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Instantaneous And Insistent Sanctification
"And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly." I Thessalonians 5:23-24
When we pray to be sanctified, are we prepared to face the standard of these verses? We take the term sanctification much too lightly. Are we prepared for what sanctification will cost? It will cost an intense narrowing of all our interests on earth, and an immense broadening of all our interests in God. Sanctification means intense concentration on God's point of view. It means every power of body, soul and spirit chained and kept for God's purpose only. Are we prepared for God to do in us all that He separated us for? And then after His work is done in us, are we prepared to separate ourselves to God even as Jesus did? "For their sakes I sanctify Myself." The reason some of us have not entered into the experience of sanctification is that we have not realized the meaning of sanctification from God's standpoint. Sanctification means being made one with Jesus so that the disposition that ruled Him will rule us. Are we prepared for what that will cost? It will cost everything that is not of God in us.
Are we prepared to be caught up into the swing of this prayer of the apostle Paul's? Are we prepared to say, "Lord, make me as holy as You can make a sinner saved by grace"? Jesus has prayed that we might be one with Him as He is one with the Father. The one and only characteristic of the Holy Ghost in a man is a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ, and freedom from everything that is unlike Him. Are we prepared to set ourselves apart for the Holy Spirit's ministrations in us?
— Oswald Chambers
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Dying to Self
When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart, or even defend yourself, but take it all in patient, loving silence....that is dying to self.
When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, any impunctuality, or any annoyance; when you stand face-to-face with waste, silly extravagance, spiritual insensibility, and endure it as Jesus did....that is dying to self.
When you are content with any food, any offering, any climate, any society, any clothing, any interrogation, any interruption by the will of God....that is dying to self.
When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation, or to defend your own beliefs, your own good works, or itch for commendation, when you can truly love to be unknown....that is dying to self.
When you can see your brother prosper and have his needs met, and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit, and feel no envy, nor question God, while your own needs are far greater and in more desperate circumstances....that is dying to self.
When you receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself, and can humbly submit inwardly, as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion, retaliation, self-sympathy, self-defense, self-vindication, self-justification, resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness in heart....that is dying to self!
— Source Unknown
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Water of Life
The condition, the only condition, and the indispensable condition, of possessing that water of life, the summary expression for all the gifts of God in Jesus Christ, which at the last are essentially God Himself, is the desire to possess it turned to Jesus Christ. But it is not enough that there should be the desire. It must be turned to Him. The great keyword of personal religion, faith in Jesus Christ.
Another of the scriptural expressions for the act of trusting in Him is taking, not asking. You do not need to ask, as if for something that is not provided. What we all need to do is to open our eyes to see what is there, if we like to put out our hands and take it. Why should we be saying, "Give me to drink," when a pierced hand reaches out to us the cup of salvation, and says, Drink you all of it"? "Ho, everyone that thirsts come, and drink, without money and without price." There is no other condition but desire turned to Christ, and that is the necessary condition.
Blind, blind, blind, are the men who grope as noonday as in the dark and turn away from Jesus. If you knew, not with the head only, but with the whole nature, if you knew the thirst of your soul, the sweetness of the water, the readiness of the Giver, and the dry and parched land to which you condemn yourselves by your refusal, surely you would bethink yourself and fall at His feet and ask, and get, the water of life. The only rest of the soul is in God, and the only way to get it is through Christ, as any saint of God ever was. But the knowledge does not touch their will because they like the poison and they do not want the life.
Oh! dear friends, the instantaneousness of Christ's answer, and the certainty of it, are as true for each of us as they were for this woman. The offer is made to us all, just as it was to her. We can gather round that Rock like the Israelites in the wilderness, and slake every thirst of our souls from its outgushing streams. Jesus Christ says to each of us, as He did to her, tenderly, warningly, invitingly, and yet rebukingly, "If you knew, then you would ask, and I would give".
— Alexander Maclaren
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Everything Will Be Shaken
"That those things which cannot be shaken may remain." Hebrews 12:27
We have many things in our possession at the present moment which can be shaken, and it ill becomes a Christian man to set much store by them, for there is nothing stable beneath these rolling skies; change is written upon all things. Yet, we have certain "things which cannot be shaken," and I invite you this evening to think of them, that if the things which can be shaken should all be taken away, you may derive real comfort from the things that cannot be shaken, which will remain. Whatever your losses have been, or may be, you enjoy present salvation. You are standing at the foot of His cross, trusting alone in the merit of Jesus' precious blood, and no rise or fall of the markets can interfere with your salvation in Him; no breaking of banks, no failures and bankruptcies can touch that. Then you are a child of God this evening. God is your Father. No change of circumstances can ever rob you of that.
