Archive for March, 2011

The Big Picture – Part 15

Harvest Time, Separation Time

“But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” Matt. 13:23-30

The good ground is marked by one unique virtue — fruitfulness. It is not that good ground may not have stones or thorns in it — it may, but that the stones and thorns will not hinder and prevent the seed from bearing fruit — it will produce. As I have stated before “good” is another way of saying that something (or someone as the case may be) accomplishes the purpose for which it was created. If a saw cannot cut wood, it is no good. If a seed does not produce the sought for fruit then it is no good. Remember the fig tree that Jesus cursed, it did not produce fruit so He judged it.

Again, “He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?” Luke 13:6-7.

The good ground is the heart that hears.
There are those who have ears to hear yet do not hear. How is it so? Those who have lazy ears, lazy eyes and a lazy heart are wicked and lazy servants. They do not stretch forward. Paul said, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philip. 3:14. God wishes to bestow His gifts on those who will invest them and bring forth a return. Those who bury their gifts and do not place them into good use will have them taken away.

The good ground is the heart that understands.
But is understanding not a matter of ability? No, not only, for those who train themselves may understand. It is a matter of wanting to understand. God gives
deep spiritual understanding to those who are diligent to seek it. He gives good gifts to all without finding fault. We are told to ask for wisdom, to express a desire for it. Wisdom and understanding are ours if we will, by faith and sincere desire, but ask, seek and knock.

The good ground bears fruit.
As I have already stated that is what makes the ground good. It is performing according to its intended purpose.

As stated previously the seed is perfect, incorruptible, the fault lies only in the ground, the heart into which it is planted. A man, Jesus Christ, sowed into his field. He owns the land, it is His by virtue of purchase and care and deed of right. Yet another, His enemy (and yours by this very fact) came while you slept, while you were not keeping watch, and sowed a pernicious, malevolent and unproductive thing in the very self-same soil. Now we shall see which shall prevail. Again, it is not the seed but the soil that will tell.

So this is very disturbing and dangerous to the success of the field and the householder knows it to be so, but He is patient and waits for the harvest. For it is always too premature to make a judgment about the nature, whether it is a wheat or a tare, until the very last day when harvest is come. The thing about tares is that they appear just like a wheat, even an expert can not tell. Only time will tell if it will produce fruit, for this is the thing that tells all — fruitfulness.

What is the desire of every father? Is it not that their children would love them in return, that they would recognize the great personal cost and sacrifice that they made out of love for them and return to them with a thankful heart, a heart that desires to be with them and to be like them, giving themselves, trusting him, loving unconditionally.

Yet there is the seed that the enemy planted in their heart. The seed of doubt, suspicion, self-protection, self-advancement, self-deception, will work its roots deep if you nourish it in the darkness of your heart. Oh, be very certain it was planted too, alongside the seed of the truth is THE lie — your father does not love you.

What does the seed of the Tree of Life need to grow? It needs truth, the water of the Word being poured into it, washing away the doubt and the fear and the deceptive lies that surround it. It also needs the sun and the Son, yet Truth again in abundance. Sometimes water is not right there in the soil, oftentimes it must be sought out diligently, purposely, with focus of intent and desire. Oftentimes the sun is not seen yet but only a shimmer of the heat of the sun is felt above us. It too must be sought out by the continual pressing toward it. We must seek the Son while He may be found. Truth is the key to nourishing the seed of the Tree of Life. Reason and feelings are the stuff that grows the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and evil.

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32.

Seek the water of the Word and the face of the Son, they are Truth and Life to you and will make you to grow and be fruitful. You must desire this though, no one can decide your will for you, it is a matter of your heart, a matter of your soil.

“Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.”

Harvest time is separation time. Anybody going to the barndance? Dad is hosting a hoedown for us, celebrating the harvest of souls, the fruit of His field.

