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Monday, November 30, 2015

The Cross, the Church, and The Kingdom # 7

The Spiritual Resources of the Church For Its Heavenly Mission

Matthew 28:16-19

A Spiritual Challenge to be Answered

There is a challenge in this present time which is, perhaps, more acute and serious than at any other time in the history of this world. No doubt in the early days of the Church the challenge was very strong, but then the surface of the earth invaded by the Gospel was very small compared with the range in our time, and in many other ways things were far less developed than they are now. The development of the centuries has provided so very much more of ground and means for the operation of the kingdom of darkness in relation to this world, and that challenge of the kingdom of evil is very, very serious and intense in our time. In many ways the Church of God is aware of it - perhaps not completely conscious of the cause or the reason, but aware of the fact that she is being stifled, resisted, in a very large degree nullified; made aware of a certain impotence and ineffectiveness and of the absence of authority and power to meet a spiritual situation which is becoming so intense. I say that is a challenge of this present time which does threaten to make the  Church a thing which, speaking comparatively, is not to be taken very seriously. The world can pass on and ignore her, and situations can arise here and there with which she cannot cope, before which she is impotent and helpless - and knows it.

That challenge represents a need, and, while we have not the conceit to imaging that that need can be met by us, yet it behoves us to face the challenge and consider the need, and if God will take up the weak and the small and make them to count for something far, far beyond what they would do naturally, then there may be possibilities where we are concerned, if we really seriously face this matter before God.

We have spoken of a spiritual situation, and it is not necessary, I think, to say to you that, while we are very conscious that the temporal situation is increasingly difficult for the work of God, behind all the external difficulties is a spiritual rulership. The things seen are, after all, only the foreground, the stage, of something far greater behind. "World rulers of this darkness" is no meaningless phrase. It is there that the trouble lies, and, until there is in existence that which can touch things there with the authority of Christ, the situation for the Church is hopeless. We can recite so glibly - it is the slogan of all missionary enterprise - "All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations." I think the emphasis, at any rate the deduction in practice, is mainly on "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel," and not upon "All authority hath been given unto Me in heaven and on earth." "Go ye therefore ..."; the word "therefore" has not been given and is not given its real and sufficient place. It is the link between the undertaking and the "all authority" vested in the Lord Jesus. And as for the Church standing in the good and value of that "all authority" - well, it does not say much for the authority if the present impact of the Church is the standard of judging it. It is that that constitutes the urgency of this present time.

The Challenge Answered In a Spiritual People

Now, having indicated again that this whole thing is a spiritual matter to be fought out in the spiritual realm, the work of God must in consequence be seen in the spiritual realm before there can be any meeting of the temporal situation and overcoming it. We are brought right here to the heart of things. We have spoken in our previous meditation of a body of Christians, of a certain kind, in a certain position, doing a certain work. What do we mean by that? Well, to use mere words is not necessarily helpful. We must explain our words. If we say, a spiritual people, in spiritual relatedness, occupying a spiritual position, preeminently meeting spiritual forces to their overthrow, that word "spiritual" eludes us at once. What does it amount to in practical outworking?

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 8 - (The Marks of A Spiritual People)

We Feed Upon the Lord

Though we are many, we all eat from one loaf of bread, showing that we are one body. (1 Corinthians 10:17 NLT)

We do feed upon Christ in prayer. To put that in another way, there is an imparting of Himself to His Own in prayer. We may go to prayer in weariness, and rise in freshness; we may go to prayer exhausted, and rise renewed. Is it that we have simply uttered some form of prayer, prayed some prayer? We know quite well if that is so we do not get up very much invigorated. Formal praying does not bring very much Life. Going through a form of prayers sometimes only ministers death. But really seeking the Lord, reaching out, taking hold of the Lord, giving ourselves up to the Lord in prayer, never fails to have renewing, uplifting, strengthening results. You say prayer may wear you out? Yes, but there is a wonderful strength that comes by wearing out prayer. There is vitality given to the spiritual life even in prayer that tires us physically, and we go in the strength of it. Yes, prayer is a way in which Christ is ministered to us by the Holy Spirit. Prayer is a way in which we feed upon Christ; He becomes our Life....

We feed upon the Lord, and He becomes our Life when we recognize the Divine order of spiritual fellowship. That is a Divine order. You have it brought in with Acts: "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers." There is a tremendous means of grace, a tremendous enrichment of Christ in the fellowship of the Lord's people. I believe the enemy will get believers, when they are together, to talk about anything under the sun rather than about the Lord. It is easy when you meet together with the Lord's people to be carried off with all kinds of matters of interest, and not to begin to talk about the Lord; but if you do there is always an enrichment, always a strengthening, always a building up; it is the Divine way. Fellowship is a means of imparting Christ to the believer. And wherever spiritual fellowship is possible, you and I ought to seek it, look after it, and cherish it. There are all too many of the Lord's children today, who have no chance of spiritual fellowship, and who would give anything to have it. The Lord would have us at least two together. That is His order, and there is something in ministering Christ to one another. There will be something lost unless that is so. These are ways in which we feed upon the Lord.

By T. Austin-Sparks

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom # 6

The Ultimate Meaning of the Cross (continued)

The Needed Discipline of the Cross

Well, that is a challenge to us. At the outset I said that we, as the Lord's people, have to face a big question and I want to say again - I do not think it is the question merely of our personal salvation. And it is not just the question of our being more zealous soul-winners. With us it should have become a reality long ago that there is a deep and earnest concern in our hearts for the salvation of others. It is not a question merely of our personal holiness. God forbid that we should overlook any necessities in that direction, that we should be closing our eyes to sins and defects in the spiritual life; but even so, there is something greater than that in view. And as for our seeking to know the deeper things of God, what shall we say about that if it is not going to work out somehow in this realm where we are conscious of the activities of spiritual forces, in this realm into which we have to move - some in this country and some in other countries - where the main problem is not flesh and blood but principalities and powers, the dark  things of this universe, those awful, sinful, evil forces which are at work? If we do not reach out to that our quest has failed and will leave much to be desired. That is the big issue. What has God revealed as the supreme result of the Cross of Christ? It is that His Son should be in the place of supreme and absolute Sovereign Headship in this universe, which will necessitate the deposing of every other sovereignty and name and authority. And the Word of God says that that is going to be done by that self-same Cross having been wrought in a body of Christians to bring them to the place where through them, because of them, that sovereignty, that headship, has been established.

