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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Tailor-made (and other devotionals)

These are tailor-made for the flesh!

(A.W. Tozer

Jesus Christ has almost no authority at all today, among the groups that call themselves by His name. By these I mean not the Roman Catholics, nor the liberals, nor the various quasi-Christian cults. 

I do mean Protestant churches generally, and I include those that protest the loudest that they are in spiritual descent from our Lord and His apostles, namely the evangelicals.

We evangelicals also know how to avoid the plain instructions, and sharp point of obedience of our Lord in the New Testament--by means of fine and intricate explanations. These are tailor-made for the flesh! They excuse disobedience, worldliness, and carnality and make the words of Christ of no effect. And the essence of it all is that Christ simply could not have meant what He said. His teachings are accepted even theoretically, only after they have been weakened by our interpretations.
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The World is Passing Away!
Horatius Bonar

"This world in its present form is passing away!" 1 Corinthians 7:31
"The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever!" 1 John 2:17
The things that are seen are temporal. Ours is a dying world, and here we have no continuing city. But a few years — it may be less — and all things here are changed. But a few years — it may be less — and the Lord shall have come, and the last trumpet shall have sounded, and the great sentence shall have been pronounced upon each of the sons of men.
There is a world that which does not pass away. It is fair and glorious. It is called "the inheritance in light." It is bright with the love of God, and with the joy of Heaven. "The Lamb is the light thereof." Its gates are of pearl — they are always open. And as we tell men of this wondrous city, we invite them to enter in.
The Book of Revelation tells us the story of earth's vanity: "Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: "With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again. The music of harpists and musicians, flute players and trumpeters, will never be heard in you again. No workman of any trade will ever be found in you again. The sound of a millstone will never be heard in you again." (18:21-22).
Such is the day that is coming on the world, and such is the doom overhanging earth — a doom dimly foreshadowed by the sad commercial disasters that have often sent sorrow into so many hearts, and desolation into so many homes.
An old minister — now two hundred years ago — lay dying. His fourscore years were well-near completed. He had been tossed on many a wave, from England to America, from America to England, again from England to America. At Boston he lay dying, full of faith and love. The evening before his death, as he lay all but speechless, his daughter asked him how it was with him. He lifted up his dying hands, and with his dying lips simply said, "Vanishing things, vanishing things!"We repeat his solemn words, and, pointing to the world, with all the vanities on which vain man sets his heart, say, "Vanishing things!"
"The world is passing away!" This is our message.
The world is passing away — like a dream of the night. We lie down to rest; we fall asleep; we dream; we awake at morn — and lo, all is fled, which in our dream seemed so stable and so pleasant! So hastens the world away. O child of mortality, have you no brighter world beyond?
The world is passing away — like the mist of the morning. The night brings down the mists upon the hills — the vapor covers the valleys; the sun rises, all has passed away — hill and valley are clear. So the world passes away, and is seen no more. O man, will you embrace a world like this? Will you lie down upon a mist, and say: This is my home?
The world is passing away — like a shadow. There is nothing more unreal than a shadow. It has no substance, no being. It is dark, it is a figure, it has motion, that is all! Such is the world. O man will you chase a shadow? What will a shadow do for you?
The world is passing away — like a wave of the sea. It rises, falls, and is seen no more. Such is the history of a wave. Such is the story of the world. O man will you make a wave your portion? Have you no better pillow on which to lay your wearied head than this? A poor world this for human heart to love, for an immortal soul to be filled with!
The world is passing away — like a rainbow. The sun throws its colors on a cloud, and for a few minutes all is brilliant. But the cloud shifts, and the brilliance is all gone. Such is the world.
With all its beauty and brightness;
with all its honors and pleasures;
with all its mirth and madness;
with all its pomp and luxury;
with all its revelry and riot;
with all its hopes and flatteries;
with all its love and laughter;
with all its songs and splendor;
with all its gems and gold — it vanishes away!
And the cloud that knew the rainbow knows it no more. O man, is a passing world like this, all that you have for an inheritance?
The world is passing away — like a flower. Beautiful, very beautiful; fragrant, very fragrant, are the summer flowers. But they wither away. So fades the world from before our eyes. While we are looking at it, and admiring it — behold, it is gone! No trace is left of all its loveliness but a little dust! O man, can you feed on flowers? Can you dote on that which is but for an hour? You were made for eternity — and only that which is eternal can be your portion or your resting place. The things that perish with the using only mock your longings. They cannot fill you — and even if they filled, they cannot abide. Mortality is written on all things here — immortality belongs only to the world to come — to that new heavens and new earth wherein dwells righteousness.
The world is passing away — like a ship at sea. With all its sails set, and a fresh breeze blowing, the vessel comes into sight, passes before our eye in the distance, and then disappears. So comes, so goes, so vanishes away this present world, with all that it contains. A few hours within sight, then gone! The wide sea o'er which it sailed, is as calm or as stormy as before; no trace anywhere of all the life or motion or beauty which was passing over it! O man, is that vanishing world your only dwelling-place? Are all your treasures, your hopes, your joys laid up there? Where will all these be when you go down to the tomb? Or where will you be when these things leave you, and you are stripped of all the inheritance which you are ever to have for eternity? It is a poor heritage at the best, and its short duration makes it poorer still. Oh, choose the better part, which shall not be taken from you!
