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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Daily Bible Reading - ESV

Matthew 6:19-34; Exodus 35:1-36:38; Proverbs 16 ESV

Matthew 6

1 "Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2 "Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 5 "And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 "And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.9 Pray then like this: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. 16 "And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 19 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. 25"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Exodus 35

1 Moses assembled all the congregation of the people of Israel and said to them, "These are the things that the LORD has commanded you to do. 2 Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. 3 You shall kindle no fire in all your dwelling places on the Sabbath day." 4 Moses said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, "This is the thing that the LORD has commanded. 5 Take from among you a contribution to the LORD. Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the LORD's contribution: gold, silver, and bronze; 6 blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen; goats' hair, 7 tanned rams' skins, and goatskins; acacia wood, 8 oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, 9 and onyx stones and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. 10 "Let every skillful craftsman among you come and make all that the LORD has commanded: 11 the tabernacle, its tent and its covering, its hooks and its frames, its bars, its pillars, and its bases; 12 the ark with its poles, the mercy seat, and the veil of the screen; 13 the table with its poles and all its utensils, and the bread of the Presence; 14 the lampstand also for the light, with its utensils and its lamps, and the oil for the light; 15 and the altar of incense, with its poles, and the anointing oil and the fragrant incense, and the screen for the door, at the door of the tabernacle; 16 the altar of burnt offering, with its grating of bronze, its poles, and all its utensils, the basin and its stand; 17 the hangings of the court, its pillars and its bases, and the screen for the gate of the court; 18the pegs of the tabernacle and the pegs of the court, and their cords; 19 the finely worked garments for ministering in the Holy Place, the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, for their service as priests." 20 Then all the congregation of the people of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. 21 And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the LORD's contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. 22 So they came, both men and women. All who were of a willing heart brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and armlets, all sorts of gold objects, every man dedicating an offering of gold to the LORD. 23 And every one who possessed blue or purple or scarlet yarns or fine linen or goats' hair or tanned rams' skins or goatskins brought them. 24 Everyone who could make a contribution of silver or bronze brought it as the LORD's contribution. And every one who possessed acacia wood of any use in the work brought it. 25 And every skillful woman spun with her hands, and they all brought what they had spun in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. 26 All the women whose hearts stirred them to use their skill spun the goats' hair. 27 And the leaders brought onyx stones and stones to be set, for the ephod and for the breastpiece, 28 and spices and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense. 29 All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the LORD had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the LORD. 30 Then Moses said to the people of Israel, "See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; 31and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, 32 to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, 33in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. 34 And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan. 35 He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver--by any sort of workman or skilled designer.

Exodus 36

1 "Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whom the LORD has put skill and intelligence to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary shall work in accordance with all that the LORD has commanded." 2 And Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whose mind the LORD had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him up to come to do the work. 3 And they received from Moses all the contribution that the people of Israel had brought for doing the work on the sanctuary. They still kept bringing him freewill offerings every morning, 4 so that all the craftsmen who were doing every sort of task on the sanctuary came, each from the task that he was doing, 5 and said to Moses, "The people bring much more than enough for doing the work that the LORD has commanded us to do." 6 So Moses gave command, and word was proclaimed throughout the camp, "Let no man or woman do anything more for the contribution for the sanctuary." So the people were restrained from bringing, 7 for the material they had was sufficient to do all the work, and more. 8 And all the craftsmen among the workmen made the tabernacle with ten curtains. They were made of fine twined linen and blue and purple and scarlet yarns, with cherubim skillfully worked. 9 The length of each curtain was twenty-eight cubits, and the breadth of each curtain four cubits. All the curtains were the same size. 10 He coupled five curtains to one another, and the other five curtains he coupled to one another. 11 He made loops of blue on the edge of the outermost curtain of the first set. Likewise he made them on the edge of the outermost curtain of the second set. 12 He made fifty loops on the one curtain, and he made fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that was in the second set. The loops were opposite one another. 13 And he made fifty clasps of gold, and coupled the curtains one to the other with clasps. So the tabernacle was a single whole. 14 He also made curtains of goats' hair for a tent over the tabernacle. He made eleven curtains. 15 The length of each curtain was thirty cubits, and the breadth of each curtain four cubits. The eleven curtains were the same size. 16 He coupled five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves. 17 And he made fifty loops on the edge of the outermost curtain of the one set, and fifty loops on the edge of the other connecting curtain. 18 And he made fifty clasps of bronze to couple the tent together that it might be a single whole. 19 And he made for the tent a covering of tanned rams' skins and goatskins. 20 Then he made the upright frames for the tabernacle of acacia wood. 21 Ten cubits was the length of a frame, and a cubit and a half the breadth of each frame. 22 Each frame had two tenons for fitting together. He did this for all the frames of the tabernacle. 23 The frames for the tabernacle he made thus: twenty frames for the south side. 24 And he made forty bases of silver under the twenty frames, two bases under one frame for its two tenons, and two bases under the next frame for its two tenons. 25 For the second side of the tabernacle, on the north side, he made twenty frames 26 and their forty bases of silver, two bases under one frame and two bases under the next frame. 27 For the rear of the tabernacle westward he made six frames. 28 He made two frames for corners of the tabernacle in the rear. 29 And they were separate beneath but joined at the top, at the first ring. He made two of them this way for the two corners. 30 There were eight frames with their bases of silver: sixteen bases, under every frame two bases. 31 He made bars of acacia wood, five for the frames of the one side of the tabernacle,32 and five bars for the frames of the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the frames of the tabernacle at the rear westward. 33 And he made the middle bar to run from end to end halfway up the frames. 34 And he overlaid the frames with gold, and made their rings of gold for holders for the bars, and overlaid the bars with gold. 35 He made the veil of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen; with cherubim skillfully worked into it he made it. 36 And for it he made four pillars of acacia and overlaid them with gold. Their hooks were of gold, and he cast for them four bases of silver. 37 He also made a screen for the entrance of the tent, of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, embroidered with needlework,38 and its five pillars with their hooks. He overlaid their capitals, and their fillets were of gold, but their five bases were of bronze.

