Google+ Followers

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Recovery of the Lord's Name In His People # 26

A Peculiar Vessel for a Peculiar People (continued)

You see that is a disposition. You will just only go as far as you must if you are like that. What the Lord is looking for, and it is always a minority, those people who never, never talk like that or think like this, May I? Must I? Or is there any wrong in it? They are always saying, "Can I" do more than I am doing? "Can I" go further than I am going? Is there not some fuller thing that the Lord would have, than I know, that I am in, than I am doing? A Question like that, always in the heart. Has the Lord not go something more than what I have known and what I am doing? Has the Lord not got something more? My heart is set upon all that the Lord wants and I am never to be satisfied with anything less, however good it is. Many, many good things, but is there not something more than this? Such are the people for whom the Lord is looking. And He Who readeth all hearts knows our disposition in this matter whether we will accept something less, or never accept anything less than all that the Lord would have; if He could have it.

The Lord allows opportunities to come for personal gratification; He presents something that demands hard work and then He watches the Disposition. Ready to jump at that which offers some personal gratification, to grasp at an opportunity, to skirt the hard work, that is your disposition! It proves you our, it proves you out. He sometimes presents something in His Word, brings you up against something in His Word. Now then, watch this disposition, "Must I, really must I? Is that a command? And I, if I do not do it I shall just be breaking a command? Is that really necessary?" And then we begin to go round to people we think are authorities, or know better than we do, who know the Lord better than we do, and say, "do you think it is necessary for me to do so and so, do you think that I must?" And how often, how often, even Godly people have said, "Oh, no, I do not think it is necessary for you to do that". Making men so often out authority in the things of God, when God has presented us with something. Going round going round.
I remember many years ago, to give you an illustration of what I meant, mean, I was visiting a certain home. I felt constrained to go to that home, at the time, that particular evening. I did not know why but it just seemed that I had to go and I was asking in my heart, why is it that I feel so strongly urged to go there tonight? And I went with this question. And I got there and while we were quietly talking together I could not see anything special, then and there was a knock at the door and a man was brought in where I was and introduced to me, a man who had a very remarkable conversation. He  was in the Army, in the old days it was, in the barrack rooms, converted, soundly converted, and had knelt down at his bedside with all the vile, blaspheming, drunken soldiers around him and paid the price, he meant business with God. And he came into this home on this particular occasion and I got into conversation with him, the first time I had met him and found him very earnest. And as we talked I was all the time asking this question, "what, what is it all about? What am I here for? Is there something?" We talk on and on and presently he said to me, "Mr. Sparks, what do you thing about so and so?" It was a water test. "What do you think about so and so?" Immediately he asked the question, I knew inside something touched me, "That is the meaning of your being here and his being here tonight at the moment." I said, "Why do you ask me? Does it matter what I think about it? Has the Lord said that to you?" He said, "Yes, I think He has, I think He has, I feel pretty sure He has, but I wanted some confirmation and so I am asking you." I said, "Brother, if the Lord has said that to you, you just go and be obedient to the Lord. Everything hangs upon your answering the Lord." It's a real test. And we talked, he went away. I went home.

Sometime later  I was at that home and along came the same man without any arrangement and I noticed that he was a little bit shy of me this time, a little bit awkward, but we got to talking, and he said, "I remember our talk here last time." He said, "After I left I went to such and such a minister of such and such a denomination who I know who did not believe in this particular thing, you see, and asked him what he thought about it, and he said, "Of course no, that is not necessary at all, that is not necessary." And  I said, "No! Mr. So and So the Lord ..." Well we talked and although I was not trying to press for this thing I was taking the Line of obedience to the Lord, and when He speaks, whatever it is, that Line. And the man came right back and said, "Yes, I see! I see! I cannot get away from it, the Lord, the Lord has brought me up against this." "All right brother, you know your way." He went away. It was some time, some months before we met again, and we did meet again a and this time there was a real arrest and death. We could not get anywhere at all. He was not coming on to that again, you see, he was afraid, afraid even to mention it, because, well it disturbed him, and we did not get any fellowship at all. But before he went I said, "Well brother, are you going on with the Lord, are you going to obey the Lord?" And he said, "I do not know when, everybody I speak to says that it is not necessary." "All right," I said, "The Lord has spoken, it is a very serious thing for you." And He went.

One year later in another part of London, the other side of London, I was going along walking along a road, and I saw the man coming toward me on a bicycle and as he got near he recognized me. He wheeled round and went for dear life in the opposite direction. That was that man. What did I hear of him? He had gone right away from the Lord back into the world, right back into his old sin, a drunkard and a blasphemer, right back where he was before he came to the Lord.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 27)

Patiently Wait for God Alone

Patiently wait for God alone, my soul! For he is the one who gives me confidence. — Ps 62:5 

Our too general neglect of looking for answers to what we ask, shows how little we are in earnest in our petitions. A husbandman is not content without the harvest; a marksman will observe whether the ball hits the target; a physician watches the effect of the medicine which he gives; and shall the Christian be careless about the effect of his labor?

Every prayer of the Christian, made in faith, according to the will of God, for which God has promised, offered up in the name of Jesus Christ, and under the influence of the Spirit, whether for temporal or for spiritual blessings, is, or will be, fully answered.

God always answers the general design and intention of His people’s prayers, in doing that which, all things considered, is most for His own glory and their spiritual and eternal welfare. As we never find that Jesus Christ rejected a single supplicant who came to Him for mercy, so we believe that no prayer made in His name will be in vain.

The answer to prayer may be approaching, though we discern not its coming. The seed that lies under ground in winter is taking root in order to a spring and harvest, though it appears not above ground, but seems dead and lost.

Delayed answers to prayer are not only trials of faith, but they give us opportunities of honoring God by our steadfast confidence in Him under apparent repulses.

