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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Intercession: The Throne Ministry # 26

Corporately Praying The Word (continued)

The following excerpt taken from the Book of Gold Cord by Amy Carmichael (page 76) illustrates this for us:

"A friend, writing of Bishop Wescott, says this beautiful thing about him: "In the presence of the unseen he met all life, and you could not surprise him out of it. In this atmosphere he worked and breathed. Not only God Himself, but the cloud of witnesses, the communion of the unseen body of Christ, were more real to him than the things seen."

And the same friend tells a story of how the Bishop's chaplain, finding him struggling late and minutely one night over the draft of a service for a humble country church, reminded him that the congregation would not be critical. "They are accustomed to anything," he said. With a gentle, surprised smile, such as Elisha's might have been in Dothan, the Bishop looked up from his desk and said, "You forget: who are 'the congregation'? We are only an infinitesimal part of it."

[May we explain that this is in no way referring to mysticism or mediums or spiritualists in any form, but this except is referring to the "cloud of witnesses" who have found that to die is to "gain Christ"; it is referring to those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ and as a result are in Christ the same as we are, even though they have already passed into the next age.]

And may we add one more thought to this, could not this also explain, in part, that untraceable scripture in Ephesians 3:10 and 11:

"To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be made known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the Eternal Purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord".

Beloved, "the prophets who prophesied of the grace [divine blessing] which was intended for you (for us), searched and inquired earnestly about this salvation ... the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow ... unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us, they did minister these things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into" (1 Peter 1:10-12). As the Church His Body moves in the good of that which God has revealed through His Word by the Holy Spirit of His Eternal Purpose in Christ, the heavenly hosts, the ministering servants of God, are being instructed as to our great salvation.

Let us also remember that we are in a battle against the spiritual wickedness in the heavenlies - against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness. It is the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, accompanied by prayer in the Spirit, that is the effective weapon in this unseen realm; and as the Church moves in the good of God's Word, the enemies of God are being instructed as to their place, however unwillingly, as Christ's footstool.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 27)

God's Will? Or Our Own Fickle Drives?

1 Samuel 8:7-8

(7) And the LORD said to Samuel, "Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. (8) According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day—with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also.
New King James Version   

Israel had already deviated from faithfulness, but here, she formally rejects God as her Ruler, taking a major step toward being exactly like all the nations around her. This occurred between 1100 and 1000 BC or roughly 350 years after the original making of the covenant. Except for brief periods when Israel had a judge or king who did right in the eyes of God, the spiritual harlotry continued unabated until God formally divorced her, sending Israel and Judah into captivity.

We frequently gloss over the truly important part of this as we read through it. It is clear from Genesis 17:6 and Deuteronomy 17:14-20 that God anticipated Israel having a king or judge. The title is of little importance. Having a king was not the real issue because God had already planned for Israel to have a king. Every organization must have a leader, so God lays down instructions as to how the leader should conduct himself in office. They are designed to ensure that the king does not elevate himself above the people and rule as a despot. Instead, he is to be thoroughly familiar with and guided by the attitudes and laws of God. He must comprehensively know that his own nature is just like those he serves and be humbled.

However, the key to understanding the significance of Israel's demand in I Samuel 8 is that she desires a king just like the other nations. Spiritually, this demand confirms Israel's whorish behavior, and thus God tells Samuel to describe the national effects of her demand. On Israel's part, it is a complete rejection of her marriage vows; she wants her Benefactor and Husband—God—to have no say in her life, declaring herself free of Him and to be completely and totally a nation of this world, no longer the type of God's Kingdom on earth.

The issue between God and man is simply a matter of government—of sovereignty and providence. This appears as early as Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve reject God's rule over them. Once God reveals Himself through His calling, the issue of government comes to the fore. This is what we confront in decision-making. As the Bible has recorded in great detail, mankind has shown that it wants to retain this authority to itself. Yet, the naked truth is we cannot retain sovereignty to ourselves and still have what God is offering, entrance into the spiritual Kingdom of God. We cannot have it both ways. We will be submissive either to God's will or to our own fickle drives. Many of us do not get it!

~John W. Ritenbaugh~

Friday, October 30, 2015

Intercession: The Throne Ministry # 25

Corporately Praying the Word (continued)

Consequently, because of the Greatness of Christ and because the Church His Body is the Fullness of Him, it is vital that we understand the importance of corporately praying the Word. First Timothy 4:13 commands us to "give attendance to reading (a knowing by reading, a knowing accurately by simply reading)"; and, in context, this can only be referring to the Word of God.

"GIVE ATTENDANCE TO READING"

(which means, attend unto, to hold unto, to bring to or near; to turn one's mind, thoughts and attention, to the Word of God; to attach one's self to the Word and cleave unto it by reading the Word of God, which imparts to us a knowing accurately of that which God is speaking).

In First Thessalonians 5:27, we are charged by "The Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren." We must read, if we can read for ourselves, but God has also provided that the brethren be read unto, for "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17).

We must also remember that not all can read and must be read unto by those whose who can. Colossians 4:16 says: "And when this epistle is rad among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans." Here we find that God is not only making provision for those who cannot read, but also He is letting us know that there is great power in the corporate, prayerful reading of God's Word, as well as in the individual reading of it.

There is great empowerment, revelation, and wisdom granted unto each of us as we come to know accurately the Word of God, and individual reading contributes to this. However, there is an even greater wisdom and revelation and enablement and power that comes forth when we corporately give attendance to reading God's Inspired Word. This is because multiple revelation and instruction is brought forth as we corporately read together, attend unto, hold unto, draw near unto, turn our minds and our thoughts and our spirits unto God's Word. Thus we corporately know, accurately know, in our spirits and our minds and our thoughts what He is revealing unto us.

Now may we also note that this corporate reading does not hinge upon locality, for we have all experienced things when we received certain Scriptures from the Lord, and then heard from some of our brothers and sisters who are located somewhere else, that at the same time they were receiving the same Words of God. And we also need to be aware that "When ye (we) read" the Word of God, as God leads us by and in the Spirit, that there is a "comprehending with all the saints." - A comprehending with all saints, not only with the brethren of our time, but also with all those who are "absent from the body, and present with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8). "When we read" God's Word as He leads, we are comprehending even with those who have gone on before: we are learning from their measure of the fullness, and they are learning from what we are receiving: - "There is one body, and one Spirit" (Ephesians 4:4).

