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Friday, July 31, 2015

The Work of God At the End-Time # 3

All Former Spiritual Values Now Centered In Christ (continued)

See Simeon, then, as to the past. Something was happening now with the coming in of this Babe, the coming in of the Christ. It is not without a certain significance that Matthew's Gospel has been put out of chronological order and put into the first place in our New Testament. In that Gospel, again and again Matthew uses this phrase, "that the scriptures might be fulfilled," or, "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet." It is characteristic of Matthew's Gospel. It pointed backward to all the Scripture which were looking toward this Christ in Whom they were to find their fulfillment, their realization, their finality and their transcendence. All the hopes, all the expectations, all the promises, all the foreshadowings and all the forecastings, were gathered into the hands of Simeon that day as he held that Babe. The Hope of Israel was in his hands. What a long hope, what a checkered hope! Even through all their failures when black and dark despair seemed sometimes to have settled down upon them and they cried that their way was hidden from the Lord and their judgment passed away from their God, still they cherished a hope. Through all their failure, through all their sufferings, they still held to the hope that there was something yet to be. Through all the judgments which were poured upon them from heaven for their sins, they still clung to the promises and believed that they would one day see the salvation of the Lord. Oh, here it is all in the hands of Simeon! All that past is here present in those arms. That Little One answers to it all. The Hope of Israel!

This expectation and hope has reached its consummation in these very two who, with others, were looking for the consolation of Israel, the redemption of Jerusalem. They were looking; and what a day it was of little prospect, of seeming hopelessness! and yet there were those who were still hoping, still believing, still clinging. And there that day stood Simeon, holding in his arms the fulfillment of all the hopes and expectations and promises - holding the complete embodiment of the full thought of God. Simeon held all that in his hands, and by his words and attitude and spirit you can see him projecting that into the future, holding it forth. "This child is set for ..." - the whole future i going to be affected by Him. It was a tremendous moment.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4 - (All Types and Systems Transcended By Christ in Person)

Standing Before God's Open Door (and other devotionals)

Standing Before God’s Open Door

The apostle Paul had passion and vision to reach the world with the good news about salvation. As he followed the Spirit’s leading, his determination proved effective. There’s no telling how many lives the Lord transformed through this man. And his influence is still impacting people today.

Paul knew that Jesus had instructed His followers to “make disciples of all the nations,” teaching them to observe everything He had commanded (Matt. 28:19). God led and enabled the apostle to do his part in carrying out this divine mission.
But think about life back then—that was a big task for a time when there was no mass communication. Paul could only teach, write, or train others to share the truth. In spite of limited means, however, he obeyed fervently and effectively.

God’s command is still relevant for us today. He has given us the work of telling all nations about redemption through Christ’s blood and resurrection. Compared to Paul, we have an abundance of communication capabilities—including radio, television, Internet, and cell phones—which provide easy access into countries all over the world. We could make more disciples by better utilizing these technologies. But how tragic if we get busy and fail to obey God’s command.

We stand at a critical moment in history for the church. The door of opportunity is wide open for us to share the gospel through a variety of methods. As believers, we are obligated to carry out Christ’s Great Commission. Be careful that neither busyness nor apathy keeps you from obedience.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

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Genesis 21:6
And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.
It was far above the power of nature, and even contrary to its laws, that the aged Sarah should be honoured with a son; and even so it is beyond all ordinary rules that I, a poor, helpless, undone sinner, should find grace to bear about in my soul the indwelling Spirit of the Lord Jesus. I, who once despaired, as well I might, for my nature was as dry, and withered, and barren, and accursed as a howling wilderness, even I have been made to bring forth fruit unto holiness. Well may my mouth be filled with joyous laughter, because of the singular, surprising grace which I have received of the Lord, for I have found Jesus, the promised seed, and He is mine for ever. This day will I lift up psalms of triumph unto the Lord who has remembered my low estate, for "my heart rejoiceth in the Lord; mine horn is exalted in the Lord; my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies, because I rejoice in Thy salvation." I would have all those that hear of my great deliverance from hell, and my most blessed visitation from on high, laugh for joy with me. I would surprise my family with my abundant peace; I would delight my friends with my ever-increasing happiness; I would edify the Church with my grateful confessions; and even impress the world with the cheerfulness of my daily conversation. Bunyan tells us that Mercy laughed in her sleep, and no wonder when she dreamed of Jesus; my joy shall not stop short of hers while my Beloved is the theme of my daily thoughts. The Lord Jesus is a deep sea of joy: my soul shall dive therein, shall be swallowed up in the delights of His society. Sarah looked on her Isaac, and laughed with excess of rapture, and all her friends laughed with her; and thou, my soul, look on thy Jesus, and bid heaven and earth unite in thy joy unspeakable.

~Charles Spurgeon~

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The people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations. (Numbers 23:9)

Not reckoned among the nations. Oh, that is glorious! That puts Israel not only apart from the nations, but on top of the nations. Now, if there has been one thing which Satan has ever tried to do with the people of God in all ages, it has been to get them reckoned among the nations. I speak solemnly and carefully. Right at the very heart of Christendom as we have it today is the desire to be recognized. Recognition! Everything that organized Christianity does is to gain recognition. What are all these churches? I mean, in this instance, all these elaborate and imposing buildings. They are to gain recognition. They are in order to be reckoned something. To what end is all the procedure, the advertisement, and the much else besides? It is in order to get recognition, to be accredited here on this earth, to be reckoned. Yes, that is Satan's triumph. That is where spiritual power has gone out. That is where the Church has ceased to be something to be reckoned with up there. It has, in spirit, come down here, to be reckoned among the nations. If only Satan can get the people of God into a position where they are taken up by this world, written up by this world, made something of by this world, he has triumphed and pulled the Church down out of its heavenly place and made it an earthly thing. That is the principle right through the Old Testament. That too is seen to be the trouble in the Revelation. God will not have it. Satan's success is along that line. He has pulled the Church out of the heavens. Somewhere he has made it touch earth, form a link in some way with earth.

What we have just said does touch us in so many ways, yes, in countless things, this question of being reckoned among the nations in principle, this coming down from the heavenly position. The Lord never meant His Church on this earth to be something that would be taken up by this world, to be something that would be reckoned among the things of this world, recognized and accredited by this world. What He meant, and what obtained when things were right, was that the world itself could not bear the presence of the Church, did not want it. That is the power of the Church to testify against the world.


