Isa 43:10 Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

In GOD, Not Out Of Trouble

Jer 45:5  And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not: for, behold, I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith the LORD: but thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest.
A promise given for hard places, and a promise of safety and life in the midst of tremendous pressure, a life "for a prey." 

It may well adjust itself to our own times, which are growing harder as we near the end of the age, and the Tribulation times.
What is the meaning of "a life for a prey"? 

It means a life snatched out of the jaws of the destroyer, as David snatched the lamb from the lion.

It means not removal from the noise of the battle and the presence of our foes; but it means a table in the midst of our enemies, a shelter from the storm, a fortress amid the foe, a life preserved in the face of continual pressure: 

Paul's healing when pressed out of measure so that he despaired of life; Paul's Divine help when the thorn remained, but the power of Christ rested upon him and the grace of Christ was sufficient. 

Lord, give me my life for a prey, and in the hardest places help me today to be victorious.

~Days of Heaven upon Earth~
We often pray to be delivered from calamities; we even trust that we shall be; 

But we do not pray to be made what we should be, in the very presence of the calamities;

To live amid them, as long as they last, in the consciousness that we are, held and sheltered by the Lord, and can therefore remain in the midst of them, so long as they continue, without any hurt.

For forty days and nights, the Saviour was kept in the presence of Satan in the wilderness, and that, under circumstances of special trial, His human nature being weakened by want of food and rest.

The furnace was heated seven times more than it was wont to be heated, but the three Hebrew children were kept a season amid its flames as calm and composed in the presence of the tyrant's last appliances of torture, as they were in the presence of himself before their time of deliverance came. 

And the livelong night did Daniel sit among the lions, and when he was taken up out of the den, "no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God."

They dwelt in the presence of the enemy, because they dwelt in the presence of God.

Friday, May 26, 2017

If You Commit Your Life To God Fully You Will Not Have A Normal Easy Way!

Mal 3:17  And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. 

If we have committed ourselves to God thoroughly and really meant with the Lord that we want His full will and we do not want our own... 

And by His grace we will go the way that He leads and shows, whatever it costs...

If we have done that and then situations have arisen which look terribly complicated and seem to contradict the faithfulness of God, what am I to conclude?

What are we going to conclude? 

We have to conclude one of two things - that God cares nothing for all our devotion and consecration, and just lets us get into any mess, or else this is all under His eye.

That is ultimate. 

We have either to believe God or not to believe Him.

You have all this here in the Word, and it all bears down upon this, that people who are related in Divine foreknowledge and Divine sovereign action come into situations like that...

But in the end that sovereignty has been shown to relate to something unusually precious to the Lord, "and they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, even Mine own possession, in the day that I do make" (Malachi 3:17).

The Lord is after something more than ordinary and He needs a people for it, but such a people will have unusual experiences, inside and out. 

It will not be the ordinary, normal course where everything goes well and straightforwardly. 

It will not be like that for these people. 

They go through ways that are tortuous and exceedingly difficult, but there is a sovereignty at work.

That is my way of analyzing and summing up the situation as I see it in the Word, and I can only say to you that it is not foreign and strange to God's special purposes to have experiences like that.

Whether it be the remnant of Israel, whether it be the reactions of God in this Christian dispensation, in the book of the Revelation, the messages to the churches which are just on this ground, it is all like this.

Nothing seems normal with a people like that, because God is not going to have anything that is just normal, as we call the normal.

It is something more, something extraordinary, and our experience therefore is extraordinary.

~T. Austin Sparks~

Monday, May 22, 2017

What God Is Trying To Do In Us

Think of the marvel of Christ in Pilate’s hall and before the High Priest. 

Spat upon, mocked, struck, in every way degraded...and He is Almighty and Infinite God incarnate Who, with the parting of His lips, the silent lifting of His hand, could have smitten that crowd out of existence!

The centurion was right; when he saw what had happened he was filled with fear and said, ‘Truly this was the Son of God.’ 

We have heard of people suddenly discovering their awful mistake and dying of heart failure on the spot.

Think of the shock that has to come yet to those who treated Him as He was treated - when they see Him.