Beloved, as we can see, there is tremendous value in corporately reading the Word of God; and whether we are in a local group, or whether we be one who has been privileged to make a stand alone (and even this can take place in the midst of a group that has not yet "seen"), let us know that in the Spirit we are comprehending with all saints the Divine Counsels of God. 

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 26)

Who Has Bewitched You?

Galatians 3:1

(1) O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?
New King James Version   

The word translated here "foolish" means unintelligent or unwise, and by implication sensual. This implication is very interesting when considered in light of what the letter to the Galatians is fundamentally about: The Galatians were trying to use the rites and ceremonies and physical requirements of Gnostic Judaism to "work" their way into God's Kingdom. Their emphasis was on what they were doing, rather than on God's work in them. Their focus was on things dealing with the senses; things that would be, by definition,sensual—not in terms of being sexual or provocative, but rather indicating the emphasis on the physical senses.

This word (anoeetoi — Strong's #453) is a derivative of a negative participle and noeo (Strong's #3539), which means to exercise the mind, observe, to comprehend, heed, consider, perceive, think, or understand. So the word foolish is the opposite (because of the negative participle) of all these things. The Galatians, then, were not exercising their minds; they were unobservant, uncomprehending, unheeding, inconsiderate, imperceptive, non-thinking, and non-understanding. They were not thinking things all the way through, and not fully considering all of the aspects of the way they were living. They were unable to see that their ideas and views did not add up—that there were some obvious gaps in their understanding that had brought them to the condition they were in.

Paul here is continuing with a theme from Galatians 1:4-9— namely, that the Galatians were falling away ("so soon removed") from the original teaching that had been given to them by God through His human servants. The very foundation of the New Covenant with God is that we can build a relationship with God directly—because of the sacrifice of Christ. For them even to make the covenant with God properly, it was a requirement that they understand that justification by means of a sinless sacrifice was the only way it is possible for us to come into God's presence! Our own righteousness is as "filthy rags" in comparison to God's; our works simply do not amount to enough to even out the scales. But this does not negate the necessity of working! The Galatians' problem was that they thought their personal righteousness was sufficient—and if that was the case, then truly there was no need for Christ to die.

Paul refers to the Galatians being "bewitched." This word means "to malign," or "to fascinate by false representation." The Galatians were drawn in—their fascination was piqued by these Jewish and Gnostic ideas. It did not take long for them to begin slipping spiritually, and a large part of this was because of their misplaced faith. They had more faith in themselves, in their own works, to save them than they had in Christ's crucifixion, resurrection, and intercession! They did not see or know God clearly enough, and the absence of Him in their lives created a void that was quickly and easily filled by these false ideas.

This is the only place in the New Testament where this word ("bewitched") is used (Strong's #940), but numerous other verses speak of this principle. Paul is speaking of this principle when he says in Galatians 1:7-9 not to deviate from this gospel message even if an "angel" from heaven gave them different instructions! The Galatians were weak enough in the faith that they could be easily deceived and drawn away if one of Satan's angels were to appear before them.

Matthew 24:24 speaks of false Christs—false ideas, pictures, impressions about Christ—arising, as well as false prophets, who will be able to manifest terrific signs and wonders to the extent that even the elect of God could be deceived if God allowed it! This is why we have to have such a concrete picture in our minds of what "Christ" is comprised of so that when we begin to hear about or see miraculous things, our faith will not be shaken as the Galatians' was.

~David C. Grabbe~

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Intercession: The Throne Ministry # 24

Corporately Praying the Word

The greatest need we have as Christians has always been, and always will be, that each member of the Body of Christ have an adequate apprehension of what we believers have come into and unto when we came to Christ. Over 1,900 years ago, Paul wrote in his inspired letters to the Ephesians and the Colossians that the Mystery, which was hidden in God from past ages and generations, was now revealed. In these letters, God revealed in fullness that which had been planned in the Eternal Counsels of the Godhead before all time and ages began: He revealed the fullness of His Great Mystery, which is THE CHRIST AND HIS UNSEARCHABLE RICHES. Nevertheless, it is a prevailing fact that in the past history of God's people, right up to the present time, vast numbers of Christians have little or no comprehension of the Full Purpose of God in Christ.

Throughout the centuries, many things have contributed to the unenlightened state which persists in Christianity. We all know that structured religion has limited the spiritual growth of many and has kept the majority of Christianity in an unenlightened state. Also, in the pursuit of a greater revelation of Christ, others have left organized Christendom, but even some of these have contributed to this limitation by believing that they, exclusively, have the full truth.

The Church has suffered great loss on both counts because, on the one hand, the Church has remained unenlightened as to the fullness of Christ, while, on the other hand, it became "exclusive" and kept the enlightenment needed for all unto itself - on this account, the majority of Christianity has little impact upon the forces of darkness. Beloved, the only qualification that God has laid down in order for us to be a part of this great mystery (in which Christ is to be all, through all, in all) is that we be born again, "born from above," i.e. be saved by His grace. The mystery of Christ is now revealed, because God hath - 

"Made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself; that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in The Christ ... the mystery is now made manifest to His saints, to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of (the) glory ..." (Ephesians 1:9, 10; Colossians 1:26, 27).

We must always remember in our search into "The Unsearchable Riches of Christ" that no one individual or group or many groups can contain, or be, or express, the Fullness of Christ by themselves. The Church His Body is "Inclusive" of all those who have been saved by His grace, whether it be those in the past, the present, or the future; and each measure of Christ that dwells in each member is being incorporated into all that is called the Church His Body. Therefore, no matter how much revelation of Christ we have, we can never contain all the fullness that is Chris, either individually or in our corporate groups or even in all the Church which dwells on earth at the present time, because "The Church, which is His Body, is the Fullness of Him" (Ephesians 1:22, 23), and this Church, which is His Body, includes all those who have been, and will be, redeemed by His Blood and saved by His Grace.

~ T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 25)

What Christ Has Done for Me!

What Christ Has Done for Me!

