeminently set forth as the Son of God.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 94 - (The Glorifying of the Corporate Heavenly Man)

Not the Pleasant Life Which They Dreamed of on Their Wedding Day!

"Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward!" Job 5:7

"Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows." John 16:

There are many crucial lessons which Christians cannot learning the sunshine of prosperity. So the great Teacher calls us apart and shuts the doors, to keep out the light and exclude the world's noises--and then He teaches us the songs . . .

  of peace,
  of joy,
  of trust,
  of love.

Thus the painful things of life have their place in the divine training of our lives.

Many of the things our Master calls us to do or to endure, do not seem to our eyes at the time, to be the best things. Much of our life is disappointment. Sorrow comes ofttimes with . . .

  its hot tears,
  its emptyings of the heart,
  its pain,
  its bitterness.

We do not know when we set out on any bright, sunny path--into what sorrowful experiences we shall be led. A noble young man married a sweet, beautiful girl. They were very happy. Life began for them in a garden of roses. Only three bright years had passed, however, when the young wife broke down in health. Then she became an invalid, much of the time unable to leave her room. The burden has been a very heavy one for the husband, requiring continual self-denial and sacrifice, besides the grief and anxiety it has brought.

This was not the pleasant life which they dreamed of on their wedding day! They thought only of gladness and prosperity. It never occurred to them that adversity or any trouble could break into their sweet paradise.

But the Master has made no mistake. To those who have watched their lives and noted the fruit of the suffering in them, it is becoming apparent that divine love and kindness are written in all the painful lines of the long story. The young man has been growing all the years . . .

  in strength,
  in gentleness,
  in purity of spirit,
  in self-control,
  in the peace of God,
  in all manly virtues.

It seemed a strange place to make him cast his nets--into the deep waters of affliction and disappointment--but he is now drawing them full of rich and noble blessings.

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose!" Romans 8:28 

~J. R. Miller~

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Stewardship of the Mystery # 92

1. Judas - The Indwelling of satan In Its Outworking

2. The Heavenly Man - The Indwelling of God (continued)

I do not know how best to put it, and wish I had language and wisdom to express this, that would capture your hearts as it has captured mine; for I am inwardly glorying in what is brought to us here. To begin with, this represents the full development of man under the kindness of God: "...for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust" (Matthew 5:45). God has shown no partiality among men. He has made it possible for all men to enjoy His benefits. He has shown unbelieving, Godless, rebellious men great kindness. He has not discriminated. All men may know His kindness and His goodness. Man is thus represented in Judas, who in this figurative way is here set in relation to the Lord, so that what is available to those who are really the Lord's is available to him; he can come into it, it is open to him. The Lord has not shown any partiality. Yet man, living under the benefit, merciful and gracious will, purpose, thought, and desire of God, can develop to this.

Let us seek to explain that. Man has been tried under every condition from the beginning. First of all he was tried under innocence. How did he behave? He failed. Then in his fallen state he was tried again, without law. How did he get on? He failed again. Then he was tried under law, but failed as before. Man has failed under every condition. He has been tried by God in every state and appointment, and has utterly failed. The end has always been a tragedy. No matter what attitude God takes toward man, in himself he is a failure and will work out to the most dreadful tragedy.

Look at Israel. What is the attitude of the Lord toward Israel? How marvelous is the way the Lord dealt with Israel. Look at the patience of God with Israel, the kindness of God with Israel, the ground upon which Israel was set before Him. In effect, God said: You have only to show something of faithfulness to Me and you will immediately receive blessing. Some of us have wished we could get blessing as instantly as Israel did when they were true to the Lord. They were subjects of such special care, but they failed. Their condition and treatment is figuratively set forth in the unprofitable fig-tree, that bore no fruit in spite of years of care. Justice demanded that it be cut down without delay, but still further opportunity is given: "Let us dig about it and dung it this year also." Let us show kindness for another year! But it is just as big a failure. So man, tried under every condition, brought into touch with the beneficent will of God, is yet a failure.

