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Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Stewardship of the Mystery # 3

The Purpose of the Ages (continued)

Paul began with the Jewish conception of the Messiah, whatever that was. It is quite impossible to say what the Jewish conception of Christ was. You have indications of what they expected the Messiah to be and to do, but there is nothing to indicate exactly what their conception of the Messiah was in fullness; it was undoubtedly a limited one. There is a great deal of uncertainty betrayed by the Jewish thought beyond a certain point about their long-looked-for Messiah. Their Messiah represented something earthly and something temporal; an earthly kingdom and a temporal power, with all the earthly and temporal advantages which would accrue to them as people on this earth from His kingdom, from His reign, from His appearing. That is where we begin in our consideration of Paul's conception of Christ. This Jewish conception, it is true, did not confine the thought of blessing to Israel alone, but allowed that Messiah's coming was, through the Jews, to issue in blessing to all the nations; yet it was still earthly, temporal, limited to things here. If you read the Gospels, and especially Matthew's Gospel, you will see that the endeavor of these Gospels, so far as Jewish believers were concerned, was to show that Christ had done three things.

Firstly, how that He had corrected their ideas about the Messiah.

Secondly, how that He had fulfilled the highest hopes that could have been theirs concerning the Messiah.

Thirdly, how that He had far transcended anything that every they had thought.

You must remember that these Gospels were never written merely to convince unbelievers. They were written also to believers, to help the faith of believers by interpretations. Matthew's Gospel, written as it was at a time of transition, was written in order to interpret and confirm faith in Christ by showing what Christ really was, what He really came for, and in that way to correct and adjust their conceptions of the Messiah. Their conceptions of Him were inadequate, distorted, limited, and sometimes wrong. These records were intended to put them right, to show that Christ had fulfilled the highest, and best, and truest Messianic hopes and expectations, and had infinitely transcended them all. You need Paul to interpret Matthew, and Mark, and Luke, and John; and he does it. He brings Christ into view as One in Whom every hope is realized, every possibility achieved. Were they expecting an earthly kingdom, and deliverance and blessing n relation thereto? Christ had done something infinitely better than that. He had wrought for them a cosmic redemption; not a mere deliverance from the power of Rome or any other temporal power, but deliverance from the whole power of evil in the universe - "Who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love." Matthew had particularly stressed the fact of the kingdom, but the Jewish idea of the kingdom with which he was confronted was so limited, so earthly, so narrow. With a new emphasis Paul, by the Spirit, brings into view the nature and immensity of the kingdom of the Son of God's love.

Now we can see something of what deliverance from our enemies means. We shall not follow that through, but pass on with just that glimpse of it. Such an unveiling as this was a corrective. It revealed a fulfillment in a deeper sense than they had expected, but it was a transcendence of their fullest hope and expectation. Paul interpreted the Christ for them in His fuller meaning and value. He himself had begun on their level. Their conception of Christ had been his own. But after it pleased God to reveal His Son in him a continuous enlargement in Paul's knowledge of Christ began through an ever-growing unveiling of what He was.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4)

The Power of a Word


Proverbs 12:18 gives us some valuable advice,

There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health.

Did you ever know someone who is good at making cutting remarks?  They spoke like the piercings of a sword?

Over twenty years ago I was at the house of some friends.  We were all just kind of hanging out and I made a comment to one of the brothers in the family.  It was a clever little comment and was basically meant to take a jab at him.


A couple of the family members heard it and snickered and said, "Oh, way to go, Bayless!  You got him!"  But as soon as I said it, his countenance fell, and my heart just sank. While I looked for an opportunity to apologize to him that night, I didn't do it because he ended up leaving early.

I've regretted that comment ever since.  I repented, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleansed me from that sin.  But you know what?  Those words were out, and I couldn't get them back.

Shortly after that night, he went feet first into a very destructive lifestyle involving his sexuality.  I have to think that quite possibly my words pushed him away from God.  It may have been that little jab of the sword that pushed him off the edge.
The New Testament says in Ephesians 4:29Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth but only that which is good for edification or for building up that it may minister grace to the hearers.

Are your words ministering grace to those who hear them? Are they building up? Or are they tearing down?

~Bayless Conley~

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Stewardship of the Mystery # 2

The Purpose of the Ages (continued)

Paul's Revelation of Christ

It is never our desire to make comparisons between Apostles, and God forbid that we should ever set a lesser value upon any Apostle than that which the Lord has set upon him; yet I think that we are quite right in saying that, more than any other, Paul was, and is, the interpreter of Christ; and if we take Paul as our interpreter, as the one who leads us into the secrets of Christ in a fuller way, we mark how he himself embodies and represents that of which he speaks. It is the man himself, after all, and not just what he says which brings us to Christ in fuller and deeper meaning.

The thing that has been very much pressing upon my own heart in this connection is Paul's ever-growing conception of Christ. There is no doubt that Paul's conception of Christ was growing all the time, and by the time Paul reached the end of his earthly life, full, and rich, and deep as it had been, Paul's vision of Christ was such as to lead him to cry even at that point, "...that I may know Him..." Yes, at the beginning it had pleased God to reveal His Son to him, but at the end it was still as though he had known nothing of Christ. He had come to discover that his Christ was immeasurable beyond his thought and conception, and he was launched into eternity with a cry on his lips: "... that I may know Him ..."