Archibald G. Brown, April 21st, 1872, East London Tabernacle


"Come and hear, all you who fear God — and I will declare what He has done for my soul!" Psalm 66:16
It is only natural that birthdays should be remembered days, and I sincerely trust that among the many time-honored observances which are gradually becoming obsolete, the "keeping of the birthday," may never be reckoned. It is the gala day in the years of childhood, before the stern lessons of life have arrayed it with a solemn hue. Yes, let the children "keep" it. They pay their happy if unconscious homage to a most momentous event.
To live is a grand responsibility, and the day of birth has a thousand claims to be remembered. The world, Heaven, and Hell — are all interested in the new-born child. Future destinies as everlasting as Jehovah, are ushered in with birth. Let then the returning birthdays be seasons of joyous praise and solemn thought. Let memory put her mark against the date.
But if the birthday is a time of joy with the child, it is equally a time of interest to the parent. With loving eye and thankful heart he notices the growth, and watches the gradual opening of the bud. The awakening intellect, the improving speech, the developing character — are all marked and compared year by year. Father and child, though from different causes, are one in their remembrance of the natal day.
Now if it is so with the natural birth, how much more should it be so with the spiritual! If to be born is not to be forgotten, then surely to be "born again" is to be held in undying remembrance. The importance of the first birth dwindles into insignificance, compared with the importance of the second. Indeed, the joy of the first depends on the second, for only one who can also tell of being "born again" has cause to rejoice in birth. On the tombstone of every man who has never known the second birth, might be truthfully engraved the words, "It would have been good for this man if he had never been born!" Mark 14.21
But, beloved, hundreds of us have known what it is to be born from above. We have had a heavenly natal day. There has been a moment in our lives when Heaven joyfully sang over our salvation. Then let us keep it, and make it our gala day. Let us reckon our life (and it is the only true life) from that date of mercy, and whenever the anniversary comes round, let us see to it that it does not pass unnoticed or unsung. Known or unknown, noticed or unnoticed — there was a day when the cry of a new-born child of grace first broke from our lips.
Rejoice in the fact, and remember also that our heavenly Father rejoices with you. O, it cannot be that earthly parents celebrate the birthdays of their children, and the heavenly Parent remains indifferent concerning His. All that is in a father's heart, is infinitely more in God. His joy over us is greater. His watchfulness is more intense. His interest is deeper. He marks the growth of His own life in the soul, and with satisfaction He beholds the increasing likeness to Himself. He "rejoices over us with singing, and rests in his love." Zeph 3.17. The heavenly Father and the heaven-born child rejoice, and together "keep" the happy day.
These thoughts have been suggested by the fact, that the whole past week I have been celebrating my own heavenly birthday. It was last Wednesday, eleven years ago, at half-past eleven in the morning, that by the grace of God, the new life commenced within my soul. The anniversary has brought old times back to mind. Vividly, as if it only happened yesterday, I see myself, at one moment the anxious sinner — the next moment, the singing sinner saved. The old joy still has the dew of youth on it, and can I speak to you this evening about nothing else.
Our text is one that every saint can enter into and understand. God grant that our love may become inflamed, and our gratitude intensified, as together we declare what God has done for our souls. We will divide our subject into two very simple parts.
1. We will try and tell the tale.
2. We will give a few reasons that we think warrant our doing so.
 

I. Let us try and tell the tale. "I will declare what He has done for my soul!" What has he done?

Why, first, He has done that which no one else could have done. From first to last, the work is of His own right hand, and infinitely beyond the power of any other. No angel, nor any number of angels, could have done for me, what He has done. They may indeed "excel in strength," but the work required, as far exceeded their strength, as their might exceeds a gnat's.
I will tell you what an angel can do. He call pass through the streets of an Egyptian city in the dead of night, glide into every house with unsprinkled door posts, and place the seal of death upon the sleeping first-born. He can do so fearful a work between midnight and daybreak, that there will not be an abode without a corpse! Before his power, Egyptian pride will bite the dust, and Egyptian cavalry will succumb.
Later on, an Assyrian host is encamped, as numerous as the forest leaves. Loud is their laughter, blasphemous are their boasts, as they resolve on the morrow to swallow up the chosen of the Lord. But,
"The angel of death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved and forever grew still!"
No might of the Gentiles could arrest that foe. Single handed he was more than a match for the Assyrian legions; and on the morrow when the sun rose, it shone on upturned faces, as white as marble — eyes already glazed in death, and breastplates rusted by the night dews. It gleamed on silent tents, and banners whose proud inscriptions seemed to mock the death-stricken host.
One angel can do all this and a thousand times as much — but all the shining ones combined, could never have done what "God has done for my soul." Assemble all their glittering ranks — let cherubim and seraphim, angel and arch-angel, stand in a blazing circle — and put within that circle a little child, and tell them to change that heart from stone to flesh. They are powerless, and they confess that there is but One who is mighty enough to save. Thanks be to God then, for He has done for me what no angel nor any number of angels could have done.
He has done also that which no saint nor any number of saints could have done. But few words are required here. The very longing of our hearts for the salvation of others has taught us the utter helplessness of man to convert man; for when our soul has yearned most over them, we have had to cry,
"But feeble my compassion proves,
And can but weep where most it loves,
Your own all-saving arm employ,
And turn these drops of grief to joy."
He has done for my soul that which no minister or any number of ministers could have done. I know that many truly good men — doubtless intending some other interpretation to be put on their words — declare over the unconscious infant they have just sprinkled, that it has been regenerated and grafted into the body of Christ's church. And then, with what appears to us as bordering on wicked audacity, they venture to thank God for it, saying "Seeing now, dearly beloved brethren, that by baptism this child is regenerate and grafted into the body of Christ's church — let us give thanks to Almighty God for these benefits." Well, the afterlife proves the folly of the assertion, and most of these pastors, better than their creed, plead with their unregenerated congregations to be reconciled to God.
He has moreover done that which I could never have done for myself. The work of conversion is not more completely beyond external power than beyond internal human power; and salvation by others is not more impossible, than salvation of ourselves. Salvation of self! Sooner could the infant that is cast out in the field, and lying in its blood, say to itself "live!" Salvation of self! Yes, maybe when dead men with cold lips can call themselves to life — when blind men can give sight to their eyes that have never seen the light — when the white hand of the leper can with a touch make the rest of his body like the flesh of a little child — and not before! Of all the impossibilities under the sun, self-regeneration is the greatest. Come then, and hear all you that fear God, and I will tell you that He has done for my soul what neither angels, saints, ministers, self, nor all of them combined, could ever have done!