The world is passing away — like a tent in the desert. Those who have traveled over the Arabian sands know what this means. At sunset a little speck of white seems to rise out of the barren waste. It is a traveler's tent. At sunrise it disappears. Both it and its inhabitant are gone. The wilderness is as lonely as before. Such is the world. Today it shows itself — tomorrow it disappears. O man, is that your stay and your home? Will you say of it, "This is my rest!" There is an everlasting rest, remaining for the people of God.
The world is passing away — this is the message from Heaven. "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass!" Isaiah 40:6-7
The world is passing away — but God ever lives. He is from everlasting to everlasting; the King eternal and immortal.
The world is passing away — but man is immortal. Eternity lies before each son of Adam as the duration of his lifetime. In light — or in darkness, forever! In joy — or in sorrow, forever!
The world is passing away — what then? This is the question that so deeply concerns man. If the world is to vanish away, and man is to live forever — then of what importance is it to know where and what we are to be forever! A celebrated physician, trying to cheer a desponding patient, said to him, "Treat life as a plaything." It was wretched counsel. For life is no plaything, and time is no child's toy, to be flung away. Life here is the beginning of the life which has no end; andtime is but the gateway of eternity.
What then? You must, O man, make sure of a home in that world into which you are so soon to pass. You must not pass out of this earthly tent without making sure of the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. When you have done this, you can lie down upon your deathbed in peace.
One who had lived a worldly life at last lay down to die; and when about to pass away he uttered these terrible words, "I am dying, and I don't know where I am going!"
Another in similar circumstances cried out, "I am within an hour of eternity, and all is dark!"
O man of earth, it is time to awake!
"How can I make sure?" you ask. God has long since answered that question, and His answer is recorded for all ages: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved." "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ! I have never done anything else," you say. If that is really true, then, as the Lord lives, you are a saved man. But is it really so? Has your life been the life of a saved man? No, truly. It has been a life wholly given to vanity. Then as the Lord God of Israel lives, and as your soul lives — you have not truly believed, and you are not yet saved.
"Have I then no work to work in this great matter of my pardon?" None! What work can you work? What work of your can buy forgiveness, or make you fit for the Divine favor? What work has God bidden you work in order to obtain salvation? None! His Word is very plain, and easy to be understood: "To him who does not work, but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness" (Rom 4:5) There is but one work by which a man can be saved. That work is not yours, but the work of the Son of God. That work is finished — neither to be taken from nor added to — perfect through all ages — and presented by Himself to you, that you may avail yourself of it and be saved.
"And is that work available for me just as I am?" It is! God has brought it to your door; and your only way of honoring it is by accepting it for yourself, and taking it as the one basis of your eternal hope. We honor the Father when we consent to be saved entirely by the finished work of His Son. We honor the Son when we consent to take His one finished work in the room of all our works. We honor the Holy Spirit, whose office is to glorify Christ, when we hear what He says to us concerning that work finished "once for all" upon the cross. Forgiveness is through Christ Jesus, who is Son of God as well as Son of man! This is our message.
Forgiveness through the one work of sin-bearing which He accomplished for sinners upon earth. Forgiveness to the worst and wickedest, to the farthest off from God whom this earth contains. Forgiveness of the largest, fullest, completest kind; without stint, or exception, or condition, or the possibility of revocation! Forgiveness free and undeserved — as free as the love of God, as free as the gift of His beloved Son. Forgiveness ungrudged and unrestrained — whole-hearted and joyful — as the forgiveness of the father falling on the neck of the prodigal! Forgiveness simply in believing; for, "by Him, all who believe are justified from all things."
Could salvation be made more free? Could forgiveness be brought nearer? Could God in any way more fully show His earnest desire that you should not be lost, but saved — that you should not die, but live? In the cross there is salvation — nowhere else. No failure of this world's hopes can quench the hope which it reveals. It shines brightest in the evil day. In the day of darkening prospects, of thickening sorrows, of heavy burdens, of pressing cares — when friends depart, when riches fly away, when disease oppresses us, when poverty knocks at our door — then the cross shines out, and tells us of a light beyond this world's darkness, the Light of Him who is the light of the world.
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 My determined purpose is that I may know Him. (Philippians 3:10 AMP) 


There are few words in his writings which reveal how committed to the Lord Jesus this man was. The whole context is one consummate outpouring of his heart to the One whom he said had "apprehended" him, and he focuses all in a brief half sentence: "That I may know Him." The impressive thing about this expressed ambition is the time at which it is made. Here is a man who has had a revelation and knowledge of Jesus Christ greater than any other man up to that time. That knowledge commenced whence as he said, "it pleased God to reveal His Son in me." That beginning devastated him, and sent him into the desert to try to grasp its implications. Later he had been "caught up into the third heaven and shown unspeakable things, which (he said) were not lawful to be uttered." Between, and around those two experiences, there is evidence of an ever growing knowledge of Christ. Here, after all that, near the end of his life, he is crying passionately: "That I may know Him."