~L. B. Cowman~

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Recovery of the Lord's Name In His People # 25

A Peculiar Vessel for a Peculiar People (continued)

But the Lord does not do it like that, friends. He has never done it with any of you like that. He has never done it with me. He has applied just as serious a test in very simple ways. I said, I think it was last night, that a gesture is a very, very, indicative and significant thing, just a gesture. Here is the gesture: there is one man, he flops down at the riverside and has a good going of  the water. The other man, he stands by the river and takes that in hand and laps on all alert. Well, why not? Ah, yes, but you see, bound up with that, that simple test, is what? Oh, it is not just a sign, not just a sign, that is, the Lord has not ordained that some lap and some go down on their knees and so you separate them, it is a sign of the heart, it is a revelation of the disposition. This larger crowd, they are the people who want a good time, even in the Lord's word, a good time. These others, they are not thinking of the good time at all, they are putting first things first, the first thing is this Battle, is this work of God. It comes first and everything else takes the last place, or the second place. This is the thing that is on hand, the revelation of a disposition.

And you know we are showing our dispositions in all sorts of simple ways, just as simple as that, as we go about our daily life, our daily work. Yes, the Lord's eye is upon us there, in the office, in the workshop, in the shop, in the study, wherever we are, the Lord's eye is upon us and our hearts are being revealed in just the way in which we go to work ... the ordinary things of lie. Oh, we separate these things, you see, the sacred and the secular, in a church it is one thing, of course in business it is another. But it isn't, it isn't. Our qualification is in our "disposition," you see, not in our consciousness of being under the eye of God, but when we are not conscious of that at all, and the disposition we are showing, that's the test, that is the test. And oh, how many and how simple are the ways in which we show our disposition, just our inclination.

Now of course that does apply, it does apply to every stage of the Christian life. I said that there are saved people of all kinds, but if you are going to have a really thorough going salvation and not one of those poor things, those inadequate things, those experiences of Christ which are anything but what He would have you have. If you are going to have that, you have got to show that you mean business, that you really do mean business, that this thing is a very serious things with you. You will get as much as your heart is set upon and no more and no less and the Lord is looking at your heart. You know those passages, David to his son Solomon, and God searcheth all hearts. Serve the Lord with all your heart. And the Lord searcheth all hearts. Those words of Jeremiah, "The Lord trieth the heart, the heart, the heart."

And what is true of your salvation is true of your usefulness to the Lord. None of us will ever be used of the Lord in any very real way unless, unless our hearts are wholly set upon the Lord and His interests. Not to have a good time, that is, as men speak, not to have every picnic that is going, not to have every diversion from the strain that is available, not to have every escape from responsibility and obligation that can be found. Not a disposition like that at all. But the disposition that recognizes how great is the matter in which we are involved and we are people wholly committed to that, and our own gratification and satisfaction is not allowed to affect or influence us at all; it is a heart wholly for the Lord. Now I said that the Lord has many ways of finding that out, I could not compass all the ways in which He does it, but what I want to say is this, that the Lord will present a test, He will present a test. It will not always be as to whether the things is  right and wrong, but it may more often be as to whether it is the good or the better. If you are of the disposition of the great majority you will be always asking questions like, well may I not? Is there any harm in it? What is wrong with that? You see! And there was nothing wrong with drinking the water, it is not a case of whether it is wrong or whether you may, whether you are obliged to.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 26)

So Many Millions of Nominal Christians!

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven." Matthew 7:21

"Holding to the form of godliness but denying its power." 2 Timothy 3:5 

Never have there been so many millions of nominal Christians as there are today--and never has there been such a small percentage of real believers. Never has Christendom been so crowded with those who have a form of godliness, but who are strangers to its transforming power. We seriously doubt whether there has ever been a time in the history of this Christian era when there were such multitudes of deceived souls within the churches, who truly believe that all is well with their souls, when in fact the wrath of God abides on them!

It is not that those empty professors who call themselves Christians are all conscious hypocrites, rather are they deceived souls; and the tragic thing is that in most churches there is nothing in the preaching which is at all calculated to un-deceive them; instead, there is only that which bolsters them up in their delusion! 

There is a large class in Christendom today who are satisfied with a bare profession. They have heard some of the fundamentals of the Christian faith, and have given an intellectual assent thereto, and they mistake that for a saving knowledge of the Truth. Their minds are instructed--but their hearts are not reached, nor their lives transformed! They are still worldly in their affections and ways. There is . . .
  no real subjection to God,
  no holiness of walk,
  no fruit to Christ's glory.

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14

~Arthur Pink~

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Recovery of the Lord's Name In His People # 24

A Peculiar Vessel for a Peculiar Purpose (continued)

And of course that gives some support to the interpretation that has been placed upon this. It does not say so here but the interpretation that has been given to this is, those who got down on their knees to drink were those who were thinking more of their own gratification than of the Lord's interests in the battle. Those who just lapped it in their hands took it and lapped, standing, were those who were not thinking so much of that as they were of the very business on hand. I think that is a genuine interpretation. It certainly did indicate a disposition and it is upon that everything hangs, a disposition. They were all thirsty and in need of refreshment and renewal. There is nothing wrong at all in their drinking of the water, nothing wrong with the water, nothing wrong with their taking a drink of the water, nothing wrong with that. The difference was just this: that some regarded the water as a necessity, while the others the majority, made it an indulgence. Some took it because it was absolutely necessary, but getting the necessity attended to, they were already erect and ready for the real business. The others were having a good time and just giving themselves up to it, so to speak. They were more occupied with the thought of getting as much personal gratification out of this as they could and not wholly and completely concerned with the Lord's interests. The great thing which was at stake at that time: the honor and glory of the Name of the Lord in His people. Now that is the simple message you see, but it is a case of sifting unto vital service, trying with a special vocation in view.