Secondly. He has done that which requires many words to describe. No one word can fully express the work done, though in general it may be described as saved. Saved! Ah, that is a grand word worthy of being written in letters of gold. I have hanging up in my vestry an engraving that has suggested many a thought, and it will now serve me for an illustration. Standing on the edge of a rocky reef over which the surf roars and boils, is a sailor, evidently one of a life-boat crew. A ship is being dashed to firewood on that iron coast — but a rope has been successfully stretched from wreck to rocks, and along this rope the passengers are being slung in a rough-made cradle.
The engraving represents the honest follow just grasping the cradle, across which there is a swooning mother, her long hair dripping with the salt wave; while nestled in her arms and looking with wondering gaze, is a child about two years old. Under them leap the waves — over them flies the scud, but round them are arms with sinews that look like whipcord knots. At the foot of the picture is one word that tells the whole history; that word is "Saved!"
Do any ask "What has God done for your soul that you should talk so much about it?" I answer, pointing to that thrilling scene, "He has done that for it. He has saved it. Out of the jaws of death and from eternal wreck — he has delivered it." But while "saved" may describe the work in general, it fails to tell all. A saved soul includes many things. I can only mention them.
A saved soul is a God-pardoned soul. All its sins are forgiven, and its iniquities are drowned in that deluge of pardoning love that rises high above the topmost peaks of all its mountain sins!
A saved soul is a God-reconciled soul. Once at enmity — God and the sinner are now at peace. All differences are at an end. The prodigal sinner has been embraced and kissed by the father. The rebel has thrown down his weapons, and bent his knee to the Monarch — and the Monarch has raised him up, and with a smile of love, has put him among His children. If I may so express it, God and the sinner have met and shaken hands beneath the shadow of the cross. They are at at-one-ment there.
A saved soul is also a sin-delivered soul. This is something more than pardon, or reconciliation. It is a higher blessing. Pardon remits the punishment of sin — but leaves the guilt of sin. But justification acquits the person of every charge. Believer, your sins are not merely forgiven — but they are done away with, put out of sight, removed from you as far as the remotest east is from the extreme west! In the eye of God, you are as guiltless as His spotless Son! "You are altogether beautiful, My love; there is no flaw in you!" Song of Songs 4:7
A saved soul is also a God-arrayed soul. This is higher still. The former blessing was a negation of guilt — this is a possession of righteousness. A righteousness, mark you, that is not capable of improvement — but a righteousness that is superlative in its quality — it is the righteousness of God Himself! A saved soul, even to the omniscient eye of Deity, is not only without spot or wrinkle or any such thing — but it is altogether lovely and glorious, robed in the splendor of "Jehovah Tsidkenu" — "The Lord our Righteousness!"
A saved soul is a Heaven-entitled soul. This crowns all. Not merely am I delivered from Hell — but in my hand is placed a title-deed to eternal glory! This is no fiction or flight of imagination — but a blessed fact. Possessed by every saint, is a title that God Himself will declare to be valid to all eternity.
Now believer, if all these things are included in what God has done for our souls, then did I not say rightly that many words were necessary to describe the work? Let us then, as God-pardoned, God-reconciled, Sin-delivered, God-arrayed, Heaven-entitled souls — call on all, far and near, to come and listen to our joyous tale.

Thirdly — He has done that which can never be more completely done. Notice the past tense used in the verse, "What Hehas done." Yes, blessed be God, not "what he has begun — and left us to finish," but what He has Himself gloriously completed. Let us mark this well, for much of our joy as Christians, depends upon our realization of this wondrous feat. If God had but laid the foundations, and left it to us to complete the superstructure, He would as well have done nothing.
But "done," "done," "done!" is replete with joy! It leaves me nothing else to do than sing my thankfulness. He has not merely put me in a salvable condition — but has actually saved me. He has not merely made reconciliation a possibility — but has actually reconciled me to Himself. He has not merely put me on a road that leads to Heaven — but has actually guaranteed my reaching there.
One would be a fool for his presumption, if he called all to hear what had only been commenced by God — but was dependent for completion on his own exertions.
On the other hand, one would be a traitor to his Father's glory, if he holds his tongue concerning what his God has done. A religion of the two letters, DO, can never be a religion of song. But a religion of the four letters, DONE, is a religion that need never lack its accompaniment of praise. See to it then, that in salvation's anthem, this note of divine completeness rings loud and clear.

Fourthly, He has done that which can never be undone. Not only is the work complete in itself — but its completeness shall ever abide. No power from within or without, from earth or Hell, shall ever undo that which is so divinely done. The rope that linked the wrecked vessel to the shore, and bore the precious freight I just now described might snap, and let its burden fall within the sight — but helplessly beyond the power, of the gallant life-boat man on the rocks. But the cords of everlasting loving-kindness never break. He who wove them is the One who by the word of his power upholds all things.
Or to change the simile; no storms or blasts can lay low the palace of salvation built upon the Rock of Ages, for every bolt is riveted by omnipotence, and the whole is buttressed by Almightiness!
Yes, He has done for my soul what can never be undone. Inspired by this thought, we feel we can dare throw down the gauntlet and challenge Hell: O lion of perdition, seize if you can those whom the Lion of Judah guards! Wolf of the pit, you are welcome to the sheep you can tear from the embrace of the shepherd's arms. In the name of our God we defy you and shout in your face,
"Once in Christ in Christ forever,
 Nothing from His love can sever!"
I do not know how you feel, beloved but the thought that, eleven years ago, God did for my soul what all Hell and sin can never undo — fills me with a bliss that rises beyond all expression, and makes every corner of my heart echo in song!

Fifthly. He has done for my soul that which brings more glory to His name than all His other works. All his works praise Him. There is not a flower that blooms, or bird that sings, or wave that rides the ocean deep — that is not as vocal with its praises. But richer by far is the tribute of glory that He reaps from salvation's field. The stars of grace shine with a brighter luster round his throne, than those that stud with points of light the midnight sky. The trees planted by his right hand, more loudly clap their hands than all the monarchs of earth's forests. God's glory is great in our salvation. He looks upon His redeemed people as the masterpieces of his love and power, and he will before assembled worlds exhibit us as the grandest trophies Heaven contains. For, says Paul, He has "made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; that in the ages to come, He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards us!" Eph 2.6-7
Just as in ancient baronial castles we have seen the walls adorned with trophies eloquent of the prowess of the warriors of the Middle Ages — so Heaven is God's grand trophy room, and saved sinners are the trophies. He points to them as proofs of what eternal grace can do, and from them a never ceasing revenue of glory flows to the throne.
Lo, there stands the foremost of the throng and the loudest in his song: the once apostle of the Gentiles. Chief of sinners — chief of saints — and chief of songsters now.
And there I see Manasseh, who made "the inhabitants of Jerusalem do more evil than the heathen!" — bowing before the footstool of Him whose altars he once spurned.
And there is John Bunyan, the black sinner and the bright dreamer! And by his side is John Newton — the African blasphemer — the consecrated preacher — but now the immortal singer.