Proverbs 16

1 The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. 2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit. 3 Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established. 4 The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. 5 Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the LORD; be assured, he will not go unpunished. 6 By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the LORD one turns away from evil. 7 When a man's ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.8 Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice. 9 The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. 10 An oracle is on the lips of a king; his mouth does not sin in judgment. 11 A just balance and scales are the LORD's; all the weights in the bag are his work. 12 It is an abomination to kings to do evil, for the throne is established by righteousness. 13 Righteous lips are the delight of a king, and he loves him who speaks what is right. 14 A king's wrath is a messenger of death, and a wise man will appease it. 15 In the light of a king's face there is life, and his favor is like the clouds that bring the spring rain. 16 How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver. 17The highway of the upright turns aside from evil; whoever guards his way preserves his life. 18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. 19 It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud. 20 Whoever gives thought to the wordwill discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD. 21 The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness. 22 Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it, but the instruction of fools is folly. 23 The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious and adds persuasiveness to his lips. 24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. 25There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. 26 A worker's appetite works for him; his mouth urges him on. 27 A worthless man plots evil, and his speech is like a scorching fire. 28 A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends. 29 A man of violence entices his neighbor and leads him in a way that is not good. 30 Whoever winks his eyes plansdishonest things; he who purses his lips brings evil to pass. 31 Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life. 32 Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. 33The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Steps In the Right Path

Steps in the Right Path

George Everard, 1885

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do!" Ephesians 2:8-10

I remember once an old clergyman very energetically giving me a bit of advice as to my work. He was very anxious that I should make everything plain in preaching to my flock. So he said more than once, "Show them the steps! Show them the steps!"
Since then I have often tried to follow his good counsel, and in this short paper I should like to do so again. The passage above will just answer my purpose in doing this. It is a perfect gem of divinity. It puts everything exactly in its right place. It lays a good foundation — and then places a capital building and roof upon it. If you thoroughly understood and followed its teaching, and you were some day preaching in St. Paul's Cathedral, I feel sure you would give them a sound Gospel sermon. Look into it and study it for yourself, and never forget it as long as you live. It goes very much in a line with a few words I lately met with —
"Faithless works God won't regard,
Workless faith He won't reward."
Beside this couplet put four other lines—
Faith makes the Christian.
Life shows the Christian.
Trial tests the Christian.
Death crowns the Christian.
But I must be brief, so will go straight to the words of Paul. The one point I want you to notice, is the place of good works in the matter of salvation. You see he first utterly casts them out — and then as plainly brings them in again. He rejects them without the least exception, from having any part in securing peace and salvation. Then he no less plainly shows that salvation always leads to them — and that every believer must walk in them. Just as tiles and slates would never do for the foundation of a house, and, in fact, would make it thoroughly insecure — and yet in their right place are most valuable, yes, absolutely necessary; for what can be the comfort of a house unless the roof is tight and good?
Bear in mind these two points. They will help you all through your Christian life.
Do you wish to be at peace with God, and to rejoice that sin is forgiven, and that you stand accepted and beloved with the Father?
As to all this, works have no place whatever. It is "not of yourself," "not of works." All the good deeds in the world will not help you a whit. Deeds of charity, self-denial, hours spent in worship or in prayer, Church-going, acts performed in truth and justice — all most excellent in their place — yet they must not be relied upon in the very least in your approach to God. Salvation is a free gift. The remission of sins is a gift. The grace of the Spirit is a gift. Eternal life is a gift, both in the present foretaste and in the fullness hereafter. All comes as a free, undeserved gift of God's tender loving-kindness through the work of the Lord Jesus. No goodness, no good feelings, no efforts of yours could have obtained it. It comes to you only on the footing of a free gift — and your part is to stretch out the empty hand of faith and thankfully accept it.
But remember this: a gift is only yours when you have taken it. Have you in your heart thanked God for this gift and taken it? Have you cast aside past neglect of religion? Have you given up trying to earn peace by your better life? Have you believed God's love in thus giving you salvation? Have you trusted in Jesus for all you need? Then you are saved; or, as in the Revised Version, "You have been saved." You are forgiven, and accepted, and at peace with God.
But do not forget the other side of this passage. When a man is saved, he is a piece of God's workmanship. He is fashioned and formed of God, by the inworking of the Holy Spirit. He is new-created in knowledge, holiness, and love, that he may glorify God by the good works he will perform. Here is the path marked out for him of God. From his conversion to his death, he will find no comfort except as he steadfastly walks in it. He is not saved by works — but unto works. Compare Titus 2:14, 3:4-8.
Be very careful, if you are Christ's indeed, to excel in every good word and work. Let the love of Christ rule in you, so that you walk in His footsteps. Do not wait for great opportunities. Be mindful about little things. Do not shrink from the trouble of a Sunday-school class. Redeem moments for prayer. Be kind and unselfish with schoolfellows. Put a stumbling-block out of a brother's way. Let your religion be seen at home. "Keep the lower lights burning." As a son, a brother, or "the young master," let your influence be felt for good. "Be zealous for good works."

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Beneath the Cross!

Beneath the Cross!

