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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Take My Yoke ... (and other devotionala)

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29 NIV)

The great business of Christians is to learn Christ. This is not just a subject to study. I want to ask you: What is the greatest desire in your life? I wonder if it is the same as mine! The greatest desire in my heart – and the longer I live the stronger it grows – is to understand the Lord Jesus. There is so much that I do not understand about Him. I am always coming up against problems about Him, and they are not intellectual problems at all, but spiritual ones: problems of the heart. Why did the Lord Jesus say and do certain things? Why is He dealing with me as He is? He is always too deep for me, and I want to understand Him. It is the most important thing in life to understand the Lord Jesus. Well, we are here that He may bring us to some better understanding of Himself. The material of the Word will not be new – it will be old and well-known Scripture. Perhaps we think that we know the Gospel by John very well. Well, you may, but I do not. I am discovering that this Gospel contains deeper truth and value than I know anything about....
The one business of disciples is to know Him, and to do what He called His disciples to do: "Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me" (Matthew 11:29). Jesus came to bring heavenly knowledge in His own person, and in His person we come into heavenly knowledge. It is not just what He says: it is what He says He is. Every true teacher is not one who says a lot of things, but one who, when he says things, gives something of himself.

 By T. Austin-Sparks
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Polishing God's jewels!

"They will be Mine in the day when I make up My jewels!" Malachi 3:17

(Robert Leighton, 1611-1684)
God has many sharp-cutting instruments and rough files for the polishing of His jewels. Those He especially loves and means to make the most resplendent--He most often uses His tools upon!


(Richard Newton, "Bible Jewels")
Jewels are polished for the sake of removing specks and blemishes from them. They are often cut andpolished on purpose to make them look more beautiful. If a large diamond is to be put on the crown of some great king, it is only by cutting and polishing that it can be made to shine with all its brilliance.

When you look at a diamond, you see that it has many faces or sides. These don't belong to diamonds naturally. When they are found in the mines, they have none of these smooth faces. They are then like little pebble-stones, without any particular shape. These smooth, even sides are made by the jeweler, by grinding and polishing. And they are made on purpose to make the diamond look more beautiful.

In the same way, God cuts and polishes His jewels in order to make them shine more brightly and beautifully in the crown of His glory in Heaven.

Sometimes we see good Christian people who have very heavy trials which they are obliged to bear for many years. And when we see them bearing those trials, we often wonder what it is all for.

God is using those trials just as the jeweler uses the files and wheels--to polish His jewels so as to make them brighter and more beautiful in Heaven.

There was that poor beggar at the gate of the rich man, of whom we read in the New Testament. He was left to be so poor, and to have all those dreadful sores, not because God could not help it; He could easily have made him a rich man and have kept him from having any sores at all, if He had so pleased. But Lazarus was one of God's jewels, and God was making use of his poverty and beggary and sores--in order to polish that jewel and make it shine more beautifully in Heaven!
All of God's jewels need polishing!

"I have refined you in the furnace of suffering!" Isaiah 48:10
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You have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do!
(Hiram Mattison,  1867)
"You have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do--living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, revelings, banquetings, and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you!" 1 Peter 4:3-4

Here observe:
1. That Christians were not to live as formerly, and like other men--in folly and dissipation.
2. That "revelings" and "banquetings" are specified, which covers all balls, parties, and masquerades, at least.
3. That the early Christians had ceased to run with those who walked in these follies.
4. That the ungodly thought this very "strange" and over-rigid.
5. That the ungodly spoke evil of Christians, on account of their peculiar abstinence and self-denial.
And today the same holy course meets the same unholy treatment, even at the hands of some who profess religion, and ought to be found wholly upon the Lord's side.
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind!" Romans 12:2

"The spirit of the world is eating out the very heart and life of true godliness!" (George Everard)
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It is a fact of life!

(Albert Barnes, "Life at Three-score and Ten" 1868)

It is a fact of life, that all of our thoughts, words, and actions are fixed and unchangeable.

