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Remember that the Holy Spirit has his ways and methods, and there are some things which he will not do. Bethink you that he makes no promise to bless compromises. If we make a treaty with error or sin, we do it at our own risk. If we do anything that we are not clear about, if we tamper with truth or holiness, if we are friends of the world, if we make provision for the flesh, if we preach half-heartedly and are in league with those in error, we have no promise that the Holy Spirit will go with us.
The great promise runs in quite another strain: "Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord God Almighty." In the New Testament only in that one place, with the exception of the Book of Revelation, is God called by the name of "the Lord God Almighty."
If you want to know what great things the Lord can do, as the Lord God Almighty, be separate from the world, and from those who apostatize from the truth.
— Charles H. Spurgeon
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No Looking Back
There is an art of forgetting, and every Christian should become skilled in it. Forgetting the things which are behind is a positive necessity if we are to become more than mere babes in Christ. If we cannot trust God to have dealt effectually with our past we may as well throw in the sponge now and have it over with.
Fifty years of grieving over our sins cannot blot out their guilt. But if God has indeed pardoned and cleansed us, then we should count it done and waste no more time in sterile lamentations. And thank God this sudden obliteration of our familiar past does not leave us with a vacuum. Far from it. Into the empty world vacated by our sins and failures rushes the blessed Spirit of God, bringing with Him everything new. New life, new hope, new enjoyments, new interests, new purposeful toil, and best of all a new and satisfying object toward which to direct our soul's enraptured gaze.
God now fills the recovered garden, and we may without fear walk and commune with Him in the cool of the day. Right here is where the weakness of much current Christianity lies. We have not learned where to lay our emphasis. Particularly we have not understood that we are saved to know God, to enter His wonder-filled Presence through the new and living way and remain in that Presence forever. We are called to an everlasting preoccupation with God.
The Triune God with all of His mystery and majesty is ours and we are His, and eternity will not be long enough to experience all that He is of goodness, holiness and truth. In heaven they rest not day or night in their ecstatic worship of the Godhead. We profess to be headed for that place; shall we not begin now to worship on earth as we shall do in heaven?
— A. W. Tozer
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The Church WITHOUT The Spirit
The Church is the Body of Christ, and the Spirit is the Spirit of Christ. He fills the Body, directs its movements, controls its members, inspires its wisdom, supplies it's strength. He guides into truth, sanctifies its agents, and empowers for witnessing. The Spirit has never abdicated His authority nor relegated His power. Neither Pope nor Parliament, neither Conference nor Council is supreme in the Church of Christ. The Church that is man-managed instead of God-governed is doomed to failure. A ministry that is College-trained but not Spirit-filled works no miracles.
The Church that multiplies committees and neglects prayer may be fussy, noisy, enterprising, but it labors in vain and spends its strength for nought. It is possible to excel in mechanics and fail in dynamic. There is a superabundance of machinery; what is wanting is power. To run an organization needs no God. Man can supply the energy, enterprise, and enthusiasm for things human. The real work of a Church depends upon the power of the Spirit. The Presence of the Spirit is vital and central to the work of the Church. Nothing else avails. Apart from Him, wisdom becomes folly, and strength weakness. The Church is called to be a "spiritual house" and a holy priesthood. Only spiritual people can be its "living stones," and only the Spirit-filled its priests.
The Church always fails at the point of self-confidence. When the Church is run on the same lines as a circus, there may be crowds, but there is no Shekinah. That is why prayer is the test of faith and the secret of power. The Spirit of God travails in the prayer-life of the soul. Miracles are the direct work of His power, and without miracles the Church cannot live. The carnal can argue, but it is the Spirit of God that convicts.
Education can civilize, but it is being born of the Spirit that saves. The energy of the flesh can run bazaars, organize amusements, and raise millions; but it is the presence of the Holy Spirit that makes a Temple of the Living God. The root-trouble of the present distress is that the Church has more faith in the world and in the flesh than in the Holy Ghost, and things will get no better till we get back to His realized presence and power. The breath of the four winds would turn death into life and dry bones into mighty armies, but it only comes by PRAYER!
— Samuel Chadwick
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Love & Humility
There are two errors to be avoided - dictatorship and lawlessness. Unorganized churches frequently have a tighter ring of fellowship than those organized. Sects generally begin with an honest effort to preserve and restore some long lost truth, but they end in division. History repeats itself. No religious body has ever recovered itself after loosing its "first love".
To be like Jesus is the standard that God has set for us. If Heaven is real, we should live like it, this will produce "Pentecost". The human spirit too often dominates, while love and humility are clothed in rags and sit by the wayside begging. The gentle Jesus is often pushed aside and knocked down in church meetings.