You can understand something of what took place in Saul of Tarsus (who knew all about what had happened in Jerusalem) when he saw Him - “I am Jesus” - saw Him in a brightness above that of the noonday sun.

But my point is this, He accepted and endured all that, going through to the bitter end, letting them hammer nails through His hands and feet and fix Him to the Cross, with all the deriding - “He saved others; himself he cannot save… Let (God) deliver him now, if he desireth him: for he said, I am the Son of God.” 

And He did not stir a finger or utter a word when twelve legions of angels were standing ready for His aid. 

(If one angel could smite the host of Sennacherib, what would twelve legions do?) 

That is meekness and lowliness of heart, and that is what God is trying to effect in us. 

That is the thought of God; that is going to be glory in God’s universe; that will make a world worth living in, and a universe of that nature will be bearable.

God thus works in us in these words - “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

~T. Austin Sparks~

Thursday, May 18, 2017


The devil makes it his business to keep Christians in bondage, bound and gagged, actually imprisoned in their own grave clothes!

Why doesn't the old devil, Satan, give up and bow out of the picture when a person becomes a believing Christian?

Although he is a dark and sinister foe dedicated to the damnation of humans, I think he knows that it is no use trying to damn a forgiven and justified child of God who is in the Lord's hands.

So, it becomes the devils business to keep the Christian's spirit imprisoned.

He knows that the believing and justified Christian has been raised up out of the grave of his sins and trespasses. 

From that point on, Satan works that much harder to keep us bound and gagged, actually imprisoned in our own grave clothes.

He knows that if we continue in this kind of bondage, we will never be able to claim our rightful spiritual heritage.

He knows also that while we continue bound in this kind of enslavement we are not much better off than when we were spiritually dead.

This is one reason why the Christians in today's churches are behaving like a flock of frightened sheep - so intimidated by the devil that we cant even say "Amen"!

I admit that occasionally you find a few who are just childishly happy about everything, but that is not what I mean.

Often these are just like children playing in the market places, having never been seriously engaged in the conflict on the spiritual battlefield.

Show me an individual or a congregation committed to spiritual progress with the Lord, interested in what the Bible teaches about spiritual perfection and victory, and I will show you where there is strong and immediate defiance by the devil!

~A. W. Tozer~

Monday, May 15, 2017

Singing In Adversity

Life has its adversities. It must needs have them. 

Adversity, pain, sorrow, and disappointment are the lathe upon which God shapes us.

They are the grinding-wheel which grinds and smoothes us. 

They are the polishing-wheel which makes us shine.

If we can never be happy until we are so situated that nothing which exists may tend to render us unhappy then we shall have little happiness in life. 

Happiness does not come from a life of ease and indolence.

It is not the result of the absence of obstacles and difficulties. 

Happiness comes from triumphing over them. 

Therefore the song of true happiness often arises from the soul which undergoes many adversities. 

Paul understood what life must be.

He went through the cities of Asia after he had been stoned and left for dead...

Act 14:22  Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

He enumerated the things he suffered in his work for Christ. 

Doubtless you have read that list again and again. 

Notwithstanding all this, no one has more to say about rejoicing, being filled with joy, and singing the songs of victory than does this same sufferer of tribulations.

The Psalmist also knew about tribulations.

He said...

Psa 31:7  I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities;

God did not leave him to himself in his tribulations.

Being conscious of this, he could rejoice.

Jesus said to his disciples, "Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows."

Did he say, "Mourn and weep because of this"?

Did he intimate that they should shrink from them?

Did he indicate there was something wrong in them which brought these tribulations?

Not so.

He had already told them that the world would hate them.

Now he showed them that as a result of that hatred of the world, and also as the result of natural conditions in life they would have tribulations.

Did he say to them, "This will take away much from your happiness; you will be sad and disconsolate much of the time; you will sorrow on account of these tribulations; it is too bad you are to have them"?

No he said nothing of this kind.

He told them plainly what was to come; then added, "But be of good cheer I have overcome the world."

Think of the boldness of Jesus in saying this.