I believe (and not as a matter of sentiment) that will be our eternal bliss, the nature of our eternity, namely, discovering Christ. Paul as we have said, had a great knowledge of Christ. At best here we find ourselves shriveling into insignificance every time we approach Him. How many times have we read the Letter to the Ephesians! I am not exaggerating when I say that if we have read it for years, read it scores, hundreds, or even thousands of times, every sentence can hold us afresh each time we come back to it. Paul knew what he was talking about. Paul's conception was a large one, but even so he is still saying at the end, " ...that I may know Him ..." I do not think we shall know Christ in fullness immediately as we pass into His presence. I believe we are  to go on - governed by this word, "the ages to come" - discovering, discovering, exploring Christ. That ever-growing conception of Christ was the thing which maintained Paul in life, and maintained Paul's ministry in life. There was never any stagnation with him. He never came to any point or place where there was the suggestion that now he knew. What he seems to say is this: I do not know anything yet, but I see dimly, yet truly, with the eye of the spirit, a Christ so great, so vast as to keep me reaching out, moving on. I press on; I leave the things which are behind; I count all things as refuse for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, that I may know Him. In this growing conception of Christ, Paul moved a long way from the position of the Jewish teacher, or of the Jew himself at his best.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)

For Me to Live Is Christ


For to me to live is Christ. (Philippians 1:21)

That is the good news of the all-captivating Christ. When Christ really captivates, everything happens and anything can happen. That is how it was with Paul and with these people. Christ had just captivated them. They had no other thought in life than Christ. They may have had their businesses, their trades, their professions, their different walks of life and occupations in the world, but they had one all-dominating thought, concern and interest – Christ. Christ rested, for them, upon everything. There is no other word for it. He just captivated them.
And I see, dear friends, that that – simple as it may sound – explains everything. It explains Paul... it explains these believers, it explains their mutual love. It solved all their problems, cleared up all their difficulties. Oh, this is what we need! If only you and I were like this, if we really after all were captivated by Christ! I cannot convey that to you, but as I have looked at that truth – looked at it, read it, thought about it – I have felt something moved in me, something inexplicable. After all, nine-tenths of all our troubles can be traced to the fact that we have other personal interests influencing us, governing us and controlling us – other aspects of life than Christ. If only it could be true that Christ had captured and captivated and mastered us, and become – yes, I will use the word – an obsession, a glorious obsession!

When it is like that, we are filled with joy. There are no regrets at having to "give up" things. We are filled with joy, filled with victory. There is no spirit of defeatism at all. It is the joy of a great triumph. It is the triumph of Christ over the life. Yes, it has been, and because it has been, it can be again. But this needs something more than just a kind of mental appraisement. We can so easily miss the point. We may admire the words, the ideas; we may fall to it as a beautiful presentation; but, oh, we need the captivating to wipe out our selves – our reputations, everything that is associated with us and our own glory – that the One who captivates may be the only One in view, the only One with a reputation, and we at His feet. This is the gospel, the good news – that when Christ really captivates, the kind of thing that is in this letter happens, it really happens. Shall we ask the Lord for that life captivation of His beloved Son?

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Stewardship of the Mystery

The Purpose of the Ages

"...no one knoweth the Son, save the Father ..." (Matthew 11:27)

"... it was the good pleasure of God ... to reveal His Son in me ..." (Galatians 1:15, 16)

"... I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord ..." (Phil. 3:8)

" ... that I may know Him ..." (Phil. 3:10)

"Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Him unto a dispensation of the fullness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ ..." (Ephesians 1:9, 10).

That little clause in verse ten is the word which will govern our meditation - ALL THINGS IN CHRIST.

These scriptures speak for themselves. As we listen to the inner voice of the Spirit in these fragments of the Divine Word, surely we shall begin to feel a sense of tremendous meaning, value and content. We should feel like people who have come to the doors of a new realm full of wonders - unknown, unexplored, unexploited.

The Necessity for Revelation

We are met at the very threshold of that realm with a statement which is calculated to check our steps for the moment, and if we approach with a sense of knowing or possessing anything already, with a sense of contentment, of personal satisfaction, or with any sense other than that of needing to know everything, then this word should bring us to a standstill at once: " ... no one knoweth the Son, save the Father ..." Maybe we thought we knew something about the Lord Jesus, and that we had ability to know; that study, and listening, and various other forms of our own application and activity could bring us to a knowledge. but the outset we are told that " ... no one knoweth the Son, save the Father ..." All that the Son is, is locked up with the Father, and He alone knows.

When, therefore, we have faced that fact, and have recognized its implications, we shall see that here is a land which is locked up, into which we cannot enter, and for which we have no equipment. There is nothing in us of faculty to enter into the secrets of that realm of Christ. Then following the discovery of that somewhat startling fact of man's utter incapacity to know by nature, the next fact that confronts us is this: "... it was the good pleasure of God ... to reveal His Son in me ..." While God has all that locked up in Himself, in His own possession, and He alone has the knowledge of the Son, it is in His heart, nevertheless, to give revelation. And, given the truth that we are so utterly dependent upon revelation from God, and that all human faculty and facility is ruled out in this respect, since such revelation can only be known by a Divine revealing after an inward kind, we are making it to be very evident that everything is of grace when we renounce all trust in works, when we turn away from self-sufficiency, self-reliance, from all confidence in the flesh, and any pride of advance and approach.

Read these two passages in the light of what Paul was when known as Saul of Tarsus, as Paul the Apostle, and you will gain something more of their force. Saul of Tarsus would have called himself a master in Israel, one well learned in the Scriptures, with a certain strength of self-assurance, self-confidence, and self-sufficiency in his apprehension and knowledge of the oracles of God. Even such a one as he will have to come to the recognition that none of that is of avail in the realm of Christ; where he realizes that he is utterly blind, utterly ignorant, utterly helpless, altogether ruled out, and needing the grace of God for the very first glimmer of light; to come down very low, and say: "... it was the good pleasure of God ... to reveal His Son in me ..." That is grace!

That marked the beginning; and for this present meditation we are considering the unexplored fullness of what God has Himself placed within His Son, the Lord Jesus, actually and in purpose, as being the object of His grace toward us. His grace has led Him to seek to bring us by revelation into all that knowledge which He Himself possesses as His own secret knowledge of His fullness in His Son, the Lord Jesus. ALL THINGS IN CHRIST.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2 - (Paul's Revelation of Christ) 

Always Pray and Never Faint


Men ought always to pray and not to faint (Luke 18:1).