Most of course, in a matter of salvation, the Lord does not always carry things so far, press issues so thoroughly. It seems that in the matter area of salvation all kinds of people get in, every type that you can think of comes into the realm of being "saved", although I think in many, many instances they do not get there without some test. However, I am not talking about the whole mass of Christians and the matter of their being "saved" and the ground upon which they are saved - that may simply be, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." But I am speaking about something more than that, the great vocation into which we are called as God's saved ones, and the specific work that God needs to have done at a given time and a time such as this.

Dear friends, we shall never be of any use to the Lord beyond the point where we ourselves know the Lord. Real service, real service, listen; is limited to the point of the experience of the servant. You cannot go beyond that, you cannot lead anyone beyond the point where you have gone yourself, you cannot give anybody anything beyond what you have got yourself. That is of real truth, of real value. You get a lot of teaching, but that does not get people anywhere. And if you and I are going to serve the Lord in His very, very serious and solemn need of bringing, leading people of His into the greater fullness of Christ, we have got to be a special kind of people. A 32,00 type won't do and the 10,000 type won't do. It is the three hundred type, alone, the three hundred type. The Lord said, "By the 300 I will save Israel"; this is sifting down, reduction, in order to get to effectiveness. This is a kind of limitation that means Expansion, Enlargement, but it has to take place, it has to take place. And so God applies His tests and brings in His trials to get a peculiar vessel for a peculiar purpose, that I feel is His message at this time. It is not just a general kind of convention and conference for general teaching to Christian people, it is something with a specific object relative to the tragic situation among the Lord's  people today, to get something after the order and kind of these three hundred.

Well, what are they like? The Lord has very simple ways and means of trying and proving, and they are often so simple that we do not recognize them as trying's and proving's. This was a very simple thing, was it not? For the whole 10,000, a very simple thing to bring them down to the water and let them drink of it. And the last thing it seems that occurred to any of them was that as they came down to the water and took their drink they were under a Supreme test, the eye of God was upon them, and that eye was leading from them to Gideon. You see! You see! You note that. And they did not realize what was happening, this great sifting and selectiveness for this purpose, was the going on in some very ordinary and simple matter, out of their consciousness. You know, you and I would rise to the occasion if an angel of God came to us and said, "Look here now, you are called to a great piece of work for God, and I want you to give some proof that you are ready for it," why we would rise to it wouldn't we? We would be very, very careful watching everything to see that we did not default, we did not disappoint, we were not set aside, ruled out, right on our toes as we say, about it.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 25)

Do Not Be Afraid, for I Am With You!

Do not be afraid, for I am with you!

(James Smith, "The Believer's Companion in Seasons of Affliction and Trouble" 1842)

"Do not be afraid, for I am with you!" Isaiah 43:5 

The presence of a friend in trouble is cheering and consoling. But it is too often the case, that our friends, like the friends of Job, prove to be miserable comforters. They do not enter into our troubles--or they cannot help us. The advice they give at times--only aggravates our woe, and adds to our distress. 

But, believer, your God says, "Do not be afraid, for I am with you!" What a thought is this! God, the great, the glorious, the omnipotent Jehovah--is with me!

With me to help me, 
with me to comfort me, 
with me to sanctify me, 
with me to save me, 
with me as a kind benignant Father,
with me in every place, in every trouble, in every conflict,
with me through all my journey and for evermore, 
with me on the bed of sickness,
with me  to hold communion with me,
with me to listen to my sighs,
with me to number my tears, and
with me to secure me from all injury! 

Appearances may be very dark; the night may seem very long; and your pains, weakness, and fears may be many and great. Still, if the Lord is with you, you may sing, "Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty--yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!" Habakkuk 3:17-18

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Recovery of the Lord's Name In His People # 23

A Peculiar Vessel for a Peculiar Purpose (continued)

But it may be that there are those here, perhaps many of this company, who are not in that enjoyment.They are just striving to eek out a spiritual existence. As we say, "to make ends meet, to find something upon which to subsist and keep going," they're living on a very poor fare. They're hungry, longing for more, and it may be that you do not feel it is altogether helpful to be told about the things that there are for you. What you want to know is, how you can get them and how you can come into that enjoyment. Well, we are saying some things about that, but that is not our particular point tonight. We may be moving more in that direction later, as you see.

But the other thing that is before us, the other main thing, is that the Lord is showing to have moved from time to time during the history of His people when they have been in state of ... poor state spiritually, weakness, and starvation, poverty, and defeat. He has moved to bring into relationship with himself in a peculiar way; some instrument, sometimes an individual, sometimes a company, who have come into such a knowledge of Himself in this fuller way. In the greater fullness of Christ that they could be instrumental in bringing more of the Lord's people into that good. The Lord must have instruments with which to do His work and vessels through which to reveal Himself. He has moved like that and shall we not say that He is seeking to have such an instrument in our time, seeing that the need is so great. And there is really so little real knowledge and experience of those greater fullnesses that are in Christ. Would He not being a people near to Himself and working them in a peculiar way, that there they are. He might make people envious, envious, looking on their food and coveting it, looking upon their wealth and longing for it. Yes, by expression, by example, by manifestation to bring His people into a better position and a better condition. Well, those are the things that are engaging us in these gatherings.

Now this evening and in that setting I have a word which will be a very simple word indeed. But its simplicity does not mean that it is not very important. It springs out of the passages of Scripture which I read to you just now, particularly as illustrated in that incident with Gideon who was such an instrument laid hold of by God for the deliverance of God's people from their poor condition. The incident of securing a company, a band, by which the Lord could accomplish that deliverance and secure unto His people their rights of inheritance in Himself. You remember, Gideon blew the trumpet and there gathered unto him a great host, over 30,000 men, of course even at that it was a poor, poor thing compared with the Midianites and all the rest. Nevertheless, it was 30,000. The Lord said, "Gideon, the people that are with thee are too many, too many for Me to deliver the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel vaunt themselves against Me." Terrible, terrible possibility saying mine own, mine own arm, mine own power saved me.