Just before him lay Gethsemane.

Just beyond that, the trials before the high priest and Pilate, and Calvary awaited him. 

He knew this very well.

He knew he must pass through the bitterest of tribulations. 

Nevertheless he said, "Be of good cheer I have overcome the world."

What a wonderful example for us this is.

He has overcome the world not merely for himself but for us as well.

As the Psalmist pointed out, he knows our adversities.

He knows that lying ahead of us there are adversities and difficulties, perhaps dangers, sorrows, and many things to try the soul.

He also knows when we are in those things, when they are pressing hard upon us, when we are tempted to bow down our heads and give up.

He knows exactly how we feel, how things seem, how the future looks, how the present troubles us.

In spite of it all he is saying to us, "Be of good cheer I have overcome."

Dear soul, Jesus knows all about your troubles.

He knows every heartache, every difficulty, everything you must overcome, everything you must bear.

Trusting in his grace, relying upon his help you shall soon find your heart filling again with melody, for the clouds will pass away.

Paul asks, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? 

Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?"

Then he adds, "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us!" (Romans 8:35, 37).

Speaking of our acceptance with God and our justification by faith through grace, Paul says we "rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Romans 5:2).

But are the good things of God all in which we can rejoice?

No, for he continues, "And not only so but we glory in tribulations also."

Paul could rejoice in the bad things, as well as in the good things. 

Why could he do this?

Was he a mere enthusiast?

Was he a man who shut his eyes to the facts?

No, he was sober-minded, consistent, and sane.

He looked behind the frowning face of circumstances.

He saw the results that follow tribulations.

He set them down for us that we might consider them and rejoice with him.

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us! Romans 5:3-5.

That was the secret of Paul's rejoicing.

Again Paul tells his experience in 2 Corinthians 7:4, I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles, my joy knows no bounds.

2Co 7:4  Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.

He tells why this is: "God, who comforts those who are cast down, comforts us" (verse 6).

2Co 7:6  Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus;

Who comforts us in all our tribulation (2 Corinthians 1:4).

2Co 1:4  Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

The comfort of God is wonderful.

The satisfying, soul-delighting blessedness of it, can be known only by those who have gone deeply into the waters of tribulation.

So many in times of trouble, are prone to feel that God does not care for them or to feel that they have offended him.

Just when they need him most, and just when he would be most ready to help they cease to seek that help and feel they must meet their difficulties in their own strength without the help they so much crave.

Right here many are tempted to give up trying. 

They feel they are unable to overcome or to endure through to better days.

They feel that God has forsaken them in their hour of need. 

Their feelings and their attitude shut them off from that help which God would delight to give them. 

It is just here that we need to face things squarely.

We need to consider God as he is.

We need to take a right view of our relationship with him.

In the time of the child's need, a true and loving parent yearns with sympathy and with an earnest desire to help.

The heart of God is more tender than the heart of a mother.

His love is stronger than any human love.

In these times of tribulation and trouble, of sorrow or care, of anxiety or foreboding...we should remember that he is waiting to take us into his arms and to comfort us with that comfort which only he can give.

The clouds may seem to hide his face; he may seem far off but he is not far off.

The clouds may prevent us from seeing him but they do not prevent his seeing us. 

He does see us and he desires us to turn to him for that support in trouble which we need in order that the heavy load may be borne.

He desires that we confide in him, and that we pour out our soul's bitterness and longing to him.

He expects us to act as men and women who trust him.

He expects us to use what strength we have.

But beyond and above our strength, is his abundant strength and help ready to supply whatever deficiency there may be in us.

He always sees the way out of our difficulties.

He always knows just how much grace we must have.

He always measures out to us the needed supply we must have.

No one has ever lived, who has not had his times of discouragement, heaviness, sorrow, and disappointment.

Care and anxiety come to all. 

Unsaved people have to bear their own burdens, meet their own adversities, suffer their own sorrows without divine help.

They get through them in some way in their own strength, and we could do the same without divine help.

There would always be a way that we could get through somehow. 

But God knows a better way than we know, and he will help us into that better way.