Judas gathers up man, man to whom is open all that God has, man who is brought into touch with all the good and perfect will of God, and yet in himself the most awful failure; for this man, when he comes to his fullness, will betray his Lord, he is so hopeless. Man in himself, even though the mercies of God may go out to him, will arrive at this. This is a fearful end. "Yea, mine own familiar friend ... which did eat of my bread," says the Psalmist, "hath lifted up his heel against me" (Psalm 41:9). Thus will this man do amidst the very wealth of the grace of God.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 93)

He Answered Nothing

He answered nothing (Mark 15:3).

There is no spectacle in all the Bible so sublime as the silent Savior answering not a word to the men who were maligning Him, and whom He could have laid prostrate at His feet by one look of Divine power, or one word of fiery rebuke. But He let them say and do their worst, and He stood in THE POWER OF STILLNESS--God's holy silent Lamb.

There is a stillness that lets God work for us, and holds our peace; the stillness that ceases from its contriving and its self-vindication, and its expedients of wisdom and forethought, and lets God provide and answer the cruel blow, in His own unfailing, faithful love.

How often we lose God's interposition by taking up our own cause, and striking for our defense. God give to us this silent power, this conquered spirit! And after the heat and strife of earth are over, men will remember us as we remember the morning dew, the gentle light and sunshine, the evening breeze, the Lamb of Calvary, and the gentle, holy heavenly Dove.
--A. B. Simpson

The day when Jesus stood alone
And felt the hearts of men like stone,
And knew He came but to atone
That day "He held His peace."
They witnessed falsely to His word,
They bound Him with a cruel cord,
And mockingly proclaimed Him Lord;
"But Jesus held His peace."
They spat upon Him in the face,
They dragged Him on from place to place,
They heaped upon Him all disgrace;
"But Jesus held His peace."
My friend, have you for far much less,
With rage, which you called righteousness,
Resented slights with great distress?

Your Saviour "held His peace."
--L. S. P.

I remember once hearing Bishop Whipple, of Minnesota, so well known as "The Apostle of the Indians," utter these beautiful words: "For thirty years I have tried to see the face of Christ in those with whom I differed."
When this spirit actuates us we shall be preserved at once from a narrow bigotry and an easy-going tolerance, from passionate vindictiveness and everything that would mar or injure our testimony for Him who came not to destroy men's lives, but to save them.

~L. B. Cowman~

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Stewardship of the Mystery # 91

1. Judas - The Indwelling of satan In Its Outworking 

2. The Heavenly Man - The Indwelling of God (continued)

But - and this is one of the main points that we want the Lord to show us at this time - that was the great secret, the wonderful secret which men could not read; for He Himself said, "... no one knoweth Who the Son is, save the Father ..." (Luke 10:22). John, writing his epistle long years after, said, "... the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not" (1 John 3:1). The world knew Him not. In His own prayer recorded by John, we have these words: "O righteous Father, the world knew Thee not, but I knew Thee ..." (John 17:25). It was on the basis of that secret relationship that there was to be a glorifying of Him. The glorifying of the Lord Jesus was bound up with that secret.

Now we want to know what the glorifying of the Son is, the glorifying of the Heavenly Man. We will again first take up the question in relation to the Heavenly Man in person, and then see how the same thing applies to the corporate Heavenly Man.

"When therefore he was gone out, Jesus saith, Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him; and God shall glorify Him in Himself, and straightway shall He  glorify Him" (John 13:31, 32).

We need not be concerned for the moment with the form of the statement. It sounds a little involved and difficult, but let us take the central comprehensive statement: "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him ..." It is upon the word "now" that everything hangs, and the Lord Jesus put into that little word a tremendous meaning. To what does that word relate? "When therefore he (Judas) was gone out, Jesus saith, Now is the Son of Man glorified."

The Rejected Natural Man

I confess that Judas was a problem to me for many years, but I think I am getting near the truth about him, and this passage seems to give us the clue. The problem, of course, has its occasion in the statement of the Lord Jesus that He knew whom He had chosen: "Did not I choose you the twelve, and one of you is a devil?" (John 6:70).He chose Judas and brought him into association with Himself, in such a way that he had all the advantages of the others and all the facilities that were theirs; all the benefits of the others were open to him. There is no trace of partiality. He has placed Judas apparently upon exactly the same footing, excluding him from nothing which was open to the rest, all deliberately, consciously, knowing what He was doing, and knowing all the time what Judas was. Then all finally heads up to this statement, "Now is the Son of Man glorified ..."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 92)