Sixthly. He has done for my soul that which I am able to know is done. If a man does not know what God has done for his soul, there is some reason to believe that nothing has yet been done. Is conversion so minute a matter, so small a change, that it can only be detected by the most delicate tests, and then never to a certainty? Nonsense! It is a poor kind of conversion, that only remains a trembling hope and never develops into a conscious fact. Is being in a dark pit with feet sinking in the clay so like standing on a rock with the fresh air of Heaven blowing on you, that it is impossible or difficult to tell the difference? Isblindness so much like sight that the two can become confounded? Is corruption so nearly akin to life and health, that to distinguish between them is a perplexity? Could not the leper know himself to be cleansed — or rather, could he help knowing it? Certainly not. Yet all these changes are insignificant and imperceptible — compared with the change effected by what God does for the soul.
Do not think that it is a lack of humility on your part to know and declare God's work done in you and for you. Strong faith is the truest humility — and unbelief is the greatest presumption. I will show you how: God says, "He who believes has everlasting life."
"Well," replies a soul, "I believe — but I would not like to say that I have everlasting life." Do you see what that soul is doing in its false humility? It is making God a liar! True humility says "Lord, it seems almost too good to be true that such a wretch as I should be possessed of such a gift — but I dare not doubt Your word, and therefore I believe it."

Seventhly, and but for a moment — He has done for my soul that which will bear the test of eternity. I have already rather anticipated myself on this point by what I said about the impossibility of the work ever being undone; yet there is much more that may be said.
The work done in our souls is often severely tested on earth — but it withstands all, and never appears more grandly real than when it is tested the most. This thought has been deeply impressed on me by the life and experience of our dear brother Jones, who has just gone home. For months he had been a dying man, and for weeks he had anticipated every day to be his last. If ever the work of God in a soul was put to a severe strain, it was in his case; and if ever there was a triumphant manifestation of its power, it was in Jones' bedroom.
Those of us who were privileged to see the light, will never forget it or cease to bless God for it. Day by day — week by week — month by month it stood the test, seeming to grow stronger and more glorious the longer it was tried, until at last it culminated when — in answer to a question from me as to whether there was anything we could do for him — he replied, "Sing, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow" etc. And then when all found it difficult to commence the tune through emotion, with a great effort he led it himself, Heaven shining in his face as he sang.
Ah friends, it is something real that is done in the soul which enables a man to go down to the river of death singing his doxology. But death cannot quench the song, and eternity cannot wear it out. There are myriads in Heaven this evening who have been enjoying its bliss for ages, and still the subject matter of their song is what God has done for their souls. "To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, to Him be glory forever!" Rev 1.5-6
And when this world has passed away, and a million ages have rolled their courses, still — outliving all time and all matter — the song shall be heard as fresh as when it first burst from the Psalmist's lips, "Come and hear, and I will declare what God has done for my soul." Thus I have tried, poor and imperfectly I know, to tell the wondrous tale of what God has done for me and hundreds more that hear me.

 

II. A few reasons that warrant telling the tale. As the tale itself is the chief matter, I have devoted almost all my time totelling it. So I shall have to be very brief in giving the reasons that warrant my doing so.
First, then, let me say that saints in all ages have done the same. Our text declares that David did so. We have abundant testimony that Pauldid the same. He seemed ever ready to tell the simple story in all places and before all classes of people. Throughout all his epistles the same thing shines. He never forgets his own salvation. Those personal allusions are glistening like little gems in a setting of gold. "I obtained mercy." "Of whom I am chief." "By the grace of God I am what I am." The two men whose names I have previously linked with his, were one with him in the practice:
How many souls have thanked God for "Grace abounding to the chief of sinners, or a brief relation of the exceeding mercy of God in Christ to his poor servant, John Bunyan."
Who has not heard the anecdote of good John Newton, who when advised because of his years to stop preaching, replied, "I cannot stop. What, shall the old African blasphemer stop while he can speak?"
Surely that must be right which the holiest in all ages have loved to do.
There are also inward promptings that compel the lips to tell the tale. It is not only true that the saint may tell of mercy found — but it is equally true that he must. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth will speak. If Christ had laid an embargo on us not to tell the tale, I think we must have told it just the same. How can a man keep silence when his heart is brimful of a subject? He feels he must be out with it or die. Now as these strong desires come when we are nearest in heart to God, surely they go far to prove that telling the tale is in accordance with his mind. Tell it, for it is a good thing for ourselves.
Too often we forget that we have been purged from our old sins; the day of our conversion grows dim in the distance, and our heart's love loses its fervor and intensity. The fire becomes caked-over and gives out but little heat. Tell the tale, and in telling it, old memories spring into fresh life. The fire is stirred, its hardening crust is broken, and the flames leap out as bright as ever. O, it is a grand thing for one's own soul to live over again the day of conversion.
Tell it — it is the best argument for lost sinners. The world can understand a fact far better than a theory — cannot we all? A man may come to me with a prescription which he declares is just suited to my disease, and he may bring forward a hundred reasons why it should result in cure. But his words will have a thousand fold power if he adds, "I know it will, for I was dying with the same malady. I took it and see what it has done for me!"
Friends, with no egotism I trust — I can humbly bear my testimony to the truth of this. It has been my joy to see nearly one thousand people about their souls, and my experience is that, when everything else has failed, the simple recital of what God has done for my soul has won the day. Here then, is work for all.
Do you say "I could never preach a sermon or speak a word in public"? Perhaps not; but there is one thing you can do — yesmust do, if you would be clear of the blood of souls — you can take a fellow sinner by the hand and quietly and gently tell him about what the love of Christ has done for you. O, do not keep it a secret — it is too good to be unknown — tell it and you may win a soul.
I will close by asking a question — and making a proclamation.
The question is a solemn one. Answer it, I implore you. It is this: What has God done for your soul? I think I hear some sadly answer, "nothing yet." But would you like to know what He is willing to do for it? Then listen to this proclamation: In the name of my God I declare that . . .
though it is filthy — He is willing to cleanse it;
though it is guilty — He is willing to pardon it;
though it is lost — He is willing to save it;
though it lacks everything — He is willing to do all for it.
May God in His mercy grant that everyone in this congregation may at last be able to say, "Come and hear, all you that fear God, and I will declare what he has done for my soul!" Amen.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Intercession: The Throne Ministry # 23