"Go to the ant." Tammerlane used to relate to his friends an anecdote of his early life. "I once," he said, "was forced to take shelter from my enemies in a ruined building, where I sat alone many hours. Desiring to divert my mind from my hopeless condition, I fixed my eyes on an ant that was carrying a grain of corn larger than itself up a high wall. I numbered the efforts it made to accomplish this object. The grain fell sixty-nine times to the ground; but the insect persevered, and the seventieth time it reached the top. This sight gave me courage at the moment, and I never forgot the lesson.
--The King's Business

Prayer which takes the fact that past prayers have not been answered as a reason for languor, has already ceased to be the prayer of faith. To the prayer of faith the fact that prayers remain unanswered is only evidence that the moment of the answer is so much nearer. From first to last, the lessons and examples of our Lord all tell us that prayer which cannot persevere and urge its plea importunately, and renew, and renew itself again, and gather strength from every past petition, is not the prayer that will prevail.
--William Arthur

Rubenstein, the great musician, once said, "If I omit practice one day, I notice it; if two days, my friends notice it; if three days, the public notice it." It is the old doctrine, "Practice makes perfect." We must continue believing, continue praying, continue doing His will. Suppose along any line of art, one should cease practicing, we know what the result would be. If we would only use the same quality of common sense in our religion that we use in our everyday life, we should go on to perfection.

The motto of David Livingstone was in these words, "I determined never to stop until I had come to the end and achieved my purpose." By unfaltering persistence and faith in God he conquered.

~L. B. Cowman~

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

God's Reactions to Man's Defections # 78

The Responsibility of the Christian (continued)

The Christian as Craftsman (continued)

The Spirit, the Holy Spirit, gave the Word. Here, to Timothy, the Apostle says so: "All Scripture given by inspiration of God is profitable for ..." this and that and that. The Spirit gave the Word. We must be adjusted by the Holy Spirit to the Word that He has given! That is 'rightly dividing', or, as literally the word is, 'cutting straight lines' with, the Word of God. Just be honest with it! Just let it mean to you what it really does mean, and don't try to get around it. "All Scripture is given by inspiration", by the Holy Spirit. Paul was not saying things just out of his own predilection, his own preferences, his likes and dislikes: he was speaking what has become Scripture. Don't get around it. Be honest. You don't stand to lose anything; you stand to gain the blessing of God. Yes, we must be adjusted to the Word of God: neither less than the Word, nor more.

We have been considering some figures, metaphors, similes, of the Christian. They are very clear, very simple; but I come back again to where I commenced. Put together, they do show that a Christian is a very responsible person, or is to be so regarded; one who must say to himself or herself, 'I am not in something that is just optional - my pleasure, my life; not something that does not matter very much - as though I could say, "I am saved, I shall get to Heaven all right!" Oh, no! There is more than getting to Heaven all right!" ' Oh, no! There is more than getting to Heaven, there is more than just being saved. There are great interests of the Lord to be served, and these are the people required for them.

So - 'Give diligence, take your share of the hardship as a good soldier, guard your trust, keep the rules, learn discipline.' "For thus shall be richly supplied unto you the entrance into the eternal kingdom..." (2 Peter 1:11). And so we, the successors of Paul in the battle and in the work, may be able to say, as he said: "I have fought the good fight ... I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day: and not only to me, but also to all them that have loved His appearing" (2 Timothy 4:7-8). We are in the same fight, the same contest, the same calling.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(THE END)

(Next: The Stewardship of the Mystery - All Things In Christ)

Pray Without Ceasing

 1 Thessalonians 5:17

How do we do that? Well, I studied prayer for a while as if it were a science. I read about men who were known to be prayer warriors. But I noticed that by the end of their lives, many of them said that the one regret they had was that they didn’t pray enough. Immediately I prayed, “Oh Lord, don’t let that happen to me. Do not let anyone quote me saying that. Teach me to pray without ceasing. Teach me to tap into Your heart at the mall as much as when I am in trouble or in pain. Teach me that You are listening at a rock concert as well as at the beach. Teach me to include You in everything and take nothing for granted. And oh Lord, teach me to thank You for it all.”

God has given us His Holy Spirit on earth and has a will for us that He wants fulfilled on earth as it is in heaven. So, what does it take to have God’s heart so much in mine that He can fulfill His will on earth as it is in heaven with me? 

Verses like “Ask and it will be given,” “Whatever you ask, it will be given,” allowed me permission to ask for everything. I realized that He was with me wherever I went. He just wanted to be included. He heard my words but knew the desires of my heart. He might not answer my words but He would fulfill the desire. And as time passed, I realized that He placed a lot of those desires in my heart just so He could fulfill them. The key was learning to pinpoint my true motivation. God looks at my heart and He weighs the thoughts and motives of the heart. If I was asking out of selfishness, He didn’t answer. If I told Him that I thought my motive was selfish, He answered. And He would answer those prayers just like I asked. So I got another piece in the puzzle. God rewards honesty.

I could not have learned these lessons without writing out my prayers.  Prayer Journaling helps to clarify your thoughts, intents and motives. Writing allows you to focus and really understand who you are and what you want before the Lord. We have prayer journals that have helped us. And we have instructional CDs to teach you how to get started. Our heart’s desire is that you may learn to pray God’s heart and for you to see heaven open up on earth as He uses you, for we serve an Awesome and Faithful God.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

God's Reactions to Man's Defections # 77

The Responsibility of the Christian (continued)

The Christian as Athlete (continued)

Well, here is a contest, here is an engagement, which calls upon us to be very watchful, and to be in many directions self-denying. But don't mix this up with your salvation - you can never be saved by good works! To be a Christian you don't have to give up this and give up that, and do all sorts of things that you don't naturally like doing! This is not in order to be a Christian; but when you "are" a Christian, here is a vocation, here is a responsibility. Paul said: "I buffet my body ... lest ... after that I have preached to others. I myself should be rejected" (1 Corinthians 9:27), and he is thinking of this very thing - this business on hand, this great responsibility into which he is called, this great contest. 'I must see to it that my body, my fleshly appetites, don't get the upper hand; I must keep a strong hand upon myself; I must learn the disciplined life.' To most people that word "discipline" is a most hated word. Yes, bus this is not just discipline for its own sake - it is because of what is involved. And we can lose so much - young Christians, you can lose so much, and you can be disqualified from the great calling with which you are called, and from obtaining the great prize, the real prize, which is set before you, if you do not learn the disciplined life. Keep under your body. A Christian ought to be a very disciplined person, with a life well ordered and regulated - nothing loose or flippant or careless. We ought to be a people girded on a great business.