Five Indicators of an Evil and Wicked Heart

As Christian counselors, pastors and people helpers we often have a hard time discerning between an evil heart and an ordinary sinner who messes up, who isn’t perfect, and full of weakness and sin.
I think one of the reasons we don’t “see” evil is because we find it so difficult to believe that evil individuals actually exist. We can’t imagine someone deceiving us with no conscience, hurting others with no remorse, spinning outrageous fabrications to ruin someone’s reputation, or pretending he or she is spiritually committed yet has no fear of God before his or her eyes.
The Bible clearly tells us that among God’s people there are wolves that wear sheep’s clothing (Jeremiah 23:14Titus 1:10Revelations 2:2). It’s true that every human heart is inclined toward sin (Romans 3:23), and that includes evil (Genesis 8:21James 1:4). We all miss God’ mark of moral perfection. However, most ordinary sinners do not happily indulge evil urges, nor do we feel good about having them. We feel ashamed and guilty, rightly so (Romans 7:19–21). These things are not true of the evil heart.
Below are five indicators that you may be dealing with an evil heart rather than an ordinary sinful heart.  If so, it requires a radically different treatment approach.
1. Evil hearts are experts at creating confusion and contention.
They twist the facts, mislead, lie, avoid taking responsibility, deny reality, make up stories, and withhold information. (Psalms 5:810:758:3109:2–5140:2Proverbs 6:13,146:18,1912:1316:2016:27, 28;30:14Job 15:35Jeremiah 18:18Nehemiah 6:8Micah 2:1Matthew 12:34,35Acts 6:11–132 Peter 3:16)
2. Evil hearts are experts at fooling others with their smooth speech and flattering words.
But if you look at the fruit of their lives or the follow through of their words, you will find no real evidence of godly growth or change. It’s all smoke and mirrors. (Psalms 50:1952:2,357:459:7101:7Proverbs 12:526:23–2626:28Job 20:12Jeremiah 12:6Matthew 26:59Acts 6:11–13Romans 16:17,182 Corinthians 11:13,142 Timothy 3:2–53:13Titus 1:10,16).
3. Evil hearts crave and demand control, and their highest authority is their own self-reference.
They reject feedback, real accountability, and make up their own rules to live by. They use Scripture to their own advantage but ignore and reject passages that might require self-correction and repentance. (Romans 2:8Psalms 1036:1–450:16–2254:5,673:6–9Proverbs 21:24Jude 1:8–16).
4. Evil hearts play on the sympathies of good-willed people, often trumping the grace card.
They demand mercy but give none themselves. They demand warmth, forgiveness, and intimacy from those they have harmed with no empathy for the pain they have caused and no real intention of making amends or working hard to rebuild broken trust. (Proverbs 21:101 Peter 2:16Jude 1:4).
5. Evil hearts have no conscience, no remorse.
They do not struggle against sin or evil—they delight in it—all the while masquerading as someone of noble character. (Proverbs 2:14–1510:2312:1021:27,29Isaiah 32:6Romans 1:302 Corinthians 11:13–15)
If you are working with someone who exhibits these characteristics, it’s important that you confront them head on. You must name evil for what it is. The longer you try to reason with them or show mercy towards them, the more you, as the Christian counselor, will become a pawn in his or her game.
They want you to believe that:
1. Their horrible actions should have no serious or painful consequences.
When they say “I’m sorry,” they look to you as the pastor or Christian counselor to be their advocate for amnesty with the person he or she has harmed. They believe grace means they are immediately granted immunity from the relational fallout of their serious sin. They believe forgiveness entitles them to full reconciliation and will pressure you and their victim to comply.
The Bible warns us saying, “But when grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and do not regard the majesty of the Lord (Isaiah 26:10). 
The Bible tells us that talking doesn’t wake up evil people, but painful consequences might. Jesus didn’t wake up the Pharisee’s with his talk nor did God’s counsel impact Cain (Genesis 4). In addition, the Bible shows us that when someone is truly sorry for the pain they have caused, he or she is eager to make amends to those they have harmed by their sin (see Zacchaeus’ response when he repented of his greed in Luke 19). 
Tim Keller writes, “If you have been the victim of a heinous crime. If you have suffered violence, and the perpetrator (or even the judge) says, ‘Sorry, can’t we just let it go?’ You would say, ‘No, that would be an injustice.’ Your refusal would rightly have nothing to do with bitterness or vengeance. If you have been badly wronged, you know that saying sorry is never enough. Something else is required—some kind of costly payment must be made to put things right.”1
As Biblical counselors let’s not collude with the evil one by turning our attention to the victim, requiring her to forgive, to forget, to trust again when there has been no evidence of inner change. Proverbs says, “Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips” (Proverbs. 25:19). It’s foolishness.
The evil person will also try to get you to believe
2. That if I talk like a gospel-believing Christian I am one, even if my actions don’t line up with my talk.
Remember, Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13–15). He knows more true doctrine than you or I will ever know, but his heart is wicked. Why? Because although he knows the truth, he does not believe it or live it.
The Bible has some strong words for those whose actions do not match their talk (1 John 3:17,18;Jeremiah 7:8,10James 1:22, 26). John the Baptist said it best when he admonished the religious leaders, “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God” (Luke 3:8).
If week after week you hear the talk but there is no change in the walk, you have every reason to question someone’s relationship with God.
Part of our maturity as spiritual leaders is that we have been trained to discern between good and evil. Why is that so important? It’s important because evil usually pretends to be good, and without discernment we can be easily fooled (Hebrews 5:14).
When you confront evil, chances are good that the evil heart will stop counseling with you because the darkness hates the light (John 3:20) and the foolish and evil heart reject correction (Proverbs 9:7,8). But that outcome is far better than allowing the evil heart to believe you are on his or her side, or that “he’s not that bad” or “that he’s really sorry” or “that he’s changing” when, in fact, he is not.
Daniel says, “[T]he wicked will continue to be wicked” (Daniel 12:10), which begs the question, do you think an evil person can really change?

