Archive for March, 2012

Suffering is Your Opportunity to Show Your Quality (Part 11)

Good Intentions Going, Going, Gone

At least Job still had his friends right? Well, lets see how far their love goes with Job. We know that they started out with good intentions.

“Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.  And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.  So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.” Job 2:11-13.

Wow, these are really good friends. I am sure they would have traveled a great distance at great expense. And really, didn’t they minister to Job in a particularly amazing way. They sat there with him in his ordeal without saying a word, for seven days and nights! I don’t know about you, but that amazes me. To me it is an Old Testament miracle. How many people can sit there when you are in dire straights and not say a word. It is almost like there is a compulsion to say something. Many will offer sympathy, many will make assessments, many will make awkward comments attempting to ease the burden, many will bring stories of others who have had similar things happen to them, most will try to help with solutions and remedies. They did not, not yet.

We get a glimpse into the depth of suffering that Job was going through. We know that he had lost so much that was dear and precious to him. He really lost everything but his life, even his health. And when that goes, the stress and distress of the loss of physical strength goes with it. When you are exhausted and depleted you are such an easy target for the enemy. Never purposely allow yourself to go without adequate nutrition, exercise and rest or you are an easy target for attack.

Job clearly did not have a choice in this matter. Decisions were being made for him. Another was dealing the hand he must play. He was so bad off that it was outwardly visible from a distance: “And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.” And that was from a distance. The friends could see that Job’s situation was very severe. Imagine as they got closer, the stench of his sores and the infection in them. His friends immediately reacted to the sight of him with the strongest statement of woe that was used in that culture. They wept, tore their clothes, and placed dust on their heads.

Don’t you know they had to be thinking, “There but by the grace of God go I.” And they probably added to it some self-righteous thoughts of what he must have done to deserve this and that they wanted in on the scoop. This is purely conjecture though and I don’t know what they were thinking as they looked upon their friend. Soon enough though we get some insights. But, “they saw that his grief was very great.”

Eventually Job speaks and lets out some thinking that was building up in him. He spends the next chapter (3) letting his grief be known, very likely desiring to know that someone cares, someone understands. Don’t we all need a way to get relief from our pain and suffering? I believe that God understands us. He too was tempted in all ways. He knows just what it feels like when everything is against you and you can’t seem to find a source of relief and comfort. Even his disciples left Him in the end.

Job is not angry or blaming God, he is just hurting. He needs some relief from his present state. We all need hope. We all need to believe in our time of suffering, pain and loss that it will get better. When you are in the heat of the trial and test you do not always see this readily, that is often God’s purpose, to take you beyond what can be managed by you and beyond your present hope. He wants to teach you that your hope is often beyond your sight, beyond your reasoning and beyond any solution you can find. Hope resides past these in your faith, in Him. Believing when there is no visible or reasonable evidence to believe – have faith in God.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1.

Job’s despair is not only in the circumstances that he finds himself but even more poignantly within the truth coming home that being righteous will not protect nor prevent you from experiencing hardship and suffering. Job is being processed by his affliction and taken to a higher understanding. He is approaching a new revelation through personal experience. Who knows, they may have even had a saying in their day that when someone began with, “God is good”, they would end it with, “all the time.” Is He? This will mess with your head, this will renew and transform your mind. Where is the good in this? Where is the good in pain and suffering?

I can pretty much tell you that if you want to go on with God, to become like Christ you will need to be processed too. It is a dark day (for a short time) when all your religious sayings and teachings that have tickled your ears can’t touch the reality you find yourself in. Stick in there though, having done all stand, then stand. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Psalms 30:5.

Don’t be concerned though, this is optional, for disciples only. God never made any man do anything against his will. You have to love Him enough to want to be like Him. “If any many would be my disciple…” It is always a choice. Many, sadly, do not want to be His disciple and exit the race far too soon. That is your choice though, not His. There, I have told you beforehand.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.” Rom. 8:28-29.

There is absolutely a choice to make concerning how far you will go. There is absolutely a cost to following Him – your very life. All this talk about death, dying, living sacrifices and resurrection starts to make sense when you are going through it.

