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Friday, October 28, 2016

Difficulties Concerning Consecration

Difficulties Concerning Consecration

It is very important that Christians not be ignorant of the temptations that seem to stand ready to oppose every step of their progress. These temptations are especially active when the soul hungers and thirsts after righteousness and begins to reach out after the fullness of life in Christ.

One of the greatest of these temptations concerns consecration. One who desires holiness is told that he must consecrate himself and he strives to do so. But he meets with difficulty at once. He has done what he thinks is necessary to be consecrated, yet he finds nothing different in his experience. Nothing seems changed as he has been led to expect it would be. He is completely baffled and desperately asks the question:
"How am I to know when I am consecrated?"

The chief temptation that assaults the soul at this point and at every step of its progress concerns feelings. We can't believe we are consecrated until we feel that we are. And because we don't feel that God has taken charge of us, we can't really believe that He has. As usual, we put feeling first, faith second, and His promise last of all. Now God's rule in everything is, His promise (His Word) first, faith second, and feeling last of all. We cannot change this order.

Put Faith Before Feeling

The way to meet this temptation concerning concentration is simply to take God's side in the matter. We must follow His way by putting faith before feeling. Give yourself completely to the Lord. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you all that is not of Him in your heart and life. If the Holy Spirit reveals anything to you, give it to the Lord immediately, and say, "Thy will be done." If the Holy Spirit reveals nothing to you, you must believe that there is nothing, and must conclude that you have given Him all. Then, recognize the fact that when you give yourself to God He accepts you. Let your faith take hold of this fact at once. Firmly believe that He has taken all that you have surrendered to Him. You must not wait to feel that you have given yourself, or that God has taken you. You must simply believe it to be the case. If you are steadfast in believing, you will realize it is a blessed fact that you are completely the Lord's.

If you were to give an estate to a friend, you would have to give it, and he would have to receive it by faith. An estate is not a thing that can be picked up and handed over to another. The giving of it and the receiving of it must be a transaction of word and paper, therefore, one of faith. Now, suppose you give an estate one day to a friend, and then doubt whether you had really given it, and whether he had actually taken it and considered it his own. Suppose you feel it necessary to go day after day and renew the gift. What would your friend think? What would be the condition of your own mind concerning it? Your friend would certainly begin to doubt whether you ever intended to give it to him at all. You yourself would be so confused about it, that you would not know whether the estate was yours or his.

Now, isn't this the same way you have been acting toward God concerning consecration? You have daily given yourself to Him over and over, perhaps for months, but you still wonder whether you really gave yourself to Him and whether He has taken you. Because you felt no change, you have concluded that it is not done. This confusion will last forever, unless you stop it by putting faith to work. You must get to the point of believing the matter to be an accomplished and settled thing.

The Levitical law of offerings to the Lord clearly states that everything is given to Him becomes, by the very act of giving, something holy. Set apart from all other things, it is something that cannot be put to any other uses, unless sacrilege is committed. "Notwithstanding no devoted thing, that a man shall devote unto the Lord of all that he hath, both of man and beast, and of the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed: every devoted thing is most holy unto the Lord" (Leviticus 27:28).Having given it once to the Lord, the devoted thing from that time on was believed by all Israel as being the Lord's. No one dared to retake it. 

The giver might have grudgingly and halfheartedly made his offering, but, having made the offer, the matter was taken out of his hands altogether. The devoted thing, by God's own law, became "most holy unto the Lord." It was not made holy by the state of mind of the giver, but by the holiness of the divine receiver. "The altar sanctifieth the gift" (Matthew 23:19). An offering, once laid upon the altar, belonged to the Lord from that very moment. I can imagine someone offering a gift and then begin to question his sincerity and honesty in doing it. I can imagine his coming back to the priest to say that he was afraid because he did not give it correctly or was not perfectly sincere in giving it. I feel sure the priest would have silenced him at once, saying, "I don't know how you gave your offering, or what your motives were in giving it. The facts are that you did give it, and that it's the Lord's. For every devoted thing is most holy unto Him. It's too late to change the transaction now." Not only the priest, but all Israel, would have been aghast at the man, who having once given his offering, would reach out his hand to take it back. Yet, day after day, sincere Christians, with no thought of the sacrilege they are committing, are guilty of a similar act. They give themselves to the Lord in solemn consecration, and then through unbelief, take back that which they have given.

Because God is not visibly present to the eye, it is difficult to feel that a transaction with Him is real. If we could actually see Him when we made our acts of consecration we would feel it to be a very real thing. We would realize that we had given our word to Him and could not dare to take it back, no matter how much we might wish to do so. Such a transaction would have the same power for us as a spoken promise to an earthly friend always has to a man of honor. We need to see that God's presence is always a fact. We need to see that every act of our soul is done before Him. A word spoken in prayer is spoken to Him just as if our eyes could see Him and our hands could touch Him. We will then stop having such vague conceptions of our relations with Him and will feel the binding force of every word we say in His presence.

I know some will say, "Ah, yes. But if He would only speak to me and say that He took me when I gave myself to Him, I would have no trouble then in believing it."  No, of course you wouldn't. But then, where would the room for faith be? Sight is not faith. Hearing is not faith. Neither is "feeling" faith. But believing when we can neither see, hear, nor feel, is faith. The Bible tells us our salvation is to be by faith. Therefore, we must believe before we feel, often against our feelings, if we would command. He receives us then and there, and from that moment we are His. A real transaction has taken place. It cannot be violated without dishonor on our part, and we know it will not be violated by God.

In Deuteronomy 26:17-19 we see God's way of working under these circumstances. "Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God, and to walk in His ways, and to keep His statutes and His commandments, and His judgments, and to hearken unto His voice. And the Lord hath avouched thee this day to be His peculiar people, as He hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all His commandments, and that thou mayest be an holy people unto the Lord thy God, as He hath spoken."

When we confess the Lord to be our God, and express the desire to walk in His ways and keep His commandments, He affirms that we are His, and that we shall keep all His commandments. And from that moment He takes possession of us. This always has been and continues to be His principle of working. "Every devoted thing is most holy to the Lord." This is stated clearly. There should be no question about it!

According to His Will

However, if you need further assurance of this, let me refer you to a New Testament verse which approaches the subject from a different angle, but which also definitely settles it. It is in John 5:14-15, and reads, "And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us: And if we know that He hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him." Is it according to His will that you should be entirely surrendered to Him? There is only one answer to this. He has commanded it! Is it not also according to His will that He should work in you to will and to do of His good pleasure? This question also can have only one answer, for He has declared it to be His purpose.