He will give us the strength and fortitude necessary if we only trust and go forward courageously.

James tells us, "Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds."

There is a way to do this.

That way is the way Paul took.

Paul looked behind the tribulations to the outcome.

James exhorts us to do likewise.

These tribulations all are fruitful. 

They are good for us.

If we bear them as we should then we shall look back upon them shortly and rejoice that God let them come.

Let us now look at Paul.

It was midnight.

He and Silas lay in a Philippian dungeon. Their feet were fast in the stocks.

Their clothes were torn, their backs were bleeding from the many stripes that had been laid upon them.

It seemed that death might be only a little ahead of them. 

Under these unfavorable circumstances they did not lament they prayed (Acts 16:25).

Act 16:25  And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.

After they had prayed, they did something else; they sang praises to God. 

They did not do this for mere bravado.

They did not do it to keep the other prisoners awake.

They did it because of the joy that was welling up in their own hearts. 

They were suffering, so they could not sleep; so they spent the time in the very best possible manner. 

They spent not a moment in regretting what had happened. 

They did look for the needed help. Their faith reached out to God and help came.

Their souls were filled with joyful praises and they sang from full hearts.

There were reasons why they could do this.

First, they were innocent. They had a consciousness they had done nothing wrong.

They had been trying to do good. Now they were suffering for it.

There is "rest" comfort in being innocent under such circumstances, or in any circumstances.

A clear conscience inspires to song.

So if our conscience is clear, we can rise above our circumstances if we follow the course taken by Paul and Silas.

Second, they were hopeful Christians. 

They did not look on the dark side. 

They looked beyond the present suffering and the threatening circumstances.

They neither saw the dungeon nor the stocks nor the executioner's sword.

They neither felt their galled ankles nor their smarting backs. 

They looked to God. They saw his approving smile and they sang praises.

Third, they exercised definite faith.

They believed God knew all about their circumstances.

They believed they were in his care.

They believed nothing could come to them, without coming through his will.

So they rested in full assurance of faith in him and in their tribulations they sang joyfully.

Paul taught others to rejoice, and he set them an example.

If we face our adversities as he faced his we too may sing in adversity.

In adversity we sing a different song than we do when we are untroubled.

We must join courage to trust.

When we do this, we can sing songs of confidence born of our confidence in God's help.

We can sing songs of trust which allay our fears.

We can sing songs of anticipation as we look forward to the victories which lie before us, and at the crown at the end of the road.

We can sing in joyful remembrance of God's former mercies.

The song of adversity is more difficult to learn, than the song we sing when everything is going pleasantly and prosperously... 

But these songs are no less joyous in the depths of the heart when they spring from faith.

In fact they can often be more truly joyous than the songs of prosperity, because they go deeper into the depths of the heart and rise with fuller trust. 

But no matter how many tribulations we have, if we trust God, we may be "exceeding joyful" in all those tribulations.

~Charles Naylor, 1930~

Friday, May 12, 2017

Bitter Or Enlarged?

We can take one of two attitudes toward the ways of God with us;

We can get bitter, sour, hard;

Or we can have the enlargement by exercise, development by exercise, to develop capacity, to bring us into the large place that we may be intelligently His instrument for governing under His Headship in ages to come.

Things that enter into our history we cannot always fathom...

But the explanation which we can give is that, whatever there may be as second causes, the Lord is Sovereign...

And He thinks it worthwhile sometimes to allow what the world would call the most terrible thing to overtake for the time being...

And it would seem that His Name and interests suffer through that thing...

But through that thing He brings His people to a place of maturity and they get to know the Lord for themselves.

Through these terrible things we find the Lord produces something that is very much more worthy of Himself in the life of His children. 

That is His justification, His vindication; if He could do it in any other way He would.

In the long run He does get spiritual maturity among His people, where they know Him.

He would get us to a place where we know the Lord and we have our senses exercised to know. 

The Lord give us grace to accept all His dealings with us in the light of His great purpose.

~T. Austin Sparks~

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Fear Only GOD

Because God will never leave nor forsake us, we may well be content with such things as we have. 