It is a big matter, and it involves us in something very real in the way of spiritual discipline. You cannot go to college or institute to learn that. You cannot get there by conferences and meetings. You cannot get that along any academic lines. This involves us in a very real transaction with the Lord that that Cross, will all that He means by it, shall really do its work in us; and He has endless ways of doing it. The very nature of the work of the Cross involves this, that its operation will always be along the line that we do not like, that we would never choose. If we could have the Cross adjusted to our situation, it would be a very easy Cross. But no, it will always go against the grain; that is the nature of it. It will always call for that which we would never choose. When the Lord leads us on to consider the way that He has indicated, the way for reaching His end, we shall come up against those things. We shall then see that this whole cosmic battle has its center in us by nature, and it has got to be settled there, at the citadel of the individuals being; and the citadel is the will. Oh, it is one thing to talk about cosmic warfare, about authority over the powers of darkness! Looking out into the battle, anybody who has any experience does not talk lightly about that. They talk very carefully and very prayerfully; for the whole thing, after all, is not outside us, it is in us, it begins in us. It is a matter of your will and my will. The dethronement of satan and of all his mighty kingdom was accomplished by the will of one Man being utterly in subjection to His Father, and so far as He Himself is concerned He has left the enemy completely worsted and cast out. He has left the enemy in being, not annihilated, in order to bring us to the same place as He Himself has come to, and it will be along exactly the same lines - the battle of the will, taken up on countless points, until satan no longer has any place or ground in our will, and he is undone. If the Lord wills, we will follow that out more closely later on.

You see the big question. Oh, it is a big question! For my own part, though I have been convinced about this matter for years I have never been more strongly convinced than I am today that the one need is for a people to rise up in virtue of an in-wrought work of the Cross to meet these evil forces which are against the purpose of God. May the Lord produce such a people in part, though it may be a small part, through these meditations.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 7 - (The Spiritual Resources of the Church For Its Heavenly Mission)

Authentic Spirituality

Authentic Spirituality

"And when He had removed [Saul], He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.' "

—Acts 13:22

The most spiritual people I have ever met always have been very down to earth. Theirs is not some phony, head-in-the-clouds sort of spirituality, which is weird religion and mysticism. I have met people who try to come off as extremely spiritual, even in the way they talk. It doesn't impress me.

On the other hand, I have had the opportunity to meet and spend time with some very godly people. I have always found from our times together that the most godly people are also the most fun. They are the most real. They are the most straightforward and honest, and they are quick to admit their own shortcomings. (That is a virtue, not a flaw.)

God called David a man after His own heart (see Acts13:22). And if you want to know what made David tick, just read his psalms. In Psalm 34 he wrote, "I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth" (verse 1).

We know that David had a deep hunger for God and a strong commitment to do what was right. He wrote in Psalm 57, "My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise" (verse 7). That was David's heart: focused, not fickle, meditative, yet brave and courageous. He dialed in on something and stayed with it.

In many ways, David was the very opposite of his predecessor, King Saul. Saul came from a loving home, while David apparently came from a home where he was neglected and even disliked. Saul was attractive on the outside, but inside he was vain, shallow, and devoid of true integrity. In contrast, David had a deep spiritual life and an intense devotion to God.

God is looking for authentically spiritual people.
~Greg Laurie~

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Cross, The Church, and The Kingdom # 5

The Ultimate Meaning of the Cross (continued)

Ever-Increasing Spiritual Fullness

Thirdly, the need is for believers who, because of this living, conscious, spiritual relationship, the fruit of the Cross, and because of this spiritual position above the earth, are characterized by ever-increasing spiritual fullness; for when the Lord gets people like that and in that position there is no stagnation, no limitation. There is constant, increasing, spiritual fullness. They have resources, and they have plenty, and far more than they can consume upon themselves. That is not fiction, that is fact. The whole word of God bears down upon this, that the Divine thought is also a though of fullness. Wherever you find God reaching His end, it is all by way of fullness. Is it the tabernacle or the temple? - then it is filled with His Glory. Is it the river of God? - it is full of water. Is it the trees of the Lord? - they are full of sap. Is it the water pots? - they are filled to the brim. Is it the Church? - then it is "the fullness of Him that filleth all in all" (Ephesians 1:23). So we could go on. The Divine thought is always along the line of fullness. And I said, this is not ultimate in time, this is for now - a people who have more than the ordinary, more than just enough to make ends meet or hardly that. The fullness of Christ - that is God's end by way of the Cross, and to be known now.

The Rule of the Heavens Expressed

Then fourthly, and finally for a moment, there is need of believers who, because of the three things already mentioned, are showing that the kingdom of the heavens is a spiritual reality and who are extending its range actually - showing that the heavens do rule, and that they rule through the medium and by the instrumentality of a people, a heavenly people, after this kind. The bringing of the impact of that supreme rule of the heavens to bear upon the cosmic forces of this universe is the vocation of the Church of which we are speaking, of a people like this; and that is the meaning of the Cross ultimately. Where does the Cross lead to? Your salvation, my salvation? Yes, of course. Is that all? And then that I should be busy to get other people into that position? Oh, yes, of course, without question. And then that you and I should be growing in grace progressively, in sanctification, being conformed to the image of His Son? Oh yes, a hundred times yes, without any question. And that we should be increasing in the knowledge of Him, growing in our apprehension of the things of God, that our spiritual education should go on uninterruptedly? Yes, all that is in the will of God. But is that, or are all those things put together, the end? No, the end of the Cross is that the whole realm of evil spiritual powers and intelligences should meet the impact of all that - that there should be a practical registration of it all objectively.