George Everard, 1877

"Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene." John 19:25

The cross of Christ is the believer's lesson book. The sufferings He bore for our sake, should be the subject of our constant meditation. It is true we should ponder the story of His wondrous life, and rejoice in the victory achieved by His Resurrection. We delight to think upon His Ascension to the right hand of the Father, upon His faithful intercession before the throne, and the hope of His coming kingdom.
But the Cross is the central point. It is that to which through life He was ever looking forward. His Resurrection ensures to us the benefits there purchased for us. And as our exalted High Priest, He has no other plea than the work He completed for us. As the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, He abides in His mediatorial kingdom. It is to His death, that the redeemed will ascribe the glory of their salvation: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing!"
Especially, in the Lord's Supper, it is our privilege to dwell on the scenes and incidents connected with our Lord's death. The whole value and significance of the Lord's Supper rests upon the work wrought out for us on the tree. It was instituted by Christ on the night of His betrayal, before He entered the dark valley of conflict, agony, and shame. It speaks to us not of His life or His resurrection — but of that dying love on account of which He gave His body to be broken and His blood to be shed for the redemption of sinners. "And to the end that we should always remember the exceeding great love of our Master, and only Savior, Jesus Christ, thus dying for us, and the innumerable benefits which by His precious blood-shedding He has obtained to us; He has instituted and ordained holy mysteries, as pledges of His love, and for a continual remembrance of His death, to our great and endless comfort."
Nowhere, as in the Cross and in the scenes connected with it — do we see such revelations of the heart of Christ. Love bursts forth in every direction, both to friends and foes. The last touch of the hand so soon to be pierced, before it is fettered and bound, must be for the healing of one sent to apprehend Him. No thought for Himself, shall hinder Him from pleading for His disciples, that they might go their way unharmed. Mercy shines forth in her beauty, seeking pardon for His cruel murderers, compassionating the daughters of Jerusalem, and saving a sinner of the deepest dye. Justice, too, stands forth in unsullied glory. In paying the debt of human guilt, in bearing the penalty of a broken law — Christ is seen to be a just God as also a Savior.
It is our joy to remember that Jesus Christ is "the same yesterday, today, and forever." As He was then, in pity and compassion and, faithfulness and love — so is He now. The suffering and the shame of the Cross is past — but not the grace and truth which was there revealed. At this moment is He as tender and as true, as ready to support those who turn to Him, and to pray for those who have hated Him — as He was when suffering on Calvary.
It seems to me, moreover, that in our Lord's suffering and death, there is precious instruction for the believer in almost every matter belonging to the Christian life. What are the perils you are likely to meet with — and how best to overcome them; what should be your life in secret before God — and what your path in the world — what is your strength in the hour of temptation and in the season of sorrow; how to crucify the world; how to glorify God in the position which you occupy — all this may be learned in fellowship with our suffering Redeemer.
Beneath the Cross likewise you may best learn to cultivate every Christian grace and virtue. Meekness and courage, zeal and love, prayer and patience and longsuffering, and submission to the will of God — are the fruits of a believing view of Christ's death. You may learn, too, to conquer sin by the sight of that which it cost Christ to save you from it. The nail and the spear may be driven through the sins which have been most cherished. You may thus be enabled to crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts.
And beneath the Cross you may learn another lesson. You may learn how to die. Through death Christ has destroyed the power of death — the sting is gone. To him that believes, death is life; for it is departing to be with Christ, which is far better. Nor will the pattern left you by the Savior be without its consolation. His toil and suffering ended, He committed His Spirit into the Father's hand. And when you have finished the work given you to do, you may peacefully yield up your spirit to the faithful care of Him who has trodden the dark valley before you. To Him you can fly for refuge in the solemn hour. "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
Jesus, my God, to You I fly,
You are a refuge ever nigh,
When heart shall fail, when life is past,
You will receive my soul at last.
Therefore let us often betake ourselves to Calvary. Let memory recall and ponder those hours on which our everlasting peace depends. Let our faith bridge over the centuries that have passed between. Let us go and stand in thought, beside the faithful women who were last at the cross and first at the grave. Let us look again, and yet again, and discover new lessons of instruction and fresh grounds for the deepest contrition, as also for everlasting joy and thankfulness — beneath the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
"Upon the cross I gaze,
And there behold its sad yet healing rays,
Beacon of hope which, lifted up on high,
Illumines with heavenly light, the tear-dimmed eye.
For such meditation we need, above all things, the anointing of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who testifies of the Savior. It is only by the Spirit that we learn the truth for our soul's profit; therefore, in reading the following pages, I would ask you often to lift up your heart to Him, who is the giver of all true wisdom.
"O God, open my eyes to behold the light of Your glory in the face of Jesus Christ. Give me the Spirit of grace and supplication, that I may look upon Him who was pierced for my sin, and mourn in godly sorrow for that which I have done amiss. Enlighten the eyes of my understanding, and give me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, that I may know more of the fellowship of Christ's sufferings, and of the greatness of His love. Give me the unction of the Holy One, and renew and sanctify me through Your truth. Draw me closer to Yourself, and teach me out of Your book, whatever is needful for my everlasting good, for Jesus Christ's sake."
To Calvary, Lord, in spirit now,
Our weary souls repair.
To dwell upon Your dying love,
And taste its sweetness there.
There, through Your hour of deepest woe,
Your suffering spirit passed:
Grace there its wondrous victory gained,
And Love endured its last.
Dear suffering Lamb, Your bleeding wounds,
With cords of love Divine
Have drawn our willing hearts to Thee,
And linked our life with Thine.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Abide In Christ # 9

Trusting In Him to Keep You (continued)

Abide In Me:  These words are no law of Moses, demanding from the sinful what they cannot perform. They are the command of love, which is ever only a promise in a different shape. Think of this until all feeling of burden and fear and despair pass away, and the first thought that comes as you hear of abiding in Jesus be one of bright and joyous hope: it is for me, I know I shall enjoy it. You are not under the law, with its inexorable "Do", but under grace, with its blessed "Believe what Christ will do for you. And if the question be asked, "But surely there is something for us to do?" the answer is, "Our doing and working are but the fruit of Christ's work in us." It is when the soul becomes utterly passive, looking and resting on what Christ is to do, that its energies are stirred to their highest activity, that we work most effectually because we know that He works in us. It is as we see in that word "In Me" the mighty energies o love reaching out after us to have us and to hold us, that all the strength of our will is roused to abide in Him.