~T. Austin-Sparks~

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Work of God At The End-Time # 2

The Peculiar Conditions of an End-Time (continued)

Fullness of Ripe Age Carried On in Freshness of New Life

I am, in the first place, going to take up the age factor. Let me say at once that, although I am going to  talk about old age, my message is mainly to young people. If that sounds hardly kind and fair to others, let me put it in this way: age is NOT a matter of years at all!  You may be young in years and yet be far beyond your years, or you may be old in years and far behind your years. This is a spiritual matter! This age factor, as represented by Simeon and Anna, corresponds to the word in Hebrews 8, "He hath made the first old. But that which is becoming old and waxeth aged is nigh unto vanishing away"; and again, to the words in  1 Corinthians 10, 11, "upon whom the ends of the ages are come." That makes us very old, does it not?

Well now, what have we as the picture before us? We have an aged man with a babe in his arms, at once bringing an end and a beginning together, an end handed on to a beginning, a beginning taking up all the fullness represented by the old. It is the old passing over into and giving place to the new. If we get the Divine idea, the spiritual thought, about this - an aged man with a babe in his arms - we at once see that from the Divine standpoint that is the Divine principle. Age is not diminution, contraction, declension, depreciation. That is not God's mind about old age. There is a passage in Isaiah which says, "The child shall die a hundred years old" (Isaiah 65:20). There is a state, a condition, a realm in which age has the child present, has the babe there in its arms. At one hundred years old the child has not gone, it is still the child. The Divine thought about old age is rather that of fullness, fullness unto the enrichment of what is yet to be, and which is about to come in; to provide a heritage; not to pass out and take everything with it and for that to be the end, but to have something very full and rich to be taken up and carried on and expressed in newness, freshness, youthfulness; all the values of a long history brought out in new ways. That is what is here.

You know the instances in the Bible of infancy linked with old age. How much is made of this spiritual principle in relation to Abraham and Isaac! When Abraham was old, Isaac was born. The fact is taken up to express this - that when there is a great accumulation of history and spiritual knowledge, God will reproduce that, He will give it form again and yet again. "In Isaac shall thy seed be called" (Genesis 21:12). Or again, Jacob and Benjamin, the child of his old age; and what a lot Benjamin represents spiritually. Then we have the case of Eli, who was very old, and the child Samuel. It is not only a beautiful picture, but it is a very significant one, that child alongside of the aged Eli. God started there again, right in the presence of something that was in itself about to pass out, but taking up all its spiritual values to reproduce them and bring out all their intrinsic worth. Here again are the aged Simeon and Anna, - by certain computations we arrive at the conclusion that Anna was 106 years old at this point - these two with a babe. It is not an end with God; it is something very much more than that.

All Former Spiritual Values Now Centered In Christ

So the inclusive thing represented by Simeon and Anna is fullness by fulfillment. Firstly, it was the completing of a phase, the gathering up of all past spiritual values, as represented in these two, into a new an wholly spiritual order, the order of Christ.

Simeon so clearly speaks of that transition mentioned in the first chapter of the letter to the Hebrews: "God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners, hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son." It is a transition from the fragmentary, the partial, the occasional, the diverse, to the complete, to the inclusiveness of the unified, and to the final. That is the transition here represented. The bringing in of the Babe, the Christ, holding Him in his arms, was in figure, simply the gathering up of all that had been of God in the past, and centering it in Christ, and seeing how He takes it up and is the fulfillment of it and transcends it.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3)



Drawing From the Source


For us as believers, contentment should be governed by inner attitude and the decisions we make rather than by external circumstances. Because Paul had learned this secret, he was able to experience joy and peace in any kind of situation--whether he was surrounded by friends or isolated in a Roman prison; whether he had plenty or was in great need.

The apostle understood what it meant to live in Christ and to have Christ living in him (John 15:1-9; Gal. 5:22-23). He had made a simple but profound faith decision to draw his life from the Lord and, as a result, had the calm assurance that what he possessed inside could never be stolen. He was confident in his identity as a child of the Almighty, with full access to the abundant life Jesus offers.

I want to challenge you--this week, when something threatens to steal your contentment, choose to draw from God; decide to stop drawing from other sources and trying to be in control. When you find yourself becoming flustered, anxious, or angry, stop and say, "Lord, You are my source, and I draw from You the capacity to be kind. I draw from You the forgiveness I need to extend right now. I draw from You the love I need to express." This decision is a matter of simple trust.

Watch and see how God will quiet your spirit and provide confidence when you draw only from Him as your source. You'll be surprised at your own attitude: when you respond from within--rather than from the flesh--Jesus will give you the ability to respond as He would.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Work of God At the End-Time

[these articles are very important and meaningful in the present times we are living. I humbly urge everyone to read these articles in thoughtful, and very serious consideration. This series beautifully explain what is happening in our world today and also explains how we are to live and trust in our Lord during these perilous times. Austin-Sparks briefly goes back into the Old Testament to explain an end-time event. Read every word because you will gain in your search as to the "why" and "what" and "how" things happen. You won't be sorry!  Thank you!]    We will continue with J. R. Miller articles after we complete this most important Austin-Sparks series - which won't take long.




Peculiar Conditions of an End-Time

We are being led at this time to take note of the fact that we are at an end-time, and that God does a peculiar work at such a time. Things become very strange and very difficult at an end-time; everything seems to be thrown into a state of disturbance, upheaval, intense pressure and conflict. The great conflicting forces in this universe register very terribly and intensely upon that which is of God and upon those who are of account to Him, so that there often arises the sense that this is an actual end, and a question as to what more is possible. Inwardly we feel that the way is becoming exceedingly hedged up: "Frustration" is the word which seems to prevail, and outwardly everything is in a state of serious and great question as to the future. Indeed, it becomes more persistently the experience of the true people of God that they could give up and abandon everything. The ways in which this works out are numerous, but the whole effect is to paralyze and put out of commission that which is of God and bring it to a complete standstill. It is this, then, that will govern our consideration at this time - that we are in an end-time and that in end-times the work of God takes a particular form and is of a peculiar nature. It obviously becomes supremely important and necessary for the Lord's people to know the time in which they live, what the portents are, and what it is that God would do at such a time.

I suggest to you that that constitutes a real reason for getting together in serious and solemn conference, for it is not something that we can take just as a part of a sequence of meditations. Our consideration of it may be supremely crucial and in a peculiar way related to a time in the history of this world, and of God's work in this world, which is of tremendous importance and will not be repeated.

Now, this matter of the end-time and God's work therein is brought very fully and clearly into view by Simeon and Anna. There is no doubt that they represent firstly an end-time - an end-time dispensationally and an end-time with regard to their own age, for they were both advanced in years. And then they also represent God's service at such a time. Simeon used the word of himself - "Now lettest thou thy servant (bondservant, the word is) depart, Lord, according to thy word, in peace." "Thy servant." Anna was found continuing in the temple in fastings and supplications day and night, not leaving it, a prophetess thus occupied in the house of God; and if that is not a picture of service, what is?

