Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

December 9

Day by Day Dec 99 DEC – The Secret of His Triumphant Life

When Israel was separated from Egypt, and brought out into the wilderness, God gave them the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night. That cloud is a type of the Holy Spirit. The forty years in the wilderness typify that Israel’s life became entirely governed by the Holy Spirit. When we come to the Lord Jesus we see the reality of this, and how true it was in His case. When He stepped out into public life, God separated Him for His special ministry. He came under the anointing of the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:22). From that moment His whole life was governed by the Holy Spirit (Heb. 9:14).

If we want to live a heavenly life in the wilderness, the Holy Spirit is essential. He is given for that very purpose. Through the Holy Spirit the same resources are at our disposal upon which Christ, in the days of His flesh, had been living. It is very important to recognize the fact that our Lord Jesus Christ voluntarily accepted our position, and was fashioned like a man, taking the place of one who is dependent on God for everything. If we do that, we shall rejoice to live a life which is governed by the Holy Spirit, a life through which our Lord Jesus Christ shall be glorified, even as He, living in the Father, glorified the Father. This then is our relationship with Christ. The basis of a heavenly life is the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus lived His life in the Holy Spirit. By that Spirit He was doing His work. He moved continually, in all His ways, as governed by the Holy Spirit. He refused to move or act under the influence of man, or be pressed by circumstances. He only did that which the Holy Spirit witnessed in Him. The secret of His triumphant life was the government of the Holy Spirit.

Now what is true of the Lord Jesus has to be true for us. It is the same Spirit which is anointing us. We have come to see that this world is a wilderness. We are called to let go our natural resources, and to live a life entirely out from God, in direct communication with Him. In the things of God we cannot use natural resources. Neither the world nor we in ourselves can produce anything for God. But let us place the emphasis upon the positive side: the Spirit of Anointing makes everything possible. The Holy Spirit, the Anointing which we have received, brings us into oneness with Christ. Just as Christ was one with the Father by the Spirit, so we are made one with Christ by the same Spirit. This is a wonderful union! It means that the Lord Himself is doing the work in us in order to work it out through us.

Book Ministry Website

Standard
Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

December 8

Day by Day Dec 88 DEC – The Basis of Spiritual Life

The most important thing in the believer’s life is to learn Christ. “In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” That fullness is for us, for: “In Him we are made full.” And because Christ, as our fullness, is in the glory, therefore Paul writes to the Ephesians: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” That means we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in our Lord Jesus Christ in the heavenlies. That implies that our relationship with the Lord Jesus must be a heavenly relationship. Only as we come into a heavenly union with Christ can we partake of these heavenly blessings.

There has to be a wilderness first in our lives before we can experimentally know the all-sufficiency of Christ for us. Israel’s life in the wilderness meant a complete separation from the old nature, and an utter dependence upon resources outside of this earth. The wilderness in itself provided nothing for them, and all their natural capacities were of no use in such a place. But these conditions were just given to make the wilderness a place of revelation where they had to learn Christ, in a special way, as their sufficiency. Christ is the living Bread which came down from heaven. He is the Water of Life. The “spiritual rock that followed them” was Christ.

Let us therefore emphasize again that in order to know Jesus Christ in fullness we have to come to the place where the world and all its natural resources cannot help us, and have to be completely ruled out.

Jesus Christ Himself accepted that position, that He voluntarily chose to live on a faith-basis. He chose to depend entirely on His Father. He could do absolutely nothing without Him; He had nothing Himself but was drawing everything from the Father. That is the more negative side of our meditation. Now let us turn to the positive side.

What is the basis of a life lived in a heavenly union with Christ, where all the resources have to be of a heavenly nature? The answer is: That basis is the Holy Spirit.

Book Ministry Website

Standard
Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

December 7

Day by Day Dec 77 DEC – Learning Christ

It may startle you if I say that we can only know the sufficiency of our Lord Jesus Christ if we are willing to go into the wilderness.

Now, the wilderness has always been the best place for spiritual education. You may think that there is not much to be learnt in a wilderness. Nevertheless it is so; it is the best place to learn heavenly things. It was so with Abraham; it was so in the case of Moses; it was true with Israel. The wilderness had also a definite place in the life of Paul. Whether we take it in a literal or a spiritual way, the fact is that God’s people were, again and again, sent into the wilderness. Many of us know what such a ‘wilderness’ means.

