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Friday, September 30, 2016

Except Ye Repent # 2

Except Ye Repent # 2

First then, repentance is not to be confounded with penitence, though penitence will invariably enter into it. But penitence is simply sorrow for sin. No amount of penitence can fit a man for salvation. On the other hand, the impenitent will never come to God seeking His grace. But godly sorrow, we are told, worketh repentance not to be repented of. There is sorrow for sin that has no element of piety in it - "the sorrow of the world worketh death." In Peter's penitence we see the former; in the remorse of Judas, the latter. Nowhere is man exhorted to feel a certain amount of sorrow for his sins in order to come to Christ. When the Spirit of God applies the truth, penitence is the immediate result and this leads on to repentance, but should not be confounded with it. This is a divine work in the soul.

Second, penance is not repentance. Penance is the effort in some way to atone for wrong done. This, man can never do. Nor does God in His Word lay it down as a condition of salvation that one first seek to make up to either God or his fellows for evil committed. Here the Roman Catholic translation of the Bible perpetrates a glaring deception upon those who accept it as almost an inspired version because bearing the imprimatur of the great Catholic dignitaries. Wherever the Authorized Version has "repent", the Douay-Rheims translation reads, "Do penance." There is no excuse for such a paraphrase. It is not a translation. It is the substituting of a Romish dogma for the plain command of God. John the Baptist did not cry, 'Do penance, for the kingdom of God is at hand.' Our Lord Jesus did not say, 'Do penance and believe the gospel,' and, 'Except ye do penance ye shall all likewise perish.' The Apostle Peter did not tell the anxious multitude at Pentecost to 'Do penance and be converted.' Paul did not announce to the men at Athens that 'God commandeth all men everywhere to do penance' in view of a coming judgment day. No respectable Greek scholar would ever think of so translating the original in these and many other instances.

On the contrary, the call was to repent; and between repenting and doing penance there is a vast difference. But even so, we would not forget that he who truly repents will surely seek to make right any wrong he has done to his fellows, though he knows that he never can make up for the wrong done to God. But this is where Christ's expiatory work comes in. As the great Trespass Offerings He could say, "Then I restored that which I took not away" (Psalm 69). Think not to add penance to this - as though His work were incomplete and something else were needed to satisfy God's infinite justice.

In the third place, let us remember that reformation is not repentance, however closely allied to, or springing out of it. To turn over a new leaf, to attempt to supplant bad habits with good ones, to try to live well instead of evilly, may not be the outcome of repentance at all and should never be confounded with it. Reformation is merely an outward change. Repentance is a work of God in the soul.

Recently it was the writer's privilege to broadcast a Gospel message from a large Cleveland station. While I was waiting in the studio for the time appointed an advertiser's voice was heard through the loud speaker announcing: "If you need anything in watch repairing go to" such a firm. One of the employees looked up and exclaimed, "I need no watch repairing; what I need is a watch." It furnished me with an excellent text. What the unsaved man needs is not a repairing of his life. He needs a new life altogether, which comes only through a second birth. Reformation is like watch repairing. Repentance is like the recognition of the lack of a watch.

Need I add that repentance then is not to be considered synonymous with joining a church or taking up one's religious duties, as people say. It is NOT DOING anything.

What then is repentance? So far as possible I desire to avoid the use of all abstruse or pedantic terms, for I am writing not simply for scholars, but for those Lincoln had in mind when he said, "God must have thought a lot of the common people, to avoid citing Greek or Hebrew words. But here it seems almost necessary to say that it is the Greek word "metanoia", which is translated "repentance" in our English Bibles, and literally means a change of mind. This is not simply the acceptance of new ideas in place of old notions. But it actually implies a complete reversal of one's inward attitude.

How luminously clear this makes the whole question before us! To repent is to change one's attitude toward self, toward sin, toward God, toward Christ. And this is what God commands. John came preaching to publicans and sinners, hopelessly vile and depraved, "Change your attitude, for the kingdom is at hand." To haughty scribes and legalistic Pharisees came the same command. "Change your attitude," and thus they would be ready to receive Him who came in grace to save. To sinners everywhere the Saviour cried, "Except ye change your attitude, ye shall all likewise perish."

And everywhere the apostles went they called upon men thus to face their sins - to face the question of their helplessness, yet their responsibility to God - to face Christ as the One, all-sufficient Saviour, and thus by trusting Him to obtain remission of sins and justification from all things.