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2 - (Fullness of Ripe Age Carried On in Freshness of New Life)

The Incarnation of Christ

The Incarnation of Christ
The Real Christmas Story

by Robert L. Cobb
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.   John 1:14

There are many "Christmas stories" in TV and books.  Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" is probably the best known and most read.  Scrooge and the Cratchett family are characters that almost everyone has either read about or seen on TV.  More modern TV  'classics' are "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," "The Little Drummer-Boy," "Frosty the Snowman." and "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer."  Three generations have grown up watching these Christmas stories and almost everyone can identify with them in some way.

Christmas is big business and these stories bring huge audiences and much profit.  Of all the holidays, Christmas and Easter should be the most spiritual and religious.  However our culture has reduced them to cartoons, stereotypes, and profit machines.  The REAL Christmas story has gotten lost in the luster.  I would like for us to examine together the REAL story; and may we gain spiritual strength from it.

It is impossible for even the atheist to deny that a birth in a Bethlehem manger has changed the world and revolutionized the thinking of every generation since.  The birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ is the central point of history, the apex of our past and the touchstone of our future.  Even the timeline of our culture is divided by it.  (B.C. and A.D.)  You would not know anything of Christ just by feeding on the aforementioned Christmas fare of our day.  His story can only accurately be found in the Bible.  And we find a synopsis of the true Christmas story in John Chapter One.

I.   The Pre-Existent Christ     The word.....

John 1:1 says "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." It is obvious that "the Word" is Christ Himself.  Words are expressions of thoughts and ideas.  Words are revelations of one mind of to another.  The pre-existent Christ is the revelation to humankind of the thoughts and ideas of God Himself.

1.  His Being.   What was the pre-existent Christ like?  He was an equal form and expression of God the Father.  He was there in the beginning.  When the heavens were framed, Christ was there.  When the earth was made, Christ was there.  When Adam and Eve were fashioned, Christ was there.  When Noah's boat sailed, Christ was there.  When Israel was born as a nation, Christ was there.  Let no one say that the babe that was born in the Christmas manger began His existence there.  John 1:1 tells us that he was there "in the beginning."

2. His Union.   Another facet of our pre-existent Christ is His union with the Father.  Verse one tells us..."and the Word was with God..." In case there are any thoughts that Christ was somehow a disinterested observer or an angel of God, the text tells us that He was With God!  That is, He was with Him in purpose; He was with Him in creation; He was with Him in planning.  When God looked over His creation and declared it to be "good," Christ was there with Him, nodding in agreement.

3.  His Deity   The third thought in verse one is "and the Word was God."  Here we come to one of the most holy and deep truths of God's Word.  Christ was not only with God, He is God.  Many in the religious realm have doubted and denied this truth, but it is a cardinal doctrine.  The deity of Christ is fundamental to historic, biblical Christianity.   There are many sects and groups who deny Christ's deity, but they are not Christian, and cannot point the way of salvation to a lost world.  They are lost in their own ignorance and unbelief.

II.   The Presented Christ    ...was made flesh...

Christ is eternal; He was present in creation and throughout all history.  But there came a time in that history that this Eternal Presence would be "made flesh."  Galatians 4:4 says, "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman..."  He was presented to the world in a manger in Bethlehem.
1.  He entered the world.  The greatest mystery of Christmas is why would God lower Himself to come into the world as a human, to partake of the pain and suffering of the human experience, to allow Himself to be mocked and ridiculed by His own created beings who did not even know Him for what He was.  He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.  He came unto his own, and his own received him not.  We know in our minds that the answer to that mystery is His love for us.  But the mystery is still real.  How could God love us so?  It is unfathomable!

2.  He was examined by witnesses.  This was no trick or sleight of hand.  While Christ was God, He was also just as much man.  He was not 50% God and 50% man.  He was both ALL God and the perfect sinless man.  Ancient commentator John Gill said, Christ remained what he was, and became what he was not;  ...so united as to be but one person; and this..union can never be dissolved, and is the foundation of all Christ's works and actions...   1 John 1:1 tells us That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;  His life was one of purpose and example.  He showed humanity how it could have been had sin not corrupted it.

3.  He is enthroned by the wise.  This babe born in a manger was not just and example or an apparition of God,  He came for a purpose.  His presentation to this world was not complete at Bethlehem, it was only the beginning.  It was completed on Calvary when Jesus said, "It is finished" and gave up His spirit to the Father.  When Christ was "made flesh," it started a process in which humankind could approach God and become His child.  Verse 12 in our present chapter says, But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:  So today, we must all answer a question.  Will we receive Him as our Savior?

III.  The Personal Christ    ...and dwelt among us...

Psalm 8:4 says,  What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? If God were to come down to visit man, surely He would separate Himself from us; surely He would distance Himself from such lowly beings. But no, Christ became flesh and dwelt among us, He took up residence right along side us.

1.  For Understanding Christ dwelt among us so that we might understand more about the person of God.  We are finite beings, spiritual things are hard for us to discern.   Many times in the Gospels, Jesus seeks the understanding of His disciples. "Do ye not yet understand..."  He spoke in parables and stories; He used illustrations of the wind, the sea, and the flowers of the field.  Through His words to the disciples, He teaches us even yet today.  In John 14:25-26, Jesus promises us full understanding. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

2.  For Friendship  G. Campbell Morgan, in a message from our text, says that the phrase, "and dwelt among us" can be rendered "pitched his tent by us."  What a beautiful picture of the personal Christ!  The Christian is a pilgrim in this world, with darkness all around us.  Our home is in heaven, as are our riches and treasures.  We are strangers here, with no abiding place.  But Christ has pitched his tent beside us!  He goes with us on our pilgrim journey!  Though we have no pleasures in this world, we have joy with the One Who goes with us!  Dr. Morgan says that this phrase is a figure of the Arab nation, where one promises to make to take the same journey with us, under the same conditions.

3.  For Worship  This phrase also reveals another truth.  It calls up an image of the tabernacle of the Old Testament.  The word 'dwelt" means "tabernacled."  The tabernacle was a place of worship.  It was a place where God Himself met with His people and accepted their adoration.  Christ tabernacles with us so that we might worship Him.  We do not need to travel to Jerusalem or Bethlehem, He tabernacles with us.  Therefore, we can worship Him anywhere!  We remember His words to the Samaritan woman: But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.   (John 4:23-24)

IV.   The Pre-eminent Christ   ...full of grace and truth.

We have seen Christ in His pre-existence, in His presentation to humankind, and in the personal nature of His love.  There is one more picture of Christ to be found in verse 14.  It is found in the last five words of the verse.  As sinful creatures, we cannot understand these words in their fullness.  "Full" means "to be thoroughly permeated with."  Christ was filled up with both grace and truth.