Well, the first test was whosoever was fearful and afraid, let him depart. We, I think have to admire these people for one thing if we cannot admire them for everything. They were at least honest, ready to admit that they were afraid of this business. Well, they had good reason to be afraid you know. It says that these enemies, these enemies were like locusts among them, spreading themselves right over the whole land, filling it. They had good reason to be fearful and afraid. And they honestly in act said, "we are, and we glad of the opportunity of going home, thank you." And away they went. Ten thousand remained, still the Lord had got His basic difficulty, that he had to say to Gideon that there were still too many. Bring them down to the water and I will try them for thee there.

You know the rest of the story just what happened. The 10,000 were brought down to the water, to the river, and then the Lord whispered in Gideon's ear, "if you had let the people know that would've given the whole thing away". And they kept the whole thing and just quietly aside said to Gideon, "Now then, tell them to have a drink. Now you watch, how they drink. Those that lapped like a dog, you just set them on the side. And those that stepped down to it on their hands, and knees, and faces and wallow in it, you put them by themselves." And so Gideon gave the order that the whole army could have a drink, and they did. And their drinking all unbeknown to themselves; as a test. The Lord said that it was a trying of them. "I will try them for thee there." The word "try" here is the word which means, "tested under an ordeal." The same word is used in another place "thou hast tried us as cinder is tried in the fire." An ordeal to discover something, to bring something to light, to bring something to the surface. "I will try them for thee there," This water scene is said to be a "trying."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 24)

This is Why the World Hates You!

That is why the world hates you!

"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you!" John 15:18-19 

"Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you!" 1 John 3:13 

The world will not hate mere professors

The man . . .
  who is conformed to this world,
  who takes part in its politics,
  who shares its pleasures,
  who acts according to its principles--
even though he claims the name of Christ, will not be ostracized or persecuted. 

The woman . . .
  who is conformed to this world,
  who follows its fashions,
  who enjoys its society,
  who desires its amusements,
--will not be shunned by it. 

The world loves its own. But those who walk in separation from the world (and they are few in number), those who follow a rejected Christ, will know something of what it means to enter into the fellowship of His sufferings (Philippians 3:10).

"Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:17-18

~Arthur Pink~

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Recovery of the Lord's Name In His People # 22

A Peculiar Vessel for a Peculiar Purpose

In the seventh chapter of the book of the Judges: "Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and encamped beside the spring of Harod: and the camp of Midian was on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley. And the Lord said unto Gideon, "The people that are with thee are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel vaunt themselves against Me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me. Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people saying, whosoever is fearful and trembling, let him return and depart from Mount Gilead."

And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand. And the Lord said unto Gideon, "The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be that of whom I say unto thee, this shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomever I say unto thee, this shall not go with thee, the same shall not go." So he brought down the  people unto the water: and the Lord said unto Gideon, every one that lappet of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; like wise everyone that boweth down upon his knees to drink. And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was three hundred men: but all the rest of the people downed down upon their knees to drink water. And the Lord said unto Gideon, "By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thy hand; and let all the people go away every man unto his place."

Turn to two other scriptures in the first book of the Chronicles, chapter twenty-eight and verse nine:

"And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve Him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searcheth all hearts and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts."

The other passage is in the prophecies of Jeremiah, chapter seventeen, verses nine and ten:

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know it? I, the Lord search the heart, the mind, I try the heart even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings."

There are some of you present this evening who have not been with us before in this conference and  possibly some of you who do not know the Lord Jesus in a personal way. Let me say here that we are met as a company of God's people from many parts of the world that we must receive from Him some light and instruction concerning His will where we are concerned at this present time. In saying that, you will all understand and appreciate the nature of the ministry; that I believe that the word we shall have this evening may reach even to those who are not the Lord's and we certainly shall have such in mind as we go on.

There are two main things being brought before us just now, one is the desire of the Lord, indeed the purpose of the Lord, to have His people in such a condition and state that His glory is expressed and realized in them. His people really in the enjoyment of all that He has provided for them. He has provided life, but He has provided life more abundantly. He has provided spiritual riches and wealth, treasures untold and inexhaustible. He has provided spiritual food, a store which has no end - they can draw upon continually without failing. He has provided strength, His own strength, that they should be a strong people indeed.

The Lord has made a great and many-sided provision for His people, but history shows that His people have not always been in the enjoyment of His provision. And there are many today who bear His Name, who carry His Name, who are called by His Name, "Christians," "Christ ones," who are not in that enjoyment, not in the blessed state; some are, but not all. And in so far as that is not the case, the Lord is not glorified in them. Well that is what the Lord wants. It is not an impossible thing, not just a bit of fancy and idealism, a high standard, a lofty conception, but beyond possibility of attainment. In this very place tonight there are those who will very readily say that they know something of that, that Christ is to them a fountain of life, not just a trickling stream, He is a fountain of life. Who will say that they know something of the depth of the riches, they know something of how wealthy it is possible to be in Christ, and they know something about the food matter, His wonderful provision of spiritual food inexhaustible. Yet, some of us know something about that, the wonder to us is the inexhaustibly of what is provided for us in the Lord Jesus. That is the one thing that is in view. I am quite sure that none of us are at the point where we feel we cannot know anymore; that would be a contradiction to what I have said. If it is inexhaustible, then we can never come to a place where we have got all that we can have. Not any of us here will say that we have really obtained unto all that the Lord wishes, desires in these matters, not at all.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 23)

The Infinite Tenderness of Jesus!

The infinite tenderness of Jesus!

"He will feed His flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young." Isaiah 40:11

Who is He of whom such gracious words are spoken? He is THE GOOD SHEPHERD. Why does He carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart? Because He has a tender heart, and any weakness in them at once melts His heart. The sighs, the ignorance, the feebleness of the little ones of His flock, draw forth His compassion. It is His office, as a faithful High Priest, to consider the weak. Besides, He purchased them with blood--they are His property. He must and will care for those who cost Him so dear.  "I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep!" John10:11
Then He is responsible for each lamb, bound by covenant engagements not to lose one. Moreover, they are all a part of His glory and reward.

