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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Striving In Prayer # 2

The Importance of Taking the Initiative (continued)

"What great conflict I have for you," says the Apostle, "striving." You know how he uses that word in his Corinthian letter about the Olympic games. "If a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully" (2 Timothy 2:5). He sees this man in the arena or on the track stretched out, throwing himself into the battle, striving for the mastery. It is the same word. And here it is striving for the mastery over the enemy and for the will of God, that His people might know the mystery of God, even Christ, unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, and so on. Well, the emphasis is clear and does not need a great deal added to it of words from me.

My deep feeling is that there has to be another side to our concern about this matter of the Lord's desire for His people to come to fullness, beyond the personal, and until that other side is brought in the end wile not be reached. That means there must be those who will really throw themselves in to strive, by the enablement, the energy of the Spirit, to strive over this matter.

The Old Testament Illustration

When I was thinking about this, there came to my mind the very familiar story of Elisha and the Shunammite, and her son. It seems to me to be the point of this very matter. Elisha, as you well know, sets forth in type that which was ordained to remain here on this earth after the Lord was risen. Elijah and Elisha had passed through the Jordan, the Cross, and Elijah had been translated to heaven. The great issue upon which that continuation of the testimony here depended was that there should be with Elisha a double portion of his master's spirit. His request was that. He was put on probation over that. He was tested and drawn out concerning that, but, having been approved, Elisha received a double portion of the Spirit of his head. The sons of the prophets always spoke of Elijah in those words - "Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head today?" (2 Kings 2). Elijah was his head. Now when the head was received up into heaven, the double portion of the Spirit came upon Elisha. He was here on this earth in the power of the Spirit to maintain and carry on a testimony of life, so that at every move, in every connection, Elisha is found meeting conditions of death. He is called upon to prove that the Spirit is with him as the Spirit of resurrection by having to encounter death in many forms.

Among these many instances is the one of the Shunammite's son, full, I think, of helpful features and elements if we were dealing with it as a whole. We only have one thing in mind at the moment. Here, for instance, in grace the Lord had visited her and given her that son; for I think it is quite evident that she had closed that chapter in her life as something which would never be. You remember she asked the prophet not to mock her, and then later when the son died, she said, "Did I desire a son of my lord?" as much as to say, I had closed that chapter, that was something which I killed in my heart, I was not any longer thinking in that direction; you did that. It was something that could not be, but the impossible was done. The thing that she no longer dared to think about or hope for had become an actuality by the grace of God. It was something God had done in grace, and the son existed.

Now the son dies. Strange mysterious ways of God, to give something altogether of Himself, something beyond our powers and beyond our expectations, and then, having done something so much of Himself, to allow it to fall under what looks like a mere calamity, to die. Strange ways of God! The Lord does do strange things, things that are strange to our understanding. He is beyond us.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

Human Effort Accomplishes Nothing

The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. (John 6:63 NLT)

It is one thing to have a conception or apprehension of the purpose of God, and to be given up to it, but it is an extra thing to know how God would realize His purpose. It is still another thing to know the means He would employ. There are many who have a true conception of what God's purpose is, but the means which they employ are not God's means, the way in which they go to work is not His way, and therefore they find that the Lord does not support them. They may be in a true direction, but being out of fellowship with the method or means they are compelled to take responsibility for the work themselves, and to find the resources. Thus they find themselves oftimes exhausted, brought to a standstill, and having to resort to all kinds of methods and means to raise the resource to carry on God's work, because they are not in the real enjoyment of His Own support. The work of God becomes a burden upon their shoulders, and the Lord cannot order it otherwise because there is not the fullest fellowship and sympathy between them and His ways, His methods, His means, His times and the details of His purpose.

Now, in the case of the Lord Jesus it was quite the contrary. In the details He was in secret fellowship with the Father. With Him this represented a detailed obedience unto one comprehensive purpose. The only explanation needed by Him in any given matter was simply that of knowing that the Father willed it, and without any further word He did it. That was the basis of His relationship. Never do we trace in Him a sign of waiting to question why a thing should be done in a certain way, or at a certain time and not another, or why certain means should be employed and not others. It was enough that the Father willed it. The explanation came in the justification and vindication that followed. The doing of the will of God was a matter of that obedience which never moves out from self but always out from the Father. As that held good in His case the spiritual resources of sustenance, maintenance, strength, and energy were supplied.

By T. Austin-Sparks

Monday, June 29, 2015

Striving In Prayer

Phil. 1:29, 30; Colossians 1:28, 2:2; Colossians 4:12

There is much more in the Word of the same nature that could be added to these passages, but these are sufficient, I think, to indicate something we need to lay to heart. I always feel that one of the great factors in our own spiritual enlargement is a real active concern for others; not in the sense that we look after another's vineyard and neglect our own, become "busy-bodies" as the Apostle would term it, occupied with everybody's business except our own, but that there is a right and proper and fruitful concern for others. What the Scriptures that we have read bring before us is that God's great revelation of purpose in the Church is not going to be realized without some tremendous and terrific conflict. There have to be those who throw themselves into that conflict for that end.

The Importance of Taking the Initiative

So here the Apostle says, "What great conflict I had for you and for them of Laodicea," and for many others. "Striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily." "Epaphras ... a servant of Christ Jesus ... always striving for you in his prayers." It is the laying to heart of this matter about God's desire for His people in such a way as to draw us into tremendous spiritual conflict over it. Now, we are meeting the conflict perhaps, without seeking it directly, but it is a very true thing that very often the advantage is with those who take the initiative. Do you not recognize that when the enemy takes the initiative in the matter of spiritual assault, we usually find ourselves at a disadvantage. When it comes from his side, we turn in upon ourselves, we begin to ask questions. We find ourselves sometimes almost paralyzed by the pressure, the tenseness and the forms in which his assault comes. It affects us in such a way as almost to overwhelm us and put us out. That is because he is taking the initiative, and he knows enough of strategy in warfare to know that it is with the one who takes the initiative that a great deal of the advantage lies.