1.  His Grace   Grace is a wonderful word.  We are saved by grace, kept by grace, and our faith is by grace.  Grace is overwhelming kindness, good-will, and favor.  Grace is a special kind of tenderness.  And Christ was "full" of grace.  You  can see it in the Gospels as He deals with mankind.  He heals and cures all manner of hurt.  Parents brought their children to Him and He accepted them.  The leper  came to Him and said, "If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean."  To which He replied, "I will, be thou clean."  God's grace manifests itself in His love.  "God is love."  There are those who teach and preach God as a condemning God, and focus His righteousness and judgment.  Those truly are aspects of our great God, but so is His grace.  Never forget He is "full of grace."

2.  His Truth   Pilate asked Jesus, "What is truth?"  He had no idea that he was looking at Truth personified.  Jesus was "full of truth."  He was thoroughly permeated with perfection, knowledge, wisdom, and excellence.  All that He spoke was truth.  All that He did was truth.  All that He thought was truth.  In the Gospel of John, this idea of truth is seen in the word "light."    And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.  That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.  (John 1:5,9)  Light reveals truth.  Light illuminates where darkness has covered.  The truth of Christ condemns and curse all that does not measure up to his perfection.  Truth is objective; it does not favor one over another.  The rule of law is path that truth takes, and there can be no exceptions.

3.  His Glory   How can both grace and truth co-exist in the same Being?  How can they be balanced?  How can one attribute not be overshadowed by the other?  This is His glory!  He is God!  He is the perfect manifestation of God to humans.  We cannot fully understand His perfections.  Christ's grace and truth cannot be separated.  They are wound together and cannot be unwound.  Christ illustrates both God's tenderness and His severity, His love as well as His judgment, His grace as well as His truth.  God is both love and light, both grace and truth.
Conclusion:  And what do we take with us from this message?  This Christmas, let us focus, not only on the Christ child in the manger, but on the complete Christ.  Let us focus on His rescue mission to fallen man.  The child in the manger became the God-man on the Cross.  Let us praise and worship Him in His fulness.  And those who do not yet personally know Christ as savior should realize that they will not be judged by a babe, but by a righteous and holy God.  We who know Him experience His Grace; those who die without Him will experience His truth.  Check your hearts.  Do you know Him?

Sin is the Cause; Christ is the Cure!

Sin is the Cause; Christ is the Cure!

BIBLE MEDITATION:
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Romans 5:12

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
Some would say that man is but the sum total of his environment and his body chemistry. If he does wrong, it's because he's like a computer that has been programmed wrongly. If he was raised in a bad neighborhood, he shouldn’t be blamed for breaking into stores or smoking dope. Or if he has a vile temper, perhaps he had an overbearing mother.

According to behavioral psychologists, these people may be pitied but not blamed. They may be sick, but they’re not sinful. They may be weak but not wicked. They need some sort of a psychological adjustment rather than salvation.

ACTION POINT:
If we don't make a proper diagnosis, we'll never come up with the right cure. The thing wrong with our society today is we're spending too much time sweeping down cobwebs when we need to be killing spiders. The spider is sin; the cobwebs are the result that we see in society around about us.

~Adrian Rogers~

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Proverbs 30:8
Remove far from me vanity and lies.
"O my God, be not far from me." Psalm 38:21. Here we have two great lessons-what to deprecate and what to supplicate. The happiest state of a Christian is the holiest state. As there is the most heat nearest to the sun, so there is the most happiness nearest to Christ. No Christian enjoys comfort when his eyes are fixed on vanity-he finds no satisfaction unless his soul is quickened in the ways of God. The world may win happiness elsewhere, but he cannot. I do not blame ungodly men for rushing to their pleasures. Why should I? Let them have their fill. That is all they have to enjoy. A converted wife who despaired of her husband was always very kind to him, for she said, "I fear that this is the only world in which he will be happy, and therefore I have made up my mind to make him as happy as I can in it." Christians must seek their delights in a higher sphere than the insipid frivolities or sinful enjoyments of the world. Vain pursuits are dangerous to renewed souls. We have heard of a philosopher who, while he looked up to the stars, fell into a pit; but how deeply do they fall who look down. Their fall is fatal. No Christian is safe when his soul is slothful, and his God is far from him. Every Christian is always safe as to the great matter of his standing in Christ, but he is not safe as regards his experience in holiness, and communion with Jesus in this life. Satan does not often attack a Christian who is living near to God. It is when the Christian departs from his God, becomes spiritually starved, and endeavours to feed on vanities, that the devil discovers his vantage hour. He may sometimes stand foot to foot with the child of God who is active in his Master's service, but the battle is generally short: he who slips as he goes down into the Valley of Humiliation, every time he takes a false step invites Apollyon to assail him. O for grace to walk humbly with our God!

~Charles Spurgeon~

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Losing SELF In Christ


"If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it." Luke 9:23-24

The Christian's first duty—is to honor his Master. He must be willing to sink himself out of sight—in order that the name of Christ may be magnified. It is not possible to both honor Christ—and yet to honor ourselves before men. The wreath on our own brow must fade—if we would keep the wreath for Christ beautiful and green. We must decrease—that Christ may increase. We must be willing to fall into the shadow—that the full light may be cast upon Christ's lovely face. We must be ready to suffer loss—that the cause of Christ may be advanced.

But all this seeming decrease if we are true at heart to our Master, is only seeming. The honor on our brow is never so bright as when we have willingly stripped off the stars from ourselves to bind them on the brow of Jesus. It is easy to mar the beauty. We have all seen people chafing and envying, when position and influence once theirs—passed to others. There is no severer test of character than comes in such experiences as this. It is not easy when others achieve promotions that we had hoped to win, for us to keep our spirits gentle, generous, and sweet. It is not easy, even in school, to have another win the prize which we sought and hoped to take, and then not to feel envious of him—but to treat him with true affection, joining his fellows in sincere honoring of him. It is not easy in the home, for a plain, unattractive child to see a bright, popular, brilliant sister idolized and petted, receiving universal praise—while she, the plain, homely one, is neglected and left without attention—it is not easy for the plain girl to see this and yet keep loyal affection in her heart and join cheerfully and sincerely in the honoring of the favorite. It is always hard to decrease—while another increases, especially if it is at our own cost.

Yet only as we learn to die to self, do we become like Christ. Unrenewed nature seeks all for self—and none for Christ. Becoming a Christian is the taking of Christ into the life—in the place of self. Then all is changed. Life has a new center, a new aim. Christ comes first. His plan for our lives is accepted, instead of our own. It is no more what we would like to do—but "What does theMaster want us to do?" It is no longer the pressing of our own will—but "May Your will, not mine, be done." This is the foundation of all Christian living—the dying of self—and the growing of Christ in the heart. So long as there remains any self-will, any unsubmission, any spirit of disobedience, any unconquered self, asserting its authority against the will of Christ—just so long, is our consecration incomplete.