The Christian As Craftsman

And finally, the second chapter of the second letter and the so well-known 15th verse: "Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth." The translation that we have in our Authorized Version, "Study to show thyself approved unto God ... rightly dividing the word ...", has given rise to a good deal of misunderstanding. Many have thought that this is a picture of the student in his study, taking the Word of God and cutting it up and putting it into all kinds of different watertight compartments and dispensational sections. A whole school of dispensationalism and ultra-dispensationalism has been build upon this word, and it is all wrong! We shall be led astray if we get that idea.

This has nothing to do with the study and with the book. The Revised Version has improved upon the translation: "Give diligence to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed ..." It is true that your work is with the Word of God, but the picture here is not of a student, but of a craftsman, and what lies behind the Greek here is the stonemason. The stonemason has the specification before him of the stones that are to be cut and fitted into a building; and in the specification, or the blueprint, there are all the lines where the cuts are to be made, very finely, so that, when these stones are put together, they exactly fit, they belong to one another. It is the craftsman's job. With all the mass-production and the machine-made things of today, I think there are few things better than to see a real craftsman at work: really to find a craftsman, an old-fashioned craftsman, with his genuine hand-work, that is not the work of a machine.

Paul is talking about the craftsman. And he says, 'Now you have got the specification given to you in the Word of God. Don't toy with it, don't play with it, don't be careless about it. See to it that the truths of the Word of God are faithfully observed, that you handle the Word of God absolutely honestly.' In his second Corinthian letter you remember the Apostle used this phrase: "Not ... handling the word of God deceitfully" (2 Corinthians 4:2). What does that mean? Making it mean what it does not mean, for our own convenience - because it suits us so to interpret it! But "no ... scripture is of private interpretation" (2 Peter 1:20). Our attitude must be: The Word of God says this; we cannot get around it. Don't try to get around it, don't try to make it mean something that it does not mean, and certainly don't be superior to it and think that you know better than what it says. Be absolutely honest with the Word of God. The Word of God says that; the blueprint, the pattern, the specification gives that as the precise line of things: then take it. Don't think that you can improve upon it; don't be careless about it. Take note of it.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 78)

John' Doubts


And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, "Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?" - Matthew 11:2-3

John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus. Isaiah 40:3 and Malachi 3:1, he was prophesied as the messenger who would prepare the way for the Messiah. He was the one anointed in his mother’s womb and filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41), and appointed by God to bear witness of Jesus, the Son of God. John the Baptist was the one who baptized Jesus and witnessed the Holy Spirit’s descent upon Him like a dove (John 1:32). This same John the Baptist is now wondering if this Jesus is the real Messiah. Should he look for someone else? What happened to John? What went wrong with his faith?

The Messiah was expected to come to earth and to set up His kingdom. Jesus, therefore, was the long-awaited King of the Jews. Everyone who believed in Him fully expected the prophecies of His earthly reign to be fulfilled in their day. But Jesus would answer John’s question showing a much different purpose for His coming than what John and the Jewish people expected. Jesus sent back the message that, “The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matthew 11:5). Jesus did not come the first time to set up His kingdom; He humbled Himself and died on a cross for our sins. He came as the final sacrifice. Jesus came to serve, not to be served. So John’s expectations were not met, thus, he began to question (or doubt) if Jesus was the true Messiah.

How often do we put Jesus in our box and look to Him to meet our expectations? What happens when Jesus does not meet us the way we think He should? It is in those moments that our faith is tested the most. As humans, we tend to have very short memories. We forget so quickly how real the Lord has been to us, only to experience those moments when we wonder if He was ever real at all. Pray that your faith is strengthened in times of testing. Pray that you do not forget all that Jesus has done in your life. Pray that you never doubt that He is the true Son of God.'

~Daily Disciples Devotional~ 

Monday, February 23, 2015

God's Reactions to Man's Defections # 76

The Responsibility of the Christian (continued)

c. Alongside of Others

And the third factor or feature in these fragments is something which is not observable in our translation. You notice it says: "Suffer hardship with me as a good soldier of Christ Jesus ..." There are other translations of that clause, such as: "Take your share in suffering hardship ..." Neither of them, perhaps, gives the exact sense of the original. This is one of the occasions when Paul uses one of his favorite compounds. You know that Paul was tremendously fond of compound words, and one of his favorite kinds of compound was a whole series of words with the prefix "syn" to them. "Syn" means "together", and what he is saying here is this: 'Look here, Timothy, we are all in it. You are not alone in this; this is a collective matter, this is a corporate matter. This is something which, if it only related to you, might not be very important; you might not think it important enough to be seriously considered. But look here, Timothy, we are together - you must not let me down.'

This fact of the collective or corporate aspect of the conflict is a big thing, is it not? We are fighting alongside of one another and for one another; the battle is a common battle, and we must not let one another down. If someone else is having a bit of hardship, we must come and share the hardship with them; and if we are having a bit of hardship, they come come and share it with us. It is a tremendous factor in victory, to keep together in it. So it is the "togetherness" of the battle and the warfare that is quite definitely thought of by the Apostle here.