So to face these tremendous facts is to change one's mind completely, so that the pleasure lover sees and confesses the folly of his empty life; the self-indulgent learns to hate the passions that express the corruption of his nature; the self-righteous sees himself a condemned sinner in the eyes of a holy God; the man who has been hiding from God seeks to find a hiding place in Him; the Christ-rejecter realizes and owns his need of a Redeemer, and so believes unto life and salvation.

Which comes first, repentance or faith? In Scripture we read, "Repent ye, and believe the gospel." Yet we find true believers exhorted to "repent, and do the first works." So intimately are the two related that you cannot have one without the other. The man who believes God repents; the repentant soul puts his trust in the Lord when the Gospel is revealed to him. Theologians may wrangle over this, but the fact is, no man repents until the Holy Spirit produces repentance in his soul through the truth. No man believes the Gospel and rests in it for his own salvation until he has judged himself as a needy sinner before God. And this is repentance.

Perhaps it will help us if we see that it is one thing to believe God as to my sinfulness and need of a Saviour, and it is another thing to trust that Saviour for my own salvation.

Apart from the first aspect of faith, there can be no true repentance. "He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him." And apart from such repentance there can be no saving faith. yet the deeper my realization of the grace of God manifested toward me in Christ, the more intense will my repentance become.

It was when Mephibosheth realized the kindness of God as shown by David that he cried out, "What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?" (2 Samuel 9:8). And it is the soul's apprehension of grace which leads to ever lower thoughts of self and higher thoughts of Christ; and so the work of repentance is deepened daily in the believer's heart.

"Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream,
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.
This He gives you,
'Tis the Spirit's rising beam."

The very first evidence of awakening grace is dissatisfaction with one's self and self-effort and a longing for deliverance from chains of sin that have bound the soul. To own frankly that I am lost and guilty is the prelude to life and peace. It is not a question of a certain depth of grief and sorrow, but simply the recognition and acknowledgment of need that lead one to turn to Christ for refuge. None can perish who put their trust in Him. His grace superabounds above all our sin, and His expiatory work on the Cross is so infinitely precious to God that it fully meets all our uncleanness and guilt.

~Harry Ironside~

(continued with # 3 - Chapter 2)

Monday, September 26, 2016

Except Ye Repent # 1

[I have been looking for a long time for the writings of Harry Ironside. This morning, the Lord directed me to a site that had a wonderful treasure written by this beloved and great, classic Christian. It will be a lengthy article but well worth the effort! I will do it in installments. So, here goes ...]

Except Ye Repent

Introduction

Fully convinced in my own mind that the doctrine of repentance is the missing note in many otherwise orthodox and fundamentally sound circles today, I have penned this volume out of a full heart. I hope and pray that God will be pleased to use it to awaken many of His servants to the importance of seeking so to present His truth as to being men to the only place where He can meet them in blessing. That place is the recognition of their own demerit and absolute unworthiness of His least mercies and a new conception of His saving power for all who come to Christ as lost sinners, resting alone upon His redemptive work for salvation, and depending upon the indwelling Holy Spirit to make them victorious over sin's power in daily life.

The pages have been written during a busy sumer, as I have gone from place to place trying to preach and teach the very truths herein emphasized. Most of the book was scribbled out in Pullman cars while speeding from one appointment to another. If there seems at times to be lack of continuity of thought, I hope the manifest defects of the treatise may not hinder the reader from getting the message I have endeavored to set forth as clearly as possible, under difficult circumstances.

I have not written for literary critics or for theological quibblers, but for earnest people who desire to know the will of God and to do it. And so I send forth this message, in dependence on Him who has said, "Cast thy bread upon the waters: and thou shalt find it after many days." If He be pleased to use it to arouse some at least to a deeper sense of the importance of reality in dealing with souls, I shall be grateful.

Harry A. Ironside

Chapter 1 - Repentance: Its Nature and Importance

More and more it becomes evident that ours is, as Carlyle expressed it, an "age of sham." Unreality and specious pretence abound in all departments of life. In the domestic, commercial, social, and ecclesiastical spheres hyposcrisy is not only openly condoned, but recognized as almost a necessity for advancement and success in attaining recognition among one's fellows.

Nor is this true only where heterodox religious views are held. Orthodoxy has its shallow dogmatists who are ready to battle savagely for sound doctrine, but who manage to ignore sound living with little or no apparent compunction of conscience.

God desires truth in the inward parts. The blessed man is still the one "in whose spirit there is no guile." It is forever true that "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." It can never be out of place to proclaim salvation by free, unmerited favor to all who put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. But it needs ever to be insisted on that the faith that justifies is not a mere intellectual process - not simply crediting certain historical facts or doctrinal statements; but it is a faith that springs from a divinely wrought conviction of sin which produces a repentance that is sincere and genuine.