Jobs friends are with him for now. Once he begins making claims that he is without blame, that he is yet righteous and still all this has come upon him, the friends take a different tone with him. Much of the rest of the book of Job is a volley of dialogs between Job and his assertions of righteousness and the friend’s challenges to that statement. Their good intentions only led them as far as their tickling ears wanted to hear. Once some stout truth is spoken that disrupts their religious thinking, they get testy with Job. Suddenly their intentions that were formerly good get changed. When they had formerly come to be a comfort to Job, they are now searching for words and arguments that comfort themselves.

Oh yes, the temperature will get very hot in your life if you choose to take a stand for God and truth. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” 2 Tim. 3:12. People with good intentions will even turn on you when your words challenge their neat little way of keeping things clear and easy and manageable. But through it all Job kept his integrity. He did not succumb to the pressures of his friends. He did not take pleasure in the battles but when the battles concern truth a son of God must not back down, no matter the cost. We are not called to be liked and accepted, we are called to be Salt and Light, two things that can have a very adverse effect on impure and darkened things.

Suffering is your opportunity to show your quality.

Quote Title Quotation Source
Leavening the Whole Lump The Spirit of God has this property — it increases good by adding to it more good. St. John of the Cross – Dark Night of the Soul, circa 1560, copyright 2007 Bridge-Logos Publishers
Nothing to Talk About More recently the English philosopher and theologian John Baillie wrote, “Our knowledge of God rests on the revelation of his personal presence… Of such a presence it must be true that to those who have never been confronted with it argument is useless, while to those who have, it is superfluous.” Dallas Willard – Hearing God ©1984 InterVarsity Press
Love Trumps Every Other Card It would seem natural that those who exercise authority over others would be most fit to rule in God’s kingdom. Not so. He who is least shall be greatest in the kingdom of God. Submission is an act of respect and reverence; willing submission is an act of pure love — your will above my will. Therefore only those who humbly submit to others love well. Those in positions of authority find it difficult to love and respect others. Tom Van Hoogen
Behold Your God Stooping to Serve You In the sublime and twofold consciousness, we see Him unexpectedly rising up from supper; and for what purpose? To appear in His dignity? To display the splendor of His divine glory? To constrain His disciples to bow the knee in the dust before Him? One might imagine so; but no, He has something very different in view. Look, what means that? He lays aside His upper garments, takes a towel and girds Himself with it; pours water into a basin, bends down to the feet of the disciples, and begins to wash them in their turn, then to wipe them with the towel. What a spectacle!… They are to Him the spiritual bride, clothed with the sun; for they stand before Him arrayed in the royal robe of His righteousness.

O great and significant symbol! O powerful exposition of the words, I came not to be ministered unto, but to minister! O important testimony to that which is of value in His kingdom, and to that which is not! O impressive condemnation of all selfishness and self-exaltation in the children of men! O deeply affecting commendation of humility and self-denial, as the characteristics of His children, and amiable and ennobling instance of that love, which ought to animate us!