The Christian As Athlete

Our next "group"  consists of just this fragment: "If a man contend in the games, he is not crowned except he have contended lawfully." Here, hidden behind the English translation, is a Greek word - Athleo- from which we get our English words "athlete" and "athletic".  The Greek word means to compete in, or take part in, the public games or contests. The Christian is compared to a Greek athlete. Now that sounds like sport, but it is not! For the word is a very strong word, implying one who engages in a contest for the mastery. That is making a business of things, is it not? We, as Christians, are called to engage seriously in a contest, at the end of which there is a prize, which it is possible for us to lose. That is the conception. Of course, there is a very large background of the Greek games to this word of Paul's; he knew all about it. The Greek athlete was called upon to spend ten whole months in rigorous preparatory discipline and training before he was allowed to enter the contests. And the rules for training were stringent. He must shun many things; he must observe certain regulations; he must discipline himself and put aside all his own preferences and his own likes. He must recognize that this thing is so serious that, should he break one of the regulations of his training, he is disqualified, he is not allowed to enter.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 77)

And God Opened Her Eyes

And God opened her eyes, and she saw - Genesis 21:19
 
Poor Hagar! There was no help for it; and she, who a little before had thought she was giving Abraham his heir, found herself and her boy homeless wayfarers on the desert sands. Their one need was water; they little deemed it was so near. No need to create a new fountain, but to open their eyes. We need the opened eye to see:- The finished work of Christ - The work of propitiation for sin is complete. We are not required to add to it one tear, or prayer, or vow. "It is finished." To go to heaven to bring Christ down, or to the deep to bring Him up, is alike superfluous. All we need is the opened eye to see what Jesus has done, and recognize that it is all that was demanded to meet the claims of God's holy law.The things freely given to us of God. - God hath given us in Jesus all things that pertain to life and godliness.
 
There is no possible gift or grace, in which we are deficient, that is not stored in Him, in whom the fullness of God abides. But we are blind; the eyes of our heart have not been opened to see the hope of our calling, the riches of our inheritance, the greatness of God's power. Did we know these things, surely not a moment would elapse without our availing ourselves of God's rich provision. The alleviations which God provides against excessive sorrow. - Hagar's anguish, as Mary's at the sepulchre in after years, blinded her to available comfort. So grief puts a bandage over our eyes. Life is sad, and lonely, and dark, but God is near; and if you ask, He will show springs of consolation, of which you may drink. There is no desert without its springs; no dying child without the angel of the Lord.

~F. B. Meyer~

Sunday, February 22, 2015

God's Reactions to Man's Defections # 75

The Responsibility of the Christian (continued)

b. With Undivided Interests

The second thing that is in these statements is that, if we are going to wage triumphant spiritual warfare, we must be altogether in it. "No soldier on active service" (for that is the literal wording) "entangleth himself with the affairs of this life." He must be disentangled. One of the enemy's most successful tactics is to get us all tied up, tangled up with all kinds of conflicting things, or with some other interests, dividing us in our life and in our strength and in our application. Now this that Paul says to Timothy here dos not mean, 'Look here, you must not go into business - you must come out of business, and be all on spiritual work.' It does not mean that you have got to leave everything else and come  and be a fuller full-time worker, or full-time soldier - it does not mean that at all. It is entirely possible - and, though difficult, this is what the Apostle and what the Lord would say to most of us - it is altogether possible for you to pursue your daily employment, and do it conscientiously and thoroughly, as you should, leaving nothing for reproach, while yet at the same time, whether in it, through it, or over it, your supreme interests are spiritual. The really governing things in your life are the Lord's things.

The warfare, then, may be in the daily business. But if you get all churned up and obsessed, you are put out of the war, out of the fight. Inwardly in our hearts there has got to be a disentangled spirit. Now that could be enlarged upon very much. The Apostle is saying: You must not have two dominating interests in life; you can only have one. You must not be a divided person who has, on the one side, interests in the things of the Lord, on the other side, interests in the world. That is NO good; you will not be a good soldier if you are like that. If you have to be in this world, and do its work, and follow your profession, your dominating concern must be the interests of the Lord, and in that part of your life you must be disentangled. In a word, one thing over all must predominate; there must be no dividedness of heart or mind. "This one thing I do ...", said the Apostle.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 76 - (c. Alongside of Others)

Pharisees in the Church?


The Pharisees were men who had dedicated their lives to the study of Scripture. They took a solemn vow before three witnesses to spend every moment of their lives obeying the Ten Commandments. That is not to say they succeeded, because clearly they did not. But that is at least what they tried to do. And with a few exceptions, such as Nicodemus, these Pharisees—these religious experts—had hard hearts.

What is ironic is they spent their time studying the Scriptures. These men, immersed in such a spiritual endeavor, had hearts that were so hard, they attributed to the devil that which was being done by God.

This reminds us that the church can be a dangerous place for us today. It is a place where we honor God. It is a place where the Word of God goes out. And we have a choice as to how we will react to these things. If we are in church because we want to worship and learn more about Christ, then that is great. But if we go to church out of mere obligation, thinking we can sin a little more because we have done our duty, that can be dangerous.

The same sun that softens the wax hardens the clay. And sometimes the most hardened people can be inside the church, because they think, I know it all. I have heard it all. I am so spiritual.The problem is they are getting a hard heart. They are arrogant and resistant to the work the Holy Spirit wants to do in their lives.

It is easier to get a hard heart inside the church than outside of it. So if you have a critical spirit and a hard heart, watch out. The church can be a dangerous place for you.

~Greg Laurie~

Saturday, February 21, 2015

God's Reactions to Man's Defections # 74

The Responsibility of the Christian (continued)

The Christian As Warrior

The next series of fragments begins with the 18th verse of chapter one of the first letter: "War the good warfare ..."; followed by these so familiar words in the second letter, second chapter: "...a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier on service entangleth himself in the affairs of this life; that he may please Him Who enrolled him as a soldier."

a. On Active Service

There are three ideas bound up with those words. Firstly, of course, the conception of the Christian as a warrior, and of the Christian life and Christian service as a warfare. Perhaps we hardly need to be reminded of that. It may be that you are a really war-scarred warrior: you have been in the fight and the battle has left its marks on you. You know it quit well. And yet it needs to be said - perhaps firstly to those who have newly donned the armor, who have newly come to the Lord. Understand that you have been enrolled in a spiritual army! That is what it says: you have been enrolled in a spiritual army, and your life-business is war. You are going to find that out sooner or later, whether you like it  or not; but there is the  fact. And that is a very responsible position. One, by failure in this warfare, may let down many and affect the whole campaign.

