The richest quality of love is sacrifice, and the noblest credential of any work is the spirit, on the part of its members, which has laid every selfish interest down at Jesus' feet, and counts all things loss but Christ. It is the spirit which holds its money, its friendships, its life, all subservient to the Master's claim, and living a dying life, at last gives life itself as a willing offering to Him who gave His life for us. In this selfish and luxurious age, it is the rarest quality found, but it is the most needed.
As the end approaches and the last tribulation draws near, the age of martyrdom will reach the climax, and the tears of sorrow and the blood of sacrifice will be transformed into the jewels of the coronation day. It demands a greater sacrifice sometimes to live than to die; and the men who will be found someday ready to die for Christ are those whose lives are now laid down in ten thousand little tests that come to us from day to day. — A. B. Simpson
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"...but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." I Corinthians 10:13
"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation, for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him." James 1:12
Temptation vanishes before the sight of the dying Redeemer. Then inbred lust roars against us, and we overcome it through the blood of the Lamb; for "the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin." Sometimes a raging corruption or a strong habit wars upon us, and then we conquer by the sanctifying Spirit of God, who is with us and shall be in us evermore. Or else it is the world which tempts, and our feet have almost gone; but we overcome the world through the victory of faith. If Satan raises against us the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life all at once, we are still delivered, for the Lord is a wall of fire round about us.
The inward life bravely resists all sin, and God's help is given to believers to preserve them from all evil in the moment of urgent need; even as HE helped His martyrs and confessors to speak the right word when called, unprepared, to confront their adversaries. Care not, therefore, O thou truster in the Lord Jesus, how fierce thine enemy may be on this day! As young David slew the lion and the bear and smote the Philistine, even so shalt thou go from victory to victory. — Charles H. Spurgeon
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Freedom from Idols
"...Thus saith the Lord God; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols..." Ezekiel 14:6
"Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen." I John 5:21
Even the very best things become a curse to us so long as we hold them with our natural hands and hearts and self-centered spirits. That sweet and innocent child whom God has taught you to love can be only an idol until he ceases to be your child and becomes God's child; that is, until the death stroke passes upon your love. Then you learn, in the resurrection life, to hold him for God, and to love him not as a selfish pleasure but as a sacred trust.
Even the husband, into whose strong hand God may have put your trusting little hand, may become but a substitute for your God. He can become a separating influence from Him until you die to your own selfish affection, and learn to love Him, not for your own gratification, or his, but in God and unto God, and for his highest good.
Money cannot hurt you if you do not love it for its own sake. It is not your fortune that hurts you, but your clinging fondness for it. So long as that fondness is alive, your little world of a few hundred dollars a year is as much a hindrance to you as would be a millionaire's palace and vast investments. It is not the size of the world that God sees, but the extent to which it fills your heart.
Even your Christian influence, your reputation as a worker for God, and your standing among your brethren may be to you an idol that must die before you can be free to live for Him alone. — A. B. Simpson
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"For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure." Philippians 2:13
Why did I desire the fullness of the Spirit? Was it for success in service and that I should be considered a "much-used worker?" Would I desire the fullness of the Spirit if it meant apparent failure, and becoming "the offscouring of all things" in the eyes of others? ...Again came the question, "Would I be willing to have no great experience, but agree to live and walk entirely by faith on the Word of God?" ...Then came the climax when I awoke one morning and, lo, I beheld before me a hand holding up in terrible light a handful of filthy rags whilst a gentle voice said, "This is the outcome of all your past service to God." "But Lord, I have been surrendered and consecrated to Thee all these years. It was consecrated work!" "Yes, my child, but all your service has been consecrated to Self; ...All for me, I grant, but of yourself all the same." Then came the still small voice once more, and this time it was with one word, "Crucified."
Crucified! What did it mean? I had not asked to be crucified, but to be filled. But since the Spirit of God kept ringing the word "Crucified" in my heart, He must know best. As a little child I rested on the Word thus given; and then, "it pleased God to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him." I knew the risen Lord.
From the hour the Spirit of God whispered "Crucified" to me, I also saw clearly the principle of death with Christ as the basis for the full working of God through the believer. It was as great a revelation to me as at the first when I saw my "iniquity laid upon Him" on the tree. In one instant I understood that if my sins were there, they were not on me. In like manner, when I was seeking with all the intensity of my being, the fullness of the Holy Ghost after the word "Crucified" came, I understood very quickly the key to the full possession and outworking of the blessed Spirit in cooperation with our surrender, trust, and obedience.