F. W. Krummacher – The Suffering Saviour, Meditations on the Last Days of Christ, Wipf and Stock Publishers
Constructing the Intangible with the Tangible? Theology is the science of religion, an intellectual attempt to systematise the consciousness of God. Oswald Chambers – The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers
Beware of Right Desires with Wrong Motives If you desire any good, however spiritual it may be, let it be desired in such a manner that you be not disquieted if it is not granted you. Michael Molinos – The Spiritual Guide – circa 1675, copyright 1982 by Seed Sowers
Jesus, The Key that Unlocks All Mysteries When once one believes in a creed, one is proud of its complexity, as scientists are proud of the complexity of science. It shows how rich it is in discoveries. If it is right at all, it is a compliment to say that it is elaborately right. A stick might fit a hole or a stone a hollow by accident. But a key and a lock are both complex. And it a key fits a lock, you know it is the right key. G. K. Chesterton – Orthodoxy, copyright 1908 by Dodd, Mead and Company
Revealing Signs of the Times “In the morning of our fathers,” says Bishop Burnett, “when a person came early to the door of his neighbor, and desired to speak with the master of the house, it was as common a thing for the servants to tell him with freedom — “My master is at prayer,” as it is now to say, “My master is not up.” Charles H. Spurgeon – The Treasury of David abridged by David Otis Fuller, circa 1880, © 1968 by David Otis Fuller, Published by Kregel Publications
Peering Into the Tabernacle for Glimpses And while you are before the Lord, hold your heart in his presence. How? This you also do by faith. Yes, by faith you can hold your heart in the Lord’s presence. Now, waiting before him, turn all your attention toward your spirit. Do not allow your mind to wander. If your mind begins to wander, just turn your attention back again to the inward parts of your being. You will be free from wandering — free from any outward distractions — and you will be brought near to God. The Lord is found only within your spirit, and the recesses of your being, in the Holy of Holies; this is where he dwells. Jeanne Guyon – Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ – circa 16800; excerpted from Devotional Classics by Foster and Smith © 2005
He is the Standard, Not We We are right when, and only when, we stand in the right position relative to God, and we are wrong so far and so long as we stand in any other position. Much of our difficulty as seeking Christians stems from our unwillingness to take God as He is and adjust our lives accordingly. We insist upon trying to modify Him and to bring Him nearer to our own image. A. W. Tozer – The Pursuit of God
The Misplaced Pride of Death There was once a man who did not believe in resurrection. He was a very important person among a circle of atheists. After he died, the epitaph on his tombstone read: “Unbreakable tomb”. The tomb had been built with marble. Most surprisingly, that huge marble sarcophagus was one day split open. It so happened that an acorn had fallen into the crevice of the stones during construction. It gradually grew into a big oak tree, and eventually burst the tomb wide open. A tree has life, hence it can burst open a place of death. Life alone can conquer death. This is regeneration, this is resurrection. Watchman Nee – The Latent Power of the Soul, circa 1939, copyright 1972 by Christian Fellowship Publishers, Inc.

Destiny is Revealed in the Disposition of Your Daily Choices

“The great element in sin is defiance against God. There is a difference between sin and sins; sin is a disposition and is never spoken of as being forgiven; sins are acts for which we are responsible. Sin is a thing we are born with, and we cannot touch sin; God touches sin in Redemption. God never laid the sin of the human race on anybody but Himself, and in Redemption He has dealt with the disposition of sin. A man cannot be forgiven for what he is not to blame, but God holds a man responsible for refusing to receive a new heredity when he sees that Jesus Christ can give it to him. In the Cross of Jesus Christ, God redeemed the whole human race from the possibility of damnation through the heredity of sin†. If, when we realise that Jesus Christ came to deliver us from the wrong disposition by putting in a right one, we refuse to allow Him to do it, that is the moment when condemnation begins (John 3:19).” — Oswald Chambers

John 3:19-21 Reads in the Message

“This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They were for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted in denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.”

Beloved, the condemnation and judgement is that Light has come into the world but men loved darkness. Men will be in hell not because of their sins but because of their not entering the Light and Truth, but hiding their foul and noxious deeds, preferring darkness.

Himsights v359 – Personality Brings Oneness While Individuality Brings Division

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” John 3:6

“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.” Romans 8:5.

“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Romans 8:9.

“But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.” Galatians 4:29.

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” Galatians 5:16-17.

Individuality is me separate from God, you, and everybody else for that matter. It is the I, me, mine position – the position of the Flesh. Personality, on the other hand, is the expression and of us, we, our – it is the position of the Spirit of God and Christ and the position that Christ desires for His disciples. “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.” John 17:11. And again in John 17:22, “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.”

Oswald Chambers offers such a good treatment of this that I wouldn’t want to change it. Please read how those of the spirit cannot mix with those of the flesh. The Flesh will not have it, Individuality will not partake in a relationship involving submission and denying oneself, while the Spirit seeks oneness, unity, marriage, community and being lost in the life of God and others – even at the sacrifice and death of self.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” Matt. 23:37. How much He (Perfect Personality) wanted to become one with His children but they, (Flawed Individuality) would not.

In the Garden we have nothing less than the first expression of human individuality (I) and a severing of the union of personality (we).

When someone who has been asked to not work in a certain place, to not wear certain things, to not go certain places, to not talk to certain people, to not do certain things and their response is one big declaration of individuality (e.g. I will), then there is no marriage, there is no unity, there is distinct Individuality that refuses to be joined with another. There is separation and death to the oneness of we.