~Leslie Vernick~

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Stewardship of the Mystery # 90

1. Judas - The Indwelling of satan In Its Outworking

2. The Heavenly Man - The Indwelling of God

John 13:21-33; Ephesians 3:17-19; Colossians 1:25-27

We are to view the Lord Jesus in relation to the first Adam, and all that came in through that which happened the first Adam in his fall, not only as this has reference to man and his condition, but to all that which Adam's act of disobedience let into this universe, and into this world. That act of disobedience opened the door at which the forces of evil were standing, waiting for access. Adam was that door. They could never have got in but for Adam, but he opened the door by his disobedience, and the forces of evil rushed into God's creation, and took up a position of great strength, to bring about in it a state of things contrary to God, and that in the most powerful and terrible way. To all of that, to the power themselves, and the state brought about through their being let in, and all the consequences thereof, the Lord Jesus was, and is, God's answer. But there was a secret about Him, a secret which spiritual intelligences alone could really discern, and this was that God was in Him. He was a Man, but He was far more than that; He was God. In these meditations our concern has been with what the Lord Jesus is as Son of Man, God's Man, the Heavenly Man, in Whom God was, and is. That secret, that mystery hidden from the ages, hidden from men, is the greatest factor to be reckoned with.

So far as the enemy was concerned, his main objective with the Lord Jesus was to seek to get in between Him and that Divine relationship; to drive a wedge in and in some way to get Him to move on a ground apart from that inner, deepest reality of the Father. The meaning of the temptations in the wilderness is that they were an attempt to drive that wedge in between, to get Him to act apart from the Father, to move on His own human ground. The enemy knew quite well that, if only he could succeed in getting Him to do that, he would accomplish with the last Adam what he had accomplished with the first, and would have re-established his dominion and again gained the mastery. The secret of Christ's victory was that He was so one with the Father, that in everything He was governed by the Father within, dwelling in Him. The life of the Heavenly Man, the Son of Man, again and again bids us heed the question that once came from His own lips: "Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?" (John 14:10, 11). It was on that basis that he lived His life and met the enemy, and because He remained on that basis the enemy was incapable of destroying Him.

Many times attempts were made by the devil to destroy Him, both directly and through men, but it was impossible while He remained on that basis, and this He did right to the end, and triumphed because of that inward relationship, that upon which He was living deliberately, consciously, persistently: the Father was in Him, and He and the Father were one; He dwelt in the Father, and the Father dwelt in Him.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 91)

Do Not Fear

Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go… Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:7, 9

Fear is a natural emotion that can be good when used for protection but debilitating when allowed to control us. Fear can hinder our judgment and potentially prevent us from moving forward to receive all that God has for us. We too are fearful of many things, from losing control to the unpredictability of our future.  God was very straightforward and serious when counseling Joshua about fear.

