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31 December, 2012

Family Prayers For The New Year 2013



As we began the New Year 2013, a lot of us will feel the need to make some new plans, and oodles of New Year’s resolution that we may or may not keep. While most of our New Year’s resolutions are good but instead of thinking of yourself, may I suggest that you think of honouring and delighting God in whichever way you decide to change your life. I would even suggest that you consider talking to the Holy Spirit to seek His wisdom in deciding what would be pleasurable to God. Let’s make the next 12 months or 365 days, or 52 weeks, or 8,760 hours or 525,600 minutes or 31,536,000 seconds, one that is completely commitment to Him. Be Blessed by this prayer below!
Happy New Year 2013!


FAMILY PRAYERS
By John MacDuff, 1885
Prayer for the first morning of a new year
 
Almighty and everlasting God, You are the Alpha and the Omega—the First and the Last. Amid all the vicissitudes of a changing world, You change not. All things below must perish—but You remain the same. You have mercifully preserved us to see the commencement of another year. We desire to begin this new period of our existence by consecrating its hours to You. Before we enter on its manifold duties, and its unknown trials—we beseech You to impart to us Your gracious benediction. We would seek to connect its coming blessings with You—to own Your hand and Your wisdom in its coming sorrows. We would seek to feel that it can only be to us a happy year by being a holy one—spent in Your service and devoted to Your praise. It is one of the many new years we have seen; we cannot tell how few we may have yet to see.
Our prayer is, that we may live this year as if it were to be our last. Lord, we desire to begin the year, where we would wish to begin and to end its every day—at the opened Fountain. We desire to take as our motto and superscription throughout its course "God forbid that we should glory, save in the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ." We desire to connect this New Year’s morning with the great atoning sacrifice, without which no years could have revolved to us. Our every temporal comfort, as well as every spiritual blessing, flow to us entirely from Jesus. Oh, do enkindle in our hearts a flame of more ardent devotedness to Him, whose amazing love it is, which crowns every year with goodness, and makes all its paths to drop fatness.
Gracious Lord, we desire, this morning, to make a fresh consecration of ourselves and our household unto You. Sprinkle our lintels with the blood of the everlasting covenant. Set Your own seal and mark on our foreheads. If in past years there has been forgetfulness of You—if Your kindness has been abused, and Your mercies slighted, and Your name dishonoured—enable each and all of us to make this year one of more undivided surrender to Your service. May it be a new year of love, and meekness, and forgiveness, and close walking with God. May sin be more dreaded, and holiness more loved. May the lessons of eternity come more powerfully and impressively home to us. Let us live as immortal beings. Let us live a dying life. Let it not be the impression of a solemn anniversary like the present, but a habitual conviction, that "The fashion of this world is passing away."
O Lord, accept of this our united new year's sacrifice. We would light our flickering lamps at Your holy altar—do replenish them day by day with the oil of Your grace; that should any of us be summoned in the course of the year to meet our Lord, we may not have to make the mournful confession, "Our lamps have gone out."
Good Lord, bless all our dear friends; we would remember them, as we trust they are remembering us, this day, at Your footstool. Hear our mutual prayers: may the cloud of mercy descend on all our heads. Though absent from one another on earth, may faith bring us near, by having our tents pitched by the gate of heaven. Bless our native land; may it ever remain a center of holy influences, distinguished by that righteousness which exalts a nation. Bless our rulers, our senators, our magistrates. Bless the ministers of the everlasting Gospel; may they be wise to win souls; and may every religious privilege we now enjoy, be handed down unimpaired to the last posterity. God of all grace, undertake for us. Let the pillar of Your presence go before us. Direct, control, suggest throughout this year, all that we design or do—so that every power of our bodies, and every faculty of our souls, may unite for the showing forth of Your praise and glory. And all that we ask is for the sake of Jesus—Your only Son and our Savior. Amen.

We might have begun this year in Hell!




We might have begun this year in Hell!


 (James Smith "The First Day of the Year" 1865)



This Title  is Still Valid For 2013


Happy New Year!

What a mercy that we have been spared until now. How many have been cut down during the last year. 
We might have begun this year in Hell. Oh, if we had! How dreadful the thought!
But many who did begin the last year as we begin this — are in Hell now. They little thought that it would be so — but there they are, and now there is no redemption, there is no way of escape. They are shut up in hopeless despair. Their doom is forever fixed. 

And why are we spared? To go on in sin? To abuse the mercy that has been shown to us? To aggravate our woe? Oh, no! We are spared that we may escape from the wrath to come, that we may secure the pardon of our sins, and that we may be happy both in this world and in that which is to come.

This is the first day of the year, and what is our first thought? What shall we fix our thoughts upon? 
Let us think of past mercies — and past sins; 
let us think of present duty — and present danger;
let us think of future probabilities — and certainties.

Let us think of our state before God — what is it? 
Are we pardoned — or condemned?
Are we sons of God — or children of wrath? 
Are we reconciled to God — or living at enmity with God? 

Do we ever . . .
  speak to Him in prayer,
  look to Him in faith,
  walk with Him in love,
  work for Him with pleasure, or
  long to be with Him in glory?



30 December, 2012


New year! By Arthur Pink


Public domain Courtesy


"Go forward!" Exodus 14:15

Is not this a timely word for each of us as we enter into, and journey through, 
a new year?

We need to clearly realize that there is no such thing as remaining stationary in the spiritual life. If we do not progress — we inevitably retrograde. How that solemn fact should search our hearts! 

Christian friend, your history this year will be either one of going forward — or backsliding. This new year will mark either an increased fruitfulness in your soul and life, to the glory of Him whose name you bear — or increased leanness and barrenness, to His reproach. It will witness either a growing in grace — or a decline in your spirituality. It will record either an increased love for the Word, use of the Throne of Grace, strictness of walk and closer communion with Christ — or a growing coldness and a following of Him afar off!

"Go forward!" Exodus 14:15

29 December, 2012

Conversion of the Soul - Part 2



"The Soul after Conversion" By Octavius Winslow


We now proceed to show in what MANNER the blessed Spirit commences, carries forward and sustains this great work in the soul. 

First, the commencement of spiritual life is sudden. We are far from confining the Spirit to a certain prescribed order in this or any other part of His work. He is a Sovereign, as we shall presently show, and therefore works according to His own will. But there are some methods He more frequently adopts than others. We would not say that all aspects of conversion is a sudden work. There is a knowledge of sin, conviction of its guilt, repentance before God on account of it; these are frequently slow and gradual in their advance. But the first communication of Divine light and life to the soul is always sudden- sudden and instantaneous as was the creation of natural light. "God said, Let there be light, and there was light." It was but a word, and in an instant chaos rolled away, and every object and scene in nature was bathed in light and glory. 


Sudden as was the communication of life to Lazarus- "Jesus cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth!" It was but a word, and in an instant "he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes." So is it in the first communication of Divine light and life to the soul. The eternal Spirit says, "Let there be light," and in a moment there is light. He speaks again, "Come forth," and "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the dead are raised incorruptible, and are changed." 