Do not go to the Garden – she did. Do not go about uncovered from my protection – she did. Do not go near the tree – she did. Do not talk to the serpent – she did. Do not eat of the forbidden fruit in willful disobedience – she did. She became divided and sought her individual will. A house divided cannot stand.

Unfortunately her husband followed her in her rebellious individualistic folly and separation from God and we all became the broken relationships that we are. If you find yourself in this predicament, “remain in Me“, do not separate, do not follow the folly of individualism. You are still married to Him if you do. “And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” Matt. 5:30.

By the way, you will notice the theme I have been discussing, “Suffering is Your Opportunity to Show Your Quality”, right off the bat.

Here is the Oswald article if you are already confused:

Man Becomes What He Is

Circumstances make a man reveal what spirit he is of. Crises reveal character more quickly than anything else.

Personality is of the nature of light, it can be merged; individuality is like a lamp which cannot merge. There may be many lamps, but only one light. Individuality cannot mix; it is all “elbows,” it separates and isolates; it is the thing that characterises us naturally, in our elementary condition we are all individual. Individuality is the shell, as it were, holding something more valuable than itself—the kernel, which is personality. The shell of individuality is God’s created natural coating for the protection of the personal life. It preserves the personality, and is the characteristic of the child; but if I stick to my individuality and mistake it for the personal life, I shall remain isolated, a disintegrating force ending in destruction. Individuality counterfeits personality as lust counterfeits love. God designed human nature for Himself; individuality debases human nature for itself.

Personality merges, and you only get your real identity when you are merged with another person. A man has his individuality transfigured when he falls in love. When love or the Spirit of God strikes a man or woman, they are transformed, they no longer insist on their separate individuality. Christianity is personal, therefore it is un-individual. Personality is the characteristic of the spiritual man as individuality is the characteristic of the natural man. Our Lord never spoke in terms of individuality, of a man’s “elbows” or isolated position, but in terms of personality, “that they all may be one.” Our Lord can never be defined in terms of individuality or independence, but only in terms of personality. He was the antipodes [i.e. direct opposite] of the individual; there was nothing independent or wilful or self-assertive about Him. Jesus Christ emancipates the personality; the individuality is transfigured in the mastership of God’s purpose in Christ Jesus, and the transfiguring element is love; personal, passionate devotion to Himself, and to others.

Disposition is the set of my mind; character is the whole trend of my life, not what I do occasionally. Character is what we make; disposition is what we are born with. We make our characters out of the disposition we have, and when we are born again we get a new disposition, the disposition of the Son of God. We cannot imitate the disposition of Jesus Christ; it is either there or it isn’t. Our destiny is determined by our disposition; pre-ordination in regard to individual life depends entirely on the disposition of the individual. If the disposition of the Son of God is in me, then heaven and God are my destination; if the disposition in me is not the disposition of God, my home is as obviously certain with the devil. Our destiny is as eternal and as certain as God’s throne; it is an unalterable decree of God; but I am free to choose by what disposition I am to be ruled. I cannot alter my disposition, but I can choose to let God alter it, and Redemption means that in my practical experience Jesus Christ can give me a new heredity, a new disposition. Our destiny is something fixed by God, but determined by our disposition. We are all born with a disposition, i.e., the peculiar bent of our personal life, and it is that which determines our destiny. Praying won’t alter it, nor science, nor reasoning; if the destiny of a man is going to be altered it must be altered by the Creator (John 3:3).

Suffering is Your Opportunity to Show Your Quality (Part 10)

Weaning On the Everlasting Arms

As much as we like to think we are leaning on the Everlasting arms, we very seldom are. So many are doing everything they can to accomplish their will in their way, that they are seldom caught in the act of seeking God’s will. But He has a plan for those who want to know Him better and deeper. He has made it clear that He wants you to be separated unto Him.

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate.” 2 Cor. 6:17.

When God came, He mingled with His children and had His being among us. He made Himself visible just not overly striking. He had set aside His glory, not considering equality with God something to be grasped. He was in the world, but not of the world. He made this clear when speaking to the religious leaders, “And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.” John 8:23. We too have this quality and trait, we are not of this world but we are in this world. We are among men but we are separated unto God for his purpose – that is the meaning of sanctification – separated for a special purpose.

