Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

November 21

21 NOV – God Always Has the Last Word

Are you expecting ends, limitation, feeling that for you there is no hope, no future? Do not believe it! Get down to this and see it as the great eternal fact. God is trying to bring us to the place where we stop expecting what the Devil is constantly offering through circumstances – death, an end, limitation. God is all the time thinking of increase, enlargement. That is the history of the Church. Again and again, generally and in individual cases, it has been said, This is the end; it is all over; the Lord has done with us; and yet oh, how slow we are to learn it, to get it fixed, established! – It does not prove to be the end, does it? We find that there is still a lease of life, still something more in the Lord’s intention; and even when the point is really reached of an end here on earth, we do not believe that is the end of life and work – it is emancipation unto fullness.

These are very simple things, but all hang upon this little word “that.” God allows very deep and hard and painful things – things which bring us in ourselves really to the point of giving up, where we pass the verdict of death upon ourselves. He allows them with this object, that however much we may have known and proved the truth in our earlier experience, He may bring us yet a stage further into the power and good of it, that God raiseth the dead. If He does that, then there is hope for anybody and for anything. The Lord give us more of this disciplined, instructed, enlightened faith. We cannot come to it by being told it, by hearing it a thousand times, but only by experience.

Some of you know what we are talking about. You know despair, you know hopeless situations, you know what it is to come to the place where you are finished and throw up your hands. If you do not, you may know it yet. The Lord is after getting us, as many as He can, through to that place where, in and through His Church, death is swallowed up in victory, death is no more. That is practically the last word of the Bible. Nearly the first words of the Bible are about the entrance of death; the tree of life was cut off. At the end of the Bible we read “Death shall be no more” (Rev. 21:4). That has got to be wrought out in an instrument, and we know that that process is very practical. The Lord enable us to learn that lesson and gain the vantage ground of the triumph of Christ’s resurrection.

We should never expect an end until God says, That is the end! He is the God of hope, “who… begat us again unto a living hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away” (1 Pet. 1:3-4). If we leave out the negative and read only the positive statement in the passage which we are considering we read: “That we should… trust in God who raiseth the dead.”

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

November 20

20 NOV – The Things which Befall Us

You and I, in the time of difficulty and adversity, deep suffering and trial, are so often tempted to think that something very wrong has taken place, and there is a big question as to whether it ought to be, seeing we belong to the Lord. We are really, in heart, devoted to the Lord; we mean business with Him and now look at this! Well, it befell and it befalls. We must get to the point of a conclusion about this, that there is no charm resting upon the life of the most devoted child of God, there is no special providence to say that no adversity shall overtake, shall befall. It just does happen, it is a fact, and that is where we begin.

It happened to Paul, it befell him (2 Cor. 1:8-10), but he does not raise any questions at all about God or about spiritual issues in such a way as to lead him into difficulties with the Lord. Are you one whose way has been, and perhaps still is, one of great adversity, trial, suffering, perplexity? It has happened to you, it has overtaken, it has befallen you. Well, Paul is not alone in this, that it is a part of the course of things. It has a meaning; but my point at the moment is that these things are facts. You cannot get away from them. You must settle down to it that they are facts to be recognized and accepted as making up the lot of a true servant and child of God. That is where we begin.

But then there is another thing here. Of course, we do not know what was the exact nature of Paul’s particular trial. It is probable that it was some terrible illness which overtook him, some sickness which brought him to an end of all hope. Whatever it was, he says: “We despaired even of life; yea, we ourselves have had the sentence of death within ourselves.” This is the end, death! But what we want particularly to note is the exercise that the affliction produced in Paul. Evidently he had been looking into this thing, scrutinizing it and saying, What is the Divine meaning in my situation? What does the Lord mean by this? Although it looks like a hap, it has befallen me, yet the Lord has something bound up with it. There was enquiry and exercise about the situation, and in his prayerful investigation, he comes to realize what the Lord’s mind is, and he sums it all up in the little word THAT. “We have had the sentence of death within ourselves, THAT we should not trust in ourselves, but in God…” All this happened in order that… There was a Divine object, a Divine meaning, something quite precise. …in order that “we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raiseth the dead.”