Striking illustrations of the suddenness of the Spirit's operation are afforded in the cases of Saul of Tarsus, and of the thief upon the cross. How sudden was the communication of light and life to their souls! It was no long and previous process of spiritual illumination- it was the result of no lengthened chain of reasoning- no labored argumentation. In a moment, and under circumstances most unfavorable to the change- as we should think- certainly at a period when the rebellion of the heart rose the most fiercely against God, "a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun," poured its transforming radiance into the mind of the enraged persecutor; and a voice conveying life into the soul reached the conscience of the dying thief. Both were translated from darkness into light, "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." 


How many who read this page may say, "Thus was it with me! God the eternal Spirit arrested me when my heart's deep rebellion was most up in arms against Him. It was a sudden and a short work, but it was mighty and effectual. It was unexpected and rapid, but deep and thorough. In a moment the hidden evil was brought to view- the deep and dark fountain broken up- all my iniquities passed before me, and all my 'secret sins seemed placed in the light of God's countenance.' My soul sank down in deep mire- yes, hell opened its mouth to receive me." 


Do not overlook this wise and gracious method of the blessed Spirit's operation in regeneration. It is instantaneous. The means may have been simple- perhaps it was the loss of a friend- an alarming illness- a word of reproof or admonition dropped from a parent or a companion- the singing of a hymn- the hearing of a sermon- or some text of Scripture winged with His power to the conscience; in the twinkling of an eye, the soul "dead in trespasses and sins" was "quickened," and translated into "newness of life." O blessed work of the blessed and eternal Spirit! O mighty operation! O inscrutable wisdom! What a change has now passed over the whole man! Overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, that which is begotten in the soul is the Divine life, a holy, influential, never-dying principle. Truly he is a new creature, "old things passing away, and all things becoming new." 


For this change let it not be supposed that there is, in the subject, any previous preparation. (The author is not affirming that the Holy Spirit has no dealings with a sinner prior to regeneration but that the sinner does nothing to prepare himself for this saving act of God.) There can be no preparation for light or life. What preparation was there in chaos? What preparation was there in the cold clay limbs of Lazarus? What in Paul? What in the dying thief? The work of regeneration is supremely the work of the Spirit. The means may be employed, and are to be employed, in accordance with the Divine purpose, yet are they not to be deified. They are but means, "profiting nothing" without the power of God the Holy Spirit. Regeneration is His work, and not man's.


We have remarked that the first implantation of the Divine life in the soul is sudden. We would however observe that the advance of that work is in most cases gradual. Let this be an encouragement to any who are writing hard and bitter things against themselves in consequence of their little progress. The growth of Divine knowledge in the soul is often slow- the work of much time and of protracted discipline. Look at the eleven disciples- what slow, tardy scholars were they, even though taught immediately from the lips of Jesus; and "who teaches like him?" 

They drank their knowledge from the very Fountain. They received their light directly from the Sun itself. And yet, with all these superior advantages- the personal ministry, instructions, miracles, and example of our dear Lord, how slow of understanding were they to comprehend, and how "slow of heart to believe," all that He so laboriously, clearly, and patiently taught them!
Yes, the advance of the soul in the Divine life- its knowledge of sin, of the hidden evil, the heart's deep treachery, intricate windings, Satan's subtlety, the glory of the Gospel, the preciousness of Christ, and its own interest in the great salvation- is not the work of a day, nor of a year, but of many days, perhaps many years of deep ploughing, long and often painful discipline, of "windy storm and tempest."

28 December, 2012

The Soul After Conversion



"The Soul after Conversion is from Octavius Winslow 1 August 1808 – 5 March 1878"

That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. John 3:6
Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. John 3:6
Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven. John 3:6
No truth shines with clearer luster in the Divine word than that salvation, from first to last, is of God. It is convincingly and beautifully shown to be the work of the glorious Trinity in unity: each person of the Godhead occupying a distinct and peculiar office, and yet all engaged upon, and, as it were coalescing in this mighty undertaking. The Father is represented as giving His elect in covenant engagement to His Son, John 17. 2. The Son is represented as assuming in eternity the office of Surety, and in the "fullness of time" appearing in human form, and suffering for their sins upon the cross, Rom. 8. 3. The Holy Spirit is represented as convincing of sin, working faith in the heart, and leading to the atoning blood, John 16. 8. Thus is salvation shown to be the entire work of the Triune God, distinct in office, yet one in purpose. We have now more immediately to do with that department in the stupendous plan which is ascribed especially and peculiarly to God the eternal Spirit. 
Courtesy of Wiki

We have already viewed the sinner in the various phases of his unconverted state. How awful did that state appear! The understanding, the will, the affections were all dark, perverted and alienated from God, with enmity and death marking every unconverted man. We have seen this state reversed; the temple restored, and God dwelling again with men; the heart brought back to its lawful Sovereign, and clinging to Him with all the grasp of its renewed affections; darkness succeeded by light, enmity by love, ingratitude by praise- and the whole soul turning with the rapidity and certainty of the magnetic needle to God, the center of its high and holy attraction. To whose power are we to attribute this marvellous change? To the sinner himself? That cannot be; for the very principle that led to the first step in departure from God, and which still urges him on in every successive one, supplies him with no adequate power or motive to return. To the mere exercise of some other human agency? That is equally impossible; for in the whole empire of created intelligence God has nowhere delegated such power and authority to a single individual. We must look for the secret of this spiritual change outside of the creature, away from men and angels, and seek it in God the eternal Spirit. God looks within Himself for the power, and He finds it there, even in His own omnipotent Spirit. 

This is the great and spiritual truth we are now to consider: regeneration, the sole and special work of the Holy Spirit. The doctrine that assigns to human power an efficient part in the new birth is based upon the supposition that there is in man an inherent principle, the natural bias of which is to holiness; and that, because God has created him a rational being, endowed with a will, understanding, conscience, affections and other intellectual and moral properties, therefore the simple, unaided, voluntary exercise of these powers- a simple choosing of that which the conscience and the understanding point out to be good in view of certain motives presented to the mind- is all that is required to bring the soul into the possession of the Divine nature. With all meekness and affection, yet uncompromising regard for the glory of God, would we expose, on scriptural grounds alone, the fallacy and the dangerous tendency of this hypothesis. 

Begging the reader to bear in mind that which in the previous chapter has been advanced touching the actual state of the natural man, we would earnestly call his attention to the following passages. John 3. 6: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh." It is, morally, nothing but flesh. It is carnal, corrupt, depraved, sinful and has no discernment or perception whatever of spiritual things.

27 December, 2012

Conversion


Spurgeon delivered this sermon on October 7, 1855, 
True conversion is so misunderstood that I think this post could be useful.


“Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth; and one convert him; Let him know that he which converteth sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”—James 5:19-20.