This connection between Christ's work and our work is beautifully expressed in the words of Paul: "I follow after, if that I may apprehend that where unto I also am apprehended of Christ Jesus." It was because he knew that the mighty and the faithful One had grasped him with the glorious purpose of making him one with Himself, that he did his utmost to grasp the glorious prize. The faith, the experience, the full assurance, "Christ hath apprehended me," gave him the courage and the strength to press on and apprehend that whereunto he was apprehended. Each new insight of the great end for which Christ had apprehended and was holding him, roused him afresh to aim at nothing less.

Paul's expression, and its application to the Christian life, can be best understood if we think of a father helping his child to mount the side of some steep precipice. The father stands above, and has taken the son by the hand to help him on. He points him to the spot on which he will help him to plant his feet, as he leaps upward. The leap would be too high and dangerous for the child alone; but the father's hand is his trust, and he leaps to get hold of the point for which his father has taken hold of him. It is the father's strength that secures him and lifts him up, and so urges him to use his utmost strength.

Such is the relation between Christ and you, O weak and trembling believer! Fix first your eyes on the "whereunto" for which He has apprehended you. It is nothing less than a life of abiding, unbroken fellowship with Himself to which he is seeking to lift you up. All that you have already received - pardon and peace, the Spirit and His grace - are but preliminary to this. And all that you see promised to you in the future - holiness and fruitfulness and glory everlasting - are but its Father, is His highest object. Fix your eyes on this, and gaze until it stands out before you clear and unmistakable: Christ's aim is to have me abiding in Him.

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 10)

The Golden Pipe!

The golden pipe!
(Hannah More, "Secret Prayer")

"When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matthew 6:6 

It is the indispensable duty of every Christian to pray in private. Private prayer has many advantages. 

Private prayer sweetly inclines and disposes a person to a cheerful performance of every other religious duty and service. The power of godliness in the soul flourishes or decays--as the private duties of the closet are attended to or neglected.

In secret we may more freely, fully, and safely unbosom our souls to God, than we can do in the presence of others. 

Private prayer is a privilege of which a Christian may at all times avail himself. No time is unseasonable for such a purpose--and no place is unfit for such devotions. There is no corner so dark--no place so secret, but God is there! He never lacks . . .
  an eye to see,
  an ear to hear the cries and groans,
  nor a heart to grant the request--
of the one who sincerely prays to Him in secret.

There are no desires so confused--no requests so broken--no effort so feeble--as to escape His notice. The eye that God has upon His people in secret, is such a special tender eye of love as opens His ear, His heart, and His hand, for their good. "The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers." Psalm 34:15

Should their petitions be feeble and faint, and seem to them scarcely to reach the heavens--He will graciously bow down His ear, and attend to the prayer from sincere lips. He knows the intentions of the heart. He perceives the motions of the soul. He records them all in the book of His remembrance, and will one day openly reward all these secret transactions! 

He who would have . . .
  his soul athirst for God,
  public ordinances delightful to his soul, 
  his drooping spirits refreshed,
  his weak faith strengthened,
  his strong corruptions subdued, and
  his affections set on heavenly things--
should be frequent and fervent in secret prayer. 

How strong in grace,
how victorious over sin,
how dead to the world,
how alive to Christ,
how fit to live,
how prepared to die--
might many a Christian have been--had he more diligently, seriously, and conscientiously discharged the duties of the closet!

The true Christian loves to pray secretly, and values such exercises for the effect they have on him in . . .
  humbling the soul, 
  mortifying pride, 
  debasing self, 
  weaning the heart from the world, 
  embittering sin, 
  rendering the mind more spiritual, and 
  exalting the Savior in the affections.

There is no means of grace more enriching to the soul than private prayer. It is the golden pipe, through which the Lord is graciously pleased to convey all spiritual blessings to the soul. 

Thus the Christian, withdrawn for a season from the world, and realizing the immediate presence of God, the solemness of eternity, and the vast importance of heavenly things--prays to his Father, who sees in secret. He gets more humbling views of himself, and makes fresh discoveries . . .
  of the exceeding sinfulness of his sin, 
  of the super-aboundings of Divine grace, 
  of the boundless patience of the Lord, 
  of the unfathomable grace He has bestowed on him, 
  of the astonishing deliverances He has wrought for him, and 
  of the abundant mercy which is treasured up in Christ Jesus for all true believers. 

How lamentable it is, that a duty so obvious, a privilege so great, a means of grace so enriching to the soul--should ever be neglected!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Abide In Christ # 8

Trusting Him to Keep You

"I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which I also am apprehended of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:12)

More than one admits that it is a sacred duty and a blessed privilege to abide in Christ, but shrinks back continually before the question: Is it possible, a life of unbroken fellowship with the Saviour? Eminent Christians, to whom special opportunities of cultivating this grace have been granted,k may attain to it; for the large majority of disciples, whose life, by a divine appointment, is so fully occupied with the affairs of this life, it can scarce be expected. The more they hear of this life, the deeper their sense of its glory and blessedness, and there is nothing they would not sacrifice to be made partakers of it. But they are too weak, too unfaithful - they never can attain to it.

Dear souls! how little they know that the abiding in Christ is just meant for the weak, and so beautifully suited to their feebleness. It is not the doing of some great thing, and does not demand that we first lead a very holy and devoted life. No, it is simply weakness entrusting itself to a Mighty One to be kept - the unfaithful one casting self on One who is altogether trustworthy and true. Abiding in Him is not a work that we have to do as the condition for enjoying His salvation, but a consenting to let Him do all for us, and in us, and through us. It is a work He does for us - the fruit and the power of His redeeming love. Our part is simply to yield, to trust, and to wait for what He has engaged to perform.