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

November 19

19 NOV – The Fire of the Chosen Ones

But you are really going into the furnace if you are going to be of intrinsic spiritual value, if it is going to be the Lord. Oh, do not go out with teaching. ‘This is our teaching, what we stand for.’ No, none of that! Go out and live and be the Lord, in effect, in manifestation. That is the only justification.

What the Lord is after is men and women individually and collectively who do not hold some higher truth, propound some fuller or deeper doctrines or have a more exact New Testament technique, but who are the impact and registration of Himself in a spiritual way, that it can be said, “In touching them, I have met the Lord”. That is the way of a fiery furnace.

God does not want instruments. An instrument, a tool, is something you take up and has to respond mechanically to you. God wants living beings impregnated with Himself; to touch them is to touch the Lord Himself. Well, that explains the way of the Lord with us in our own experience, what He is after. It is a fresh challenge to us. May it have this effect, that it saves us from looking at others, what they are doing and what is being done, and coveting and envying; saying, Well, you see… and then gravitating in heart in that direction.

Remember that it may be — I am not going to say dogmatically that it is — but it may be an election. “I have chosen…” Maybe He has put His hand on you for something more. You could serve Him; you could be of use in other realms. It may be He has put His hand on you for something more, and because of that you go through it as other people do not.

Fire for you means something far more than for many others. Think that it may be an election to serve the Lord in some deeper way than the average, than the general, and the fire will see to the matter of conceit and pride. There will be no room left for them.

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

November 18

18 NOV – Chosen for Intrinsic Value

You know in Romans 8, perhaps the most familiar chapter in the Bible to you, it is always the contrast there between the Spirit and the flesh. You know that in that chapter you have got past the grave, you are now on resurrection ground, and it is all now the spiritual. First, the law of life has made you free, then it is all the Spirit, the spiritual mind, the spiritual man, everything spiritual, and God has not departed from that. Man, thinking in more material and objective terms, has not taken God away from His basis. His basis is still that, right from the cross; it is spiritual nature, spiritual measure. It is all what is really spiritual in the divine sense. It is the Lord.

And that explains so largely the Lord’s dealings with us. Do believe it! The Lord is after having mother tincture in spiritual life – that is, the ‘flavour’, trace or tinge of the Lord Himself. That is essentially spiritual intrinsic value.

Here, speaking among ourselves, I do not see, as I have thought and thought, and spent very much time in weighing up everything, I do not see any other explanation for the way in which we are dealt with by the Lord. I see no other explanation for our existence. I have never accepted that, if the Lord wanted to do what He is doing generally in this world, why He should have made something more here, something separate here? We were at one time doing that and getting on splendidly in the general realm of earnest Christian evangelical activity. That could have gone on. But the Lord did something and brought us apart as a people, not — let me say it strongly — not to make us in ourselves any more important. We have not got one inch of ground to stand upon to speak of superior importance or our superior value. But I do believe that He did something because He wanted His people, perhaps in all the world, or many of His people all over this world, to come into something more of Himself by putting this corporate vessel into the furnace. You know immediately you come into touch with this, you get into trouble. The only thing that will keep you going on, that will maintain your relationship, is that you find more of the Lord. If you do not — go, friend, go! Do not be attached to a thing. It is the Lord. And if it is not, my prayer is ever: Wind it up, put it out, if it does not stand justified in its extra measure of the Lord.

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

November 17

17 NOV – Meeting the Lord in the Word

The all-governing thing with God is His self-manifestation, and that can only be along the lines and by means of spiritual life. There is no other way of manifesting God, God becoming really known; only along spiritual lines. There is not one of us who knows the Lord Jesus and has that knowledge in any other way. We do not have a physical knowledge of Jesus. We have come into our knowledge of Him in a spiritual way, and every fuller bit of knowledge of Him is spiritual, essentially spiritual, and God cannot be known in any other way. The Lord cannot be manifested in any other way. There is that mystic, strange, inexplicable something which is extra, which is the Lord. I mean, it is not teaching. There may be a great mass of teaching, and perfectly right and true teaching, a great fullness of truth, and yet there may just be lacking that something, that extra something, that mystic something that leaves it as truth, a bulk of truth, and does not get you anywhere. When you have got it all, it has not got you anywhere. It is not something objective at all, objective in the way of truth imparted, teaching given, doctrine held.