Our Lord's solemn words, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish," are as important today as when first uttered. No dispensational distinctions, important as these are in understanding and interpreting God's ways with man, can alter this truth.

No one was ever saved in any dispensation excepting by grace. Neither sacrificial observances, nor ritual service, nor works of law ever had any part in justifying the ungodly. Nor where any sinners ever saved by grace until they repented. Repentance is not opposed to grace; it is the recognition of the need of grace. "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick." "I came not," said our blessed Lord, "to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."

One great trouble in this shallow age is that we have lost the meaning of words. We bandy them about until one can seldom be certain just how terms are being used. Two ministers were passing an open grocery and dairy store where, in three large baskets, eggs were displayed. On one basket was a sign reading "Fresh eggs, 24 cents a dozen." The second sign read, "Strictly fresh eggs, 29 cents a dozen." While a third sign read, "Guaranteed strictly fresh eggs, 34 cents a dozen." One of the pastors exclaimed in amazement, "What does that grocer understand "fresh" to mean?" It is thus with many Scriptural terms that to our forefathers had an unvarying meaning, but like debased coins have today lost their values.

Grace is God's unverited favor to those who have merited the very opposite. Repentance is the sinner's recognition of and acknowledgment of his lost estate and, thus, of his need of grace. Yet there are not wanting professed preachers of grace who, like the antinomians of old, decry the necessity of repentance lest it seem to invalidate the freedom of grace. As well might one object to a man's acknowledgment of illness when seeking help and healing from a physician, on the ground that all he needed was a doctor's prescription.

Shallow preaching that does not grapple with the terrible fact of man's sinfulness and guilt, calling on "all men everywhere to repent," results in shallow conversions; and so we have a myriad of glib-tongued professors today who give no evidence of regeneration whatever. Prating of salvation by grace, they manifest no grace in their lives. Loudly declaring they are justified by faith alone, they fail to remember that "faith without works is dead"; and that justification by works before men is not to be ignored as though it were in contradition to justification by faith before God. We need to reread James 3 and let its serious message sink deep into our hearts, that it may control our lives. "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." No man can truly believe in Christ, who does not first repent. Nor will his repentance end when he has saving faith, but the more he knows God as he goes on through the years, the deeper will that repentance become. A servant of Christ said: "I repented before I knew the meaning of the word. I have repented far more since than I did then."

Undoubtedly one great reason why some earnest Gospel preachers are almost afraid of, and generally ignore, the terms "repent" and "repentance" in their evangelizing is that they fear lest their hearers misunderstand these terms and think of them as implying something meritorious on the part of the sinner. But nothing could be wider of the mark. There is no saving merit in owning my true condition. There is no healing in acknowledging the nature of my illness. And repentance, as we have seen, is just this very thing.

But in order to clarify the subject, it may be well to observe carefully what repentance is NOT and then to notice briefly what it is.

~Harry Ironside~

(continued with # 2)

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Old Cross and the New

The Old Cross and the New

ALL UNANNOUNCED AND MOSTLY UNDETECTED there has come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles. It is like the old Cross, but different: the likenesses are superficial; the differences, fundamental.

From this new cross a new philosophy of the Christian life, and from that new philosophy has come a new evangelism technique - a new type of meeting and a new kind of preaching. This new evangelism employs the same language as the old, but its content is not the same and its emphasis not as before.

The old Cross would have no dealings with the world. For Adam's proud flesh it meant the end of the journey. It carried into effect the sentence imposed by the law of Sinai. The new cross is not opposed to the human race; rather, it is a friendly pal and, if understood aright, it is the source of oceans of good clean fun and innocent enjoyment. It lets Adam live without interference. His life motivation is unchanged; he still lives for his own pleasure, only now he takes delight in singing choruses and watching religious movies instead of singing bawdy songs and drinking hard liquor. The accent is still on enjoyment, though the fun is now on a higher plane morally if not intellectually.

The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic approach. The evangelist does not demand abnegation of the old life before a new life can be received. He preaches not contrasts but similarities. He seeks to key into public interest by showing that Christianity makes no unpleasant demands; rather, it offers the same thing the world does, only on a higher level. Whatever the sin-mad world happens to be clamoring after at the moment is cleverly shown to be the very thing the gospel offers, only the religious product is better.

The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears him into a cleaner and jollier way of living and saves his self-respect. To the self-assertive it says, "Come and assert yourself for Christ." To the egotist it says, "Come and do your boasting in the Lord." To the thrillseeker it says, "Come and enjoy the thrill of Christian fellowship." The Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current vogue in order to make it acceptable to the public.