Now we shall always of course meet that and he will always be doing it, but what about the other way around? Paul met a very great deal of the onslaught of the enemy upon spirit and mind and body. It came along every line and by every channel and means conceivable. He tells us a good deal about the nature of his conflicts, spiritual and temporal, in his ministry and life, but Paul by no means left things there. He also makes it perfectly clear that he took the initiative as well, and these words which we have just read concern the initiative of the Lord's people on this matter. If the enemy is out with all his might and all his cunning to frustrate this purpose of God in the saints, namely, their coming to the fullness of understanding, their having the full knowledge of Christ; I say if he is out by every means to frustrate that, there has to be some initiative from the other side. There has to be a real throwing of ourselves into this matter in a spiritual way against this assailing of the children of God, so that God's end shall not be frustrated.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2)

God Makes Things Right

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

Have you ever wished you could take back something you just said? Or, have you ever thought “If only I had known then what I know now, I would have done things differently?” More than once in my life, I have wished I could go back and do something over to make it right. Even with our best intentions and motives, there are times when our words come out the wrong way and we find ourselves feeling badly. We usually know it immediately. I have learned from my own experiences that the Holy Spirit will convict and impress upon me that I should have handled a situation differently. One of the Greek definitions of the word "conviction" means to bring to light, to cause shame, or to show one's fault. One of the Holy Spirit's jobs is to convict us when we say or do things outside of God's will. This includes speaking when we should have been listening or speaking from our own wisdom instead of the Lord's.

When I find myself in a situation where I feel badly about what I have just said or done, I start praying. I begin by confessing my sin and asking for forgiveness. The Lord promises that He will forgive us our sins if we confess them (1 John 1:9). Repentance is definitely the next step because we need to acknowledge that we do not want to continue sinning against Him or others in this way.  Next, we have a responsibility not only to pray for ourselves but also to pray for the person(s) involved because our sins do affect others. And that is one of the reasons I love Romans 8:28. I pray this verse to the Lord when I know I have made a mess of something. I start asking the Lord to work it together for good despite what I have done or said.

I can honestly say that the Lord has always been faithful to these prayers. You see, we are going to say and do things that we wish we could take back. We are going to hurt others, even when our intentions are good. We will fail and fall short; we need a Savior. We are sinners saved by grace. So today, put the responsibility back on our Savior and Lord. Ask the Lord to work "all things" together for good and apply this verse to those times when you know you have just made a mistake. Ask forgiveness, and then start praying for God to make it right. Only He can make things right. God's love, mercy and grace cover us every moment of our lives and He gives us His Word to help guide us. Memorize this verse today and ask the Lord to bring it to your mind in times of trouble.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Inner Man of the Heart # 16

"Spiritual Discernment and the Bewildering Mass of Conflicting Teachings (continued)

Before closing there are just two things which one feels should be mentioned. Having seen that the basis of all fellowship and cooperation with God is spiritual, in and through the born-again spirit, we must realize that this at once defines the real nature of our service. The background of all cosmic conditions is spiritual. Behind the things seen are the things unseen. The things which do appeal are not the ultimate things.

"The whole world lieth in the wicked one." There is a spiritual hierarchy which, before this world was, revolted against the equality of the Son with the Father in the Throne, and in spite of the hurling out of heaven and the eternal doom which followed, has been in active revolt and antagonism to that "eternal purpose" right through the ages. A certain judicial hold upon this earth and the race of Adam was gained by satan through the consent of that first Adam, through whom the purpose of God should have been realized on this earth.

Thus we have Paul telling the members of the Body of Christ - The Last Adam - that their warfare is not with mere flesh and blood, but with principalities, and powers, the world rulers of this darkness, and spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies" (Ephesians 6:12).

What a lot is gathered up into that inclusive phrase "This darkness." How much is said about it in the scriptures. The need for having eyes opened is ever basic to emancipation (Acts 26:18). The cause of all "this darkness" is said to be "Spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies." Literally translated the words are "the spiritualities" or "the spirituals," meaning, spiritual beings. "Wickedness" here does not just mean merely inherent wickedness or evil, but malignancy; destructive, harmful.

"In the heavenlies" means simply inhabiting a realm beyond the earthly; not limited to earthly geographical localities; moving in the realm surrounding the earth and human habitation.

"World rulers" means that these malignant spiritual hosts are directing and governing the world wherever the government of Christ has not been superimposed through His Body - the spiritual Church.

"Principalities and Powers" (authorities) represent order, rank, method, system. satan is not omnipresent, hence he must work through an organized dividing of the world under these principalities and authorities, and he himself "goes to and fro in the earth," and has seats here and there (Job 2:2; Revelation 2:12).

The Apostle declares that the explanation of situations is to be looked for in the unseen, behind the actual appearance.

What looks like the natural has its rise too often in the supernatural. Man is always trying to give a natural explanation and therefore to put things right by natural means. But when he comes up against a situation in which interests of the Christ of God are involved he is floored and beaten. Such situations are becoming the common places - nay more - the overwhelming order of the day among "Christian workers" in these days, both abroad and at home. We have no intention of dealing with the subject at length here, but are stating the fact, and reminding the Lord's people especially that in more realms that that of Divine activity "What is seen hath not been made out of the things which do appear," but that multitudes of the things in daily life which are inimical - hostile, unfriendly, in opposition or adverse - to spiritual interests must have their explanation from behind. Let us emphasize that this spiritual union with God in the cosmic significance of the Cross of Christ  means that our supreme effectiveness is in the spiritual realm. We who are the Divine "spirituals" are to be energized by the Holy Spirit to take ascendancy in Christ over the satanic "spirituals," and thus know, something more than mere earthly dominion but "seated together with Him in the heavenlies" (as to our spirit) we are to learn to reign in that greater "kingdom of the heavens" of which the earthly millennial kingdom is only an earthly counterpart.

Again, let us affirm, that all the energies of God in our spirit are toward a corporate spiritual union with Christ whereby the impact of His victory and sovereignty shall be registered among and upon the "principalities and powers," etc., and their domination paralyzed, and ultimately destroyed.

The last word is to point out that it is because man has, and centrally is, a spirit that he can have intercourse with fallen spirits. We believe that this explains the whole system of spiritism (spiritualism) and that the supposed departed with whom spiritualists communicate are none other than these
"spiritual hosts" impersonating the departed, whom they knew in lifetime. Leaving the many phases of this thing in its outworkings and issues at the end of the age, let us note the terrible nemesis in wrecked minds and bodies: haunted, driven, distraught, reason-bereft souls; crowded asylums, prisons; suicides, moral and spiritual wrecks, etc., is because that which was given to man specifically for union, communion, and cooperation with God, namely the spirit of man, has been used as the medium and instrument for this demon invasion and control of his life. The tremendous warnings and terrible judgments associated with all kinds of spiritism; necromancy, witches, "familiar spirits," etc., are because of the spiritual complicity, dalliance, consorting, with fallen spirits whose purpose is always capture men and women through their spirits. This they will do even by adopting the guise of an angel of light and talking religion. Strange, isn't it, that fifty years ago men threw off  the belief in the supernatural in the scriptures, and today they are their school so strongly embrace spiritism? Surely this is "the working of error" sent that they who received not the truth for the love of it "might believe A LIE" "in order that they might be condemned" (2 Thessalonians 2:11).