It is not a matter of work done for the Lord, in the Name of the Lord, things that we are doing — even the matter of leading others to accept Him, as an engagement, as a form of activity, of work. It is not the constituting or the constructing of something for the Lord in the same way as we would go to work to build up some other institution in the world and call it by this or that name; it is not that. These may be means, but if there is not that extra, as I call it, that mystical something, if it is just an objective thing, it has failed in its divine value. That something, that extra, is the Lord. The Lord has been imparted, and all teaching and truth which does not impart the Lord — not just knowledge, truth and doctrine, material, however right in its place — if it does not carry with it the Lord and impart the Lord and result in people who are alive, who are sensitive, who are open, who are prepared, being able to say, Yes, the Word was good, but the Lord met me in the Word — if it is not that extra, it has failed. If any of the work that is being done, all the activities, all the business, with the best of motives and a great zeal and devotion, whole-heartedness, if the upshot of it is not that the Lord has come in, it is the Lord, something extra to the Word, you have come into touch with the Lord; it has failed.

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

November 16

16 NOV – The Marks of Our Likeness to Jesus

For you and for me there has got to be Christ-likeness as the mark of His ownership of our lives. How does Christ-likeness come about? Well, the marks of devotion in service come about by the measure in which we are prepared to suffer for Him, make sacrifices for Him. The marks of Christ-likeness come about by the measure in which we have communion with Him, so that the marks of Christ-likeness are the result of faithfulness in communion.

You see, the marks of ownership are the results of faithfulness in loyalty; the marks of devotion in service are the marks of faithfulness in suffering and sacrifice; the marks of Christ-likeness come out of faithfulness in communion with the Lord. 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! In business, in the world, what a difference it makes! On the other hand, things breaking in, adverse things that interfere with the life of communion with the Lord, and the result—! Oh, the miserable, wretched result! 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? “Henceforth let no man trouble me, I bear branded on my body the marks of Jesus”. May it be like that with all of us! “His forever, only His, Who the Lord and me shall part?”

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

November 15

15 NOV – The Marks of Our Devotion and Service

We are not going to get very far in our devotion to the interests of the Lord Jesus in this world without discovering that it is going to mean sacrifice; suffering unto sacrifice. It is going to cost. It may cost something in the matter of position, recognition; the best things may not be allowed to come our way. We may not be given an open door into certain circles; those circles may be closed to us. There may be many whose friendship we would like to have, but which friendship will be withheld from us. In many ways we may have to suffer loss, suffer unto sacrifice if the interests of the Lord Jesus are going to be pursued and furthered through us. I doubt whether it is possible for the real interests of the Lord Jesus to be served without sacrifice on our part. I do not think it is possible, and it may be that you and I at the close of our course here will look back and see many things that might have been ours, positions, and acceptances, and rewards, but which we have never come into, never possessed. We have to let them go for Jesus’ sake, and we may at that time bear the brand of the Lord Jesus in this connection. Why? Why this? Why that? Why has it meant this? Why has it cost that? Why have I never got where some have got? That is the brand of the Lord Jesus, the mark of Jesus.

There are gains hidden from view which will more than compensate for that. This man, who wrote these words, wrote in another place, “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal: but the things which are not seen are eternal”. But the things seen do hold us so much, don’t they? It is so difficult to get our eyes away from things seen; that is, the things that are manifest, things that can be taken account of, they are so present to view. The losses, the sufferings, the trials, the difficulties, the adversities, these are things seen. Things not seen — what are they, after all? Well, so far as we are concerned, the things that are not seen are promises. That is what it amounts to. They are real in God, but to us they are nothing more than promises. We have not got them, they are not seen. For present practical purposes they are only promises, yet far more exceeding and eternal, far more excellent, a weight of glory exceeding and eternal, a weight of glory. That is there unseen, while we bear the marks of loss here, loss of what we might have had, could have had. It was there for us, but, because of the interests of the Lord Jesus, it had to be let go. The marks of the Lord Jesus – faithfulness unto sacrifice, the unpopular way with all that it costs.