Although by losses brought to poverty, and stripped bare, you can say, "He is my Father still. In my Father's house are many mansions; therefore will I not be troubled." You have another permanent blessing, namely, the love of Jesus Christ. He who is God and Man loves you with all the strength of His affectionate naturenothing can affect that. The fig tree may not blossom, and the flocks may cease from the field, it matters not to the man who can sing, "My Beloved is mine, and I am His." Our best portion and richest heritage we cannot lose. Whatever troubles come, let us play the man; let us show that we are not such little children as to be cast down by what may happen in this poor fleeting state of time. Our country is Immanuel's land, our hope is above the sky, and therefore, calm as the summer's ocean; we will see the wreck of everything earthborn, and yet rejoice in the God of our salvation.
— Charles H. Spurgeon
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Seeking For Jesus
"Seeking for Jesus." John 6:24
This, my soul, should be thy constant employment, wherever thou art, however engaged; in going in, or out; at rising up, or lying down; whether in public or private, in the church or market-place; the closet, the family, the garden, the field, the house: the question ever arising in the heart should be–where is Jesus? Blessed Spirit! thou glorifier of my Lord, wilt thou constantly excite this seeking for Jesus in my heart? Wilt thou, Lord, give me every moment a sense of need, then a view of his fulness, suitableness, readiness to impart; then bring Him, whom my soul loveth, and me together; and then open a communication in leading me forth in desire, and giving me faith to receive from the infinite fulness of my Lord, and grace for grace? Lord Jesus!
I would desire grace to seek thee, as for hidden treasure. I would seek thee, and thee only, O my God! I would separate myself from all other things. It is Jesus, my soul chooseth, my soul needs. I would trust in nothing beside. No duties, no works; neither prayers nor repentance; no, nor faith itself, considered as an act of my soul, shall be my comfort, but Jesus alone I would make my centre; and every thought, and every affection, and every desire, like so many streams meeting in one, should all pour themselves, as rivers, into the ocean of thy bosom! And the nearer, as a stream that draws near the sea is propelled to fall into it, so the more forcible and vehement let my soul be in desires after thee, as my soul draweth nearer the hour of seeing thee.
Oh Lamb of God, give me to be seeking after thee through life, pressing after thee from one ordinance to another; and when ordinances cease, and all outward comforts fail, then, Lord, may I gather up (as the dying patriarch did his feet in the bed) all my strength, and pour my whole soul into thine arms, crying out, "I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord?"
— Robert Hawker
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The Centrality of the Cross
...if the death of Christ on the cross is the true meaning of the Incarnation, then there is no gospel without the cross. Christmas by itself is no gospel. The life of Christ is no gospel. Even the resurrection, important as it is in the total scheme of things, is no gospel by itself. For the good news is not just that God became man, nor that God has spoken to reveal a proper way of life for us, or even that death, the great enemy, is conquered. Rather, the good news is that sin has been dealt with (of which the resurrection is a proof); that Jesus has suffered its penalty for us as our representative, so that we might never have to suffer it; and that therefore all who believe in him can look forward to heaven. ...Emulation of Christ's life and teaching is possible only to those who enter into a new relationship with God through faith in Jesus as their substitute. The resurrection is not merely a victory over death (though it is that) but a proof that the atonement was a satisfactory atonement in the sight of the Father (Rom 4:25); and that death, the result of sin, is abolished on that basis.
Any gospel that talks merely of the Christ-event, meaning the Incarnation without the atonement, is a false gospel. Any gospel that talks about the love of God without pointing out that his love led him to pay the ultimate price for sin in the person of his Son on the cross is a false gospel. The only true gospel is of the 'one mediator' (1 Tim. 2:5-6), who gave himself for us.
Finally, just as there can be no gospel without the atonement as the reason for the Incarnation, so also there can be no Christian life without it. Without the atonement the Incarnation theme easily becomes a kind of deification of the human and leads to arrogance and self advancement. With the atonement the true message of the life of Christ, and therefore also of the the life of the Christian man or woman, is humility and self sacrifice for the obvious needs of others. The Christian life is not indifference to those who are hungry or sick or suffering from some other lack. It is not contentment with our own abundance, neither the abundance of middle class living with home and cars and clothes and vacations, nor the abundance of education or even the spiritual abundance of good churches, Bibles, Bible teaching or Christian friends and acquaintances. Rather, it is the awareness that others lack these things and that we must therefore sacrifice many of our own interests in order to identify with them and thus bring them increasingly into the abundance we enjoy... We will live for Christ fully only when we are willing to be impoverished, if necessary, in order that others might be helped.'
— James Montgomery Boice
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Prayer a Privilege
Although God is everywhere present, yet he is invisible. He is an all-pervading Spirit, yet is perceived by none of our senses. We behold his glorious works in the heavens and in the earth, and may learn something, by careful observation, of the general laws by which the material universe is governed; but still the great Architect is concealed. As far as reason can lead us, we seem to be shut out from all fellowship with our Maker; and whether prayer is permitted would remain forever doubtful, were it not for divine revelation. Indeed, considering man as a sinner, it would seem presumptuous for such a creature to obtrude himself into the presence of a holy God. Scripture teaches us that God may be acceptably approached by sinners only through the mediation of his Son.