Quote Title Quotation Source
Saving Power is Staying Power The spirit is saved through Christ bearing the cross for me; the soul is saved by my bearing a cross myself. The spirit is saved because Christ lays down His life for me; the soul is saved because I deny myself and follow the Lord. The spirit is saved on the basis of faith: once having believed, a matter is forever settled, never again to be shaken. The soul is saved on the basis of following: it is a lifelong matter, the course to be finished. Watchman Nee – The Salvation of the Soul, © 1978 Christian Fellowship Publishers, Inc.
Be Doers, Not Hearers Only Many take the promises and blessings of God very seriously meditating, memorizing, encouraging one another, claiming them as truth and a right from God. Many of these same people would do well to take his command “Be ye holy as I am holy” just as seriously. Tom Van Hoogen
Faith is Active when Prayer is Active Never let us forget that the greatest thing we can do for God or for humanity is to pray. For we can accomplish far more by our prayers than by our work. Prayer is omnipotent; it can do anything that God can do. When we pray God works. All fruitfulness in service is the outcome of prayer of the worker s prayers, or of those who are holding up holy hands on his behalf. We all know how to pray but perhaps many of us need to cry as the disciples of old did, Lord teach us to pray. Unknown Christian – The Kneeling Christian, circa 1890, © 2007 Bidge-Logos.
Silent through the Slaughter When God starts to deal with your old nature He heads straight for the center of all that you hold most dear. Allow Him to bring you the cross in the very center of who you are. Don t grumble and become agitated when the process starts: Silence and peace will help you much more than being upset. Fenelon – The Seeking Heart, circa 1690, copyright Christian Books Publishing House
The Stainlessness of Saintliness A sheet of white paper can be soiled, a sunbeam cannot be soiled, and God keeps His saints like light. Oswald Chambers – The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers
The Failure of Work and the Work of Failure There may be a great deal of religious work that is the result of human will and effort. But there is little true worth and power, because the divine life is weak. When the believer does not know that Christ is living in him and does not know the Spirit and power of God working in him, there may be much sincerity and diligence, with little that lasts for eternity. On the contrary, there may be much external weakness and apparent failure, yet results prove that the life is indeed of God. Andrew Murray – God’s Plans for You, circa 1890, © 1983 by Whitaker House
Fightings Within Repentance that is sweet? Confession of sin that brings love and tranquility? If you have never been instructed in such matters, you will naturally want to resist this love. You will, instead, have a human inclination to try to produce a sorrowful, contrite attitude before God…. But consider this: Trying by your own effort to produce a contrite heart causes you to lose genuine repentance. What is genuine repentance? Have you ever had the experience of real, genuine repentance? Think back. Was it not a deep feeling of love working itself out within you? Jeanne Guyon – Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ, circa 1680
Onward and Still Onward Christian Soldier Commander Peary has taught us that the really successful man is a man who knows to keep on failing. Failure is lifes high art. He who knows how to fail well will sweep everything before him. Peary kept on failing until the silver crept into his hair; and then, when well over 50 years of age, on stepping-stone’s of his dead self, he climbed to higher things. Through what Disraeli would of called “the hell of failure” he entered the heaven of his triumph. It is ever so. The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the persistent take it by storm. The convert is, as Wellington said, the man who never knows when he is beaten. The dust of defeat stings the face of the Victor at every step of his onward march. F. W. Boreham – The Luggage of Life, 1912, published by Kregel Publications
Paradoxical Ponderings I confess that this was very disappointing, for I had expected something altogether different. It seemed to me exceedingly incongruous that a religion, whose fruits were declared in the Bible to be love, and joy, and peace should so often work out practically in an exactly opposite direction, and should develop the fruits of doubt, and fear, and unrest, and conflict, and discomforts of every kind; and the result is possible to find out what was the matter. Why, I asked myself, should the children of God lead such utterly uncomfortable religious lives when He has led us to believe that His yoke would be easy and His burden light? Why are we tormented with so many spiritual doubts, and such heavy spiritual anxieties? Why do we find it so hard to be sure that God really loves us, and why is it that we never seem able to believe long at a time in His kindness and His care? How is it that we can let ourselves suspect Him of forgetting us and forsaking us in times of need? We can trust our earthly friends, and can be comfortable in their companionship, and why is it then that we cannot trust our heavenly Friend, and that we seem unable to be comfortable in His service? Hannah Whitall Smith – The God of All Comfort, circa 1890 – 1956 Edition Moody Publishers
The Least is Greatest in the Kingdom We are told (Matthew 18:3), “Except ye be converted, and become as little children,” etc. As if he had said, you strive for preeminent and worldly greatness in My kingdom; I tell you My kingdom is a kingdom of babes, and containeth none but the humble and such as are little in their own eyes, and are contented to be small and despised in the eyes of others, and do not seek after great matters in the world. — Thomas Manton Charles H. Spurgeon – The Treasury of David abridged by David Otis Fuller, circa 1880, © 1968 by David Otis Fuller, Published by Kregel Publications

The Big Picture – Part 14

How Does Your Garden Grow?

