Dec 31, 2008

Devotional - The Manifold Grace of God

The manifold grace of God . . . but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ . . . Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.  (1Pe_4:10; 2Pe_3:18 and Gal_6:18)

The manifold grace of God is such an appropriate truth for our concluding meditation. It is both humbling and faith building to be reminded of the majestic diversity of God's grace.  
God's grace is manifold. It is like a heavenly diamond with innumerable facets. Every vantage point reflects a new insight into the gracious resources of our Lord. From some biblical viewpoints, the justifying grace of God is seen: "justified freely by His grace" (Rom_3:24). Yet, our devotional studies have concentrated upon sanctifying grace, grace for growing. "But grow in . . . grace." Many scriptural vistas display this sanctifying grace in its manifold beauty. It can be seen stabilizing the inner man. "It is good that the heart be established by grace" (Heb_13:9). It can also be seen in its edifying ability. "I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up" (Act_20:32). From another angle, God's sanctifying grace can be seen for its strengthening capacity. "Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" (2Ti_2:1). It can also be observed in its fruit producing role: "and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth" (Col_1:6). It can also be seen in its ministry developing function. "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1Co_15:10). From still another viewpoint, the sanctifying grace of God can be seen sustaining through the agonies of one's "thorny impossibilities." "My grace is sufficient for you" (2Co_12:9). What heavenly riches await us in a lifetime of observing, and appropriating, God's manifold grace.  

What final words would be fitting for us now? The closing benediction in so many New Testament epistles would be perfectly suitable. "Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit" (Gal_6:18). Ultimately and essentially, grace is found in the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and it is experienced through His work in our hearts, as we humbly seek to know Him more and more. "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

Dear Lord of manifold grace, I earnestly yearn to grow in every aspect of Your grace. Lord Jesus, I humbly desire to find increasing intimacy with You. Please work Your grace deeply into my heart  and manifest it fully through my life, in Your matchless name, I pray, Amen.

Dear friends, This is a long post after a long while - Praise lord I could logon today. In india, an internet connection is a precious thing, and I am still in the process of procuring one for myself. Praise the lord - God bless you as we enter in His presence into a blessed 2009. 

Nov 28, 2008

Devotional - Completion of God's good work

Php 1:6  Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: 

The deeper meaning of this verse is more related to the perfection attained in the spirit, subesquent to the new birth and the constant walking in the spirit. (See my blog post on the same theme) But for me, I have seen this come to fruition in so many small things in my life too. There have been so many things which seemed difficult, targets which seemed unattainable, obstacles which seemed unsurmountable - But praise the Lord, he makes them all a level ground for us who believe in him. 

All through my life I have seen His grace channeling me through very many troubles. It's a time for me to look back thankfully for all the times he has protected me - and I am sure that is more than what I can know or count. 

I am finishing my assignment today - It has been a long 5 months in UK away from my family, working on one of the most interesting projects I have seen (and probably one of the more difficult ones). Thanks to Him, he has guided me through this difficult phase too, and in a glorious manner.

Yet another reason to praise Him today. Yet another assurance of a reason to praise Him tomorrow. 

Nov 27, 2008


The world celebrates thanksgiving soon... 

More than anything, I want to quietly thank some that I can think of. 

My family - Appa, Amma, Merin, Mathew - you are God's gift to me. Thanks for everything you have done for me. More than anything, thanks for being there :) Praise the lord for you. 

My friends - To the handful who have been close , given advice or a sympathetic ear when I needed it. Thanks!

My colleagues - thanks for the help and quiet patience in our projects together. 

To Sajan, A boss par excellence - thanks for everything.

To the people who have taught me - and not just in schools. Thanks!

More than anything, to the lord above who has been so gracious to me in His love - Thank you lord jesus. You give me meaning to my life. I wish to know you more and I wish to have you in all aspects of my life. 

Nov 25, 2008

Getting back from christian doldrums

It is very easy for the enemy to sow seeds of negativity in our christian minds. Especially when you are away from all the emotional support that you may get from your fellow christians. One of the reasons why I value fellowship so much (since it is a God-given channel for the promptings of the Holy spirit). 

A couple of verses that I got today as I was feeling a bit blue myself. 
Psa 77:9-11 :  Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah. And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High. I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old
Let not a doubt pass through our minds as to the love and care that our father has for us. 
Jer 31:3  The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
It is not a love based on our merit, but a love in his compassion for us. 
Job 7:17  What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him? 
It is a love since we are adopted as His children - It is a fatherly love towards His believers. 
1Jn 3:1  Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 
If there's a believer out there who is feeling not his best today, let us look to the past to all the instances where God has been with us and bestowed His love on us. That should pep us up. Realize the tricks of the enemy to take our eyes away from the lord and onto the negative thoughts placed in our mind by the enemy. 

God loves you. 

In His love,

PS: After I continued reading, I got the following more verses.

Ecclesiastes 7:14 : When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. 

Devotional - Divine victory

A beautiful devotional : yet another reason to praise the Lord! 

"And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven."Luk_10:18

 It deserves our utmost attention and prayerful consideration to see, by the eye of faith, the display of wisdom and power shining forth in the way in which the all-wise God sent his dear Son"to destroy"or, as the word is in the original, to unloose"the works of the devil"(1Jo_3:8). Satan had, so to speak, spun a raveled knot when he cast the cords of sin round man's heart. This tangled and tight-drawn knot could not be cut through as by a sword of omnipotent power; but had by infinite wisdom and patience to be unraveled through its whole length. The work which Satan had done was to be undone. Disobedience had to be repaired by obedience -- the voluntary obedience of the Son of God, and therefore of infinite value. Sin had to be atoned for by sacrifice -- the sacrifice of the nature which had sinned, in union with the Person of the Son of God, and therefore deriving from it unspeakable efficacy. Death had to be destroyed by the ever- living Son of God submitting to die. The law must be magnified by being obeyed by him who by his divine Person is above law. The Law-giver must be the Law-fulfiller. He who is the ever-blessed One must be made a curse; and the holy One of Israel, who knew no sin, must be"made sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."

"Who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle?"asked the Lord"I would go through them,"is his answer (Isa_27:4). So our blessed Lord went through these thorns and briers set against him in battle. He thoroughly went through all that he undertook; and by going through unraveled the work of Satan.

Nov 23, 2008

Devotional - Divine Chastening (Correction)

"Blessed is the man whom you chasten, O Lord; the man you teach out of your law."Psa_94:12

 We may observe in the words before us, that the Lord puts chastening before teaching. Is there not something remarkable in this? Why should chastening precede teaching? For this reason. We have no ear to hear except so far as we are chastened. It was so with the prodigal. Until he was brought to his right mind by strokes of hunger, he did not think of his father's house; he had no heart to return; but a mighty famine sent him home. So it is with God's children; as long as they are allowed to wander in their backslidings, they have no heart to return. But let the rod come; let them be driven home by stripes; then they have an ear to listen, while God teaches them to profit, instructs them by his blessed Spirit, and speaks into their heart those lessons which are for their eternal good.