It was the spiritual background of their life which led to the destruction of the Egyptians, Canaanites, etc., and this was spiritism in different forms; but it was their being joined to demons that involved them.

The most spiritual people apart from new birth union with God are in the greatest peril here, and even the Lord's own people by reason of their very spirituality need to constantly abide in the Cross of Christ that they shall not become exposed to "The wiles of the devil" (Ephesians 6:11).

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(The End)

How's Your Service?

"I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' "

—Acts 20:35

Some believers have known the Lord for years, yet they think it is all about everyone catering to them. But my question is this: When are they going to grow up and start serving other people?

Jesus said that it is more blessed to give than to receive (see Acts 20:35). In fact, a sign of spiritual growth is that you want to serve—not be served.

I will let you in on a little secret: I have found that as I give, God blesses and replenishes me. As I give, He gives to me. Luke 6:38 says, "Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. . . . For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you."

If we go through life thinking, I need this or I want that, we will never quite have enough. That is why we need to learn the joy of giving and the joy of serving. The church isn't a place where we simply have our needs met; it's a place where we help to meet the needs of others.

The church is also a place where we discover our spiritual gifts. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 4, "But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore He says: 'When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men' " (verses 7–8). God wants to give you (or has given you) spiritual gifts—gifts to use for His glory.

I think we need to start saying, "How can I help? What can I do? I want to be serving the Lord in some way, shape, or form." That is a mark of spiritual maturity.
~Greg Laurie~

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Inner Man of the Heart # 15

Spiritual Discernment and the Bewildering Mass of Conflicting Teachings

Having been so definite in pointing out that all the Divine operations in the "New Man" are directed toward the complete ascendency of the spirit over the soul and body, and that the anointing of God rests within and upon the "Inner Man," we can only stress two things. One is that whatever may appear to the contrary in emotion, pleasure, gratification, enjoyment, activity, resolve, etc., only that which comes out from the Holy Spirit - indwelt-Spirit is spiritual and effects spiritual ends. The natural - soulish - man can make an oil which is an imitation of "The Holy Anointing Oil," or fire which is "False Fire," which seems to serve the same purpose and produce similar results. Thus in the same meeting one may speak by revelation under the anointing of the Spirit of God, bringing those present face to face with issues of tremendous significance, and another may launch out on to a churning sea of beautiful ideas and strong emotional currents, and capture the meeting, apart from any spiritually discerning people present. The pressure and strenuousness of life lay many open to the peril of such emotional, mental, and volitional (power of human will) stimulants, but it may only be in the religious realm what alcohol or drugs are in the physical realm. The pernicious results are that people must have more and more, and they select such as can produce them, and gather around such a man. This is clearly shown by Paul to be "carnal." It is the opposite of "The anointing which ye have received abiding within you, and ye have no need that any should teach you" (1 John 2:27). This makes necessary the second thing, namely spiritual discernment. We must seek more and more from the Lord a quickening and purifying of spirit, and we must walk after the spirit in whatever discernment we have so that we are saved from the imitation "oil" which deceives and at length lands us either into error or gets us into a spiritual cul-de-sac. Such are they that are "carried about by every wind of teaching" (Ephesians 4:14). Spiritual discernment is one of the most vital needs of God's people today. Nothing can take its place, not even the wisest and best teaching or counsel. Only those who have it will be saved from the distraction and despair of the bewildering mass of conflicting teaching, "manifestations," and movements of these and the coming days.

There is another thing that Christian workers should remember. It is always a dangerous and paralyzing thing to allow soulish human feelings to come in and take precedence over the spirit in relationships where spiritual help is needed. Compassion, love, sympathy, concern, interest, desire to help, etc., must be absolutely under the control and direction of the spirit. Failure to observe this law has resulted in some of the most ghastly moral and spiritual tragedies in the lives of Christian workers. If we allow either natural attraction or human desire on the one hand, or natural repulsion and human distaste on the other, to have any ruling place, the consequences may be disastrous, and the result will certainly be spiritual failure. Very often even in the case of a loved relative the human interest has to be made quite secondary - sometimes ruled out altogether - before a spiritual issue can be effected. OUR will and wish has to be surrendered to God's.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 16)

Cease Straining and Rest in the Lord

My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19 ESV)

God has assumed the responsibility of a Father, and has taken up those responsibilities to meet them in and through His Son. The enlargement of that in Christian utterance is found in Philippians 4:19. This means Christ recognized, Christ known, God in Christ, and that on the ground of our utter separation unto Him. But note: it is God’s gift. He says that it was not Moses that gave the manna in the wilderness, but His Father. Then it is not the result of man’s labors, it is the issue of God’s grace. Are you laboring for spiritual growth? How we have striven and strained to increase our spiritual measure and our spiritual stature. What a burden we have taken upon us in relation to the maintenance of our own spiritual life! We have almost assumed the whole responsibility for our spiritual life, and made it as though it depended upon our labors in prayer, our labors in the Word of God, our labors in the Lord’s service, our effort, our stress.
No one will think that we have made little of prayer or the Word. No one will think that we have said you must have no care whatever for your spiritual life, but there is such a difference between assuming responsibility for ourselves and recognizing that God has assumed that responsibility. And because God has assumed the responsibility we should cooperate with God. There is all the difference between trying to work for our justification, and working because we are justified; between trying to work for our perfection, and working because our perfection is secured in Christ. The difference is not merely technical, it is practical, and of immense value. Sometimes it is necessary for the Lord to say to us: "Look here, you are making far too much of your own praying, far too much of your own business in the Scriptures, you are unconsciously coming to think that everything depends upon how much and how fervently you pray." And then you go out and talk to other people about your prayer life as a kind of setting up against their own. You do not mean it, but the implication is that this is what accounts for your growth, and it is going to count for other people’s growth. That must not be a cause but a result. 'The cause, the secret, the spring of everything is Myself, and sometimes you will just have to cease straining, and rest back in Me, in loving trust. Learn to do that a little more, and then you will pray better, and I shall be able to do something more!'