It is this quiet expectation and confidence, resting on the word of Christ that in Him there is an abiding place prepared, which is so sadly wanting among Christians. They scarce take the time or the trouble to realize that when He says, "Abide in Me," He offers Himself, the Keeper of Israel that slumbers not nor sleeps, with all His power and love, as the living home of the soul, stronger to keep than all their feebleness to lead astray. The idea they have of grace is this - that their conversion and pardon are God's work, but that now, in gratitude to God, it is their work to live as Christians, and follow Jesus. There is always the thought of a work that has to be done, and even though they pray for help, still the work is theirs. They fail continually, and become hopeless; and the despondency only increases the helplessness. No, wandering one; as it was Jesus who drew you when He spake "Come," so it is Jesus who keeps you when He says "Abide." The grace to come and the grace to abide are alike from Him alone. That word "come", heard, meditated on, accepted, was the cord of love that drew you nigh; that word "Abide" is even so the band with which He holds you fast and binds you to Himself. Let the soul but take time to listen to the voice of Jesus, "In me," He says, "is thy place - in my almighty arms. It is I who love thee so, who speak Abide in me; surely thou canst trust me." The voice of Jesus entering and dwelling in the soul cannot but call for the response: "Yes, Saviour, in Thee I can, I will abide."

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 9)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Abide In Christ # 7

And You Shall Find Rest to Your Souls (continued)

Come, my brother, and let us this very day commence to accept the word of Jesus in all simplicity. It is a distinct command this: "Take my yoke, and learn of me," "Abide in me." A command has to be obeyed. The obedient scholar asks no questions about possibilities or results; he accepts every order in the confidence that his teacher has provided for all that is needed. The power and the perseverance to abide in the rest, and the blessing in abiding - it belongs to the Saviour to see to this; 'tis mine to obey,' tis His to provide. Let us this day in immediate obedience accept the command, and answer boldly, "Saviour, I abide in Thee. At Thy bidding I take Thy yoke; I undertake the duty without delay; I abide in Thee." Let each consciousness of failure only give new urgency to the command, and teach us to listen more earnestly than ever till the Spirit again give us to hear the voice of Jesus saying, with a love and authority that inspire both hope and obedience, "Child, abide in me." That word, listened to as coming from Himself will be the end of all doubting - a divine promise of what shall surely be granted. And with ever-increasing simplicity its meaning will be interpreted. Abiding in Jesus is nothing but the giving up of oneself to be ruled and taught and led, and so resting in the arms of the Everlasting Love.

Blessed rest! the fruit and the foretaste and the fellowship of God's own rest! found of them who thus come to Jesus to abide in Him. It is the peace of God, the great calm of the eternal world, that passeth all understanding, and that keeps the heart and mind. With this grace secured, a blessing in every cross, and the joy of life eternal in death itself.

O my Saviour! if ever my heart should doubt or fear again, as if the blessing were too great to expect, or too high to attain, let me hear Thy voice to quicken my faith and obedience: "Abide in me"; "Take my yoke upon you,and learn from me; ye shall find rest to your souls."

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 8 - (Trusting Him to Keep You)

Monday, February 15, 2016

Abide In Christ # 6

And You Shall Find Rest to Your Souls (continued)

With such misunderstanding at the onset, it is no wonder that the disciple life was not one of such joy or strength as had been hoped. In some things you were led into sin without knowing it because you had not learned how wholly Jesus wanted to rule you, and how you could not keep right for a moment unless you had Him very near you. In other things you knew what sin was, ut had not the power to conquer, because you did not know or believe how entirely Jesus would take charge of you to keep and to help you. Either way, it was not long before the bright joy of your first love was lost, and your path, instead of being like the path of the just, shining more and more unto the perfect day, became like Israel's wandering in the desert - ever on the way, never vary far, and yet always coming short of the promised rest. Weary soul, since so many years driven to and fro like the panting hart, O come and learn this day the lesson that there is a spot where safety and victory, where peace and rest, are always sure, and that that spot is always open to thee - the heart of Jesus.

But alas! I hear someone say, it is just this abiding in Jesus, always bearing His yoke, to learn of Him, that is so difficult, and the very effort to attain to this often disturbs the rest even more than sin or the world. What a mistake to speak thus, and yet how often the words are heard! Does it weary the traveler to rest in the house or on the bed where he seeks repose from his fatigue? Or is it a labor to a little child to rest in its mother's arms? Is it not the house that keeps the traveler within its shelter? Do not the arms of the mother sustain and keep the little one? And so it is with Jesus. The soul has but to yield itself to Him, to be still and rest in the confidence that His love has undertaken, and that His faithfulness will perform, the work of keeping it safe in the shelter of His bosom. Oh, it is because the blessing is so great that our little hearts cannot rise to apprehend it; it is as if we cannot believe that Christ, the Almighty One, will in very deed teach and keep us all the day. And yet this is just what He has promised, for without this He cannot really give us rest. It is as our heart takes in this truth that, when He says, "Abide in me," "Learn of me," He really means it, and that it is His own work to keep us abiding to cast ourselves into the arms of His love, and abandon ourselves to His blessed keeping. It is not the yoke, but resistance to the yoke, that makes the difficulty; the whole-hearted surrender to Jesus, as at once our Master and our Keeper, finds and secures the rest.

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with with # 7)

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Abide In Christ # 5

And You Shall Find Rest for Your Souls (continued)

Do not these words of the Saviour discover what you have perhaps often sought in vain to know, how it is that the rest you at times enjoy is so often lost. It must have been this: you had not understood how entire surrender to Jesus is the secret of perfect rest. Giving up one's whole life to Him, for Him alone to rule and order it; taking up His yoke, and submitting to be led and taught, to learn from Him; abiding in Him, to be and do only what He wills - these are the conditions of discipleship without which there can be no thought of maintaining the rest that was bestowed on first coming to Christ. The rest is in Christ, and not something He gives apart from Himself, and so it is only in having Him that the rest can really be kept and enjoyed.