"And teach him out of your law.""The law"in the Scriptures has a very wide signification; it means, in the original, instruction. The word is Torah, which signifies"teaching,"or"direction."Thus the word"law"is not confined to the law of Moses given in thunder and lightning upon Mount Sinai; but it includes also the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ --"the perfect law of liberty;""the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus;"that law which was in the heart of the Redeemer, when he said,"I come to do your will, O God; yes, your law is within my heart."

 Now, as the Lord teaches his children"out of the law,"strictly so called, so he teaches them"out of the gospel"; and to my mind, there is something exceedingly sweet and expressive in the words"out of the law."It seems to convey, not only that the law is a treasure-house of wrath, but that the gospel also is a treasure-house of mercy. And as those who know most of the law are only taught"out of the law,"and not the whole of the law, only a few drops, as it were, out of the inexhaustible wrath of God; so out of the heavenly treasure-house of the gospel,"the perfect law of liberty,"it is but a little of grace and mercy that in this life can be known.

 As Christ said to his disciples in promising the Spirit --"He shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you."He cannot take"all,"and show it unto them; for none could live under the sight. The Spirit, therefore, takes of the things of Christ, and shows here a little, and there a little; some little blessedness here, and some little blessedness there; a suitable promise, a gracious testimony, a comforting text, an encouraging word, a sight of atoning blood, a smile of his countenance, a view of his Person, a discovery of his righteousness, or a glimpse of his love. This is taking of the things of Christ, and revealing them to the soul. And thus, the man whom the Lord takes in hand, he teaches"out of"the gospel by making Christ experimentally known, and revealing his dying love. And thus he teaches each and all"out of his law"-- both the law from Sinai, and the law from Zion.

Nov 21, 2008

Devotional - Abide in His love

“ Even as the Father Hath Loved Me, I Also Have Loved you ” 
- Joh_15:9
Abide in My love—We speak of a man’s home as his abode. Our abode, the home of our soul, is to be the love of Christ. We are to live our life there, to be at home there all the day: this is what Christ means our life to be, and really can make it. Our continuous abiding in the Vine is to be an abiding in His love. 

You have probably heard or read of what is called the higher, or the deeper life, of the richer or the fuller life, of the life abundant. And you possibly know that some have told of a wonderful change, by which their life of continual failure and stumbling had been changed into a very blessed experience of being kept and strengthened and made exceeding glad. If you asked them how it was this great blessing came to them, many would tell you it was simply this, that they were led to believe that this abiding in Christ’s love was meant to be a reality, and that they were made willing to give up everything for it, and then enabled to trust Christ to make it true to them. 

The love of the Father to the Son is not a sentiment—it is a divine life, an infinite energy, an irresistible power. It carried Christ through life and death and the grave. The Father loved Him and dwelt in Him, and did all for Him. So the love of Christ to us too is an infinite living power that will work in us all He delights to give us. The feebleness of our Christian life is that we do not take time to believe that this divine love does really delight in us, and will possess and work all in us. We do not take time to look at the Vine bearing the branch so entirely, working all in it so completely. We strive to do for ourselves what Christ alone can, what Christ, oh, so lovingly, longs to do for us. 

And this now is the secret of the change we spoke of, and the beginning of a new life, when the soul sees this infinite love willing to do all, and gives itself up to it. “Abide ye in my love.” To believe that, it is possible so to live moment by moment; to believe that everything that makes it difficult or impossible will be overcome by Christ Himself; to believe that Love really means an infinite longing to give itself wholly to us and never leave us; and in this faith to cast ourselves on Christ to work it in us; this is the secret of the true Christian life. 

And how to come to this faith? Turn away from the visible if you would see and possess the invisible. Take more time with Jesus, gazing on Him as the heavenly Vine, living in the love of the Father, wanting you to live in His love. Turn away from yourself and your efforts and your faith, if you would have the heart filled with Him and the certainty of His love. Abiding means going out from everything else, to occupy one place and stay there. Come away from all else, and set your heart on Jesus, and His love, that love will waken your faith and strengthen it. Occupy yourself with that love, worship it, wait for it. You may be sure it will reach out to you, and by its power take you up into itself as your abode and your home. 

Abide in My love. Lord Jesus, I see it, it was Thy abiding in Thy Father’s love that made Thee the true Vine, with Thy divine fullness of love and blessing for us. Oh, that I may even so, as a branch, abide in Thy love, for its fullness to fill me and overflow on all around. 

Nov 20, 2008

Devotional - God Our refuge & strength

These are times that are not the most comfortable for us - whether it be for the christian or for the others. Times when the world around us is almost constantly in a turmoil of sorts; Times when there is no stability and predictability to any entity on earth; Times when news of failures, sadness and neglect hit you from all over; And frankly, times when we as christians need to feel closer to God than ever before. 

These signs are biblical. And the way the recent crises have affected us may have been severe. Many of us have lost our jobs, many have been inconvenienced, many are in a state of churn, and almost all of us are hoping for more peace in our lives. 

A beautiful set of thoughts from Psalm 46 - A soothing balm for a sore heart

Psa 46:1> God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 
Psa 46:2 > Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 
Psa 46:6  The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. 
Psa 46:7  The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge
Psa 46:10  Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. 

A very present help in trouble - Oh, I love the emphasis that this phrase brings to my mind. When His children are in trouble, this phrase makes the presence of the Lord a very tangible one. Irrespective of the upheavels happening around us, the Lord exhorts us to keep the faith. He reminds us that He is with us (on our side, benevolent towards us). 

The statement that tests the faith - Be still. In the mist of strife and turmoil, only a Christian can be still - To be in a calm, trusting, relaxed mind (and know that I am God)since we know that our Lord defends us in impending danger. 

Keep the cheer and faith my friends. While we wait for the celebration of another reminder of our savior's birth, let us remind ourselves of the ways in which He has taken care of us; Let us remind each other of the various gifts in our life; And let us spend time in prayer, in the joy that He cares for us!

We're near Thanksgiving. I would like to dedicate the next few thoughts (posts) to the theme of thanksgiving. A thought of gratitude amongst the various celebrations. 

God bless you!

Nov 16, 2008

Devotional - Prayer with thanksgiving

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Php_4:6

What a word this is! "Everything!" You are privileged, saint of God, to go to the throne of God with everything. What, with every little occurrence? Yes. What, with things that people call trifles? Yes. With your daily concerns? Yes. If you feel that there is a God who can hear you, it is your privilege to go to him in everything. All things are comprehended; nothing is excluded. In everything, and that by prayer and supplication. Sometimes we pray, sometimes we supplication. 

Prayer is something more gentle than supplication, less earnest, less fervent, less powerful; yet not less effectual. I have sometimes compared prayer and supplication to two things in nature. The one to a river--a stream, such as we see in our low country that flows with gentle course to the sea; the other to the torrents found in mountainous countries, that leap from precipice to precipice. The one is the calm prayer of the soul, the other the fervent cry, the earnest supplication, the breathed agony of the spirit rushing along into the bosom of God with many a broken sigh and many an earnest groan. 