But, although the older ones may know it so well, and feel that you do not need to be reminded, are you sure that you do not? I think I know something about the warfare from experience; and yet - there is this subtle fact, that very often, when we are in a situation, and things are going on, we begin to blame people and circumstances, and get all worked up, and look for scapegoats, forgetting the reality of this thing - Why, the devil is after something! Here the battle is on, there is no doubt about it; the air is thick with conflict; and we get our eyes on people and things. We are defeated, we are just beaten, rendered casualties, put out of the fight - simply because we lose sight of the fact, the abiding fact, that we are in a spiritual warfare, and that behind "things" there are other, spiritual, forces. 

We all need to be reminded. It is no small thing, you know, when we are really in a situation like that, and things are getting worked up to a fine pitch and stress, when someone comes along and says, 'Look here, the enemy is in this; he is trying to get you, he knows something or other, he is on your track; let us have some prayer about it'; and we get to prayer, and the whole thing goes. Sometimes just to remind one another of the fact is a tremendous deliverance: we find that it "is" a fact. We have been attributing the situation to things and people, and there is all the time something much deeper than that behind it. We need to be reminded continually that we are in a warfare - for we are.

That is the first thing here - this conception of the Christian life - and we must get hold of it and settle it. And, although I don't like saying it, I don't think we are ever going to be out of this warfare here!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 75 - (b. With Undivided Interests)

He Put Forth His Own Sheep


He putteth forth his own sheep (John 10:4).

Oh, this is bitter work for Him and us -- bitter for us to go, but equally bitter for Him to cause us pain; yet it must be done. It would not be conducive to our true welfare to stay always in one happy and comfortable lot. He therefore puts us forth. The fold is deserted, that the sheep may wander over the bracing mountain slope. The laborers must be thrust out into the harvest, else the golden grain would spoil.

Take heart! it could not be better to stay when He determines otherwise; and if the loving hand of our Lord puts us forth, it must be well. On, in His name, to green pastures and still waters and mountain heights! He goeth before thee. Whatever awaits us is encountered first by Him. Faith's eye can always discern His majestic presence in front; and when that cannot be seen, it is dangerous to move forward. Bind this comfort to your heart, that the Savior has tried for Himself all the experiences through which He asks you to pass; and He would not ask you to pass through them unless He was sure that they were not too difficult for your feet, or too trying for your strength.

This is the Blessed Life -- not anxious to see far in front, nor careful about the next step, not eager to choose the path, nor weighted with the heavy responsibilities of the future, but quietly following behind the Shepherd, one step at a time.

Dark is the sky! and veiled the unknown morrow
Dark is life's way, for night is not yet o'er;
The longed-for glimpse I may not meanwhile borrow;
But, this I know, HE GOETH ON BEFORE.
Dangers are nigh! and fears my mind are shaking;
Heart seems to dread what life may hold in store;
But I am His--He knows the way I'm taking,
More blessed still--HE GOETH ON BEFORE.
Doubts cast their weird, unwelcome shadows o'er me,
Doubts that life's best--life's choicest things are o'er;
What but His Word can strengthen, can restore me,
And this blest fact; that still HE GOES BEFORE.
HE GOES BEFORE! Be this my consolation!
He goes before! On this my heart would dwell!
He goes before! This guarantees salvation!
HE GOES BEFORE! And therefore all is well. 

--J. D. Smith

The Oriental shepherd was always ahead of his sheep. He was down in front. Any attack upon them had to take him into account. Now God is down in front. He is in the tomorrows. It is tomorrow that fills men with dread. God is there already. All the tomorrows of our life have to pass Him before they can get to us.
--F. B. M.

God is in every tomorrow,
Therefore I live for today,
Certain of finding at sunrise,
Guidance and strength for the way;
Power for each moment of weakness,
Hope for each moment of pain,
Comfort for every sorrow,
Sunshine and joy after rain.

~L. B. Cowman~

Friday, February 20, 2015

God's Reactions to Man's Defections # 73

The Responsibility of the Christian (continued)

The Christian as Trustee

Here, then, we have this many-sided picture of the Christian as in responsibility. Let us take up some of the titles or metaphors used, which give the Divine conception of the Christian, very simply. In the first series, 1 Timothy 1:11: "According to the gospel of the glory of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust"; 1:18: "This charge I commit unto thee, my child Timothy ...": 6:20: "O Timothy, guard that which is committed unto thee ..." What is this conception of the Christian? The Christian is called to be, has the privilege of being, a trustee for God, a custodian of an infinitely precious deposit, committed to his trust. "Timothy, you are in trust; Timothy, you are a trustee; Timothy, you are in trust; Timothy, here is something precious put into your custodianship, given you of God to watch over, to guard for him.' Paul calls it 'the gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to his trust', and he is passing it on. He has kept it intact, he has guarded it, he has preserved it: it has lost nothing; but he is about to go. "Timothy, I pass it on to you, I hand it on to you in the Lord's Name. Timothy, guard it. It is for you to see that this Gospel, this wonderful Gospel, suffers no loss by any kind of carelessness, unwatchfulness, indifference, slothfulness, preoccupation or diversion, persecution or suffering, or anything else. Let there come to it nothing to spoil it, no tarnish, no rust, no injury. Timothy, guard it - do not let it suffer loss.' That is the Divine conception of the Christian.

What I want to urge upon you is just this. If you would claim to be a Christian, to belong to the Lord, I would that you would recognize this: that you are put in trust with the Gospel, that you are a trustee of "the gospel of the blessed God", that there rests upon you this solemn obligation to see that it does not suffer in any way through you, because of you, that on no account does it suffer, but that it is preserved in its pristine glory and in its entirety; and that you at the end do what Paul was able to do - pass it on intact, so that there will be those who come after you who will, in their turn, take it up from you and carry it on. Does that sound very simple, very elementary? Paul put his heart into this. 'O Timothy, my child Timothy - this charge, this charge I commit to thee. Guard the deposit, take care of the great trust.' Will you believe, whether you are the youngest Christian or the oldest, or somewhere between, that you are a custodian of the interests of your Lord, and that those great interests can suffer because of you, if you do not take your responsibility seriously?