It is because so many a young believer fails to lay hold of this truth that the rest so speedily passes away. With some it is that they really did not know; they were never taught how Jesus claims the undivided allegiance of the whole heart and life; how there is not a spot in the whole of life over which He does not wish to reign; how in the very least things His disciples must only seek to please Him. They did not know how entire the consecration was that Jesus claimed. With others, who had some idea of what a very holy life a Christian ought to lead, the mistake was a different one: they could not believe such a life to be a possible attainment. Taking, and bearing, and never for a moment laying aside the yoke of Jesus, appeared to them to require such a strain of effort, and such an amount of goodness, as to be altogether beyond their reach. The very idea of always, all the day, abiding in Jesus, was too high - something they might attain to after a life of holiness and growth, but certainly not what a feeble beginner was to start with. They did not know how, when Jesus said, "My yoke is is easy." He spoke the truth, how just the yoke gives the rest, because the moment the soul yields itself to obey, the Lord Himself gives the strength and joy to do it. They did not notice how, when He said, "Learn of me," He added, "I am meek and lowly in heart," to assure them that His gentleness would meed their every need, and bear them as a mother bears her feeble child. Oh, they did not know that when He said, "Abide in me," He only asked the surrender to Himself, His almighty love would hold them fast, and keep and bless them. And so, as some had erred from the want of full consecration, so these failed because they didn't fully trust. These two consecrations and faith, are the essential elements of the Christian life - the giving up all to Jesus, the receiving all from Jesus. They are implied in each other; they are united in the one word - "surrender". A full surrender is to obey as well as to trust, to trust as well as to obey.

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 6)

Friday, February 12, 2016

Abide In Christ # 4

All You Who Have Come to Him (continued)

And it may please Thee, blessed Saviour, indeed, to speak to us; let each of us hear Thy blessed voice. May the feeling of our deep need, and the faith of Thy wondrous love,combined with the sight of the wonderfully blessed life Thou art waiting to bestow upon us, constrain us to listen and to obey, as often as Thou speakest: "Abide in me." Let day by day the answer from our hearts be clearer and fuller: "Blessed Saviour, I do abide in Thee."

And You Shall Find Rest to Your Souls

"Come unto me, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; and ye shall find rest to your souls" (Matthew  xl: 28, 29)

Rest for the soul: Such was the first promise with which the Saviour sought to win the heavy-laden sinner. Simple though it appears, the promise is indeed as large and comprehensive as can be found. Rest for the soul- does it not imply deliverance from every fear, the supply of every want, the fulfillment of every desire? And now nothing less than this is the prize with which the Saviour woos back the wandering one - who is mourning that the rest has not been so abiding or so full as it had hoped - to come back and abide in Him. Nothing but this was the reason that the rest has either not been found, or , if found, has been disturbed or lost again: you did not abide with, you did not abide in Him.

Have you ever noticed how, in the original invitation of the Saviour to come to Him, the promise of rest was repeated twice, with such a variation in the conditions as might have suggested that abiding rest could only be found in abiding nearness. First the Saviour says, "Come unto me, and I will give you rest"; the very moment you come, and believe, I will give you rest - the rest pardon and acceptance - the rest in my love. But we know that all that God bestows needs time to become fully our own; it must be held fast, and appropriated, and assimilated into our inmost being; without this not even Christ's giving can make it  it our very own, in full experience and enjoyment. And so the Saviour repeats His promise, in words which clearly speak not so much His promise, in words, which clearly speak not so much of the initial rest with which He welcomes the weary one who comes, but of the deeper and personally appropriate rest of the soul that abides with Him. He now not only says, a"Come unto me," but "Take my yoke upon yourselves to my training, submit in all things to my will let your whole life be one with mine - in other words, Abide in me. And then He adds, not only, "I will give," but "ye shall find find rest to your souls. "The rest He found and made your very own - the deeper the abiding rest which comes from longer acquaintance and closer fellowship, from entire surrender and deeper symphony. "Take my yoke, and learn from me," "Abide in me" - this is the path to abiding rest.

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 5)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Abide In Christ # 3

Matthew 10:28; John 15:4

And yet I fear that there are many who have indeed come to Jesus, and who yet have mournfully to confess that they know but little of this blessed abiding in Him. With some the reason is, that they never fully understood that this was the meaning of the Saviour's call. With others, that though they heard the word, they did not know that such a life of abiding fellowship was possible, and seek after it, they have never yet succeeded in discovering the secret of its attainment. And others, again, alas! will confess that it is their own unfaithfulness that has kept them from the enjoyment of the blessing. When the Saviour would have kept them, they were not found ready to stay; they were not prepared to give up everything, and always, only, wholly to abide in Jesus.

To all such I come now in the name of Jesus, their Redeemer and mine, with the blessed message: "Abide in me." In His name I invite them to come, and for a season meditate with me daily on its meaning, its lessons, its claims, and its promises. I know how many, and, to the young believer, how difficult, the questions are which suggest themselves in connection with it. There is especially the question, with its various aspects, as to the possibility, in the midst of wearying work and continual distraction, of keeping up, or rather being kept in, the abiding communion. I do not undertake to remove all difficulties; this Jesus Christ Himself alone must do by His Holy Spirit. But what I would fain by the grace of God be permitted to do is, to repeat day by day the Master's blessed command, "Abide in me," until it enters the heart an find a place there, no more to be forgotten or neglected. I would fain that in the light of Holy Scripture we should meditate on its meaning, until the understanding, that gate to the heart, opens to apprehend something of what it offers and expects. So we shall discover the means of its attainments, and learn to know what keeps us from it, and what can help us to it. So we shall feel its claims, and be compelled to acknowledge that there can be no true allegiance to our King without simply and heartily accepting this one, too, of His commands. So we shall gaze on its blessedness, until desire be inflamed, and the will with all its energies be roused to claim and possess the unspeakable blessing.

Come, my brethren, and let us day by day set ourselves at His feet, and meditate on this word of Hi., with an eye fixed on Him alone. Let us set ourselves in quiet trust before Him, waiting to hear His holy voice - the still small voice that is mightier than the storm that rends the rocks - breathing its quickening spirit within us, as He speaks: "Abide in Me". The soul that truly hears Jesus Himself speak the word, receives with the word the power to accept and to hold the blessing He offers.