Here the two seem contrasted. There is prayer, calm and gentle, the simple pouring out of the soul into the bosom of God; and then there is supplication, which is earnest, and calls upon the Lord as though the soul must be heard. We see it in the blessed Jesus himself. We read on one occasion that he went into a mountain the whole night to pray. Now we have no reason to believe he prayed on that occasion in the same way that he prayed in the garden and upon the cross. In the one case he had sweet union and communion with his Father; in the other he cried with groans and tears and was heard. The one was prayer; the other supplication. 

When your soul is calmed by the presence of God, and you feel the breath of prayer to enter your bosom, then you can pray to the Lord with sweetness and with spirit. But there are times and seasons when the soul, under the attacks of Satan and a terrible sense of guilt and shame, is obliged to cry as one that must be heard, and that is supplication. But there is another thing which is to be mingled with it, and a thing much omitted, and that is thanksgiving. These are the three constituents of a spiritual service--prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving. 

Nov 14, 2008

In the name of Jesus - Devotional

A long post - but an important one (Courtesy - George H. Morrison)
On the name above all names - on doing everything in the name of Jesus Christ

And whatever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him— Col_3:17

Men of Old Put Great Faith in Names
To the original readers of this letter this text would have a deep significance, and it would have that because to them there was so much that was mysterious in a name. With us there is little meaning in a name. It is a handy badge of recognition. What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But with the eastern it was very different. It was no chance that called a rose a rose. There was a deep, a mystical connection between the name and the thing signified. That applied to every name, but was particularly true of names of persons. It was no accident that of two disciples, the one should be called John, the other Peter. Men felt that the hand of God was in the matter moving those concerned to make the choice and in that choice embodying or foreshadowing the glory or the weakness of the character. No name was arbitrary to an oriental. No name was ever given haphazardly. As the years passed and character was formed, it was discovered that the name was prophecy. Something happened which confirmed the choice and showed the infinite wisdom which had guided it and deepened within the hearts of men the reverence for the mystery of names.

The Authority and Life behind the Name
Now it is in the light of that that we must read and understand our text. Whatsoever ye do, says Paul, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. That does not mean that ere we begin to work, we should invoke the name of the Lord Jesus. Many of us, I trust, do that, but that is not what Paul is teaching here. True is it, true beyond all words, that everything is sanctified by prayer, yet that is not the doctrine of our text. When an ambassador at some foreign court utters his message in the name of Britain, that means that behind his message is the authority and power of Britain. He is not speaking as a private person. He is not himself the source of what he says. He is the channel for the will of Britain, and all the power of the empire is behind him. That is the apostle's meaning when he bids us labor in the name of Jesus. He wants us to realize that behind us is the power of the Lord Jesus Christ. He wants us to feel in everything we do, however great it be or however small, that we are but channels for the will of heaven. It is one character of the God of love that He is ever striving to express Himself. In Him is life, and life is never satisfied saving in outflow and in utterance. And so I take it that in every sunset and in every bird that sings upon the tree, you have a partial utterance of God. They cannot tell that they are voicing Him. They do not know the life that is behind them. But you and I, fashioned in His image, have been endowed with faculty to know it. And I would to God I could impress upon you what an enormous difference it makes just to realize that it is so. To feel that I am a channel, not a fountain, to feel that God needs me to express Himself, to feel that through my toil, however lowly, the will of heaven is working to its goal, it is that which ennobles life, sheds a sanctity on all its drudgery, helps it even in its dreariest, to be in heavenly places with Christ Jesus.

A Source or a Channel?
And that I take it is the most important question with which we are ever faced about our work. I feel it more deeply every year I live. Many are busy working with the brain, and many are busy working with the hand. And some are teachers, others doctors or lawyers, and some spend their days in the market. And some are occupied in lowly work and others in the control of vast concerns. Here is a woman whose appointed sphere is in the home among her growing children. There is a man whose business interests extend through half the countries of the world. Well now, the question I want to ask is this—in what light do you regard your work? Under what aspect do you think of it? On the answer to that question far more depends than you might ever dream of and there are only two answers which are possible. The one is that you yourself are the source and origin of all you do. It is your brain that has achieved success. It is your hand that has procured your welfare. The other is that you are not a source, but only the channel of a greater power which from an infinite fountain in the heavens is flowing out through you upon the world. Give the one answer, and you stand alone. You are fighting for your own hand in loneliness. But give the other and believe the other, and behind that toil of yours is God. It is He who is working through that brain of yours. It is He who is toiling through that hand of yours. It is He who is moving out into that expression through every honest task you ever tried. That is the spirit of our text. Do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus. Just stop a moment and try to realize that you are the instrument of God in Christ. There is not a thing you do then whether in shop or home or office, but will begin to flash with a new meaning and seem as if it were worthier to be done.

Being a Channel Does Not Lead to Inactivity
Now there is one objection to this view of service which may be and often has been urged. It is that if we are but channels, then our activity is likely to suffer. If it is Jesus who is working through us, would it not be best to be still and let Him work? If through us the will of God is moving, is it not our duty to be passive? So men have speculated upon this and thought that human activities would slacken if once it were brought home to men and women that they were but channels of the will of Christ.

Well now, there is a passage in the Acts that may help to throw some light on that. It is the memorable passage of the healing of the lame man at the gate Beautiful. Peter and John were going up to pray, and doubtless they were thinking about Christ. And then the cripple cried to them for money, and somehow it brought Jesus very near them. For they remembered how He used to look and how a great compassion would possess Him when such a cry came ringing in His ear. It was then that Peter felt through his own soul the moving of the power of Jesus Christ. And he cried out with a loud voice, "In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise and walk." And the point to note is that just then when Peter was most a channel for his Lord, so far from being listless or inactive, he was intensely and tremendously alive. It was not his power. It was that of Jesus. It was not he who was working, it was Christ. Yet look at his eyes burning upon the cripple. Look at his hands outstretched to lift him up. The whole impression is of a man alive, quick to the finest fiber of his being, and quick simply because he knew that he was working in the name of Jesus.

As it was with Peter, so is it with everyone who makes this great discovery. When once we feel that God is using us, then every activity is quickened. Is the branch less active in the vine because it is abiding in the vine? Does it begin to say, I need not toil because my life is flowing from the stock? Why, brethren, it is that very fact, that inflow from a source beyond itself, that stirs it into life abundant. Let it be separated from the parent stern and every leaf upon the branch will wither and every tendril will lose its power to twine and every grape will dry and die. But let it live in union with that stock, drawing upon a power beyond itself, and every part of it is energized. Every leaf of the branch is busy now, a little kingdom of organized activities. Every grape, like the old temple, is being built without the sound of tools. And all this, mark you, this unwearied toil as if a thousand unseen hands were occupied, begins and has its being in the fact that the branch is not a fountain but a channel. So is it, I say, with every man when he first thrills to think that God is using him. It does not weaken him. It strengthens him. It makes him not less industrious, but more. Everything that we do is better done, more purely, more intensely, and more patiently, when it is done in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Working in Christ's Name Results in Calmness of Heart
Now, when we grasp that thought and apply it to our duties, two results are almost always found. Of these two the first is this, a certain calmness and peace of the heart.

