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31 January, 2013

Evidence Of the Lack Of Love For God --- Part 5

"If you love me," says Christ, himself, "you will obey what I command." John 14:15.

"If anyone loves me—he will obey my teaching. He who does not love me—will not obey my teaching." John 14:23, 24.

"You are my friends—if you do whatever I command you." John 15:14.
"This is the love of God," says John, "that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." 1 John 5:3. That is, keeping his commandments is not grievous—when love is the principle.

You see, my friends, that obedience, cheerful, unconstrained obedience, is the grand test of your love to God. There is more stress laid upon this, in the Word of God, than, perhaps, upon any other—and therefore you should regard it the more.

Now, recollect, is there not at least some favorite SIN—which you willfully and knowingly indulge yourselves in? And are there not some self-denying mortifying DUTIES—which you dare to omit? And yet do you pretend that you love God? You pretend that you love him, though your love is directly opposite to this grand test, which he himself has appointed to test your love. You may have your excuses and evasions: you may plead the goodness of your hearts, even when your practice is sinful; you may plead the strength of temptation, the frailty of your nature, and a thousand other things; but plead what you will, this is an eternal truth, that if you habitually and willfully live in disobedience to the commandments of God—then you are entirely destitute of his love! And does not this flash conviction on some of your minds? Does not conscience tell you just now, that your love does not stand this test?
And now, upon a review of the whole—what do you think of yourselves? Does the love of God dwell in you—or does it not? that is, Do those characters of the lack of love belong to you—or do they not? If they do, it is all absurdity and delusion for you to flatter yourselves that you love him; for it is all one as if you should say,

"Lord, I love you—though my native enmity against you still remains unsubdued.

I love you above all—though my thoughts and affections are scattered among other things, and never fix upon you.
I love you above all—though I prefer a thousand things to you and your interest.

I love you above all—though I have no pleasure in conversing with you.
I love you above all—though I am not careful to please you!
That is, I love you above all, though I have all the marks of an enemy upon me!

Can anything be more absurd? Make such a profession of friendship as this to your fellow creatures, and see how they will take it! Will they believe that you really love them? No! common sense will teach them better. And will God, do you think, accept that as supreme love to him—which will not pass current for common friendship among mortals? Is he capable of being imposed upon by such inconsistent pretensions? No! "Do not be deceived: God is not mocked!" Galatians 6:7. Draw the peremptory conclusion, without any hesitation, that the love of God does not dwell in you!

And if this is your case, what do you think of it?
What a monstrous soul you have within you—which cannot love God!
Which cannot love supreme excellence, and all perfect beauty;
which cannot love the origin and author of all the excellence and beauty that you see scattered among the works of His hands;
which cannot love your divine Parent, the Author of your mortal frame;
which cannot love your prime Benefactor and gracious Redeemer;
which cannot love Him, "in whom you live, and move, and have your being, in whose hand your breath is, and whose are all your ways," and who alone is the proper happiness for your immortal spirit;
which can love a parent, a child, a friend, with all their infirities about them—but cannot love God;

which can love the world; which can love sensual and even sinful enjoyments, pleasures, riches, and honors—and yet cannot love God;
which can love everything that is lovely—but God, who is infinitely lovely;
which can love wisdom, justice, veracity, goodness, clemency, in creatures, where they are attended with many imperfections; and yet cannot love God, where they all center and shine in the highest perfection!

What a monster of a soul is this! Must it not be a devil—to be capable of such unnatural horrendous wickedness? Can you be easy, while you have such a soul within you? What a load of guilt must lie upon you!

If love to God is the fulfilling of the whole law—then the lack of love must be the breach of the whole law. You break it all at one blow! Your life is but one continued, uniform, uninterrupted series of sinning!

"If anyone does not love the Lord—that person is cursed!" 1 Corinthians 16:22

30 January, 2013

Spiritual Blindness Is So Sad!

This series about our lack of love for God that I have been posting for the past four days is really important to me because of what I have learned from Him through my wilderness process.

I was sad to learn from Him how busy we are at feeling superior about our religions, our understanding in our own nature and our own explanations. Sad to see how we are too preoccupied with what is not that important at all, yet we are missing the marks because in our misplaced zeal, our doings and focuses are not coming from the right angle. 

Spiritual blindness is sad because it eats you up and ravages you inside like a cancer in your body that you are not aware of. I do not mean to be rude by using the word cancer but, being someone who lost friends and family to cancer, like my own father whom I lost through cancer I had to learn the different types and how the disease works on the inside. I had to learn how it mutates and how it contaminates other healthy cells.

When I was a child I used to hear my father saying all the time that he would rather have a fever rather than being ignorant. When asked what he meant he would say, you can take a pill and your fever goes away but ignorance is there to stay. As I get older, I heard him expand on the fact that ignorance is worst because often the ignorant person has no idea he or she is ignorant. It is true. The biggest problem we have when we are spiritually ignorant is that we cannot know we are blind unless we can see. So, it is a catch 22

In our spiritual blindness, we will always find followers. The reason being is that first of all it is the work of Satan and secondly even though we are wrong, there is always a component of truth in what is being said. Perhaps it is because I have learned from the Holy Spirit how good we could feel in our Christian walk when all the while our father is the devil. I am extremely careful in examining my walk with Him constantly.  

Think about it. Have you ever sat down and really think of how easy it was for the world to crucified Christ? If your eyes had a peak of Christ in His glory, you would understand the magnitude of what I am saying. What about Adam and Eve? To be given so much to enjoy, yet it was so easy for them to defy Him. I do not know about you but these two examples I keep them close to my heart to remind me how vile I am and to enable me to remain in Him because apart from Him I am nothing and can do nothing.

Most of us so called Christians we would never dare think we belong to the category of those that Christ called the devil children in John 8:44. But, our attitude, motives and actions are no different from the people in the Jewish community of Jerusalem. They loved bragging about the fact that Abraham was their father, they knew each written word, yet no spiritual understanding, no eyes to see and no ears to hear. While they knew the truth, but the truth was not in them. Yes Abraham was their father, but they did not have Abraham Spirit that propelled him forward with God, in faith. They did not have his willingness to learn from Him and his obedient heart.  We too Christians, we reject the very truth of the Bible in favor of what is palatable to us.