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 4)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Abide In Christ # 2

Matthew 11:28; John 15:4)

And observe especially, it was not that He said, "Come to me and abide with me," but, "Abide in me." The intercourse was not only to be unbroken but must intimate and complete. He opened His arms, to press you to His bosom; He opened His heart, to welcome you there.: He opened up all His divine fullness of life and love, and offered to take you up into its fellowship, to make you wholly with Himself. There was a depth of meaning you cannot yet realize in His words: "Abide in me."

And with no less earnestness than He had cried, "Come to me," did He plead, had you but noticed it, "Abide in me." By every motive that had induced you to come, did He beseech you to abide. Was it the fear of sin and its curse that first drew you? the pardon you received on first coming could with all the blessings flowing from it, only be confirmed and fully enjoyed on abiding in Him. Was it the longing to know and enjoy the Infinite Love that was calling you? the first coming gave but single drops to taste - 'tis only the abiding that can really satisfy the thirsty soul, and give to drink of the rivers of pleasure that are at His right hand. Was it the weary longing to be made free from the bondage of sin, to become pure and holy, and so to find rest, the rest of God for the soul? this too can only be realized as you abide in Him - only abiding in Jesus gives rest in Him. Or if it was the hope of an inheritance in glory, and an everlasting home in the presence of the Infinite One: the true preparation for this, as well as its blessed foretaste in this life, are granted only to those who abide in Him. In very truth, there is nothing that moved you to come, that does not plead with thousandfold greater force: "Abide in Him." You did well to come; you do better to abide. Who would, after seeking the King's palace be content to stand in the door, when he is invited in to dwell in the King's presence, and share with Him in all the glory of His royal life? Oh, let us enter in and abide, and enjoy to the full all the rich supply His wondrous love hath prepared for us!

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 3)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

All You Who Have Come to Him # 1

"Come unto me" (Matthew 11:28)

"Abide in me" (John 15:4)

It is to you who have heard and hearkened to the call. "Come unto me," that this new invitation comes. "Abide in me." The message comes from the same loving Saviour. You doubtless have never repented having come at His call. You experienced that His Word was truth; all His promises He fulfilled; He made you partakers of the blessings and the joy of His love. Was not His welcome most hearty, His pardon full and free, His love most sweet and precious? You more than once, at your first coming to Him, had reason to say, "The half was not told me."

And yet you have had to complain of disappointment: as time went on, your expectations were not realized. The blessings you once enjoyed were lost; the love and joy of your first meeting with your Saviour, instead of deepening, have become faint and feeble. And often you have wondered what the reason could be, that with such a Saviour, so mighty and so loving, your experience of salvation should not have been a fuller one.

The answer is very simple. You wandered from Him. The blessings He bestows us all connected with His "Come to Me,' and are only to be enjoyed in close fellowship with Himself. You either did not fully understand, or did not rightly remember, that the call meant, "Come to me to stay with me." And yet this was in very deed His object and purpose when first He called you to Himself. It was not to refresh you for a few short hours after your conversion with the joy of His love and hours after your conversion with the joy of His love and deliverance, and then to send you forth to wander in sadness and sin. He had destined you to something better than a short-lived blessedness, to be enjoyed only in times of special earnestness and prayer, and then to pass away, as you had to return to those duties in which far the greater part of life has to be spent. No indeed, He had prepared for you an abiding dwelling with Himself, where your whole life and every moment of it might be spent, where the work of your daily life might be done, and where all the while you might be enjoying unbroken communion with Himself. It was even this He meant when to that first word, "Come to me," He added this, "Abide in me." As earnest and faithful, as loving and tender, as the compassion that breathed in that blessed "Come", was the grace that added this no less blessed "Abide." As mighty as the attraction with which that first word drew you, were the bonds with which this second, had you but listened to it, would have kept you. As as great as were the blessings with which that coming were rewarded, so large, yea, and much greater, were the treasures to which that abiding would have given you access.

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 2)

Monday, February 8, 2016

Abide In Christ

John 15:1-12

1. I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

2. Every branch  in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

3. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

4. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

5. I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

6. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

7. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

8. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

9. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.

10. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.

11. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

12. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

All You Who Have Come to Him

Matthew 11:28; John 15:4

It is to you who have heard and hearkened to the call, "Come unto me," that this new invitation comes, "Abide in Me." The message comes from the same loving Saviour. You doubtless have never repented having come at His call. You experienced that His word was truth; all His promises He fulfilled; He made you partakers of the blessings and the joy of His love. Was not His welcome most hearty, His pardon full and free, His love most sweet and precious? You more than once, at your first coming to Him, had reason to say, "The half was not told me."

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 2)

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom # 64

The Crowning (continued)

The Crown of Glory

"When the Chief Shepherd shall be manifested, ye shall receive
 the crown of glory." What is the crown of glory? Well, it is simply the nature of righteousness and life maintaining itself; for righteousness is glory hidden, glory is righteousness manifested. Glory? It may be that somehow or other it will be perceivable glory in the sense of some radiance about us personally. Sometimes you can almost see that in people - those in whom there is such an utterness of devotion to the Lord and such a complete selflessness of life. In such people you sometimes see something of a radiance about them, even physically. At any rate, looking at it the other way round, it is true to say that in people who are always occupied with themselves, and taken up with their own troubles and the difficulties of their way, you do not see very much that is other than a dark shadow, even over their faces. They bring nothing of light and brightness and glory with them. Well, it may be that actual, literal glory will break out through these glorified bodies at last; but I believe the source of it and the seat of it is spiritual.  It is that life of the Lord manifesting itself in fullness. It is that nature of the Lord - righteousness - breaking out and showing exactly what it is. It is the out-breaking of the triumph over sin and death that is glory.