Since the LORD is ours, we cannot be left without a friend, a treasure, and a dwelling place.

This assurance may make us feel quite independent of men. 

Under such high patronage we do not feel tempted to cringe before our fellowmen and ask of them permission to call our lives our own; but what we say we boldly say and defy contradiction.

He who fears God has nothing else to fear. 

We should stand in such awe of the living LORD that all the threats that can be used by the proudest persecutor should have no more effect upon us than the whistling of the wind.

Man in these days cannot do so much against us as he could when the apostle wrote the verse at the head of this page. 

Racks and stakes are out of fashion. Giant Pope cannot burn the pilgrims now. 

If the followers of false teachers try cruel mockery and scorn, we do not wonder at it, for the men of this world cannot love the heavenly seed.

What then?

We must bear the world's scorn.

It breaks no bones. 

God helping us, let us be bold; and when the world rages, let it rage, but let us not fear it. 

~Charles Spurgeon~

Friday, May 5, 2017

Not Knowing Where...

He went out, not knowing whither...

Those three words are a very apt description of the Christian life, in all its phases: its beginning, its progress and development, and in its consummation - not knowing whither.

We have, at the beginning of the Christian life, our own ideas as to what it is going to be, what it is going to mean; Perhaps some ideas as to the way that we are going to take, and where it will lead us.

We do not go on very far or very long before we begin to discover that we have been launched upon a mighty sea that we have never crossed before and for which there has not been put into our hands any answer to the questions: Whither? and What? and Why?

It is as though the Captain of a ship had just called to us and asked us if we are coming.

Will we come?

We answer, "Where are you going?"

He says, "That is my business, not yours."

What shall we meet on the way?

Nothing to tell you about that.

How long will it take?

Sorry, I can give you no information; you must put yourself confidently into my hands, and leave all those questions for me to answer and to be answered as we go along.

The Christian life is like that; it is like that at the beginning.

It has to be like that.

What we have read about faith, and Abraham's faith in particular, is just like that.

Someone has spoken of Abraham's call and venture as being with 'sealed orders'.

We know what that means.

Either the Captain of a ship, or the leader of an expedition, is just handed an envelope;

He is told not to open this or read it for so long, or until he reaches such and such a point.

All he is told to do is to go, and to go in a certain direction.

He does not know what for, he does not know what the destination is;

He knows nothing but this, that he has to start out in a certain direction, under command, and leave the rest for the time being.

It is like that in the Christian life from the beginning.

All the way along, again and again, we are tempted to ask, if we do not actually ask, "Where is this leading? What is the meaning of this? Why this?"

And no answer comes back.

All we have is this: there has been born in us a sense of call, a sense of urge, a compelling, a sense of destiny.

Paul called it 'being apprehended', and that is a policeman's word; perhaps none of you know anything about that, but you may have seen it happen.

And you know that when that hand of the law comes upon a shoulder or an arm, there is nothing to do but to yield to that urge.

You are apprehended, and more than the power of a single human hand has got hold of you; all the authority and the power of the State is in that hand, and you have just got to yield; it is an apprehending.

Peter and John and the rest would have put it in another way, they would have said: "I heard the call, 'Come, follow!'

And the call carried with it something irresistible; "I just had to go."

However it is, whatever we may call it, it is like that: an inborn sense that we no longer have our lives in our own hands.

Someone has taken that prerogative out of our hands into His hands, but it is something inward.

It is like the migratory instinct in birds: it wakens and there is no rest, there is no staying, it is urging, forcing on.

And it is realized that to resist that urge is to frustrate destiny, and to curtail something that is more than human ambition, for this was not the way of our choice;

This was not the will, the way that we would have taken, indeed, we would have stayed.

Naturalists tell us of certain birds, at the migratory season, who go so far; they go down to Cornwall where they feel there is some kind of an answer to that inward craving for warmth, the warmer climate.

A fear has come into them of the long journey, crossing the sea, and all that is involved.

They think that they have found the answer nearer at hand and so they just go so far and settle down, and perish in the winter.