This lesson has its very practical bearing on all our common, every-day life. Naturally we want to have our own way. We like to carry out our own plans and ambitions. We are apt to feel, too, that we have failed in life, when we cannot realize these hopes. This is the world's standard. The successful worldling is the one who is able to master all life's circumstances and make them serve him in his career. He is the man who "increases" until he fills a large place among men. The world has little praise or admiration for the man who "decreases" in his property, brilliance, power, or prosperity.

But we who read the Word of God know that there is an increase in men's eyes—which is a dwarfing, shrinking, and shriveling of the life in God's sight. We know also that there is a decrease in human eyes, which as God sees it, is a glorious enlargement and growth.

The greatest thing possible in any life—is to have the divine plan for it fulfilled, the divine will go on in it—even though it thwarts every human hope and dashes away every earthly dream. It is not easy for us to learn the lesson—that God's ways are always better for us than our own. We make our little plans and begin to carry them out. We think we have all things arranged for our greatest happiness and our best good. Then God's plan breaks in upon ours—and we look down through our tears upon the shattered fragments of our fine plans. It seems wreck, loss, and disaster. But no—it is only God's larger, wiser, better plan—displacing our little, imperfect, shortsighted one.

It is true, that God really thinks about our lives and has a purpose of His own for them, a place He would have us fill, a work He would have us do. It seems when we think of it, that this is scarcely possible—that each one of the lives of His countless children—should be personally and individually thought about by the Father. Yet we know that this is true of the least and lowliest of believers. Surely if God cares enough for us to make a plan for our life, a heavenly plan—it must be better than any plan of ours could be! It is a high honor, therefore, for His plan take the place of ours, whatever the cost and the pain may be to us.

This law of the dying of SELF, and the magnifying of Christ—is the only way to true usefulness. Not until self has been renounced, is anyone ready for true Christian service. While we are thinking how this or that will affect us, whether it will pay us to make this sacrifice or that self-denial; while we are consulting our own ease, our own comfort, our own interest or advantage in any form—we have not yet learned fully what the love of Christ means.

This projecting of SELF into our serving of our fellow-men, mars the service and hinders its effectiveness. We wonder if the person is 'worthy'—and if he is not, we do not want to waste our love upon him. We resent with impatience, the lack of gratitude in those we aid. We decline to serve others, because they are beneath us. That is, we put all our life on a commercial basis, and unless it seems to promise well for us in the way of outcome, we are not ready for it. We need to learn the true meaning of Christ's love, for he never asks whether we are worthy or not, nor does he keep account of the number of times he has forgiven us. The law of love, which is the one law of all Christian life, does not follow the world's maxims. It is not 'so much'—for 'so much'. It asks not if there will be a return. It does not keep account of treatment received—and strike a balance for the governance of its future actions. It gives and serves and helps regardless of what it has received or may receive.

This law of the dying of self and the magnifying of Christ—is the secret of Christian peace. When Christ is small—and SELF is large—life cannot be deeply restful. Everything annoys us. We grow impatient of whatever breaks our comfort. We grieve over little trials. We find causes for discontent in merest trifles. We resent whatever would hinder or oppose us.

There is no blue sky in the picture, of which SELF is the center. There are no stars shining overhead. It begins and ends in a little patch of dusty floor, with gray walls surrounding it and shutting it in. But when SELF decreases—and Christ increases, then the picture is enlarged and takes in all of heaven's over-arching beauty. Then the stars shine down into its night and sunshine bathes its day.

Then the life of friction and worry is changed into quietness and peace. When the glory of Christ streams over this little, cramped, fretted, broken life of ours—peace comes, and the love of Christ brightens every spot and sweetens all bitterness. Trials are easy to bear when self is small—and Christ is large.

We are apt to grow weary of the bitter, sorrowful struggle that goes on in our hearts, evermore, between the old nature and the new nature, between the old self and the new Christ. It seems sometimes as if it never would be ended. It seems, too, at times, as if we were making no progress in the struggle, as if there were no decreasing of self—and no increasing of Christ. We find the old evil things unconquered still, after years of battling—the old envies and jealousies, the old tempers, the old greed, the old irritabilities, the old doubt and fear and unbelief. Will there never be release from this conflict?

Yes, if only we live patiently and bravely, in faith and love and loyalty, SELF will decrease—and Christ will increase until he fills our whole life. If we reach up ever toward the light—our past of failure and unworthiness will be left behind and we shall grow into the fullness of the stature of Christ! The new will conquer and expel the old—until it becomes "None of self—and all of Christ!"

O the bitter shame and sorrow
That a time could ever be,
When I let the Savior’s pity
Plead in vain, and proudly answered,
‘All of self—and none of Thee.’

Yet He found me; I beheld Him
Bleeding on the accursed tree;
Heard Him pray, ‘Forgive them, Father!’
And my wistful heart said faintly,
‘Some of self—and some of Thee.’

Day by day His tender mercy,
Healing, helping, full and free,
Sweet and strong, and, ah! So patient,
Brought me lower, while I whispered,
‘Less of self—and more of Thee.’

Higher than the highest heavens,
Deeper than the deepest sea,
Lord, Thy love at last hath conquered;
Grant me now my soul’s desire,
‘None of self—and all of Thee.’
—Theodore Monod


~J. R. Miller~

My Peace I Give to You (and other devotionals)


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; I do not give it to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be distressed or lacking in courage. (John 14:27)

Two painters each painted a picture to illustrate his conception of rest. The first chose for his scene a still, lone lake among the far-off mountains.

The second threw on his canvas a thundering waterfall, with a fragile birch tree bending over the foam; and at the fork of the branch, almost wet with the cataract’s spray, sat a robin on its nest.

The first was only stagnation; the last was rest.

Christ’s life outwardly was one of the most troubled lives that ever lived: tempest and tumult, tumult and tempest, the waves breaking over it all the time until the worn body was laid in the grave. But the inner life was a sea of glass. The great calm was always there.

At any moment you might have gone to Him and found rest. And even when the human bloodhounds were dogging Him in the streets of Jerusalem, He turned to His disciples and offered them, as a last legacy, “My peace.”
Rest is not a hallowed feeling that comes over us in church; it is the repose of a heart set deep in God.
—Drummond

My peace I give in times of deepest grief, 
Imparting calm and trust and My relief.
My peace I give when prayer seems lost, unheard; 
Know that My promises are ever in My Word.
My peace I give when thou art left alone—
The nightingale at night has sweetest tone.
My peace I give in time of utter loss, 
The way of glory leads right to the cross.
My peace I give when enemies will blame, 
Thy fellowship is sweet through cruel shame.
My peace I give in agony and sweat, 
For mine own brow with bloody drops was wet.
My peace I give when nearest friend betrays
Peace that is merged in love, and for them prays.
My peace I give when there’s but death for thee
The gateway is the cross to get to Me.