But how may we understand the expression, "He will carry them"?

  Sometimes He carries them by not permitting them to endure much trial. Providence deals tenderly with them.

  Often they are carried by being filled with an unusual degree of love, so that they bear up and stand fast. Though their knowledge may not be deep, they have great sweetness in what they do know.

  Frequently He carries them by giving them a very simple faith, which takes the promises just as they stand, and believingly runs with every trouble straight to Jesus! The simplicity of their faith gives them an unusual degree of confidence, which carries them above the world.

"He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart!"

Here is boundless affection: would He hold them close to His heart, if He did not love them much?

Here is tender nearness: so near are they, that they could not possibly be nearer.

Here is hallowed familiarity: there are precious love-passages between Christ and His weak ones.

Here is perfect safety: in His bosom who can hurt them? They must hurt the Shepherd first. "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish--ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!" John 10:28

Here is perfect rest and sweetest comfort.
Surely we are not sufficiently sensible of the infinite tenderness of Jesus! 

~Charles Spurgeon~

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Recovery of the Lord's Name In His People # 21

The Ground of His Presence and Power (continued)

We have said the great tendency is to put "Men" up and make them a superior kind. They are great, they are wonderful, they are superior, they are above the ordinary kind of men in the work of God. And oh, oh, what is said about them, the columns about the wonderful things that this man has done and achieved and is and all the rest of it. God looks on this poor thing with pity, pity if not contempt. In man form, not angel form, not some superior order of creation, just man form. We seek our embellishments to make an impression, we add things to convey to people that we are something different than others, to gain access and acceptance and so on. But none of that in the mentality, the mindedness of the Lord Jesus. If we have not got spiritual influence, God save us from artificially trying to make it, to have it by artificial means. Oh no, none of it is men that God wants, not officials, not dignitaries, men. But men of His own making. That is enough of that. In Slave Function, the form of a bondslave, a bondslave, "I am among you," said He, "as He that serveth. He that serveth. I came not to be ministered unto." What a challenge, what a challenge to so much in you and in me. What a challenge to so much that there is in Christianity. "I came not to be ministered unto, but to minister." A bondslave, not a dictator, not an autocrat, not a master, a Servant, and so it says here, a Servant, and surely He was that. But this is the ground of the Presence and the Power, that is the point. It is always like that.

And then the Obedience, "He became obedient," Obedient. I suppose before the Incarnation He could command, angels would run swiftly at His behest. The slightest gesture or indication and they would move to serve Him, but here Obedient, the one who is having to be told, ordered, coming under, direction, "obedient unto death." That little word "unto" has a double meaning: It means "right up to death, right away to death," that is, "right to the final, the final step, the final phase, the final fragment of obedience, no more to be done, right unto death." But oh, it implies the depth, the depth to which He went, "unto death, yea, the death of the Cross." How utter was this Bondslave Function, how utter was this self-emptying. The Cross here is set as the utterness of God's will, the fullness and finality of the will of God right through to the last degree and down to the deepest depth, "Let this mind be in you." Ah, from that point that the turn is taken. "Wherefore God hath highly exalted Him and given Him the Name which is above every name." The "Wherefore," oh what a lot hangs upon that word.

Well, these things constitute as we set out to say, the ground of the Presence and the Power of God. "The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man ... Go in this thy might". The strength of weakness, the strengths of emptiness, what is the strength of all this that is no honor to man at all? The strength is "The Lord is with thee," that is all. What more do you want? What more could we have? If the Lord is with ... well, "if God be for us, who could be against?" I mean that is strength is it not, that is power, that is assurance, that is certainty. It is all right, it is all right if the Lord is with us, no matter how weak and empty we are, how little there is that we have to draw upon. It does not matter if we have no name or reputation or title or merit or anything else to display and proclaim, if the Lord is with us, that is enough.

Strangely enough, it is not enough for many, many today. They must have the plaques of publicity, advertisement, and all that sort of thing. They do not consider that it is enough to have the Lord with them; the Lord seems to them in their mentality to depend upon their newspaper advertisements and proclamations about their own wonderful person and works as it all. It is enough, it is enough if the Lord is with us. That will be all the power that is necessary.

You want to know the Lord's presence? You want to know the power of God resting upon you? Well, it is the strength of weakness, the strength of weakness. The wind, the water and the lightening all finding their way where there is weakness, where there is weakness. The Lord give us this grace, this mind which was also in Christ Jesus, for we need Him and we need His power.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 22 - (A Peculiar Vessel for a Peculiar Purpose)

A Discipline of Faith

All things are possible to him that believeth (Mark 9:23).

The "all things" do not always come simply for the asking, for the reason that God is ever seeking to teach us the way of faith, and in our training in the faith life there must be room for the trial of faith, the discipline of faith, the patience of faith, the courage of faith, and often many stages are passed before we really realize what is the end of faith, namely, the victory of faith.
Real moral fiber is developed through discipline of faith. You have made your request of God, but the answer does not come. What are you to do?
Keep on believing God's Word; never be moved away from it by what you see or feel, and thus as you stand steady, enlarged power and experience is being developed. The fact of looking at the apparent contradiction as to God's Word and being unmoved from your position of faith make you stronger on every other line.
Often God delays purposely, and the delay is just as much an answer to your prayer as is the fulfillment when it comes.
In the lives of all the great Bible characters, God worked thus. Abraham, Moses and Elijah were not great in the beginning, but were made great through the discipline of their faith, and only thus were they fitted for the positions to which God had called them.
For example, in the case of Joseph whom the Lord was training for the throne of Egypt, we read in the Psalms:
"The word of the Lord tried him." It was not the prison life with its hard beds or poor food that tried him, but it was the word God had spoken into his heart in the early years concerning elevation and honor which were greater than his brethren were to receive; it was this which was ever before him, when every step in his career made it seem more and more impossible of fulfillment, until he was there imprisoned, and all in innocence, while others who were perhaps justly incarcerated, were released, and he was left to languish alone.
These were hours that tried his soul, but hours of spiritual growth and development, that, "when his word came" (the word of release), found him fitted for the delicate task of dealing with his wayward brethren, with a love and patience only surpassed by God Himself.
No amount of persecution tries like such experiences as these. When God has spoken of His purpose to do, and yet the days go on and He does not do it, that is truly hard; but it is a discipline of faith that will bring us into a knowledge of God which would otherwise be impossible.