You know, then, that these things are according to His will. Therefore, God's own Word tells you that He hears you. Knowing this much, you are motivated to go farther and know that you have the petitions that you have desired of Him. That you have, I say, not that you will have, or may have, but have now in actual possession. It is thus that we "obtain promises" by faith. It is thus that we have "access" by faith" into the grace that is given us in our Lord Jesus Christ. It is thus, and thus only, that we come to know our hearts "purified by faith," and are enabled to live by faith, to stand by faith, to walk by faith.

I wish to make this subject so clear and practical that no one need be confused about it again. I will again repent exactly what must be done to get rid of your confusion about consecration.

I suppose that you have trusted the Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins. I suppose you know something of what it means to belong to the family of God and to be made an heir of God through faith in Christ. And now you feel springing up in your heart the longing to be conformed to the image of your Lord. In order for this to happen, you must surrender yourself entirely to Him so that He may work in you all the good pleasure of His will. You have tried over and over to do it, but up to now you have not been successful. It is at this point that I desire to help you.

What you must do now is to come to Him once more in a surrender of your whole self to His will, as completely as  you know how. You must ask Him to reveal to you, by His Spirit, any hidden rebellion. And if He reveals nothing, then you must believe that there is nothing, and that the surrender is complete. This must then be considered a settled matter. You have totally yielded yourself to the Lord, and from now on you do not in any way belong to yourself. You must never even so much as listen to a suggestion to the contrary. If you are tempted to doubt whether you really have completely surrendered yourself, face it with the assurance that you have. Don't even debate the matter. Get rid of any such idea instantly. Get rid of it firmly. You meant it then and you mean it now. You have really done it. Your emotions may question the surrender, but your will must hold firm. It is your purpose God looks at, not your feelings about that purpose. And your purpose, or will, is therefore the only thing you need to consider.

God Works In You

Once the surrender has been made, it never needs to be questioned. The next point is to believe that God takes what you have surrendered and accepts it as His. He does not accept it at some future time. He accepts it at that moment. From that point on He will begin to work in you to will and to do of His good pleasure. It is in this that you must be content. There is nothing more for you to do, except  to be an obedient child. For you are the Lord's. You are entirely in His hands, and He has taken over the complete care and management and forming of you. He will, according to His Word, work "in you that which is well pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ" (Hebrews 13:21). But you must be firmly resolved here. If you begin to question your surrender, or God's acceptance of it, then your wavering faith will produce a wavering experience, and He cannot work in you to do His will. But while you trust, He works. And the result of His working is always to change you into the image of Christ by His mighty Spirit.

Do you completely surrender yourself to Him at this moment? If you answer "yes", begin at once to believe that you are His, that He has taken you, and that He is working in you to will and to do of His good pleasure. Keep on believing this. You will find it a great help to put your reckoning into words, and say over and over to yourself and to your God, "Lord I am Yours. I give myself entirely to You. I believe that You take me. I leave myself with You. Work in me all the good pleasure of Your will, and I will only lie still in Your hands and trust You.

Make this a daily, definite act of your will, and many times a day remember it as your continual attitude before the Lord. Confess it to yourself. Confess it to your God. Confess it to your friends. Continually confess the Lord to be your God. Declare your purpose of walking in His ways and keeping His statutes. And sooner or later, you will find in practical experience that He has taken you to be one of His peculiar people, enabling you to keep all His commandments and assuring you that you are being made into "an holy people unto the Lord, as He hath spoken (Deuteronomy 7:6).

~Hanna Whitall Smith~


Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Saint Must Walk Alone

The Saint Must Walk Alone

Most of the world's great souls have been lonely. Loneliness seems to be one price the saint must pay for his saintliness.

In the morning of the world (or should we say, in that strange darkness that came soon after the dawn of man's creation) that pious soul, Enoch, walked with God and was not, for God took him; and while it is not stated in so many words, a fair inference is that Enoch walked a path quite apart from his contemporaries.

Another lonely man was Noah who, of all the antediluvians, found grace in the sight of God; and every shred of evidence points to the aloneness of his life even while surrounded by his people.

Again, Abraham had Sarah and Lot, as well as many servants and herdsmen, but who can read his story and the apostolic comment upon it without sensing instantly that he was a man "whose soul was alike a star and dwelt apart"? As far as we know not one word did God ever speak to him in the company of men. Face down he communed with his God, and the innate dignity of the man forbade that he assume this posture in the presence of others. How sweet and solemn was the scene that night of the sacrifice when he saw the lamps of fire moving between the pieces of offering. There alone with a horror of great darkness upon him he heard the voice of God and knew that he was a man marked for divine favor.

Moses also was a man apart. While yet attached to the court of Pharaoh he took long walks, alone, and during one of these walks far removed from the crowds he saw an Egyptian and a Hebrew fighting and came to the rescue of his countryman. After the resultant break with Egypt he dwelt in almost complete seclusion in the desert. There while he watched his sheep alone the wonder of the burning bush appeared to him, and later on the peak of Sinai he crouched alone to gaze in fascinated awe at the Presence, partly hidden, partly disclosed, within the cloud and fire.

The prophets of pre-Christian times differed widely from each other, but one mark they bore in common was their enforced loneliness. They loved their people and gloried in the religion of the fathers, but their loyalty to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their zeal for the welfare of the nation of Israel drove them away from the crowd and into long periods of heaviness. "I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children," cried  one and unwittingly spoke for all the rest.

Most revealing of all is the sight of that One of whom Moses and all the prophets did write treading His lonely way to the cross, His deep loneliness unrelieved by the presence of the multitudes.

'Tis midnight, and on Olive's brow
The star is dimmed that lately shone;
'Tis midnight; in the garden now,
The suffering Saviour prays alone.
'Tis midnight, and from all removed
The Saviour wrestles lone with fears,
E'en the disciple whom He loved
Heeds not his Master's grief and tears.
(William Tappan)

He died alone in the darkness hidden from the sight of mortal man and no one saw Him when He arose triumphant and walked out of the tomb, though many saw Him afterward and bore witness to what they saw.

There are some things too sacred for any eye but God's to look upon. The curiosity, the clamor, the well-meant but blundering effort to help can only hinder the waiting soul and make unlikely if not impossible the communication of the secret message of God to the worshiping heart.

Sometimes we react by a kind of religious reflex and repeat dutifully the proper words and phrases even though they fail to express our real feelings and lack the authenticity of personal experience. Right now is such a time. A certain conventional loyalty may lead some who hear this unfamiliar truth expressed for the first time to say brightly, "Oh, I am never lonely. Christ said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you,' and, 'Lo, I am with you alway.' How can I be lonely when Jesus is with me?"

Now I do not want to reflect on the sincerity of any Christian soul, but this stock testimony is too neat to be real. It is obviously what the speaker thinks should be true rather than what he has proved to be rue by the test of experience. This cheerful denial of loneliness proves only that the speaker has never walked with God without the support and encouragement afforded him by society. The sense of companionship which he mistakenly attributes to the presence of Christ may and probably does arise from the presence of friendly people. Always remember: you cannot carry a cross in company. Though a man were surrounded by a vast crowd, his cross is his alone and his carrying of it marks him as a man apart. Society has turned against him; otherwise he would have no cross. No one is a friend to the man with a cross. "They all forsook him, and fled."