But that is a very elevating thing - it is a very strengthening thing to realize that, is it not? To feel that God has committed to me His interests, that I stand in this world, not just to be  a Christian and try to live in this world, not just to be a Christian and try to live a Christian life, but as a responsible trustee of the very interests of God! Whether we like it or not, it is so. If you are a Christian, this great trust, this great Gospel, is suffering or being preserved by you; it is being let down or it is being upheld, whether you like it or not. But why not do what Paul was seeking to get Timothy to do? Realize this, face this, and take it up, as a solemn responsibility before God: 'I am a man with a charge, put in trust, a trustee.'

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 74 - (The Christian Warrior)

Godly Living In An Ungodly Age



Our Founding Fathers created a governing framework based upon biblical principles. Slowly, we have changed from “one nation under God” to a group of people who no longer want Him to be involved.

Tragically, we’ve become, in numerous ways, an ungodly nation: many are driven by materialism and power; immorality and rebellion are prevalent; empty philosophy and false doctrine are widely acceptable. Underlying it all is a vocal decision to take God out of the nation’s “official business.”

Yet even in an unbelieving society, people can, as individuals, follow Jesus. But the world will continually disseminate faulty teachings, so believers must be discerning. Otherwise, erroneous messages can lead Christians to compromise their convictions. Then affections and priorities may change. Don’t let the world’s clamor make the Spirit’s voice less audible. Without His guidance, our minds become vulnerable to lies.

The Word of God is a compass that keeps us headed in the right direction—even in the midst of confusing messages all around. We need to be consistently filled with truth by reading, believing, meditating upon, and applying Scripture. God also tells us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). If our minds are focused upon Him, unholy beliefs will not be able to take root.

The Word is our guidebook. We will still face difficulty as we live in this imperfect world—it is a confusing, dark place that entices us but never fulfills our true longings. Yet God’s truth will bring confidence and boldness, and His Spirit will direct and strengthen, enabling us to live victoriously.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Thursday, February 19, 2015

God's Reactions to Man's Defections # 72

"The Responsibility of the Christian

Our final word will be very simple, but I trust vital. I ask you to look again at the Letters to Timothy, with special reference to four very brief series, or groups, of fragments.

Here is the first series:

1 Timothy 1:11: "...the gospel ... which was committed to my trust."

1 Timothy 1:18: "This charge I commit unto thee, my child Timothy..."

1 Timothy 6:20: "O Timothy, guard that which is committed unto thee ..."

2 Timothy 1:12: "...I know Him Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to guard that which I have committed unto Him against that day." (You will see that the margin gives the alternative: "He is able to guard that He hath committed unto me".)

Now the second series:

1 Timothy 1:18: "This charge I commit unto thee ... that ... thou mayest war the good warfare."

2 Timothy 2:3-4: "Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier on service entangleth himself in the affairs of this life; that he may please Him Who enrolled him as a soldier."

The third series:

2 Timothy 2:5: "And if also a man contend in the games, he is not crowned, except he have contended lawfully."

The fourth series:

2 Timothy 2:15: "Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth."

I wonder what impression those passages make upon you. Hearing them, reading them, putting them together, what is the conclusion to which you come? What do they say to you? Surely they ought to leave one very definite impression upon us: namely, that the Christian is a very responsible person. Every one of those passages, and indeed, the much more lying behind them and in these letters, does really say very, very clearly and very strongly: We are in a position of tremendous responsibility. The Christian is, in the Word of God, looked upon as being a very responsible person.

When the Lord Jesus and His apostles appealed to people to come along and follow, to be saved, to become Christians, it was never just for their own pleasure, just that they might have a good time. The appeal was never to the pleasure-instinct in people, to the desire for a good time. They never, never made their appeal on that ground at all - that if you are saved, if you become a Christian, you are going to embark upon an endless joy-ride, a whole life of pleasure and gratification. Whatever there may be of good and enjoyment and profit to follow, the appeal of Christ, the appeal of His apostles, the appeal of the Scriptures, is always to people who mean business more than pleasure, who really are prepared to take serious responsibility for the interests of their Lord, and, if needs be, to allow themselves to be involved in trouble or suffering for His sake. They are the people He wants.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 73 - (The Christian as Trustee)

Godliness



There is a common misconception that believers should be perfect. Pretending to have our lives in order, many of us wear happy faces and speak words that sound acceptable. At times we’re ashamed to admit our shortcomings, as if they should not exist. Salvation through Jesus, however, doesn’t change the fact that sin is present in our life. When we’re born again, God forgives us and sees us as righteous. Yet our battle with sin continues till we arrive in heaven.

In fact, striving for perfection actually can be a trap that pulls us away from living a godly life. Functioning in this way is a form of relying on our own capability. Jesus said that He came to heal the spiritually sick because they recognized their weakness. With an awareness of our inadequacy comes the realization of our need for Him.

The world sees successful individuals as powerful and self-sufficient, but Jesus didn’t care about these qualities. Instead, He wants people to be aware of their own brokenness. This is the foundation for godliness.

We should accept our neediness and seek God passionately. Doing so allows the following attributes to develop: a hunger for God’s Word, faithful service, deepening trust, and decision-making based upon principle rather than preference. Patiently and mercifully, God matures us.

Be careful not to cover up your sins in order to look like a “good Christian.” Without recognition and confession of our sinfulness, we are unable to rely fully on God. It is only with this awareness that we can passionately seek Him, obey in His strength, and confess with repentance when we miss the mark.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

God's Reactions to Man's Defections # 71

The Testimony of Jesus (continued)

The Holy Spirit Governing From Heaven (continued)

In order to pass with Him, then, the Holy Spirit requires that everything must be purely spiritual. It has got to be according to the judgment of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit operates in relation to "The Lamb in the Throne". That is the testimony in relation to all our sin, and all our failure: it is the Lamb in the throne. But what we are saying is that the Lord's idea of a Church, in any dispensation, in any age, at any time, in any place, is that it is essentially a spiritual thing, essentially a heavenly thing; it is essentially governed by the Holy Spirit. The headquarters are in the throne, and the Holy Spirit administers the Church from Heaven. If He does not, then man will have to administer it himself, and he will make an awful mess of it, as he has done. Oh, for a people, wherever they are - whether local companies or the Lord's people at large - really to be under this government of the Holy Spirit!