THE TRUE BELIEVER is always pleased to hear of anything which concerns the salvation of his own soul. He rejoices to hear of the covenant plan drawn up for him from all eternity, of the great fulfillment on the cross at Calvary, of all the stipulations of the Saviour, of the application of them by the Holy Spirit, of the security which the believer has in the person of Christ, and of those gifts and graces which accompany salvation to all those who are heirs thereof: But I feel certain that, deeply pleased as we are when we hear of things touching our own salvation and deliverance from hell, we, as preachers of God, and as new creatures in Christ, being made like unto him, have true benevolence of spirit, and therefore are always delighted when we hear, speak, or think, concerning the salvation of others. 

Next to our own salvation, I am sure, as Christians, we shall always prize the salvation of other people; we shall always desire that what has been so sweet to our own taste, may also be tasted by others; and what has been of so inestimably precious a value to our own souls, may also become the property of all those whom God may please to shall unto everlasting life. I am sure, beloved, now that I am about to preach concerning the conversion of the ungodly, you will take as deep an interest in it as if it were something that immediately concerned your own souls, for, after all, such were some of you once. You were unconverted and ungodly; and had not God taken thought for you, and set his people to strive for your souls, where had you been? Seek, then, to exercise that charity and benevolence towards others which God and God’s people first exercised towards you.

Our text has in it, first of all, a principle involved—that of instrumentality.—“Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know that he who converteth a sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death.” Secondly, here is a general fact stated:—“He who converteth a sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” And thirdly, there is a particular application of this fact made. “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth and one convert him,”—that is the same principle as when a sinner is converted “from the error of his way.”

I. First, then, here is a great principle involved—a very important one—that of INSTRUMENTALITY. God has been pleased in his inscrutable wisdom and intelligence to work the conversion of others by instrumentality. True, he does not in all cases SO do, but it is his general way. Instrumentality is the plan of the universe. In the new creation it is almost always God’s invariable rule to convert by means of instruments. Now we will make one or two brief remarks upon this first principle.

First, then, we say that instrumentality is not necessary with God. God can, if he pleases, convert souls without any instruments whatsoever. The mighty Maker who chooses to use the sword sometimes, can, if he pleases, slay without it. He who uses the workman, the trowel, and the hammer, can, if he so sees fit, build the house in a moment, and from the foundation-stone even to the topstone thereof, can complete it by the words of his own mouth. We never hear of any instrument used in the conversion of Abraham. He lived in a far-off land in the midst of idolaters, but he was called Ur of the Cheldees, and thence God called him and brought him to Canaan by an immediate voice, doubtless from above, by God’s own agency, without the employment of any prophet; for we read of none who could, as far as we can see, have preached to Abraham and taught him the truth. Then in modern times we have a mighty instance of the power of God, in converting without human might. Saul, on his journey towards Damascus, upon his horse, fiery and full of fury against the children of God, is hastening to hail men and women and cast them into prison; to bring them bound unto Jerusalem; but on a sudden, a voice is heard from heaven, “Saul! Saul! why persecutest thou me?” and Saul was a new man. 

No minister was his spiritual parent, no book could claim him as its convert; no human voice, but the immediate utterance of Jesus Christ himself, at once, there and then, and upon the spot, brought Saul to know the truth. Moreover, there are some men who seem never to need conversion at all; for we have one instance in Scripture of John the Baptist, of whom it is said, “He was filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.” And I do not know but what there are some who very early in life have a change of heart. It is quite certain that all infants, (who, doubtless, being each of them elect, do ascend to heaven,) undergo a change of heart without instrumentality; and so there may be some, concerning whom it maybe written that though they were born in sin and shapen in iniquity, yet they were so early taught to know the Lord, so soon brought to his name, that it must have been almost without instrument at all. God can if he pleases cast the instrument aside. The mighty Maker of the world who used no angels to beat out the great mass of nature and fashion it into a round globe, he who without hammer or anvil fashioned this glorious world, can if he pleases, speak, and it is done; command, and it shall stand fast. He needs not instruments, though he uses them.

26 December, 2012

Waiting for Salvation


Waiting for Salvation
James Smith, 1861



"I have WAITED for your salvation, O Lord." This is our only proper posture as believers in Jesus. We wait not for death — but for God's salvation. We have the plan of it in the Scriptures — to study, and we have the pledge of it in our hearts — to encourage us. It is for us therefore to wait for its full perfection, and to wait in God's way, God's time, until it arrives.

Let us wait praying, which is a preparation for it.
Let us wait pressing on, determined to reach it.
Let us wait particularly doing and enduring all that God requires or permits it.
Let us wait persuaded that it will come, and come soon. To some of us, it is just in sight. Soon, very soon, we shall be called from scenes of suffering and labor, and shall enter into the enjoyment of perfect, perpetual, and everlasting freedom!

Every saint waits and pants for perfect purity. This is the direct and invariable tendency of the new nature. Sin is an annoyance, a burden, a grief, a very hateful thing. Holiness is lovely, desirable, and precious. To be holy, perfectly holy — is the natural and constant desire of the regenerated soul.

FAITH lays hold on God's promise. Which is the promise of salvation, for as John says, "This is the promise that he has promised us, even eternal life." This promise, as presented in the gospel, is apprehended, appreciated, and appropriated by faith. Faith believes it, is assured of it, and rests upon it.

PATIENCE waits God's time. Human nature is often in a hurry, trials and troubles spur it on, and at times it becomes restive; but grace is willing to wait, yes, would rather wait, if God may thereby be glorified. "I have waited," said Jacob: and "if we hope for that we see not," says Paul, "then do we with patience wait for it."

LOVE works in God's vineyard. None wait so patiently, so comfortably, so consistently, as those who are diligently employed in God's service. O how many evils are prevented, and how much good is obtained by diligent working for God!

HOPE expects full enjoyment.
As God has promised it — faith believes it;
and as faith believes it — hope expects it;
hope expecting it — we patiently wait for it;
and while patiently waiting for it —
we often enjoy the foretastes of it.

Reader, is your heart set upon salvation? Upon being saved from sin now — that you may be saved from all sorrow, sighing, and sadness forever?
Salvation may be had — but it must be sought. If you are willing to be damned, you need take no special effort — just go on and let things take their course, and you are lost. But, if you wish to be saved —

you must strive to enter in at the strait gate,
you must set your heart upon obtaining the salvation which is in Christ Jesus,
you must deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus.
Faith, the faith which saves us, comes from Christ, receives from Christ, trusts in Christ, has fellowship with Christ, nor will it allow the soul to rest until it realizes that we are one with Christ. "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ — and you shall be saved!" But if you believe not — you must be damned, for "He who believes not the Son of God shall not see life — but the wrath of God abides on him." We are saved by grace — but it is through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.






25 December, 2012

A Prayer For Christmas Morning


From J.R. Miller 1910




On this Christmas Day, my Father, I come to you with a glad heart. Help me to observe the day fitly, with loving remembrance of the lowly birth in Bethlehem and the sorrows of him who came to bring redemption, and with grateful thanks to you for your great mercy.

May this be a true Christmas in my heart. Take away all unbelief, all bitter thought and feeling, all resentment and unforgiveness, all unholy desire—and give me love—love that is patient and kind, that is not provoked, that thinks no evil, that seeks not its own. Save me from all selfishness. While I gratefully receive the Christmas blessings and enjoy them—may my heart be opened toward all the world in sympathy and kindly interest. Make my life a song, and may I go everywhere with joy on my face and on my lips.