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” Matt. 11:12.

Yes, seeds have been planted, watered and left to seek the sun. How does your garden grow? God has placed the precious seed of Life, the Word, into your heart. How is it doing? Is it being fruitful and multiplying or is it dormant and unseen, remaining in the earth? God did not plant a seed to take up space in the earth but to subdue the earth and have authority over it. To rise above its humble beginnings and produce a tree with shade and fruitful sustenance, protection and provision for all who are under it.

This is the very call for the sons of God, to become complete, mature like our Seedbearer — the Father. So that when others taste and see our fruit, they taste and see the Father. “… he that hath seen me hath seen the Father” John 14:9.

So, again, whether or not the seed that was planted grows into full maturity has nothing to do with the condition of the seed — the seed is perfect, “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.” 2 Peter 1:3 — it is the fruit that will tell the story of the soil — your heart — whether it is good or bad.

So it is your responsibility to nurture and care for the seed, giving it water and sonlight and the atmosphere of faith. Keep adding the water of the Word, presenting yourself before God a living sacrifice, believing unto good works so that the seed will become fully mature and produce the righteousness of God in Christ. You must work out what God has worked in.

Now I know that what I am about to say will confuse and concern some of you that want to believe your salvation is entirely dependent on what you think about Christ. And it is, just as surely as the Word of His Redemption has entered your ear and settled in your mind and become Life to you through the knowledge of God by faith.

You see the key is the faith that activates the doing. Having a knowledge that does not produce fruit is like a placing a light under a bushel. It is of no effect and has no virtue to be seen. What good is it? We are told to, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matt. 5:16.
God never needed a light that is not seen, never spoke a word that is was not to be heard, never created a son that is not to be known and seen and heard. We are here for the express and supreme purpose of making manifest — showing forth — the Goodness and Mercy and Love and Peace and Holiness, and, and … all that I AM to the world. That is the fruit of His Spirit in us that is striving to make Him known through us.

Now here is what I want to say that might set you back. We are to bear fruit. We are to work diligently at it, not us, not I but Christ in me, worketh through the seed of the Father, the water of the Word and putting to death of mySelf to remove the outer shell of me and reveal the inner truth of Him in me.

“Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.  Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.  Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Matt. 7:17-20.

The Father is the Vinedresser. He will prune every branch that is presented to Him. You must make the presentation by the will of your heart. Seek the Son while He may be found.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.  Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.  Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.  Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.  I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.  If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.  If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.  Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.” John 15:1-8.

O yes, child of God, rise up to the full stature and measure of Christ so that the Father may be seen and known to the world. Bear fruit. Become the son you were made in Christ to be before the foundationS. of the world. There is much glory in sonship for the son shows forth the glory of the Father and the Father shares his glory with the son.

“Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.” James 5:7.

“And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.” Matt. 21:34.

When God plants the seed of His Word in your heart He is looking for the Son-ripened fruit. How does your garden grow?