Readers of the Gospel story have often noted the perfect peace of Christ. It breathes upon us as a breath from heaven in every page of the evangelists. Never was a life so full as Christ's. Never was one so busy or so broken. Well He knew what overpressure meant and all the vexatiousness of interruption. And yet the calmest sea of summer evening when not a ripple is playing on its surface does not convey to us such peace unutterable as does the life of the Lord Jesus. Now, if you want the secret of that peace, I think you have to turn to John to find it. It is in that Gospel that you see most clearly how Jesus looked upon His work. And the great fact that shines upon these pages is just the fact that Jesus was a channel, a channel deep beyond all human fathoming, for the conveyance of the Father's will. No words of mine could exaggerate that thought. It is written large throughout the whole Gospel. Moment by moment, Jesus Christ is doing that which His Father has given Him to do. And the great peace that clothed Him like a garment and kept Him tranquil under intense pressure was just His certainty that this was so. A11 might forsake Him, but He was not alone. All might gainsay Him, but it mattered not. Christ was no fatalist who buoyed Himself with the dark sophism of the inevitable. He walked abroad in perfect filial freedom, grasping constantly His Father's hand, and He was always tranquil in His work because 

His work was given Him by God.
Now, brethren, as it was with Christ, so in a measure is it with us all. To feel that God in Christ is working through us is one of the surest secrets of tranquility. Men have often noted the great calm that is one of the most common virtues of the fatalist. He will face death after the manner of heroes; he will suffer in quietness where we would cry aloud; he will display the magnificence of patience just because his heaven is dark with fate. Now no man who believes in Christ can ever seek the refuge of the fatalist. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. He is the Son, and He hath made us free. But what I say is that that quiet heart, touched with a happiness he never knew, is yours and mine more than the fatalist's when once we grasp the doctrine of our text. Think of yourself as the one worker, and ah, how soon the burden overwhelms you. How quickly do things get in disarray, how often are you on the margin of despondency. But think of yourself as God would have you think, as but the channel for the will divine, and into every day there will come peace. You cannot be spoiled by your successes now, for it is not you who are triumphing but God. You cannot be shattered by your failures now, for God has His own purposes in failure. Through you the will of heaven is being done. Through you the infinite is finding utterance. Once let a man or woman wake to that and peace shall flow upon him like a river.

Working in Christ's Name Kills the Bitterness of Competition
It is thus, too, let me say in passing, that the bitterness of competition dies away. I have more faith in this text for that than in all the propaganda of the socialist. Here for example are two ministers whose churches are not far from one another. Or here again there are two Sunday school classes whose teachers' are from the same church. Well now, if these ministers or teachers think of all they are doing as their own, I say there is almost certain to be bitterness. All success that may attend the one will stir a pang of envy in the other. There may be all the semblances of brotherhood, but never the true brotherhood of hearts. There is but one way to make sure of that—to make us comrades while we are still competitors—and that is to feel that at the back of all both bear the name of Jesus Christ. Then shall we strive our hardest for our own, but never shall we begrudge another's striving. The very power that is using him is flowing to its accomplishment in us. So are we summoned from our isolation and called in service to the truest unity, a unity that is a living thing because of the diversity it holds. I have spoken of ministers and Sunday school teachers, but remember these are only examples. Lawyers and doctors, artists, men of trade, remember that the same applies to you. I want you to feel today about your rival of whom so often you have had bitter thoughts that God is moving to express Himself through him as surely as through you. That will not make him any less your rival. God has no purpose to abolish rivalry. When He does that, the rose will cease to charm and the iris to change upon the burnished dove. But now from the breast of rivalry has vanished that gnawing bitterness which made it hell. We are the thousand channels of the one, and of every channel He has need.

Working in Christ's Name Gives Dignity to Human Labor
There are times, I take it, in all callings, when men feel bitterly the sense of pettiness. To some it becomes almost intolerable that they should be living such a petty existence. They know the stirring of a larger life; they hear the whispering of undeveloped powers; they feel that they were meant for greater things and could achieve them if the way were open. Yet every morning they must return to duty, to undistinguished and often sordid duty, and it is very far from easy in that duty to keep alive the nobility of work. We, the ministers of Jesus Christ, through your liberality are set apart. You have said to us, You go apart, my brother, and traffic with heaven while we are in the market. Then come to us upon the Lord's day and give us some of the riches of your argosy, for we are soiled in battling with the world. Would you not think, sir, that a toil like that would be illumined with a constant dignity? Alas, how far is that from being the truth. How much have we to do that seems unworthy. And what I say is that if even on us there steals too often the sense of degradation, how much more constantly must it intrude on you. You feel that you were meant for better things. Sometimes that buying and selling grows contemptible. You feel as Grotius felt, who on his deathbed said, "I have spent my life laboriously doing nothing." What is the use of it all—this daily routine, this buying and selling for a little money, this drudgery that we lay down tonight only to resume tomorrow morning?

The Gospel understands that as it understands our complex nature. And the relief it offers against that is found in the thought of our great text. True to the heavenly wisdom which inspires it, it never loses its feeling of proportion. It does not mock you by assuring you that every service is of equal glory. But it relieves you from the sense of pettiness, inevitably, perfectly, immediately, the moment you deeply feel that what you do is done in the name of the Lord Jesus. The smallest token is a lovely thing when there is a heart that loves behind it. A single word may be a cheering thing when behind it is a heart of trust. So when behind our labor there is Christ, when we are the instruments of Christ, then the sorriest drudgery of earth begins to wear a crown upon its head. Once you feel that everything you do is God seeking to express Himself, once realize that you are but a conduit for the out flowing of the will divine, and as the dustiest hedge will flash and sparkle under the glistening dew of the May morning, so will the lowliest labor be ennobled. It is not you who are working now. It is Jesus who is working through you. It is His will that is being done on earth in every labor that you set your hand to. And this, remember, is as true when you are cleaning dishes or selling at a counter as when you are teaching in the Sunday school or preaching the riches of His grace.

God Fulfills Himself in Many Ways
For we must never forget, to put it in the language of the poet, that God fulfills Himself in many ways. Those of us who have sailed upon the Rhine know what a mighty stream it is as it flows proudly through the heart of Europe. It sweeps along in its channel, powerful in its silence and its swiftness. And many a vineyard ripens on it shores and many a castle looks down upon its waters. But when it comes at last into that region which is to join its waters to the sea, there the single channel becomes fifty. And some of them are great and noble streams, and some of them are tiny rivulets. And some of them wash the walls of busy cities, and some go wandering in lonely places. Yet every channel, be it great or little, be it the haunt of commerce or of dream, is carrying the one river to the sea. Say not that the tiny rivulet is different from the flood where steamers ply. Both are flowing because behind them both is the one mighty volume of the Rhine. And so behind your life and mine, however different these lives may be, is the one river of the will of God. It is His will that is finding its fulfillment wherever a mother is working in her home. It is His will that is finding its fulfillment in the honest labor of the shop and office. And the great secret that redeems our toil and robs it of its depressing pettiness is just to realize that that is so.