I think it is a parable. There is a lot in this letter to the Hebrews about that, is there not: its urge, "Let us go on..." let us go on; and the warning, "Accept nothing less than what the urge foreshadows". That was Abraham.

Abraham was mastered by this right through.

He did come into the land it was quite true, what the Bible calls Canaan, the Land of Promise; but you notice he was a very old man when Isaac was born, and a much older man when Isaac's son Jacob was born, but he had never ceased to live in a tent up to that time; and he died living in a tent.

He looked for a city...There were plenty of cities in Canaan, but it says, 'he looked for a city whose architect was God'; these were not God's cities.

The thing was still going on, this strange something that you and I ought to know something about, that we cannot ever force ourselves to settle short of that to which we have been called.

It is like that, but what a lot it involves.

What a lot it involved for Abraham - the letting go - which is the great problem and difficulty of our lives, is it not?

To let go.

To let go the temporal for the spiritual.

To let go the earthly for the heavenly.

To let go the immediate for the eternal - that is to enter another world from the one with which we are familiar.

That is to submit to new, unaccustomed principles of life, to obey new motives; it is another world.

Oh, the conflicts that rage around this migration, round this going "knowing not whither".

And the conflict begins and has its real basis in our own souls, what the New Testament calls, our 'flesh'.

Is it not true that this natural life (which means the soul, the flesh) craves for security?

And the suggestion of 'knowing not' just runs counter to all our instincts for security.

Look at Abraham. In Chaldea there were two thousand deities: that was his natural life, and every one of those deities was dedicated to the sentient life in some form.

It was the life that you could see, that you could handle, that you could have immediately for your gratification.

So many are the aspects of this natural life that it all is this: "No, do not ask us to venture into the unknown; we must have the known.

We must have what we can handle, what we can see, and what is here and now.

That is the natural soul, is it not? We are like that.

And when we are called out into a life and a realm knowing not whither, the battle rises in our very being between heaven and earth, eternity and time, the temporal and the spiritual.

It was a marvellous thing that this urge was such in Abraham that his two thousand deities lost all their power, although they offered him immediate, earthly, temporal gratification.

He obeyed...and went, not knowing...what a tremendous thing for a man in such a setting and such an upbringing.

No wonder his father Terah could not go through with it!

There is that of Adam in every one of us that cannot go through with it, unless we know in our hearts this tremendous something that we cannot describe or define, but it is there.

When the day of the great ordeal and trial comes, and everything seems to be testing, as it did Abraham, and apparently contradicting the call...

And everything seems to cry that a mistake had been made, that it was all an illusion...

And we allow these thoughts, ideas and suggestions to influence us, then we begin to decline, and we find ourselves in a cul-de-sac, in a back-water, off the main road.

Then something touches us again of the old call.

We touch something in the Word of God which was our very life before and that thing in us revives again, and comes up, and says, "We must go on!

It is no use, we must get out of this and go on!

Do you know that? It is there.

And it is not an 'it'; it is the Spirit of God, striving, urging like that!

I was saying that the conflict is in our very constitution: we crave security, we crave sight, we crave solidity, we crave the present;

And all this says, "No, no, you are launched out" and still it is not knowing whither, in a very real sense.

Not only do we find the conflict in our own make-up, especially if we are of the more practical turn.

The world also helps us a lot; the world will help us to stay with it.

If we will go its way, it will befriend us;

If we can be found to have in us any hankering for this world in position, in prosperity, in the satisfying of an ambition, in security, the world will help us, it will prosper us.

We will get on if we go that way - the world will minister to us.

Doors will be open: facilities will be granted; we shall be thought to be getting on, but, stay!

Take a cross-section of life, and ask, over a given period...

How much really of the Lord, and for the Lord, has filled that period and how much of this life, and how much of this world and its affairs?

How much?

What is the percentage of my spending and being spent for that which will not appear again in glory?

And what is the proportion of that which answers to my essential call?

I know this may raise practical problems and questions.

But fundamentally there is this: this world is no friend whatever to those going out not knowing whither; it will be very friendly to us if we will take its way, but it will keep us back.

Our sense of destiny, not only in life but in vocation, should be more powerful than any other motive and interest.