When God puts His hand upon a people, He always cuts them off from everything which is not of Himself; that is, He cuts them off from the whole realm of their natural life, and puts them, so to speak, outside of the world of nature. We see this in the case of the people of Israel. Pharaoh was allowing them to go into the desert; he wanted them to serve God in a half-hearted way: partly in Egypt and partly in the land. But that could never serve God. God’s irreducible minimum was: not a hoof was to be left behind. God’s people should be absolutely separated from Egypt. Therefore the Red Sea came between His people and the Egyptians. God saw to it that they remained in the wilderness until they had learnt their lesson. God had some great lessons to teach them there. Israel’s sojourn in the wilderness had to serve coming generations as an example. The dispensation of the church — yet far away in the future — was to derive its instruction from them. In the wilderness God laid down eternal principles. The things which happened to Israel “were our examples”.

God cuts His people off from the whole realm of nature. You know how little the natural man prevails in the wilderness. It doesn’t matter how intellectual, how mighty the natural resources are. It is not of much use in a wilderness. You may be an excellent student, a splendid businessman or organizer, yet all this is not much good in a wilderness. For a man who is planted down alone in the middle of a wilderness, his own cleverness is not of much avail, his natural capacities will not bring him very far.

So you see what matters. When God gets us into His hand, He takes us right out of the realm of what we are by nature. That is the meaning of the wilderness. God’s object is to make Christ everything. So long as we can do things, so long as we have resources in ourselves, we cannot know Jesus Christ. Christ will remain an unexplored realm for us.

Book Ministry Website

Standard
Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

December 6

Day by Day Dec 66 DEC – Christ, Our Sufficiency

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…” Eph. 1:3-4

“…They drank of a spiritual rock that followed them: and the rock was Christ”. 1 Cor. 10:1-4

“This is he that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel… who received living oracles to give unto us.” Acts 7:38

“…Our sufficiency is from God…” 2 Cor. 3:5

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves.” 2 Cor. 4:7

All these passages have to do, in one way or another, with sufficiency. That sufficiency is bound up with our Lord Jesus Christ. Now what occupies us here is touching a question about which every Christian should be quite sure and clear as to its answer: What is the supreme purpose which governs the life of a child of God? It is very important that we should be able to answer that question. I believe the right answer is: the supreme purpose of the life of the child of God is — to learn Christ.

God has filled Christ with all His fullness. In Him dwell all the riches of knowledge and wisdom. And that fullness is for us. The apostle Paul makes this statement, saying, that we are “blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ”. Thus our business as believers is to learn Christ — to come, in a living way, into the fullness of Jesus Christ. That governs everything. Every dealing of God with His child is to bring that one into a fuller knowledge of Christ. All the rest in our life will be but the outcome and the result of that knowledge.

I have heard many people say that the purpose of God, in having saved us, is that we should save others. But this is only a part of God’s purpose. There can be no real service for the Lord apart from a personal knowledge of the Lord. We can never lead anyone into a knowledge which is not ours; neither can we lead anyone further than we know Christ in a living way. So everything depends on the measure of our knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Book Ministry Website

Standard
Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

December 5

Day by Day Dec 55 DEC – The Antichrist in Us

The hallmark of the natural man is self-sufficiency. He always finds the springs of his resources in himself. We see that in Adam. At the beginning up to a certain point his resources were in God. He drew his instruction and wisdom from God. Everything was from God. By the way of obedience to God he was in fellowship with Him. But then came the moment when he began to act out from himself. By a subtle insinuation of the devil he began to reason out things for himself, until he became deceived by his own will, and mistrust against God crept into his mind. He took things out of God’s hands into his own hands. He ceased to draw his resources from God and thought he could have them in himself. That is the attitude of the natural man in Adam up to this day. The natural man acts according to his own natural wisdom. He seeks to reason out a situation, weighing up things for and against it, and proceeding according to what he thinks to be ‘common sense’.

But notice, as the natural man develops in history, the end of this dispensation will produce a natural man (humanity in its fallen state) developed to the utmost. There will be dictators, supermen, acting from themselves. They will be a law to themselves, without consulting others. What they feel, desire and reason out must be done. That state of things will lead up to Antichrist. He will be a self-contained man and represent the sum total of all that is natural — reason, desire, will. He will not hold God in reverence, but will be bigger than God. In him the human race will be represented in its fully developed fallen nature, turning that whole race against God.

What is true of Antichrist is true, in part, of every member of the human race. The natural man moves out from himself, but the result is always death. If we project our own will, our own desires, our own reason into things, however alive they may appear, the result will be death. Only that which comes out from God is Life. In connection with this the meaning of the word of the Lord Jesus is of primary importance: “The Son can do nothing of Himself.” If others believe they can, the Son cannot. Here is the tremendous difference between the Lord Jesus and ourselves. He can only move as from the Father. He can only go if the Father leads Him.

Book Ministry Website

Standard
Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

December 4

Day by Day Dec 44 DEC – God Is the Source of All that is New

If ever we see the necessity of a new creation, the need of an absolute new creation, we see it here. Everything must become new. The Word of God says: “Behold, I make all things new!” God has raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Again we come to the book of Genesis. “The earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” And God said, “…raised from the dead through the glory of the Father!” God raised His Son from the dead. He brought Him forth as “the firstborn from the dead”. It is a new creation which is rising. In Christ we too are a new creation. It is true, without a doubt: “All things are new”.