Praying the Word (continued)

Some of the Books in the Bible which are excellent to pray are those of Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, and  2 Timothy. These are short books and are particularly about the Church and its calling, and they instruct us concerning our daily lives. The Book of Colossians contains four chapters, and it takes about twenty minutes to read it prayerfully. In these four chapters, the Holy Spirit takes us from before the foundation of the world to the place where creation began, and then He brings us through all the redemptive process. He reveals our life in the Church and our daily walk with our husband, wife, and children. He continues on in the letter to give instruction to all of us who work and live in the world. By the power of the Holy Spirit, God begins this book with the presentation of the Headship of Christ in the universe and in the New Creation, and then He brings the Authority of this same Headship into our daily, individual walk life, and he does this in only four chapters!

Now as we begin to prayerfully read the Scriptures, we find that the Word of God is living and operative; and as we prayerfully read and pray the Word back to God, our mind will be girded up. The Word says, "Gird up the loins of your mind" (1 Peter 1:13). Praying the Word will accomplish  this, for as we pray our mind will be filled with the inspired Word of God. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God." It is God-Breathed (2 Timothy 3:16); and as we pray the Word, the very breath of God begins to take hold of our heart. The Resurrected, Glorified Christ takes our sinking heart and brings it into its rightful position, which is that we are seated with Him at the right hand of God, "far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion," situations, circumstances, and problems. Now from this position, we can look at the problem from God's vantage point - The Throne. No longer will we be in the circumstance looking up, but we will be seeing things as God sees them. Although our situation may not change, nevertheless, we will come to know that He is Lord over all in experience.

We will come to know that "He (Christ) hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son" (Colossians 1:13). Let us note that the Word says, "hath delivered us," NOT "is going to." As we pray Scriptures such as these, we automatically will speak an Amen" by the Spirit. "He is before all things, and by Him all things consist (are held together). And He is the Head of the Body, the Church: Who is the Beginning, the Firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell." "For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him" (Colossians 1:17-19; 2:9, 10). Amen! Amen! Amen!

As we pray the Word in Colossians, and in other Scriptures as the Lord leads, we will come up over any problem into the Ascended life of the Lord. Also, we will find that our mind will be turned away from self, and we will begin to pray for the needs of others, for it is only after we have "come up over" our problem into the realm where Christ is all in all and the enemy is under His feet, that we can begin again to intercede for others.

When we pray the Scriptures found in Ephesians 1:15 -23; 3:14-21, and Colossians 1:9-19; 2:9 and 10; 3:1-4 for the Body of Christ, we join ranks with those who are praying for the Full Plan and Purpose of God. Ephesians 6:17 and 18 tells us that our two offensive weapons are the "Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" and "praying in the Spirit" with "ALL-prayer." As we pray the Word of God, we turn our sword upon the enemy and begin to do battle for God's plan and God's people; and thus our sword is already sharp should the enemy attack us. We do not have to draw our sword, for we are already prepared in full battle array; we have on the full armor of God, for we are seated together with Him Who is "far above all."

And, brethren, we should not wait to be attacked by the enemy, for the greatest defense is a vigorous offense. Let us attack the enemy with these prayers of God, for out of His mouth goes a Sharp two-edged sword" (Revelation 1:16; 19:15). Let us be -

"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit ... for all saints. - Let the high praises of God be in (our) mouth and a two-edged sword in (our) hand (Ephesians 6:18; Psalm 149-6).

Amen! Amen! Amen!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 24 - (Corporately Praying the Word)

The Wise of the World

1 Corinthians 1:19-21

(19) For it is written:

"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent."(20) Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where isthe disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? (21) For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

  1 Corinthians 1:26-31

(26) For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. (27) But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; (28) and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, (29) that no flesh should glory in His presence. (30) But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— (31) that, as it is written, "He who glories, let him glory in the LORD."
New King James Version   

God has purposely chosen this means to put proud and stiff-necked man totally in debt to Him for the most important achievement in all of life. Men have accomplished much and will continue to do many great things. However, verses 19-21 expose why the wise of this world will not submit to God. The reason becomes clear in the phrase, "the foolishness of preaching" (verse 21, King James Version [KJV]). This translation is somewhat misleading in the King James; it should read "the foolishness of the message preached," as in the New King James Version (NKJV). Paul is not saying that the wise of this world reject the act of preaching but that they consider the content of the message preached to be foolish. In other words, the wise will not believe the gospel, most specifically that God in the flesh has died for the sins of the world.

It cannot be overestimated how important humility expressed by faith before God is to the overall spiritual purpose of God for each individual! Each person must know as fully as possible that Christ died for him, that his own works do not provide forgiveness, and that he has not created himself in Christ Jesus. Nobody evolves into a godly person on the strength of his own will. It is God who works in us both to will and to do (Philippians 2:13). No new creation creates itself. So, by and large, God calls the undignified, base, weak, and foolish of this world, people whom the unbelieving wise consider to be insignificant and of no account. He does this so that no human will glory in His presence. On this, a German commentator, Johann Albrecht Bengel, clarifies, "We have permission to glory, not before God, but in God."
The term "in Christ Jesus" (I Corinthians 1:30) indicates that we are in an intimate relationship with Him. Paul then details—through the terms "wisdom," "righteousness," "sanctification," and "redemption"—that God, using our believing, humble, submissive cooperation, will be responsible for all things accomplished in and through us. Some modern commentators believe that, because "wise" and "wisdom" appear so many times earlier in this chapter, the terms "righteousness," "sanctification," and "redemption" should be in parentheses because Paul intends them to define what he means by true wisdom in this context.