The philosophy back of this kind of thing may be sincere but its sincerity does not save it from being false! It is false because it is blind. It misses completely the whole meaning of the Cross.

The old Cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and starteddown the road had already said good-by to his friends, He was not coming back. He was going out to have it ended. The Cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more.

The race of Adam is underdeath sentence. There is no commutation and no escape. God cannot approve any of the fruits of sin, however innocent they may appear or beautiful to the eyes of men. God salvages the individual by liquidating him and then raising him again to newness of life.

That evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the ways of God and the ways of men is false to the Bible and cruel to the souls of its hearers. The faith of Christ does not parallel the world, it intersects it. In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it at the Cross. The corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die.

We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves  as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum.


God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death. It stands always on the far side of the Cross. Whoever would possess it must pass under the rod. He must repudiate himself and concur in God's just sentence against him.

What does this mean to the individual, the condemned man who would find life in Christ Jesus? How can this theology be translated into life? Simply, he must repent and believe. He must forsake his sins and then go on to forsake himself. Let him cover nothing, defend nothing, excuse nothing. Let him not seek to make terms with God, but let him bow his head before the stroke of God's stern displeasure and acknowledge himself worthy to die.

Having done this let him gaze with simple trust upon the risen Saviour, and from Him will come life and rebirth and cleansing and power.The Cross that ended the earthly life of Jesus now puts an end to the sinner, and the power that raised Christ from the dead now raises him to a new life along with Christ.

To any who may object to this or count it merely a narrow and private view of truth, let me say God has set His hallmark of approval upon this message from Paul's day to the present. Whether stated in these exact words or not, this has been the content of all preaching that has brought life and power to the world through the centuries. The mystics, the reformers, the revivalists have put their emphasis here, and signs and wonders and mighty operations of the Holy Spirit gave witness to God's approval.

Dare we, the heirs of such a legacy of power, tamper with the truth? Dare we with our stubby pencils erase the lines of the blueprint or alter the pattern shown us in the Mount? May God forbid! Let us preach the old Cross and we will know the old power.

~A. W. Tozer~
An Essay on "The Waning Authority of Christ in the Churches"


Friday, September 16, 2016

Sacrifice? (and other devotionals)

Sacrifice?

Matthew 16:21-25 shows us another time in our lives when we can expect the devil to strike, or the third battle we must fight,
From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!" But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men." Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it."
The cross is a place of sacrifice. It is a place where you die. In this passage Jesus is talking about the sacrifice that He is going to give, laying down His life for our sins. 
Peter is being manipulated by the devil to challenge Jesus. The devil is speaking through Peter, telling Christ to back off a bit, that He doesn't need to sacrifice, that He doesn't need to give that much, or to lay His life down.
Friend, when God is leading you to sacrifice for the sake of His kingdom, count on the devil to be right there doing all He can to stop you.  He will make you believe you should let your temperature cool down a little bit, that you shouldn't be so on fire for God. That you shouldn't be that sold out! 
Do not listen. Instead, heed God's call to sacrifice. You will not regret it!

~Bayless Conley~
______________________________

If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
Now the works of the flesh are manifest which are these; adultery, fornication and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity.
      
ROM. 8:13.  Gal. 5:19,21 25. Tit. 2:11 14.

EVENING
Then said the princes of the Phillstines, What do these Hebrews here?
If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye: for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, ... or as a busybody in other men's matters.
Let not ... your good be evil spoken of. -- Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles.
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? Ye are the temple of the living God. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing.
Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people: that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.
I SAM. 29:3.  I Pet. 4:14,15. Rom. 14:16.  I Pet. 2:12. II Cor. 6:14,16,17. I Pet. 2:9.

~Samuel Bagster~
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Absolute Assurance 

"He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee"  (Hebrews 13:5).
Several times in the Scriptures the LORD hath said this. He has often repeated it to make our assurance doubly sure. Let us never harbor a doubt about it. In itself the promise is specially emphatic. In the Greek it has five negatives, each one definitely shutting out the possibility of the LORD's ever leaving one of His people so that he can justly feel forsaken of his God. This priceless Scripture does not promise us exemption from trouble, but it does secure us against desertion. We may be called to traverse strange ways, but we shall always have our LORD's company, assistance, and provision. We need not covet money, for we shall always have our God, and God is better than gold; His favor is better than fortune. We ought surely to be content with such things as we have, for he who has God has more than all the world besides. What can we have beyond the Infinite? What more can we desire than almighty Goodness. Come, my heart; if God says He will never leave thee nor forsake thee, be thou much in prayer for grace that thou mayest never leave thy LORD, nor even for a moment forsake His ways. 