~L. B. Cowman~

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His First Choice

You are God’s child. He saw you, picked you, and placed you! Jesus said, “You did not choose me, I chose you!” You are God’s child. Replacement or fill-in? Hardly. You are His first choice. The choice wasn’t obligatory, required, compulsory, forced, or compelled. He selected you because He wanted to. You are His open, willful, voluntary choice. He walked onto the auction block where you stood, and He proclaimed, This child is mine!
1 Peter 1:19 says He bought you, “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” You are His child forever. Your struggles will not last forever—but you will. The promise is in 2 Timothy 2:12: “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him.” Believe it. Clutch it. Tattoo it on the interior of your heart!  You are God’s child.

~Max Lucado~

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Is the Choice You’re Making Questionable?

BIBLE MEDITATION:
“… for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Romans 14:23

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
Now, what does that mean? It means any action that is not motivated and done by complete faith in God is sin. Anytime you do anything you’re not absolutely confident is God’s will for you to do, if you have a doubt about doing that thing, whether the thing in and of itself is right or wrong, you’ve sinned.

A man was in the back bedroom getting dressed. His wife was out in the living room talking with a friend. He yelled out, “Is this shirt clean enough for me to wear?” Without hesitation, she said “no” and went on talking.

After a while he came out, buttoning up another shirt. He asked, “How did you know that shirt wasn’t clean without looking at it?” She said, “If you had to ask, it wasn't.”

Now, that's what God is saying here: whatsoever is not of faith (that you don't have confidence in) is dirty. If it's doubtful, it’s dirty. Leave it alone.

ACTION POINT:
Friend, we ought to give God the benefit of the doubt, and if we think it may be wrong, we should leave it alone until we’re sure that it is right. 

~Adrian Rogers~

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Psalm 76:3
There brake He the arrows of the bow, the shield, and the sword, and the battle.
Our Redeemer's glorious cry of "It is finished," was the death-knell of all the adversaries of His people, the breaking of "the and the battle." Behold the hero of Golgotha using His cross as an anvil, and His woes as a hammer, dashing to shivers bundle after bundle of our sins, those poisoned "arrows of the bow"; trampling on every indictment, and destroying every accusation. What glorious blows the mighty Breaker gives with a hammer far more ponderous than the fabled weapon of Thor! How the diabolical darts fly to fragments, and the infernal bucklers are broken like potters' vessels! Behold, He draws from its sheath of hellish workmanship the dread sword of Satanic power! He snaps it across His knee, as a man breaks the dry wood of a fagot, and casts it into the fire. Beloved, no sin of a believer can now be an arrow mortally to wound him, no condemnation can now be a sword to kill him, for the punishment of our sin was borne by Christ, a full atonement was made for all our iniquities by our blessed Substitute and Surety. Who now accuseth? Who now condemneth? Christ hath died, yea rather, hath risen again. Jesus has emptied the quivers of hell, has quenched every fiery dart, and broken off the head of every arrow of wrath; the ground is strewn with the splinters and relics of the weapons of hell's warfare, which are only visible to us to remind us of our former danger, and of our great deliverance. Sin hath no more dominion over us. Jesus has made an end of it, and put it away for ever. O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end. Talk ye of all the wondrous works of the Lord, ye who make mention of His name, keep not silence, neither by day, nor when the sun goeth to his rest. Bless the Lord, O my soul.

~Charles Spurgeon~


Monday, July 27, 2015

Making Life a Song



"Let the saints rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds." Psalm 149:5

It is a great thing to write a song that endures. To have composed such a hymn as "Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me," or "Jesus, Lover of My Soul," is a greater achievement than to have built a pyramid. But we cannot all write songs. We are not all poets, able to weave sweet thoughts into rhythmic verse that will charm men's souls. We cannot all make hymns which shall come as messengers of peace, comfort, joy, or inspiration to weary lives. Only to a few men and women in a generation is the poet's tongue given.

But there is a way in which we may all make songs; we can make our own life a song if we will. It does not need the poet's gift and art to do this, nor does it require that we shall be taught and trained in colleges and universities. The most uneducated man may so live—that gentle music shall breathe forth from his life through all his days. He needs only to be kind and loving. Every beautiful life is a song.

There are many people who live in circumstances and conditions of hardness and hardship, and who seem to make no music in the world. Their lives are of that utterly prosaic kind, which is devoid of all sentiment, which has no place for sentiment amid its severe toils and under its heavy burdens. Even home tendernesses seem to find no opportunity for growth in the long leisureless days. Yet even such lives as these, doomed to hardest, dreariest toil—may and often do become songs which minister blessing to many others.

The other day a laborer presented himself for admission to the church. He was asked what sermon or what appeal led him to take this step. No sermon, no one's word, he answered—but a fellow-workman for years at the bench beside him had been so true, so faithful, so Christlike in his character and conduct, that his influence had brought his companion to Christ. This man's life, amid all its hardness, was a sweet song of love.

A visitor to an old European city desired to hear the wonderful chimes which were part of the city's fame. Finding the church, he climbed up into the tower-supposing that to be the way to hear the sweet music of the chimes. There he found a man who wore heavy wooden gloves on his hands. Soon this man went to a rude keyboard and began to pound on the keys. There was a terrible clatter as the wood struck the keys, and close over head there was a deafening crash and clangor among the bells as they were pounded upon by the heavy hammers. But there was no sweet music. The tourist soon fled away from the place, wondering why men came so far to listen to this noisy hammering and this harsh clanging. Meanwhile, however, there floated out over the city from the bells in the tower the most exquisite music. Men working in the fields far off heard it and paused to listen to it. People in their homes, and at their work, and on the streets were charmed by the marvelous sweetness of the rich bell-tones that dropped upon their ears.

There are many people whose lives have their best illustration in the work of the old chine-ringer. They are shut up in narrow spheres. They must give all their strength to hard toil. They dwell continually amid the noise and clatter of the most common work. They seem to their friends to be doing nothing with their lives, but striking heavy hammers on noisy keys. They make no music—only a deafening clatter at the best. They do not dream themselves that they are making any music for the world. Yet all the while, as they live true, patient, honest, unselfish and helpful lives—they are putting cheer and strength and joy in other hearts. A little home is blessed by their love, its needs provided for by their hard work. Future generations may be better and happier, because of some influence or ministry of theirs. From such families many of the world's greatest and best men have sprung. Thus, as with the chimes, the clatter and clangor that the life makes for those who stand close beside—become gentle songs and quiet music to those who listen farther away.