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Inner Man of the Heart # 14

The Ascendency of the Spiritual Man Over the Natural Man (continued)

May we just strike a note of warning here. There is a peril that we might live too much in our own human spirit as a thing by itself. For the born again child of God the Holy Spirit is the Divine indweller of the human spirit, and it is not our spirit but His presence in our spirit that has to be our direction and government. A larger reason for this warning will be mentioned later, but as one very vital principle for safety in this matter let us here emphasize the corporate nature of the Holy Spirit's work. He is essentially the gift to the Body of Christ as a whole, and only indwells individual members relatively. It is Christ corporate Who is anointed in this age to fulfill the eternal purpose, and the Holy Spirit resting in and upon the "Body" (1 Corinthians 12:12) energizes and endows each member in relation to the whole and to the "Head" (Ephesians 1:22). Hence spiritual guidance should be corporate, and the complement, corroboration, and confirmation should be sought in the spirits of "two or three" members. This "discerning of the Body" (1 Corinthians 10:16, 17; 11:29) is very important in the matter of service as in fellowship. God is jealous of proper order in the Body of Christ, and failure to note this is the traceable cause of very much error, chaos, and disruption; as also of failure, suffering, and shame. There are also "joints of supply" in the "Body," and while they do not compose a priestly or ecclesiastical class or order, they are in - by the appointment of God and the seal of the Spirit - a representative position and capacity. God will not have these set aside, but requires that those who are within the sphere of their oversight (1 Peter 5:2, etc.) shall consult with them, "comparing spiritual things with spiritual" in the matter of service and conduct, as in matters of truth and doctrine. Where this is possible, God locks up His direction to this law, and only trouble can follow sooner or later if the law is ignored. We must not overlook the Divine appointments within the "Body" (Ephesians 4:11-14). These appointments were made and these personal gifts were given for the "perfecting of the saints unto the work of ministry, for the building up of the Body of Christ till" - till when, the end of the Apostolic age? - "till we attain ... unto the measure of the stature of the fullness  of Christ," and that has not taken place yet.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 15 - (Spiritual Discernment and the Bewildering Mass of Conflicting Teachings)

The Face of the Master

"His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance!" Revelation 1:16

We have no picture of Jesus Christ. The paintings of Him which artists have given us, are only their conceptions of His appearance. None of these paintings, however noble and worthy they may be, are to be thought of as true portraits of the Master's face.

Yet the face of Jesus Christ must have been very beautiful. It is sin that disfigures the human countenance, and there was no sin in Him. His life was spotless and pure.

They tell us that the thoughts make the face. We cannot altogether hide our inner life from men's eyes. What goes on in the depths of our being, comes up to the surface in unmistakable indications and revealings. The faulty qualities of the heart work out in the life and betray themselves in the face.

If you are discontented--then the discontent will reveal itself in your features. If you have bitter thoughts and feelings in your heart--then the bitterness will write its hard lines on your countenance. But if you habitually think gentle thoughts, kindly thoughts, peaceful thoughts--then on your face will come gentleness, kindness, and peace. If you keep love in your heart amid all your afflictions and trials, all the irritations and harrowings of life--then your face will shine with love. There is much truth in the familiar lines:
"Beautiful thoughts make a beautiful soul,
 And a beautiful soul makes a beautiful face."

We know that all the thoughts of the Master were beautiful thoughts. Heaven dwelt in Him, and there was never any fleck of stain upon His soul. In a world of hate, cruelty, and injustice--His heart was always full of love. Never was an unkind thought there for a moment. Infinite holiness dwelt in Him. All the beatitudes had their home in His bosom. All the fruits of the Spirit grew to perfect ripeness in Him.
"Whatever things are true,
 whatever things are noble,
 whatever things are just,
 whatever things are pure,
 whatever things are lovely,
 whatever things are commendable,
 if there is any virtue and
 if there is anything praiseworthy--
meditate on these things!" Philippians 4:8
These were the things on which Jesus thought continually. He never had . . .
  a sordid thought,
  an impure thought,
  a trivial thought,
  a selfish thought.
His mind was never disturbed by discontent, by impurity, by anxiety. His converse was always with His Father. Though walking on the earth among sinful men, He really lived in Heaven. All His feelings, desires, affections, and emotions were holy. He always did those things that were pleasing to His Father. If beautiful thoughts make a beautiful soul--then the soul of Jesus was spotlessly, divinely beautiful. And if a beautiful soul makes a beautiful face--then the face of Jesus was transcendently lovely!

Sorrow mars some faces. It need not do so. Only when affliction is not accepted in love and faith--does it leave marks of disfigurement. Sorrow sweetly endured, transfigures the face, giving it new beauty. Jesus was a man of sorrows. But His sorrows only made His face more radiant.

Poverty writes hard lines on some faces. Jesus was poor--He had nowhere to lay His head. But His poverty left no trace on His features--except to make them gentler, kindlier, more sympathetic toward human poverty and need. His face was quiet, calm, serene, heavenly.

~J. R. Miller~


Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Inner Man of the Heart # 13

The Ascendency of the Spiritual Man Over the Natural Man (continued)

As the spiritual and inner man is renewed, strengthened, educated, the natural and outer man is brought into subjection and robbed of his dominance, until slowly the soul is made the servant of the renewed spirit, and the body is harnessed as the instrument for doing what the soul has come to understand as the will of the spirit, which in its turn has been "joined" to the Lord One Spirit."

There is no time limit to this process or progress. Some have more to unlearn than others. The spirits of many are not as pure as some because they have been muffled and beclouded by much mental and emotional apprehension. One often sees people in a meeting to whose spirit very little gets through because they are judging with their heads according to some accepted tenets, or they are prejudiced, suspicious, biased, or the slaves of a system and not at liberty in the spirit. It is a joy to meet a pure and open spirit, in this sense we have to "turn and become as little children." How pure the spirit of a child is! Therefore how true its intuitions or discernment. Some of us remember now the judgment we passed upon certain people when we were quite young. Our conclusions were quite clear and definite, although we could never have stated them, but looking back with the larger understanding, how perfectly right we were, and time has only corroborated our "feelings." We did not arrive at these by reasoning, or knowledge, or even studied observation, we could never have given our reasons or explained ourselves in the matter. There were the pure intuitions of an unbeclouded spirit. Such is to be our state, not in the natural but in the Divine realm. Lord, make us in this matter to have the spirit of a child, for of such is the realm of the heavenlies!

We now see why it is that the Lord is primarily concerned with our spirit. It is here that the new life resides; it is here that the Holy Spirit operates: it is here that our true education takes place: it is here that we have fellowship with God: it is here that we are to be made strong: it is here that resistance to the enemy is to be established: it is here that authority over malignant spiritual forces is to function. It is this spirit possessed of the resurrection life of Christ which is the germ (the seed, the root) of the resurrection body; it is here that we are saved in trial: it is here that that sinless, inviolate, life of God is (1 John 3:9, 18) not in our "outer" or "old man." It is only as we come to the outer man that the enemy has power over us.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 14)

Is the Lord In This?