It is very significant to notice the setting of Peter's words. He has just been talking to the under-shepherds, and telling them to feed the flock - not for filthy lucre, not for praise, not that they should get something for themselves, and not because they are under an obligation to do it; but to do it selflessly, disinterestedly, abandoned to the Lord's interests, denying themselves. It may be costly to do this work for the Lord, but if you do it like that, with no other motive or object than the satisfaction of the Lord, "when the Chief Shepherd shall be manifested, ye shall receive the crown of glory." Well, it is, in the end, the result of this self-life having been completely set aside and of the Lord alone filling our vision and governing our hearts and being our motive.

Righteousness - God having His place, and because of that there is release, there is life, there is victory, and when God has His place and the life of God is regnant in us, then there is glory at the end. These three crowns, these three seals, these three marks that we have triumphed, that the Lord has got what He set His heart upon - with these He attests in the end those who have been with Him in the battle. The battleground, righteousness; the object of the battle, life; the outcome of the battle, glory.

May the Lord find us all in the running for the three crowns; but it is a battle, a deadly battle, and an inward battle. I sometimes think it would be  so much easier if we were only in an outward battle; if only we could strike out against something objective. When the thing to be overcome is inside, when it is myself that must be slain, it is not so easy. May we be faithful unto death.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(The End)

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom # 63

The Crowning (continued)

The Crown of Life

The crown of life. Of course, this is also in the setting of difficulty, suffering and adversity. "The man that endureth temptation" But life is not the battleground; life is the object at stake. From the beginning it has been that - the battle for life. satan at the beginning schemed and worked in order that he should capture the race for himself and defeat God's ends in the race. Wherever  he has succeeded, he has done so in this way - that he has hindered men from having Divine life; because Divine life is not only continuity of life, it is a nature, a kind of life. It is the issue over which all the battle is raging. Life is the mark of victory now as well as afterward. Whenever we triumph on this battleground of God having His place, His rights, there is a new release of life. Whenever in some controversy with the Lord as to His place, as to His will, there is victory gained and He is given what is His right, we know life rises up at once. Until that is settled, there is arrest. When we get to the Lord and face the matter out and get through about it with Him, then the hold-up goes and life springs up again and we are released. It is just that thing which is the object of all the activities of the enemy - to try to quench that life. Life is the issue.

Now, says the Word here, you are in the battle for life. satan is out to quench you, to destroy you. As the Lord's child, the issue is with you. Just how much you will lay hold on the Lord's life, how much you will stand upon that Divine ground, how much in faith you will resist that working of death, in that degree you will know life. Oh, how that works out in so many ways, in so many details! Almost any day in our lives that issue arises - whether we are going to let death have its way. You know what I mean by death. I am not talking about being put in your coffin, but about spiritual death - those stifling, numbing, darkening forces that come upon your body, mind and spirit, and wrap you around. You get up in the morning wondering what is the matter with you. For no apparent reason you feel depressed, "dead". What are you going to do about it." Are you going to give in and say, "Well, I am not feeling too good. I think I will give up for a bit." Are you going to yield to it? Well, if you do, you will not be able to get yourself free again until there is a real fight put up in prayer. You will find that there is something more than just a passing bad feeling, it is the battle for life that you are in. We are all in that, and from those simple, personal forms the battle is intensifying and enlarging just now, and it is becoming the battle of the Church - that is the point - in an inward way. Is the Church really going to rise up and overcome this  terrible wave of death that is spreading over the earth? It is a matter that is left with us; but that is the issue. Why do we not more quickly recognize what the issue is? We look at the secondary causes, we think at once that the explanation is this or that, but the real trouble has come from somewhere else, from behind; and that sort of thing is increasing. We are in the battle for life; it is the great issue fro the beginning to the end.

Now then, in the presence of it, what are we going to do? "Blessed is the man that endureth trial; for when he hath been approved, he shall receive the crown of life." How are we going to be approved? You have never seen a scholar approved who threw aside his test paper and said, 'I can never do anything with that! No use trying!' or who got so far, and said, 'I cannot do any more, I give it up!' "Be thou faithful unto death"; go right through to the end with this thing. That is what the Apostle is saying. Is it a battle? Well, do not give in. Is it a course? Do not drop out. Is it a trust? Do not surrender it. Go through with it, and you shall receive a crown of life.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 64 - (The Crown of Glory)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Cross, the Church, and the Kingdom # 62

The Crowning (continued)

The Crown of Righteousness (continued)

And that fight was very often an inward one with Paul as well as an outward one. He could speak of fighting with wild beasts at Ephesus; he knew about the objective aspect of that fight. But oh, how much he tells about his own fight, about what is going on inside! And it was for Paul no easy thing to maintain that position of utter self-denial, self-refusal, and maintain a course with and for God. "That," he would say in effect, "is the way in which answer is given to this challenge to God's place in this universe. It is centered, it is fought out, on this battlefield of righteousness, and that is a personal and inward matter." And he is so personal. You remember these words written to the Philippians - "That I may ... be found in Him, not having a righteousness of mine own ... but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith: that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings" (3:8-10). He is thinking of the battle on this matter of righteousness, which in the end is the dethroning of the enemy.

So far as we are concerned, the first aspect of this thing comes right home to us as a challenge; how far are we going to let go our personal interests - all that is personal in our lives here in this world - that God should have His place? That is very simple in words, but a tremendous thing in experience; it is a real battle. It comes to this; is the Lord, at all costs, really going to have His place? Paul said, "...for Whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse ..." and that is how it must be. In so far as we have any selfward direction, any personal interests to serve, and are not utterly abandoned to the Lord's having His way, to that extent the kingdom of satan is upheld, is intact. It has always been by means of the people who had no interest in life or in death but that the Lord should have His place and His end, that the kingdom of satan has been broken into and overthrown. And that is righteousness; there is the battleground. That is the thing which draws us out and is the test of our real interest in life.

The Apostle says there is a crown of righteousness at the end of that course. He is not saying that it is the crown called righteousness. It is the battle of righteousness fought through, the course of righteousness completed, the deposit of righteousness preserved intact, and God crowns that at the end; He gives the seal and the mark of approval, the crown of righteousness.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 63 - (The Crown of Life)