Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

June 30

30 JUN – Concentration of Purpose

“…… that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed unto his death;

“…..but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye are otherwise minded, this also shall God reveal unto you.” Phil 3

“This one thing I do”. In all the ways, in all the aspects, in all the phases, in all the many-sided occupations “that I may know him”; that I may know Him along this line, down this way, through this avenue, through all the avenues and ways of life, I am set to make one thing govern everything: to know Him; “for the excellency (that does not mean only the splendor, but the transcendence) of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord”. Concentration of purpose – “this one thing”, an undistracted life, an undivided interest, everything gathered and focused on one thing; whatever comes must in some way be made to serve this end: my fuller knowledge of the Lord. It is the only way to economize in life; otherwise you have a lot of wasted things that count for nothing. Paul would look at everything and ask, ‘What has this in it of potentiality to bring me into some further and fuller knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord?’ Through sufferings, “the fellowship of his sufferings”; through conformity to His death, but always the cry, “that I may know him”. This is concentration of purpose.

Oh, there is the fullness. It is there, it is ours, but we need a spirit to lay hold, to persist; this spirit “Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect.” That spirit alone will bring us into the experience of what is ours. It is a terrible thing to have been heir to a very great deal and yet never to have known what was ours. The Spirit of God would make us know.

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

June 29

29 JUN – An Inheritance to be Possessed

“Howbeit what things were gain to me, these have I counted loss for Christ. Yea verily, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not having a righteousness of mine own, even that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.” Phil. 3:8-9

So we begin at this time by reminding ourselves that in our coming into the Lord Jesus and receiving Him, we have been introduced into an inheritance far, far beyond our present knowledge and experience; and it is not only to be entered into hereafter. Do not immediately mentally relate it to the hereafter. If our Christian lives are not characterized by a continuous apprehension of greater fullnesses in Christ, there is something very seriously wrong with us. The inheritance is to be known now. Its fullness will extend beyond all time – it must, for life is far too short and limited for the apprehension of the ‘all things’ of God’s fullness, in Christ. Nevertheless it is all ours now for our discovering, for our knowing, for our experiencing progressively and continuously now.

Firstly, it is the spirit of renunciation. “What things were gain to me, these have I counted loss for Christ”. Yes, those which were gain – not bad things, not evil things to be put away, not wrong things to be given up, not things upon which the Divine veto rests to be let go, but good things to be renounced for the best. That spirit has to characterize us that we will never be satisfied with good that is less than the best, a measure that is less than the fullness. Renunciation yes, of good things and things which in their measure and in their way may have been gain to us; renunciation of these for the best. Devotion of heart is breathed here. Oh, how this man’s heart is set upon all that has come to him in Christ! What a heart Paul had – to exploit all the profound and unsearchable riches of Christ and to turn them to account! Devotion of heart.

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

June 28

28 JUN – The Hill of the Lord

Here, then, is “the hill of the Lord”. We have to identify that hill, first literally and then spiritually. It does not take very long to do that because the Psalms almost opens with the identity of the hill of the Lord. “Yet I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion” (Ps. 2:6). “My holy hill of Zion” is, historically and literally, the hill of the Lord.

What, then, is Zion spiritually? Do you remember that that second Psalm was quoted right at the beginning of the church’s history? When the earthly forces set themselves in array against the Lord and against His anointed ones, the latter met in prayer and quoted that Psalm, and the place where they were assembled was shaken (Acts 4). The very shaking of heaven came into that place. What did it say? You have touched the holy hill of Zion! Where is that? The Lord Jesus is ascended to the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens. It is the place of absolute ascendency, victory, power. Who is Lord now? “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed… Yet I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion”.

Zion, then, is not a place on the earth: Zion has now resolved itself into the absolute lordship of Jesus Christ at God’s right hand. Thus the apostle writes, “Ye are come unto mount Zion… the heavenly Jerusalem… the… church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven” (Heb. 12:22-23). It is no longer a place, it is a spiritual position. That is Zion, and we have identified the holy hill.

Who shall ascend? Who shall stand? You see, this is a present question. While the consummation of this lies at the end of the way, it is something which has a present bearing upon the life of the Lord’s people. Let me say in fuller definition that Zion, or the holy hill of the Lord, spiritually embodies all that divine thought which the people of God will express when He has them, as He will have them, wholly according to His will. In other words — when God gets a people where He has ever determined to have them, He will have them in what is the spiritual counterpart of Zion — absolute ascendancy over all other powers.