The fire will test the quality of each person’s work. (1 Corinthians 3:13 NIV)

I have no doubt that you love the Lord. I am not raising any question about that. But, I do say again, we are involved in a great system which is a very complicated thing, and a great deal of it is not of the Lord. It is something that man has brought in. Man has put his hand upon the things of the Lord, and man has made things according to his own mind, and therefore a great deal has come in which is of man and not of the Lord. And when we say that, we are not only thinking of Christianity in general, we are thinking of ourselves. This is true of ourselves. We have all come into something called Christianity, and we have all taken on something of Christianity, and there may be a great deal that we have to get rid of, and come back to the simple fundamental reality. And the fundamental reality of all realities is the presence of the Lord. We have got to know that the Lord is with us, and that the Lord is with us in all that we do, that this did not originate in our mind. It did not originate in our will, it did not originate in our emotion. It did not come from our soul, this thing has come from the Lord in every detail, like the tabernacle. Just like Jesus Christ, in every detail it has to come to us from God.

That ought to send us back to our knees – to go through all our work. It may be necessary for us, from time to time, to stand back and ask the Lord about all that we are doing. 'Is this out from God, or is it something out from ourselves? Is this way of doing things the mind of God, or is it our mind? Is the Lord in this, or have we come into it?' You see, that is a great deciding matter. Make no mistake about it! Everything that is only of man is going to perish. Sooner or later it will be shaken. Every man's work shall be tried in the fire, says the Word of God.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Inner Man of the Heart # 12

The Ascendency of the Spiritual man Over the Natural Man

The nature of this union is set forth below and is five-fold. In the fall, the soul was allowed to take the ascendency over the spirit; the spirit with conscience, communion, and intuition being subjected to the soul with its reason, desire, and volition (will). This ascendency of the soul made man what he is afterward called; the "natural," i.e., soulish (Greek psukikos) man, and in as much as the reasoning and desiring and choosing were inspired and prompted by the devil, and the capitulation was to him, and the spirit union with God was rejected and violated in all its claims, the result is that man is not only separated from God but in his natural state is horizoned by a lower life than was intended. But more, he is then called "flesh," this is the active law of his fallen condition. It is not something in him, it is himself, the real principle of his being, and is always set over against "spirit" which is the real principle of life reunited with God by regeneration.

Further, as he capitulated, not only to the soul life, but to the devil, he is ever after, until delivered by Christ, actuated and influenced by "the god of this age," whose methods are not always manifestly against God, but are always in the place of God, even to the extent of projecting a counterfeit religion, with similar phraseology and means. The result of all this, as we have seen, is spirit, or spiritual death, and the nature of death in the Bible is primarily the separation of the spirit from God. All else that is called death results from this. Lost likeness, fellowship, knowledge, cooperation, dominion, with all that God meant and intended by them - this is the foundation of death. So thus "in Adam all died" "death passed upon all." This may be represented by lines which narrow down as they move towards the Cross. This movement indicates how through the Old Testament age God by types and figures is ever preaching the fact that death is His sentence and must be carried out. There may be seen also lines which widen out from the point of the fall and death. These represent the natural man's mind about himself. He refuses the Divine verdict and believing and preaching a gospel of the inherent goodness of human nature seeks to develop a system of improvement by all manner of means. For him salvation is in himself, and civilization, education, social reconstruction, mutual improvement, etc., will at length bring in a golden age. He refutes the Word of God which demands new birth. He makes sin and evil a negative thing, and so on. Thus man's estimate of himself is ever growing, and the opposite of the mind of God.

In the center of history God places the Cross and in the representative Person of Christ gathers the whole race under His own sentence and takes it into the full outworking thereof in death. Down through the center of the Cross is a black zero line. This marks in God's settled judgment the end of the natural man. From that point God has nothing to do with man only on the ground of that life which is begotten from the dead (Revelation 1:5). He demands that there shall be both an acceptance of and a witness born to the fact that when Christ died, that we were "crucified with Christ," (Romans 6:3-6; Colossians 2:12; etc). This has been dealt with at length in "Incorporation into Christ," Number 1. Then we come to this side of the Cross and the lines cross once again. First there is the beginning of the new man - the inner man - the spiritual man. He is "begotten again by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3). Here begins that spiritual life, walk, knowledge, etc., of which we have spoken, and here therefore begins that life process by which the new or spiritual man takes the ascendency over the old or natural man by the power of the Cross.

As we "walk in the spirit" we cease to "fulfill the lusts of the flesh." Thus in the spirit by the indwelling of God's Spirit there is, through Calvary, a restoration of the lost likeness, fellowship, knowledge, cooperation, and spiritual dominion.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 13)

The Matter of the Heart

"These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me."

—Matthew 15:8

Have you ever found yourself distracted during a time of worship? As you're singing, maybe you're thinking, I am so sick of this song. Why are we still singing this song?Or maybe you're looking around and saying to yourself,I'm more spiritual than anyone here. I'm such an awesome worshiper. Then again, you might be thinking,I wonder what I should eat after church?

During a worship service, it's possible to have no thought of God whatsoever. But here's what we need to know: Worship is not an art form; it is a heart form. God looks at what is going on inside. Quoting from Isaiah, Jesus said, "These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me" (Matthew 15:8).

Jesus told the story of a Pharisee and a tax collector who both went to the temple to pray. Tax collectors were despised in the eyes of nearly everyone, while Pharisees were the most religious guys around. Jesus said that the "Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess' " (Luke18:11–12).

The tax collector, however, stood at a distance in the temple. He wouldn't even look up to heaven as he beat his breast and prayed, "God, be merciful to me a sinner!"

Jesus concluded by saying, "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other" (verse 14). Why? Because his heart was right toward God.