I pray for all those to whom Christmas brings gladness, that their joy may be enriched by thoughts of your divine love. I pray for the multitudes of little children everywhere, to whom the day means so much, who have been waiting for it so long in eager expectancy, and who will be happy with their gifts and with the love that blesses them.

I pray also for those to whom the day brings little of joy—the very poor, the lonely and solitary; those far away from their homes, whose hearts will not be warmed by human love; prisoners in their prisons; sailors on the sea; and those who know not you. I pray for the sick in their homes and in the hospitals, that in their suffering they may be comforted by the remembrance of your divine compassion. I pray for the bereft and sorrowing, to whom Christmas brings painful memories, making more real their sense of loss. May they find comfort in the thought of Christ's unfailing love.

May this glad Christmas leave my life richer and tenderer. May your divine love henceforth be more real to me. May I be sure of your divine care and guidance. May my heart be warmer toward my fellows, tenderer in its sympathy with human need and sorrow, and may I live a gentler, more kindly life—because of this day's revealing of your wondrous love. Grant these favors through Jesus Christ. Amen.

24 December, 2012

A Christmas Prayer for the Lonely

In the words of J.R. Miller in 1910




My Father, I miss the gladness which many of your other children are enjoying today. They have their homes and friends and happy fellowships, while I am alone. Yet may I have a joyous Christmas even without these bright things. Let me not envy those who have the blessings which I do not have. Save me from all bitter feeling, all complaining, all homesickness, and all unhappiness because of my circumstances. Help me to remember the loneliness of Jesus, who was born in poverty and found no welcome in this world, and to be as contented in my condition, as he was in his.

I pray for others who are lonely like myself, away from their homes; for the very poor to whom the day will bring but little gladness; for the children whose dream of Christmas has been disappointed; for the sick, the sorrowing, and the weary. In the great wave of good feeling which spreads everywhere today, may some touch of human kindness reach everyone of these heart-hungry ones.

Grant me the privilege of carrying a little Christmas gladness to some who but for me, would go unblessed. Lead me to one, at least, to whom a kindly word will be a blessing. Let me give cheer to one who is discouraged. Give me the privilege of making real to someone, the sweetness and warmth of the love of Christ.

So I pray, my Father, that this wondrous day may not pass without leaving something of its glad, loving spirit in my heart—and something of its quickening in my life. May I get a new vision of your divine love. May I be cleansed of the sin which has left its sad blots, on all my old year's pages. May I from today live more beautifully, less selfishly, less willfully, more helpfully—than ever before. May I find comfort hereafter for my loneliness, in closer companionship with Christ and in a life of love and service. Grant these blessings, I beseech you, in his precious name. Amen.
Happy Holidays!

"Good-will toward men." Good-will means kindness, sympathy, love. It means that we shall have no bitter feeling toward anyone, no unkind thought, no dislike. This man who jostled against me today—is my bother. Perhaps it was as much my fault—as his. I may have put myself obstinately in his way. Most likely at least he did it unintentionally. Let me then forgive him—or even ask his pardon for being in the way when he stumbled.
We may read the Gospels to see how Jesus showed good-will to men, for he gave us the pattern for every beautiful thing he would have us do. A frown never came upon his face—when someone had been rude or unkind to him. Nothing ever caused him to show annoyance, however many things you were to disturb and vex him. The people were selfish and ill-mannered in pressing about him. They gave him no time to rest or to eat. They even broke in upon him—when he was at his private devotions. But his patience and kindness never failed. Nothing ever ruffled or interrupted his composure or irritated him in the slightest way. They told him that the woman at his feet was evil, that her character was stained, and that he should not let her touch him. But he continued his gracious kindness to her—as if she had been the best woman in the land. They hated and persecuted him, hurt and insulted him, spitting in his face, at last nailing him on the cross; but he went on loving, never complaining, never resisting, showing no resentment!
That is what good-will to men means. Can we learn the lesson? That is part of what our Christmas-making means. On Christmas Day, we feel "kindly affectioned" toward all the world. We would not do harm to anyone. We let nothing annoy or vex us. We try to keep our spirit sweet, even amid the most irritating experiences. We forgive those who have wronged us. We give up grudges and resentments. We are glad of any opportunity to be kind to those who have been unkind to us. The problem is to keep up this good-will tomorrow, to take it out with us into the life of the days after Christmas, and to keep on making Christmas wherever we go all the days of the new year. If we do all this—it will not take long to bring in the reign of love.
A prayer has been suggested appropriate for those who are lonely at the Christmastide. It seems fitting to suggest also a prayer for those who are happy in their own homes or in circles of friends.
 



23 December, 2012

The First Christmas

In the words of J.R Miller in 1910


How did the world come to have a Christmas? God gave it to us. It was his gift. The story is told in the Now Testament. There is one great verse which tells how it came: "God so loved the world—that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish—but have everlasting life." Christmas thus began in the heart of God. The world did not ask for it—it was God's own thought. We love—because he first loved us. All the love that warms and brightens this old earth—was kindled from the one heavenly lamp that was lighted the first Christmas night. The Child that was born that first Christmas—was the Son of God. God so loved the world—that he gave his one and only Son.

Think of the beginning—how small it was. It was only a baby, a baby among the poor. Think where the baby was born—in a stable, with the cattle all about. Think where the baby slept its first sleep—in a little box, out of which the cattle ate their fodder. All the circumstances were lowly and humble on the earth side.  

The first Christmas did not mean much in the world. Its influence did not reach out far. A little company of lowly shepherds, keeping their watch in the fields, were the only people outside who heard of the wonderful event, and came to look at the new-born Child. The first Christmas touched the shepherds with its wonder, and with its holy sentiment. But with this exception, the great world slept on that night—as if nothing was happening! The world does not know its greatest hours—nor mark its most stupendous events.

Within the lowly cattle-shed, where the Baby lay—there was nothing which at that time seemed unusual. There was no divine splendor, such as we would expect to see in the face of one who was the Son of God. The only light, was the shining of love in the peasant mother's face. When the shepherds came in, all that they saw was a newborn baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger; and a quiet couple, Mary and Joseph, bending over it in tender love. Yet that was the beginning. It was a real Christmas.

22 December, 2012

True Religion


By J. R. Miller who died in 1912 wrote this piece about true religion.  It is so true, and so eloquently said that I had to share it with you all!


There were two artists, close friends, one of who excelled in landscape painting, and the other depicting the human body. The former had painted a picture in which wood and rock and sky were combined in the artist's best manner. But the picture remained unsold—no one cared to buy it. It lacked something. The artist's friend came and said, "Let me take your painting." A few days later he brought it back. He had added a lovely human figure to the matchless landscape. Soon the picture was sold. It had lacked the interest of life.

There are some people whose religion seems to have a similar lack. It is very beautiful, faultless in its creed and its worship—but it lacks the human element. It is only landscape, and it needs life to make it complete. No religion is realizing its true mission—unless it touches life at its every point.