We do not get to leave once we are born from above, at least not immediately. In fact Jesus prayed specifically to this end, “ I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.  As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.” John 17:15-18.

So how does God go about sanctifying us? He is weaning us from our worldly attractions and affiliations, separating us to Himself? If you are a son of God you are a pet project of His. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Eph. 2:10. The word translated workmanship is the Greek word poeima from which we get our word poem. We are His special creative masterpiece, His poem.

Contrary to popular opinion and thinking the sons of God are not made in the womb, in the seminary or the church. Son’s are made in the fire. They are processed through the trials and afflictions that are necessary to make a son. Even Jesus, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.” Heb. 5:8.

God’s processing of Job is as clear a picture as you will get of this with the exception the life and times of Jesus Christ, although if you check, you will see the Word riddled with this same story over and over again. God had given Job, and gives us, if we are a son, a mandate, an assignment – “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. What is your good work? Being made conformable to the image of Christ in the fires of separation.

First Job was separated from the things of this world that he loved and enjoyed. God allowed – no, prodded Satan – to turn the heat up on Job. “Have you considered my servant Job?…” Then the satanic appeal, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Haven’t you made an hedge [of protection and blessing] around him and his house?”

So right here is the test. God allows Satan access to all that is dear to Job and outside him, his things and his family, to test and prove just what he is made of. He does this by separating Job from the things of this world. Do not think this strange. Get this clear in your head. This becoming like Christ is not a mere signing of the card at the church, saying the prayer and living happily ever after. Making a son of God is delicate, precise work. Work that requires very high heat.

It is very likely that you may have to leave some things behind: “And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,  But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.” Mark 10: 29,30. Just saying…

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:  But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.  If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.” 1 Peter 4:12-14.

So how is this a testimony and proof of your love for God? Listen in to the report regarding Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego, men familiar with the process of the fire and weaning from this world, “And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.” Daniel 3:27.

Job passed the test gloriously, like a true son would. “And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” Job 1:21-22.

But that is not the end of the matter. “And there was a(nother) day… And the Lord said to Satan, Have you considered my servant Job… he still holds fast his integrity, although you moved me against him, to destroy him without cause.” Get that, Job did not do anything yet God is moving against him. This is the cost of confessing Christ, and here is the reward. “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.” Matt. 10:32. “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” Rev. 3:5,6.

So now, the ultimate test is upon Job. “And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life. So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.” Job 2:6,7. God let Satan attack Job personally to within an inch of his life – and he did. Satan loves this stuff. He is always signing up for this job. For all practical purposes Job died to himself. First he denied himself, and now he took up his cross ad followed Christ. And was Satan able to destroy him? No, not even at the goading of his wife. (It is suspected that God left Job’s wife behind so she could be the ultimate test.)

“Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.” Job 2:9,10.

So Satan was allowed and used by God to separate Job from his things, his family, his very life yet in all this he did not sin with his lips (i.e. curse God and die – separate from God.)

It has been wisely said, “You will never know that God is all you need till He is all you have.” Separation from everyone and everything is part God’s calling for sons. Now you are weaning on the Everlasting arms, not your own provision, protection, pleasures or plans.

Suffering is your opportunity to show your quality.