When we worship, let's do it from our heart. Because the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.
~Greg Laurie~

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Inner Man of the Heart # 11

The Underlying Truth of the Prodigal Son (continued)

One other thing in general has to be mentioned. There is the language of the spirit, and he will have to realize increasingly that "speech in the enticing words of man's wisdom," or what man calls "excellency of speech" (1 Corinthians 2:1) will avail nothing in spiritual service. If all the religious speech and preaching and talking about the Gospel which goes on in one week was the utterance of the Holy Spirit what tremendous impact of God upon the world would be registered. But it is obviously not so and this impact is not felt. It is impossible to speak in and by the Holy Spirit without something happening which is related to Eternity. But this capacity belongs only to the "born of the Spirit" ones, whose spirit has been joined to the Lord, and even they have to learn how to cease from their own words and "speak as they are moved by the Spirit." It is a part of the education of the inner man to have his outer man slain in the matter of speech, and to be brought to the state to which Jeremiah was brought "I am but a child, I cannot speak." Not only as sinners have we to be crucified with Christ, but as preachers, or speakers, or talkers. The circumcision of Christ, which Paul says is the cutting off of the whole body of the flesh, has to be applied to our lips, and our spirit has to be so much in dominion that on all matters where God cannot be glorified we "cannot speak." A natural facility of speech is no strength in itself to spiritual ministry, it may be a positive menace. It is a stage of real spiritual development when there is a genuine fear of speaking unless it is in "words which the Holy Spirit teacheth." On the other hand a natural inability to speak need be no handicap. To be present "in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling" (1 Corinthians 1:3) may be a mood which becomes an apostolic, nay rather, a Holy Spirit ministry. The utterance of God is a very different thing in every way from that of men. How much is said in the Scriptures about "conversation," "the tongue," "words," etc., and ever with the emphasis that these are to be in charge of the spirit and not merely expressions of the soul in any of its departments.

If it is true that only the quickened spirit can receive Divine revelation, it is equally true that such revelation requires a Divine gift of utterance in order to realize its spiritual end.

Many there are who preach or teach the truth as out from a mental apprehension with the natural ability, but the vital potentialities of that truth are not being manifest either in their own lives or in the lives of those who hear. The spiritual results are hardly worth the effort and expenditure. The virtue of speech resulting in abiding fruit to the glory of God, whether that speech be preaching, teaching, conversation, prayer, is not in its lucidity, eloquence, subtlety, cleverness, wit, thoughtfulness, passion, earnestness, forcefulness, pathos, etc., but only in that it is an utterance of the Holy Spirit.

"Thy speech betrayeth thee" may be applied in many ways, for whether one lives in the flesh or in the spirit, in the natural man or in the spiritual may will always be made manifest by how we speak and the spiritual effect of the fruit of our lips.

O, for crucified lips among God's people, and O for lips among God's prophets touched with the blood-soaked fire-charged coal from that one great altar of Calvary!

Having at some length dealt with the difference, nature, and characteristics of the inner and the outer man, we must now come to some specific emphasis. The first of these is all inclusive, and relates to:

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 12 - (The Ascendency of the Spiritual Man Over the Natural Man)

You Are Being Watched

They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord's Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

—Acts 2:46–47

There is a direct connection between a Christian's worship and a Christian's witness. Believers are being watched both inside and outside of the church.

When you go to church every week and things are going your way, when you have the perfect little family, a great job, a nice home, and your health is good, people will look at you and say, "Well yeah, you are not living in reality. Of course you are happy."

But then one day maybe tragedy befalls you. You lose that job or one of your children or your health. When something difficult happens and you are still praising God, that is a testimony to a lost and watching world.

Your worship is a witness to people at church as well. When nonbelievers go to church, they are checking everything out. They are taking it all in. What kind of witness are you to the people sitting near you? They may be Christians, or they may not be. They may be there for the first time—and maybe for the last time. They will form an evaluation on what they believe about God and Christianity largely based on what they see.

You might say, "Well, that is a lot of pressure, Greg." All I am saying is that you are being watched. And I think it's a powerful testimony when you are worshiping the Lord and a nonbeliever is standing there next to you thinking,What is this all about?

It was watching Christians worship the Lord on my high school campus that opened my heart to listen to the gospel. And then when someone shared from God's Word, I wanted to hear it, and I ended up believing that day. My heart was opened by watching Christians worship with sincerity.

Worship is a witness.
~Greg Laurie~

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Inner Man of the Heart # 10

The Underlying Truth of the Prodigal Son (continued)

To walk by faith there must, in the very nature of the case, be a stripping off of all that the outer man of the senses clings to, demands, craves for, as a security and an assurance. When the spiritual life of God's people is in the ascendent they are not troubled by either the absence of human resources on the one hand, or by the presence of humanly overwhelming odds against them on the other hand. This is patent in their history as recorded in the Scriptures. But it is also true that when the spiritual life is weak, undeveloped, or at the ebb they look around for some tangible, seen, resource upon which to fasten. Egypt is the alternative to God whenever and wherever spiritual life is low. To believe in and trust to the intuitive leadings of the Holy Spirit in our spirit, even though all is so different from the ways of men, and even though such bring us to a Canaan which for the first time being is full of idolatry and where a mighty famine reigns; where satan seems to be lord, and no fruit is found; where all is so contrary to what our outer man had decided must be in keeping with a leading and a promise of God. To leave our old sphere of life in the "world," to break with our kindred, our father's house, for this - "this"!, and then have to wait through much continuous striping off of those means, and methods, and habits, and judgments, which are the very constitution of the natural man - this is the law of the spiritual walk; but this is God's chosen and appointed way of the mightiest vindication. Spiritual children and riches, and fruitfulness, and service, permanence, and friendship of God are for such Abrahams of faith or such children of Abraham in the spirit. God has laid a faith basis for His superstructure of spiritual glory, and only that which is built upon such a foundation can serve spiritual ends. Let this be the test of our walk in all personal, domestic, business, and church affairs. Here, again, we have a principle which if applied would be revolutionary, and would call for the abandonment of a tremendous amount of carnal "natural", worldly stuff in our resources and methods. "Faith without works is dead," true, but the works of faith - of the spirit - are not those of the flesh, the difference is incomparable. The walk of the flesh is one thing, but the walk in the spirit is quite another. The things of the Spirit are foolishness to the flesh. Men of faith see what others do not and act accordingly. This also being true of men who have lost their reason, the two are often confused and the children of the flesh think the children of the spirit are mad or insane. They are unable to discriminate between even the insanity of men and "the foolishness of God which is wise than men."

Abraham was fortified by his faith, but his walk in faith was intensely practical, though so different from the walk in the flesh. A writer has said that faith brings us into difficulties which are unknown to men who walk in the flesh or who never go out in faith. But such difficulties placing us beyond the power of the flesh to help make special Divine revelations necessary, and God always takes advantage of such times to give such needed education of the spirit. It is thus that the men of the spirit are taught and come to know God as no others know Him. Thus faith is the law of the walk of the new man - the inner man - which brings him by successive stages into the very heart of God, Who crowns this progress with the matchless designation "My friend"!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 11)

Do You Need A Restored Soul?