Now, at the age of seventy, my work for good or for evil is done. 
I cannot go back and repair what has been amiss. 
I cannot now do what has been left undone. 
I cannot do in a better manner, what has been imperfectly performed. 
I cannot recover the hours that have been wasted.
I cannot correct the evils which may have resulted from my errors. 
I cannot overtake and stop what I have spoken or written, as it has gone out into the world. 
I cannot summon back the opportunities for usefulness which have been neglected. 
I cannot obliterate the reality or the memory of wrong thoughts, or wrong motives, or wrong words, or wrong actions. 
All that has been thought or said or done in these seventy years, has become fixed as a reality--never to be changed. 
Past errors and follies may be forgiven--but they are never to be changed

The hope of a man at seventy years of age--at any age--is not that the errors, and sins, and follies of the past can be changed--it is only . . .
  that they may be pardoned by a merciful God;
  that they may be covered over by the blood of the atonement;
  that though they must remain forever as facts--facts fully known to the Great Searcher of hearts--their guilt may be so taken away that they will not be punished;
  that by the blood shed on the cross, they themselves may be so covered over--so hidden--that they will not be disclosed on the final trial before assembled worlds! 

That hope, the religion of Christ offers to all. 

How different would men try to make their lives, if they habitually felt that all--literally all--that they do, or say, or think--even their most fugitive thoughts--becomes thus fixed and unchangeable forever!
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Selfish Christianity


Which interests you more—who Jesus is or what He can do for you? I’m afraid that too many of us are more concerned about what He can give us than we are about getting to know who He is.
But this is nothing new—Jesus had this problem when He walked on earth. The crowds often sought Him out for what He could do for them. Even though their needs were quite often legitimate, Christ knew their motives.
There is a fine line between selfishly trying to use the Lord to get what we want and humbly coming to Him with our needs and struggles. Some of the issues we bring to Him are so pressing and urgent in our minds that our desire for Him to take action in the way we want becomes greater than our willingness to submit to His will. At times, what we call “faith” is really a demanding spirit.
We must remember that our needs will come to an end, but Jesus Christ will remain forever. If our prayers have dealt only with presenting our requests to the Lord, we’ve missed a great opportunity to get to know the One with whom we’ll spend eternity. Let’s invest time in pursuing intimacy with Christ. Then we can enjoy the benefits of that relationship forever.
How much of your communion with God is devoted to your needs—even legitimate ones? Are you spending any time getting to know the Lord? Although God delights in our prayers and tells us to pray about everything, He also wants us to come to Him just because we enjoy being with Him.

~Charles Stanley~
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That always brings down the wrath of the religious majority!

(A.W. Tozer)

Pragmatism is having a powerful influence upon contemporary Christianity!

Pragmatism asks no embarrassing questions about the Scripturalness of what we are doing. It accepts our chosen ends as right and good--and casts about for efficient means and ways to get them accomplished. When it discovers something that works, it soon finds a text to justify it, then "consecrates" it to the Lord, and plunges ahead. 

As one fairly familiar with the contemporary religious scene, I say without hesitation that a very large part of the activities carried on today in evangelical circles are not only influenced by pragmatism--but almost completely controlled by it! 
Religious methodology is geared to it;
it appears large in our youth meetings; 
magazines and books constantly glorify it; 
conventions are dominated by it; and 
the whole religious atmosphere is alive with it!

What shall we do to break its power over us? The answer is simple. We must acknowledge the right of Jesus Christ to control the activities of His church. The New Testament contains full instructions, not only about what we are to believe--but what we are to do and how we are to go about doing it. Any deviation from those instructions, is a denial of the Lordship of Christ.

The answer is simple, but it is not easy--for it requires that we obey God rather than man, and that always brings down the wrath of the religious majority! It is not a question of knowing what to do--we can easily learn that from the Scriptures. It is a question of whether or not we have the courageto do it!


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