Prayer is everywhere in the Bible recognized as proper, and inculcated as a duty. But it is also a most precious privilege, one of the richest blessings conferred on man. It opens a method of fellowship and communion with our Father in heaven; it furnishes a refuge for the soul oppressed with sin and sorrow; it affords an opportunity to the heart overwhelmed with an intolerable weight of misery to unburden itself, to pour its griefs into the ear of one who can pity and help.
The moral effect of prayer is important. It humbles the soul, and excites veneration for the magnificent and holy character of God. But though prayer brings into exercise the noblest acts and emotions of which our nature is capable, yet it would be a grand mistake to confine the efficacy of prayer to their moral effects. Prayer, when offered in faith, for things agreeable to the will of God, actually obtains for the petitioner the blessings which he needs. It has an efficacy to obtain forgiveness of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and deliverance from a thousand evils. Prayer enters into the ears of the Lord Almighty; the prayer of faith is the mightiest engine upon earth. The Lord of heaven has given his word to answer prayer. He will be inquired of by his people, that he may bless them.
God can make any means effectual; and among the instituted means for the government of the world, and the preservation and comfort of his people, prayer holds a high place. The objection that God is immutable, and knows what we need, has no more force against prayer than any other means no more force than if urged against the necessity of cultivating the ground in order to obtain a crop, or receiving food to nourish the body.
The Christian life is sustained by prayer. By it every grace is exercised, every blessing is obtained. Without the sincere desires of the heart, prayer is nothing; it is worse it is a mockery. He is the best Christian who prays most. As God is ever near to us, "for in him we live, and move, and have our being," we are permitted to hold fellowship with him at all times, and in all places. We are commanded to "pray without ceasing" to "be instant in prayer" to "pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands."
In prayer there is not only an outgoing of the soul to God, in acts of faith, love, and confidence, but there is an actual communication from God to the soul. Prayer is a holy converse a fellowship with God. One hour spent in prayer, will accomplish more good than many employed in study or labor. Surely, then, it is good to draw near to God.
— Archibald Alexander
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Love thy Neighbour
"Thou shalt love thy neighbour." Matthew 5:43
"Love thy neighbour." Perhaps he rolls in riches, and thou art poor, and living in thy little cot side-by-side with his lordly mansion; thou seest every day his estates, his fine linen, and his sumptuous banquets; God has given him these gifts, covet not his wealth, and think no hard thoughts concerning him. Be content with thine own lot, if thou canst not better it, but do not look upon thy neighbour, and wish that he were as thyself. Love him, and then thou wilt not envy him.
Mayhap, on the other hand, thou art rich, and near thee reside the poor. Do not scorn to call them neighbour. Own that thou art bound to love them. The world calls them thy inferiors. In what are they inferior? They are far more thine equals than thine inferiors, for "God hath made of one blood all people that dwell upon the face of the earth." It is thy coat which is better than theirs, but thou art by no means better than they. They are men, and what art thou more than that? Take heed that thou love thy neighbour even though he be in rags, or sunken in the depths of poverty.
But, perhaps, you say, "I cannot love my neighbours, because for all I do they return ingratitude and contempt." So much the more room for the heroism of love. Wouldst thou be a feather-bed warrior, instead of bearing the rough fight of love? He who dares the most, shall win the most; and if rough be thy path of love, tread it boldly, still loving thy neighbours through thick and thin. Heap coals of fire on their heads, and if they be hard to please, seek not to please them, but to please thy Master; and remember if they spurn thy love, thy Master hath not spurned it, and thy deed is as acceptable to Him as if it had been acceptable to them. Love thy neighbour, for in so doing thou art following the footsteps of Christ.
— Charles H. Spurgeon
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He Instructed Him
"He instructed him." So He does us. It was to instruct us that God, in His great mercy, gave us THE SCRIPTURES. He has not left us to grope our way in darkness, but has provided us with a lamp for our feet and a light for our path. Nor are we left to our own unaided powers in the study of the Word. We are supplied with an infallible Instructor. The Holy Spirit is our teacher, "Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things ... the anointing ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you" (1 John 2:20, 27).
Right views of God's truth are not an intellectual attainment, but a blessing bestowed on us by God. It is written, "a man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven" (John 3:27). No matter how legibly a letter may be written, if the recipient is blind he cannot read it. So we are told, "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14). And spiritual discernment is imparted only by the Holy Spirit.