"Crucified with Christ" there is room for Him to fill us; and we have to consent to be out of His way on the cross, and yield implicit obedience to His workings. How simple the plan, yet how deep; for it gives no place to the creature to glory before God! — Jesse Penn-Lewis
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Charity (love) "...seeketh not her own,..." I Corinthians 13:5
Observe: seeketh not even that which is her own. In Britain the Englishman is devoted, and rightly so, to his rights. But there are times when a man may exercise even the higher right of giving up his rights. Yet Paul does not summon us to give up our rights.
Love strikes much deeper. It would have us not seek them at all, to ignore them, to eliminate the personal element altogether from our calculations. It is not hard to give up our rights. They are often external. The difficult thing is to give up ourselves. The more difficult thing still is not to seek things for ourselves at all. After we have sought them, won them, deserved them, we have already taken the cream off of them for ourselves.
Little cross, then, to give them up. But not to seek them, to look every man not in his own things, but on the things of others. "Seekest thou great things for thyself?" said the prophet."Seek them not." Why? Because there is no greatness in things. Things cannot be great. The only greatness is unselfish love. Even self-denial in itself is nothing, is almost a mistake. Only a great purpose or a mightier love can justify the waste. It is more difficult, as I have said, not to seek our own at all than, having sought it, to give it up. I must take that back. It is only true of a partly selfish heart. Nothing is a hardship to love, and nothing is hard.
I believe that Christ's "yoke" is easy. Christ's "yoke" is just His way of taking life, and I believe it is easier than any other is. I believe it is a happier way than any other is. The most obvious lesson in Christ's teaching is that there is no happiness in having and getting, but only in giving; and half of the world is on the wrong scent in the pursuit of happiness. They think it consists in having and getting, and in being served by others. It consists in giving and in serving others. — Henry Drummond
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Recompence No Man Evil
"Recompence to no man evil for evil..." Romans 12:17
"Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head." Romans 12:20
Elisha's patriotism was minus the element of hate. He didn't run a propaganda machine to stir up hatred of Syria. Even when the king of Syria became personal, sending an army to take the prophet himself, Elisha would take no revenge when God delivered them into his hand. These were heathen men who had never been taught "a more excellent way." The best teaching is by example. Elisha grasped the opportunity to give them an object lesson on kindness. We don't all prophesy or do the miracles that Elisha did, but we can all have his generous heart, his forgiving spirit.
A Union soldier, who was in the Battle of Gettysburg, cherished bitter feelings toward the Confederates. He was lying, badly wounded, not far from Cemetery Ridge when General Lee, in his retreat, rode by. The soldier recognized him and shouted, "Hurrah for the Union!" General Lee dismounted and approached. "I thought," said the soldier in telling the story, "that he was going to kill me; but he looked at me with such a sad expression and, extending his hand, grasped mine and said, 'My son, I hope you will soon be well.' There he was, defeated, retiring from a field that had cost him and his cause almost their last hope, and yet he stopped to say words like those to a Union soldier who taunted him as he passed by. As soon as he left me, I cried myself to sleep there on the bloody ground." — E.B.K.
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The Way of the Cross
"For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ." II Corinthians 1:5
"...In the world ye shall have tribulation:..." John 16:33
Walk where thou wilt, seek whatsoever thou wilt, thou shalt not find a higher way above, nor a safer way below than the way of the holy cross... For God will have thee learn to suffer tribulation without comfort; and that thou subject thyself wholly to Him, so that by tribulation, ye may become more humble. No man so feeleth from his heart the passion of Christ as he to whom it hath befallen to suffer the like... The cross therefore is always ready, and everywhere waiteth for thee. Thou canst not escape it whithersoever thou runnest; for wheresoever thou goest, thou carriest thyself with thee, and ever shalt find thyself.