Courage means "to show oneself strong" or "to be alert." Other words associated with courage are "agile, quick and energetic." We tend to associate those words as personality types, not godly traits. If God commands us to be strong and courageous, then He desires for all His children to have such traits. He also gives us the same promises He gave to Joshua. Three times, the Lord told Joshua to be strong and of good courage. He then commanded Joshua to obey, while promising him that He would go with him wherever he goes. And Joshua did.

God tells us the same thing and He has given us the same promises. Hebrews 13:5 says "I will never leave you nor forsake you." The Lord has also given us His Holy Spirit that lives within us – meaning that wherever we go God goes too. And He tells us that all authority has been given to us through Jesus. What excuse do we have? Are we as apt to be "agile, quick and energetic" as we saw Joshua to be? We have no excuse to not receive all that God has promised us as His children. We have no excuse to not fully believe His Word and study His Word and live out His will. God told Joshua to be strong and courageous in taking the inheritance as well as in living according to God's ways. It takes courage to live for God and strength to uphold His commands. Both strength and courage are needed, to have both His inheritance and obedience.

What is stopping you? If it is fear, ask Him to give you courage. If it is apathy, ask Him to motivate you to be diligent. Tell the Lord that you want all He has purposed in His heart for you. Tell Him that you do not want anything to separate you from His will, including yourself. Tell Him to help your unbelief and empower you to push forward. And remember, do not be afraid for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Stewardship of the Mystery # 89

"The Corporate Expression of the Heavenly Man (continued)

The Heart of God In Christ

Now what are the evangelists? In a word, the evangelist is the one to make God known through the Gospel, to disclose the heart of God in grace, and the function of the evangelist is to secure material for the expression of the Heavenly Man corporately. Thus we begin with authority in Christ, Christ in the place of supreme authority far above all heavens. Then we have the mind of God in Christ. Here we have the heart of God in Christ. The Gospel of grace is to secure increase by gathering material for the corporate Heavenly Man.

Resources of God in Christ

We now come to the pastors and teachers. These two are brought together. The material is being gathered, the corporate Heavenly Man is being progressively brought into being and coming to His eternal completeness. Now while the material is being gathered, and the corporate Heavenly Man is being progressively brought together, the next need is for pastors and teachers, and the function here is that of the adjustment and fitting of that Heavenly Man. Adjustment is brought about by teaching, by instruction. The purpose of the instruction is to adjust us, to bring us into our place, into our right relationship, to bring us into an understanding of Christ, of our relationship to Him, and of our relationship to one another in Him. The instruction has to do with such matters as the believer's resources in Christ, and all that is signified by the Heavenly Man. This is the work of the teacher. The pastor is one whose function is to fit, to shepherd, to nurture. Building up by right adjustment to revealed truth is what we have here.

But all does not end there. The apostle, the prophet, the evangelist, the pastor and teacher, are given in order that the corporate Heavenly Man, deriving the values of these functions, shall itself minister to its mutual building up; for the making complete of the saints unto the work of ministry, unto the building up of the Body of Christ. Mutual building up, mutual ministry, is to result from these gifts. Because we are receiving the benefits of this ministration in Christ to us, we have to make those benefits a mutual ministration, so that the Body builds itself up, increases with the increase of God, each separate part in due measure making increase.

If this sounds like technique to you, may we urge you to get away from teaching, and anything like a system of truth, and get the Lord in view. Keep the Lord Himself in view, and see that the one thing which governs all is Christ's coming into ever greater fullness of life and expression in this universe by means of the Church which is His Body.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 90 - (Judas - The Indwelling of satan In Its Ourworking)

I Trust In Thy Word

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

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

~L. B. Cowman~

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Stewardship of the Mystery # 88

The Corporate Expression of the Heavenly Man (continued)

The Mind of God in Christ

Now what are the prophets in the assembly? In a word, the prophet is the instrument for the expression of the mind of the Lord, and this is usually set over against the expression of the mind of man. Of very great moment is the injunction we have noted already, "... be renewed in the spirit of your mind ..." Because, in the corporate Heavenly Man, the Body, the mind of the Lord is to predominate, to operate, to be supreme. The Lord's mind is the only mind in this "new man," this Heavenly Man. You must be renewed in the spirit of your mind, if you are to come to the Lord's mind. The Lord's mind comes through an instrument called a prophet. He is the interpreter of the mind of the Lord. He brings into the Body the knowledge of the mind of the Lord. That, as we have said, involves the setting aside of the mind of man.