I said that this can all be personal after all - my salvation, your salvation; my sanctification, your sanctification; my life of victory, your life of victory; my education, your education. it an all be very largely individual and personal, and it can all be something here, so that people gather into little groups on the subject of sanctification, others on spiritual education, others on soul winning. Oh no, that is God's meaning ultimately in the Cross of the Lord Jesus; but He intends that by all those means, along all those lines, this end should be reached - that the whole system of darkness and evil and wickedness should be cast down and brought into subjection to the absolute Lordship and Headship of Jesus Christ; that every knee should bow to Him. And that should have a very real beginning now where you and I are concerned in this spiritual relationship. It should be a practical thing now, extending and expanding, so that this kingdom of the heavens, expressed through this people, should be registering itself and occupying widening territory so that the power and dominion and evil of the evil one is being more and more limited. That is the thing for which the Cross of Christ really stands. It brings in the individuals in every stage and phase of the spiritual life, but it goes beyond. It is this cosmic impact that is the ultimate justification of the Cross of the Lord Jesus.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 6 - (The Needed Discipline of the Cross)

Whose Hand Has It Been Sent To You!

You should consider from whose hand it has been sent to you!

(James Buchanan, "Comfort in Affliction")

"In the day of prosperity be happy--but in the day of adversity CONSIDER: God has made the one as well as the other." Ecclesiastes 7:14

In the day of adversityyou should consider from whose hand it has been sent to you! It comes direct from the hand of God!

Intermediate agencies may have been employed in inflicting it:
  a cherished family member may have been the messenger of disease;
  a treacherous friend may have been the cause of bankruptcy;
  an avowed enemy may have been the author of reproach and shame;
  Satan himself may have been allowed to smite you! But through whatever secondary agency it may have been conveyed--adversity comes from God's hand! 

"I form the light--and create darkness; I make peace--and create evil. I the Lord, do all these things." Isaiah 45:7

"Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?" Lamentations3:38

"Shall we receive good at the hand of God--and shall we not receive evil?" Job 2:10

"Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD?" Exodus 4:11

"See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides Me. I put to death and I bring to life, I havewounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of My hand!" Deuteronomy 32:39

"The LORD brings death and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and raises up. The LORD sendspoverty and wealth; He humbles and He exalts." 1 Samuel 2:6-7

"This is what the LORD says: As I have brought all this great calamity on this people . . ." Jeremiah 32:42

"When disaster comes to a city, has not the LORD caused it?" Amos 3:6

"For He wounds, but He also binds up; He injures, but His hands also heal." Job 5:18

From these and many other passages, it is plain that temporal affliction is ascribed to God in the Holy Scriptures. No one who acknowledges God's Providence at all, can fail to believe that the numerous afflictions and calamities of human life are permitted, appointed, and overruled by the Supreme Governor of the world! 

This is a consideration of great practical importance, and should be seriously weighed in the day of adversity.
It assures us that our afflictions are neither imposed by a fatal necessity, nor produced by the uncertain vicissitudes of chance--but come forth from the hand of One who is infinitely wise and just and good!

It also teaches us in many of our afflictions, and those which it is indeed most difficult to bear--to look beyond, and to rise above, the consideration of the mere human agency by which they have been inflicted. I refer to such afflictions as are brought on us through the malice of our fellow-men, in regard to which we are too apt to alone consider the secondary agency through which they fall upon us--instead of steadily contemplating God as addressing to us, through human agency, the warnings and lessonswhich we need to learn and improve.

Whereas, did we consider all afflictions, of whatever kind, as emanating from the unerring heart of our loving Father--we would find, that even those which the hand or the tongue of man inflicts--are a wholesome discipline, and means of spiritual improvement.

Let us remember, then, that every affliction, through whatever channel it may flow--comes to us ultimately from God's loving hand!

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Cross, The Church, and The Kingdon # 4

The Ultimate Meaning of the Cross (continued)

A Spiritual Position Above the Earth

Secondly, the need is for believers as so related occupying a spiritual position above this earth; being here, and yet with a vast gap spiritually between them and what is here - and that includes what is here on this earth religiously, just as much as in other ways; it is possible to be religiously on and of the earth, in a religious way touching the earth. You understand that when I say "touching the earth" I am not talking about touching the ground physically, but touching that realm in which a curse resides. There is a spiritual feature and factor - it has been cursed. Is that too strong? We could spend an hour or two in showing how true that is. The mark of the curse is just this, that it does not matter how far men seem to advance and develop and produce and achieve; running alongside of every advance, and keeping pace with everything that is called progress, every achievement, every invention, every production, there is the element of a curse which will turn that against man for his own undoing. The very thing that he discovers, invents, produces, for the good of the world, turns out for the world's destruction. In the day in which we live we are faced with the fullest development of that principle of the curse that has been known in the history of this universe. When men make such a marvelous discovery and achieve such a marvelous thing that in a split second they can wipe out tens of thousands of people from the earth with one experiment, what are they going to do when they let loose the developed thing? Invention? Progress? Oh no, there is a curse attached to everything in this creation. Man's understanding is found in his own ingenuity. But that is a very intense and strong aspect and expression of this principle. This earthliness has become very refined in many respects; very religious; but still earthly, still something tied down here with its expectations, hopes and enterprises all here. It is not necessary, I think, to follow that unpleasant line very much further.