Quote Title Quotation Source
When Things Begin Clicking and Falling into Place I had found this hole in the world: the fact that one must somehow find a way of loving the world without trusting it; somehow one must love the world without being worldly. I found this projecting feature of Christian theology like a sort of hard spike, the dogmatic insistence that God was personal, and had made a world separate from Himself. The spike of dogma fitted exactly into the hole in the world it had evidently been made to go there and then the strange thing began to happen. When once these two parts of the two machines had come together, one after another, all the other parts fitted and fell in with an eerie exactitude. I could hear bolt after bolt over all the machinery falling into its place with a kind of click of relief. Having got one part right, all the other parts were repeating that rectitude, as clock after clock strikes noon. Instinct after instinct was answered by doctrine after doctrine. Or, to vary the metaphor, I was like one who had advanced into a hostile country to take one high fortress. And when that fort had fallen the whole country surrendered and turned solid behind me. The whole land was lit up. as it were, back to the first fields of my childhood. All those blind fancies of boyhood which in the fourth chapter I have tried in vain to trace on the darkness, became suddenly transparent and sane. I was right when I felt that roses were red by some sort of choice: it was the divine choice. I was right when I felt that I would almost rather say that grass was the wrong color than say it must by necessity have been that color: it might verily have been any other. My sense that happiness hung on the crazy thread of a condition did mean something when all was said: it meant the whole doctrine of the Fall. Even those dim and shapeless monsters of notions which I have not been able to describe, much less defend, stepped quietly into their places like colossal caryatides of the creed. The fancy that the cosmos was not vast and void, but small and cozy, had a fulfilled significance now, for anything that is a work of art must be small in the sight of the artist; to God the stars might be only small and dear, like diamonds. And my haunting instinct that somehow good was not merely a tool to be used, but a relic to be guarded, like the goods from Crusoe s ship even that had been the wild whisper of something originally wise, for, according to Christianity, we were indeed the survivors of a wreck, the crew of a golden ship that had gone down before the beginning of the world.
But the important matter was this, that it entirely reversed the reason for optimism. And the instant the reversal was made it felt like the abrupt ease when a bone is put back in the socket. I had often called myself an optimist, to avoid the too evident blasphemy of pessimism. But all the optimism of the age had been false and disheartening for this reason, that it had always been trying to prove that we fit into the world. The Christian optimism is based on the fact that we do not fit into the world. I had tried to be happy by telling myself that man is an animal, like any other which sought its meat from God. But now I really was happy, for I had learnt that man is a monstrosity. I had been right in feeling things as odd, for I myself was at once worse and better than all things. The optimist s pleasure was prosaic, for it dwelt on the naturalness of everything; the Christian pleasure was poetic, for it dwelt on the unnaturalness of everyting in the light of the supernatural. G. K. Chesterton – Orthodoxy, copyright 1908 by Dodd, Mead and Company
You Must Be Led By Christ, Not Men Moreover if we are firmly gripped by a true picture of life with Jesus and are moving by experience deeper and deeper into its reality, we will be able, strongly but calmly, to resist the mistakes and abuses of religious authority. From the local congregation up to the highest levels of national and international influence, we hear people and groups claiming that they have been divinely guided as to what we are to do. Dallas Willard – Hearing God ©1984 InterVarsity Press
When Abiding, You Get What You Ask For We enter the sacred chamber on our knees. We still our thoughts and words, and say, Lord, teach us to pray. Give us thy holy desires, and let our prayer be the very echo of thy will. Give us thy Spirit as our advocate within. Open our eyes to see our great high priest and advocate above, and help us so to abide in Him, and to have His Word so abiding in us, that we shall ask what we will, and it shall be done unto us. A. B. Simpson – The Life of Prayer – circa 1890, © 2007 Bridge-Logos
The Kiss of Life The friend who cleaves to his friend in the spirit of Christ is made one heart and soul with him (Acts 4:32). Ascending to the friendship of Christ through the stages of love, he is made one spirit with him (1 Cor. 6:17) in a single kiss. The holy soul sighs for that kiss, saying, “Let him kiss me with the kiss of his mouth” (Song 1:1). Alfred of Rievaulx, From Spiritual Friendship circa 1150; excerpted from The Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism by Bernard McGuinn copyright 2006 by Random House, Inc.
Discerning Between Soul and Spirit When you go to prayer, you should deliver yourself wholly up into the hands of God with perfect resignation, making an act of faith, believing that you are in the divine presence, afterwards remaining in that holy repose with quietness, silence, and tranquility, and endeavoring for a whole day, a whole year, and your whole life to continue that first act of contemplation by faith and love… by this you will be undeceived and know what is the perfect and spiritual manner of prayer, and be advised what is to be done in internal recollection. You will know that to the end that love may be made perfect and pure, it is expedient to curtail the multiplication of sensible and fervent acts, the soul continuing quiet and resting in that inward silence. Because tenderness, delight, and sweet sentiments, which the soul experiences in the will, are not purely spiritual, but are acts blended with the sensibility of nature. Nor is it perfect love, but sensible pleasure, which distracts and hurts the soul. Miguel De Molinos – The Spiritual Guide, 1675 – excerpted from The Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism by Bernard McGuinn copyright 2006 by Random House, Inc.
Who Are You in Relationship With? Sin is not a creation, it is a relationship. The essential nature of sin is my claim to my right to myself. Oswald Chambers – The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers

I am taking a break from the The Big Picture series this morning due to the death of my father-in-law and my needs there. Following is something I read on Thursday that spoke to me. I hope it will speak to you as well.

The Way of a Soul

Ephesians 5:14-18

The Way of the Awakening of the Soul (Ephesians 5:14-15)

Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead . . . (Ephesians 5:14)

What is Possible in the Way of Habits
A good many of us are in the condition that St. Augustine described himself to be in, the condition of a half-awakened man who does not wish to be awakened—“a little more sleep.” God smote St. Augustine with the words, “not in chambering and wantonness.” When the Spirit of God brings a word of God to us, are we going to wake up and lay hold of it, or remain in the condition St. Augustine was in—“a little more worldliness; a little less intensity”? If God tells us to awake, we must get into the habit of awakening. We have to wake up physically before we can wake up spiritually. When God tells us to do a thing He empowers us to do it, only we must do the doing. Think of the number of times we say, “Oh, I can’t.” For the good of your own soul, say “I won’t.” To say, “I can’t” enervates the whole life. If we really cannot, God has misled us. Jesus said “All power is given unto Me”; if He tells us to do something and we cannot, this is simply not true.

We talk about attacks of the devil—“I cannot concentrate my mind, the devil hinders me.” The reason we cannot concentrate is that we are culpably ignorant about ourselves. The devil does not need to bother about us as long as we remain ignorant of the way God has made us and refuse to discipline ourselves; inattention and our own slovenliness will soon run away with every power we have. Watch the care students take in other domains of life, and then think of our own laziness and the way we continually fall back and say, “It can’t be done.” All we need is grit and gumption and reliance on the Holy Spirit. We must bring the same determined energy to the revelations in God’s Book as we bring to earthly professions. Most of us leave the sweat of brain outside when we come to deal with the Bible.

Anything and everything is possible in the way of habits. Habits form a pathway in the material stuff of the brain. We cannot form a habit without thinking about it; but when once the pathway in the brain is formed we can do a thing easily without thinking about it. For instance, we were not born with the ready-made habit of dressing ourselves, we had to form that habit. If we persist in using our bodies in a certain way, alterations will take place in the make-up of the brain. Spiritually we have to learn to form habits on the basis of the grace of God. What happens at new birth is that the incoming of a totally new life breaks all the old habits, they are completely dislodged by the “expulsive power of a new affection.” Most of us do not realise this and we continue to obey habits when there is no need to. The incoming of the Spirit of God from without forms a disassociation physically, and new habits can be formed. Never dispute for a second when God speaks; if you debate, you give an opportunity to the old habits to reassert themselves. Launch yourself with as strong an initiative as possible on the line of obedience; it is difficult at first, but immediately you start to obey, you find you can do it. The danger is to say “I can’t,” or, “I will do it presently.” When in your soul’s vision you see clearly what God wants, let me advise you to do something physical immediately. If you accompany a moral or spiritual decision with a physical effort you give the necessary initiative to form the new habit. A physical exertion is imperative in spiritual transactions, otherwise it is in danger of passing into thin air. When God tells you to do a thing, never wait for a fitting opportunity, do it now. You may dream about doing it to further orders,* the only thing to do is to launch out at once and make things inevitable, make it impossible to go back on the decision.