Our wisdom is a new wisdom. Our strength is a new strength. Our heart is a new heart. Our capacities are new capacities. All things are become new. It is Christ in us!

I realize in a new way that we have to be very diligent to see to it that we do nothing out of our own strength, that God is doing all. Looking into the work of my own mind there are my own thoughts, there is the strength of my own desires, strong passions of heart and will. But I ask the Lord to keep me in dread of myself, for this whole creation, all of what I am in Adam, is cursed. It lies where God has abandoned it. He cannot use it. Everything now must be of God.

I do want to urge upon you to have more heart-searching in this matter. Oh, there is a wonderful new creation with divine resources! There are marvelous possibilities, because they are God’s possibilities for us. All things are possible from God’s side. Shall we not take the place where all things are possible? We can be there where all things are of God. HE is initiating things, HE is doing all. Let us reach out to come into our God-appointed place in Christ — the fullness of God in Him. Therefore we have to come to the Cross, and accept its implications from both sides. We must see that awful side of the Cross of Jesus Christ — the curse of the cross — that He was crucified for us, and we in Him. We dare not bring anything of that old creation into the new life, for it would continually come under God’s judgment. The day might come when all our work would have to be burnt. There is a big difference between that which is done for the Lord, and that which is of the Lord in us. “He that is hanged is accursed of God.” With Christ we have hung upon the tree, and God has forsaken us in His Cross. But that is not the end of all, but the beginning of a far bigger thing, something altogether new. Let me say it again: we cannot come into the new thing unless the old things are passed away. “Behold, I make all things new”!

Book Ministry Website

Standard
Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

December 3

Day by Day Dec 33 DEC – Behold, I Make All Things New

In Hebrews 13 we read of the blood of “an eternal covenant”. That does not refer to a ‘future’ eternity. That word points to the past, a past as seen from our standpoint; because for God the past and the future are alike: an eternal present time. But the Word, being written for our sakes, and taking account of our limited realm, wants to show us that in the foreknowledge of God the blood of an eternal covenant was already set apart. Then this creation came into being. It appeared out of the chaotic state of a judged world, and “it was very good.” After that came the fall. Through sin the evil one got the upper hand and saw to it that the history of the world became one of darkness and human misery. Now the creation is waiting for the redemption — “the unveiling of the sons of God”.

This leads us to the second phase of God’s purpose, the Cross of the Son of Man. In Him appears, at the same time, the new creation. On the one hand the old creation was judged, and came definitely to an end in Him as our Representative. In the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, all have died. On the other hand He is the resurrection and the life, “the firstborn from among the dead”. But this new creation is not like the old one. The new heaven and the new earth are of a different order. We now live “by faith and not by sight”. It is a spiritual world, entirely new; new in an all-inclusive sense.

The third phase is presented to us in the book of the Revelation, chapter 21: “Behold, I make all things new.” That is the new creation in its consummation. It is a spiritual creation as the ultimate outcome of the Cross of Christ. This spiritual creation will take a form which is adequate to its nature: a new heaven and a new earth.

Book Ministry Website

Standard
Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

December 2

Day by Day Dec 22 DEC – The Marks of His Ownership

We all know the test of loyalty to the Lord in this world. The world is reaching out a hand, as it were, to come and interfere with our loyalty to the Lord Jesus; just not to let it be known that we belong to Him. Such are the standards today, the mental standards of life, that it is so widely thought to be an unmanly, unwomanly thing to be a Christian. It is not robust, it is not strong, you must be of an inferior kind if you are a Christian. That is how it is, we know it quite well. This world despises Christians, and the temptation to all Christians is in some way to be Christians without “giving it away”, without letting it be too obvious, and so we hide behind quite a lot of things. “We do not want to make a show of religion”; “we do not want to thrust religion down people’s throats”; “we do not want to offend people and upset our chances of influencing them by giving it away too soon”. All sorts of things like that, hiding round corners, thinking we are going to get a better advantage; we are really going to serve the Lord’s interests much better by going carefully, going slowly, and all the time taking cover and camouflaging.