But to return to this second fragment of the general presentation - we are thinking of believers living in a conscious, spiritual relationship which is the fruit of the Cross, occupying a spiritual position above this earth, and who are concerned with earthly things only so far as those things relate to higher interests, heavenly purposes. They are a people living in the realm described in that unique phrase of the Apostle Paul "in the heavenlies in Christ"; a heavenly people; which means much more, of course, than we are saying at the moment.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 5 - (Ever-Increasing Spiritual Fullness)

We Must Be Lovers of God's Truth

Let our lives lovingly express truth in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him. (Ephesians4:15 AMP)

Any system of religion that just puts on from the outside, and covers over the inner life by mere rite and ritual is false, it is not true. The work of God is to reconstitute human nature. And that, of course, involves two things. On the one side, it involves a breaking down. And if you know anything about God's dealings with lives who come into His hands, there is undoubtedly a large place for that – a progressive breaking down; a getting to the root of things, and undeceiving us. If we have any illusions about ourselves, they will all be gone when God has done with us. If we are governed by any kind of falsehood about ourselves, and our position, and our work, when God has done with us, that will all be gone. He is going to break us down until we see ourselves stark, as an unclean thing, with all our righteousnesses as filthy rags. So He will break us down, and He does.

But there is the other side, of course, all the time, for God is not only, and always negative; there is the constructing, bringing up to the place where anything that is false, anything that is not absolutely transparent and true, straight, clear, is hateful to us. More and more our inner man revolts against our own falsehood. Any exaggerations come back on us at once with conviction of wrong; any false statement hits us hard, and we know that we have not spoken the truth. It is a tremendous thing to get into the hands of the Holy Spirit, until, like God, the one thing that we hate is anything that is false. "I hate", said David, "every false way." We must come there. But we must be lovers of the truth. And this is going to pursue us everywhere; it will pursue us into our own life within ourselves, that we are not deceiving ourselves at all. Before God we know exactly what God thinks about us, and we know where we stand in the light.... And the nearer we come to the Lord, the more meticulous the Holy Spirit is over this matter of truth; the closer are His dealings with us. It is very true, you see, "perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord" – perfecting. The nearer we get to the end, the more stringent will be the Lord's dealings with anything false in our lives. It is a time matter, but God is very faithful – He is very faithful; He does not let things pass. Do we want Him to be faithful? Well, it is not comfortable to say, "Yes," but it is good that He should be faithful with every inconsistency, every contradiction, every falsehood, in the inward parts.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Cross, The Church, and The Kingdom # 3

The Ultimate Meaning of the Cross (continued)

A Conscious Spiritual Relationship, The Fruit of the Cross

Breaking that up further, what does it amount to? Well, in other words it is this. Firstly, believers living in a conscious, spiritual relationship which is the fruit of the Cross. That is the first fragment - a conscious spiritual relationship which is the fruit of the Cross. It cannot be anything but a spiritual relationship. We cannot live in an actual, personal, physical, conscious relationship with all believers. We do not know them. We know but a mere fragment of all those who exist. We cannot organize this thing, bring it within the compass of an organization, a society, or anything of that kind. It can only be a spiritual relationship, but it can be a conscious spiritual relationship. That it is spiritual does not mean that it has to be unconscious, abstract, nebulous, imaginary, something somewhere but undefined. No, a personal conscious, spiritual relationship with all believers; though they may be scattered to the ends of the earth, yet something has been done by the Holy Spirit which has constituted those concerned people of a related consciousness with all other believers. That is absolutely essential to the ultimate - the expression of the Lordship and Headship of Jesus Christ. That is no abstract, ethereal thing. That is very positive and very practical, and if the whole cosmic realm is to feel the impact of that Lordship, this conscious, spiritual relationship is absolutely essential.

All those powers which occupy that cosmic realm, which have their government there, have no interest in, or concern with, doctrines of Christian unity; but they have a great deal of interest in actual, spiritual relatedness; so much so, that they have never ceased, from the day of Pentecost, to make it one of their primary objectives to divide the people of God in their spiritual consciousness. If they cannot get in between them in other ways, they will try to set up a sense of distance, of unrelatedness or disturbed relatedness, because of the tremendous importance of this matter of a living, practical, real, conscious, spiritual relationship between the people of God - something more than mechanical and organized, something spiritual.

Then, we spoke of this relatedness as being the fruit of the Cross, because this can never be brought about apart from all the tremendous meaning of the Cross of the Lord Jesus in the realm which is now rent and torn and shattered to fragments so far as spiritual relatedness is concerned. This is a universe which has been broken to pieces, endless pieces. Its harmony and unity have been completely disrupted, and those cosmic powers are the forces which have done it, and are doing it. That hardly needs to be argued. We know it within ourselves - the battle for forbearance, for longsuffering, for endurance, for kindness, for patience, for love, for consideration - all those are very practical matters in the Christian life. Look at the way this breaking up is at work, these endless discords in the whole creation, in the whole universe. There is nothing to meet that but the Cross of the Lord Jesus; and that is one of the primary meanings of the Cross to which we are getting at this time - a people in a living, conscious, spiritual relationship which is the fruit of the Cross in them and in this universe. That is why we read those words in Philippians. The goal is His absolute sovereign Lordship and Headship. How do you reach it? "Have this mind in you ..." And what is the contextual implication and application? "I exhort Euodias, and I exhort Syntyche, to be of the same mind in the Lord" (Phil. 4:2). "Have this mind ..." - one mind intervening to overcome two conflicting minds, and the only mind that will do it is the mind of Him Who went to the Cross and let go His own personal and individual position and rights for the sake of others. The Cross alone will meet this situation. Yes, the need is for believers living in a conscious, spiritual relationship which is the fruit of the Cross.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4 - (A Spiritual Position Above This Earth)

The Key of Death Is In the Saviour's Hands!

The key of Death is in the Savior's hands!

(James Buchanan, "Comfort in Affliction")

"Do not be afraid! I am the First and the Last, the Ever-living One! I died--but see, I am alive forevermore! And I hold the keys of death and Hades (the realm of the dead)." Revelation 1:17-18

When it is affirmed that Jesus holds "the key of DEATH," it is plainly implied that none can pass out of this present world without His appointment. And, more generally, that He is lord of the living not less than of the dead, and has a thorough control over everything that can in any way affect the lives of men. An absolute power over death, necessarily presupposes a corresponding power over life and its affairs. And it is by the exercise of His providence in sustaining life--that He fulfills His purpose as to the timeand mode of their departure hence.

