Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

June 21

21 JUN – Having What Your Father Wants You to Have

Pride is shown in possession or possessiveness; that is, taking hold of things to govern them ourselves, to be in possession of them. It is the work in Adam, and it is in all of us. It is shown in the desire to have in our own possession, to have in our own power, to have under our own hand, under our own influence, and it is a terrible thing. It is in us all by nature more or less, and the ruin of the church has come along this line of men wanting to take charge, men wanting to possess, men wanting to bring their influence to bear upon things, so that the thing comes into their hold.

There is nothing like that about the Lord Jesus. His was letting go to the Lord, letting go to the Father all the time. Listen to some of the sublime things that He said: “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me…”. “All that the Father giveth me shall come…” That is not mere passivity, but faith in the Father. It is our inborn desire to have a sphere of power, of influence, of domination, of government, that causes us to try to get something, to get hold of something, to possess something, to see something, to have something, to see the work grow, to see a success.

It is a mark of the house of God that there is no strain to possess for the sake of possession, to have power, to have mastery, to hold something. That is mine! Do not touch this—it is mine! The Lord Jesus had nothing in Himself, and wanted nothing for Himself, but He had everything in the Father. His attitude was, Father, if You want Me to have that, You will give it to me. I am not going to strive, and worry, and manipulate, and work, and plan, and scheme, and be all the time anxious to have it. If You want Me to have that, I trust You to give it to Me, and what You do not want Me to have I do not want! That is the attitude of Christ, and that is how the Lord builds His church. We must be very careful that this natural possessiveness does not come up in the things of the Lord. It works up unconsciously, even in our desire for spiritual blessing. It is to possess something in order that, having it, we may have greater influence, we may be something more, that we may become a dominating factor, that we may be recognized. Even a desire for holiness may have a subtle snare in it, that if we are holy it will be noted that we are holy, said that we are holy.

Book Ministry Website

Book-Ministry eBay Store

Advertisements
Standard
Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

June 20

20 JUN – The Mark of Humility: Dependence

What is one of the great features of dependence upon the Lord? It is prayerfulness. A prayerless life is a life which has not recognized its dependence upon the Lord. A life of prayer is a life which has come to see that it cannot go on far without the Lord. That is why I believe the Lord has ordained prayer as His way of working and meeting the need. He has said, in effect, You have to live by Me. If you can go on without Me – all right, go on; but for My purpose you have to live by Me. Prayer is our way of showing that we are dependent upon the Lord, and it is the way by which, therefore, the Lord comes in and manifests Himself.

If you look again at Paul’s revelation of the church, the Body of Christ, you will see how he lays down the principle of dependence, interdependence, mutual dependence, and how he strikes strong blows against anything in the nature of independence, separateness. The Body is one, and no member in the Body can say to another, I have no need of you. Every member must say, I am dependent upon you. The hand cannot take the place of the foot. The whole body is constituted to demonstrate the law of dependence. That is humility. The opposite of that is striking out on your own, being a freelance and snapping your fingers at anybody and everybody else, and doing without them. That is pride, and it is deception.

Pride is shown in possession or possessiveness; that is, taking hold of things to govern them ourselves, to be in possession of them. It is the work in Adam, and it is in all of us. It is shown in the desire to have in our own possession, to have in our own power, to have under our own hand, under our own influence, and it is a terrible thing. It is in us all by nature more or less, and the ruin of the church has come along this line of men wanting to take charge, men wanting to possess, men wanting to bring their influence to bear upon things, so that the thing comes into their hold. It is the ruin of the church. It was the ruin of the race. It was the ruin of Satan.

There is nothing like that about the Lord Jesus. His was a letting go to the Lord, a letting go to the Father all the time.

Book Ministry Website

Book-Ministry eBay Store

Standard
Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

June 19

19 JUN – Looking Unto Jesus

There is a goal; there is a prize. We have been called with a high purpose – a purpose so great that the Spirit of God has considered it worthwhile to fill the Bible with the truth of it and with the continuous urge in relation to it. For the Bible from beginning to end has to do with a course in relation to a goal, an end, a prize; it is just brim full of Divine speaking concerning Divine purpose, a very great purpose. We find this, of course, in a very strong way in this letter to the Hebrews, with its insistent call “Let us go on”. Moreover it gives us the great ground of confidence that the end can be reached, the goal attained, the prize received, the purpose accomplished, in that Christ has got there, Jesus has already gone this way and is there, and He has gone the whole way, the same way as you and as all those who are called according to His purpose are called to go. He has taken our level, accepted all that we have to know or may know on the course, and has gone through to the end. The fact is stated that He is there, and His being there is a tremendous triumph, for it is the assurance that we can be there also.