It seems to be the thought of many—that the religion of Christ is only for a little corner of their life. They fence off the Sabbath and try to make it holy by itself—while they devote the other days to secular life, without much effort to make them holy. In like manner, they have certain exercises of devotion each day, which they regard as religious—but which also they shut off in little closets, so that the noise from the great world outside cannot break in to disturb the quiet. These they regard as holy moments—but they do not think of the other long hours of the day as in any sense sacred.

That is, they try to get the religion of their life into little sections by itself, as if all God wants of his children is a certain amount of formal worship—in between the periods of business, struggle, care, and pleasure.

But this is an altogether mistaken thought, of the meaning of Christian life. True religion is not something which is merely to have its own little place among the occupations of our days, something separate from and having no relation to the other things we are doing. Religion that can thus be put into a corner of its own, large or small, and kept there, in holy isolation—is not true religion at all. It was said of Jesus in his life among the people—that he could not be hidden. This is always true of Christ, wherever he is. He cannot be hidden in any heart—he will soon reveal himself in the outer life.

The figures which are used in the Scriptures to illustrate divine grace, all suggest its pervasive quality. It is compared to leaven, which, hid in the heart of the dough—works its way out through the lump, until the whole mass is leavened. It is compared to a seed, which, though hid in the earth, and seeming to die—yet cannot be kept beneath the ground—but comes up in the form of a tree or a plant, and grows into strength and beauty. It is compared to light, which cannot be confined—but presses its way out into the world, until all the space surrounding it is brightened. It is called life—and life cannot be kept in a corner. Indeed, grace is life—a fragment of the life of God let down from heaven and making a lodgment in a human heart, where it grows until it fills all the being.

All the illustrations of the kingdom of heaven in this world, represent it as a branch of that kingdom, so to speak, set up in a man's heart. "The kingdom of heaven is within you," said the Master. It is not something that grows up by a man, alongside the man's natural life, and apart from it—it is a new principle that is brought into his life, whose function it is to infuse itself into all parts of his nature, permeating all his being, expelling whatever is not beautiful or worthy, and itself becoming the man's real life. "Christ lives in me," said Paul, "and that life which I now live in the flesh—I live in faith."

From all this, it is evident that the object of grace in a life is not merely to make one day in seven a holy day, and to hallow a few moments of each morning and evening—but to absorb and fill the man's whole nature. The Sabbath has served its true purpose, only when it has spread its calm and quiet through all the other days. We worship God, especially on that one day—in order to gather strength and grace to live for God in the six days that follow. It is not worship for worship's own sake, that we are to render—but worship to get more of God down into our life to prepare us for duty and struggle, for burden-bearing and toil, for service and sorrow.
It has been said by a distinguished English preacher, that direct worship is a small part of life, and that every human office needs to be made holy. True religion will manifest itself in every phase of life. We sit down in the quiet and read our Bible—and get our lesson. We know it now—but we have not as yet got it into our life—which is the thing we have really to do.
Knowing that we should love our enemies—is not the ultimate thing—actually loving our enemies is. Knowing that we should be patient is not all—we are to practice the lesson of patience until it has become a habit in our life.

Happy Holidays!

Knowing that we should always submit our will to God's, is to have a clear mental conception of our duty in this regard; but this is not true religion. There are many who know well this cardinal duty of Christian life—who yet continue to chafe whenever they cannot have their own way, and who struggle and resist and refuse to submit to the divine will, whenever it appears to be opposed to their own will. They know their lesson—but they have not learned to live it. It is living it, however, that is true religion.

Even the best of striving, will not get all the heavenly vision wrought into life. It is not possible that we with our clumsy hands, can ever put into act or word or carve into visible beauty—all that we dream when we kneel before Christ, or ponder his words. None of us live any day as we meant to live, when we set out in the morning.

Yet it is to be the aim of our striving—always to live our religion—to get the love of our heart, wrought out in a blessed ministry of kindness. Christ lives in us; and it is ours to manifest the life of Christ in our daily living.

It is evident therefore, that it is in the experiences of weekday life, far more than in the quiet of the Sunday worship and the closet, that the real tests of religion come. It is easy to assent with our mind to the commandments, when we sit in the church, enjoying the services. But the assent of the life itself can be obtained, only when we are out in the midst of temptation and duty, in contact with men. There it is, alone, that we can get the commandments wrought into ways of obedience and lines of character. And this is the final object of all Christian teaching and worship—the transforming of our life into the beauty of Christ!

In modern days, the thought of Christianity has been greatly widened. It is no longer supposed, by most Christians at least, that its sphere is confined to a small section of life. We claim all things now for Christ. Our belief is that the whole world belongs to our King. We claim heathen lands for him, and we are pushing the conquest into the heart of every country. We claim all occupations and trades, and all lines of activity for him. The vocation of the minister of the gospel, is in one sense no more holy than that of the carpenter or the merchant. We all are living unto the Lord, whatever we are doing, just as much in working at a trade as in preaching, and on Monday as on Sunday.

Religion claims all our common life, and insists on dominating it. It asserts its power over the body, which is holy because it is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
In one of Paul's letters is this counsel: "Let each man abide in that condition wherein he was called." This would seem to teach that, as a rule, men are not to change their vocation when they acknowledge Christ as their Master—but are to be Christians where they are. The business man is not to become a minister, that he may serve Christ better—but is to serve him by being a Christian business man. The artist, when he accepts Christ, is to remain an artist, using his brush to honor Christ. The singer is to sing—but is to sing now for Christ, using her voice to start songs, in this world of sorrow and sin. They are most like Christ—who go everywhere in his name.

Enough has been said to show that religion is not meant to be merely an adjunct of life—but is to enter into the life itself, and to change it all into the quality of the life of Christ. We come together in our church services to give God something, to worship him; but we come also and chiefly to receive something from God, to have our strength renewed, our spirit quickened, that we may go out into the world to live more righteously and to be greater blessings to others.
Peter wished to make three tabernacles on the Mount of Transfiguration and to hold the blessed heavenly vision there. But his wish was a mistaken one. There was a ministry of love which the Master himself had yet to perform. At the foot of the mountain, at that very hour, a poor boy was waiting to be freed from demonic possession. A little farther on, Gethsemane and Calvary were waiting for Jesus. Think what the world would have lost of blessing—if Peter's prayer had been answered, if Jesus had remained on the mount! Then, for Peter himself, and his companions, service was waiting. Think, also, what a loss it would have been if these apostles had not come down from the Transfiguration mount, to do the work which they afterwards did!
Hours of ecstasy are granted us here—to fit us for richer life and better service for Christ and our fellow men. We pray, and read our Bible, and sit at the Lord's Table—that we may get new grace from God to prepare us for being God's messengers to the world, and new gifts to carry in our hands to hearts that hunger

Amen! Amen! Amen! to this kindred brother!