Turn thee above, turn thee below, turn thee without, turn thee within, and in all these places, thou shalt find the cross; and everywhere, of necessity, thou must hold fast patience, if thou wilt have inward peace and win an everlasting crown. If thou bear the cross cheerfully, it will bear thee, and lead thee to the desired end; to wit, where there shall be an end of suffering, though here this shall not be. If you bear it unwillingly, thou makest for thyself a load, and burdenest thyself the more; and yet, notwithstanding, thou must bear it. If thou cast away one cross, without doubt, thou shalt find another, and perhaps a heavier one. — Thomas À Kempis
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My Sheep Hear and Follow
"For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:" I Peter 2:21
"He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked." I John 2:6
Christ's sheep are marked in the ear and the foot; "they hear my voice, and follow Me." (John 10:27) The footsteps of Jesus lead to a path of perfect obedience and complete submission to the Father's will. To the obedience of Christ we owe everything... It is evident that the one work of Christ needed was to remove this disobedience (Adam's), its curse, its dominion, its evil nature and working. Disobedience was the root of all sin and misery. The first object of His salvation was to cut away the evil root, and restore man to his original destiny, a life of obedience to his God. — Andrew Murray
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Suffer Now a Little
"If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small." Proverbs 24:10
"...and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together." Romans 8:17
In all things look to the end, and how thou wilt stand before that strict Judge to whom nothing is hid, who is not appeased with gifts, nor admitteth excuses, but will judge according to right.
Be now anxious and sorrowful because of thy sins, that at the day of judgment thou mayest be secure with the blessed... Then shall the poor and humble have great confidence, but the proud man shall be compassed with fear on every side. Then will it be seen that he was wise in this world who had learned, for Christ, to be a fool and despised. Then wilt thou be more glad thou hast prayed devoutly than that thou hast fared daintily. Then will thou be more comforted thou hast kept silence than that thou hast talked much.
Accustom thyself now to suffer a little that thou mayest then be delivered from more grievous pains. Prove first here what thou canst endure hereafter.If now thou canst bear so little, how wilt thou then be able to endure eternal torments? If now a little suffering make thee so impatient, what will hellfire do hereafter? Behold, surely thou canst not have two paradises; one to enjoy delights in this world, and after that, to reign with Christ. Suppose thou hast to this day lived always in honours and delights. What would all this avail thee if it befell thee to die at this instant? — Thomas À Kempis
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Luxury is Killing the Church
"But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you." I Peter 5:10
"...the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide in me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself,..." Acts 20:23,24
No work can ever be glorious without the martyr spirit. Luxury is killing the churches today, and the only remedy for it is the red blood of sacrifice. Great faith and great sacrifice will always be found together. This must be the spirit of the work if it is to cover the world.
We must be willing to endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. We must be indifferent to popularity, and human praise or blame. We must be willing to live with great simplicity and rigid economy. We must be willing to be misunderstood and persecuted. We must be glad to be companions of the lowly and despised. We must gladly face toil, hardship, and even death; and count all things but loss for Christ and His Kingdom. — A. B. Simpson
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"...I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." Genesis 15:1
"And ye are complete in him..." Colossians 2:10
I wish to speak to you about Jesus and Jesus only. It is the person of Jesus Christ we want. Plenty of people get the idea and do not get anything out of it. They get IT into their heads, and IT into their wills; but, somehow, they do not get HIM into their lives and spirit, because they have only that which is the outward expression and symbol of the spiritual reality.
You have no faith in you, any more than you have life or anything else in you. You have to take Him to do all. You have to take His faith, as well as His life and healing, and have simply to say, "I live by the faith of the Son of God." "The Son of Man" means that Jesus Christ is the one typical, comprehensive, universal, all-inclusive man. Jesus is the one man who contains in Himself all that man ought to be, all that man needs to have. It is all in Christ.
All the fullness of the Godhead and the fullness of a perfect manhood have been embodied in Christ; and He stands, now, as the summing-up of all that man needs. His spirit is all that your spirit needs, and He just gives us Himself. The Apostle Paul tells us there is a secret, a great secret, which was hidden from ages, which the world was seeking after in vain, which sages died vainly seeking for themselves, and God says, "It is now made manifest to His saints." Paul went through the world just to tell it to those who were able to receive it; and that simple secret is just this: "Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Colossians 1:27). — A. B. Simpson
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Where is the Lord God of Elijah?