~L. B. Cowman~

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Recovery of the Lord's Name In His People # 20

The Ground of His Presence and Power (continued)

Gideon, the whole story of Gideon is a declaration that the vessel must NEVER have any glory of its own. The vessel that God will mightily use must have no personal glory. The glory has got to be the Lord's and the Lord's alone. The whole story, I say, declares that, does it not? Take the man himself, take the means that the Lord used for the work. It was  a case, as we shall see later, of just reducing, reducing, reducing, bringing down lower and lower and lower, never allowing anything whatever which would come into this business which would contribute to the glory of the instrument. When that thing was done everybody had to say, "Well, that is perfectly marvelous to think that could be done with such instruments in such a way." The Lord was taking precautions, was He not? "Lest Israel vaunt themselves," "Lest Israel ..." No glory to the vessel. No, it is the glory of the Name, and that glory of the Name is exclusive of all other glories.

Dear friends, what am I talking about? I am talking about the "ground" of the presence and the power of God. "The Lord is with thee ... Go in this thy might". The presence and the power: what is the "ground"? It is this: The utter emptying of all personal glory and ground of glorying. Shall we put it the other way: the providing the Lord with an utter ground for His own glory.  The Lord takes infinite pains to secure that ground. Oh, what a story of weakness and defeat and limitation and all those things of which we have spoke. Simply because men will get their names in, their reputation in, draw some attention to themselves, put their honors in view, call themselves by titles in the work of the Lord, advertise themselves or be advertised as the great instrument that is going to do this. And the appalling state of things after 2,000 years. This sort of thing is self evident, it is self evident. No, the ground of the presence and the power is this: If it was true in the case of the Lord Jesus, and undoubtedly it was, it was because He ... in the other translation, "made Himself of no reputation," and men are always trying to make reputations for themselves in the sphere of God's interests, and God is not in. Have nothing to do with it. Get on with it and do what you can and what you like, but you cannot count upon the presence and power of God.

The Form and the Function: in man likeness, in slave, bondslave function. I am not going to start with the technical points of the different words here in the original fashion and form. That will not be very edifying or helpful to you, it does not matter just at the moment. But what it amounts to is this: the Form, in the form of a man, form in which Christ appeared here on this great mission, the form of a man. The Function: which He accepted, adopted and fulfilled, was the function of a bondslave, that's what it says as a man, in man-likeness. All I am going to say about that here for in keeping with this whole matter of the Presence and Power of God is this: that He did not appear here as some Superior being of another order. So far as the world looking on could tell, there was no difference between Him and other men. Whatever difference there was, was altogether hidden from the world's eyes. They could look at Him, judge Him, speak to Him and of Him, handle Him, deal with Him, just as they would deal with any other man. No, not as some superior being of another order. And you see, there is a principle there dear friends, of tremendous significance and importance where the Lord is concerned.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 21)

A Supreme Act of Faith

Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did.

—Genesis 6:22

Noah's decision to build an ark required a supreme act of faith. There was no body of water nearby. In fact, it had never rained on Earth before. At that time, God had placed a water canopy over the planet that created a greenhouse effect of sorts. So in one of the greatest acts of faith in human history, Noah cut down his first gopher tree to start building the ark.

It was such a bold act of faith that Noah was memorialized in Hebrews 11, known as the Hall of Faith: "By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith" (verse 7).

This verse gives us a number of important insights into what made Noah tick. First of all, we read that he was "divinely warned." God spoke to Noah. Romans 10:17says that "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Your faith will grow when you read what the Bible says and then take the next step and put it into action.

We also read that Noah "moved with godly fear." Noah had a reverence for, or a fear of, the Lord. And a good definition I have heard for the fear of the Lord is "a wholesome dread of displeasing Him."

Noah's walk with God caused him to work for God. And one must always precede the other. If you walk with God, you will want to work for God. Works don't save you; faith does. But if your faith is real, then it will produce works. That is how Noah's faith worked when God told him to build the ark.
~Greg Laurie~

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Recovery of the Lord's Name In His People # 19

The Ground of His Presence and Power (continued)

The Lord Jesus always required such a basic reckoning didn't He? He never deceived anybody. When He called to discipleship and fellowship with himself He made it perfectly clear, you are in for a bad time, I tell you frankly. This way is going to be a very costly way don't you have any mistake about it, be quite clear on this. If a man is going to war, he sits down and counts up his resources, can I, can I, not only make a beginning, but go right through with it? Can I? Have I got resources to carry me through? A man is going to build a tower, he sits down, now have I the means not t lay a foundation or to make a beginning; but to complete this thing. Can I go through with it? In those ways the Lord Jesus was only saying what we are saying here now, Look here, you got to have a fundamental reckoning over this, this mind that was in Christ Jesus must be in you and you have got to settle something. This is a thing that has got to be settled.

It is a battle that seems to spring up again and again doesn't it? And yet, and yet something has got to be done about this. I do want to urge upon you my younger friends, that you are going to have a very difficult time, all hell is going to rage itself against you if you take a stand for the honor of the Name of the Lord. You will have a bad time, but you have got to reckon that. Is it worth it? Is that Name worth it, is that glory worth it? You have got to put the things in the balance and get that settled.