Some of you would say to me: well I confessed with my mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, I believe in Him, I changed my life around, I am church goer, Bible reader, I pray, I work for Him etc. My answer to you is that the Pharisees were deeper in their religiosity than you and that still did not stop them from being the devil children.

The key words we need to understand from John 8:44 is that “Satan speaks from his own nature” and “not holding to the truth” – These are words that should get us think deeper about where we are with Him. It is too easy to cover our faulty walk with a few verses about His promises to us and move onto being busy for Him.

John 8:44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.  

29 January, 2013

Evidences of the Lack of Love to God --- Part 4

by Samuel Davies, April 14, 1756

Fourthly, The love of God is not in you—if you do not labor for conformity to him.

Conformity to him—is at once the duty and the peculiar character of every sincere lover of God. "Be holy—as I am holy," (Lev. 19:2; 21:8,) is a duty repeatedly enjoined. And all the heirs of glory are characterized as being "conformed to the image of God's dear Son." Romans 8:29. Indeed, love is naturally an assimilating passion. It is excellency, real or apparent, that we love: and it is natural to imitate excellency. We naturally catch the manner and spirit of those we love. Thus if we sincerely love God—then we shall naturally imitate him—we shall love what he loves—and hate what he hates. We shall imitate his justice, veracity, goodness, and mercy; or, in a word, his holiness. If we love him, nothing will satisfy us until we awake in his likeness.

Now, my friends, does your love stand this test? Are you laboring to copy after so divine a pattern? Have you ever been renewed in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after the image of him who created you? And is it the honest endeavor of your life to be holy in all manner of conversation: to be as holy as God is holy? Can you have the face to pretend that you love him—while you do not desire and labor to be like him? And while there is such an indulged contrariety in your disposition to his? The pretense is delusive and absurd.

Since your conformity to him consists in holiness—then let me beg you to inquire again, Do you delight in holiness? Is it the great business of your life to improve in it? and are your deficiencies, the burden of your hearts, and matter of daily lamentation and repentance to you? Alas! is it not as evident as almost anything you know concerning yourselves, that this is not your habitual character, and, consequently, that the love of God is not in you?

Fifthly, You have not the love of God in you—if you do not delight to converse with him in his ordinances.

I need not tell you, that sincere friends are fond of interviews, and delight in each other's company. But people disaffected to one another, are shy, and strange, and keep away. Now God has been so condescending, as to represent his ordinances as so many places of interview for his people, where they may meet with him, or, in the Scripture phrase, draw near to him, appear before him, and carry on a spiritual fellowship with him. Hence it is, that they delight in his ordinances: that they love to pray, to hear, to meditate, to commemorate the death of Christ, and to draw near to the throne of grace in all the ways in which it is accessible. These appear to them, as not only duties—but privileges; exalted and delightful privileges, which sweeten their pilgrimage through this wilderness, and sometimes transform it into a paradise!

Now, will your love, my friends, stand this test? Have you found it good for you to draw near to God in these institutions? Or are you not indisposed and disaffected to them? Do not some of you generally neglect them? or is not your attendance upon them an insipid, spiritless formality? Have not some of you prayerless closets—prayerless families? And if you attend upon public worship once a week—is it not rather that you may observe an old custom, that you may see and be seen, or that you may transact some temporal business—rather than that you may converse with God and his ordinances? In short, is it not evident, that devotion is not your delight; and consequently not your daily practice?

How then can you pretend, that the love of God dwells in you? What! can you love him—and yet be so shy of him, so alienatedfrom him, and have no pleasure in drawing near to him, and conversing with him? This is contrary to the prevailing disposition of every true lover of God. Every true lover of God is of the same spirit with David, who, in his banishment from the house of God, cries out in this affecting strain, "My soul finds rest in God alone!" Psalm 62:1. "O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water!" Psalm 63:1. "As the deer pants for streams of water—so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God! When can I go and meet with God!" Psalm 42:1-2. This is certainly your disposition, if his love dwells in you.

Sixthly, The love of God is not in you, unless you make it the great business of your lives to please him by keeping his commandments.

It is natural to us to seek to please those we love; and to obey them with pleasure, if they are invested with authority to command us. But those whom we disaffect, we do not study to please: or if we should be overawed and constrained by their authority to obey their commands, it is with reluctance and regret.

So, my friends, if you sincerely love God, you will habitually keep his commandments, and that with pleasure and delight! But if you can habitually indulge yourselves in willful disobedience in any one instance; or if you yield obedience through constraint to his commands—then it is demonstration against you, that you are destitute of his love. This is as plain as anything in the whole Bible.  

28 January, 2013

Evidences of the Lack of Love to God - Part 3

by Samuel Davies, April 14, 1756

And is it not as evident to some of you, as almost anything you know of yourselves, that your affectionate thoughts are not frequently fixed upon the blessed God? Nay, are you not conscious, that your thoughts fly off from this object, and pursue a thousand other things with more eagerness and pleasure? Certainly, by a little inquiry—you may easily find out the beaten road of your thoughts and affections, or their favorite object.

And why will you not push the inquiry to a determination? Is there any matter of daily sensation and experience more plain to some of you than this—that God is not the object of your highest reverential love, and of your eager desires and hopes? Do you not know in your consciences, that you delight more in a thousand other things: nay, that the thoughts of him, and whatever forces serious thoughts of him upon your minds—are disagreeable to you—and that you turn every way to avoid them? Do you not know that you can give your hearts for days and weeks together, to pursue some favorite creature, without once calling them off, to think seriously and affectionately upon the ever-blessed God? Are not even all the arts of self-flattery unable to keep some of you from discovering a fact at once so notorious, and so melancholy?

Well, if this is your case—then never pretend that you love God. You may have many commendable qualities—you may have many splendid appearances of virtue— you may have done many actions materially good: but it is evident to a demonstration, that the love of God—the first principle and root of all true religion and virtue—is not in you.