"And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee..." II Kings 2:1,2
"Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" We stand before Jordan today and wave our wands, but the waters do not divide. The reason is not hard to find. Few there be of Elisha's sort who will not be stopped at Gilgal or Jericho, but who press on for the double portion. The men whom God has blessed with His Spirit in unusual power through the ages have been men in such dead earnest that they would not let the good keep them from the best. They craved a deeper fellowship with God, and found it through prevailing prayer, while the rest, like the sons of the prophets at Bethel and Jericho, stood by the roadside and watched them go by.
Call it what you will, there is a waiting before God that we hurried, modern mortals do not know; that sends a man back to his task with the hand of God upon him in such a fashion that the waters of Jordan part before him. It is not that God puts a premium on fasting and night-long prayers and tears, and austerities of the flesh; but He does reward burning desire for His very best that leaves no stone unturned, and follows Elijah across Jordan while others merely watch him go by.
Our Lord himself lived perfectly in the will of God; yet He found it necessary to spend nights in prayer. Shall we poor failing mortals casually snatch from heaven the power that others gained only by fervent and importunate intercession? It is true that our Father in heaven giveth and upbraideth not; but He keeps His choicest blessings for those who really press through, and who will not stop at the Gilgal of a mild, average experience? — Vance Havner
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They That Walk In Pride
"...and those that walk in pride he is able to abase." Daniel 4:37
"A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit." Proverbs 29:23
The life and death of our Lord Jesus Christ is a standing rebuke to every form of pride to which men are liable:
Pride of birth and rank, "Is not this the carpenter's son?"
Pride of wealth, "The Son of man hath not where to lay His head."
Pride of respectability, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?"
Pride of reputation, "A friend of publicans and sinners."
Pride of learning, "How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?"
Pride of success, "He was despised and rejected of men."
Pride of superiority, "I am among you as he that serveth."
Pride of ability, "I can of mine own self do nothing."
Pride of self-will, "I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me."
Pride of intellect, "As my Father hath taught me, I speak these things."
Pride in death, "He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." — Author Unknown
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Faith's Utter Despair
Ah yes, God will have to bring us very low down; there will have to come upon us a sense of emptiness and despair and nothingness. It is when we sink down in utter helplessness that the everlasting God will reveal Himself in His power, and that our hearts will learn to trust God alone... But how am I to get that trust? By the death of self. The great hindrance to trust is self-effort. So long as you have your own wisdom and thoughts and strength, you cannot fully trust God. But when God breaks you down, when everything begins to grow dim before your eyes, and you see that you understand nothing, then God is coming nigh; and if you will bow down in nothingness and wait upon God, He will become all.
As long as we are something, God cannnot be all, and His omnipotence cannot do its full work. This is the beginning of faith's utter despair of self, a ceasing from man and everything on earth, and finding our hope in God alone. And then, next, we must understand that faith is rest... When faith in its struggling gets to the end of itself, and just throws itself upon God and rests on Him, then comes joy and victory. Let these be the two dispositions of our souls every day: deep helplessness, and simple childlike rest. — Andrew Murray
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"...that ye may be able to comprehend what is the breadth and length and depth and height and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge..." (Ephesians 3:18,19) The words are too great for us. What do we comprehend; what do we know? Confounded and abased, we enter into the Rock and hide us in the dust before the glory of the Majesty of love; the love whose symbol is the cross. A question pierces then: What do I know of Calvary love?
If I have not compassion on others, even as my Lord had pity on me, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I can discuss the shortcomings and the sins of any; if I can speak in a casual way even of a child's misdoings, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I can write an unkind letter, speak an unkind word, think an unkind thought without grief and shame, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I am soft, and slide comfortably into the vice of self-pity and self-sympathy, and if I do not, by the grace of God, practice fortitude, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If monotony tries me, and I cannot stand drudgery; if stupid people fret me, and little ruffles set me on edge; if I make much of the trifles of life, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I ask to be delivered from trial rather than deliverance out of it, which is to the praise of His glory; if I forget that the way of the Cross leads to the Cross, and not to a bank of flowers; if I regulate my life on these lines, or even unconsciously, my thinking, so that I am surprised when the way is rough, and think it strange (though the word says "think it not strange" and "count it all joy"), then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If I covet any place on earth but the dust at the foot of the Cross, then I know nothing of Calvary love.
That which I know not teach Thou me, O Lord, my God. — Amy Carmichael
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