“Looking unto Jesus…” More correctly that would be stated “looking off unto Jesus”. We are coming to that again in a moment, but there is a ground of confidence. We can have assurance about this matter of attaining. One illustration of this is given in this letter to the Hebrews. It is as though the writer saw a ship out on the sea, being grievously battered and thrown about by the storm, in the grip of the wind and the current, and then, if it were possible, one brave representative taking the anchor on a long chain and dropping it within the quiet, peaceful harbor, leaving it there for the ship to pull on, in the sure knowledge that it will come in because it has a vital link with something already there. That is the picture the Apostle presents of this matter. We have this confidence, this hope, “as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and stedfast and entering into that which is within the veil” (Heb. 6:19).

There is confidence to be had, but there is also the possibility of failing, of falling short, of missing the mark. The possibility is always there, not of losing our salvation, that is not the point, but of failing to attain to the full purpose of God in our salvation.

Book Ministry Website

Book-Ministry eBay Store

Standard
Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

June 18

18 JUN – Keeping God’s End in View

One of our words recently to a friend in baptism was the word ‘eternal’. I pondered it during the day before passing it on. It took hold of me in this very connection. “Our light affliction, which is for the moment, worketh for us more and more exceedingly an 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” (2 Cor. 4:17,18). The eternal is kept in view, and life is adjusted in every way to God’s end. How busy the enemy is to circumvent the onward movement and the final attainment, by getting us entangled and compromised in this earth, somehow to slip in something that will be a check, an arrest, a holdup. Oh, the spiritual tragedies all around by some foolish relationship, some entanglement, some consideration of convenience, some pandering to the satisfaction of the flesh, something somehow slipped in by the enemy; and there it is – you just cannot go right on to God’s end. Something is holding you back, some relationship is keeping you tied up; something has come in.

Now this word is – adjust everything to the end, have all your affairs in life brought into line with God’s end. When you are considering a relationship, have God’s end in view. When you are considering the next step in your life, have God’s end in view. When you are deciding where you are going to live and do your work, have God’s end in view. When you are deciding what your business is going to be, have God’s end in view. Everything brought into line that is the meaning of this: “Make level the path of thy feet” or “Weigh carefully the path of thy feet”. We have to say to ourselves, ‘Now then, this is an opportunity, a prospect, that seems to hold a lot of good; but first of all, what is this going to mean for the Lord, how does this relate to the full end of God?’ Nothing less than that must weigh with us. “Let thine eyes look right on” not just at this thing, not even at what it seems to promise, but right on. How does it relate to the end? In all things, look beyond; see what is the relation to the full end of God and adjust accordingly. Get the vision, and adjust life as far as possible in relation to it. “Weigh carefully the paths of thy feet and order them aright. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left”. “Let thine eyes look right on”.

Book Ministry Website

Book-Ministry eBay Store

Standard
Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

June 17

17 JUN – A Near-Sighted Vision

Then there were some people to whom Paul spoke: he told them that their look was much too near. He said, ‘You only see what is immediately before your eyes, your vision is merely of things near you, these are the things that influence you’. Too short a range of vision leads to your life becoming smaller than the Lord would have it; you become far too easily satisfied and contented in the realm of the things of the Lord; you have a small, narrow horizon – you are not looking right on. Things near – that may apply in different ways. The things that are near are always the things that are most likely to upset us, to limit us, to disconcert us. We do become so occupied with the thing that is nearest. When we are right up against a situation and something is right up against us, we are in such danger of thinking that is all, that is everything, that we forget we have negotiated many such an obstacle before which we thought was going to be the end of everything for us. We learn our lesson so slowly. Here is another thing right at hand, right before our eyes; another mountain, another hedge, another real difficulty; and again we think – ‘This is going to spoil everything, this is going to be the end of everything’. All we see is the thing near at hand.

But to look right on means surely to say this – ‘Yes, this is a difficulty, but there is another side to it, it is not going to be the end’. It is one of the things that is included in ‘laying aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset’.

What is “the sin which doth so easily beset”? It is this, that the big difficulty of today blots out tomorrow, seems to get right in the way of any future at all. That is the easily besetting sin. Do not have too near a view, do not have too small an horizon. “Let thine eyes look right on”. There is something very much more than the difficulty of the day, the very present thing, the near thing. The Lord will teach us as we go on that we can reckon on very much more than the things which are up against us now. We shall go on and leave them behind. Do not let us take them as the limit. Whatever they are, they are not the end.