Beware of divorcing the physical and the spiritual. Habits are physical, and every command of God has a physical basis. “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”†† You cannot hear with your heart if you do not listen with your physical ears. Does God find me quick in the uptake to discern what He says? Am I awake enough to hear? God always locates His spiritual revelations in a physical body. The great God became Incarnate in flesh and blood; the great thoughts of God became crystallised in words. When the Spirit of God touches us, we are responsible for forming the mind of Christ. God does the wonderful indwelling part, but we have to do the expressing (see Philippians 2:12-13), and when once we understand how God has made us, it becomes not at all difficult to do it. The Spirit of God knocks and says, “Wake up, form this habit,” and if you try, you find you can because you find you have a wealth of power within. It is only when we are willing to be identified with the death of Jesus that the full power of His life is able to work, and we find a new page of consciousness open in our lives. There are new forces in us and we are able now to do what we never could before; we are free from the old bondage and limitations. The gateway into this life is through the death of Jesus Christ.

Be a saint physically.

The Way of the Apprehension of the Soul (Ephesians 5:16-17)

understanding what the will of the Lord is . . . (Ephesians 5:17)

What is possible in the Way of Intelligence
Have we begun to form the habit of thinking? Thinking is the habit of expressing what moves our spirit. In order to think we must concentrate. Thinking is a purely physical process. No one can tell us how to begin to think, all they can do is to tell us what happens when we do think. In the grey matter of the brain are multitudes of blood-vessels, distributed equally all over the brain, and when we think, the blood gathers to the one part of the brain we are using. This is called concentration. Dissipated thinking means that the blood goes back to the other parts of the brain and wakens up associated ideas. When we focus our will around certain thoughts, the blood converges to that particular part of the brain, and if we can hold our wills fixed there for five minutes, we have done a tremendous thing, we have begun to form the habit of mental concentration. The majority of us allow our brains to wool-gather, we never concentrate on any particular line. Concentration is physical, not spiritual. The brain must be brought into order by concentration, then when the Spirit of God brings a spontaneous illumination of a particular theme instantly the brain is at the disposal of God. If we have not learned to concentrate, the brain cannot focus itself anywhere, it fusses all round and wool-gathers. No one is responsible for that but ourselves.

This is true in ordinary thinking, and the same brain is used by the Holy Spirit. We have to learn to bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (rv); to “stay our imagination” (rv mg) on God. This can only be done by concentration, by fixing our thoughts and our imagination deliberately on God. The majority of us are unable to fix our thoughts in prayer, we lie all abroad before God and do not rouse ourselves up to lay hold of Him, consequently we have wandering thoughts continually. God will not bring every thought and imagination into captivity; we have to do it, and that is the test of spiritual concentration. The inattentive, slovenly way we drift into the presence of God is an indication that we are not bothering to think about Him. Whenever our Lord spoke of prayer, He said, “ask.” It is impossible to ask if you do not concentrate. The marvel of the goodness of God is that He does so much for us; if we would only meet with physical obedience what God does for us spiritually, the whole of our body would be under such control that we should apprehend His meaning when He speaks. It is not a question of learning a thing outside but of determination inside. God gives us the Holy Spirit not only for holy living but for holy thinking, and we are held responsible if we do not think concentratedly along the right lines. To concentrate with our mind fixed on one trend of things is never easy to begin with. There never is a time when we cannot begin to concentrate.

“Be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” We have to use the same power of concentration spiritually as we do naturally. How are we going to find out the will of God? “God will communicate it to us.” He will not. His will is there all the time, but we have to discover it by being renewed in our minds, by taking heed to His word and obeying it. If we are not going to be “conformed to this world; but . . . transformed,” we must use our brains. God does the spiritual, powerful part we cannot do; but we have to work it out, and as we do the obeying we prove, i.e., “make out,” “what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” We need to make our own nature the ally of the Spirit of God. The grace of God never fails us, but we often fail the grace of God because we do not practise. If we do not practise when there is no need, we shall never do it when there is a need. When people say, “I cannot think, I have not the gift,” they mean that they have never used their brains. We all have bodies and brains. When we use our brains in concentration in a way we have never done before, we will have growing pains; a headache after thinking is a sign we have brains. The more we work and get beyond the conscious stage of doing things, the more easily will we do them. We all have unconscious mental methods. Never imitate to stick to what you imitate; imitate only in order to provoke your mind to know its own mechanism.