Quote Title Quotation Source
Identification With Others Produces Mercy The truly humble person will not only look admirably at the strengths of others, but will also look with great forgiveness upon the weaknesses of others. The truly humble person will try to see how the sinful deeds done by others were committed because the person was unenlightened or misled, concluding that if the person had the same benefits and helps that he had, they would not have committed any such evil, but rather, would have done much good. Jeremy Taylor – The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living, circa 1650; excerpted from The Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism by Bernard McGuinn copyright 2006 by Random House, Inc.
Satan – Head Hunter When the apostle Paul says that sin entered into the world through one man, he did not mean a man like ourselves; he was speaking of the Federal Head of the human race, the noble being that God created. The third chapter of Genesis reveals how sin was introduced into the world. Watch the subtlety of Satan s reasoning: And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said . . . ? The one thing he was aiming at was the dominion of God over man. Oswald Chambers – The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers
3 Part Harmony The beginning of good in the animal life is perfect obedience; its advance is subjugating the body and reducing it to servitude; it’s perfection is when habitual doing good has become a pleasure. The beginning of the rational life is to understand what is presented to it in the teaching of faith; its advance is to prepare things that fit that teaching; it’s perfection is when reason’s judgment passes over into loving affection of mind. The perfection of the rational life is the beginning of the spiritual life; its advance is “to behold God’s glory with unveiled face”; its perfection is “to be transformed into the same image, from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). William of Saint-Thierry – The Golden Letter; excerpted from The Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism by Bernard McGuinn copyright 2006 by Random House, Inc.
If You Really Know Him, You Trust Him Could we but for one moment get a glimpse into the mighty depths of His love, our hearts would spring out to meet His will and embrace it as our richest treasure; and we would abandon ourselves to it with an enthusiasm of gratitude and joy, that such a wondrous privilege could be ours. A great many Christians seem practically to think that all their Father in heaven wants is a chance to make them miserable and to take away all their blessings; and they imagine, poor souls, that if they hold onto things in their own will, they can hinder Him from doing this. I am ashamed to write the words, yet we must face the fact which is making wretched hundreds of lives. Hannah Whitall Smith – The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, 1875 © 1998 Barbour Publishing, Inc.
If any man lack wisdom, let him ask God “He is the wisest man,” says Plato, “who knows himself to be very ill qualified for the attainment of wisdom.” F. W. Boreham – The Heavenly Octave: A Study of the Beatitudes, Copyright 1936 by F. W. Boreham
The Consecration of Spiritual Concentration Retire from the world each day to some private spot, even if it be only the bedroom (for a while I retreated to the furnace room for want of a better place). Stay in the secret place till surrounding noises begin to fade out of your heart and a sense of God’s presence envelops you. Deliberately tune out the unpleasant sounds and come out of your closet determined not to hear them. Listen for the inward Voice till you learn to recognize it. Stop trying to compete with others. Give yourself to God and then be what and who you are without regard to what others think. Reduce your interests to a few. Don’t try to know what will be of no service to you. Avoid the digest type of mind — short bits of unrelated facts, cute stories and bright sayings. Learn to pray inwardly every moment. After a while you can do this even while you work. Practice candor, childlike honesty, humility. Pray for a single eye. Read less, but read more of what is important to your inner life. Never let your mind remain scattered for very long. Call home you’re roving thoughts. Gaze on Christ with the eyes of your soul. Practice spiritual concentration. — Of God and Men A. W. Tozer – The Pursuit of God
The Objects of Our Affections These four degrees of love are related in one way in divine attractions; they are totally different in the case of spiritual desires and in carnal desires. In spiritual desires, the greater, the better; in carnal desires, the greater, the worse. In divine attractions the highest is also the best. In human attractions the highest is the worst. Surely in human attractions the first degree can be good, the second without doubt is bad, while the third is worse and the fourth the worst of all. Richard of St. Victor – The Four Degrees of Violent Charity; excerpted from The Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism by Bernard McGuinn copyright 2006 by Random House, Inc.
Opening the Lines of Communication When we lift up our souls to God in prayer it gives God an opportunity to do what He will in us and with us. It is putting ourselves at God’s disposal. Unknown Christian – The Kneeling Christian, circa 1890, © 2007 Bidge-Logos.
A Hangover Of Faith from Being Love Drunk Great love will beget great faith — faith in His love for us, faith in the powerful revelations of His love in our hearts, faith that He through His love will work all His good pleasure in us. The wings of faith and love will lift us up to heaven, and we will be filled with “joy unspeakable.” The joy of the Christian is an indispensable witness to the world of the power of Christ to change hearts and to fill them with heavenly love and gladness. Oh, you who love the Lord Jesus, take time daily in the inner chamber with Him to drink in a fresh supply of His heavenly love. It will make you strong in faith, and your joy will be full. Love, joy, faith — these will fill your life each day through the grace of the Lord Jesus. Andrew Murray – Andrew Murray 365 Day Devotional, © 2006 Whitaker House.
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