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

November 14

14 NOV – The Marks of His Ownership

I remember one day many years ago, when I was only a lad, a deep impression that was made upon me. I was in a shop; it was commercial travelers’ day in that shop and two commercial travelers came in. One came in, looked all round to see who was in the shop, saw some people there, so stepped over into the corner and waited. Then he proceeded to his business in a sort of way that suggested to my youthful mind that he was ashamed to be doing business; that he did not want people to know what he was. It was all so under cover. Perhaps I should not have noticed it so much had it not been for the next episode. The door opened, and in came a fine, big fellow, a strapping young man. He saw the manager “Good-morning, Mr. So-and-so. I have a splendid line for you today”, and started right away. Everybody in the shop heard all about it. He went straight at it and captured the business, he got it forthwith. He was bent on business. It made a tremendous impression on me. As we came out of the shop, someone who was with me said, “That is the way to do business”. Forgive me if that seems to be coming on to a very low level. I do feel that there is a great deal in being open and letting it be known where you stand. No hiding the brand.

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…” That’s it – 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?

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

November 13

13 NOV – Joy Out of Travail

There is written in the very law of travail the law of hope, the law of a new prospect. And all I’m going to say about that this morning is this: we, individually or as a people, may go through times of deep suffering, trial, and everything seems to be in the balances. How is it going, how’s it going… is it life or death? We’re in the grip of this crisis. Oh, let us believe with all our hearts that although we come this way again and again in our history, under the hand of God it’s unto something new! It’s unto something better! It’s unto a new hope with a new expectation! Don’t you believe that the end is shame, is remorse, is disappointment. God never established the law of travail that that should be the end, but that there should be a birth of something infinitely precious. And it happens again and again doesn’t it?

Every new emergence of something of the Lord is more precious than what was before, but it’s costly. It’s costly. If I may say so, dear friends, it may be that we here have been going through travail, we’re in the time of suffering and perhaps we’re inclined to feel that it’s an end, there’s going to be loss. No! That’s not the Lord’s way. The Lord has so worked that, isn’t it strange, we come into experiences in life where it’s the most terrible experience you’ve ever had and now, and now of course, this is the end. This is going to put the finish to everything. And it is the most terrible suffering! And when it’s past, the strange thing about human nature about some things is that we forget; we forget the anguish, that is, it passes. But what it has brought is the thing that governs and dominates everything isn’t it? The values that have come. Supposing we were always living in all the anguishes that we have ever had, life would be unbearable. But that passes, but we are living in the values.

Well I think that’s all I’ve got to say. Do remember that cheapness in relation to the things of God will only end in disaster. Unbelief will end in despair. The faith in God in a dark and difficult day will produce something new and something better. If we are too easy-going about our spiritual values, nothing substantial will be affected.

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Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

November 12

12 NOV – The Necessity and Inevitability of Travail

“A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but when she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for the joy that a man is born into the world.” John 16:21

You know, if you don’t suffer for a thing, you don’t value it. If it costs you nothing then it means little to you. If you have really suffered agonies and anguish for anything, for anyone, over any matter, that thing is of infinite preciousness to you. You’re going to fight for that, you’re going to watch over that with keen jealousy. That is something very precious. And is not that just how the law of travail works? Yes! It’s like that. If it comes without travail, without any cost, well it’s taken too lightly isn’t it? Far too lightly. It doesn’t mean all that that means which has cost you almost your very life.

The Lord introduced this factor that in every birth it’s a question of life or death. Life and death are in the balances every time. The governing question: how is it going? You’re held in tension… and when it’s alright – how the heart goes out: thank God! Thank God… Worship. God comes into His place. God comes into His place, very often with those who have never given Him any place before, at any rate there is a spontaneous: “Thank God!” You see the principle, you see how true it is. And so God established this, ah yes, this painful way, this suffering way, as the only way in which He could recover and establish the law of values, of preciousness, and save man from his superficiality with regard to the most costly things.

He did it in order to secure a heart relationship with Himself and with everything that comes from Him. A heart relatedness – that is love! Love! A love that is far removed from despising the Lord or anything of the Lord. A love that involves the very life itself; that if its object is lost then life itself goes with it. See? It’s like that.

Every divine deposit is on that basis, dear friends. Sooner or later, every divine deposit will take on this value. Anything that comes from God will sooner or later pass into the realm of suffering, into the realm of travail, to find out how much value we put upon it, how much it really means to us, how much we have seen of God in it. It will become a matter of life or death. Under this law all divine things have been put upon this basis.

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