Sin and the "flesh" will kill any "Pentecost". The doctor looks at the tongue first. Have you been speaking evil? Evil speaking denotes a bad heart and every radical movement for God has ultimately failed on the test of love.
We need holiness of heart. It is a vital error to substitute light for heat. "Knowledge puffeth up, but charity (love), edifieth." Read I Cor. 13 once more. Be not drawn away from "the simplicity that is in Christ." Faith gets the most, love works the most, humility keeps the most. God's vision comes to humble men. He who seeks to make footprints and do sublime things is a failure. A self-conscious poser is a loser.
Let self intrude and the whole is spoiled. Excellency is proportioned to the oblivion of self. A fisher for compliments has lost God. Self-consciousness must go. We are too conscious of the other fellow, we need a God-consciousness. Humility, not infallibility, becomes fallen creatures.
Infallibility is the apex of Satan's proposition to man. The deepest repentance and humility and our own frailty and weakness must be realized before we can know God's strength. Receding guns vanish out of sight after firing and so must we, for safety. WE NEED TO BE BROKEN!
— Frank Bartlemen
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Revival Means Humiliation
To the church a revival means humiliation, a bitter knowledge of failure, and an open and humiliating confession of sin on the part of her ministers and people. It is not the easy and glowing thing many think it to be, who imagine that it fills the empty pews, and reinstates the Church in power and authority.
IT COMES TO SCORCH BEFORE IT HEALS; it comes to rebuke ministers and people for their unfaithful witness, for their selfish living, for their neglect of the Cross, and to call them to daily reunciation, to an evangelical poverty, and to a deep and daily consecration. This is why a revival has ever been unpopular with large numbers within the Church. Because it says nothing to them of power such as they have learned to love, or of ease, of of success; it accuses them of sin, it tells them that they are dead, it calls them to awake, to renounce the world, and to follow Christ.
It the church today ready to hear that voice? Is she bowed down before God in prostration of need, in conscious dejection of unworthiness, in passionate self-abasement and desire for that renewal which comes through renunciation? It may well be doubted. It is upon the hearts of the few that the agony falls. Revival are not usually preceded by the awakening of the Church to a sense of need, but by the awakening of devout souls here and there, who feeling the need, begin to entreat God in prayer for a revival.
Gradually this deepens and spreads until the sense of need becomes a burden, until the cry, "How long, Oh God! how long! becomes an agony. This is the cry which God cannot deny. It is for that cry that we must intently listen. Is there, then today a disposition to pray for a revival? Are devout men everywhere becoming alarmed, not for the success of the Church, but for the glory of Christ, lest it be lost altogether?
Is there a sense of a burden lying upon men's hearts which will not give them rest, but which makes them agonize in prayer? If not, then the night is not far spent, a deeper darkness still awaits us. Of what use would a revival be if we are not prepared for it? It would pass over us without doing its work.
— James Burns
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God is Sovereign
How do we reconcile the fact that God is sovereign with the fact that he has given us free will as persons?
I don't see any problem in reconciling the sovereignty of God with man's free will as long as we understand the biblical concept of freedom. With respect to mankind, human beings are given the ability to make free choices, but our freedom is a limited freedom. We are not absolutely free. Remember, God said to Adam and Eve, "You may eat of all of the trees in the Garden." But then he added a restriction: "Of this tree you may not eat. If you do, you will surely die."
Now, God is a being who has the ability to make free choices, and I am a being who has the ability to make free choices. The difference, however, is that I am not sovereign. God is sovereign. God has more authority than I do. God has the right and the power and the authority to do whatsoever he pleases. I have the power and the ability and the freedom to do those things that I can do, but my freedom can never override the power or the authority of God.
My freedom is always limited by the higher freedom of God. What is a contradiction is God's sovereignty and human autonomy. Autonomy means that man can do whatever he wants without being worried about judgment from on high. Obviously those two are incompatible, and we do not believe that man is autonomous. We say that he is free, but his freedom is within limits, and those limits are defined by the sovereignty of God. This is a simple analogy: In my house I have more freedom than my son. We both have freedom, but mine is greater.
— R. C. Sproul
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The Spiritual Sluggard
"Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works; not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together." (Hebrews 10:24-25)
We are all capable of being spiritual sluggards; we do not want to mix with the rough and tumble of life as it is, our one object is to secure retirement. The note struck in Hebrews 10 is that of provoking one another and of keeping together - both of which require initiative, the initiative of Christ-realization, not of self-realization. To live a remote, retired, secluded life is the antipodes of spirituality as Jesus Christ taught it.