He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. Psalm 23:3

Many of us have read Psalm 23 so often that we can recite the verses, but the blessing comes in really meditating over them. If we are not careful as Christians, we will read such verses and miss what the Spirit is saying to us. Today, verse three jumps out the most to me. "He restores my soul" is the key phrase upon which I am meditating. What does "He restores my soul" really mean to me today?

Only the Lord can truly restore our soul. Our soul is that part of us that houses our emotions, our will, and the internal makeup of who we are. Our soul tends to wander off down selfish paths seeking to fulfill self-driven desires. We all struggle with this. The farther we wander, the more distant we get from God. Much of our wandering is subtle and hidden, even from our own senses; and this fact makes these wanderings often the most dangerous to us. But God knows all about us and He always wants us back. He knows that by restoring us back to Him we will be willing to be led down His path of righteousness. His paths of righteousness, not our own paths, bring us peace.

Ask the Lord today to reveal any areas of your heart that need restoration. Do you feel dull or numb in certain areas of your life? Tell the Lord about those places in your heart where you sense a lifelessness and ask Him to restore them back to Him. Restoration is not always just about life's obvious issues; it can be very much about life's less recognized ones. Take your time to really read Psalm 23 and listen to the Lord's impressions on your heart. The Word of God is the most powerful Word you will read or hear today.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Inner Man of the Heart # 9

The Underlying Truth of the Prodigal Son (continued)

There are two other lessons that we might mention as being set for the "new man," which are a part of the education and training of the spirit or "inner man of the heart." He has to learn a new walk. Many slips and perhaps tumbles may be him experience here, but such are honorable if they are marks of a stepping at the request of God, rather than a sitting still in fleshly disobedience or fear. The "Prodigal's" new relationship meant new shoes, and in later significance this meant "walking after the spirit and not after the flesh" (Romans 8:4). We have shown that the nature of this walk is that  reason, feeling, and natural choice are no longer the directive laws or criteria of the spiritual man. For such an one there are frequent experiences of a collision and contradiction between soul and spirit. The reason would dictate a certain course, the affections would urge in a certain direction, the will would seek to fulfill these judgments and desires, but there is a catch within, a dull, leaden, lifeless, numbed something at the center of us which spoils everything, contradicts us, and all the time, in effect, says "No!" Or it may be the other way around. An inward urge and constraint, that finds no encouragement from our natural judgment or reason, and is flatly contrary to our natural desires, likings, inclinations, preferences, or affections; while in that same natural realm we are not at all willing for such a course. In this case in everybody's life, but judgment, desire, and volition all joined against intuition. Now is the crisis. Now is to be seen who is to rule the life, or which road is to be chosen. Now the natural man or the outer man of sense, and the spiritual of inner man have to settle affairs. To learn to walk after the spirit is a life lesson of the new man, and as he is vindicated, as he always will be in the long run, he will come to take the absolute ascendency over the "natural" man and his mind, and so by the energizing of the Holy Spirit in the spirit of the mind of flesh - which in spiritual things always ends in death, and in the enthroning of the spiritual mind which is life and peace (Romans 8:6).

This, then, is the nature of the walk after the spirit, and its application is many-sided. But we must remember that law of this walk which is faith. We "walk in the spirit", but "we walk by faith."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 10)

Choose to Love

"You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust'" (Matthew 5:43-45).

These are not suggestions to be considered, they are commands to be obeyed.  "A pretty tall order," you say.  Perhaps, but definitely within the realm of possibility.

Jesus would never tell us to do something we could not do.  That would be unjust. We can bless, we can do good, we can pray for and forgive those who have wronged us.

When people say, "I can't forgive," that generally means, "I won't forgive."  The ability to love, bless and forgive is within us—because God is within us.  Learn to let His nature of love dominate you.  Choose to love.  Let what God has put on the inside come out.

The world needs to see real love—the kind of unconditional love that brought us into God's family.  And they need to see it in us.  If we really are the children of God, then His nature should be displayed in us and through us.  The most outstanding feature of God's nature is love.  God is love.

One last thing.  When you choose to love and forgive those who have wronged you, you set a prisoner free.  The prisoner is you. 

~Bayless Conley~

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Inner Man of the Heart # 8

The Underlying Truth of the Prodigal Son

Reverting to our illustration in that transition which is the underlying truth of the parable of 'The Prodigal Son,' namely the transition from a relationship on the ground of law, in the flesh, to that on the ground of grace, in the spirit, we have come to see that his knowledge of the Father in the Spirit was such as he had never possessed before. He never knew his Father before grace was revealed and the gift and operation of the Father's Spirit was manifested as he knew Him afterward. His spirit had been brought from death, darkness, distance, desolation, and now he had, not merely an objective knowledge of one whom he had termed Father, but a subjective understanding and appreciation of the Father, but a subjective understanding and appreciation of the Father. This is because the spirit of sonship had now been put within him whereby he cried "Father." There is no saving relationship to, or knowledge of God: only through grace and by new birth. Such knowledge is spiritual not "natural."

So, then, those who by being born again have become "little children," (Matthew 18:3), or "babes" in spiritual things, (1 Corinthians 3:1) have to learn everything afresh because "all things are new," and - now - "all things are out from God," (2 Corinthians 5:17-18). Such have to learn, a new kind of knowledge, as we have shown. But before this, and every and always, such have to learn to live by a new life - "to walk in newness of life." This life is always related to the resurrection of Christ, and is "the life whereby Jesus conquered death." The Apostle Paul says that our condition is to be "as those who are alive from the dead," and so saying he means that the manifestation in and by us is to be that of the shared power and triumph of the mighty resurrection life of Christ. Again, in order that we may learn how to live by this life, which is a superlative purpose of God concerning us, He is bound to bring our natural life to an end in all its effectiveness and value in the sphere of spiritual achievement, both in life and service. We cannot be or do what God requires: His life alone can produce after its kind. But while this is a law and a test, it is also a blessed truth that Christ came that we might have this life and have it abundantly. Read through your New Testament with the object of seeing how the Divine life is manifested by and in the enforced insufficiency of natural life, and you will see it to be the secret of the romance of New Testament accomplishments.

An element of offence in this teaching is that it demands a recognized and acknowledged weakness; it requires that we have to confess that in ourselves, for all Divine purposes, we are powerless and worthless, and of ourselves we can do nothing. The natural man's worship of strength, efficiency, fitness, ability meets with a terrible rebuff when it is confronted with the declaration that the universal triumph of Christ over hierarchies more mighty than those of flesh and blood was because "He was crucified through weakness" - God reduced to a certain impotence! - and "God hath chosen the weak things to confound the mighty" (2 Corinthians 13:4; 1 Corinthians 1:27).