Has the Redeemer the keys of death? Then this should mitigate the anxiety which often preys upon the mind when we look forward into futurity, and contemplate the prospect of our own death. We should remember, that as the Redeemer alone has the keys of death--nothing can happen to send us forth from the world before the time which He has appointed for our departure. Neither man nor devils can abridge the term of probation assigned to us by our gracious Master. Nor, until He is pleased to call us away, shall any power on earth or in Hell prevail against us. The Redeemer is possessed of absolute power over the course of our lives on earth--and over the time and manner of our departure out of the world.

No accident, no hostile violence, no insidious snare, no dark conspiracy--can touch our life--but by His command. And surely, when we reflect on the numerous dangers to which human life is exposed--the frailty of our frame--the diseases to which it is subject--our constant exposure to fatal accidents--the malice of open or concealed enemies--it must be consolatory to know, that the key of Death is in the Savior's hands, and that, come what may, we cannot be forced out of the world, until He opens the door and bids us to come to Him.

More especially, when we are visited with disease, and threatened with a speedy termination of life--the Savior's power over the keys of death should repress or assuage those violent anxieties as to the probability of death or of recovery--and those disquieting speculations as to the outcome of disease, and the mode of its treatment. For disease cannot kill, nor can medicine cure--without the appointment of Him who holds in His own hands the keys of life and of death! And if He has fixed the outcome of this disease--then why should we be anxious? If death is in our cup--that cup has been put into our hands at the time fixed by unerring wisdom and infinite love!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Cross, the Church, and The Kingdom # 2

The Ultimate Meaning of the Cross (continued)

A People to Express Christ's Lordship

So when we come really to the Word, we find that the Cross as our basis and as our way leads on to these, but through them ever on and ever up to something much more than they are, either separately or collectively and inclusively, and it is that ultimate something which is the supreme objective resultant from the Cross of the Lord Jesus. When I use that word "ultimate", I do not want to divert your mind from the present. I am not using it in the sense of afterward, final, in the sense of time; for that ultimate is now. God has shown that He would have a full vindication of the Cross of His Son now.

Let me stay for a moment for an extra word on what I have just said. We Christians ought to be tremendously interested in our Christianity, interested not merely as a mental matter, but as a heart matter; interested in heart really to discover where we are being led by the whole Word of God. We read the Bible; I suppose we read a few verses each day; some do a great deal more than that; but the Bible is the book of Christians, and we read it more or less. I wonder how many of us really do approach the Bible with this one heart inquiry - where is that leading? What is it all unto? This is not just something by the way in itself. There is something tremendous, something immense, involved. There is always a forward look, a prospect, something in view, something being pointed to, something toward which we are being urged, drawn on; and, putting it all together, where shall we arrive if we see what God has really put into this Word? How many of you do that? If we do approach the Word of God with that spirit - with that inquiry coming from our hearts, that is, born of the very love which has been begotten in us by the love of God: if we are not merely interested in Christianity as our religion but as a heart relationship with the Lord for His satisfaction - if we approach the Bible like that, desiring to know what it is His heart is set upon, and therefore what our hearts ought to be set upon, and if we take the Cross of the Lord Jesus as the key to it all, we shall find ourselves led to some very great conclusions, a very great position.

Can we try - for it will be no more than an endeavor - to set down in a mere phrase what that ultimate something is? May I put it in this way? The ultimate is shown to be the supreme Lordship and Headship of Christ expressed and manifested in the whole cosmic realm in and by a body of Christians in whom the Divine meaning of the Cross is an experimental reality.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3 - (A Conscious Spiritual Relationship, The Fruit of the Cross)



by Charles R. Swindoll

It is almost 10:00, Monday night. The children are snoozing and snoring upstairs (or they should be!). Aside from a few outside noises---a passing car . . . a barking dog . . . a few, faint voices in the distance---all's quiet on the home front. That wonderful, much-needed presence has again come for a visit---quietness. Oh, how I love it . . . how I need it.
One of my most poignant memories of quietness occurred in California when I was walking with a friend along the sandy shores at Carmel. The silence of that early dawn was broken only by the rhythmic roar of the rolling surf and the cry of a few gulls floating overhead. The same thought I had then I have now: I cannot be the man I should be without times of quietness. Stillness is an essential part of our growing deeper as we grow older. Or---in the words of a man who helped shape my life perhaps more than any other: 
We will not become men of God without the presence of solitude.
Those words haunt me when I get caught in the treadmill of time schedules . . . when I make my turn toward the homestretch of the week and try to meet the deadline of demands, just like you. Alas, we are simply geared too high. Thanks to Alka-Seltzer, Excedrin, Sleep-eze, and Compoz, we repeat our nonproductive haste with monotonous regularity. As Peter Marshall put it:
We are in such a hurry, we hate to miss one panel of a revolving door.
Talk about pollution! I want you to think about what our nervous systems undergo just to stay afloat: Noise (music, news, talk, laughter, machinery, appliances, phones, and traffic) from 6:00 a.m. 'til midnightSpeed (bumper-to-bumper at 65 mph, on-ramps and off-ramps, deadlines and appointments) that makes us frown rather than smile . . . that causes us to check our watches more often than checking in with our Lord.Activities (meetings, services, suppers, luncheons, breakfasts, rallies, and clubs---all "necessary" and "nice") that have a way of dismissing quietness like an unwanted guest. Sure---some things are important---super, in fact---but not everything. Listen, if you and I really treasure quietness, we will have to make time for it. When you feed it only the "leftovers" from the schedule, it always goes hungry.
Now, believe me, I'm not bitter. I'm just being direct and honest with you about an ingredient that cannot be ignored much longer in our lives without our paying a dear, dear price. I am jealous that we: "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10 NIV). I am desperately concerned that we slow down and quiet down and gear down our lives so that intermittently each week we carve out time for quietness, solitude, thought, prayer, meditation, and soul searching. Oh, how much agitation will begin to fade away . . . how insignificant petty differences will seem . . . how big God will become and how small our troubles will appear! Security, peace, and confidence will move right on in.
This is what Isaiah, the prophet, meant when he wrote:
And the work of righteousness will be peace,
And the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever.
Then my people will live in a peaceful habitation,
And in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places (32:17-18).
You know something? That still, small voice will never shout. God's methods don't change because we are so noisy and busy. He is longing for your attention, your undivided and full attention. He wants to talk with you in times of quietness (with the TV off) about your need for understanding, love, compassion, patience, self-control, a calm spirit, genuine humility . . . and wisdom. But He won't run to catch up. He will wait and wait until you finally sit in silence and listen.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Cross, The Church, and The Kingdom # 1