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

June 27

27 JUN – The Gravitation of the Spirit

And what does the Holy Spirit do with a life in which He has a free, full way? Well, He never allows that life to drop down on to low levels without the one concerned knowing it. You know quite well, in the very simplicity of your relationship with the Lord Jesus from the beginning, that if you make a blunder, say or do something, look or feel something that is on the lower level of the old life, you are made aware of it, and you are not happy until you put that right. As you go on further with the Lord, you become not less, but infinitely more sensitive. You suffer very much more over lapses the further on you go. You know with increasing intelligence what it means to grieve the Holy Spirit. Why? Because the Spirit is gravitating back to the place from where He has come, gravitating back in us, and the whole gravitation of a Spirit-governed life is upward. It is a test as well as a statement of fact. Are you gravitating thus? Is there a pull upward? Can you be happy and comfortable living a low-level Christian life? There is something wrong if you can. That is very simple. The very beginnings of this life of ascendency are found in the gift of divine life, and the whole course is the outworking of that life. When we come (if we do by the grace of God come eventually) to that place of Revelation 14, it will not be because of any particular merit, but simply that the life has triumphed in us. So you see the consummation of that great thought and purpose of God is glory.

The beginning is life, the end is glory. But what is glory? It is the triumph of life. The body of our humiliation shall be made like unto the body of His glory (Phil. 3:21). How shall this be? Well, it is all by the Lord the Spirit. It is all by the in-working of His life, resurrection life; glory at the end where life is triumphant. That is said for this reason, that this is the normal Christian life; and the abnormal Christian life is that which acts by fits and starts, up and down, and can be content not to go right on. There is something wrong about that; something has interfered with the normal growth.

Here you see that Zion is really something that is planted in us by birth. You remember that other fragment from the Psalms in this connection — “In whose heart are the highways to Zion” (Ps. 84:5). It does not say, ‘Whose feet are on the highways of Zion’. It is something subjective: Zion is inside, and it represents a tremendous transformation or change.

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

June 26

26 JUN – Spiritual Maturity

There are two maxims which it will be well for us to have settled quite early. One is that we can only “go on” in the Holy Spirit. The other is that the Holy Spirit can only take us on as the foundations and “principles” are laid and settled. There are many of the Lord’s children who, after many years of being such, are under arrest, paralyzed, ineffective, and almost counted out because they are in a state of unsettlement about the “first principles.” With some it is a matter of “faith toward God”; with some it is the matter of baptism; with some it is “eternal judgment.” Let it be clearly recognized that on all such matters the Holy Spirit Himself will demand an absolute settlement and will not take us on to “full growth” until the “principles” are established. Why are there so many old-aged infants, elderly dependents, spiritual “Peter Pans” amongst the Lord’s people? Why is it that after years of work and service so many come to a place where they are beaten and helpless because of being “without understanding” in that sense in which the words are used? Col. 1:9; 1 Cor. 14:20; Matt. 15:16.

It may be – and certainly sometimes is – because at some time the Spirit’s requirement as to some basic principle was unheeded, argued aside, discussed, passed, or definitely refused. That is a sin against the Holy Spirit – while it may not be the sin – and that sin is bound to find us out sooner or later. What we have to say here as we proceed will make clear what we mean by this being found out. The letter to the Hebrews marks the transition from the fragments of the Prophets to the fullness in Christ, this fullness is spiritual and is consequent upon spiritual revelation which leaves all the “earthlies” behind and comes into the “heavenlies,” even in the matter of Divinely constituted institutions, which nevertheless were but as a “schoolmaster” to lead to Christ and maturity. We can still go on with the “things” and stand still as to the “meaning.” For instance, it is impossible to have a revelation of the true nature of the Church the Body of Christ and remain a denominationalist or sectarian without joining issue with the Holy Spirit. It is equally impossible to remain a Jew as such (in the matter of Judaism) and be a member of Christ. Once the Holy Spirit has spoken or enlightened, tremendous crises are reached on foundation principles, and these crises if not settled soon will come up later. The Holy Spirit never moves a fraction from His original premise.

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