Paul, after the reckoning came the emptying. "He counted it not a prize to be grasped, to be on equality with God, but, emptied Himself." And although of course there is such a difference both in kind and degree, measure, between Christ and His servants. That is, we can never empty ourselves of that which He emptied Himself. We never had it, we have not got it, that is true. We have no glory that corresponds to His glory. Yet, although there is so great a difference between Him and ourselves, yet the principle is the same. There is, even with us, strange, thing, there is with us that which is our personal glory. Poor wretched things as we are and know ourselves to be, somehow or other it almost takes a lifetime to get us emptied of things which are in the Lord's way, to which we cling, which we do count a prize, which we do grasp, hold on to. "He emptied Himself." And if the principle were not the same with us as with Him, Paul would never say, "Let the same mind be in you." The kind may be different; ah, but the principle is the same, the Emptying.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 20)

Why God Must Judge

"Say to them: 'As I live,' says the LORD God, 'I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?' "

—Ezekiel 33:11

God takes no pleasure in bringing judgment. In the New Testament we find Jesus grieving over the city of Jerusalem and weeping over her: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!" (Luke 13:34).

And in Ezekiel 33, God said, "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live" (verse 11).

Then why does God send judgment? Answer: Because He is a just God. Abraham rightly said, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25). If people can flagrantly and continually break God's laws, committing murder and perverting anything and everything that is right and good, would it be right for God to turn away and ignore it? Do you expect God to simply turn a blind eye to all injustice? Or do you expect Him to do something?

"But it is not loving to bring judgment," someone might say.

Let's say that you were the parent of a toddler who was playing in your backyard. Suddenly a wolf comes along, and you see that wolf climb over the fence and sprint toward your toddler. What are you going to do? Are you going to run and give that wolf a big hug? No. The wolf has become your enemy because he is trying to hurt your child. Because you love that child, you hate anything that would harm the one you love.

God is saying, in effect, "I love you, and I hate this wickedness and this sin. I want you to turn away from it." God's heart aches over our rebellion.
~Greg Laurie~

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Recovery of the Lord's Name in His People # 18

The Ground of His Presence and Power (continued)

I was saying that this is something that every servant of God, every aspirant to service for God has got to settle at the outset: a reckoning, a reckoning, comparative values. Moses made that reckoning. It is said of Moses, Accounting, accounting that the reproach of Christ was greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, accounting, made a reckoning, there was a tremendous reckoning was it not? My word, look what that involved, all the treasures of Egypt! His place, his learning, everything that he had in the palace of Egypt. On the other hand, what he did come to and into with the Israelites. And yet, he weighed it all up at the beginning and accounted before, before he took his step, "That's greater riches down there than this, I have weighed these thing up and for me the greater importance is that, because it is there that the  Name of the Lord is involved. The Lord has chosen that people through Abraham to be the vessel of the glory of His Name, that is my place, whatever it cost." It was a reckoning.

Many others made that reckoning, not least Paul. He weighed it all up, "The things which were gain to me, the things which were gain to me," and he tabulates them and you know what they were. Everything that the natural heart would be set upon. The things which were gain to me, these have I counted loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, here is a basic reckoning. But what the accounting led to all the suffering, all the affliction, all the trials, oh everything. And yet, and yet Paul never abandoned that position. To me it is one of the most wonderful things that of all he had to suffer and all the consequences of his great decision and reckoning, Paul to the end held on to this: it is better, far better to be here with Christ than, and have all this, than to be back there without Christ, having all that, weighed it all up.

Now that is a very, very serious challenge isn't it, this reckoning. You will not come to that conclusion, to that mind and take that step of letting everything else go, all other possibilities and prospects, unless you have got a tremendously strong and high estimate of the glory of God. But if you have got an adequate and right conception of the glory of God and what that is going to mean in this universe, you see everything else, however great, that is very small in comparison. I reckon, here we are, "I reckon that the sufferings of this present hour are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be." I reckon, he weighed it up. We are involved in a very great deal of suffering and affliction and trial and difficulty when we take a stand for the Name of the Lord, for the glory of that Name. It is a very costly step. We shall only be able to maintain that stand if we have made the Reckoning.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 19)

Constant Multiplication of Corrupted Copies!

(J. A. James, "Earnestness in Personal Religion")

Our idea of the nature of earnest individual piety must be taken, not from the conventional customs of the age--but from the Word of God. Once give up the Bible as the only true standard of personal piety, and there is no rule left but custom, which is ever varying with the opinions and corruptions of the times.

Yet how prevalent is the disposition to conform ourselves to the prevailing religion of the day and of the church to which we belong, and to satisfy ourselves with the average measure of piety around us! "I am as good as my fellow members!" is the shield with which many a professor wards off the allegation of his living below his Scriptural duty.

This has been the fatal practical error of the church through every age of its existence, by which . . .
  its beauty has been disfigured,
  its power weakened, and
  its usefulness impeded!

Professing Christians, instead of looking into the perfect standard of Scripture, and seeing themselves reflected from that faithful mirror, and adjusting their character and conduct by its infallible revelations--placed before themselves the standard of the Christian profession as it was found in the church of the day, and regulated their behavior by what they saw in the prevailing character of their fellow Christians!

Thus a constant multiplication of corrupted copies has ever been going on! And religion, as seen in the conduct of its professors, compared with that which is described in the pages of its own inspired rule--have been quite different things!
Let us turn away from the religion we see in the church--to the religion we read in the Bible! Let us not go to the imperfect and blurred copy--but to the perfect and unspotted original! The Bible'srepresentation of the nature of true piety is intended for us as our guide, and is obligatory upon us!

But the inspired, unalterable, and infallible standard of Scripture is . . .
  too spiritual,
  too devout,
  too unearthly,
  too humbling,
  too self-denying,
for many professors.