The Ultimate Meaning of the Cross

Philippians 2:5-11

I feel that there is one big question which it is imperative that the Lord's people should face in these days, and if we can answer that question in a living way and enter livingly into the answer, very great spiritual values will be secured. The question is this - What has God revealed as His supreme objective resultant from the Cross of Christ? The question which springs out of that is - how has God revealed that the objective shall be secured and expressed? Probably it will be that subsidiary question which will occupy us largely in these meditations, leading to the answer to the main question.

As we approach this main question, we may do so by a series of inquiries. Is the supreme outcome of the Cross of Christ found in there being so many Christians enjoying the knowledge that they are saved? Further, is it found in so many saved people seeking to get other people to the same position - enjoying the fact of being saved? Further, is the answer found in having so many saved Christians mainly occupied with their own sanctification, the way of victory, and a fuller life? And, yet again, is it to have so many Christians devoting themselves to the knowledge of deeper things, the deeper things of God? And if we put all the four together, have we got the objective, that is, God's full objective, in the Cross of Christ? All the things that I have mentioned certainly are part of it; but when we have them all - salvation, soul-winning, sanctification, education - does it end there? Are any, or all, of these the end? Will that satisfy God? Will that fill up His desire and expectation and be an adequate outcome of Calvary? Well, that is what we are going to look at, as the Lord enables.

The circle drawn by all the things which we have just mentioned may still be a limited circle in two respects. Firstly, all that may still resolve itself into something personal - my salvation, my service, my sanctification, my spiritual education. Secondly, it may all resolve itself into something very largely, if not entirely, earthly, having to do with life here on this earth - being saved, getting others saved, growing in grace, increasing in spiritual knowledge. It may be quite an earthly thing, although, of course, leading to heaven and having heaven ultimately in view. But is not that, after all, still a circumscribed position? Again, does it represent all the meaning of the Cross?

Now all of these phases that I have mentioned are seen in the New Testament. Indeed, in a certain sense, we may say that the New Testament in sections deals with these respectively. Romans may, in the main, deal with the first - our salvation. Corinthians may deal with the second - our sanctification. The New Testament does definitely provide for each of these in quite a specific and definite way, but what we ought to recognize is this, that we can never, by means of any one section of the Word of God, see the whole purpose of God. We need all the  Word of God for all the purpose of God.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2 - (A People To Express Christ's Lordship)

The Pride of Your Heart Has Deceived You

Obadiah 1:3-4

(3) The pride of your heart has deceived you,
You who dwell in the clefts of the rock,
Whose habitation is high;
You who say in your heart, "Who will bring me down to the ground?"
(4) Though you ascend as high as the eagle,
And though you set your nest among the stars,
From there I will bring you down," says the LORD.
New King James Version  
Pride deceives one into believing and eventually doing wrongly. What does it deceive a person into believing?

In this context God quotes Edom as saying, "Who will bring me down to the ground?" Edom dwelt in the mountainous country southeast of Judea, and Petra was their stronghold. They thought their combination of military strength and impregnable position made them impossible to defeat. Yet notice what verse 4 adds: "'Though you exalt yourself as high as the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,' says the LORD."

What had pride done? It had deceived them into believing they were secure, self-sufficient, quick-witted, intelligent, and strong enough to withstand anybody. This clearly illustrates that pride's power lies in its ability to deceive us into believing in our self-sufficiency. Even in our everyday relationships with other people, this is a serious deception, but when the deception involves our relationship with God, the level of seriousness reaches alarming proportions.

The Edomites looked at their stronghold and then at themselves and their enemies. They concluded they were stronger than all—they were impregnable! Their evaluation was in error because they left God out of the picture. Therein lies much of the problem concerning pride. Against whom do we evaluate ourselves? Pride usually chooses to evaluate the self against those considered inferior. It must do this so as not to lose its sense of worth. To preserve itself, it will search until it finds a flaw.

If it chooses to evaluate the self against a superior, its own quality diminishes because the result of the evaluation changes markedly. In such a case, pride will often drive the person to compete against—and attempt to defeat—the superior one to preserve his status (Proverbs 13:10). Pride's power is in deceit, and the ground it plows to produce evil is in faulty evaluation.

~John W. Ritenbaugh~

Monday, November 23, 2015

"For Whom the Lord Loveth He Disciplines" # 17

The Discipline of Learning and Knowing Through Being Exercised and Trained By the Discipline of the Lord (continued)

Likewise, the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities, our weakness: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God ... Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, "For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." But in these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, I have come through a process of persuasion to the settled conclusion, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things about to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Discipline of Tribulation:

Romans 5:3

"... but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation, pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance."

The Discipline of Endurance:

Romans 5:4; James 5:11

"And Endurance (fortitude) develops Experience maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity) ... You have heard of the endurance of Job ..."