21 December, 2012

False Religion



Horatius Bonar died on 31 May, 1889. His words that I included in this post, were true then, they are still true today because God never changed.  Even us 'Christians', we can have our own little cults yet not being aware of it.  At the end of the day, false worship of the true God is also our personal little cults.  This is something God had to show me in my own life when he knocked religion out of me so that I could become spiritually real. Until then I was like a sponge absorbing all that I knew from my church. I was so proud thinking that I actually knew which religions were cults and I had no problem calling them on Him.

It was unthinkable to me that we too, in the mainstream Christianity could belong to the very same group we accuse with so much zeal. Like a dog with a bone, I joined all the training to know exactly what made me in mainstream Christianity, different from those we have designated as “cults”.  In my training we went through each one of these groups with a toothcomb to make sure we know how to answer them and put them right back in their places. After my training, I was pumped up and ready, I knew I belonged to the category of Christians that had their act together. I was so sure I had the truth on my side.

When God got hold of me in the wilderness process to teach me properly, during the time that He knocked religion out of me so that He could get me to the point where I became spiritually real, He took pleasure showing me my hypocritical heart, from His point of view.

What was sad, was the fact that I learned from the leaders of the Church. I was so sure it was the right thing to do. I was so sure I was in God’s will. I was so sure my training to spot false Christianity meant that I was growing, learning, and being equipped to help others. I had no idea the people I looked up to had meager understanding devoid of spirituality. I had no idea that God had a different point of view.  Suddenly I had such a spiritually healthy understanding of Matthew 7:3-5. God literally opened my spiritual eyes to see how while I consider myself qualified to talk about cults, through my training all I have learned to do is to notice the speck in my neighbor’s eyes while I have a log in mine yet, totally unaware of it.

Would you believe, this mild manner pastor who was in charge of teaching us in the Church went on to being a ‘big cheese’. He became one of the biggest guest speakers in mega conferences for his wealth of knowledge of the cults we consider counterfeit Christianity.   After he left our Church, when I saw his picture on colorful brochures as guest speaker, I knew he deserved to be there because after all, you just had to name the cult and he would tell you exactly where they went wrong and how to answer them with the Scriptures.

That is until He got hold of me, He had to teach me to get rid of those notions and take His. You see, the problem was not the fact that what this pastor was teaching was wrong. The problem was the fact that we had no idea that we too in the Church we left our first love and we are building Christianity with so much zeal, without Him. We live our Christianity through finding loopholes in His Word and we think we can get away with them. This mentality will not change until we learn to see Salvation and the Christian life from His point of view. Right now all that we have is our point of view that we bring to Him.

Do you have any idea how humiliating it is to think you are so sure of what you know and God get hold of you all of the sudden He is more concerned with the log in your eyes than what you thought was a priority? One of my big surprises was the fact that He did not care about these people who actually are living in cults.  As He moved in to help me get real, He told me my child you are in the same boat as far as I am concerned. But, it was not about them, it was about making me see my log first before I could be really useful to Him according to His will. Yet, I knew His goal was not to humiliate me, but to drill in my heart and soul that His thoughts are higher than my thoughts, and if I wanted the real McCoy, then I better stay close in the Spirit.


Happy Holidays!
 (Horatius Bonar, "False Religion and Its Doom")


"I will lay your corpses in front of your idols and 
 scatter your bones around your altars." Ezek. 6:5

There is such a thing as false religion.
It may be earnest and zealous, yet false.
No amount of sincerity or zeal will make 
that true, which is in itself false.

False religion is the worship of a false god, 
or the false worship of the true God.

We worship the true God untruly when we 
give him only half a heart, half a soul.

Do not think that the utterance of some true 
words, or the expression of a little sentimental 
devotion, is the true worship of the true God.


False religion is useless. 
It profits nothing and nobody, either here or hereafter. 
It is not acceptable to God. 
It will not be counted a substitute for the true. 
It does not satisfy the conscience. 
It does not make the man happy. 
It does not fill the heart. 
It does not remove burdens. 
It will not stand the fire. 
It is but wood, and hay, and stubble. 
The judgment will sweep it all away. 
It is useless both for time nor eternity, 
  both for earth nor heaven. 

It is irksome and unprofitable, only cheating 
the poor worshiper into the belief that he has 
felt or performed something good and worthy.


God abhors false religion. 
It has not one feature that is pleasing to Him. 
It is merely external. 
It is untrue. 
It is against His revelation. 
It is dishonoring to Him. 
It is self exalting. 
It is pure mockery. 
It is rottenness and death. 
It is a mouthful of words, a handful of dust and ashes. 
Therefore God abhors it.

"I will lay your corpses in front of your idols and 
 scatter your bones around your altars." Ezek. 6:5

20 December, 2012

What Is The Truth?



Before God led me into the wilderness where I spent years learning at His feet, there was a period of time where He lead me to a place where I surrendered all with no reservation to Him. While my surrender was not perfect (I did not know it at the time) but, to the extend I knew Him, I was all His. Over the years I learned not only surrender is not a one shot deal, it is in fact a daily battle. This in itself is a subject for few posts. My point is the complete surrender was part of the months of preparation that He took me through so that I would not die in the wilderness. I guess because I was so well prepared by His grace to enter the wilderness with Him, I was able to wait in silence at His feet while learning.

Through the waiting process, I have gone through what He means by obedience through the eyes of the Father, He taught me sufferings to the highest degree my soul could take. I learned through Him what it means to be detached from the world, what it means to be a soldier in His court and the true meaning of taking up my cross and follow after Him.  I was taught what it means to have faith until I became as strong as an oak tree. I have been given a great understanding of the true meaning of Salvation according to the Father’s definition. He stripped away religion from my soul and made the Holy Spirit my only religion. I was taught how to find His footsteps inwardly, He taught my soul what it means to reach the state where you can say like Paul “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain”. He showered me with gifts that I never thought someone like me would possess. He taught me what He meant when He said our righteousness has to surpass the Pharisee’s.  Through the wilderness process He also worked in me most of the Sermon on the Mount.

Happy Holidays!

I am going to stop there because while I waited in suffering and silence upon Him, with Him, and for Him, I have learned so much that I need to put them in several books if I am to share what He has done in my life. While I am very well aware my book Apprehended & Apprehending along with the other books that I planned to write, will not appeal to everyone. But, if I learned anything from the spiritual growth series with J. C. Ryle that I just finished yesterday, as long as you are the type of Christian who finds comfort and satisfaction in comparing yourself to your neighbors, then you have no capacity to care about what I have to say. And, if through my writings God is able to touch one or two or ten people, to reach for a deeper Christianity in Him, even if it’s long after I passed away, then I would have accomplished His will and purpose for my life.

I already shared with you in one of my posts, where the Holy Spirit has shown me one day how the Word of God in the Bible is alive and each iota in the Word is a full Christ. That day I learned the truth that most Christians are spending so much time to uncover, is no less than Him in His fullness. I shared with you all the emotions I went through that day where all I could do after this revelation was to walk back and forth with no aim because the revelation was too much and my heart was ready to explode.