~Charles Spurgeon~
____________________________


How to Experience Christ's Peace


"My peace I give to you” (John 14:27). Jesus spoke these amazing words just hours before His crucifixion. His peace isn’t dependent upon external circumstances, but rather, it transcends them. Although He gives His peace to every believer as a gift, our experience of it is related to our faith in the following truths:
  • God is in control of everything. Without this assurance, the world is a scary place.
  • He loves me and will see me through every circumstance, no matter how difficult or painful it may be.
  • To have Christ’s peace, I must surrender my life to Him. When I hold onto my ways and plans, I’ll experience turmoil.
  • I have a limited perspective and understanding of my circumstances and God’s purposes for allowing them. His goals for me are greater than my immediate comfort.
  • The Lord promises to work all things out for my good. He is continually working to transform my character into Christ’s image.
  • I must live in sync with God, walking in the Spirit and promptly confessing and repenting of sin.
  • Scripture is my foundation for peace. It increases my trust in the Lord’s goodness, assures me that He keeps His promises, and reminds me of His sovereignty over every situation.
Sadly, many Christians live their whole lives without consistently experiencing this incomprehensible peace. Perhaps faith and submission are the most challenging issues. But only as we surrender control of our lives to Christ and trust in His plans for us will we discover tranquil rest for our souls.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~
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The Rich Young Ruler: Give up Everything?

by Charles Stanley

Three of the four gospels contain an account of the young man who asked Jesus a very important question: "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" (Luke 18:18). A ruler with great wealth, he considered himself a moral man because he had kept God's commandments.
However, he was operating under the false assumption that good works bring salvation. He seemed to be asking Jesus what else he had to do to secure his place in heaven - besides all the good things he'd already accomplished.

This is what I refer to as the "great deception" - the false belief that eternal life can be earned through our own efforts. If we give credence to this lie, then we do not understand the problem of our sin and how it separates us from God. Scripture tells us that we have inherited a sinful nature from the first man (Romans 5:12). Ever since that time, humanity has been in rebellion against the Lord and under His judgment. There is nothing we can do to pay for our sin. If this were the end of the story, we would be a people without hope for today or the future. But the good news is that the heavenly Father recognized our plight and mercifully provided the way to heaven (John 14:6)
When God made us in His image, He created us to live forever. So, though our earthly body will perish, our spirit will never die. The question about eternal life is important, as we'll spend eternity either with God in heaven or in an insufferable state, separated permanently from Him (Matthew 25:34Matthew 25:41).
______________________________

"Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice" (Phil. 4:4).
"Sing a little song of trust,
O my heart!
Sing it just because you must,
As leaves start;
As flowers push their way through dust;
Sing, my heart, because you must.
"Wait not for an eager throng
Bird on bird;
'Tis the solitary song
That is heard.
Every voice at dawn will start,
Be a nightingale, my heart!
"Sing across the winter snow,
Pierce the cloud;
Sing when mists are drooping low
Clear and loud;
But sing sweetest in the dark;
He who slumbers not will hark."
"An' when He hears yo' sing, He bends down with a smile on His kin' face an' listens mighty keerful, an' He says, 'Sing on, children, I hears, an' I's comin' down to deliver yo': I'll tote that load fer yo'; jest lean hard on Me and the road will get smoother by and by."'

~L. B. Cowman~

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Lord's Attitude To His Children In Adversity

The Lord's Attitude To His Children In Adversity

"In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His presence saved them: in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bare them, and carried them all the days of old" (Isaiah 63:9).

The first clause of that verse is what will occupy us for a few minutes, and it will be as in the more correct translation that some of you will find in the margin of your Bibles. While there is some authority for the ordinary translation of the words here, the actual language of the original reads thus - "In all their adversity He was no adversary." You can choose between the translations which you like best, and you will not be in error if you prefer one to the other; but this alternative translation to the usual text conveys a message of its own which I think should be of very great help, encouragement and strength to us.

The Fact of Adversity

First of all, we note that adversity amongst the people of God is recognized and accepted - that is, it is taken for granted. It is unnecessary to say that, amongst the people of God, adversity is a fact. None of us requires to be told that. Here the word of God takes note of the fact that the Lord's people do know and suffer adversity, and their adversity is under His eye. That is only said lest anybody should think that adversity signifies that things have gone wrong. Perhaps at times we do feel that because of severe and continuous adversity there must be something wrong. While there may be a realm in which the adversity is the result of some wrong-doing, the enemy having rightful ground, nevertheless that is not the thing that is referred to here. In the first instance, it was not adversity because of evil and wrong; it was the adversity which is the common experience of the Lord's people who are moving with Him; and when it is like that, as we shall see in a moment, there is nothing wrong about it at all. So much by the way for the "fact" of adversity.