I will close by saying this. Every one of us, and young Christians perhaps especially, need to realize this: that, in coming to the Lord, having received Christ as our Saviour, having become a Christian, having been converted - however you may put it - if you have been truly born again, you are not just a Christian individual. You are a part of an eternally foreseen, chosen Body, you belong to a great spiritual, corporate entity, you belong to every other truly born-again child of God. Yours is a related life and not just an individual life. So much depends upon your realizing that! You have not just 'become a Christian' - you have become something infinitely more than that. You have become a member of this timeless, heavenly thing, conceived "before times eternal", fulfilling its real vocation when time shall be no more. That is what you have come into! And you have come into a tremendous vocation, to be part of that which is to keep alive the testimony of Jesus in this world.

You see, the devil and his vast kingdom of countless hosts of evil spirits, as Paul puts it, is out against one thing, and one thing only. From the beginning, when Jesus Christ was "appointed heir of all things" (Hebrews 1:2), satan has relentlessly and unceasingly set himself to frustrate and spoil and destroy one thing - the testimony of Jesus. And if he divides us up and gets in between us, he has touched the testimony of Jesus, because the testimony of Jesus is so bound up with our united and related life.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 72 - (The Responsibility of the Christian)

Jesus Our Intimate Friend



I’ve counseled plenty of folks who argue that they are not worthy of God’s love. Of all the passages I could point to that describe the Lord’s devotion, today’s is the one I think best showcases the unqualified friendship He offers His followers.
As Jesus was praying in the garden of Gethsemane on the night before His crucifixion, Judas Iscariot approached him with a band of men. The betrayer stepped forward and kissed the Lord’s cheek. And what was Jesus’ response? According to another disciple, Matthew, He called the man “Friend” (Matt. 26:50).

Judas expected Jesus to establish His kingdom on earth and drive the Romans out of Israel—anyone who could calm a storm at sea could easily remove an oppressive government! But Judas’s interest in Jesus was more personal and political than spiritual. In fact, John reported that his fellow disciple stole from the money box (12:6). Today the man’s name is synonymous with those who betray others for personal gain.

In spite of Judas’ greed, blind ambition, and betrayal, Jesus never stopped loving him; He still used the word “friend” to address the one-time disciple. The Lord does not place conditions on His love or reject people who fail to meet certain standards. He simply cares for us as we are.

People cannot earn Jesus Christ’s love and friendship. He takes the initiative, reaches out, and draws into fellowship those who are willing. We are not worthy, but we are privileged to live in His love anyway. In the Lord, we find a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24).

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

God's Reactions to Man's Defections # 70

The Testimony of Jesus (continued)

The Holy Spirit Governing From Heaven (continued)

At this point I would like to take you into the Book of the Revelation again, and indicate certain passages, though without staying for much comment on each.

"John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him Which is and Which was and Which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before His throne ..." (Revelation 1:4).

"These things saith He That hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works ..." (3:1).

"Out of the throne proceed lightnings and voices and thunders. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God" (4:5).

"I saw in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God ..." (5:6).

This book is, as you know, just full of symbols. Here you have these four references to the seven Spirits. It does not, of course, mean that there were seven separate Spirits. Seven is the number of spiritual entirety, completeness, fullness. When you come to the number seven, you have completed something: for instance, the seventh day marked the completion of creation. I need not go further. Seven is spiritual completeness: so that the symbolism here is of the fullness, the completeness, the absoluteness of the Holy Spirit. "These things saith He That hath the seven Spirits..." This that is indicating these things that are to be said, He it is that is before the throne. The Holy Spirit, in touch with the seat of government, is dealing with things down here. Have you grasped that? There are all these things down here on the earth, but the throne, the seat of government of everything, is up there.

Note that the first connection of the seven Spirits is with the throne and with the "seven stars" which are "the angels of the seven churches" (1:16, 20; 3:1). The throne of government of things down here is in the hands of the Holy Spirit, in the fullness of His power and intelligence. The "seven eyes" speak of His knowing all about it, seeing perfectly the truth through all the deception, through all the masks, through all the pretense and profession, through the 'name to live'; perfect perception, perfect knowledge, perfect comprehension. The Holy Spirit is governing in the fullness of His knowledge. And in the fullness of His power - "seven lamps of fire burning". This is not cold light, this is not just theoretical knowledge; this is not something abstract. It is a burning lamp, it is something that is alive with fire, with power: He has come to deal with this situation in the burning power of His judgment and of His knowledge. Things are alive with the Holy Spirit.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 71)


Adopted by a Great God!


For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" Romans 8:15

I drove carpool today. Boy, the things I learn while having a few more junior high kids in the car are so valuable to me. I am also thankful because the kids are still at a point of listening to instruction if I say it clearly, simply and in as few words as possible.

Two of the boys are struggling with the same issue under different circumstances. Both of them feel that they are being misrepresented by their teachers and both are very disheartened by the teachers' decision in their matters. They both could clearly state the problem, the areas that they were at fault and why they feel that a different decision should be made. However, they both dealt with fear in speaking to their teachers about it. 

Many times, we find the same struggles in our prayer life with the Lord. We understand the issues at hand and even accept the blame and resulting consequence. But we don't know how to express how we feel about it to the Lord. As a result, we experience depression and frustration, waiting for time to play itself out.

God tells us that He is our Abba Father. He wants us to know that He is our Daddy, desiring to hear from us. He didn't create us to be robots, but His children who can reason with Him. He tells us to draw near to Him and He will draw near to us. Our opinions matter to the Lord regardless of the poor choices we may have made to reach our situation. The Lord loves us and if we include Him in our struggles and frustrations, He works with us to get through the difficulties, sometime miraculously. If we don't share with Him and draw near, we will miss out on His intervention and in the nearness of His presence to walk through every part of life with Him. Do not fear; you have been adopted by a great God!

~Daily Disciples Devotional~