One of the few men of genius I have known was Professor Lord Kelvin. Well, I shall tell you one thing that always impressed me about Lord Kelvin; it was the number of people he kept busy. Some were busy working out his problems, some in superintending his experiments, many in making his innovative machines, and others I suppose in cleaning them. But what impressed me was how many men, from the apprentice to the finest engineer, were all required to carry out completely the workings of that single brain. Now, brethren, uplift your thoughts from men and fix them upon the genius of God. Think of the infinite life there is in God; think of the infinite thought which that implies. Then tell me how many thousand workers will be required upon this earth of ours if in its height and depth that will of God is to be carried out into expression. I want you to feel that there is room for you. I want you to feel that there is need of you. I want you to feel that through your lowly task, the Infinite is pressing to its utterance. And I say this, that when that breaks upon you with all the thrill of a new discovery, the sorriest drudgery a man is chained to ceases to be sorry from that hour.

Nov 13, 2008

Devotional - Nothing without the Lord

“ Apart From Me Ye Can Do Nothing ” 
- Joh_15:5
In everything the life of the branch is to be the exact counterpart of that of the Vine. Of Himself Jesus had said: “The Son can do nothing of himself.” As the outcome of that entire dependence, He could add: “All that the Father doeth, doeth the Son also likewise.” As Son He did not receive His life from the Father once for all, but moment by moment. His life was a continual waiting on the Father for all He was to do. And so Christ says of His disciples: “Ye can do nothing apart from me.” He means it literally. To everyone who wants to live the true disciple life, to bring forth fruit and glorify God, the message comes: You can do nothing. What had been said: “He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit,” is here enforced by the simplest and strongest of arguments: “Abiding in Me is indispensable, for, you know it, of yourselves you can do nothing to maintain or act out the heavenly life.” 

A deep conviction of the truth of this word lies at the very root of a strong spiritual life. As little as I created myself, as little as I could raise a man from the dead, can I give myself the divine life. As little as I can give it myself, can I maintain or increase it: every motion is the work of God through Christ and His Spirit. It is as a man believes this, that he will take up that position of entire and continual dependence which is the very essence of the life of faith. With the spiritual eye he sees Christ every moment supplying grace for every breathing and every deepening of the spiritual life. His whole heart says Amen to the word: You can do nothing. And just because he does so, he can also say: “I can do all things in Christ who strengtheneth me.” The sense of helplessness, and the abiding to which it compels, leads to true fruitfulness and diligence in good works. 

Apart from me ye can do nothing.—What a plea and what a call every moment to abide in Christ! We have only to go back to the vine to see how true it is. Look again at that little branch, utterly helpless and fruitless except as it receives sap from the vine, and learn that the full conviction of not being able to do anything apart from Christ is just what you need to teach you to abide in your heavenly Vine. It is this that is the great meaning of the pruning Christ spoke of—all that is self must be brought low, that our confidence may be in Christ alone. “Abide in me”—much fruit! “Apart from me”—nothing! Ought there to be any doubt as to what we shall choose? 

The one lesson of the parable is—as surely, as naturally as the branch abides in the vine, You can abide in Christ. For this He is the true Vine; for this God is the Husbandman; for this you are a branch. Shall we not cry to God to deliver us forever from the “apart from me,” and to make the “abide in me” an unceasing reality? Let your heart go out to what Christ is, and can do, to His divine power and His tender love to each of His branches, and you will say evermore confidently: “Lord! I am abiding; I will bear much fruit. My impotence is my strength. So be it. Apart from Thee, nothing. In Thee, much fruit.” 

Apart from Me—you nothing. Lord, I gladly accept the arrangement: I nothing—Thou all. My nothingness is my highest blessing, because Thou art the Vine, that givest and workest all. So be it, Lord! I, nothing, ever waiting on Thy fullness. Lord, reveal to me the glory of this blessed life. 

Devotional - Divine gift of the Holy Spirit

"If you then, being evil, know how to give good unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him." Luk_11:13

God has ordained that prayer should be the great channel through which His covenant blessings should flow into the soul. If it is your anxious desire to attain this sealing influence of the Spirit, I would quote for your direction a remark of that eminent servant of Christ, Dr. Goodwin, "Be sure of this," says he, "that before God ever communicates any good to a soul, He puts that soul in a state of holiness to receive it." To confirm and illustrate this thought, let me ask-what was the state of the apostles, when the Holy Spirit descended upon them in His witnessing, anointing, and sealing influences? It is described in these words-"These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brethren," Act_1:14. What is the important lesson thus taught us? That God would have His child in a waiting, seeking, supplicating posture; and in this holy state, prepared to receive the high attainment He is ready to bestow.

Do you earnestly desire the sealing of the Spirit? "Ask, and you shall receive; seek, and you shall find." As sure as you petition for it-sincerely, humbly, believingly-seeking it in the name of Jesus, through the cross of Christ, you shall have it. The Lord the Spirit is ready to impart it to you. It is the free gift of His love, without respect to any worth or worthiness on the part of the soul that receives it. It is a gift of grace-for the poor, the dependent, the unworthy-those that are little in their own eyes, and little in the eyes of others; and if this is your conscious state, then is it for you. And oh, the blessed results!-who can describe them? Sealed!

How will all your legal fears and unbelieving doubts in a moment vanish away! your soul, so long fettered and imprisoned, shall now go free; the cross you have so long looked at, not daring to bow your shoulder to it, shall now be taken up with a cheerful mind; Christ's yoke, so long resisted, will now be easy, and His burden, so long refused, will now be light; and, with a heart enlarged with the love of Jesus, you will "run the way of His commandments," esteeming His precepts better than life.

Prayer, importunate prayer, will bring the blessing we plead for into your soul. Seek it with your whole heart-seek it diligently, perseveringly. Seek it by day and by night-seek it in all the means of grace-in every way of God's appointment-especially seek it in the name of Jesus, as the purchased blessing of His atoning blood. "Ask what you will in my name," are His own encouraging words, "and it shall he granted unto you." Then ask for the sealing of the Spirit. Ask nothing less: more you do not want. Feel that you have not "attained," until you possess it-that you have not "apprehended that for which also you are apprehended of Christ Jesus," until you have "received the Holy Spirit" as a sealer.

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Prayer - a desperate heart seeking God

Heaven [detail]
Jesus, hear us, and let our cry come unto Thee.

That voiceless cry, that comes from anguished hearts, is heard above all the music of Heaven.

It is not the arguments of theologians that solve the problems of a questioning heart, but the cry of that heart to Me (The Lord), and the certainty that I have heard.

Hear the right, O Lord, attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips. Psa_17:1
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Nov 12, 2008

Devotional - Glory in the cross

Resurrection of Jesus"But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." Galatians 6:14

Conformity to the death of Christ can only be obtained by close, individual, realizing views of the cross. It is in the cross sin is seen in its exceeding sinfulness. It is in the cross the holiness of God shines with such ineffable luster. This is the sun that throws its light upon these two great objects-the holiness of God, the sinfulness of the sinner.