Thirdly, The love of God is not in you, unless you give him and his interests the preference above all other things.
I have told you already, that if you love God at all in sincerity, you love him above all. And now, I add, as the consequence of this, that if you love him at all, you will give him and his interest the preference before all things that may come in competition with him. You will cleave, with a pious obstinacy, to that which he enjoins upon you, whatever be the consequence: and you will cheerfully resign all your other interests, however dear, when they clash with his.

This you will do, not only in speculation—but in practice. That is, you will not only allow him the chief place in your hearts—but you will show that you do allow him the supremacy there, by your habitual practice. I beg you to examine yourselves by this test: for here lies the dangerous delusion of multitudes. Multitudes find it easy to flatter themselves, that they love God above all his creatures, while, in the meantime, they will hardly part with anything for his sake, that their own imaginary interest recommends to them.

But this is made the decisive test by Christ himself: "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:26. By hating these dear relatives, and even life itself, Jesus does not mean positive hatred: for, in a subordinate degree, it is our duty to love them. But he means that every sincere disciple of his must act as if he hated all these—when they come in competition with his infinitely dearer Lord and Savior. That is, he must part with them all, as we do with things that are hateful to us. This was, in fact, the effect of this love in Paul. "But whatever was to my profit—I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss—compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ." Phil. 3:7, 8.

Now, perhaps, this trial, in all its extent, may never be your lot: though this is not at all unlikely, if a mongrel race of Indian savages and French papists, by whom your country now bleeds in a thousand veins, should carry their schemes into execution! For popery has always been a bloody, persecuting power, and gained its proselytes by the terror of fire and faggot, and the tortures of the inquisition—and not by argument, or any of the methods adapted to the make of a reasonable being. But though this severe trial should never come in your way—yet, from your conduct in lesser trials—you may judge how you would behave in greater.

Therefore, inquire, when the pleasures of sin—and your duty to God interfere—then which do you part with? When the will of God—and your own will clash—then which do you obey? When the pleasing of God—and the pleasing of men come in competition—then which do you choose? When you must give up with your carnal ease or applause among mortals—or violate your duty to God—then which has most weight with you? When you must deny yourself—or deny your Savior—then which do you submit to? 

What is your habitual conduct in such trying circumstances? Do you in such cases give to God and his interests the preference in your practice? If not, your pretended love is reprobated, and appears to be counterfeit. Friends, it is little matter in this case, what you profess, or speculatively believe: but the grand inquiry is—what is your habitual practice? And if you must be judged by this—is it not evident, that some of you have not the love of God in you?

27 January, 2013

Evidences of the Lack of Love to God - Part 2

by Samuel Davies, April 14, 1756

Now it is evident that the love of God does not dwell in you:
if the native enmity of your hearts against him has not been subdued; 
if your thoughts and affections do not fix upon him with peculiar endearment, above all other things; 
if you do not give him and his interests the preference of all things that may come in competition with him; 
if you do not labor for conformity to him; 
if you do not love to converse with him in his ordinances; and
if you do not make it the great business of your lives to please him by keeping his commandments.

First, The love of God is not in you—if the native enmity of your hearts against him has not been subdued.
This will appear evident to everyone who believes the Scripture account of human nature, in its present degenerate state. By nature we are "children of wrath," (Ephesians 2:3:) and certainly the children of wrath cannot be the lovers of God, while such. "That which is born of the flesh—is flesh," John 3:6. "The carnal mind is enmity against God." Romans 8:7. And hence it is, that "those who are in the flesh cannot please God." Romans 8:8. Paul gives this character of the Colossians, in their natural state; and there is no reason to confine it to them: that they "were once alienated, and enemies in their minds by wicked works." Col. 1:21.

In short, it is evident from the uniform tenor of the gospel, that it is a dispensation for reconciling enemies and rebels—to God. Hence it is so often expressly called the ministry of reconciliation; and ministers are represented as ambassadors for Christ, whose business it is to beseech men, in his stead, to be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20.
But reconciliation presupposes variance and alienation to God. From these things, it is evident, that, according to the Scripture account, the present state of nature is a state of disaffection and hostility against God. The authority of Scripture must be sufficient evidence to us, who call ourselves Christians. But this is not all the evidence we have in this case. 

This is a sensible matter of fact and experience. For I appeal to all of you that have the least self-acquaintance, whether you are not conscious that your disposition, ever since you can remember, and consequently your natural disposition, has habitually been indisposed and disaffected, or, which is the same, lukewarm and indifferent—towards the blessed God—whether you have had the same delight in him and his service, as in many other things—whether your earliest affections fixed upon him, with all the reverence and endearment of a filial heart. You cannot but know—that the answer to such inquiries will be against you, and convince you that you are by nature enemies to the God that made you, however much you have flattered yourselves to the contrary.

Now, it is most evident, that since you are by nature enemies to God, that your natural enmity to him must be subdued; or, in the language of the New Testament, you must be reconciled to him—before you can be lovers of him. And have you ever felt such a change of disposition? Such a change of disposition could not be wrought in you while you were asleep, or in a state of insensibility.

I will not say, that every one who has experienced this, is assured that it is a real sufficient change, and that he is now a sincere lover of God; but this I will say, and this is obvious to common sense—that every one who has experienced this, is assured that he has felt a great change, of some kind or other, and that his disposition towards God is not the same now as it once was. This, therefore, may be a decisive evidence to you: If divine grace has never changed your disposition towards God—but you still continue the same, you may be sure the love of God is not in you.

And if this change has been wrought, you have felt it. It was preceded by a glaring conviction of your enmity, and the utmost horror and detestation of yourselves upon the account of it. It was attended with affecting views of the attractive excellencies of God, and of your obligations to love him; and with those tender and affectionate emotions of the heart towards him, which the passion of love always includes. And it was followed with a cheerful universal dedication of yourselves to God and his service. And does conscience (for to that I now address) speak in your favor in this inquiry? Listen to its voice—as the voice of God.