An artist is one who not only sees but is prepared to pay the price of acquiring the technical knowledge to express what he sees. An artistic person is one who has not enough art in him to make him work at the technique of art whereby he can express himself, he indulges in moods and tones and impressions; consequently there are more artistic people than there are artists. The same is true of poetry, there are many people with poetic notions, but very few poets. It is not enough for a man to feel the divine flame burning in him; unless he goes into the concentrated, slogging business of learning the technique of expression, his genius will be of no use to anyone. Apply these illustrations spiritually: if we have not enough of the life of God in us to overcome the difficulty of expressing it in our bodies, then we are living an impoverished spiritual life. Think of the illuminations the Spirit of God has given you; He expected you to bring your physical body which He made into obedience to the vision, and you never attempted to but let it drift, and when the crisis came and God looked for you to be His mouthpiece, you crumpled all to pieces. You had not formed the habit of apprehending; your physical machine was not under control. It is a terrible thing to sit down to anything.

Beware of being side-tracked by the idea that you can develop a spiritual life apart from physical accompaniments. It is a desperately dangerous thing to allow the spiritual vision to go ahead of physical obedience.

Do some practical obeying.

The Way of Appreciation by the Soul (Ephesians 5:18)

. . . be filled with the Spirit.

What is Possible in the Way of Inspiration
There are two ways of inspiration possible—being drunk with wine, and being filled with the Spirit. We have no business to be nondescript, drunk neither one way nor the other. A man may be sober and incapable as well as drunk and in capable. Watch human nature; we are so built that if we do not get thrilled in the right way, we will get thrilled in the wrong. If we are without the thrill of communion with God, we will try to get thrilled by the devil, or by some concoction of human ingenuity. Don’t be inspired with wine, the counterfeit of the Spirit, says Paul, but be filled with the Spirit. Enthusiasm is the idea— intoxicated with the life of God. Paul puts it as a command, “Be being filled.” When our Lord talked to the woman of Samaria, He said, “the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” Profoundly speaking, there is no refilling; “a well of water” is there all the time. The picture is not that of a channel, but of a fountain, a continual infilling and overflowing of the inspiration of God.

In the matter of inspiration the first thing to watch is the temper of our own soul. A blameworthy temper of mind about another soul will end in the spirit of the devil. We cannot approach God in a wrong temper of mind, it will put a shutter down between and we shall not see Him. God introduces us to people who conduct themselves to us as we have conducted ourselves to Him, and if we do not recognise what He is doing we will ride a moral hobby-horse—“I will not be treated like that.” There is no further inspiration possible from the Spirit of God until that temper of mind is gone. “Take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.” Our Lord always puts His finger unerringly on the thing that is wrong. “First be reconciled . . .” (Matthew 5:24). The next thing we have to watch is our private relationship with God. Are we determined to prove that God must do what we have said He must? If so, our intercession becomes frenzied fanaticism. Or are we only concerned about being brought into an understanding of God, which is the real meaning of prayer? The greatest barrier to intercession is that we take ourselves so seriously, and come to the conclusion that God is reserved with us; He is not. God has to ignore things we take so seriously until our relationship to Him is exactly that of a child. If we are watching the temper of our minds towards other people and towards God, there will be the continual incoming and outflowing of the inspiration of God, a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit all the time. Imagine Jesus being jaded in the life of God! There was never anything jaded about Him. When we are jaded there is always a reason, and it is either the temper of our mind towards another or towards God. We have no business to be half-dead spiritually, to hang like clogs on God’s plan; we should be filled with a radiant intensity of life, living at the highest pitch all the time without any reaction. “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

Be being filled with the life Jesus came to give.