To "glory in infirmity that His power may be the more manifest" is a far cry from the original Saul of Tarsus, but what an extraordinary change in mentality! God has, however, always drawn a very broad line between natural "might and power" on the one hand, and "My Spirit" on the other - and for evermore the law abides that "He that hateth his life (psuche, natural life) shall find it unto life eternal (aionian-zoe, Divine life of the ages) (John 12:25). This is said, of course, in relation to the interests of Christ.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 9)

Christ Has Set Us Free

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1 NIV)

There is another word, which just means that which has escaped from slavery and is breathing free air. That is a fine picture, a fine portrait for Overcomers – that which has escaped from slavery and is breathing free air. I dare not stay to interpret that. Some of us, even in our Christian lives and histories, know what it is to escape from slavery. Oh, the old bondage of the Christian system and order, expectation and demand, all the old rota and legality! – to be free of it all! Not only to be raised with Christ, but to have the grave clothes taken off and to be breathing the free air of the spiritually emancipated! That is what this word calls a "remnant," and that is not something extra to Christianity. It is exactly what you find at the beginning with the Church.

The Lord had cried in the midst of a burdened, tyrannized, religious nation – "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light" (Matt. 11:28-30). What is the old yoke, the old burden, which has harassed and worn these people so that they are weary to death, drawing out His compassionate appeal – "Come unto Me, and I will give you rest"? It is the old yoke and burden of legalistic religion, 'thou shalt' and 'thou shalt not': 'you must' and 'you must not' – the whole system built up like that; a great burden. "They bind heavy burdens," He said, "and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves will not move them with their finger" (Matt. 23:4). And this word for "remnant" means such as have escaped slavery and are breathing the free air. You find them in the beginning of the book of the Acts. Overcomers are those who go back to the beginning in experience. They do not take up something further which is deeper teaching or fuller light. It is the primal freshness and fullness of Christ that Overcomers represent – unfortunately, in contrast to the general situation.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Inner Man of the Heart # 7

The Indwelling Nature of the Holy Spirit (continued)

In all the things which are out from God and therefore spiritual "the mind of the flesh is death," but "the mind of the spirit is life, and PEACE." This then is the nature of spiritual knowledge, which is the only saving knowledge. We said at the commencement that this recognition of the difference between the "inner man" and the "outward man" would be absolutely revolutionary. Perhaps we can see this a little more clearly now. A rich knowledge of the scriptures, an accurate technical grasp of Christian doctrine, a doing of Christian work by all the resources of "worldly wisdom" or natural ability, a clever manipulation and interesting presentation of Bible content and themes, may get not one whit beyond the natural life of men and still remain within the realm of spiritual death. Men cannot be argued, reasoned, fascinated, interested, "emotioned," willed, enthused, impassioned, into the Kingdom of the heavens, they can only be born, and that is by spiritual quickening. This new birth brings with it new capacities of every kind, and among the most vital is a new and different faculty of Divine Knowledge, understanding, and apprehension. But some may ask, where does our brain come in? Do we understand you to mean that our human intellectual faculties are ruled out? No, not at all! But we do affirm again that this is not primary but secondary. The human intellect is not the first instrument of our apprehension of spiritual things, the things of God, but its function is that of giving them intelligent form to ourselves and to others.

Paul's intellectual power was not that which gave him his knowledge  of truth, but it was joined to the spirit for passing that truth on to others. Someone has said that the brain may act as a prism and give a spectrum of the Eternal light, but it is not the first organ of spiritual knowledge.

The spirit of man is that by which he reaches out into the Eternal and unseen. Intuition, then, is the mental organ of the spirit. It is in this sense, that is,the deadness of the spirit Godward, and the going on with religion in its manifold form of expression merely from the human mind, that God says, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," and the measure of the difference is the heaven from the earth; the heavenly and the earthly. One of the chief lessons that we have to learn, and which God takes pains to teach us is that spiritual ends demand spiritual means. The breaking down of our natural life, its mind, its resources, its energies, in the bitterness of disappointment through futility, failure, ineffectiveness, and deadlock in real spiritual achievement, is a life work, but the truth mentioned above is the explanation and key to the whole thing. What is true of spiritual knowledge is true in every other connection and direction as we shall see.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 8 - The Underlying Truth of the Prodigal Son)

Glorify the Lord in the Fires

Glorify ye the Lord in the fires" (Isa. 24:15).

Mark the little word "in"! We are to honor Him in the trial--in that which is an affliction indeed and though there have been cases where God did not let His saints feel the fire, yet, ordinarily, fire hurts.
But just here we are to glorify Him by our perfect faith in His goodness and love that has permitted all this to come upon us.
And more than that, we are to believe that out of this is coming something more for His praise than could have come but for this fiery trial.
We can only go through some fires with a large faith; little faith will fail. We must have the victory in the furnace.  --Margaret Bottome
A man has as much religion as he can show in times of trouble. The men who were cast into the fiery furnace came out as they went in--except their bonds.
How often in some furnace of affliction God strikes them off! Their bodies were unhurt--their skin not even blistered. Their hair was unsinged, their garments not scorched, and even the smell of fire had not passed upon them. And that is the way Christians should come out of furnace trials--liberated from their bonds, but untouched by the flames.
"Triumphing over them in it" (Col. 2:15).
That is the real triumph--triumphing over sickness, in it; triumphing over death, dying; triumphing over adverse circumstances, in them. Oh, believe me, there is a power that can make us victors in the strife. There are heights to be reached where we can look down and over the way we have come, and sing our song of triumph on this side of Heaven. We can make others regard us as rich, while we are poor, and make many rich in our poverty. Our triumph is to be in it. Christ's triumph was in His humiliation. Possibly our triumph, also, is to be made manifest in what seems to others humiliation.
--Margaret Bottome
Is there not something captivating in the sight of a man or a woman burdened with many tribulations and yet carrying a heart as sound as a bell? Is there not something contagiously valorous in the vision of one who is greatly tempted, but is more than conqueror? Is it not heartening to see some pilgrim who is broken in body, but who retains the splendor of an unbroken patience? What a witness all this offers to the enduement of His grace!  --J. H. Jowett
"When each earthly prop gives under,
And life seems a restless sea,
Are you then a God-kept wonder,
Satisfied and calm and free?"

~L. B. Cowan~