The Discipline of Experience:

Romans 5:4

"And Experience produces Hope: [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation."

The Discipline of Hope:

Romans 5:5; Colossians 1:27

"Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us. - To whom God was pleased to make known ... the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is, Christ within and among you the HOPE of [realizing] the glory."

Beloved, for the present we are closing our list of these very important disciplines of the Lord. We know that this list is not finished, for the discipline of the Lord will continue throughout all our lives as long as we live: and this is because He loves us, and he wants to share His Heart's desire and His burden with us.

Lord, our prayer is that each one of us will allow, will suffer, will bear the Word of Exhortation all the days of our lives. Oh, Lord, through your discipline You are making us weak within ourselves, so that we just have to have Your grace to live. The Grace of the Lord be with us all. Amen

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(The End)

Prayer and Simple Trust

James 5:15-16

(15) And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. (16) Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
New King James Version   

God never intended prayer to change His purpose or move Him to come to fresh ideas. He has ordained that we be saved through the means of preaching the gospel, but prayer is also a means of salvation. We have seen that it is His will that we pray; it fits into the design of His purpose.

Prayer is therefore not a vain exercise but a means by which God exercises His decrees. When we pray for things God has already decreed, things happen! These prayers are not meaningless. Elijah was a man close to God, and he knew God's will, but that certainly did not prevent him from asking God in prayer for rain (I Kings 18:41-46). Therefore, even though we know His will and that He knows our need, He requires we ask for it. Does not Jesus command us to do this regarding end-time events? "Watch . . . and pray always," He says in Luke 21:36. Prayer keeps our minds focused on what is important to God's purpose.

Perhaps we need to change our views about prayer. Frequently, the prevailing idea of many is that we come to God and ask Him for something we want, expecting Him to give it if we have enough faith. But this is actually degrading to God! This popular belief reduces God to a servant—our servant, like a genie in a bottle—performing our pleasures and granting our desires. No, prayer is worshipfully coming to Him, humbly acknowledging His sovereign authority and loving wisdom, telling Him our need, committing our way to Him, and then patiently allowing Him to deal with our request as it seems best to Him. This does not mean we should not confidently present our needs to God as we see them, but then we should leave it with Him to deal with in His time and manner. Remember, He already knows what He wants to accomplish and when.

Doing this works to make our will subject to His. No prayer is pleasing to Him unless the attitude motivating it is "not [m]y will, but Yours, be done" (Luke 22:42). When God grants blessings on praying people, it is not because of their prayers, as if they motivated Him to act, but He acts for His own name's sake and His sovereign will.

He intensely desires that His thoughts become ours because we reflect His image this way. If we think like God, we will act like Him, which is the purpose of conversion. Much of the communication of His thoughts to ours takes place in prayer. God answers every faithful prayer, but not always in the way or when we think best. Often His answer is the opposite of what we feel to be best, but if we have really left it with God, then at least we know it is indeed His answer.

The story of the resurrection of Lazarus in John 11 illustrates this well. Interestingly, Mary and Martha never directly ask Jesus to heal Lazarus, though they clearly suggest it in calling Him to come. God in the flesh, however, responds in a way totally different from what they anticipated. Nonetheless, their approach is still a good example of the proper attitude in presenting a need to God. They do not even go into much detail in expressing their need—just simple trust that He could and would do the right thing.

~John W. Ritenbaugh~

Sunday, November 22, 2015

"For Whom The Lord Loveth He Disciplines" # 16

The Discipline of Learning and Knowing, Through Being Exercised and Trained by the Discipline of the Lord:

Hebrews 12:11; Romans 8:14, 15, 17; Galatians 4:4-6; Mark 14:36; Romans 8:26, 27, 35-39

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby ... for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.

But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

And He said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto Thee; take away this cup from Me: nevertheless not what I will, but what Thou wilt.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, for Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

For the one whom the Lord loves, He disciplines, corrects and guides ... Shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of (our) spirits, and live? For the time being no discipline brings joy but seems grievous and painful, but afterwards it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it - a harvest of fruit which consists in righteousness, [that is, in conformity to God's will in purpose, thought and action, resulting in right living and right standing with God]. ... For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father ... But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons ... And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together ... And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father: THE SPIRIT OF HIS SON WHO CRIED IN GETHSEMANE IS NOW CRYING THESE WORDS IN OUR HEARTS, "Abba, Father, all things are possible unto Thee; take away this cup from Me: nevertheless not what I will, but what YOU will."

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 17)

Delayed Blessings (and other devotionals)

Matthew 15:23
But He answered her not a word.
Genuine seekers who as yet have not obtained the blessing, may take comfort from the story before us. The Saviour did not at once bestow the blessing, even though the woman had great faith in Him. He intended to give it, but He waited awhile. "He answered her not a word." Were not her prayers good? Never better in the world. Was not her case needy? Sorrowfully needy. Did she not feel her need sufficiently? She felt it overwhelmingly. Was she not earnest enough? She was intensely so. Had she no faith? She had such a high degree of it that even Jesus wondered, and said, "O woman, great is thy faith." See then, although it is true that faith brings peace, yet it does not always bring it instantaneously. There may be certain reasons calling for the trial of faith, rather than the reward of faith. Genuine faith may be in the soul like a hidden seed, but as yet it may not have budded and blossomed into joy and peace. A painful silence from the Saviour is the grievous trial of many a seeking soul, but heavier still is the affliction of a harsh cutting reply such as this, "It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs." Many in waiting upon the Lord find immediate delight, but this is not the case with all. Some, like the jailer, are in a moment turned from darkness to light, but others are plants of slower growth. A deeper sense of sin may be given to you instead of a sense of pardon, and in such a case you will have need of patience to bear the heavy blow. Ah! poor heart, though Christ beat and bruise thee, or even slay thee, trust Him; though He should give thee an angry word, believe in the love of His heart. Do not, I beseech thee, give up seeking or trusting my Master, because thou hast not yet obtained the conscious joy which thou longest for. Cast thyself on Him, and perseveringly depend even where thou canst not rejoicingly hope.