— Taken from the Complete Works of Oswald Chambers

Listen v4.31 Quotes

Quote Title Quotation Source
The End Product of Redemption Sanctification is realized only in Christ. Tom Van Hoogen
O, How the Mighty are Fallen! When the Spirit convicts you of sin, Satan will try to convince you, “It is such a little one spare it.” Or he will bribe the soul with a vow of secrecy: “You can keep me and your good reputation, too. I will not be seen in your company to shame you among your neighbors. You may shut me up in the attic of your heart, out of sight, if only you will let me now and then have a wild embrace of your thoughts and affections in secret.” If that will not be granted, then Satan asks for a stay of execution, well knowing that most such reprieved lusts at last obtain their full pardon. The longer we procrastinate, the harder it becomes to break through the clever coaxing of the silver tongued defender of sin and death, and actually carry out the execution. Here history’s bravest men have shown themselves putty in the enemy’s hands…. like the great Roman who, as he rode triumphantly through the city, never took his eyes off a prostitute walking along the street: a man who conquered empires, captured by the glance of a single woman! William Gurnall – The Christian in Complete Armour – Volume 1 of 3, circa 1655, copyright 1986 by World Challenge, Inc.
Can You Account for The Time Given You? The Bible does not expect new Christians to be spiritual instantaneously, if they should remain as babes after many years, however, then their situation is indeed most pitiful. Paul himself points out to the Corinthian’s that he had treated then as men of the flesh earlier because they were new born babes in Christ, and that by now at the moment of this writing them they certainly should be growing into manhood. They had instead frittered away their lives, remained as babes, and were thus still fleshly.

It does not necessitate as much time as we think today for one to be transformed from the fleshly into the spiritual. The believers at Corinth came out from a strictly sinful heathen background. After the lapse of only a few years the Apostle already views them as having been babes too long.

Watchman Nee – The Spiritual Man, circa 1920, copyright 1968 Christian Fellowship Publishers, Inc.
Living to Self is the Easy. Dying takes Guts! Many think that dying to themselves is what causes them so much pain. But it is actually part of them that still lives that causes the problem. Death is only painful to you when you resist it. Your imagination exaggerates how bad death will be. Self-love fights with all of its strength to live. Die inwardly as well as outwardly. Let all that is not born of God within you die. Fenelon – The Seeking Heart, circa 1690, copyright Christian Books Publishing House
The God of My Beliefs Then follows the revealing of the unconscious egotism of the orthodox credist, dictatorially asserting the character of God ( Job 15:14-16 ). Then, like a theological buzzard, he sits on the perch of massive tradition and preens his ruffled feathers and croaks his eloquent platitudes. There is no trace of the fraud in Eliphaz, he vigorously believes his beliefs, but he is at a total loss to know God. Eliphaz represents the kind of humbug that results from remaining true to conviction instead of to facts which dispute the conviction. Oswald Chambers – The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers
Much Harder Than We Like to Think Calling the disciples first to reflect on the original difficulty for every man to enter God’s kingdom, Jesus reasserts in yet stronger phrase the difficulty of the rich man. It always was and always will be, hard to enter the kingdom of heaven. It is hard even to believe that one must be born from above must pass into a new and unknown consciousness. How hard? As hard as the Master of salvation could find words to express: “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate… his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14: 26). And the rich man must find it harder than another to hate his own life. There is so much associated with it to push out the self of his consciousness that the difficulty of casting it from him as the mere ugly shadow of the self God made is vastly increased. None can know how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of heaven except those who have tried tried hard and not ceased to try. I care not to be told that one may pass at once into all possible sweetness of assurance; it is not assurance I desire, but the thing itself; not the certainty of eternal life, but eternal life. George MacDonald – The Best of George MacDonald © 2006 Cook Communications Ministries.
Only One Guest in Your House at a Time! Oh, how foolish we are if we attempt to entertain two guests so hostile to one another as Christ Jesus and the devil! Rest assured, Christ will not live in the parlor of the hearts if we entertain the devil in the cellar of our thoughts. Charles H. Spurgeon – The Treasury of David abridged by David Otis Fuller, circa 1880, © 1968 by David Otis Fuller, Published by Kregel Publications
Learning to Work from Our Dad All life has a destiny. It cannot accomplish its purpose without work. Life is perfected by work. The highest manifestation of its hidden nature and power comes out in its work. And so work is a great factor by which the hidden beauty and the divine possibilities of the Christian life are revealed. Work must not only be performed by the child of God for the result of being used as God’s instrument, but also be given the same place it has in God Himself. As in the Father and the Son, and with the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, work is the highest manifestation of life. Andrew Murray – God’s Plans for You, circa 1890, © 1983 by Whitaker House
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