Secondly, It is evident, that you have not the love of God in you—if your thoughts and affections do not fix upon him with affectionate endearment above all other things.
This is so obvious to common sense, that I need not take up your time with Scripture quotations: for you would not have the face to profess to a person that you loved him—if, in the mean time, you have told him that he had little or no share in your thoughts and affections. You know by experience, that your affectionate thoughts will eagerly pursue the object of your love over wide-extended countries and oceans: and that in proportion to the degree of your love.

Now if you love God sincerely at all—then you love him supremely; you love him above all people and things in the universe. To offer subordinate love to supreme perfection and excellency, what a gross affront! It is essential to the love of God, that it be prevalent, or habitually uppermost in your souls. Now if every degree of love will engage a proportionable degree of your affectionate thoughts, can you imagine, that you may love God in the highest degree—and yet hardly ever have one affectionate thought of him? Can you love him above all—and yet think of him with less endearment and frequency than of many other things that you love in an inferior degree? Certainly, it is impossible.

26 January, 2013

Evidences of the Lack of Love to God

Since God has given us a commandment to love Him, I thought we should know what it means to love God and do a check up to find out if indeed what we have in our hearts for Him is actually "Love"

Evidences of the Lack of Love to God
by Samuel Davies, April 14, 1756
"But I know you—that you have not the love of God in you." John 5:42
Nothing seems to be a more natural duty for a creature—nothing is more essential to true religion—nothing more necessary as a principle of obedience, or a qualification for everlasting happiness—than the love of God; and it is universally confessed to be so. Whatever is the object, or whatever is the religion—all acknowledge that the love of God is an essential ingredient in it.

Should we consider only the excellency of the divine Being, and the numerous and endearing obligations of all reasonable creatures to him—we would naturally think that the love of God must be universal among mankind; and not one heart can be destitute of that sacred, filial passion. But, alas! if we regard the evidence of Scripture or observation, we must conclude the contrary. The love of God is a rare thing among his own offspring in our degenerate world.

Here in my text, a company of Jews, highly privileged above all nations then upon earth, and making large professions of regard to God, are charged with the lack of his love; charged by one who thoroughly knew them and could not be deceived. "I know you—that you have not the love of God in you."

But, blessed be God, his love is not entirely extinct and lost—even on our guilty globe. There are some hearts that feel the sacred flame, even among the degenerate sons of Adam.

These two sorts of people widely differ in their inward disposition; and God, who knows their hearts, makes a proper distinction between them. But in this world they are mixed—mixed in families, and in public assemblies; and sometimes the eyes of their fellow mortals can discern but little difference. And they themselves, very often mistake their own true character, and rank themselves in that class to which they do not belong! While they continue in this mistake, the one cannot possess the pleasure either of enjoyment or hope; and the other cannot receive those alarms of danger which alone can rouse them out of their ruinous security, nor earnestly use means for the implantation of the sacred principle of divine love in their souls. To remove this mistake, is therefore a necessary and benevolent attempt; benevolent not only to the former sort—but even to those who are unwilling to submit to the search, and who shut their eyes against the light of all conviction.

I am afraid many of my hearers, especially in places where I have not frequently officiated, are excited to attend by curiosity, and not by an eager thirst for pious instruction. And while hearing, they are either staring with eager expectation to hear something new and strange—or they are lying in wait to catch at some word or sentiment to furnish them with matter for cavil or ridicule; or they stand upon their guard, lest they should be caught and ensnared inadvertently to a party, or seized with the infection of some false doctrine.

And thus all my labors and their attendance are in vain; and immortal souls perish in the midst of the means of salvation!

But I tell you, once for all, you need not indulge an eager curiosity; for I have nothing new to communicate to you, unless it be a new thing to you to hear that the love of God is essential to a Christian, and an absolutely necessary pre-requisite to your salvation; and that you cannot be lovers of God, while your disposition and conduct have the evident marks of enmity or disaffection to him.
Or, if cavil or ridicule is an agreeable entertainment to any of you—then you are not likely to be gratified: for the things I have to say are too plain and convictive to be cavilled at by men of sense and candor, and too serious and important to be laughed at.

Nor need you be cautiously upon your guard; for I assure you, once for all, I have something else to do, than to come here to hang out baits to catch graceless proselytes to a party, or to propagate the infection of some false opinion. I come here to use my poor endeavors to build up such of you as love God, in your most holy faith; and to reconcile such of you to him as are now destitute of his love. This is my professed design: and when you find that the drift and tendency of my labors here aim at something opposite to this, pronounce my anathema, and reject me with just abhorrence. This I not only allow—but invite and charge you to do!

The subject now before us is this: Since it is evident that some, under the profession of religion, are destitute of true love of God; and since it is of the utmost importance that we should know our true character in this respect, let us inquire what are those MARKS whereby we may know whether the love of God dwells in us or not. Let us follow this inquiry with impartiality and self-application; and receive the conviction which may result from it, whether for or against us.

25 January, 2013

Why Salvation Must Be Supernatural

by Stephen Charnock

An extract from: The Chief Sinners Saved!

The insufficiency of nature to such a work as conversion is, shows that men may not fall down and idolize their own wit and power. A change from acts of sin to moral duties may be done by a natural strength and the power of natural conscience: for the very same motives which led to sin, as education, interest, profit, may, upon a change of circumstances, guide men to an outward morality; but a change to the contrary grace is supernatural.

Two things are certain in nature. (1.) Natural inclinations never change, but by some superior virtue. A loadstone will not cease to draw iron, while that attractive quality remains in it. The wolf can never love the lamb, nor the lamb the wolf; nothing but must act suitably to its nature. Water cannot but moisten, fire cannot but burn. So likewise the corrupt nature of man being possessed with an invincible contrariety and enmity to God, will never suffer him to comply with God. And the inclinations of a sinner to sin being more strengthened by the frequency of sinful acts, have as great a power over him, and as natural to him, as any qualities are to natural agents: and being stronger than any sympathies in the world, cannot by a man's own power, or the power of any other nature equal to it, be turned into a contrary channel.