Veil this sun, remove the cross, blot out the Atonement, and all our knowledge of holiness and sin vanishes into distant and shadowy views. Faith, dealing much and closely with the cross of Christ, will invariable produce in the soul conformity to His death. This was the great desire of the apostle: "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death." This was the noble prayer of this holy man. He desired crucifixion with Christ; a crucifixion to sin, to indwelling sin, to sin in its every shape-to sin in principle, sin in temper, sin in worldly conformity, sin in conversation, sin in thought, yes, sin in the very glance of the eye. He desired not only a crucifixion of sin, of one particular sin, but of all sin; not only the sin that most easily beset him, the sin that he daily saw and felt, and mourned over, but the sin that no eye saw but God's-the sin of the indwelling principle; the root of all sin-the sin of his nature. This is to have fellowship with Christ in His sufferings. Jesus suffered as much for the subduing of the indwelling principle of sin, as for the pardon of the outbreakings of that sin in the daily practice. Have we fellowship with Him in these sufferings?

There must be a crucifixion of the indwelling power of sin. To illustrate the idea: if the root be allowed to strengthen and expand, and take a deeper and firmer grasp, what more can we expect than that the tree will shoot upward and branch out on either hand? To cut off the outward branches is not the proper method to stay the growth of the tree: the root must be uncovered, and the axe laid to it. Outward sins may be cut off, and even honestly confessed and mourned over, while the concealed principle, the root of the sin, is overlooked, neglected, and suffered to gather strength and expansion.

That the inherent evil of a believer will ever, in his present existence, be entirely eradicated, we do not assert. To expect this would be to expect what God's Word has not declared; but that it may be greatly subdued and conquered, its power weakened and mortified, this the Word of God leads us to hope for and aim after. How is this to be attained? Faith dealing frequently and closely with Christ-the atoning blood upon the conscience-the "fountain opened" daily resorted to-the believer sitting constantly at the foot of the cross, gazing upon it with an eye of steady, unwavering faith-"looking unto Jesus."

In this posture sin, all sin-the sin of the heart, the sin of the practice-is mourned over, wept over, confessed, mortified, crucified. Let the reader again be reminded that all true crucifixion of sin springs from the cross of Christ.

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Devotional - Everlasting arms of God

Cropped Rose“Underneath are the everlasting arms.”
- Deu_33:27

God-the eternal God-is himself our support at all times, and especially when we are sinking in deep trouble. There are seasons when the Christian sinks very low in humiliation. Under a deep sense of his great sinfulness, he is humbled before God till he scarcely knows how to pray, because he appears, in his own sight, so worthless.

Well, child of God, remember that when thou art at thy worst and lowest, yet “underneath” thee “are everlasting arms.” Sin may drag thee ever so low, but Christ’s great atonement is still under all. You may have descended into the deeps, but you cannot have fallen so low as “the uttermost”; and to the uttermost he saves. Again, the Christian sometimes sinks very deeply in sore trial from without. Every earthly prop is cut away. What then? Still underneath him are “the everlasting arms.”

He cannot fall so deep in distress and affliction but what the covenant grace of an ever-faithful God will still encircle him. The Christian may be sinking under trouble from within through fierce conflict, but even then he cannot be brought so low as to be beyond the reach of the “everlasting arms”-they are underneath him; and, while thus sustained, all Satan’s efforts to harm him avail nothing.

This assurance of support is a comfort to any weary but earnest worker in the service of God. It implies a promise of strength for each day, grace for each need, and power for each duty. And, further, when death comes, the promise shall still hold good. When we stand in the midst of Jordan, we shall be able to say with David, “I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.”

We shall descend into the grave, but we shall go no lower, for the eternal arms prevent our further fall. All through life, and at its close, we shall be upheld by the “everlasting arms”-arms that neither flag nor lose their strength, for “the everlasting God fainteth not, neither is weary.”

Prayer: Lord, I am reminded of the very many times you have saved me from death, and often from things worse than death. Lord, help me to rededicate myself to you for following you and leading a life in your service always. Even when the blackest hour comes to me, I am comforted by the knowledge that your everlasting hands are taking care of me - Always.

In Jesus name, Amen.

Nov 11, 2008

Promise - The Lord's guidance (Isaiah 42:6)

The Rainbow set as the symbol of the Covenant ...I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.
(Isa 42:6-8 KJVR)

Called thee - To declare my righteousness, or faithfulness. With - hold - Will give thee counsel and strength for the work. Give thee - To be the mediator in whom my covenant of grace is confirmed with mankind. The people - Of all people, not only of Jews but Gentiles. A light - To enlighten them with true and saving knowledge.
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Devotional - Blameless, harmless and light of the world

the parade of autumn begins todayThat ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
(Philippians 2:15 KJVR)

A beautiful verse on which I would love to meditate today. It is indeed one for careful thought! Anyone who lives in this world today would heartily agree that the generation is indeed crooked and perverse. The Lord exhorts His children to be blameless (in front of God) and harmless (to the others in the world - pure and sincere). Without rebuke > Against whom none can raise a charge of worldly sin. Christ himself lived in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. And these times are no better. We are aided by the spirit of God in our burdensome life on earth, as indeed Jesus was helped by divine nature. (and the verse tells us to be sons of God - as Christ-like!) As we walk in light, we may draw compulsively, some of the crooked and perverse nation to ourselves, as Christ did when he lived amongst the jews. Be the lights of the world - warning the people in darkness to stay away from spiritual death, leading them by the light to the light divine.

How are we to be blameless ?
1Co 1:8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Eph 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
Eph 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

We are to immerse ourselves in the holy spirit filled word that we may emerge blameless.

As our weapon to be blameless, Jesus asks us to be wise. And wisdom comes from the Word.
Mat 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

And the Lord gives us His grace to be blameless. (1Th 5:23 - The lord of peace sanctify you wholly)

Why should we ? Is this possible ?
Mat 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Luk 6:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

2Co 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.

1Jn 3:3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

1Pe 1:14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:
1Pe 1:15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;

May the sanctity of our calling be impressed in on us !!

1Pe 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:

Tit 2:10 Not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.

How do we shine ?

Isa 60:1 Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.
Mat 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Joh 5:35 He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. [john the baptist]

For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
(Ephesians 5:8-10 KJVR)

Prayer :
Dear Lord, we thank you today for taking care of us amidst all the cruelty and hardship of this world. We praise you for the gift of the Holy spirit to guide us and be in this world as you desire of us. We thank you for the wonderful example of Christ as he was in this world. Lord, help us be blameless and help us be a beacon of light attracting many of the world unto you - and may this happen for the glory of the Lord. In Jesus name, Amen

Nov 9, 2008

Devotional - Abide in HIM

The Spirit descended on Christ“ Abide in Me, and I in You ”
- Joh_15:4

When a new graft is placed in a vine and it abides there, there is a twofold process that takes place. The first is in the wood. The graft shoots its little roots and fibers down into the stem, and the stem grows up into the graft, and what has been called the structural union is effected. The graft abides and becomes one with the vine, and even though the vine were to die, would still be one wood with it. Then there is the second process, in which the sap of the vine enters the new structure, and uses it as a passage through which sap can flow up to show itself in young shoots and leaves and fruit. Here is the vital union. Into the graft which abides in the stock, the stock enters with sap to abide in it.