So much so that all that this world can offer of its pretended securities is as nothing - "that I may know Him... that I may press on toward the mark, to the on-high calling of God".

There are other things to come in the way.

There are, as we have said, those seeming contradictions that are so testing.

He came into the land, whither the urge had led him.

When he was there, what did he find?

Not what he naturally would have expected; indeed it was not long before he found a famine.

A contradiction in circumstances, apparently.

Or, a Terah - the cautious element in life.

I imagine that Terah was always cautioning his son: "Don't be an extremist! Don't be unusual, don't be different from the majority. Don't go too far! Be careful!"

Do you know, while there is wisdom and discretion in the spiritual life, this way with the Lord is a tremendously bold venture that throws quite a lot of caution to the winds, which is justified.

Think of all those servants of God who have launched out on this sea, not knowing whither, that have put home, wife, family, and worldly prospects on one side and simply the urge of destiny on the other, and have chosen this, and gone.

And God has vindicated, taken responsibility there.

It has been like that with very, very many.

There is a kind of caution that can rob us of our eternal calling.

Terah may impede our progress by that, and cause us to stay in Haran, until that is finally out of the way, and we can go on.

Or, it might be that feature represented by Lot, ever accompanying us.

As John Bunyan would put it, that 'divided heart'.

Yes, he will have the good, but not the other; he will have the advantages of this way, but not the disadvantages; he has got his eye upon how this will serve him.

He has a sense of right and righteousness, but you know, it is possible, if the word about Lot means anything, to have a very intense sense of righteousness, and to be in the wrong place.

Vexed with the wicked...- his righteous soul vexed with the wickedness. Yes, every day.

This was because he was out of the place of the will of God.

He ought never to have been there.

We can be very righteous, and not be where the Lord would have us, in the way.

A divided heart is always very near at hand and can be accompanying a fellow of the way!

Well, so it was with Abraham, but he went on.

He encountered many other difficulties: the deadness of his own body; the deadness of Sarah's womb - that is made much of in the letter to the Romans.

There were great difficulties to the realization of the purpose and the reaching of the end.

And every one of them, you notice, was in this realm of the senses!

You see, I can't because of...and then this and that and just cannot be.

If you argue humanly, it never can be.

You and I will never start on this road, we will never take the new step and stages of committal in this way, and we will never reach the end if we argue like that about human possibilities.

We have started on a humanly impossible road!

The sooner we settle that the better.

Well, you see, these things beset the beginning of the Christian life.

Be made aware at once that it is like this, it is a committal in utter faith to One who calls you.

And that committal includes and involves the confidence that He who has called you will do it and can do it.

The same arises along the way in the different stages of the Christian life.

We come right up against a new crisis, a new demand, something that we have never met before, and all these things arise; it is a battle.

Not knowing whither is still the law and it is going to be; it is answering the Divine urge within.

And when we come to the end it will be like that: Not knowing whither.

John says, 'We know not what we shall be'; "We know not what we shall be, except that when He is manifested we shall be like Him, and see Him as He is".

And this holds good of our vocation, our calling.

We have more than once met with men of years; men whose life has been well-nigh spent and they said to me: "I once felt that I ought to take the way you have taken; that I ought to give my life to the service of God, but I weighed up the whole thing, as to what it involved, and I said, 'No'.

Today, my life has missed the way!

I am a disappointed man.

Oh, here is a warning: did you ever have that sense of call and destiny, that you knew came from God?

It was not what you desired, it was not in line with some ambition of yours, but you knew the Lord called you.

Are you following it through?

Where are you today?

The Lord may be speaking a real word of recall, of warning.

We are going to find this true in our vocation.

It is quite impossible to man; we don't know what it means, and where it is leading, and what is going to be the outcome of it all; but we do know one thing: that there is that in us which is still not dead, it is still alive - it is our original sense of vocation.

Listen to it, and respond.

And yet, having said all that under those three words, not knowing whither... - don't we know?

Oh yes, we do.

On the way, all that I have said may be true, and we may be in that quandary many times, not knowing, and having to move in sheer faith - not in something unreal, but because of that which has happened to us and in us, and is still there.