The test of our spirituality comes when we come up against injustice and meanness and ingratitude and turmoil, all of which have the tendency to make us spiritual sluggards. We want to use prayer and Bible reading for the purpose of retirement. We utilize God for the sake of getting peace and joy, that is, we do not want to realize Jesus Christ, but only our enjoyment of Him. This is the first step in the wrong direction. All these things are effects and we try to make them causes.
"I think it meet," said Peter, "...to stir you up by putting you in remembrance." It is a most disturbing thing to be smitten in the ribs by some provoker of God, by someone who is full of spiritual activity. Active work and spiritual activity are not the same thing. Active work may be the counterfeit of spiritual activity. The danger of spiritual sluggishness is that we do not wish to be stirred up, all we want to hear about is spiritual retirement. Jesus Christ never encourages the idea of retirement - "Go tell My brethren..."
— Oswald Chambers
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Why Don't They Stir Themselves?
America cannot fall - because she is already fallen! This goes for Britain, too. She cannot go into slavery - because her people are fettered at the moment in the chains of self-forged, self-chosen moral anarchy. Here are millions, diseased morally, with no longing for healing. Here are men paying for shadows at the price of their immortal souls.
An unprecedented tidal wave of commandment-breaking, God-defying, soul-destroying iniquity sweeps the ocean of human affairs. Never before have men in the masses sold their souls to the devil at such bargain prices. "There is none. . . that stirreth up himself to take hold of Thee" (Isa. 64:7). What hell-born mesmerism holds them? How does the spell bind? Who brainwashed them? Why don't they wake and stir themselves? If the Church had something vital and victorious to offer, these men who choose golf clubs by day and night clubs by night, they might be drawn from these fleshpots.
This is an hour in need of burning hearts, bursting lips and brimming eyes! If we were a tenth as spiritual as we think we are, our streets would be filled each Sunday with throngs of believers marching to Zion - with sacks on their bodies and ashes on their shaking heads, shaking at the calamity that has brought the Church to be the unlovely, unnerved, unproductive thing that she is!
If we wept as much in the prayer closet as devout Jews have done at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, we would now be enjoying a prevailing, purging revival! If we would return to apostolic practice - waiting upon the Lord for apostolic power - we could then go forth to apostolic possibilities! This is the hour when we are asked over and over again, "Is everybody happy?" God's purpose for us is not happiness, but HOLINESS!
Could a mariner sit idle if he heard the drowning cry?
Could a doctor sit in comfort and just let his patients die?
Could a fireman sit idle, let men burn and give no hand?
Can you sit at ease in Zion with the world around you DAMNED?
— Leonard Ravenhill
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Can we travail for a drowning child, but not for a perishing soul? It is not hard to weep when we realize that our little one is sinking below the surface for the last time. Anguish is spontaneous then. Nor is it hard to agonize when we see the casket containing all that we love on earth borne out of the home. Ah, no; tears are natural at such a time? But oh, to realize and know that souls, precious, never dying souls, are perishing all around us, going out into the blackness of darkness and despair, eternally lost, and yet to feel no anguish, shed no tears, know no travail!
How little we know of the compassion of Jesus! And yet God can give us this, and the fault is our if we do not have it. Jacob, you remember, travailed until he prevailed. but oh, who is doing it today? Who is really travailing in prayer? How many, even of your most spiritual Christian leaders, are content to spend half an hour a day on their knees and then pride themselves on the time they have given to God!
We expect extraordinary results, and extraordinary results are quite possible; signs and wonder will follow, but only through extraordinary efforts in the spiritual realm. Hence, nothing short of continuous, agonizing pleading for souls, hours upon hours, days and nights of prayer, will ever avail.
Therefore, "gird yourselves, and lament ye priests; howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God. Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and 'all the inhabitants of the load unto the house of the Lord your God, and cry unto the Lord." (Joel 1:13-14) Ah, yes Joel knew the secret. Let us then lay aside everything else and "cry unto the Lord". We read in the biographies of your forefathers, who were most successful in winning souls, that they prayed for hours in private.
The question therefore arises, can we get the same results without following their example? If we can, then lets us prove to the world that we have found a better way, but if not, then in God's name let us begin to follow those who through faith an patience obtained the promise.
Our forefathers wept and prayed and agonized before the Lord for sinners to be saved, and would not rest until they were slain by the Sword of the Word of God. That was the secret of their mighty success; when things were slack and would not move, they wrestled in prayer till God poured out His Spirit upon the people and sinners were converted.
— From: The Revival We Need by Oswald J. Smith
"Man has places in his heart which do not yet exist,
and into them God enters suffering inorder that they might have existence."