(2.) Nothing can act beyond its own principle and nature. Nothing in the world can raise itself to a higher rank of being than that which nature has placed it in; a spark cannot make itself a star, though it mount a little up to heaven; nor a plant endue itself with sense, nor a beast adorn itself with reason; nor a man make himself an angel. Thorns cannot bring forth grapes, nor thistles produce figs because such fruits are above the nature of those plants. So neither can our corrupt nature bring forth grace, which is a fruit above it. Effectus non excedit virtutem suae causae [the effect cannot exceed the power of its cause]: grace is more excellent than nature, therefore cannot be the fruit of nature. It is Christ's conclusion, "How can you, being evil, speak good things?" Matt. 12:33, 34. Not so much as the buds and blossoms of words, much less the fruit of actions. They can no more change their natures, than a viper can do away with his poison. Now though this I have said be true, yet there is nothing man does more affect in the world than a self-sufficiency, and an independence from any other power but his own. This attitude is as much riveted in his nature, as any other false principle whatsoever. For man does derive it from his first parents, as the prime legacy bequeathed to his nature: for it was the first thing uncovered in man at his fall; he would be as God, independent from him. Now God, to cross this principle, allows his elect, like Lazarus, to lie in the grave till they stink, that there may be no excuse to ascribe their resurrection to their own power. If a putrefied rotten carcass should be brought to life, it could never be thought that it inspired itself with that active principle. God lets men run on so far in sin, that they do unman themselves, that he may proclaim to all the world, that we are unable to do anything of ourselves towards our recovery, without a superior principle. The evidence of which will appear if we consider,

1. Man's subjection under sin. He is "sold under sin," Rom. 7:14, and brought "into captivity to the law of sin," ver. 23. "Law of sin:" that sin seems to have a legal authority over him; and man is not only a slave to one sin, but many, Tit. 3:3, "serving divers lusts." Now when a man is sold under the power of a thousand lusts, every one of which has an absolute tyranny over him, and rules him as a sovereign by a law; when a man is thus bound by a thousand laws, a thousand cords and fetters, and carried whither his lords please, against the dictates of his own conscience and force of natural light; can any man imagine that his own power can rescue him from the strength of these masters that claim such a right to him, and keep such a force upon him, and have so often baffled his own strength, when he attempted to turn against them?

2. Man's affection to them. He does not only serve them, but he serves them, and every one of them, with delight and pleasure; Tit. 3:3. They were all pleasures, as well as lusts; friends as well as lords. Will any man leave his sensual delights and such sins that please and flatter his flesh? Will a man ever endeavour to run away from those lords which he serves with affection? having as much delight in being bound a slave to these lusts, as the devil has in binding him. Therefore when you see a man cast away his pleasures, deprive himself of those comfortable things to which his soul was once knit, and walk in paths contrary to corrupt nature, you may search for the cause anywhere, rather than in nature itself. No piece of dirty, muddy clay can form itself into a neat and handsome vessel; no plain piece of timber can fit itself for the building, much less a crooked one. Nor a man that is born blind, give himself sight.

God deals with men in this case as he did with Abraham. He would not give Isaac while Sarah's womb, in a natural probability, might have borne him; but when her womb was dead, and age had taken away all natural strength of conception, then God gives him; that it might appear that he was not a child of nature, but a child of promise.

24 January, 2013

The Obedient Life

I have to confess, sometimes I am tempted to write simple things that are easy to swallow, that do not demand much of Christians.

When these thoughts come into my mind, it is because I am somewhat in a stage where I want to please more people and give them what they want. It is because I know the average reader is not interested in anything that call for leaving the comfort zone, as such they learn to weed you out. But, I also know, this would not be me, it would not be the true ministry God had prepared me for and it would throw away all those years of hardships that I had to go through to be where I am with Him.

So, when I am tempted, I find great comfort reading those writers that I know have been through God’s university and curriculum. I find comfort, because as I read them, I can easily recall many of those moments that were created by the Holy Spirit for me to learn His process. I also find comfort in reading these writers because they too seem to be drastic in their approach to Christianity. But, really, it is not a question of being drastic; it is rather a question of living the truth that we learn directly from Him. We tend to appear drastic because the God we have come to know is a drastic God and we know He has no tolerance for shoddy Christianity. I know, if I were to uphold a lesser truth in order to appease people, I would not be true to myself and I would offend God!

From the above paragraph, I am not saying that I am the in the same caliber of those past writers. Far from it and I have no illusions, although I aspire to become a servant of Christ, like them. For example, right now in my walk with God, when I am separated from His Divine nature, often I do not seek to re-establish the communication for a day or two. But, Andrew Murray was known as the man who would stand in the middle of the street, just to re-establish communication with His divine nature at the very moment he became aware of such interruption.

What Am I Telling You All This?

Because I need to prepare your mind for this Itsy Bitsy piece of truth written by Andrew Murray. Do not dismiss it. Don’t’ take it lightly! It is my deepest desire that you would ponder on those words. Go to God directly, pray and ask Him to set you apart to live His truth in the recess of your heart and soul.

Andrew Murray In:
The School of Obedience

'Obedient unto death.' -Phil. 2:8.
After all that has been said on the life of obedience, I purpose speaking in this address of the entrance on that life.

You might think it a mistake to take this text, in which you have obedience in its very highest perfection, as our subject in speaking of the entrance on the course. But it is no mistake. The secret of success in a race is to have the goal clearly defined, and aimed at from the very outset.

'He became obedient unto death.' There is no other Christ for any of us, no other obedience that pleases God, no other example for us to copy, no other Teacher from whom to learn to obey. Christians suffer inconceivably because they do not at once and heartily accept this as the only obedience they are to aim at. The youngest Christian will find it strength in the school of Christ to make nothing less from the commencement his prayer and his vow: OBEDIENT UNTO DEATH. It is at once the beauty and the glory of Christ. A share in it is the highest blessing He has to give. The desire for and the surrender to it is possible to the youngest believer.