The Nature of the Adversity

Then we come to the nature of the adversity referred to here. The word "adversity" is really the word "straightness" - "In all their straightness He was no adversary" - and that thought of straightness is capable of manifold application. What was the straightness referred to? Well, Israel is here seen as in the wilderness. You notice that all the phrases which follow take you back to Israel's life in the wilderness, and it was the life in the wilderness with its many forms of straightness to which the word referred.

First of all, they were shut up with regard to many things which the world had, and the world could do, which which constituted the whole life of the world and gave the world its pleasure and, so far as it went, its satisfaction. They were cut off from all that, and sometimes that form of straightness came home to them very hardly and severely. You know when they got into a very bad time how their hearts went back to Egypt and they thought and dwelt upon the onions and the garlic and all the rest of the things there. In Egypt we did have this and that and the other thing which we miss now, and it is hard to be cut off, as we are, from those things; there was a certain element of certainty in Egypt, but out here you never know where you are going to be one day from another, or what is going to happen to you - so far as actual evidence is concerned you do not know whether you are going to be fed tomorrow. It is all such a life of faith, and faith is a life of straightness so often, cut off from much and shut up to this wilderness where things are, to the natural mind, 'narrowed down' to God. (We know that is the wrong way of putting it - to the spiritual mind things are expanded to God; but who has got fully there, to the place where always earthly straightness is really heavenly enlargement?) Naturally, this is how it was with Israel - shut in, narrowed down, pent up, straitened so far as many things in this world were concerned. Because they were the Lord's people they could not do this nor have that. There was a whole realm of things cut off from them; naturally, in the soul, it was straightness.

Adversity No Proof That The Lord Is Our Adversary

When you and I begin to feel that - and there are days when the pure, unsullied joy of the Lord Himself and of heavenly things becomes  clouded and veiled and remote, and we seem to be far more sensitive to the straightness of our lives and how we are shut up - how quickly the enemy comes in and says, "The Lord is against you! This is not the goodness of the Lord, this is not the bountifulness and graciousness of the Lord, this kind of life really is not the life that the Lord promised you." In our hearts and minds he tries to turn the Lord to be our adversary because of the consciousness of the present situation of difficulty. He misrepresents the Lord; he gives to the Lord the color of our trial, of our difficulty, and says, "The Lord is like that, He is a hard master to serve; this Christian life is not all that it was represented to be; the Lord has deceived you, He has failed you; and so on." He twists the whole thing to malign the Lord.

What the word here is saying is quite definitely this - in all that straightness, that privation, that pent-up-ness the Lord was not against them; however it seemed, the Lord really was not against them. Then we must find some other explanation. The facts are very real, these conditions are very real, and if they do not mean that the Lord is against us, what is the explanation?

The Lord's Intention of Good

The only alternative, surely, is that the Lord is meaning this for good - that in His intention it is not ultimately for our limitation and deprivation but for our enlarging, for our enrichment. Evidently the Lord means other than the circumstances seem to say He means. In all this straightness He is not against you. "If God be for us ...?" (Romans 8:31). In the adversity, the straightness, the cutting off of many things, the saying "No" to a lot, the Lord is not against you, He is not out to rob you of any really good things, to take from you any real pleasure, He is not working contrary, to your interests, He is no adversary; but in all, He is for you while you are in the way of His will, going on with Him.

I said that that word "straightness" is capable of manifold application. I am not going to pursue in any detail those lines along which it could be applied. You know straightness. How often the enemy shuts the doors and then says the Lord has shut them because He is against you! How often the enemy brings you into suffering, puts upon you something, and then says, "It is the Lord!" How often the enemy tries to becloud your assurance and bring condemnation and accusation upon you, and to bring you under a sense of judgment, and then says, It is the Lord! Not a bit of it! That is not necessarily the explanation or interpretation at all. You notice that the first phase of this thing finds the people out and moving with the Lord, and as they did so, they came into this adversity of many kinds; and the declaration is that this did not mean that the Lord was against them. If we wanted to, we could gather up many Scriptures to show how the Lord was really for them in those very days of difficulty and adversity. I just give it to you as something to put your feet upon.