We are thinking, of course, of how the Old Testament prophets are a source of confirmation of what we have just said; for if you examine the point, you will find that they come before the people in relation to the rights of God in His House. Those rights were being set aside by His people. The mind of man was taking the place of the mind of God, and that worked out usually to very great evil, so that before long the very rights of God were denied Him in His own House, among His own people.

Take Elijah as an example. Elijah stands out preeminently among the prophets in relation to the rights of God, and Carmel is the great crisis as to Baal's rights and God's rights in Israel. Elijah is the instrument for establishing the rights of God in an utter way, unto the complete destruction of that other mind, represented in the prophets of Baal. Those rights are expressed in terms of God's mind for His people, and so all the prophets bring in the mind of God, interpret it, keep the mind of God before God's people, and do battle in relation to it, that God shall have His place, have things according to His mind.

This, again, is a functioning of the Heavenly Man in His Body, to keep things according to the mind of God. We are not thinking, at the moment, particularly of people whom we may think to call prophets among us. We are not thinking of office, but of function. Vital functioning is what is before us, and anyone who is anointed and endowed by the Holy Spirit to keep God's thoughts clear in the midst of His people, to make His people know the mind of God, so that God gets His place and His rights, and all other minds are set aside, is fulfilling the ministry of a prophet. We are so apt to start at the other end, with the technical line of things, that of appointing prophets. Let us look at the function, not the man, and let us see that it is Christ Who is the Prophet, and that in this character He ministers through some whom He gives for the expression of the Divine mind as in Himself. It is quite possible to combine these functions in one individual.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 89 - (The Heart of God In Christ)

The Power of Proclamation

In our last few devotionals, we have seen we are to pray for the unsaved and live lives that shine the gospel.

But there does come a time to speak up.  Look at Romans 10:13-14,

For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."  How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher?
When the time does come to speak up, a lot of Christians are like arctic rivers:  frozen at the mouth.  But someone must tell the story!

Pray for the unsaved, let your light shine, and when the time comes, tell them the gospel story.  Paul said in Romans 1:16I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.

Through just a simple proclamation of the message, many people, when they hear it, will believe and be saved.  The reason for that is found in Romans 10:17,

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

A proclamation of the message causes faith to arise in people's hearts.  Just simply tell them the gospel story:  Mankind was separated from God,  Jesus paid the price for their sins,  He was raised from the dead, and if you put your trust in Him, you can be saved.

As well as opening your mouth to share the Good News, you might consider writing letters to your friends to simply and clearly share the gospel.  Incorporate your own story if you feel it would be helpful.

It is easy to share the gospel if you just remember three things:  our rebellion, our ransom, and our response.  With those three things, you can share the gospel with anyone.

~Bayless Conley~

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Stewardship of the Mystery # 87

"The Corporate Expression of the Heavenly Man (continued)

Authority In Christ (continued)

As the Lord's servants, you cannot have too clear a recognition of how definite is this operation of the authority of Christ in His Body. None can anywhere come into relationship with that corporate expression of Christ, which is constituted by the Holy Spirit, without becoming responsible for the Lord's testimony which is there, and if you violate it you suffer. You cannot just attach yourself, and escape the implications. If you make a breach of the testimony, of the oneness of the Body of Christ, when you have been brought into real touch with it, and do not put that right, you will die. You may die physically. You may have a tragic end. You will undoubtedly go through suffering and chastening; because you have not become a member of a movement, something merely of man; you have come into the place where the custodianship of eternal purpose is invested in the Holy Spirit working in the spirit of apostleship, and the authority of Christ is there. This is the precise meaning of those searching words in the First Letter to the Corinthians: "For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and not a few sleep." "Not discerning the Lord's Body" (1 Corinthians 11:30). You have come into a realm where things are not to be taken as mere doctrine, as an Organization, as something of man with which you can do as you like; you have come to the place where the authority of Christ is an operating reality. It is a terrible thing to get into the House of God if you are not of a mind to become suitably conformed.