What I did not fully share with you, is that the day He showed me the Word of God was the truth, was really the end result of having spent years in the wilderness with Him where He was able to work out Himself in me. Then after that experience He showed me that I have found the truth, so now I am held at a higher standard for it. Following God is a relationship, but believe me there is a process behind it all. We repeat words like “God is a God of order” we miss out on the fact that the Christian life comes also with an order that God meant to work out in us.

We can spend a lifetime studying to uncover the truth when in reality what we are doing is not better than the Pharisees who studied so much they missed out on Christ. Sure, we need to search for the truth, we need to be alert, and most of all we need to share it with unbelievers in and outside the Church. But, the search takes on a whole new meaning when He actually dwells in His fullness in us. Because we no longer search for something that is outside of us, since He would have become part of us.  But, to get there, we need to also walk with and in the truth, experience the truth, surrender to the truth, believing the truth, trust the truth, live out the truth, and be one with the truth.

We need to let the truth transform us, be willing to sacrifice all so the truth can move freely in us. We need to live out the truth so much that the unbelievers can see the truth in us. We need to be totally abandoned to the truth and live purposely for His will and His truth. Failing these things, we can study till He comes, and all of it will not amount to nothing unless we make the decision to let Him enter our lives and move freely as He sees fit. Understand what I am saying here, I am aware that there is nothing good in me, even at my best, when I am at my highest with Him and I offer up my utmost to Him, I am still nothing more than filthy rags. I do not deserve His grace, His cross, His suffering and even for Him to give me a second look. So, I would be a complete idiot to take credit for my wilderness walk with Him where I have seen Him who is invisible. It is all a work of His grace.

My wish for you who have been a Christian for decades, yet still feel you need one more study to uncover the truth, just because you are not prepared to find out what is underneath of it all. I pray instead of spending time searching for the truth, you would decide to open your heart and let Him in because He is at the door, waiting and willing to come in and teach you according to His Gospel what He meant by it all. I pray that you stop being afraid of the narrow gate, and enter it with Thanksgiving in your heart. As I explained in my book, the path that leads to the wilderness is exactly behind the narrow gate. He took my left hand in His right hand and led me there.  
The Obedience Of Christ!

The hesitation you have that causes you to keep studying instead of truly receiving Him in His fullness, says that you are in the same place those foolish Galatians were which caused Paul to say in Galatians 4:19 “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.” Paul knew they were missing something, he knew they had to continue at a deeper level to apprehend what Christ had apprehended them for. Christ had a goal, He had a purpose and it was not for the Galatians or for you to keep living a half truth. He wants to give you His fullness; He wants you to keep apprehending the truth within you. You cannot keep apprehending the truth within, unless you learn to live in oneness with Him where you abide like a branch and be fed by Him like a helpless branch depending on the tree to remain alive.

All of it is wrapped up in one thing, “His grace” the grace to receive the obedient heart that Christ cultivated when He was here on earth. His obedience lead Him to the cross. Don’t be afraid to go like a defenseless and stupid sheep because this is exactly what it feels like. But, it is worth it.  Go to Him with that attitude, because you want to uncover the truth. Let Him show you behind the veil.  

I will leave you now with a few words that William Winslow wrote in 1849 about the truth.



What is Truth? Momentous question! The anxious inquiry of every age, of every Church, of every lip. Pilate knows it now. And he might have known it when the question first fell from his trembling lips- for ETERNAL and ESSENTIAL TRUTH stood as a criminal at his bar! But summon the witnesses, and they shall testify what is truth. Ask the devils who beheld His miracles and quailed beneath His power and they will answer- "It is Jesus, the Son of God Most High." Ask the angels who beheld His advent and announced His birth, and they will answer- "It is the Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Ask His enemies who nailed Him to the tree, and they will answer- "Truly it is the Son of God!" Ask His disciples who were admitted to His confidence, and who leaned upon His bosom, and they will answer, "We believe and are sure that it is Christ, the Son of the living God." Ask the Father, testifying from the 'secret place of thunder,' and He will answer- "It is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Summon witnesses from the inanimate world. Ask the water blushing into wine- ask the sea calmed by a word- ask the earth trembling upon its axis- ask the rocks rent asunder- ask the sun veiled in darkness- ask the heavens robed in mourning- ask all nature agonized and convulsed, as He hung upon the tree- and all, as with one voice, will exclaim- Jesus is TRUTH.

Happy are they, who, through the teaching of the Holy Spirit, receive Jesus into their hearts as the truth- believe in Him as the truth- walk in Him as the truth, and who, under the sanctifying influence of the truth, are employing their holiest energies in making Him known to others as "the way, the truth, and the life" -thus, like their Lord, "bearing witness unto the truth."
In the Lord Jesus, then, as the head of the new-covenant dispensation, "Grace and Truth " essentially and exclusively dwell; and sitting at His feet, each sincere, humble disciple may receive grace out of His fullness and be taught the truth from His lips. "The law was given by Moses, but GRACE and TRUTH came by Jesus Christ."
To encourage the 'house of Jacob to possess their possessions,' is the lowly design of these pages. Should their perusal stimulate the Christian reader to seek an increase of grace from Christ, - impart to him clearer unfolding of Jesus as the truth, or lead him into deeper, more comforting and sanctifying views of the 'truth as it is in Jesus,' -let him, in return, pray for the unworthy writer as greatly needing and desiring in his own soul a larger measure of these precious things. And all the glory shall be ascribed to the TRIUNE GOD, to whom exclusively and most justly it is due.

Please feel free to send an email to "obedience at intothyword.us" and you will receive a link right back to download Andrew Murray  "The School Of Obedience"

19 December, 2012

The MEANS of religious growth - Part 5


The means of religious growth continued..... last of the series

Now I believe that no man will ever grow in grace who does not know something experimentally of the habit of communion. We must not be content with a general orthodox knowledge that Christ is the Mediator between God and man, and that justification is by faith and not by works, and that we put our trust in Christ. We must go further than this. We must seek to have personal intimacy with the Lord Jesus and to deal with Him as a man deals with a loving friend. We must realize what it is to turn to Him first in every need, to talk to Him about every difficulty, to consult Him about every step, to spread before Him all our sorrows, to get Him to share in all our joys, to do all as in His sight, and to go through every day leaning on and looking to Him. 

This is the way that Paul lived "The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God." "To me to live is Christ" (Gal. 2:20; Phil. 1:21). It is ignorance of this way of living that makes so many see no beauty in the book of Canticles. But it is the man who lives in this way, who keeps up constant communion with Christ—this is the man, I say emphatically, whose soul will grow.

Although much more could be said on this weighty subject, let us now turn to some practical applications, keeping in mind its tremendous importance.
The School Of Obedience 

1. This text may fall into the hands of some who know nothing whatever about growth in grace. They have little or no concern about religion. A little proper Sunday church–going or chapel–going makes up the sum and substance of their Christianity. They are without spiritual life, and of course they cannot at present grow. Are you one of these people? If you are, you are in a pitiable condition.