When our Lord says: “Abide in me, and I in you,” He points to something analogous to this. “Abide in me”: that refers more to that which we have to do. We have to trust and obey, to detach ourselves from all else, to reach out after Him and cling to Him, to sink ourselves into Him. As we do this, through the grace He gives, a character is formed, and a heart prepared for the fuller experience: “I in you,” God strengthens us with might by the Spirit in the inner man, and Christ dwells in the heart by faith.

Many believers pray and long very earnestly for the filling of the Spirit and the indwelling of Christ, and wonder that they do not make more progress. The reason is often this, the “I in you” cannot come because the “abide in me” is not maintained. “There is one body and one spirit”; before the Spirit can fill, there must be a body prepared. The graft must have grown into the stem, and be abiding in it before the sap can flow through to bring forth fruit. It is as in lowly obedience we follow Christ, even in external things, denying ourselves, forsaking the world, and even in the body seeking to be conformable to Him, as we thus seek to abide in Him, that we shall be able to receive and enjoy the “I in you.” The work enjoined on us: “Abide in me,” will prepare us for the work undertaken by Him: “I in you.”

In—The two parts of the injunction have their unity in that central deep-meaning word “in.” There is no deeper word in Scripture. God is in all. God dwells in Christ. Christ lives in God. We are in Christ. Christ is in us: our life taken up into His; His life received into ours; in a divine reality that words cannot express, we are in Him and He in us. And the words, “Abide in me and I in you,” just tell us to believe it, this divine mystery, and to count upon our God the Husbandman, and Christ the Vine, to make it divinely true. No thinking or teaching or praying can grasp it; it is a divine mystery of love. As little as we can effect the union can we understand it. Let us just look upon this infinite, divine, omnipotent Vine loving us, holding us, working in us. Let us in the faith of His working abide and rest in Him, ever turning heart and hope to Him alone. And let us count upon Him to fulfill in us the mystery: “Ye in me, and I in you.”

Blessed Lord, Thou dost bid me abide in Thee. How can I, Lord, except Thou show Thyself to me, waiting to receive and welcome and keep me? I pray Thee show me how Thou as Vine undertaketh to do all. To be occupied with Thee is to abide in Thee. Here I am, Lord, a branch, cleansed and abiding—resting in Thee, and awaiting the inflow of Thy life and grace.

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Devotional - Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah — by Faith

Journey to the Heart, a poem (89800031)
And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah. (Heb_11:32)

So much has been noted in these chronicles of faith concerning the extensive consequences that appear as faith accesses grace. As our present verse implies, days and pages seem too short to also relate the testimonies of Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah — who many might view as "unlikely examples" of living by faith.
In Gideon, God was calling an unlikely leader as His instrument for delivering His people. His humble reply was, "O my Lord, how can I save Israel? . . . I am the least in my father's house" (Jdg_6:15). The Lord's promise was, "Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites (Jdg_6:16). When 32,000 Israelites rallied for battle (see Jdg_7:3), God diminished Gideon's army to an unimpressive, outnumbered 300. "Then the LORD said to Gideon, 'By the three hundred men who lapped I will save you" (Jdg_7:7). Gideon went forth by faith, and the Lord was faithful to His word. "When the three hundred blew the trumpets, the LORD set every man's sword against his companion . . . and the army fled" (Jdg_7:22).
Again, in Barak, another unlikely leader was selected by the Lord. First, he would not go forth to battle unless the prophetess Deborah accompanied him "And Barak said to her, If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go' " (Jdg_4:8). Also, his godless opponent was actually defeated by another woman. "Sisera had fled away on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber . . . Then Jael . . . took a tent peg and took a hammer in her hand . . . and drove the peg into his temple . . . for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died" (Jdg_4:17, Jdg_4:21).

In Samson, we have another unexpected example of faith. Although he did many mighty exploits, he often proved to be a vain and foolish man (especially, concerning women). Yet, in his death, he won his greatest victory of all. "O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God . . . So the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life" (Jdg_16:28, Jdg_16:30).

In Jephthah, we have one more unlikely example of faith. He was the "son of a harlot" (Jdg_11:1). He made what appeared to be an unwise vow (Jdg_11:1). Still, on occasion, his trust in the Lord was evident. "Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah . . . and the LORD delivered them into his hands" (Jdg_11:29, Jdg_11:32).

Lord God of the "unlikely servant," I thank You for these testimonies of those "likely to be overlooked by many." Yet, at various times and in many situations, their faith in You was demonstrated. Lord, I am encouraged that you are not looking for the spectacular performer or the capable achiever. You are looking for people who will trust in You, as You deal with their shortcomings. I praise You, Lord, for such lovingkindness!

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Nov 8, 2008

Devotional - Throne of Glory (inheritance)

Jesus"He raises up the poor out of the dust, and lifts up the beggar from the ash-heap, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory."2Sa_2:8

A man can never reach heaven unless he travels heavenwards, Zionwards, in the way that God has marked out for his people to walk in. It is a delusion to think that we are going to heaven unless we know something of divine teaching in the soul. But if we know anything of divine teaching, we know what it is to be poor and needy, we know what it is, more or less, to have our mouth in the dust. But many people do so mistake the way to heaven. The ordinary way is to set up a ladder to reach from earth to heaven, and progressively clambering up the different rungs, at last to climb up into the abode of God. But that is not the way of God's people. They have to go down, down, down, that they may be raised up. It is not with them first"up, up, up,"to scale the battlements of heaven. Every such step upwards in SELF is in reality only a step downwards; but, on the other hand, every step downwards in self, downwards into the depths of poverty, downwards into felt misery, downwards into soul-trouble and the real groanings of a broken heart -- every such step downwards in self is, in fact, a step upwards in Christ.

Until we get to the very bottom there is no promise."He raises up the poor out of the dust."But how? He does it in a moment. The Lord does not raise up his people rung by rung, enabling them to clamber and crawl with their hands and feet to him. But, when he lifts up the poor out of the dust, he gives them a smile which reaches, so to speak, to the very bottom of their hearts; and that smile has such a miraculous power, such a drawing efficacy, that it lifts them in a moment out of the dust into the very bosom of God. When, therefore, the Lord raises up the poor out of the dust, he does not lift them up by a gradual process, step by step as they went down. They were, perhaps, many years going down; but they are raised up in a moment. The God of all grace, by one word, or by one smile, lifts them up in a moment out of the lowest depths of felt degradation,"sets them among princes, and makes them inherit the throne of glory."

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Devotional - Moses Keeping the Passover, by Faith

A 6th century mosaic of :en:Jesus at Church Sa...Image via Wikipedia
By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them. (Heb_11:28)

When Moses boldly led Israel out of Egypt, his fearlessness was based upon his faith in the true and living God. "By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible" (Heb_11:28). His confidence in the invisible Lord God had been confirmed by what he saw regarding the Lord's faithfulness when he kept the Passover, by faith.
The crushing blow of God's judgment upon Egypt was the death of the firstborn in every household. "The LORD struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt . . . So Pharaoh rose in the night . . . Then he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, 'Go, serve the LORD as you have said' " (Exo_12:29-31). Israel was delivered from this judgment by trusting in the Lord's protection, which was provided through the shed blood of the Passover lamb. "Now the LORD spoke to Moses . . . every man shall take for himself a lamb . . . a lamb for a household . . . Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it . . . For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt . . . I am the LORD. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt" (Exo_12:1, Exo_12:3, Exo_12:6-7, Exo_12:12-13). Responding in faith, Moses and the Israelites were delivered. "By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them."