If you want to be reminded of what it means, think of the story in ancient history. A proud king, with a great army following him, demands the submission of the king of a small but brave nation. When the ambassadors have delivered their message, he calls one of his soldiers to stab himself. At once he does it. A second is called; he too obeys at once. A third is summoned; he too is obedient to death.

'Go and tell your master that I have three thousand such men; let him come.'
The king dared count upon men who held their life not dear to them when the king's word called for it.

It is such obedience God wants. It is such obedience Christ gave. It is such obedience He teaches. Be it such obedience and nothing less we seek to learn. From the very outset of the Christian life let this be our aim, that we may avoid the fatal mistake of calling Christ Master and yet not doing what He says.

Let all who by these addresses have in any degree been convicted of the sin of disobedience, listen as we study from God's Word the way to escape from that and gain access to the life Christ can give-the entrance to the life of full obedience.

23 January, 2013

Transformed by Beholding

It is important to remember, God always wants us to join Him in what He is doing in our lives; since the beginning of time when He created Adam & Eve and throughout the whole Bible. While He taught me how important our participation is to Him, He did not tell me why. In my opinion, some of the reasons He wants our participation is so our free will is not violated. He wants our participation because it forces us to be more aware of Him. When we participate we can see His majestic power at work. We learn to appreciate Him, love Him and revere Him much more because of the magnitude of seeing His grace at work in our lives.  It is also a way to personally relate to us and He also finds pleasure in us when we voluntarily participate. An example of that would be Adam & Eve choosing not to listen to the serpent simply because God had already given His directives.

In the same way, God wants us to be transformed all the way, to the point where we behold Him. This beholding work really depends on us a lot. Let me explain. Try to picture the process of taking a picture. The process resembles to the lengthy work that used to happen in the old days with the old camera when we had to wait weeks to finally see the picture fully come to life. (Go to the internet and read about the lengthy process of the old days) Remember this is the same God who took the Israelites in the wilderness by the long road, instead of taking the path that would take them a few days.

Beholding Him is about becoming like Him. Like I kept saying in my book apprehended & Apprehending, the awareness of beholding Him makes you understand that His goal is for us to become “little Christ.” While the work will only be completed when we die, and it starts right when we have truly received Salvation in our heart through our first encounter with Him but, there is so much to do to in order to get us there.

At the end of the day, beholding Him is acquired through learning to sit and rest at His feet. When the Holy Spirit first taught me that, I did not understand, and I really thought I had to be literally at His feet all the time. So, to some extend I found it almost an impossible job for me to stop all movement, and learn to rest long enough at His feet so His face, His mannerism, His thought process, His  characters and so on could become mine. Strangely He did not correct my defective understanding. But, not only I tried to stay as close as possible to Him in prayers, Bible and meditation, I learned to be more aware of Him during the day.

A few months down the road, He did something wonderful for me. The Holy Spirit sort of took me backward step by step, to see how I have been sitting at His feet all day long. Through this encounter, I understood that sitting at His feet, did not mean literally my external body sitting. But, in Spirit I could see all the time I was living my busy and painful life down here, while I was going on about my business all day long in this realm, in Spirit, I was living quietly and restfully at His feet. Through the process, He showed me how much more I have grown. It is an amazing thing to see how much work God is doing in us in the background to prepare us for the life awaiting us in Heaven.

If you notice, Oswald mentioned things like
1) Unveiled openness before God
2) The Spirit fills us,
3) Beware
4) Concentrate (on keeping open lives)
5) Maintain the position
6) Keeping our live completely spiritual
7) Let others criticize
8) Abiding etc.

You can read it for yourself and find more. But, each one of these things he mentioned could be expand to become a blog post, some could be expand to become books. This is a life being spent in abiding in Him where you live inside of Him in complete rest and holiness. This is a life where you are living with a spiritually minded mind while you cultivate Christ’s mind. This is a life of complete surrender (not halfway or case by case) it is a life where other people cannot touch you with their criticism because you have learned to make it about Him and live with eternal values in sight. All those words above demand that we participate with full intend to reach the heart of the Father. They demand our full attention, and full commitment to Him. While all these things can be done through the abiding process, Oswald mentioned them for a reason, because each requires some sort of growth process in Him and some take years to acquire.

At the end of the day, a life of beholding Him can be acquired though good old “living a full surrendered life”. Our full surrender does not have to be perfect nor do we need a full understanding of what it is, but to some extend we need to know that we are surrendering to God’s way so, anything is possible. We need to know from the moment we surrender to Him, it is no longer about what we want. We can do it through a hearty and real commitment to Him. Then, as God takes us deeper into the surrendering process we realize the first surrender although it was deep to us, it resembled to Abraham when he left his country, left his comfort zone and all that he knew was left behind, to go to a place he had no idea of what to expect and what was going to happen to him. He went, just because God said so. But Abraham was nowhere near being the man he became later on in life.

Transformed By Insight

The outstanding characteristic of a Christian is this unveiled frankness before God so that the life becomes a mirror for other lives. By being filled with the Spirit we are transformed, and by beholding we become mirrors. You always know when a man has been beholding the glory of the Lord, you feel in your inner spirit that he is the mirror of the Lord’s own character. Beware of anything which would sully that mirror in you; it is nearly always a good thing, the good that is not the best.
The golden rule for your life and mine is this concentrated keeping of the life open towards God. Let everything else – work, clothes, food, everything on earth – go by the board, saving that one thing. The rush of other things always tends to obscure this concentration on God. We have to maintain ourselves in the place of beholding, keeping the life absolutely spiritual all through. Let other things come and go as they may, let other people criticize as they will, but never allow anything to obscure the life that is hid with Christ in God. Never be hurried out of the relationship of abiding in Him. It is the one thing that is apt to fluctuate but it ought not to. The severest discipline of a Christian’s life is to learn how to keep "beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord."

Courtesy of:

22 January, 2013

Are You Being Saved? Are You looking to God?

I know I mentioned to you on several occasions that the Bible is about “you are saved”  “you are being saved” and “you will be saved.” While there are three specific verses that refer to three tenses of Salvation from God, the whole bible when understood in the light of the Spirit, reads this way that we do not need to nit pick at those verses.