Years are slipping away and time is flying. Graveyards are filling up and families are thinning. Death and judgment are getting nearer to us all. And yet you live like one asleep about your soul! What madness! What folly! What suicide can be worse than this?
Awake before it is too late; awake, and arise from the dead, and live to God. Turn to Him who is sitting at the right hand of God, to be your Savior and Friend. Turn to Christ, and cry mightily to Him about your soul. There is yet hope! He that called Lazarus from the grave is not changed. He that commanded the widow’s son at Nain to arise from his bier can do miracles yet for your soul. Seek Him at once: seek Christ, if you would not be lost forever. Do not stand still talking and meaning and intending and wishing and hoping. Seek Christ that you may live, and that living you may grow.

2. This text may fall into the hands of some who should know something of growth in grace but at present know nothing at all. They have made little or no progress since they were first converted. They seem to have "settled on their lees" (Zeph. 1:12). They go on from year to year content with old grace, old experience, old knowledge, old faith, old measure of attainment, old religious expressions, old set phrases. Like the Gibeonites, their bread is always moldy and their shoes are patched and clouted. They never appear to get on. Are you one of these people? If you are, you are living far below your privileges and responsibilities. It is high time to examine yourself.

If you have reason to hope that you are a true believer and yet do not grow in grace, there must be a fault, and a serious fault somewhere. It cannot be the will of God that your soul should stand still. "He gives more grace." He takes "pleasure in the prosperity of His servants" (James 4:6; Ps. 35:27). It cannot be for your own happiness or usefulness that your soul should stand still. Without growth you will never rejoice in the Lord (Phil. 4:4). Without growth you will never do good to others. Surely this want of growth is a serious matter! It should raise in you great searchings of heart. There must be some "secret thing" (Job 15:11). There must be some cause.

Take the advice I give you. Resolve this very day that you will find out the reason of your standstill condition. Probe with a faithful and firm hand every corner of your soul. Search from one end of the camp to the other, until you find out the Achan who is weakening your hands. Begin with an application to the Lord Jesus Christ, the great Physician of souls, and ask Him to heal the secret ailment within you, whatever it may be. Begin as if you had never applied to Him before, and ask for grace to cut off the right hand and pluck out the right eye. But never, never be content if your soul does not grow. For your peace’s sake, for your usefulness’ sake, for the honor of your Maker’s cause, resolve to find out the reason why.

3. This message may fall into the hands of some who are really growing in grace but are not aware of it and will not allow it. Their very growth is the reason why they do not see their growth! Their continual increase in humility prevents them feeling that they get on. Like Moses, when he came down from the mount from communing with God, their faces shine. And yet, like Moses, they are not aware of it (Ex. 34:29). Such Christians, I grant freely, are not common. But here and there such are to be found. Like angels’ visits, they are few and far between. Happy is the neighborhood where such growing Christians live! To meet them and see them and be in their company is like meeting and seeing a bit of "heaven upon earth."

Now what shall I say to such people? What can I say? What ought I to say? Shall I bid them awake to a consciousness of their own growth and be pleased with it? I will do nothing of the kind. Shall I tell them to plume themselves on their own attainments and look at their own superiority to others? God forbid! I will do nothing of the kind. To tell them such things would do them no good. To tell them such things, above all, would be a useless waste of time. If there is any one feature about a growing soul which specially marks him, it is his deep sense of his own unworthiness. 


Happy Holidays!
He never sees anything to be praised in himself. He only feels that he is an unprofitable servant and the chief of sinners. It is the righteous, in the picture of the judgment day, who say, "Lord, when saw we You an hungry, and fed You?" (Matt. 25:37). Extremes do indeed meet strangely sometimes. The conscience–hardened sinner and the eminent saint are in one respect singularly alike. Neither of them fully realizes his own condition. The one does not see his own sin, nor the other his own grace!
But shall I say nothing to growing Christians? Is there no word of counsel I can address to them? The sum and substance of all that I can say is to be found in two sentences "Go forward!" "Go on!"

We can never have too much humility, too much faith in Christ, too much holiness, too much spirituality of mind, too much charity, too much zeal in doing good to others. Then let us be continually forgetting the things behind, and reaching forth unto the things before (Phil. 3:13). The best of Christians in these matters is infinitely below the perfect pattern of his Lord. Whatever the world may please to say, we may be sure there is no danger of any of us becoming "too good."

Let us cast to the winds as idle talk the common notion that it is possible to be "extreme" and go "too far" in religion. This is a favorite lie of the devil and one which he circulates with vast industry. No doubt there are enthusiasts and fanatics to be found who bring an evil report upon Christianity by their extravagances and follies. But if anyone means to say that a mortal man can be too humble, too charitable, too holy or too diligent in doing good, he must either be an infidel or a fool. In serving pleasure and money, it is easy to go too far. But in following the things which make up true religion and in serving Christ, there can be no extreme.

Let us never measure our religion by that of others and think we are doing enough if we have gone beyond our neighbors. This is another snare of the devil. Let us mind our own business. "What is that to you?" said our Master on a certain occasion, "Follow you Me" (John 21:22). Let us follow on, aiming at nothing short of perfection. Let us follow on, making Christ’s life and character our only pattern and example. Let us follow on, remembering daily that at our best we are miserable sinners. Let us follow on, and never forget that it signifies nothing whether we are better than others or not. At our very best we are far worse than we ought to be. 

There will always be room for improvement in us. We shall be debtors to Christ’s mercy and grace to the very last. Then let us leave off looking at others and comparing ourselves with others. We shall find enough to do if we look at our own hearts. Last, but not least, if we know anything of growth in grace and desire to know more, let us not be surprised if we have to go through much trial and affliction in this world. I firmly believe it is the experience of nearly all the most eminent saints. Like their blessed Master, they have been men of sorrows, acquainted with grief, and perfected through sufferings (Isa. 53:3; Heb. 2:10). 

It is a striking saying of our Lord, "Every branch in Me that bears fruit [my Father] purges it, that it may bring forth more fruit" (John 15:2). It is a melancholy fact, that constant temporal prosperity, as a general rule, is injurious to a believer’s soul. We cannot stand it. Sicknesses and losses and crosses and anxieties and disappointments seem absolutely needful to keep us humble, watchful and spiritual–minded. They are as needful as the pruning knife to the vine and the refiner’s furnace to the gold. They are not pleasant to flesh and blood. We do not like them and often do not see their meaning. "No chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness" (Heb. 12:11). We shall find that all worked for our good when we reach heaven. 

Let these thoughts abide in our minds, if we love growth in grace. When days of darkness come upon us, let us not count it a strange thing. Rather let us remember that lessons are learned on such days, which would never have been learned in sunshine. Let us say to ourselves, "This also is for my profit, that I may be a partaker of God’s holiness. It is sent in love. I am in God’s best school. Correction is instruction. This is meant to make me grow."

I leave the subject of growth in grace here. I trust I have said enough to set some readers thinking about it. All things are growing older: the world is growing old; we ourselves are growing older. A few more summers, a few more winters, a few more sicknesses, a few more sorrows, a few more weddings, a few more funerals, a few more meetings and a few more partings, and then—what? Why, the grass will be growing over our graves!

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