God, then, is pleased to save those who believe and to do a mighty work in them. This set Abel apart from, as far as we know, every other person living on earth at that time. What he did by faith pictures what everyone who receives salvation must also do to begin his walk toward the Kingdom of God. Everyone must be called of God; believe enough of His Word to know that he is a sinner who needs the blood of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of his sins; repent, that is, undergo a change of mind toward God; and be justified, made legally righteous by having Jesus Christ's righteousness imputed to him. This enables a relationship with God to begin, and sanctification unto glorification can proceed.

~John W. Ritenbaugh~

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Intercession: The Throne Ministry # 22

Praying the Word

Isaiah 28:10; Ephesians 6:17

Beloved, we cannot express too much the importance of praying the Word of God as the Holy Spirit leads us. Through the years, praying the Word has become a vital force in our prayer life. All of the preceding chapters of this book have been brought forth as a result of our individually and corporately praying the Word. As we have encountered a problem or trial, or a move of the enemy of God, we have searched together the Word of God to pray; and the Holy Spirit has always given it to us. Oh, maybe not immediately, but over a period of time the Word has always come, "...precept upon precept, line upon line ... here a little, and there a little ..." as the Lord has taught us to wield "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" (Isaiah 28:10; Ephesians 6:17).

Whatever the need, the Lord has always given His Word, the Written Word to pray. The Word says, "For ever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in heaven"; and the Word of God by the Spirit must be the Source, the Fountain-head, and the Ultimate Cause for all our praying. The Word of God is the only creative force that can bring forth that which is according to the Will of God.

Therefore, in each situation and circumstance, we need to pray and stand upon the "settled" Word of God; for it is the Holy Spirit's way to give a Word from the Whole of God's Word to meet any situation. We have found that whenever we get into problems of any kind, whether they be trials, persecutions, weaknesses, or afflictions, our human spirit and soul may begin to sink. If the problem is allowed to depress us, it will push our spirit and soul downward, and thus our emotions, our mind, and our communion with God will be brought into a place of being pressed out of measure. In this position, we will not be able to come up over the situation. Now, "to overcome" means  "to come up over." Overcoming is not simply sounding highly victorious and spiritual. Overcoming means that in every problem we face, we allow the Resurrected, Ascended, Glorified, Exalted Christ to have His rightful position in our hearts.

For example, let us say that we are attacked by fear. In the midst of a problem or trial, some sort of fear overwhelms us, and we become frightened in some way. We become upset, our mind goes out of control, and we can only think about the problem. Though we desperately try to put our mind on the Lord, the situation has control over us. Now how do we "come up over" this? One way to come up over this in the Spirit is to pray the Word. Many of us have done this without realizing it. The Word of God is God's Will. Praying the Word by the Spirit is praying God's Will back to Him, and there is no greater prayer to pray than the Word of God.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 23)

Being Holy

Being Holy

by Charles R. Swindoll

Our fast-lane living these days does not lend itself to the traits we have traditionally attached to godliness. Remember the old hymn we sang in church years ago? "Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord; abide in Him always and feed on His Word. . . . Take time to be holy, the world rushes on."
We read those words, believe them, and would even defend them, but we sigh as we confess that more often than not we are strangers to them. The idea of taking the kind of time "to be holy" that our grandparents once did is rather dated.

Does this mean, then, that we cannot be holy? Does an urban lifestyle force us to forfeit godliness? Must we return to the "little house on the prairie" in order to be godly?

Obviously, the answer is no. If godliness were linked to a certain culture or a horse-and-buggy era, then most of us would be out of luck! As much as we might enjoy a slower and less pressured lifestyle, God has not called everyone to such a role or place.
Which brings us to a bottom-line question I seldom hear addressed these days: What exactly does it mean to be holy . . . to be godly?

Godliness cannot be confused with how a person looks (hard as it is for us to get beyond that) or what a person drives or owns. As tough as it is for us to be free of envy and critical thoughts, it is imperative that we remind ourselves that "God looks on the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7); therefore, whatever we may say godliness is, it is not skindeep.

Godliness is something below the surface of a life, deep down in the realm of attitude . . . an attitude toward God Himself.

The longer I think about this, the more I believe that a person who is godly is one whose heart is sensitive toward God, one who takes God seriously. This evidences itself in one very obvious mannerism: The godly individual hungers and thirsts after God. In the words of the psalmist, the godly person has a soul that "pants" for the living God (Ps. 42:1-2). What matters is the individual's inner craving to know God, listen to Him, and walk humbly with Him.

Godly people possess an attitude of willing submission to God's will and ways. Whatever He says, goes. And whatever it takes to carry it out is the very thing the godly desire to do.
The godly soul "pants" and "thirsts" for God.

The godly take God seriously.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Intercession: The Throne Ministry # 21

"For Ever, O Lord, Thy Word is Settled in Heaven" (continued)

[3]  (Esther 5:13) Haman went forth that day with a glad heart thinking he was even in greater favor with the king because of Esther's request. However, as he went, he saw Mordecai in the king's gate and his hatred of Mordecai, the Jew, rose up in him - a bitter hatred that had accumulated throughout the generations of Amalek, for it was the bitter and venomous hatred of the serpent himself against "The Seed" of the woman. And Haman said to his wife: "yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the kings' gate." The underlined phrase is the Acrostic, and this time the letters are at the end of each word and the word is spelled backward, thus speaking of the Lord overruling and turning back the counsel of the enemy; and in the English it may be freely rendered:

saD foR nO avaiL ... (LORD).

And, even though Haman does not realize it, with his own voice he has sealed his and his descendants' doom, because God is overruling and turning back the enemy's counsel. The Eternal Word, the Lord of all, is executing judgment upon His enemies, "Because with secret hand the Lord fighteth against Amalek from generation to generation" (Exodus 17:16)

[4] (Esther7:7). At last the time has come and Esther's intercession draws to a climax as the king, moved by the hidden power of God, grants her petition. Now, in God's appointed timing, Esther discloses the fact that she is a Jew and that the wicked Haman had plotted the murder of her and her people. Then Haman realizes that his end is near: "for he saw that there was evil determined against him by the king." Again, the Acrostic is underlined and in the English is translated thus:

eviL tO feaR determineD ... (LORD).

So, the enemy of God is taken in his own craftiness, and Haman is hung on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai. Beloved, no matter what our trials or circumstances, we must come to realize that the hidden power of God proclaims in His Word, with intricate detail, that the Alpha and Omega is The Beginning and the Ending: He is Lord! Hence, the Word of God has determined that the diabolical plots of the enemy against The Christ and His people must proclaim, and consummate in, the unequivocal fact that Jesus Christ is Lord. No wonder satan hates the Word!