This is still the stern, unbending demand of Christ: "If any of you wants to be My follower, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me!"

~J. A. James~

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Recovery of the Lord's Name In His People # 17

The Ground of His Presence and Power (continued)

Dear friends, I am beginning upon this very strong note, that there is a very great need in you and in me and in the people of God and in the servants of God today for more of this terribly fierce jealousy for the Name, the honor and glory of the Lord's Name. Well now, this whole thing commenced we see with a Motive, but that motive led to a reckoning, a reckoning, in the motive was an accounting. It says, "He counted it not a thing to be grasped, to be held onto, to be equal with God. He counted it not.." A reckoning took place with Him, that is the suggestion or implication. On the one side, here am I in a place of equality with God, I have the glory of which He spoke in His prayer, "The glory which I had with Thee before the world was." I had that. Here I am up here in possession of all this. Down there my Father's Name is dishonored, robbed of Its glory and another name is put in its place. Is this - My having this position, and all this possession and all this glory of greater importance than My Father's Name being glorified down there? And He came to the conclusion, No. Putting these two things into the balance, my own glory, my own personal position, is far, of far less importance than My Father's Name being glorified down there. He weighed it out, the one thing against the other, put them both into the balances, and the honor of the Father's Name in the creation or with Him altogether outweighed His own glory and His own personal fullness. It was a reckoning, He counted, He counted, He reckoned.

Now dear friends, when the Apostle says, "Let this mind be in you," and he sees the issue, the wonderful issue of this, God committing Himself, committing Himself. I think we may say rightly, in a way, in a way fuller than ever before to His Son and it says, "He gave Him the Name which is above every name that now, no in the Name of Jesus,  the Incarnate Lord, every knee shall bow in the universe, and call Him the Incarnate Lord, Lord of all."  With that in view, the apostle says, "Let this mind be in you." In other words, he says, "If God is going to commit Himself to you, if God is going to presence Himself with you, as with His Son," for it was written, "and God was with Him." And if the power of God is going to rest upon and work through you, you have got to have a Fundamental Reckoning. This is something which every servant of God has to face at the outset, for this after all is the thing which constitutes a servant of God. This is the very essence of service.

What is service? What is the essence of service? What is it that makes a servant of God? We talk so much about the Lord's service, sometimes we substitute the Lord's work. We are concerned and anxious to be "in the service of the Lord" and then we think about missionary work and ministry and one thing and another and this really is what we mean by the service of the Lord and by being the Lord's servant. But what is the heart and essence of service? What is a servant of the Lord? it is nothing more, because there can be nothing more, and it is nothing less in truth, than bringing glory and honor to the Name of the Lord. That covers and compasses all service and that makes a servant of the Lord. We may do a thousand things, but unless it results in the Lord's Name being glorified it is not service to God. Jesus is the Great Servant of Jehovah. There never was such a Servant of the Lord. He has served the Father as none other has ever served or could ever serve the Father. But how has He done it? He has brought back the Father's Name to Its place of honor and glory. He has come down and entered into the dispute with the other name, and now He is far above every name that is named. He has dealt with the challenge to the Father's place and in that way He is the Greatest of all servants, let this mind be in you. We have got to weigh all our Christian activities and efforts in this way: how much real glory is coming to the Lord in this? How much is the Lord coming into His own, His place in this. Not how much am I doing but how much positive glory to the Name of the Lord is bound up with what I am doing. That is followed out in the fuller analysis of this great statement in the Letter to the Philippians.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 18)

An Ice House, Instead of a Hot House!

It appears quite clear that great numbers of Christian professors are very imperfectly acquainted with the requirements of "pure and undefiled religion," and need to be led to re-study it in the pages of Holy Scripture. We have lost sight of the 'Divine Original', and have confined our attention to the 'imperfect transcripts' which we find on every hand in our churches. We have by tacit consent reduced the standard, and fixed our eye and our aim upon an inferior object. We are a law to each other--instead of making the Word of God the law to us all.

We tolerate worldly-minded, diluted, and weakened piety in others--because we expect a similar toleration for ourselves. We make excuses for them--because we expect the like excuses for our own conduct in return. We have abused, shamefully abused, the fact that 'there is no perfection upon earth,' and converted it into a license for any measure and any number of imperfections!

Our highest notion of religion requires only . . .
  abstinence from open immorality and
  the more polluting worldly amusements,
  an attendance upon an evangelical ministry,
  and an approval of orthodox doctrine. 
This, this, is the religion of multitudes!
 There may be . . .

  no habitual spirituality,
  no heavenly-mindedness,
  no life of faith,
  no communion with God,
  no struggling against sin, Satan, and the world,
  no concern to grow in grace,
  no supreme regard to eternity,
  no studied and advancing fitness for the eternal world,
  no tenderness of conscience,
  no careful discipline of our disposition,
  no cultivation of love,
  no making piety our chief business and highest pleasure,
  no separation in spirit from the world.

In short, there may be no impress upon the whole mind, and heart, and conscience and life--of the character of the Christian, as delineated upon the page of Scripture. 
We all need to be taken out of 'the religious world', as it is called, and collected again around the Bible to study what it is to be a Christian! Let us endeavor to forget what the bulk of professors are, and begin afresh to learn what they ought to be.

It is to be feared that we are corrupting each other, leading each other to be satisfied with a 'conventional piety'. Many have been actually the worse for attending church. They were more intensely concerned and earnest before they came into church fellowship. Their piety seemed to come into an ice house, instead of a hot house! They grew better outside the church--than in the church. At first they were surprised and shocked to see . . .

  the lukewarmness,
  the irregularities,
  the worldliness,
  the inconsistencies,

of many older professors, and exclaimed, with grief and disappointment, "Is this the church of Christ!" But after a while, the fatal influence came over them, and their piety sank to the temperature around them!

"Because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth!" Revelation 3:16

~J. A. James~