The pain of loneliness arises from the constitution of our nature. God made us for each other. The desire for human companionship is completely natural and right. The loneliness of the Christian results from his walk with God in an ungodly world, a walk that must often take him away from the fellowship of good Christians as well as from that of the unregenerate world. His Godgiven instincts cry out for companionship with others of his kind, others who can understand his longings, his aspirations, his absorption in the love of Christ; and because within his circle of friends there are so few who share his inner experiences he is forced to walk alone. The unsatisfied longings of the prophets for human understanding caused them to cry out in their complaint, and even our Lord Himself suffered in the same way.

The man who has passed on into the divine Presence in actual inner experience will not find many who understand him. A certain amount of social fellowship will of course be his as he mingles with religious persons in the regular activities of the church, but true spiritual fellowship will be hard to find. But he should not expect things to be otherwise. After all, he is a stranger and a pilgrim, and the journey he takes is not on his feet but in his heart. He walks with God in the garden of his own soul and who but God can walk there with him? He is of another spirit from the multitudes that tread the courts of the Lord's house. He has sent that of which they have only heard, and he walks among them somewhat as Zacharias walked after his return from the altar when the people whispered, "He has seen a vision."

The truly spiritual man is indeed something of an oddity. He lives not for himself but to promote the interests of Another. He seeks to persuade people to give all to his Lord and ask no portion or share for himself. He delights not to be honored but to see his Saviour glorified in the eyes of men. His joy is to see his Lord promoted and himself neglected. He finds few who care to talk about that which is the supreme object of his interest, so he is often silent and preoccupied in the midst of noisy religious shoptalk. For this he earns the reputation of being dull and over serious, so he is avoided and the gulf between him and society widens. He searches for friends upon whose garments he can detect the smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of the ivory palaces, and finding few or none he, like Mary of old, keeps these things in his heart.

It is this very loneliness that throws him back upon God. "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take my up." His inability to find human companionship drives him to seek in God what he can find nowhere else. He learns in inner solitude what he could not have learned in the crowd that Christ is ALL in ALL, that He is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption, that in Him we have and possess life's summum bonum.

Two things remain to be said. One, that the lonely man of whom we speak is not a haughty man, nor is he the holier-than-thou, austere saint so bitterly satirized in popular literature. He is likely to feel that he is the least of all men and is sure to blame himself for his very loneliness. He wants to share his feelings with others and to open his heart to some like-minded soul who will understand him, but the spiritual climate around him does not encourage it, so he remains silent and tells his griefs to God alone.

The second thing is that the lonely saint is not the withdrawn man who hardens himself against human suffering and spends his days contemplating the heavens. Just the opposite is true. His loneliness makes him sympathetic to the approach of the broken-hearted and the fallen and the sin-bruised. Because he is detached from the world  he is all the more able to help it. Meister Eckhart taught his followers that if they should find themselves in prayer as it were caught up to the third heavens and happen to remember that a poor widow needed food, they should break off the prayer instantly and go care for the widow. "God will not suffer you to lose anything by it," he told them. "You can take up again in prayer where you left off and the Lord will make it up to you." This is typical of the great mystics and masters of the interior life from Paul to the present day.

The weakness of so many modern Christians is that they feel too much at home in the world. In their effort to achieve restful "adjustment" to unregenerate society they have lost their pilgrim character and become an essential part of the very moral order against which they are sent to protest. The world recognizes them and accepts them for what they are. And this is the saddest thing that can be said about them. They are not lonely, but neither are they saints.

~A. W. Tozer~

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Heaven's Inhabitants

Heaven's Inhabitants

The society of heaven will be select. No one who studies Scripture can doubt that. There are a good many kinds of aristocracy in this world, but the aristocracy of heaven will be the aristocracy of holiness. The humblest sinner on earth will be an aristocrat there. It says in the fifty-seventh chapter of Isaiah: "For thus saith the High and Lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy; I will dwell in the high and holy place, with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit. Now what could be plainer than that? No one that is not of a contrite and humble spirit will dwell with God in His high and holy place.

If there is anything that ought to make heaven near to Christians, it is knowing that God and all their loved ones will be there. What is it that makes home so attractive? Is it because we have a beautiful home? Is it because we have beautiful lawns? Is it because we have beautiful trees around that home? Is it because we have beautiful paintings upon the walls inside? Is it because we have beautiful furniture? Is that all that makes home so attractive and so beautiful? Nay, it is the loved ones in it; it is the loved ones there.

I remember after being away from home some time, I went back to see my honored mother, and I thought in going back I would take her by surprise, and steal in unexpectedly upon her, but when I found she had gone away, the old place didn't seem like home at all. I went into one room and then into another, and I went all through the house, but I could not find that loved mother, and I said to some member of the family, "Where is mother?" and they said she had gone away. Well, home had lost its charm to me; it was that mother that made home so sweet to me, and it is the loved ones that make home so sweet to everyone; it is the loved ones that are going to make heaven so sweet to all of us. Christ is there; God, the Father, is there; and many, many that were dear to us that lived on earth are there - and we shall be with them by and by.

We find clearly in the 18th chapter of Matthew, and the 10th verse, that the angels are there: Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven, their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

Their angels do always behold the Father's face! We shall have good company up there; not only they that have been redeemed, but those that have never been lost; those that have never known what it is to transgress; those who have never known what it is to be disobedient; those who have obeyed Him from the very morning of creation.

It says in another place, when Gabriel came down to tell Zachariah that he was to be the father of the forerunner of Jesus Christ, Zachariah doubted him, he had never been doubted before; and that doubt is met with the declaration: "I am Gabriel, that standeth in the presence of the Almighty." What a glorious thing to be able to say!

It has been said that there will be three things which will surprise us when we get to heaven - one, to find many there that we did not expect to find there; another, to find some not there whom we had expected; and third, and perhaps the greatest wonder, will be to find ourselves there.