"He instructed him." How patiently God bears with our dullness! How graciously He repeats "line upon line and precept upon precept" (Is. 28:10)! Yet slow as we are, He perseveres with us, for He has promised to perfect that which concerns us (Ps. 138:8). Has He "instructed" you, my reader? Has He taught you the total depravity of man and the utter inability of the sinner to deliver himself? Has He taught you the humbling truth "Ye must be born again", and that regeneration is solely the work of God, man having no part or hand in it (Jn. 1:13)? Has He revealed to you the infinite value and sufficiency of the atoning sacrifice of Christ whose blood cleanses "FROM ALL SIN"? Then what cause you have to be thankful for such Divine instruction.
— A. W. Pink
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Behold, I Come Quickly!
"Therefore be ye also ready: take ye heed lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping. What I say unto you I say unto all. Watch!" Mark 13:37
WATCH against the leaven of false doctrine. Remember that Satan can transform himself into an angel of light. Remember that bad money is never marked bad, or else it would never pass. Be very jealous for the whole truth as it is in Jesus. Do not put up with a grain of error merely for the sake of a pound of truth. Do not tolerate a little false doctrine one bit more than you would tolerate a little sin. WATCH AND PRAY!
WATCH against slothfulness about Bible study and private prayer. There is nothing so spiritual but we may at last do it formally. Most backslidings began in the closet. When a tree is snapped in two by a high wind we generally find there had been some hidden decay. WATCH AND PRAY!
WATCH against bitterness and uncharitableness toward others. A little love is more valuable than many gifts. Be eagle-eyed in seeing the good that is in your brethren. Let your memory be a strong box for their graces, but a sieve for their faults. WATCH AND PRAY!
WATCH against pride and self-conceit. Peter said at first, "Though all deny Thee, yet will not I." Soon he fell. Pride is the high road to fall. WATCH.AND PRAY!
Let us watch for our own sakes. As our walk is, so will be our peace. Above all, let us watch for our Lord Jesus Christ's sake. Let us live as though His glory was concerned in our behavior. Let us live as thou every slip and fall was a reflection on the honor of our Lord. Let us live as though every allowed sin was one more thorn in His head--one more nail in His feet.
O, let us exercise godly jealousy over thoughts, words and actions, over motives, manners and walk! Never, never let us fear being too strict. Never, never let us think we can watch too much. "None of us are more than half awake!"
— J. C. Ryle
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How We Ought to Think about God's Providence
1. Beware of drawing an excuse for your sin from the providence of God; for it is most holy, and is in no way any cause of any sin you commit. Every sin is an act of rebellion against God; a breach of his holy law, and deserves his wrath and curse; and therefore cannot be authorised by an infinitely-holy God, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity without detestation and abhorrence. Though he has by a permissive decree allowed moral evil to be in the world, yet that has no influence on the sinner to commit it. For it is not the fulfilling of God's decree, which is an absolute secret to every mortal, but the gratification of their own lusts and perverse inclinations, that men intend and mind in the commission of sin.
2. Beware of murmuring and fretting under any dispensations of providence that you meet with; remembering that nothing falls out without a wise and holy providence, which knows best what is fit and proper for you. And in all cases, even in the middle of the most afflicting incidents that happen to you, learn submission to the will of God, as Job did, when he said upon the end of a series of the heaviest calamities that happened to him, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord," Job, i. 21. In the most distressing case, say with the disciples, "The will of the Lord be done," Acts, 21:14.
3. Beware of anxious cares and fearfulness about your material well-being in the world. This our Lord has cautioned his followers against, Matt. 6:31. "Take no thought, (that is, anxious and perplexing thought,) saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?" Never let the fear of man stop you from duty, Matt. 10:28, 29; but let your souls learn to trust in God, who guides and superintends all the events and administrations of providence, by whatever hands they are performed.
4. Do not think little of means, seeing God works by them; and he that has appointed the end, orders the means necessary for gaining the end. Do not rely upon means, for they can do nothing without God, Matt. 4:4. Do not despair if there be no means, for God can work without them, as well as with them; Hosea 1:7. "I will save them by the Lord their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen." If the means be unlikely, he can work above them, Rom. 4:19. "He considered not his own body now dead, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb." If the means be contrary, he can work by contrary means, as he saved Jonah by the whale that devoured him. That fish swallowed up the prophet, but by the direction of providence, it vomited him out upon dry land.
Lastly, Happy is the people whose God is the Lord: for all things shall work together for their good. They may sit secure in exercising faith upon God, come what will. They have good reason for prayer; for God is a prayer-hearing God, and will be enquired of by his people as to all their concerns in the world. And they have ground for the greatest encouragement and comfort in the middle of all the events of providence, seeing they are managed by their covenant God and gracious friend, who will never neglect or overlook his dear people, and whatever concerns them. For he has said, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you," Heb. 13:5.
— Thomas Boston
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"Man has places in his heart which do not yet exist,
and into them God enters suffering inorder that they might have existence."