The Lord The Adversary of the Rebellious

The passage moves into another and darker stage. "They rebelled ... therefore He was turned to be their enemy" - their adversary (Isaiah 63:10). But even when we state that dark aspect of the thing, it only enhances the other. Have you rebelled against the Lord? Can it really be said of you that you have taken the attitude which these people came to take? You know some of the hard and terrible things which they said in their rebellion, when their hearts turned away from the Lord. In effect, they said, We do not want this Lord any more; we will not have this Lord any more. Can that be said of you? Well, then, the Lord in such situations must turn to be the enemy of that, and be your enemy while you are in that position; He cannot stand by you while you are there. But if it is not like that with you, and despite all weaknesses and all failures, faults, imperfections (yes, we are never without something that might well be condemned in us) nevertheless our hearts are toward the Lord, it is our desire to go on with Him, then He is no adversary. Yes, many imperfections, but He is no adversary. It is when we, like these people, deliberately and positively turn and rebel against the Lord, and say, in effect, We will not obey, we are not going on! then He turns to be our adversary. That means He has to bring into judgment.

The Lord's Love to the Rebellious

But even so, the third phase is a very blessed one. "Then He remembered ..." (Isaiah 63:11). Even when He had to be their adversary because of the attitude which they had adopted, the end of it is "He remembered...Moses," He remembered His word; and the last phase is that He came back in love to restore. In the end the Lord reaches out even to the rebellious. "Yea, the rebellious also" says the Word (Psalm 68:18). "He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust" (Psalm 103:14). Are you one of those who at some time has really turned in heart, in hardness and bitterness and sourness, against the Lord because of the difficulty of the way and you have become very rebellious against Him, and how the enemy says, The whole thing is hopeless; you see you have shut the door, and that is the end! Oh, how this enemy will take hold of everything to use it for our destruction! But, even if we have done that, the end is "He remembered ..." It is a marvellous overture of His love again to the rebellious.

They are going on with the Lord; they suffer adversity, but that does not mean He is against them. They rebel against Him, and He has to bring them into discipline; at that time He must be against them. But that need not be the established, permanent situation. "His mercy endureth for ever" (Psalm 106:1). If in our hearts at some time or other we have become bitter, have felt the Lord was too hard and the way anything but the way of His love, if we have entertained bitter and rebellious thoughts. satan comes in to try and consolidate them into some unalterable situation that has forever closed the door in terms of unpardonable sin. Yet - the Lord remembered His Word, and His love is found, after all, not to have changed. I hope there are not many who have turned and rebelled. If you have, here is a word of comfort and encouragement for you.

The main word, however, is for the majority of us who, while our hearts are toward the Lord, find much straightness, much shutting up of the way, much narrowing down, much cutting off, much that to the natural life seems a dark way; yet it does not mean the Lord is against us. It means just the opposite. The Lord is after an enlargement that is much more than enlargement of this life here. Although we have all here, and yet are small in the measure of Christ, what have we gained? We have gained nothing. So if the enlargement of Christ seems to mean the narrowing of self and the world, that is the evidence of the Lord for us, and not against us. "In all their adversity He was no adversary." In all their straightness, He was not against them.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(The End)

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Hymns/Poems of Praise and Worship

Holy Spirit, Faithful Guide

~M. M. Wells~

Holy Spirit, faithful Guide,
Ever near the Christian's side;
Gently lead us by the hand,
Pilgrims in a desert land;
Weary souls fore'er rejoice,
While they hear that sweetest voice,
Whisp'ring softly, "Wand'rer, come!
Follow Me, I'll guide thee home."

Ever present, truest Friend,
Ever near Thine aid to lend,
Leave us not to doubt and fear,
Groping on in darkness drear;
When the storms are raging sore,
Hearts grow faint, and hopes give o'er.
Whisp'ring softly, "Wand'rer, come!
Follow Me, I'll guide thee home."

When our days of toil shall cease,
Waiting still for sweet release,
Nothing left but heav'n and prayer,
Wond'ring if our names were there;
Wading deep the dismal flood,
Pleading naught but Jesus' blood,
Whisp'ring softly, "Wand'rer, come!
Follow Me, I'll guide thee home.
_________________________

And Can It Be, That I Should Gain?

~Charles Wesley~

And can it be that I should gain
An int'rest in the Saviour's blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, should die for me?

Refrain:

Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, should die for me!

'Tis mystery all! Th' Immortal dies!
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine!
'Tis mercy all! let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father's throne above,
So free,so infinite His grace;
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam's helpless race;
'Tis mercy all, immense and free;
For, O my God, it found out me.

Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature's night;
Thine eye diffused a quick'ning ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free;
I rose, went forth and followed Thee.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him is mine!
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th' eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
________________________

Canaanland Is Just In Sight

~Jeff Gibson~

Moses led God's children,
for forty years he led them 
Thru the cold and thru the night;
Tho they said, "Let's turn back," 
Moses said, "Keep going, 
Canaanland is just in sight."

Chorus:

There will be no sorrow, 
There in that tomorrow.
We will be there by and by;
Milk and honey flowing,
that is where I'm going,
Canaanland is just in sight sight.

Tho we walk thru valleys, 
tho we climb high mountains,
We can not give up the fight;
We must be like Moses,
we must keep on going,
Canaanland is just in sight.
________________________

Forward!

~Carrie E. Breck~

Christ, our mighty captain, leads against the foe,
We will never falter when He bids us go;
Tho' His righteous purpose we may never know,
Yet we'll follow all the way.

Refrain:

Forward! forward! 'tis the Lord's command;
Forward! forward! to the promised land;
Forward! forward! let the chorus ring:
We are sure to win with Christ, our king!

satan's fearful onslaughts cannot make us yield;
While we trust in Christ, our buckler and our shield;
Pressing ever on - the Spirit's sword we wield,
And we follow all the way.

Let our glorious banner ever be unfurled;
From its mighty stronghold evil shall be hurled;
Christ, our mights Captain, overcomes the world,
And we follow all the way.

Fierce the battle rages - but 'twill not be long,
Then triumphant, shall we join the blessed throng,
Joyfully uniting in the victor's song -
If we follow all the way.
________________________

On Jordan's Stormy Banks I Stand

~Samuel Stennett~

On Jordan's stormy banks I stand,
and cast a wishful eye
to Canaan's fair and happy land,
where my possessions lie.

Refrain:

I am bound for the promised land,
I am bound for the promised land;
oh, who will come and go with me?
I am bound for the promised land.

O'er all those wide extended plains
shines one eternal day;
there God the Son forever reigns,
and scatters night away.

No chilling winds or poisonous breath
can reach that healthful shore;
sickness and sorrow, pain and death,
and felt and feared no more.

When I shall reach that happy place,
I'll be forever blest,
for I shall see my Father's face,
and in His bosom rest.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Hymns, poems of Praise and Worship

We are told to become Christlike. What does that mean? What are the qualities of Christ that we desire to be in us?
Qualities of Jesus:

 Holiness, unselfish love, kindness, forgiveness, zeal, humility and heavenly-mindedness. These qualities are what we should be to be Christlike.
______________________

Draw Me Nearer

I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice,
And it told Thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee.

Refrain:

Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To the Cross where Thou hast died;
Draw me nearer,nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.

Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord,
By the pow'r of grace divine;
Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope,
And my will be lost in Thine.

Oh, the pure delight of a single hour
That before Thy throne I spend,
When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God,
I commune as friend with friend!

There are depths of love that I cannot know
Till I cross the narrow sea;
There are heights of joy that I may not reach
Till I rest in peace with Thee.

~Frances J. Crosby~
________________________

There Is a Light that Shines on Me

~Catherine Booth-Glibborn (The Mareshale)~

There is a light that shines on me,
The light of Jesus' face;
O what a glory thus to be
The subject of His grace!

There is a power that falls on me
As in the Upper Room,
Dispelling all carnality,
Dispelling fear and gloom.

And there is a love constraining me
To go and seek the lost;
I yield, O Lord, my all to Thee,
To save at any cost!
______________________

O Lord God Almighty, not the God of the philosophers and the wise but the God of the prophets and apostles; and better than all, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, may I express Thee unblamed? They that know Thee not may call upon Thee as other than Thou art, and so worship not Thee but a creature of their own fancy; therefore enlighten our minds that we may know Thee as Thou art, so that we may perfectly love Thee and worthily praise Thee. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen
______________________

Fallen Leaves

Lord, let my eyes see ev''ry need of ev'ry man,
Make me stop and al - ways lend a help-ing hand;
Then when I'm laid be-neath that lit-tle grass-y mound,
There'll be more friends a-round than leaves up-on the ground.

Chorus:

Fal-len leaves that lie scat-tered on the ground,
The birds and flow-ers that were here can-not be found;
All the friends he ev-er had are not a-round,
They are scat-tered like the leaves up-on the ground.

Some folks drift a-long thru life and nev-er thrill,
To the feel-ing a good deed brings un-til;
It's too late, and they are read-y to lie down,
There be-neath the leaves scat-tered on the ground.

To your grave there's no use tak-ing an-y gold,
You can't use it when it's time for hands to fold;
When you leave this earth for a bet-ter home some  day,
The on-ly things you take is what you gave a-way.