[5] (Esther 7:5) And now, in the midst of Haman's end, we come to the last alphabetical Acrostic in Esther; last because it is different from the other four in that it proclaims the "I AM." When Esther told the king of the adversary's plot, the king exclaimed, "WHO IS HE, AND WHERE IS HE?" In the original the Acrostic is formed by the final letters of the king's question, and The Name is spelled backwards. Therefore, controlled by the hidden power of God, the power of the Holy Spirit, the king unconsciously utters the words which spell the Name of The "I AM". The Great "I AM" of Exodus 3:14, The One Who sees the beginning unto the ending, The One Who had delivered His people out of the hand of Pharaoh, was again breaking the power of His enemy - "with secret hand the Lord fighteth." So the king, controlled by the hidden power of God, proclaims The "I AM" Who said,

"This is my Name forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations, by this Name I AM to be remembered to all generations."

This is not saying that God has to remember as if He forgets, or that we have to remember Him, but it is saying that sealed, kept, and fully controlled in the Eternal Memory of God is His Purpose In the Christ. And In His Eternal Memory, kept there by His hidden power, are the ones chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.

Therefore, when the enemy is doing his worst against the people of God because of his hatred of Christ, the "I AM", the One Whose Name lives for ever, "with Secret Hand fighteth." An whether it is a pagan king or an emissary of satan or satan himself, they must consciously or unconsciously, willingly or unwillingly, confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. So from Esther's experience we learn that Philippians 2:10 and 11 is being fulfilled in each and every age and generation.

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Dear ones, in each generation the intercessors like Mordecai and Esther choose to proclaim His Lordship no matter what the circumstances. They do this by faith, for they have come to know Him Who Is The Beginning and the Ending. They know by trusting Him and taking Him as Lord that "The Alpha and The Omega" is working all things after the counsel of His Own Will. And in the depths of their innermost being, which through Christ has become one with the Eternal Memory of God, they know that the "I AM" is always there for His people, not always to make things right in the earthly realm, but always to bring forth a greater increase of The Christ.

Beloved, intercession is a Royal Work, it is the Throne Ministry that is energized and kept by the Right Hand of God: IS IS THE SECRET HAND OF GOD THAT FIGHTETH! Intercession is the "HIDDEN POWER OF GOD" at Work: it is the Great and Royal Work of God's Spirit, Who, in union with "the faithful" of each and every age, is bringing forth and maintaining and completing that which God has Purposed in The Christ. This Royal Work has included in its faithful throng those such as Mordecai and Esther: may it also include us, may we remain among the faithful.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 22 - (Praying the Word)

Illumination is by the Touch of Christ (and other devotionals)

We who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort. (Philippians 3:3 NLT)

The fact is this, that what God is after is not to do things for you and for me, not to impart things to you and to me, not to show things to you and to me, but to bring us to some fresh apprehension of God in Christ. The whole matter is a divinely personal matter. It is the realization of the Person which is going to result, firstly, primarily, and for evermore, not in doing things, not in activities, not in rejoicing in truth, but in worship. Worship is the first, the continuous and the final factor in the knowledge of God in Christ, and is basic to everything else in our relation to Him. True worship only springs from a heart discovery of Himself.
Take your Bible, especially the New Testament, and especially the forty days after the resurrection (if you want that narrowed down to something that you can grasp), and see if that is not true. It was not because He did or said certain things that they worshiped, but because they discovered Him in a way in which they had never known Him before. God’s dealings with us are governed by this supreme aim: that He might make known to us Himself in Christ; but this comes by illumination, and that illumination is by the touch of Christ.

By T. Austin-Sparks

_____________________



I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. But I have this against you.... (Revelation 2:19 ESV)

Oh, that we should get some better idea of what the service of the Lord is than that it is platforms and pulpits and open-air meetings. Beloved, service for the Lord is just as important when it is rendering some kindly act of helpful service to some rather depressed child of God in the ordinary domestic things of daily life; just as valuable as getting on the platform and giving a message. You see it is strengthening the hands of the Lord's children, it is coming in to check the crushing overweight of the adversary, coming alongside to lift up the testimony in some life or home where the enemy is trying to crush the testimony out – and the testimony is something maintained in domestic relationships, in family life, private life. There are too many who want to give up their domestic service and go to Bible College, failing to recognize that that service there may be just as valuable to the Lord as their going out to the mission field. It is spiritual, not technical, not organized, and you may be as much a priest of the Lord in going round to some home tomorrow where the enemy is pressing in, and giving a practical hand in helping with the washing, as you may be a priest in standing on the platform....
There are many priests of God whose voices have never been heard in public, who have never been seen in a public way, who are unknown, hidden very often in the assembly and yet in secret history fulfilling a most valuable ministry. Get adjusted over this thing. We have to come to the point where we deliberately decide as to whether the Lord is worthy of this, and abandon ourselves to it because of our appreciation of Him, the Master. You see, this servant abandons himself freely, voluntarily, for all time to the service of his master because he has come to love his master.

By T. Austin-Sparks

____________________



You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. (Philippians 2:5-7 NLT)

We have got to draw a very broad distinction between doing a lot of things, as we think "for the Lord," rushing about and being busy and organizing and conducting and speaking and preaching and taking meetings and classes and all this, and we call this "Christian service." We have got to draw a very broad line of difference between that and real service to the Lord. Real service to the Lord is the emancipation of a people from this world for Him and the formation of that people according to Christ for a heavenly vocation, and a heavenly vocation now, not afterwards.
You can test your service by this: the measure of the emancipation of the people who come under your hands and the measure of the formation of Christ that is going on. These are things which are service. And then you will discover that, whereas the other line of things with all the movement and activity and feverish and excited work does not call for very much patience of this kind. It does not call for much real self-emptying, no, it does not call for a great deal of meekness: rather I think it ministers to the opposite. It makes us self-important. It makes us proud. It makes us self-sufficient. It makes us self-assertive. It makes us jealous for our position and our ministry, and resentful if it is interfered with. Yes, Christian work does that with many. The true service can be tested by these things, and the true servant can be tested by the measure of those virtues of Christ: utterly selfless, self-empty.

By T. Austin-Sparks