A poor woman once told Rowland Hill that the way to heaven was short, easy and simple; comprising only three steps - out of self, into Christ, and into glory. We have a shorter way now - out of self and into Christ, and  we are there. As a dead man cannot inherit an estate, no more than a dead soul inherit heaven. The soul must be resurrected in Christ. Among the good whom we hope to meet in heaven, we are told, there will be every variety of character, taste, and disposition. There is not one mansion there; but many. There is not one gate to heaven, but many. There are not only gates on the north; but on the east three gates, and on the west three gates, and on the south three gates. From opposite quarters of the theological compass, from opposite quarters of the religious world, from opposite quarters of human life and character, through different expressions of their common faith and hope, through different modes of conversion, through different portions of the Holy Scripture, will the weary travelers enter the Heavenly City,and meet each other - "not without surprise" - on the shores of the same river of life. And on those shores they will find a tree bearing, not the same kind of fruit always and at all times, but "twelve manner of fruits", for every different turn of mind, - for the patient sufferer, for the active servant, for the holy and humble philosopher, for the spirits of just men now at last made perfect; and "the leaves of the tree shall be for the healing," not of one single church or people only, not for the Scotchman or the Englishman only, but for the "healing of the nations," - the Frenchman, the German, the Italian, the Russian - for all those from whom it may be, in this, its fruits have been farthest removed, but who, nevertheless, have "hungered and thirsted after righteousness.: and who therefore"shall be filled."

An eminent living divine says: "When I was a boy, I thought of heaven as a great, shining city, with vast walls and domes and spires, and with nobody in it except white-robed angels, who were strangers to me. By and by my little brother dies; and I thought of a great city with walls and domes and spires, and a flock of cold, unknown angels, and one little fellow that I was acquainted with. He was the only one I knew at that time. Then another brother dies; and there were two that I knew. Then my acquaintances began to die; and the flock continually grew. But it was not till I had sent one of my little children to his Heavenly Parent-God that I began to think I had got a little in myself. A second went, a third went; a fourth went; and by that time I had so many acquaintances in heaven, that I did not see any more walls and domes and spires. I began to think of the residents of the celestial city. And now there have so many of my acquaintances gone there, that it sometimes seems to me that I know more in heaven than I do on earth."

We Will Live Forever

It says in the 12th chapter of John and the 26th verse: If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be.

I cannot agree with some people, that Paul has been sleeping in the grave, and is still there, after the storms of eighteen hundred years. I cannot believe that he who loved the Master, who had such a burning zeal for Him, has been separated from Him in an unconscious state, "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou has given me." This is Christ's prayer.

Now when a man believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, he gets eternal life. A great many people make a mistake right there;" He that believeth on the Son hath - HATH - eternal life;" it does not say he shall have it when he comes to die; it is in the present tense; it is mine now - if I believe. He is the gift of God, that is enough. You can't bury the gift of God; you can't buy eternal life. All the grave diggers in the world can't dig a grave large enough and deep enough to hold eternal life; all the coffin makers of the world can't make a coffin large enough and deep enough to hold eternal life; that is mine; it is mine!

I believe when Paul said, "To be absent from the body and present with the Lord," he meant what he said; that he was not going to be separated from Him for eighteen hundred years; that spirit that he got when he was converted he got from a new life and a new nature, and they could not lay that away in the sepulcher; they could not bury that that flew to meet its Maker. It may be he is not satisfied, and will not be until the resurrection, but Christ says: "He will see then the travail of his soul, and be satisfied." Even the body shall be raised; this body, sown in dishonor, shall be raised in glory; this body which has put in corruption, shall put on incorruption,and this mortal shall put on immortality. It is only a question of time. The great morning of the world will, by and by, dawn upon the earth,and the dead shall come forth and shall hear the voice of Him who is the resurrection and the life.

Paul says: If our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. He could take down the clay temple, and leave that, but he had a better house. He says in one place: I am in a strait betwixt two; having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better; nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for me. To me, it is a sweet thought to think that death does not separate us from the Master. A great many people are living continually in the bondage of death, but if I have eternal life, death cannot touch that; it may touch the house I live in; it may change my countenance and send my body away to the grave, but it cannot touch this new life. To me it is very sad to think that so many professed Christians look upon death as they do.

I received some time ago a letter from a friend in London, and I thought, as I read it, I would take it and read it to other people and see if I could not get them to look upon death as this friend does. He lost a loved mother. In England it is a very common thing to send out cards in memory of the departed ones, and they put upon them great borders of black - sometimes a quarter of an inch of black border - but this friend has gone and put on gold; he did not put on black at all; she had gone to the golden city, and so he just put on a golden border; and I think it is a good deal better than black. I think when our friends die, instead of putting a great black border upon our memorials to make them look dark, it would be better for us to put on gold.

It is not death at all; it is life. Some one said to a person dying; "Well, you are in the land of the living yet." "No, said he, "I am in the land of the dying yet, but I am going to the land of the living; they live there and never die." This is the land of sin and death and tears, but up yonder they never die. It is perpetual life; it is unceasing joy.

"It is a glorious thing to die," was the testimony of Hannah More on her deathbed, though her life had been sown thick with the rarest friendships, and age had not so weakened her memory as to cause her to forget those little  hamlets among the cliffs of her native hills, or the mission schools she had with such perseverance established, and where she would be so sadly missed.

As some one has said: "There is a soft, down bed; 

'Tis fair as breath of even;
A couch for weary mortals spread,
Where they may rest the aching head,
And find repose in heaven!
There is an hour of peaceful rest, 
To mourning wanderers given.
There is joy for souls distressed
A balm for every wounded breast,
'Tis found alone in heaven!"

Knowing Our Friends

Many are anxious to know if they will recognize their friends in heaven. In the 8th chapter of Matthew and the 11th verse, we read: And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.

Here we find that Abraham, who lived so many hundreds of years before Christ, had not lost his identity, and Christ tells us that the time is coming when they shall come from the east and west and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of God. These men had not lost their identity; they were known as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And if you will turn to that wonderful scene that took place on the Mount of Transfiguration, you will find that Moses, who had been gone from the earth 1,500 years, was there; Peter, James and John saw him on the Mount of Transfiguration, they saw him as Moses; he had not lost his name. God says over here is Isaiah, "I will not blot your names out of the Lamb's Book of Life." We have names in heaven; we are going to bear our names there, we will be known.

Over in the Psalms it says: When I wake in His likeness I shall be satisfied. That is enough. Want is written on every human heart down here, but there we will be satisfied. You may hunt the world from one end to the other, and you will not find a man or woman who is satisfied; but in heaven we will want for nothing. It says in the 2nd chapter of the 1st Epistle of John, speaking to followers of Christ:

"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."

Moreover, it seems highly probable; indeed I think it is clearly taught by Scripture, that a great many careless Christians will get into heaven. There will be a great many who will get in by the skins of their teeth, or as Lot was saved from Sodom, so as by fire. They will barely get in, but there will be no crown of rejoicing. But everybody is not going to rush into heaven. There are a great many who won't be there. You know we have a class of people who tell us that they are going into the kingdom of God, whether they are converted or not. They tell us that they are on their way; that they are going there; that the good, the bad and indifferent are all going into the kingdom, and that they will all be there; that there is no difference; and, in other words - if I may be allowed to use plain language - they give God the lie. But they say, "We believe in the mercy of God;" so do I. I believe in the justice of God, too; and I think heaven would be a good deal worse than this earth if an unrenewed man were permitted to go into it. Why, if a man should live forever in this world in sin, what would become of this world? It seems as if it would be hell itself! Let your mind pass over the history of this country and think of some that have lived in it. Suppose they never should die; suppose they should live on and on forever in sin and rebellion; and do you think that God is going to take those men that have rejected His Son, that have rejected the offer of His mercy, that have rejected salvation, and have just trampled His law under their feet, and have been in rebellion against his laws down here? Do you suppose God is going to take them right into His Kingdom and let them live there forever? By no means!