Sometimes, I do it on purpose by not giving you a verse for the simple reason, in my ministry, the people God calls me to serve, most of them do not have problem with Bible knowledge; it is not because of lack of knowing oodles of Bible verses by heart. The problem is that they do not know what they mean in a practical way. Knowing the Word of God is not the same as living the Word of God. Satan and all his demons know the Word of God, yet they are not changed by it.

The Word of God is alive because the Word of God is none other than our Redeemer Jesus-Christ who died for us. We do not get nourished by looking at food; we feed on it and let it take its course inside of us to keep us healthy and alive. Amazingly, the food once inside of us knows where to plug each nutrient because it knows which part of our body needs to be fed with it. In the same way, so it is with the Word of God.

I found in my Christian walk with God, those three little words Look unto me are of the utmost importance in my walk with Him. While at first, we will find those three little words demand such great discipline to learn to practice His presence and look to Him all day long and every day. But, once we make the effort, we find that the Holy Spirit is right there empowering us to live this life. Not only that, He does so much work inside of us,  for us and in us that we learn to become this person. Not mechanically though. 

Today’s devotional from Oswald Chambers, is one where we have to learn to settle it at once inside of us and make our first mandate, the first act of worship, first hunger, first love and first commitment to “look to Him” – It is the same as seeking first the Kingdom of God and all will be added onto you. This awesome Christian walk we have in Him, the service we do as an extension of who we have become in Him, this life of beholding Him, being transformed by Him, supernatural ministry etc., all of it, He adds it into our lives and He is glorified through us when we get our priority straight.

How do I know that I know what I am talking about? Well, I used to be so busy in the Church that I was running like a chicken with its head cut off. When God told me that it was time to go with Him, He told me it was time that I looked onto Him, He took my hands like a child and I still remember the regrets, and pain in my heart because I knew I needed to leave it all behind. I still remember how my heart mourned. But, it was needed so that I could get my priority straight. It was needed so that I could stop doing Christianity and become a Christian instead.

There is one thing the Holy Spirit taught me which was weird at the time, He said to me, to stop wanting anything from Him, not even His gifts. So, my prayer time became about His glory and praises. As I am writing this morning, I have to confess that I could not help sobbing. My sobbing turned into wailing, because I still remember when I learned to incorporate this practice in my life, I was living a life that seemed to be out of this world, as if heaven opened up. He withheld nothing from me. This morning I was wailing because I realized how much I need to incorporate this kind of worship back into my life. I was also convicted by the Spirit. My wailing also came from the fact that I felt as if I put God in the same position the Israelites put Him where He had to recall our love (Him and I). It felt like I hurt my daddy in such a big way. And I felt like a hypocrite. I have been busy with making sure I follow, making sure I remain plugged into Him, I obey etc. 

It is rather strange to see that, in focusing on being right with Him to make this life about Him, when He shows you how you miss out on such dedicated times of praises to Him, this life of being right with Him, pale in comparison.  My heart understands the lesson He is teaching me this morning. Here it is: while I focus on being right with Him, it is really about me, it is what He is doing for me. But when I spend hours glorifying and praising Him through songs and intentionally sitting still at His feet while wanting nothing for me, I make it about Him. I remember I used to wake up at 4:30 Am, just so that I can make the time to sit at His feet before I go to work at 9: Am. I realize I miss Him in this way.  

Anyway, before I got lost in my own thoughts, I started this post because of Oswald Chambers’s devotion today. So, I will leave you with him!

May the ascended Christ bless you!

Am I Looking To God?

Do we expect God to come to us with His blessings and save us? He says, “Look to Me, and be saved . . . .” The greatest difficulty spiritually is to concentrate on God, and His blessings are what make it so difficult. Troubles almost always make us look to God, but His blessings tend to divert our attention elsewhere. The basic lesson of the Sermon on the Mount is to narrow all your interests until your mind, heart, and body are focused on Jesus Christ. “Look to Me . . . .”
Many of us have a mental picture of what a Christian should be, and looking at this image in other Christians’ lives becomes a hindrance to our focusing on God. This is not salvation— it is not simple enough. He says, in effect, “Look to Me and you are saved,” not “You will be saved someday.” We will find what we are looking for if we will concentrate on Him. We get distracted from God and irritable with Him while He continues to say to us, “Look to Me, and be saved . . . .” Our difficulties, our trials, and our worries about tomorrow all vanish when we look to God.
Wake yourself up and look to God. Build your hope on Him. No matter how many things seem to be pressing in on you, be determined to push them aside and look to Him. “Look to Me . . . .” Salvation isyours the moment you look.
courtesy of:

21 January, 2013

Most of Us Have Been Misinterpreting Life

Most of us have been misinterpreting life and what God is doing for a long time. “I think I am just trying to get god to make my life work easier,” a client of mine confessed, but he could have been speaking for most of us. We’re asking the wrong questions. Most of us are asking, “God, why did you let this happen to me?” Or, “God why won’t you just---------“ (fill in the blank—help me succeed, get my kids to straighten out, fix my marriage—you know what you've been winning about). But, to enter into a journey of initiation with God requires a new set of questions: What are you trying to teach me here? What issues in my heart are you trying to raise through this? What is it you want me to see? What are you asking me to let go of? In truth, God has been trying to initiate you for a long time. What is in the way is how you've mishandled your wound and the life you've constructed as a result.

“Men are taught over and over when they are boys that a wound that hurts is shameful.” notes Robert Bly in Iron John. Like a man who’s broken his leg in a marathon, he finishes the race even if he has to crawl and he doesn't say a word about it. A man’s not supposed to get hurt; he’s certainly not supposed to let it really matter. We've seen too many movies where the good guy takes an arrow, just breaks it off, and keeps on fighting; or maybe he gets shot but is still able to leap across a canyon and get the bad guys. And so most men minimize their wound. King David (a guy who’s hardly a pushover didn't act like that at all. “I am poor and needy,” he confessed openly, “and my heart is wounded within me” (ps.109:22)

Or perhaps they’ll admit it happened, but deny it was a wound because they deserve it. Suck it up, as the saying goes. The only thing more tragic than the tragedy that happens to us is the way we handle it.