The very least that we can say about this is that the Christ in view was a very great Christ indeed, who outstrips the greatest capacity and comprehension of man. This stands in such tremendous contrast to the limited Christ of our recognition and apprehension! How very much more there is in Christ than we have ever seen!
By T. Austin-Sparks
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It pleased God... to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him. (Galatians 1:15,16)
Since Paul’s day so very much of Christian activity has been the furthering of a movement, the propagating of a teaching, and the furthering of the interests of an institution. It is not a movement, nor to establish a movement in the Earth and to get followers, adherents, members, support. It is not an institution, even though we might call that institution the church. The church has no existence in the thought of God apart from the revelation of Jesus Christ, and it is judged according to the measure in which Christ the Son of God’s love is in evidence by its existence. It is not a testimony, if by that you mean a specific form of teaching, a systematized doctrine. No, it is not a testimony. Let us be careful what we mean when we speak about "the testimony." We may have in our minds some arrangement of truth, and that truth couched in certain phraseology, form of words, and thus speak about "the testimony"; it is not the testimony in that sense. It is not a denomination, and it is not a "non-denomination," and it is not an "inter-denomination." It is not Christianity. It is not "the work" – oh, we are always talking about "the work": "How is the work getting on?" – we are giving ourselves to the work, we are interested in the work, we are out in the work. It is not a mission. It is Christ! "...That I might preach Him."
If that had remained central and preeminent all these horrible disintegrating jealousies would never have had a chance. All the wretched mess that exists in the organization of Christianity today would never have come about. It is because something specific in itself, a movement, a mission, a teaching, a testimony, a fellowship, has taken the place of Christ. People have gone out to further that, to project that, to establish that. It would not be confessed; nevertheless it is true, that today it is not so much Christ that is our work. Now beloved, an inward revelation is the cure of all that. Am I saying too hard a thing, too sweeping a thing? The existence of all that represents the absence of an adequate inward revelation of Christ.

By T. Austin-Sparks
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Romans 14:22-23

(22) Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. (23) But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.
New King James Version   Change your email Bible version
Paul is dealing with a clash of values within an individual. Confronting a situation in which two distinctly different moral or ethical alternatives exist can produce puzzlement and fear. Such a situation has the potential to leave a person conscience-stricken after doing what he permits himself to do.
If there were no differences between what a person is permitted to do and what he actually does, there would be no self-doubt or self-condemnation to be concerned about. However, the reality is that differences arise. This often occurs when the individual has learned a value in his past, but he is challenged by a different value in the present. This leads to a number of overlapping questions that we need to consider:
» What is the source of what we permit ourselves to do?
» Where did our values originate?
» Where did we form our values?
» Are we sure we are right even when we are not conscience-stricken? This last question is necessary because people can be absolutely wrong while sincerely thinking that they are right.
We should ask these questions of ourselves in areas such as business ethics, education, entertainment, athletics, fashion, diet, child-training, and marital relations—in other words, the entire framework of life, not just in the obvious areas of morality. Acts 18:25-26 reminds us that Christianity is a way of life, a course of conduct encompassing every aspect of life.

~John W. Ritenbaugh~
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Are You a Thermostat or a Thermometer?

"Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God."

—Genesis 6:9

Peter, in his second epistle, described the world's effect on two believers. Both lived in a wicked culture, yet one thrived and the other shriveled.

First there's Noah, who lived an uncompromised life. "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord" and "walked with God" (Genesis 6:8, 9 NKJV). Times were so bad that wickedness was full to the brim (see Genesis 6:5), yet Noah faithfully served the Lord despite the criticism of his culture. He raised his family as believers as well, and preached to others.

On the other hand was Lot, who reluctantly left Sodom. "Yes, Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day." (2 Peter 2:8 NLT). He ended up as a leader in the city who had no influence whatsoever.

When told by angels that judgment was coming, he told his sons-in-law. They "blew him off" because they thought he was joking. The angels had to take him by the hand to get him out. He did not want to leave. He lived a compromised life, and when judgment came, he left reluctantly. He could have sung (like Tony Bennett), "I left my heart, in Sodom and Gomorrah."

No one is reached by compromise.

Which one of those men do you relate to? Are you changing culture, or is culture changing you? Are you a thermostat or are you a thermometer?

A thermometer is affected by its surroundings. Depending on the temperature, the mercury moves up or down. In contrast, a thermostat influences its surroundings. Unlike the thermometer, the thermostat controls the heat or coldness around it.

Noah was a thermostat and Lot was a thermometer.

So, what kind of a believer are you? It's easy to blame our wicked culture for the way we are but the fact of that matter is that it's our job as followers of Jesus is to permeate and affect it.

Do you influence your surroundings or do your surroundings influence you?
~Greg Laurie~
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