~Charles Spurgeon~

Jude 24:
Faultless before the presence of His glory.

Revolve in your mind that wondrous word, faultless!" We are far off from it now; but as our Lord never stops short of perfection in His work of love, we shall reach it one day. The Saviour who will keep His people to the Lend, will also present them at last to Himself, as "a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but holy and without blemish." All the jewels in the Saviour's crown are of the first water and without a single flaw. All the maids of honour who attend the Lamb's wife are pure virgins without spot or stain. But how will Jesus make us faultless? He will wash us from our sins in His own blood until we are white and fair as God's purest angel; and we shall be clothed in His righteousness, that righteousness which makes the saint who wears it positively faultless; yea, perfect in the sight of God. We shall be unblameable and unreproveable even in His eyes. His law will not only have no charge against us, but it will be magnified in us. Moreover, the work of the Holy Spirit within us will be altogether complete. He will make us so perfectly holy, that we shall have no lingering tendency to sin. Judgment, memory, will-every power and passion shall be emancipated from the thraldom of evil. We shall be holy even as God is holy, and in His presence we shall dwell for ever. Saints will not be out of place in heaven, their beauty will be as great as that of the place prepared for them. Oh the rapture of that hour when the everlasting doors shall be lifted up, and we, being made meet for the inheritance, shall dwell with the saints in light. Sin gone, Satan shut out, temptation past for ever, and ourselves "faultless" before God, this will be heaven indeed! Let us be joyful now as we rehearse the song of eternal praise so soon to roll forth in full chorus from all the blood-washed host; let us copy David's exultings before the ark as a prelude to our ecstasies before the throne.

~Charles Spurgeon~

Open Door of Communion

"I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it"   (Revelation 3:8).
Saints who remain faithful to the truth of God have an open door before them. My soul, thou hast resolved to live and die by that which the LORD has revealed in His Word, and therefore before thee stands this open door. I will enter in by the open door of communion with God. Who shall say me nay? Jesus has removed my sin and given me His righteousness; therefore I may freely enter. LORD, I do so by Thy grace. I have also before me an open door into the mysteries of the Word. I may enter into the deep things of God. Election, union to Christ, the Second advent-all these are before me, and I may enjoy them. No promise and no doctrine are now locked up against me. An open door of access is before me in private and an open door of usefulness in public. God will hear me; God will use me. A door is opened for my onward march to the church above, and for my daily fellowship with saints below. Some may try to shut me up or shut me out, but all in vain. Soon shall I see an open door into heaven: the pearl gate will be my way of entrance, and then I shall go in unto my LORD and King and be with God eternally shut in.

~Charles Spurgeon~

Jeremiah 15:21
And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible.
Note the glorious personality of the promise. I will, I will. The Lord Jehovah Himself interposes to deliver and redeem His people. He pledges Himself personally to rescue them. His own arm shall do it, that He may have the glory. Here is not a word said of any effort of our own which may be needed to assist the Lord. Neither our strength nor our weakness is taken into the account, but the lone I, like the sun in the heavens, shines out resplendent in all-sufficience. Why then do we calculate our forces, and consult with flesh and blood to our grievous wounding? Jehovah has power enough without borrowing from our puny arm. Peace, ye unbelieving thoughts, be still, and know that the Lord reigneth. Nor is there a hint concerning secondary means and causes. The Lord says nothing of friends and helpers: He undertakes the work alone, and feels no need of human arms to aid Him. Vain are all our lookings around to companions and relatives; they are broken reeds if we lean upon them-often unwilling when able, and unable when they are willing. Since the promise comes alone from God, it would be well to wait only upon Him; and when we do so, our expectation never fails us. Who are the wicked that we should fear them? The Lord will utterly consume them; they are to be pitied rather than feared. As for terrible ones, they are only terrors to those who have no God to fly to, for when the Lord is on our side, whom shall we fear? If we run into sin to please the wicked, we have cause to be alarmed, but if we hold fast our integrity, the rage of tyrants shall be overruled for our good. When the fish swallowed Jonah, he found him a morsel which he could not digest; and when the world devours the church, it is glad to be rid of it again. In all times of fiery trial, in patience let us possess our souls.

~Charles Spurgeon~

Lamentations 3:41
Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens.
The act of prayer teaches us our unworthiness, which is a very salutary lesson for such proud beings as we are. If God gave us favours without constraining us to pray for them we should never know how poor we are, but a true prayer is an inventory of wants, a catalogue of necessities, a revelation of hidden poverty. While it is an application to divine wealth, it is a confession of human emptiness. The most healthy state of a Christian is to be always empty in self and constantly depending upon the Lord for supplies; to be always poor in self and rich in Jesus; weak as water personally, but mighty through God to do great exploits; and hence the use of prayer, because, while it adores God, it lays the creature where it should be, in the very dust. Prayer is in itself, apart from the answer which it brings, a great benefit to the Christian. As the runner gains strength for the race by daily exercise, so for the great race of life we acquire energy by the hallowed labour of prayer. Prayer plumes the wings of God's young eaglets, that they may learn to mount above the clouds. Prayer girds the loins of God's warriors, and sends them forth to combat with their sinews braced and their muscles firm. An earnest pleader cometh out of his closet, even as the sun ariseth from the chambers of the east, rejoicing like a strong man to run his race. Prayer is that uplifted hand of Moses which routs the Amalekites more than the sword of Joshua; it is the arrow shot from the chamber of the prophet foreboding defeat to the Syrians. Prayer girds human weakness with divine strength, turns human folly into heavenly wisdom, and gives to troubled mortals the peace of God. We know not what prayer cannot do! We thank thee, great God, for the mercy-seat, a choice proof of thy marvellous lovingkindness. Help us to use it aright throughout this day!

~Charles Spurgeon~