Taken from “The Ransomed Heart – a Collection of Devotional Readings from John Eldredge

Wild at heart, 104-6  

20 January, 2013

Spiritual Plateau and Service

When you read Oswald Chambers's devotion for January 19 what you find is that God never changes. God still works in our lives the same way today. I know I use the word wilderness a lot in most of my posts. Some people do not like it and feels the wilderness is only for some of us. Who am I to try and convince them they are wrong and perhaps they will realize it when it is too late?

In Genesis 15, after the lavish promises where Abraham trusted God to the point where God was pleased because of his faith in Him, it is significant to see what happen to Abraham in verse 12.

After that God remained silent and did not appear to Abraham for over a decade. Unlike us, Abraham had no Bible and was not swamped with Biblical materials. Some people interpret verse 12 as if it was just an isolated incident. But, it was not. Nor that it is something we should dismiss in our walk with God. Abraham was going to be tested, grow in his faith, die to self, and learned obedience to the one and only God. 

Abraham went from being a coward to slowly becoming the father of faith. Abraham went through a wilderness time of his own, where he had to learn to get to know God at a much deeper level where he could become totally devoted to Him. While He made a lot of mistakes along the way, but he kept growing according to God’s standards. We see that in him because he did not hesitate a second to give up Isaac the son that he cherished more than anything in the world. In him, there was no more double mindedness like he showed before. There was no compromising, and nothing else in his life was competing with the life he had in Him.

You say what does this have to do with spiritual plateau?

It has everything to do with our spiritual plateau. When we have been Christian for so many years and yet, we do not know what it means inwardly to live wholeheartedly for Him. We have no idea how sweet it tastes, to reach the place where you know you truly belong to Him,  because He has set you apart for Himself. I am going to clarify this further by saying, belonging to God, being set apart for His service are not the things we say just because they are in the Bible, but rather something you become inwardly. It is not elusive or assumed. All of us Christians, as we keep moving forward with Him, we apprehend those things. Furthermore, these things that we are suppose to apprehend, are not activities for Him or just desires in the heart anymore. No, we go beyond that, and like Paul not only we have been apprehended by Him, we know that we keep apprehending the spiritual life inside, and we also know we are ploughing “full steam ahead” toward the goal. IT IS THE REAL THING! –

Failing to allow God to do His work in us through the wilderness process, a process where He hides from us and the pain of the separation is utterly distressful to the soul. Yet, you have to keep going, keep trusting, keep loving and living for Him. Through the process we become, holy, we are sanctified and set apart for Him as we lose the self.

We cannot live with some sort of half commitment to Him and expect to get there. How do we know we are not fully committed? Well, we know because we do not like the idea of Him having full control and the unknown that it brings into our lives. So we make the decision not to turn our will over to Him!

Anyone who has ever been honest will tell you exactly that. I have someone very dear to me who would say, “I don’t mind telling God that I surrender to Him, in fact I say it to Him all the time, but when push comes to shove I chose my path.”  Throughout the discussion he said to me, every time God brings him to a place where he is forced to chose God’s path and the more certain one that allow him to provide for his family, he always chose to go with what he knows. This is someone on the outside who appears so well put together that he is sought after by pastors to become a pastor. He is involved in service, very well educated, eloquent, great knowledge of the Bible, and so on, yet he is living a spiritual plateau because it has been two decades now since he has been a Christian.

 When we fail the full surrender process, two things for sure take place. The first one is that we have to learn to live within the limit of our spiritual plateau. We look like people who reached the highest post they can reach in their jobs because of their bosses or their education and skills would allow them to go. Yet, they cannot leave their jobs. So, they learn to compensate.  So when we reach this kind of spiritual plateau, service to God becomes a crutch.

The second thing you can be sure of is that through the spiritual plateau, you violate His doctrines left right and center. Perhaps you do not agree with that. Once again I would tell you if you knew God personally and understood His standards according to the Holy Spirit’s teaching, you would agree.

What are doctrines?
Doctrines are simply the basic theology of the Christian faith according to God’s teaching and standards.  Through your spiritual plateau, righteousness, holiness, and thing like obedience escape you. I do not have to list more, but, living the Christian life in the confinement of spiritual plateau, we violate three big doctrines right there. Not only that in God’s eyes we are in no better place than someone who belongs to a church where his or her denomination does not teach about certain doctrines. If anything, God holds us more accountable to the fact that we are aware of His doctrines yet, we chose to ignore them in our assumptions and disobedience to Him.

God does not hold against us the fact that we belong to the wrong denomination, but He does hold against us the fact that in our stubbornness and disobedience our pride and ego stopped us from finding Him and enjoying intimacy with Him and He holds against us the fact that we are not allowing the Holy Spirit to move freely in our hearts to get us where we need to be with Him. We do not get to the spiritual plateau by mistake. We get there through disobedience, an unwillingness to be righteous in His sight. Unwillingness to find out about His standards as we convince ourselves that what we have is good enough. The very fact that we are not propelled to go forward to make His standards, ours, says that we do not have a personal relationship with Him and we do not know Him.  We have bought into the doctrine of cheap grace and a lot of us have become accustomed to comparing ourselves to the next Christian, instead of Him.

The remedy to spiritual plateau is obedience to its fullest in total surrender. Once we do that, the Holy Spirit brings the gift of holy repentance in our hearts, takes away the callousness of our consciences and open our spiritual eyes to see.
Oswald Chambers said: “Jealously guard your relationship with God. Jesus prayed “that they may be one just as We are one”-with nothing in between (John 17:22). Keep your whole life continually open to Jesus Christ. Don’t pretend to be open with Him. Are you drawing your life from any source other than God Himself? If you are depending on something else as your source of freshness and strength, you will not realize when His power is gone.
Being born of the Spirit means much more than we usually think. It gives us a new vision and keeps us absolutely fresh for everything through the never-ending supply of the life of God.”