We belong to the Lord; we are glad that we belong to the Lord; we are very glad to call Him “Master”; we have no compromise over that. We belong to the Lord and we tell Him that, and we will tell every other Christian that, but is it only in the realm where we are accepted, where we know we are accepted, where we know it is quite safe and quite comfortable to let it be known? What about this world? The marks of His ownership. Remember Paul and that shipwreck. How outstanding he was! He warned them, and then the time came when they were at their wit’s end, and he came up to the Master of the ship and he said, “Be of good cheer. The Lord, Whose I am, and Whom I serve…” There is no covering there. He let it be known. I do not think I need try to drive that home. That lies here, right at the beginning, the marks of faithfulness and loyalty in our allegiance to Him, Whom we are glad to call Master and Lord; to Whom we really do owe everything. Is it not just a little unfair, to say the least of it, when we are prepared in secret with Him to acknowledge that we owe Him everything, to be ashamed to let it be known out in the world Whose we are?

Book Ministry Website

Standard
Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

December 1

Day by Day Dec 11 DEC – The Marks of Christlikeness

The marks of Christlikeness come about by the measure in which we have communion with Him, so that the marks of Christlikeness are the result of faithfulness in communion.

How shall I be like Christ? How will you be like Christ? How will others see the marks of Jesus in us? Just in so far as we are faithful in our communion. You know that in everyday life. Start the day without your quiet time, without your prayer, and it will not be long before there are other marks in your life than the marks of Jesus. Neglect prayer, neglect communion with your Lord, and the traces of the Lord will soon disappear from view. On the other hand, look after the matter of communion, preserve that quiet time, those quiet times; look after your times of prayer, see to it that He has a place in your heart, a large place in your heart every day and you need not worry about being like the Lord Jesus. All the worry to be like the Lord Jesus will not make any difference. People who walk closely with Him, keep in touch with Him, look after the prayer life, do carry those marks of His restfulness, His peacefulness, His patience, His gentleness, His kindness, His love; the marks of Jesus. That is how it comes about.

I do not tell you to strive and I do not tell you to strive and struggle to be like Jesus. I say, keep in touch with Jesus. Do believe me, for I have gone this way. I know, oh! I know, on the one hand the blessedness, and on the other hand the bitterness of suffering bound up with this very thing. The blessedness of looking after the quiet times, the prayer times, the communion life with the Lord! Oh yes! May I urge upon you to see to faithfulness in communion with your Lord, and, perhaps without knowing it (and it will be better so), you will be bearing the marks of the Lord Jesus, His likeness. I do not want you to be able to go about showing people how like Christ you are. We want it to be there and yet not to know it. It will be there if you look after the life of communion. So be faithful in this. And then? Well, what matters? Paul said, “Henceforth let no man trouble me”. It would all be in vain. They will come and try to draw away, to entice; the world will seek to allure. They will try to upset and annoy, but I belong to Jesus. I am satisfied with Jesus. I have all that I want in Him. “Let no man trouble me; I bear branded on my body the marks of Jesus”. May it be like that with all of us!

Book Ministry Website

Standard
Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

November 30

Day by Day Nov 3030 NOV – Greater Is He That Is In You

Stephen –- all that were in the council, looking upon him, saw his face as it were the face of an angel. What is the secret? I believe the second passage is the secret. “And lifting up his eyes he said, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” Stephen was a man full of the Holy Ghost and faith, and the Holy Spirit had drawn Stephen’s attention to the Lord Jesus in glory. Read Acts 7. It is almost matchless in New Testament literature, and see the place that he gives to the Lord Jesus. He heads it right up to the Lord Jesus in glory and, while he is under the test, that is the thing that sustains him, and when he comes to the last moment he sees literally with his eyes what he had been seeing with his heart all the way through. And that just means this ­­– when we see the Lord Jesus in glory, we have seen this, that God having got Him there, the Son of Man, having got one all-inclusive Man there, it is all right for us. He can get us there.

That One has simply fathomed all judgment, all death, all the power of Satan and the grave. He has exhausted all and God has got Him there. He had all the sin of all the creation from Adam onward heaped upon Him, and then that One came to glory. He had all the power and fury of the devil heaped upon Him, and God got that One to glory; the power of Death and Hades being liberated upon Him, and God brought that One to glory. We will never have to go through all that He went through. Stephen saw that one Man in the glory, being such a One as He was, as the guarantee that God could get him there, let all hell rush upon him. It is the secret of the shining face.

Sometimes we may, by reason of many things, wonder if we shall get to glory, if we shall hold out to the end, but, blessed be God, he is capable of getting us there. It is not our doing, it is the Lord’s doing. Why? Because He has already got our forerunner in His presence. That bears you up in the time of opposition. And men filled with the Holy Spirit are especially the object of stones.

It is a blessed thing to realize that the One Who has gone up there in His great triumph is within us. It does not depend on what is outside of us. But the Lord is inside us, Who has already overcome. We are familiar with the terms but it is a great day when suddenly we wake up to know that Christ is in us. Has it ever come to you by a sudden flash of light? Christ in you! Read 2 Cor. 13:5, Eph. 3:17. All that which is around you is no match for Him. “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4).

Book Ministry Website

Standard