No Saloons In Heaven

No drunkard shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. Now let those mothers that have sons who are just commencing a dissipated life, wake up; and not rest day nor night until their boys are converted by the power by the power of God's grace, because no drunkard shall inherit the kingdom of God. These moderate drinkers will become drunkards; no man ever became a drunkard all at once. How the devil blinds these moderate drinkers! I do not know of any sin more binding than the sin of intemperance; the man is bound hand and foot before He knows it.

I was reading some time ago an account of snake-worshiping in India. I thought it was a horrible thing. I read of a mother who saw a snake come into her home and coil itself around her little infant only six months old, and she thought that the reptile was such a sacred thing that she did not dare to touch it; and she saw that snake destroy her child; she heard its pitiful cries, but dared not rescue it. My soul revolted as I read it. But I do not know but we have things right here in America that are just as bad as that serpent in India - serpents that are coming into many a Christian home, and coiling around many a son and binding them hand and foot, and the fathers and mothers seem to be asleep.

O, may the Spirit of God wake us up! No drunkard shall inherit the kingdom of God; nor rum-seller either. Bear it in mind. "Woe be to the man that putteth the bottle to his neighbor's lips." I pity any professed Christians who rent their property for drinking saloons. I pity them from the depths of my heart. If you can never rent your property to better purposes you had better let it stand empty. This idea that all is going well, and that all are going into the kingdom of God, whether they repent or not, is not taught anywhere in the Scriptures.

There will be no extortioners in heaven: those men that are just taking advantage of their brothers; of those men who have been unfortunate; whose families are sick; who have had to go and mortgage their property, and had snap judgment taken against them by some man who has his hand at their throats, and takes every cent that he can get. That man is an extortioner. He shall not inherit the kingdom of God. I pity a man that gets money dishonestly. See the trouble that he has to keep it. It is sure to be scattered. If you got it dishonestly you can't keep it; your children can't keep it - they haven't got the power. You see that all over the country. A man that gets a dollar dishonestly, had better make restitution and pay it back very quick or it will burn in his pocket.

Some Won't Get In

In the days of Noah we read that he waded as it were though the deluge. He was the only righteous man, but according to the theory of some people, the rest of those men who were so foul and so wicked - too wicked to live - God just took them and swept them all into heaven, and left the only righteous man to go through this trial. Drunkards, and thieves and vagabonds all went to heaven, they say. You might as well go forward and preach that you can swear as much as you like, and murder as much as you have a mind to, and it will all come out right - that God will forgive you; God is so merciful. [Foolish!]

Suppose the governor of a state should pardon out every person that the courts ever convicted,and are now lying in its jails and penitentiaries; suppose he should let them all loose because he is so merciful that he could not bear to have men punished; I think he would not be governor of that state long. These men who are talking about God being so full of mercy, that he is going to spare all, and take all men to heaven, would be the very men to say that such a governor as that ought to be impeached - that he ought not to be governor. Let us bear in mind that the Scriptures says there is a certain class of people who shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Now, I will give you the sanction - I will give you the Scripture; it is a good better to just give the Scripture for these things, and then if you don't like it you can quarrel with Scripture, and not with me. Let no man say that I have been saying who is going to heaven and who is not; I will let the Scriptures speak for itself: "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?"

But the unrighteous - the adulterers, the fornicators and thieves - these men may all inherit it if they will only turn away from their sins. "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts;" but if the unrighteous man says: "I will not turn away from sin; I will hold on to sin and have heaven," he is deceiving himself.

A man that steals my pocketbook loses a good deal more than i do. I can afford to let him have my pocketbook a great deal better than he can afford to take it. See how much that man loses that steals my pocketbook. Perhaps he may get a few dollars; or he may steal my coat; but he does not get much. See how much he has lost. Take an inventory of what that man loses if he loses heaven. Think of it. No thief shall inherit the kingdom of God. To any thief I would say: steal no more. Let him ask God to forgive him; let him repent of his sin and turn to God. If you get eternal life it is worth more than the whole world. If you were to steal the whole world, you wouldn't get much, after all. The whole world doesn't amount to much, if you have not eternal life with it, to enjoy yourself in the future.

~D. L. Moody~

(The End)

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Few There Be That Find It

Few There Be That Find It

"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matthew 7:13-14)

Less than 1%: Only 8 people were saved from the flood in Noah's day. He preached 120 years.
Less than 1%: Only 3 people survived Sodom and Gormorrah. Lot's wife looked back.
Less than 1%: Only 2 people made the wilderness journey into the Promised Land.

68.5% of the world rejects Jesus Christ.

Christianity make up 31.5% or 2.2 billion people.
This includes Catholics over 1 billion people and Protestants over 1 billion people.

Catholics are deceived because they pray to Mary and to the saints. Catholics also remove the 2nd Commandment (thou shalt not make any graven images or worship idols). They also believe they are born again at infant baptism and receive Christ at communion. Also Catholics confess  sins to their priest instead of God. Result: 1 billion plus people lost.

Many who say they are "Christians":
51% believe abortion is okay morally.
31% believe homosexuality is not a sin.
22% protestant pastors drink.
39% protestant laity drink.
68% Christian men are into pornography.
51% lie monthly.
48% admit stealing.
61% believe sex before marriage is okay.
50% are divorced and remarried.
56% practise co-habitation.
81% churchgoers don't read the Bible daily.
48% don't read for spiritual growth.
74% of the clergy in America no longer believe in the inerrancy of Scripture.
95% pastors don't have family devotions.
Best Sellers: modern liberal Bibles.
Most Christians do not believe the Bible is the inspired, infallible word of God.
It is interesting too that the most stolen public library book is a religious book.

Christians who steal do not go to heaven.

Most religious people are extremely busy:

1. Making money - Preparing for retirement. They fail to see: these two activities have nothing to do with preparing for eternity in heaven.

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats (Vegans and Vegetarians), which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained" (1 Timothy 4:1-6).

Many Shall Not Go to Heaven: Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, 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" (Galatians 5:19-21).

Why People Are Not Prepared For Eternity:

1. People are lovers of self and money. Check out what people are storing and then look at their savings. Notice what they spend their money on. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting" (Galatians 6:7-8). For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (1 Timothy 6:10).