God wants all our lives to be songs. He gives us the words in the duties and the experiences of our lives which come to us day by day, and it is our part to set them to music through our obedience and submission. It makes a great deal of difference in music, how the notes are arranged on the staff. To scatter them along the lines and spaces without order, would make only bars of sad discord. They must be put upon the staff according to the rules and principles of harmony, and then they make beautiful music.

It is easy to set the notes of life on the staff so that they shall yield only enervating discord. Many people do this, and the result is discontent, unhappiness, distrust and worry, for themselves; and in their relations to others, bitterness, strife, wrangling. It is our duty, whatever the notes may be that God gives to us, whatever the words He writes for us to sing, to make harmonious music. Jesus said, "My peace I give unto you" (John 14:27). An inspired promise reads: "The peace of God shall keep your heart and mind through Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:7). A heavenly counsel is: "Let the peace of God rule in your heart" (Col. 3:15). Whatever the notes or the words, therefore, the song which we sing should be peace.

A perfectly holy life would be a perfect song. At the best while on earth, our lives are imperfect in their harmonies—but if we are Christ's disciples, we are learning to sing while here, and someday the music will be perfect. It grows in beauty and sweetness here just as we learn to do God's will on earth as it is done in heaven.

Only the Master's hand, can bring out of our souls the music that slumbers in them. A violin lies on the table silent and without beauty. One picks it up and draws the bow across the strings—but it yields only wailing discords. Then a master comes and takes it up, and he brings from the little instrument, the most marvelous music. Other men touch our lives and draw from them only jangled notes; Christ takes them, and when He has put the chords in tune—He brings from them the music of love and joy and peace.

It is said that once Mendelssohn came to see the great Freiburg organ. The old custodian refused him permission to play upon the instrument, not knowing who he was. After much persuasion, however, he granted him permission to play a few notes. Mendelssohn took his seat, and soon the most wonderful music was breaking forth from the organ. The custodian was spellbound. At length he came up beside the great musician and asked his name. Learning it, he stood humiliated, self-condemned, saying, "And I refused you permission to play upon my organ." There comes One to us who desires to take our lives and play upon them. But we withhold ourselves from Him, and refuse Him permission, when if we would only yield ourselves to Him, He would bring from our souls heavenly music.

Come what may, we should make our lives songs. We have no right to add to the world's discords, or to sing anything but sweet strains in the ears of others. We should play no note of sadness in this world, which is already so full of sadness. We should add something every day to the stock of the world's happiness. If we are really Christ's, and walk with Him, we cannot but sing.


Making Life Music in Chorus

"Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose." Philippians 2:2

There is more to be said about making life a song. Each one of us should so live—as to make music in this world. This we can do by simple, cheerful obedience. He who does God's will faithfully each day, makes his life a song. The music is peace. It has no jarring dissonance, no anxieties or worries, no rebellions or doubts.

But we must make music also in relation to others. We do not live alone; we live with others, in families, in friendship's circles, in communities. It is one thing for a singer to sing solos, and to sing sweetly, sincerely in perfect time, in harmonious proportion; and quite another thing for several people to sing together, in choir or chorus, and their voices all to blend in harmony. It is necessary in this latter case that they should all have the same key and that they should sing carefully, each listening to the others and controlling or repressing or restraining his own voice for the sake of the effect of the whole full music. If one sings independently, out of tune, or out of time—he mars the harmony of the chorus. If one sings without regard to the other voices, only for the display of his own—his part is out of proportion and the effect is discord.

It is necessary not only that we make sweet music in our individual lives—but also that in choirs or choruses we produce pleasing harmony. Some people are very good alone, where no other life comes in contact with theirs, where they are entirely their own master and have to think only of themselves—but make a wretched business of living—when they come into relationships with others. There they are selfish, tyrannical, despotic, willful. They will not tolerate suggestion, request, or authority. They will not make any compromise, will not yield their own opinions, preferences, or prejudices, and will not submit to any inconvenience, any sacrifice.

But we are not good Christians, until we have learned to live harmoniously with others, for example, in the family. A true marriage means the ultimate bringing of two lives into such perfect oneness that there shall not be any discord in the blended music. To attain this, each must give up much. There must be on the part of both, self-repression and self-renunciation. The aim of each must be, what always is true love's aim—to serve the other. Only in perfect love, which is utterly self-forgetful, can there be perfect blending.

Then, as a family grows up in the home, it is harder still to keep the music without dissonance, with the varying individual tastes and preferences which are disposed to assert themselves often in aggressive ways. It can be done only by keeping love always the ruling motive. But there are families that never do learn to live together lovingly. Oftentimes the harmony is spoiled by one member of the household who will not yield to the sway of unselfishness, or repress and deny SELF for the good of all. On the other hand, in homes that do grow into the closeness of love, there is frequently one life that by its calm, patient, serene peace that nothing can disturb, at length draws all the discordant elements of the household life into accord with itself, and so perfects the music of the home.

In all relations, the same lesson must somehow be learned. We must learn to live with people—and live with them sweetly! And people are not all kind and gentle. Not many of them are willing to do all the yielding, all the giving up or sacrificing. We must each do our share—if we are to live congenially with others. Some people's idea of giving up—is that the other person must do it all. That is what some despotic husbands think their wives ought to do. In all associated life, there is this same tendency to let the yielding be by the other person. "We get along splendidly," a man says, referring to his business, or to some associated work. "So-and-so is very easy to live with. He is gentle and yielding, and always gives up. So I have things my own way, and we get along together beautifully." Certainly—but that is not the Christian way. The self-repression and self-renunciation should bemutual. "Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other," is Paul's rule. When each person in any association of living does this, seeking the honor and promotion of the other, not thinking of himself—the music is full of harmony. The essential thing in love is not receiving—but giving; not the desire to be helped or honored—but to help or honor.

Then not in our relationships only—but in circumstances also, must we learn to make our lives a song. This is not hard when all things are to our liking, when we are in prosperity, when friends surround us, when the family circle is unbroken, when health is good, when there are no crosses, and when no self-denials are required. But it is not so easy—when the flow of pleasant circumstances is rudely broken, when sorrow comes, when bitter disappointment dashes away the hopes of years. Yet Christian faith can keep the music unbroken, even through such experiences as these. The music is changed. It grows more tender. Its tones become deeper, tremulous sometimes, as the tears creep into them. But it is really enriched and made more mellow and beautiful.

There is a story of a German baron who stretched wires from tower to tower of his castle to make a great Aeolian harp. Then he waited and listened for the music. For a time the air was still, no sound was heard. The wires hung silent in the air. After a while there came gentle breezes, and then soft strains of music were heard. At length the cold wintry winds blew storm-like in their wild fury; then the wires gave forth majestic music.