That is one side, and a terrible side. But there is another side that makes for heart rest and assurance for those who carry extra responsibility in the house of God, where it is possible to say: 'Well, we have not to bear the full responsibility that properly is in the hands of the Holy Spirit, in the authority of Christ, to meet that which is contrary to the truth, and to the law of the house of God.' We need not be anxious, in that sense, because it is our responsibility. The heavenly Lord has put a functioning of His authority in the Church. There may be a disputing of that authority in the vessel. Hell may dispute, as at Philippi, or at Ephesus, or many another place, and may show its hand in vehement antagonism and resistance. But what is the issue? Every time the authority of Christ triumphs.

The establishment of the testimony throughout the Roman Empire through the Apostle Paul, is a marvelous manifestation of the supreme Lordship of Jesus Christ over all powers. It is not just a case of getting the better of man's mentality, of overcoming prejudice and difficulties among men; it is the conquest of the evil forces of hell. Cosmic forces are beaten and broken when the testimony is established through an apostle. It is the fact of Christ's heavenly authority in the Body, by the Spirit. Christ truly expressed in the assembly really cannot be set aside without suffering.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 88 - (The Mind of God in Christ)

How to Pray for Your Daily Bread

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.

As we read this prayer our Lord gave, remember it is the model prayer. The Lord did not say "Pray this prayer," but "Pray in this manner." He taught us something wonderful about prayer: it's not the length of our prayer, the logic of our prayer, or the language of our prayer, but the faith, the focus, and the force of our prayer that causes it to be heard in heaven.

"Bread" in this prayer is really symbolic of any need you have. Do you have a need today? God delights to meet your need.

Here are four important steps to follow when praying for "daily bread."

A Proper Priority
Notice the priority in this prayer:
Thy name
Thy kingdom
Thy will

First comes God's name, His kingdom, and His will. Only after that comes our need, "Give us this day our daily bread." If you don't get that priority straight, you'll never have power in prayer.

God is not a heavenly bellhop, running around to meet your needs. Prayer is not the way man gets his will done in heaven. Prayer is the way God gets His will done on earth. It's important we understand this. Jesus Christ summed it up in Matthew 6:33

"Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

If you don't establish that priority, you're not going to get your prayers answered.
Answered prayer is not for rebels. Why should God answer your request for daily bread if you're not going to use that strength to serve Him? You must pray "Thy will" before you pray "our bread." Give Him first place. The one place God will not work is second place.

Is the burning, consuming desire of your heart that His name be glorified, His kingdom come, and His will be done? Matthew 6:33 will remain only an unreached promise if you've not put it to practice.

Your Prayerful Petition
Another reason some people don't have their needs met: they don't ask. It's that simple.

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?  Matthew 7:11

You simply say, "Lord I have a need." Many people have not because they ask not. (James 4:2) You deny yourself when you don't pray. Prayer is the key that unlocks heaven's treasury.

God answers prayer. The One Who created the universe, the great eternal God, says that I can call upon Him and He will answer me and show me great and mighty things. (Jeremiah 33:3)

A Proper Perspective
This doesn't mean you have the key to Fort Knox or you're going to get everything you want. It doesn't say God's going to meet our greed. God is going to meet our need, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:19)   "Give us…our daily bread," may be also translated "give us this day bread sufficient for us." Our Lord taught us to pray for bread, not for cake. Sometimes we want things we don't need. And sometimes we need things we don't want. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and God will delight to meet your need.

Your Personal Part
Prayer is not a substitute for work or diligence. If you pray for bread, do you know how to say Amen? Work for it.

"In the sweat of thy face shall thou eat bread." Genesis 3:19

"…if any would not work, neither should he eat." 2 Thessalonians3:10

"The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold. Therefore shall he beg in harvest and have nothing." Proverbs 20:4

"He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread, but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough." Proverbs 28:19

Too lazy to plow? Then you won't have anything to eat. God doesn't bless laziness and or indolence.

Don't sit back and say, "I'm going to show my faith by doing nothing." To the contrary! You will show your faith by doing something, for faith without works is dead.