2. People are blind to the truth of God's Word. "But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

3. People are listening to false preachers. These preachers, if they talk about sin, say: "I am not talking about you that are sitting within ear of my voice." They preach the false rapture theory that before times get bad, God will take you out of this world. They also preach positive messages. They replace prayer meetings with music, Bible quizes, socials, etc.

4. People are following pastors that are only interested in M & Ms: Money and Membership. The Bible calls these pastors "hirelings". They are not servants. They do not have elders but operate like a business with board members. They are the 501C3 preachers. They will not preach against divorce and remarriage. These pastors can't say,"I am the good shepherd."

5. People want to be entertained when they come to church. They want to hear words that tickle their ears. They want music that is modern (not hymns), contemporary and rock.

6. People lack a "fear of God." They fear man more than God. "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 7:1). Whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent" (Acts 13:26).

7. People are procrastinators. "And as he (Paul) reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled,and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee" (Acts 24:25). (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) (2 Corinthians 6:2). Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth" (Proverbs 27:1).

8. People hate the message of "Holiness, Purity & Perfection." They would rather hear about the future, prophecy, dreams and visions. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: (Hebrews 12:14). Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peach shall be with you" (2 Corinthians 13:11).

9. People have made their belly their god and do not want to take up their cross. How much do Christians spend eating out? How many Christians are over weight? How many want to die to self? (For many walk, of whom I have told you often,and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the Cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things") (Phil. 3:18-19).

10. People believe that they can live in sin and die in grace.  They believe the damnable doctrine of "Once Saved, Always Saved". satan's lie from the beginning has been "ye shall not die if ye sin." "He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His  seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God" (1 John 3:8-9). Sinners are hell bound.

11. People don't want to separate from the world. They love the world. Sports and entertainment have become their gods. Check it out: where do you spend your time? "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you" (2 Corinthians 6:17). "Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you,  and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake" (Luke 6:22). "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness,but denying the power thereof: from such turn away" (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

12. People have their faith in doctors, drugs, and herbs and not in Jesus Christ. "I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8). But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). How many Christians are using drugs or herbs? Oh faithless generation!

13. People spend little time in prayer and Bible study. Your prayer time and Bible study time show what kind of relationship you have with your Saviour Jesus Christ. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

14. People do not want to be a disciple of Jesus. Jesus said that there three things that every Christian must encounter to become a true disciple: 1. hatred of family, 2. bear your cross, 3. forsake all. Jesus got only twelve followers to respond to His call. "If any man come to Me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be my disciple. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:26, 27, 33).

Listen to Vance Havner: "He (Jesus) does not say we will be poor disciples (if we don't do the above). He says we cannot be His disciples at all! Tone it down all you will, the cleverest exegesis cannot do much with this three fold test. What is it that we are so silent on such texts today? We have let down the bars and we take all corners. Our catch-all invitations gather in a motley mixture, a mixed multitude. Screen them with the three cannots and see how much wheat is left when the chaff is gone!"

"Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able" (Luke 13:24).

Recommended Reading:

"Eternal Security & and Bible" - S. R. Harding
"Narrow Way" - A. W. Pink
"No Cross, No Crown" - William Penn
"Pagen Christianity" - Frank Viola
"satan's Deception in Last Days" - D. W. Matter
"Seduction of the Saints" - Charles Crismier
"Strait Gate" - John Bunyan
"That There Are But A Small Number Saved" - Henry Scougal

(The End)


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Lord, Teach Us To Pray # 4

Lord, Teach Us To Pray # 4

After This Manner Pray,

Or The Model Prayer

'After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven" (Matthew 6:9).

Every teacher knows the power of example. He not only tells the child what to do and how to do it, but shows him how it really can be done. In condescension to our weakness, our Heavenly Teacher has given us the very words we are to take with us as we draw near to our Father. We have in them a form of prayer in which there breathe the freshness and fullness of the Eternal Life. So simple that the child can lisp it, so divinely rich that it comprehends all that God can give. A form of prayer that becomes the model and inspiration for all other prayer, and yet always draws us back to itself as the deepest utterance of our souls before our God.

'Our Father which art in heaven!' To appreciate this word of adoration aright, I must remember that none of the saints had in Scripture ever ventured to address God as their Father. The invocation places us at once in the center of the wonderful revelation the Son came to make of His Father as our Father too. It comprehends the mystery of redemption - Christ delivering us from the curse that we might become the children of God. The mystery of regeneration - the Spirit in the new birth giving us the new life. And the mystery of faith - ere yet the redemption is accomplished or understood, the word is given on the lips of the disciples to prepare them for the blessed experience still to come. The words are the key to the whole prayer, to all prayer. It takes time, it takes life to study them: it will take eternity to understand them fully. The knowledge of God's Father-love is the first and simplest, but also the last and highest lesson in the school of prayer. It is in the personal relation to the living God, and the personal conscious fellowship of love with Himself, that prayer begins. It is in the knowledge of God's Fatherliness, revealed by the Holy Spirit, that the power of prayer will be found to root and grow. In the infinite tenderness and pity and patience of the infinite Father, in His loving readiness to hear and to help, the life of prayer has its joy. O let us take time, until the Spirit has made these words to us spirit and truth,filling heart and life: 'Our Father which art in heaven.' Then we are indeed within the veil, in the secret place of power where prayer always prevails.

'Hallowed by Thy Name.' There is something here that strikes us at once. While we ordinarily first bring our own needs to God in prayer, and then think of what belongs to God and His interests, the Master reverses the order. First, "Thy" name, "Thy" kingdom, "Thy" will; then, give us, forgive us, lead us, deliver us. The lesson is of more importance than we think. In true worship the Father must be first, must be all. The sooner I learn to forget myself in the desire that HE may be glorified, the richer will the blessing be that prayer will bring to myself. No one ever loses by what he sacrifices for the Father.

This must influence all our prayer. There are two sorts of prayer: personal and intercessory. The latter ordinarily occupies the lesser part of our time and energy. This may not be. Christ has opened the school of prayer specially to train intercessors for the great work of bringing down, by their faith and prayer, the blessings of His work and love on the world around. There can be no deep growth in prayer unless this be made our aim. The little child may ask of the father only what it needs for itself; and yet it soon learns to say, Give some for sister too. But the grownup son, who only lives for the father's interest and takes charge of the father's business, ask more largely, and gets all that is asked. And Jesus would train us to the blessed life of consecration and service, in which our interests are all subordinate to the Name, and the Kingdom, and the Will of the Father. O let us live for this, and let, on each act of adoration, Our Father! there follow in the same breath, Thy Name, Thy Kingdom, Thy Will; - for this we look up and long.