Our lives are harps of God—but many of them do not give out their sweetest music in the calm of quiet, prosperous days. It is only in the heavy storm of trial, in adversity, in grievous pain or loss—that the richest, most majestic music comes from our souls. Most of us have to learn our best and most valuable lessons—in the stress of affliction.

We should seek to have our lives so trained, so disciplined, that no sudden change of circumstances shall ever stop its music; that if we are carried out of our summer of joy today—into a winter of grief tomorrow, the song shall still go on—the song of faith, love, peace. Paul had learned this when he could say, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13. Circumstances did not affect him, for the source of his peace and joy was in Christ.

How can we get these lessons? There is an old legend of a musical instrument that hung on a castle wall. Its strings were broken. It was covered with dust. No one understood it, and none could put it in order. But one day a stranger came to the castle. He saw the instrument on the wall. Taking it down, he quickly brushed the webs and dust from it, tenderly reset the broken strings, then played upon it. The chords long silent, woke beneath his touch—and the castle was filled with rich music.

Every human life in its unrenewed state is such a harp, with broken strings, tarnished by sin. It is capable of giving forth music marvelously rich and majestic—but first it must be restored, and the only one who can do this—is the Maker of the harp, the Lord Jesus Christ. Only He can bring the jangled chords of our lives into tune, so that when played upon, they shall give forth sweet music. We must, therefore, surrender our hearts to Him, that He may repair and restore them. Then we shall be able to make music, not in our individual lives only—but in whatever relations or circumstances our lot may be cast!


~J. R. Miller~

The Power of Prayer (and other devotionals)

The Power of Prayer 

Then the prophet Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophets, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them. So Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak rose up and began to build the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and the prophets of God were with them, helping them. Ezra 5:1-2


The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia, to send some of the Jews out of Babylon and back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Then the heads of the fathers' houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, with all whose spirits God had moved, arose to go up and build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem” (Ezra 1:5). But once they arrived, adversaries rose up against them and many threats and distractions were used to thwart their work. How often do we encounter such distractions when trying to do God’s work? Our adversary prowls about seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8) and doing whatever he can to stop our progress in the Lord.

What the people needed, God provided. Zerubbabel and Jeshua needed support and strength. They got it from the prophets whom God raised up to help them. Haggai and Zechariah prophesied in the name of the God of Israel with His power on their lips, a power that brought the others back to work. For us, that power is in the prayers of others. We have the Holy Spirit and God’s Word to strengthen and sustain us. But, we also need prayer intercessors in those times when we feel weak and worn out, especially when the adversary seems to be coming after us.
Take time today and pray for those you know who are working for the things of God. Leadership and ministerial Christians are often on the front lines of battle where distractions are constantly interfering in their lives. Pray for them. If you are one of those on that battle line, do not hesitate to ask for prayer when you feel weak and weary. We have Jesus. We have His Word and we have His Holy Spirit, but He has also given us His body of believers to lift each other up in times of trouble. Prayer is a tool we need to use everyday—not only for ourselves, but also especially for those on the spiritual front lines.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

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Thou shalt Love. Deuteronomy 6:5

"Lovest thou Me?"

"Who art Thou, Lord, that I should love Thee?"

"I am He that liveth, but I died; I loved thee, and gave Myself for thee; I have made thee mine forever in a bond that even death cannot break; I have loved thee with an everlasting love; I shall never be at rest till thou art with Me where I am."

"Indeed I would love Thee; but how?"

"Thou shalt love Me with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might."

"This were impossible unless Thou give me the love Thou requirest."

"This I will do for thee, since love is of God. Only obey these simple directions:

"1. Abstain from all wrath, anger, malice, evil speaking, and all else that would grieve my Holy Spirit.

"2. Yield thyself to the Spirit, that He may produce in thee His choice fruit - Love. 'The fruit of the Spirit is love.' 'He sheds love abroad in the heart.'

"3. Consider my love to thee, especially that I died for thee when thou wert yet in thy sins. Meditate much upon the sacrifice I made for thee, that thou mightest have thy sins blotted out, and enjoy the peace which passeth all understanding.

"4. Believing that thou hast received the love of the Spirit, begin to let it work through thy life to all around thee.

"5. If thy heart is unwilling to love any, put thy will on My side, and confidently believe that I am able to work in thee to will and to do of My own good pleasure."


~F. B. Meyer~

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Pressing On 

In Philippians 3:12, Paul says,

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.

Paul's challenge in this verse is for you and me to press on, to keep growing.  I believe one of the greatest assets in life that you and I have is the capacity to grow and change.  We have the capacity to press on.

One of the first steps in pressing on is to realize that you have not yet arrived.  Even the apostle Paul acknowledged and recognized that he had not yet arrived.  He said, Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected.
Paul understood that he had a lot of room for growth.  And if he did, so do we.

If you have grown stagnant in your spiritual life, you need to ask the question, "Why?"  Why is your spiritual life stunted?  Why are you not growing?  Why are you stymied in your spiritual progress?  What are your barriers to growth?
I believe that if we are willing to admit that we need to grow, then identify the barriers that are keeping a lid on our spiritual lives, and finally, by the grace of God, deal with those barriers and remove them, we will begin to press on and grow.

If you were to take a catfish and put it in a small fish tank, that fish would only grow to be 12 inches long and it might weigh a quarter of a pound.  But if you took that identical catfish and placed it into a lake, it might grow to be three feet long and weigh 60 pounds.

What was the barrier to its growth?  The tank kept it contained.  It grew to the limit that the environment allowed.
Remove the barriers to your spiritual growth and press on!

~Bayless Conley~

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Running for the Soul Winner’s Crown

BIBLE MEDITATION
“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy.”1 Thessalonians 2:19-20

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
Here’s what Paul was saying to those in Thessalonica: “When Jesus comes, my crown is going to those that I’ve led to Him.” Now that’s a crown that doesn’t corrupt. When you die and go to heaven, are you going to take somebody with you, or are you going to heaven alone? “Must I go and empty-handed, must I meet my Savior so; without one soul with which to greet Him, must I empty-handed go?” Now I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but I’m concerned because most people in church are not active soul winners. That’s tragic.

You say, “But, Pastor, I give my money.” I don’t care how much money you give. If you’re not endeavoring to bring souls to Christ, you’re not right with God. You say, “Well, I teach.” I don’t care how eloquently you teach. If you’re not trying to bring souls to Jesus, you’re not right with God. You say, “Well, I attend faithfully.” I don’t care how much you attend. If you’re not trying to bring souls to Jesus Christ, you are not right with God.

Andrew Murray said, “There are two classes of Christians: soul winners and backsliders.” You are one or the other. If you don’t have a passion to see people come to the Lord Jesus Christ, I wonder if you know the Jesus I know.

ACTION POINT:
My dear brother, my dear sister, there is a crown to run for. It’s the soul winner’s crown.


~Adrian Rogers~