Jesus is heaven's bread for earth's hunger. He became the Bread of Life so you and I could have our deepest hunger met.

Do you know Jesus? Friend, if you had bread to spare and died and went to hell, so what? If you don't have Jesus, there's a hidden hunger never satisfied until it's satisfied in the Lord Jesus Christ. "Man shall not live by bread alone." (Matthew 4:4) When you go to bed tonight, have that Bread in your heart. His name is Jesus. He'll be sufficient for tomorrow.

~Adrian Rogers~

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Stewardship of the Mystery # 86

The Corporate Expression of the Heavenly Man (continued)

Authority In Christ (continued)

We see later how that worked out. When there were those who tried to displace Moses, or tried to take an equal place with him, see how the authority found expression. Moses never had to fight for his position. When the dispute arose touching his position, being the meekest of men, he just said to the Lord, in effect: Lord, am I here by Your authority, or am I not? Have I grasped this position? Have I sought authority, or have You put me here with it? I count on You to let it be known whether my position is of my own taking, or whether of Your appointing. The Lord called the people to the door of the tabernacle and took up the case of Moses, and you know what happened. It was because of what he represented as an apostle.

"All authority hath been given unto Me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore ..." (Matthew 28:18). Thus an apostle is one who stands in Divine authority for the setting up, and the carrying on, of the Divine testimony. You can see that in Moses. The Lord appeared unto Moses and spake with him face to face. No one else came into that realm. Even though they came up into the Mount, they did not come into exactly the same place as Moses. It was with Moses that the Lord communed and spake as a man speaks to his friend, face to face. Then for ever after, the one thing that governs Israel is this: "... as the Lord spake unto Moses ..." At the end of the constituting of the tabernacle, there is a whole chapter in which some seven or eight times this one phrase occurs: "... as the Lord commanded Moses." It speaks of authoritative government by what had come in through Moses, God's apostle. Well, in that authority he set up the testimony, and maintained it; the authority was his to that end.

Or, again, take the Apostle Paul, who perhaps above all others stands out as an apostle, and you see that his commission and his authority was, first of all, for the setting up of the testimony everywhere, and then for the maintaining of the testimony. He says to the Corinthians that, if he comes to them in the authority that he has received, it will go ill with some of them, because he is invested with this authority to maintain the testimony in purity.

Now what does this say to us? It is the Lord! This is the factor of Christ's heavenly authority in the corporate Heavenly Man. That may be administered through individuals. The point is that it is a feature of the Heavenly Man, and is active in the Church. We are face to face with the fact that Christ in His heavenly authority is in the Church for the setting up of His testimony, and the maintaining of it. Where the Lord's testimony is by the Holy Spirit, there the authority of the Lord is, and people have to reckon with that.

Of course, while we have to take these things to heart in our own personal lives, we are saying them as to those who have to instruct others.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 87)

Are You Hiding by the Baggage?

Therefore they inquired further of the Lord, "Has the man come here yet?" So the Lord said, "Behold, he is hiding himself by the baggage." 1 Samuel 10:22

One day, Saul went out to search for his lost donkeys. The next day, Saul was anointed to be the first king of Israel. Saul found something for which he wasn’t searching. Even though he was anointed by Samuel, Saul hid himself by the baggage when it came time to reveal his anointing as Israel’s first King. The Scriptures tell us that he was empowered by the Holy Spirit and changed internally. But on the outside, not much changed. He went back home and plowed the fields until one more day. At that point, Saul was ready to accept his calling and outwardly became what God had already changed in him inwardly.

The same thing happens to us. Many times God calls us to do something that we weren’t searching for either. We know that the prayers that we are praying seem impossible. We know that something is changing on the inside of our hearts, but to break free and become that person on the outside is beyond our doing. We then struggle between the God-given prayers on our hearts and the person we are in the flesh. How can the two become one?

And when? The answer is time or should I say, “in His time.” Regardless of what the Lord has put on your heart, you can’t receive all He has for you until you have the character to keep you there. In the passing of time, the Lord is molding you through different circumstances, conflicts and experiences as training for the real deal. Take every encounter you go through seriously. Praise Him through the difficulties and maintain self control when He pushes you to your limit. He will exalt you in due time. As the Scriptures say in Galatians 6:9, “And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.”

~Daily Disciples Devotional~