'Hallowed be Thy name.' What name? This new name of Father. The word "Holy" is the central word of the Old Testament; the "name" Father of the New. In this name of Love all holiness and glory of God are now to be revealed. And how is the name to be hallowed? By God Himself: 'I will hallow My great name which ye have profaned.' Our prayer must be that in ourselves, in all God's children, in presence of the world, God Himself would reveal the holiness, the Divine power, the hidden glory of the name of Father. The Spirit of the Father is the Holy Spirit: it is only when we yield ourselves to be led of Him, that the name will be "hallowed" in our prayer and our lives. Let us learn the prayer: 'Our Father, hallowed be Thy name.'

'Thy kingdom come.' The Father is a King and has a kingdom. The son and heir of a king has no higher ambition than the glory of his father's kingdom. In time of war or danger this becomes his passion; he can think of nothing else. The children of the Father are herein the enemy's territory, where the kingdom, which is in heaven, is not yet fully manifested. What more natural than that, when they learn to hallow the Father-name, they should long and cry with deep enthusiasm: 'Thy kingdom come.' The coming of the kingdom is the one great event on which the revelation of the Father's glory, the blessedness of His children, the salvation of the world depends. On our prayers too the coming of the kingdom waits. Shall we not join in the deep longing cry of the redeemed: 'Thy kingdom come'? Let us learn it in the school of Jesus.

"Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.' This petition is too frequently applied alone to the suffering of the will of God. In heaven God's will is "done', and the Master teaches the child to ask that the will may be done on earth just as in heaven: in the spirit of adoring submission and ready obedience. Because the will of God is the glory of heaven, the doing of it is the blessedness of heaven. As the will is done, the kingdom of heaven comes into the heart. And wherever faith has accepted the Father's love, obedience accepts the Father's will. The surrender to, and the prayer for a life of heaven-like obedience, is the spirit of childlike prayer.

'Give us this day our daily bread.' When first the child has yielded himself to the Father in the care for His Name, His Kingdom, and His Will, he has full liberty to ask for his daily bread. A master cares for the food of his servant, a general of his soldiers, a father of his child. And will not the Father in heaven care for the child who has in prayer given himself up to His interests? We may indeed in full confidence say: Father, I live for Thy honor and Thy work; I know Thou carest for me. Consecration to God and His will gives wonderful liberty in prayer for temporal things: the whole earthly life is given to the Father's loving care.

'And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven debtors.' As bread is the first need of the body, so forgiveness for the soul. And the provision for the one is as sure as for the other. We are children, but sinners too; our right of access to the Father's presence we owe to the precious blood and the forgiveness it has won for us. Let us beware of the prayer for forgiveness becoming a formality: only what is really confessed is really forgiven. Let us in faith accept the forgiveness as promised: as a spiritual reality,an actual transaction between God and us, it is the entrance into all the Father's love and all the privileges of children. Such forgiveness, as a living experience, is impossible without a forgiving spirit to others: as "forgiven" expresses the heavenward, so "forgiving" the earthward, relation of God's child. In each prayer to the Father I must be able to say that I know of no one whom I do not heartily love.

'And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.' Our daily bread, the pardon of our sins, and then our being kept from all sin and the power of the evil one, in these three petitions all our personal need is comprehended. The prayer for bread and pardon must be accompanied by the surrender to live in all things in holy obedience to the Father's will, and the believing prayer in everything to be kept by the power of the indwelling Spirit from the power of the evil one.

Children of God! it is thus Jesus would have us to pray to the Father in heaven. O let His Name, and Kingdom, and Will, have the first place in our love; His providing, and pardoning, and keeping love will be our sure portion. So the prayer will lead us up to the true child-life: the Father all to the child, the Father all for the child, the Thine and the Our, are all one, and how the heart that begins its prayer with the God-devoted THINE, will have the power in faith to speak out the OUR too. Such prayer will, indeed, be the fellowship and interchange of love, always bringing us back in trust and worship to Him who is not only the Beginning but the End: 'FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM, AND THE POWER, AND THE GLORY, FOR EVER, AMEN.' Son of the Father, teach us to pray. "OUR FATHER.'

'LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY.'

O Thou who art the only-begotten Son, teach us, we beseech Thee, to pray, 'OUR FATHER.' We thank Thee, Lord, for these Living Blessed Words which Thou hast given us. We thank Thee for the millions who in them have learned to know and worship the Father, and for what they have been to us. Lord! it is as if we needed days and weeks in Thy school with each separate petition; so deep and full are they. But we look to Thee to lead us deeper into their meaning: do it, we pray Thee, for Thy Name's sake: Thy name is Son of the Father.

Lord! Thou didst once say: 'No man knoweth the Father save the Son, and he to whom the Son willeth to reveal Him.' And again: 'I made known unto them Thy name, and will make it known, that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them.' Lord Jesus! reveal to us the Father. Let His name, His infinite Father-love, the love with which He loved Thee, according to Thy prayer, BE IN US. Then shall we say aright, 'OUR FATHER!' Then shall we apprehend Thy teaching, and the first spontaneous breathing of our heart will be: 'Our Father, Thy Name, Thy Kingdom, Thy Will.' And we shall bring our needs and our sins and our temptations to Him in the confidence that the love of such a Father cares for all.

Blessed Lord! we are Thy scholars, we trust Thee; do teach us to pray, 'OUR FATHER.' Amen

~Andrew Murray~

(The End)

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Lord, Teach Us To Pray # 3

Lord, Teach Us To Pray # 3

Pray To Thy Father Which Is In Secret

OR

Alone with God

"But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thine inner chamber, and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall recompense thee" (Matthew 6:6).

After Jesus had called His first disciples He gave them their first public teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. He there expounded to them the kingdom of God, its laws and its life. In that kingdom God is not only King, but Father; He not only gives all, but is Himself all. In the knowledge and fellowship of Him alone is its blessedness. Hence it came as a matter of course that the revelation of prayer and the prayer-life was a part of His teaching concerning the New Kingdom He came to set up. Moses gave neither command nor regulation with regard to prayer: even the prophets say little directly of the duty of prayer; it is Christ who teaches to pray.

And the first thing the Lord teaches His disciples is that they must have a secret place for prayer; every one must have some solitary spot where he can be alone with his God. Every teacher must have a schoolroom. We have learned to know and accept Jesus as our only teacher in the school of prayer. He has already taught us at Samaria that worship is no longer confined to times and places; that worship, spiritual true worship, is a thing of the spirit and the life; the whole man must in his whole life be worship in spirit and truth. And yet He wants each one to choose for himself the fixed spot where He can daily meet him. That inner chamber, that solitary place, is Jesus' schoolroom. That spot may be anywhere; that spot may change from day to day if we have to change our abode; but that secret place there must be, with the quiet time in which the pupil places himself in the Master's presence, to be by Him prepared to worship the Father. There alone, but there most surely, Jesus comes to us to teach us to pray.