We, too, are delivered from judgment by faith in the blood of the ultimate Passover lamb. "Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us" (1Co_5:7). We who trust in the shed blood of Christ are forgiven, delivered from the eternal wages of sin by God's abounding grace. "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace . . . For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Eph_1:7 and Rom_6:23). This eternal life (of endless duration and abundant dimensions) is ours through the New Covenant of grace. "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you" (Luk_22:20).

Lord Jesus, my Passover Lamb, I thank You for Your shed blood that rescued me from the eternal judgment that I deserved. I praise You for the abundance of life that Your New Covenant of grace brings to me, by faith!

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Devotional - Rahab, the Harlot, Rescued, by Faith

Rahab of JerichoBy faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace. (Heb_11:31)

God delivered the fortress of Jericho into the hands of His people, as the walls fell down, by faith. "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days" (Heb_11:30). This evil city of abominations was then destroyed, as the holy Lord God had justly required. "You shall utterly destroy them . . . lest they teach you to do according to all their abominations which they have done for their gods" (Deu_20:17-18). Yet, the family of Rahab, the harlot, was rescued, by faith. "By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe."

In preparation for entering the land, Joshua had sent out two spies, who were eventually received by Rahab. "Now Joshua. . . sent out two men . . . to spy secretly, saying, 'Go, view the land, especially Jericho.' So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there" (Jos_2:1). The king of Jericho searched for the men and could not find them, for Rahab had concealed them. "She had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax" (Jos_2:6). Why would this woman have risked her life to protect these two strangers? She and her family had heard of the reality of the God of Israel. "We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites . . . whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted . . . for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath" (Jos_2:10-11). This heathen family now wanted to turn from their idolatrous ways and identify by faith with the true and living Lord God and with His people. "Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall" (Jos_2:15).

By her confession of faith, confirmed by her actions of faith, Rahab and her family were rescued from the judgment that her unbelieving city experienced. "And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father's household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day" (Jos_6:25). She became a part of the nation Israel, even appearing in the line of Jesus, the Messiah! "The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ . . . Abraham begot Isaac . . . Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab" (Mat_1:1-2, 5). What astounding blessings come to those who believe. By faith, Rahab went from judgment to deliverance, from idols to God, from shame to honor!

Lord God of all who believe, I am humbled and encouraged by Rahab's testimony. It is humbling to see how much more revelation I have — yet, at times, I wrestle with fears and doubts. However, it is encouraging to see the radical changes that You bring whenever we trust in You!

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Devotional - Cleansed by the Word

The Descent of the Holy Spirit in a 15th centu...“ Already Ye Are Clean Because of the Word I Have Spoken Unto You ”
- Joh_15:3

What is the pruning knife of this heavenly Husbandman? It is often said to be affliction. By no means in the first place. How would it then fare with many who have long seasons free from adversity; or with some on whom God appears to shower down kindness all their life long? No; it is the Word of God that is the knife, shaper than any two-edged sword, that pierces even to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit, and is quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. It is only when affliction leads to this discipline of the Word that it becomes a blessing; the lack of this heart-cleansing through the Word is the reason why affliction is so often unsanctified. Not even Paul’s thorn in the flesh could become a blessing until Christ’s Word—“My strength is made perfect in weakness”—had made him see the danger of self-exaltation, and made him willing to rejoice in infirmities.

The Word of God’s pruning knife. Jesus says: “Ye are already clean, because of the word I have spoken unto you.” How searchingly that word had been spoken by Him, out of whose mouth there went a sharp two-edged sword, as he had taught them! “Except a man deny himself, lose his life, forsake all, hate father and mother, he cannot be My disciple, he is not worthy of Me”; or as He humbled their pride, or reproved their lack of love, or foretold their all forsaking Him. From the opening of His ministry in the Sermon on the Mount to His words of warning in the last night, His Word had tried and cleansed them. He had discovered and condemned all there was of self; they were now emptied and cleansed, ready for the incoming of the Holy Spirit.

It is as the soul gives up its own thoughts, and men’s thoughts of what is religion, and yields itself heartily, humbly, patiently, to the teaching of the Word by the Spirit, that the Father will do His blessed work of pruning and cleansing away all of nature and self that mixes with our work and hinders His Spirit. Let those who would know all the Husbandman can do for them, all the Vine can bring forth through them, seek earnestly to yield themselves heartily to the blessed cleansing through the Word. Let them, in their study of the Word, receive it as a hammer that breaks and opens up, as a fire that melts and refines, as a sword that lays bare and slays all that is of the flesh. The word of conviction will prepare for the word of comfort and of hope, and the Father will cleanse them through the Word.

All ye who are branches of the true Vine, each time you read or hear the Word, wait first of all on Him to use it for His cleansing of the branch. Set your heart upon His desire for more fruit. Trust Him as Husbandman to work it. Yield yourselves in simple childlike surrender to the cleansing work of His Word and Spirit, and you may count upon it that His purpose will be fulfilled in you.

Father, I pray Thee, cleanse me through Thy Word. Let it search out and bring to light all that is of self and the flesh in my religion. Let it cut away every root of self-confidence, that the Vine may find me wholly free to receive His life and Spirit. O my holy Husbandman, I trust Thee to care for the branch as much as for the Vine. Thou only art my hope.

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Devotional - Graven upon His palms

The Psalms in Hebrew and Latin. Manuscript on ...“Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.”
- Isa_49:16

No doubt a part of the wonder which is concentrated in the word “Behold,” is excited by the unbelieving lamentation of the preceding sentence. Zion said, “The Lord hath forsaken me, and my God hath forgotten me.” How amazed the divine mind seems to be at this wicked unbelief! What can be more astounding than the unfounded doubts and fears of God’s favoured people? The Lord’s loving word of rebuke should make us blush; he cries, “How can I have forgotten thee, when I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands? How darest thou doubt my constant remembrance, when the memorial is set upon my very flesh?” O unbelief, how strange a marvel thou art! We know not which most to wonder at, the faithfulness of God or the unbelief of his people. He keeps his promise a thousand times, and yet the next trial makes us doubt him. He never faileth; he is never a dry well; he is never as a setting sun, a passing meteor, or a melting vapour; and yet we are as continually vexed with anxieties, molested with suspicions, and disturbed with fears, as if our God were the mirage of the desert. “Behold,” is a word intended to excite admiration. Here, indeed, we have a theme for marvelling. Heaven and earth may well be astonished that rebels should obtain so great a nearness to the heart of infinite love as to be written upon the palms of his hands. “I have graven thee.”It does not say, “Thy name.” The name is there, but that is not all: “I have graven thee.” See the fulness of this! I have graven thy person, thine image, thy case, thy circumstances, thy sins, thy temptations, thy weaknesses, thy wants, thy works; I have graven thee, everything about thee, all that concerns thee; I have put thee altogether there. Wilt thou ever say again that thy God hath forsaken thee when he has graven thee upon his own palms?

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