That may all be true, and yet, what is the end?

Stephen said about Abraham, "The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham...".

That could be paraphrased: 'The God out of glory and unto glory appeared unto Abraham' - the God who is in the beginning, with all His movements, the God of glory, and has at the end glory as His object.

Glory compasses the beginning and the end: the God of Glory.

Does that sound remote or abstract?

Well, listen again to words with which you are so familiar.

Perhaps they have lost their charm.

It is clearly stated that we were ordained to be unto the glory of His grace, and unto the praise of His glory; that is the end.

The glory of His grace - that, then, comes right into this present mysterious experience that we cannot explain, and we know not why, whither, or what.

Grace - the glory of His grace! The praise of His glory!

What is your greatest fear?

I tell you what it ought to be. 

It ought to be that in the end you should have come short of the glory of God, that glory bound up with your calling, that you should finish up having missed the way, having chosen some alternative.

The Lord help us.

Forgive this if it sounds too serious and too solemn a word, but I cannot help it.

I just have to say what the Lord tells me to say.

And we all need, do we not, from time to time, to be made to listen to the fundamental call: "Come, follow!"

~T. Austin Sparks~ 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Fate, Accident, Chance Or SOVEREIGNTY?

What a sad world this would be were it governed by fate

Were its blended lights and shadows, its joys and sorrows  the result of capricious accident or blind and wayward chance

How blessed to think that each separate occurrence which befalls me is the fulfillment of God's own immutable purpose!

Is it the material world?

It is He who "forms the light and creates darkness;"  who appoints the sun and moon for their seasons;

Who gives to the sea its decree; who watches the sparrow in its fall; who tends the lily in the field; and who paints the tiniest flower that blossoms in the meadow.

Is it the moral world?

All events are predetermined and prearranged by Him!

I make peace and create evil!

Both prosperity and adversity are His appointment.

The Lord who of old prepared Jonah's shade-plant, also prepared the worm! 

He gives and He takes away.  

He molds every tear! 

He "puts them into His bottle."

He knows them all, counts them all, treasures them all.

Not one of them falls unbidden - unnoted.

The lot is cast into the lap but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.

Over every occurrence in nature and in providence, He writes, "I the Lord do all these things!"

True, His thoughts are often mysterious, and His ways are past finding out. 

We are led at times, amid the bewildering mazes of His providential dealings, to exclaim, "O Lord, how great are Your works, and Your thoughts are very deep!"

Be it ours to defer our verdict - until their full development.

We cannot envision the thoughts and intents of the architect or engineer in the first clearing of the ground for the foundation of some gigantic structure.

The uninitiated eye can discover nothing but piles of unshapely rubbish - a chaos of confusion.

But gradually, as week by week passes we see his thoughts molding themselves into visible and substantial shapes of order and beauty. 

And when the edifice at last stands before us complete, we discern that all which was mystery and confusion at first was a necessary part and portion of the undertaking. 

So is it, at present, regarding the mysterious dealings of God. 

Often, in vain, do we try to comprehend the purposes of the Almighty Architect, amid the dust and debris of the earthly foundations. 

Let us wait patiently, until we gaze on the finished structure of eternity.

Oh, blessed assurance - that the loom of our life is in the hands of the Great Designer - that it is He who is interweaving the threads of our existence: the light and the dark, the acknowledged good and the apparent evil. 

The chain of what is erroneously called "destiny," is in His keeping.

He knows its every connecting link -  He has forged each one on His own anvil!

Man's purposes have failed, and are ever liable to fail - his brightest anticipations may be thwarted; his best-laid schemes may be frustrated.

Life is often a retrospect of crushed hopes - the bright rainbow-hues of morning, passing in its afternoon into damp mist and drizzling rain. 

Many are the thoughts in a man's heart, (knowing no fulfillment nor fruition) "but the counsel of the Lord that shall stand." 

"From eternity to eternity I am God." 

"No one can oppose what I do."

"No one can reverse My actions"

Rev 19:6  And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

~John Macduff~