A teacher is always anxious that his schoolroom should be bright and attractive, filled with the light and air of heaven, a place where pupils long to come, and love to stay. In His first words on prayer in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus seeks to set the inner chamber before us in its most attractive light. If we listen carefully, we soon notice what the chief thing is He has to tell us of our tarrying there. Three times He uses the name of Father: "Pray to thy Father;" "Thy Father shall recompense thee;" "Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of." The first thing in closet-prayer is: I must meet my Father. The light that shines in the closet must be: the light of the Father's countenance. The fresh air from heaven with which Jesus would have filled the atmosphere in which I am to breathe and pray, is: God's Father-love, God's infinite Fatherliness. Thus each thought or petition we breathe out will be simple, hearty, childlike trust in the Father. This is how the Master teaches us to pray: He brings us into the Father's living presence. What we pray there must avail. Let us listen carefully to hear what the Lord has to say to us.

First, 'Pray to thy Father which is in secret.' God is a God who hides Himself to the carnal eye. As long as in our worship of God we are chiefly occupied with our own thoughts and exercises, we shall not meet Him who is a Spirit, the unseen One. But to the man who withdraws himself from all that is of the world and man, and prepares to wait upon God alone, the Father will reveal Himself. As he forsakes and gives up and shuts out the world, and the life of the world, and surrenders himself to be led of Christ into the secret of God's presence, the light of the Father's love will rise upon him. The secrecy of the inner chamber and the closed door, the entire separation from all around us, is an image of, and so a help to, that inner spiritual sanctuary, the secret of God's tabernacle, within the veil, where our spirit  truly comes into contact with the Invisible One. And so we are taught, at the very outset of our search after the secret of effectual prayer, to remember that it is in the inner chamber, where we are alone with the Father, that we shall learn to pray aright. The Father is in secret: in these words Jesus teaches us where He is waiting us, where He is always found. Christians often complain that private prayer is not what it should be. They feel weak and sinful, the heart is cold and dark; it is as if they have so little to pray, and in that little no faith or joy. They are discouraged and kept from prayer by the thought  that they cannot come to the Father as they ought or as they wish. Child of God! listen to your Teacher. He tells you that when you go to private prayer your first thought must be: The Father is in secret, the Father waits me there. Just because your heart is cold and prayerless, get you into the presence of the loving Father. As a father pitieth his  children, so the Lord pitieth you. Do not be thinking of how little you have to bring God, but of how much He wants to give you. Just place yourself before, and look up into His face; think of His love, His wonderful, tender, pitying love. Just tell Him how sinful and cold and dark all is; it is the Father's loving heart will give light and warmth to yours. O do what Jesus says: Just shut the door, and pray to thy Father, which is in secret. Is it not wonderful? to be able to go alone with God, the infinite God. And then look up and say: My Father!

'And thy Father, which seeth in secret, will recompense thee'. Here Jesus assures us that secret prayer cannot be fruitless: its blessing will show itself in our life. We have but in secret, alone with God, to entrust our life before men to Him; He will reward us openly; He will see to it that the answer to prayer be made manifest in His blessing upon us. Our Lord would thus teach us that as infinite Fatherliness and Faithfulness is that with which God meets us in secret, so on our part there should be the childlike simplicity of faith, the confidence that our prayer does bring down a blessing. 'He that cometh to God must believe that He is a rewarder of them that seek Him.' Not on the strong or the fervent feeling with which I pray does the blessing of the closet depend, but upon the love and the power of the Father to whom I there entrust my needs. And therefore the Master has but one desire: Remember your Father is, and sees and hears in secret; go there and stay there, and go again from there in the confidence: He will recompense. Trust Him for it; depend upon Him: prayer to the Father cannot be vain; He will reward you openly.

Still further to confirm this faith in the Father - love of God. Christ speaks a third word: "Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask Him." At first sight it might appear as if this thought made prayer less needful: God knows far better than we what we need. But as we get a deeper insight into what prayer really is, this truth will help much to strengthen our faith. It will teach us that we do not need, as the heathen, with the multitude and urgency of our words, to compel an unwilling God to listen to our words, to compel an unwilling God to listen to us. It will lead to a holy thoughtfulness and silence in prayer as it suggests the question: Does my Father really know that I need this? It will, when once we have been led by the Spirit to the certainty that our request is indeed something that, according to the Word, we do need for God's glory, give us wonderful confidence to say, My Father knows I need it and must have it. And if there be any delay in the answer, it will teach us in quiet perseverance to hold on: FATHER! THOU KNOWEST I need it. O the blessed liberty and simplicity of a child that Christ our Teacher would fain cultivate in us, as we draw near to God: let us look up to the Father until His Spirit works it in us. Let us sometimes in our prayers, when we are in danger of being so occupied with our fervent, urgent petitions, as to forget that the Father knows and hears, let us hold still and just quietly say: My Father sees, my Father hears, my Father knows; it will help our faith to take the answer, and to say: We know that we have the petitions we have asked of Him.

And now, all ye who have anew entered the school of Christ to be taught to pray, take these lessons, practise them, and trust Him to perfect you in them. Dwell much in the inner chamber, with the door shut - shut in from men, shut up with God; it is there the Father waits you, it is there Jesus will teach you to pray. To be alone in secret with THE FATHER: this be your highest joy. To be assured that THE FATHER will openly reward the secret prayer, so that it cannot remain unblessed: this be your strength day by day. And to know that THE FATHER knows that you need what you ask, this be your liberty to bring every need, in the assurance that your God will supply it according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

'LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY.'

Blessed Saviour! with my whole heart I do bless Thee for the appointment of the inner chamber, as the school where Thou meetest each of Thy pupils alone, and revealest to him the Father. O my Lord! strengthen my faith so in the Father's tender love and kindness, that as often as I feel sinful or troubled, the first instinctive thought may be to go where I know the Father waits me, and where prayer never can go unblessed. Let the thought that He knows my need before I ask, bring me, in great restfulness of faith, to trust that He will give what His child requires. O let the place of secret prayer become to me the most beloved spot on earth.

And, Lord! hear me as I pray that Thou wouldest everywhere bless the closets of Thy believing people. Let Thy wonderful revelation of a Father's tenderness free all young Christians from every thought of secret prayer as a duty or a burden,and lead them to regard it as the highest privilege of their live, a joy and a blessing. Bring back all who are discouraged, because they cannot find aught to bring Thee in prayer. O give them to understand that they have only to come with their emptiness to Him who has all to give, and delights to do it. Not  what they bring the Father, but what the Father waits to give them, be their one thought.

And bless especially the inner chamber of all Thy servants who are working for Thee, as the place where God's truth and God's grace is revealed to them, where they are daily anointed with fresh oil, where their strength is renewed, and the blessings are received in faith, with which they are to bless their fellow-men. Lord, draw us all in the closet nearer to Thyself and the Father. Amen

~Andrew Murray~

(continued with # 4 - After This Manner, Pray"