Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

August 31

31 AUG – What is God After?

What is God after? Why are you set on this scene as you are? Why is it that God does not give us such pleasant situations and circumstances as we crave for, and make it easy for us? Why does it seem rather that He makes it hard, puts us into hard places, and does not deliver us or prevent us from those very trying conditions? Why is the furnace heated seven times for saints, men who are walking with God? Well, what is He doing with us? Is not this the necessary background to formation according to Christ? Where will the characteristics of the heavenly Man have an opportunity, if not in adversity? Love has no meaning unless there is a background of hate. It is supine, it is weak, it is not real. When you read, “having loved His own that were in the world, He loved them unto the end” (John 13:1), you say, ‘that is a miracle’. When you read the prophecies of Hosea, and see God uncovering His heart about Israel, the unfaithful Israel, the unfaithful wife, the harlot wife, and then crying as with a broken heart, “How shall I give thee up?” (Hosea 11:8), you have to say, ‘that is love’.

You only see it in the light of the background. And this heavenly manhood can only be developed over against a background which is so opposite. That is why He puts you among men who are so earthly, sensual – ‘old-Adamic’. That is why He calls upon Christians to live together up against one another’s old man. If only we could get with all those nice Christians, it would be easy! But you would not develop any heavenly character if the Lord took that line.

God is practical. We do know that in no other way could God get us changed. He gives us a first-class opportunity just where we are of developing characteristics which are not of the old man at all – they are of the new man; that is the explanation.

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

August 30

30 AUG – Why Are You a Christian?

Jesus was made perfect through sufferings; there is no other way for us. We are not already perfect, but we do stand on the same ground of Divine method. … made perfect through suffering. This manhood, this heavenly manhood, is only going to be produced through suffering. You had better settle it. We do not like it. It does not seem to be the kind of Christianity that we had offered to us in the popular terms. We have been promised so much if we become Christians, it has all been made so rosy. No, He never did that. He said, ‘You cannot be My disciple unless you deny yourself, you have to say No to yourself, and take up the Cross; you cannot be My disciple unless you hate your own soul and are prepared to lose it’ (meaning, to lay it down unto death: Luke 14:26, 27, 33; Matt. 10:38, 39; Matt. 16:24). It is suffering, deep inward formation according to Christ, God’s heavenly Man, by outward separation, inward separation and suffering. That is the way that Christ went. He has offered no other way to His disciples and to His servants.

Of course, to leave it there seems rather gloomy, not very attractive; but we have not finished by a very long way. Oh, what this Man in Christ, this corporate Man, this Body of Christ, is destined for! ‘What is man, that Thou puttest him in charge of all the inhabited earth to come, whereof we speak?’ (Heb. 2:5, 6) And, more than that, “know ye not that we shall judge angels?” (1 Cor. 6:3) I am not going further with that. I simply indicate it, to set that as an offset to what might look like rather a gloomy situation over this suffering business. “If so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified with Him.” (Rom. 8:17) “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him.” (2 Tim. 2:12) You see, it is not just again putting somebody into an objective position as a reigning monarch. It is spiritual character. “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matt. 5:5)

What the Lord is saying to us at this time is, ‘Do you know what you are in this world for? Do you know why I have reached out and laid My hand on you, why you are a Christian, a child of God? Do you know the meaning of it all? It is to make you a man according to My original and abiding thought and intention, to bring you into that Man’. Yes, it applies to all of us. It is a man-hood, a kind of humanity God has ever intended, and if you think this is theory, have you no experience that corroborates what I have said?

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

August 29

29 AUG – The Formation of Christ

The thing that matters is the kind of person I am. A kind of person is set before us in Christ. His Person is God’s beginning and you can have nothing before a beginning. He is God’s end, and you can have nothing after that. So there is nothing outside of Christ. He is God’s Man. I emphasize again, we must ever remember that it is the nature, the character of the manhood according to God that matters, and if that is true, then this means very deep formation. Conformation to Christ takes place in many ways, but two of the most important elements are:

(a) Through Outward Separation

Deep formation firstly through outward separation: that is one thing that is said about the Lord Jesus, that He was separate from sinners (Heb. 7:26), and using that word ‘separate’, I am only using a more common and ordinary word for the great Bible word ‘consecration’ or ‘sanctification’, which are the same word in the original. Consecration or sanctification simply means set apart unto God. Outward separation to begin with; separate – not going the way of others; not trying to stand well with them; no policy, no diplomacy, being perfectly willing to let a fundamental difference be recognized, and to take all the consequences of being in this world as something other than that which is here.

(b) By Inward Separation

And then deep formation by inward separation: Israel in the wilderness was outwardly separated, but inwardly not so. That is why, in recounting their history, the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews connects with the wilderness life of Israel those words “For the Word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing, even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow” (Heb. 4:12). You notice the context is Israel in the wilderness, and the meaning therefore is this, that while they were outwardly separated from Egypt and from the nations, they were inwardly not separated; there was something to be done inside to divide asunder between soul and spirit, joints and marrow; a deep inward separation. This cannot be accomplished mechanically. This is some deep inward work of God, getting us circumcised in heart.

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

August 28

28 AUG – Do You Find You Cannot Pray?

You know, we have our “off” times spiritually – “off” times in the prayer life when it seems impossible to pray; “off” times in many other ways spiritually. No matter how we struggle, we can make nothing of it. What are we going to do? I have come to this position: through the Spirit, Christ is in me, and everything is with Him, not with me. It is not what I can do, nor what I cannot do, nor how I am today; all is with Him. Today, maybe, I am not conscious of His indwelling, but on the contrary, very conscious of other things that are not Christ. Well, that is my state; but He is faithful, He is true. He has given me certain assurances about never leaving nor forsaking me, about abiding through all the days to the end, and about perfecting unto the day of Christ a good work which He hath commenced. My one thing to do is to trust Him – trust Him, and if I cannot break through, to say: “Lord, I cannot pray just at the present; I must trust You to do all the praying.”

I find I have these “off” times, but as I definitely trust the Lord, and say: “Lord, this is Your responsibility, and I know this will not last; that prayer life will come back, and I am trusting You in the meanwhile.” It does come back, and in greater fullness and greater blessedness.

Beloved I have proved that again and again. It comes back. It is not merely that you get better and start again. You know quite well that you may be perfectly fit and yet be unable to pray. No one can make prayer. It is not a matter of health and strength to be able to pray. You may be a perfectly strong man or woman, but you cannot get through to heaven in prayer because you are that.

Prayer has to do with an opened heaven – prayer is fellowship with the Lord; and that is His doing, not ours. He brings that. Trust Him. “I live; and yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me”; He has the whole matter in hand. While my attitude is one of faith in Him, He will see that there is a prayer life; He will see that there is a life in the Word. Positive faith in Him is the secret of everything in the will of God.

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