Book Ministry Website

Book-Ministry eBay Store

Standard
Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

June 16

16 JUN – The Peril of Looking Backward

There is the one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back, and is therefore not fit for the kingdom (Luke 9:62). That is the backward look. It is the look which Israel took in the wilderness. “They turned again and tempted God, and provoked the Holy One of Israel” (Psa. 78:41). They looked back and spoiled their furrow, they spoiled their whole course. They failed to enter in simply because they looked in the wrong direction, that is, they looked back.

You know that that was one of the troubles in New Testament times. The letter to the Galatians was written because of that peril. They were beginning to look back. There was a voice from behind; the voice of the Judaizers was calling them from behind: ‘Come back’ not to the world, not to ungodliness, not to forsake Christ; but to come back to a religious life which was less than that fullness of Christ to which they had been called; to a religious life which was not a spiritual life. They were in danger of looking back. They had indeed already half looked back and had come to a standstill. They had been going on, but now they had stopped going on, and the question was would they continue to go on or would they go back? That letter was written to induce a going on. This letter to the Hebrews was written for the same purpose. The peril of a backward look is always there, in some way or another.

And then we are told of some people who looked around when they were commanded not to look around. “Look not around thee” (Isaiah 41:10, margin). I think that is what Peter did. When he was beginning to walk on the water he took his eyes off the Lord and looked around and he went down (Matthew 14:28-31). His eyes changed their direction and he began to look around “WHEN HE SAW the wind” (verse 30). That is what Israel did when the spies went out and came back with their wrong report. They looked around walled cities, giants, all kinds of difficulties. They looked around, they got their eyes off the Lord. Only two of them kept their eyes in the right direction and they went through eventually to the end. “Look not around”. That is, do not allow circumstances so to lay hold of your vision and to fasten upon your outlook that they control your movement. “Let thine eyes look right on” – not around.

Book Ministry Website

Book-Ministry eBay Store

Standard
Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

June 15

15 JUN – General Usefulness Is Not Good Enough

One inclusive thing that arises from the Lord is whether a vessel fulfills the specific purpose for it or whether it has lost it in a desire for just general usefulness. The Bible would not have been written if the Lord were simply taking the view that no one can be perfect and that being nominal-minded is acceptable. We may be thankful to the Lord for anything that there is in this world which is good and is of Himself, and we are grateful that the Lord should have any witness in a world like this; but, oh, so far as His own people are concerned, so far as the Church is concerned, that never satisfies Him. Of that we may be quite sure.

Many people say: ‘No one can be perfect and it is fruitless to try to get perfection! Why not be satisfied with what is commendable about the Church today? Take it as it is! Accept it and be thankful that there are so many who belong to the Lord and bear His name in a world like this!’ I find that this record does not allow of that. God knows that we are grateful that there are believers in this world, be they but poor ones. You are thankful for the smallest thing that speaks of Him. Oh, but when you come to see God’s purpose, when you see that what He has designed for His Church is the occasion of His call, His choosing in Christ, you can never be satisfied with nominalism, or with general goodness.

None of the New Testament Letters would have been written if the Lord was satisfied with the merely nominal. There has never been anything perfect, but the serious matter is that of our attitude, to “not having yet attained”. Paul said: “I am not yet perfect, but…”, and very much hung upon that “but”. The churches in Revelation had accepted their imperfect condition.

The Lord has reservations when it comes to the question of fulfilling the purpose for which a vessel was raised up. God will not commit Himself wholly to that vessel viewing its past history of divine blessing and usefulness or great reputation for good works, or any such good thing. None of these things is an adequate justification for the Lord to commit Himself.

Book Ministry Website

Book-Ministry eBay Store

Standard
Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

June 14

14 JUN – For What Was the Church Raised Up?

I do not believe that the Lord originally thought of having a general Church, and then a special one within it; a general mass of believers, and then a company called ‘overcomers’ in the midst. That has never been the design of God. It is what we might call an emergency state of things, and is essential because of general failure. It seems to me that the very word ‘overcomers’ presupposes that there is failure somewhere. The Lord’s purpose for all His Church, as a vessel which nevertheless may only be realized in a few, is that it should maintain the testimony of a life which has conquered death, and will conquer death right to the end. It is a life question.

The Lord Jesus is constituted the great Witness upon the ground of the power of God which was exercised in Him when He was raised from the dead. Remember that the testimony of Jesus is always related to His being raised from the dead; that is, that He lives by a power which has conquered death. He is the Life on that ground, on that basis, in that sense, and those whom the New Testament approves as witnesses to Jesus are not those who talk the truth about Him, but are witnesses of His resurrection – that is, of course, in a spiritual way – witnesses to Christ as risen. The New Testament’s testimony of Jesus is that God raised Him from the dead and that He is alive for evermore. That is the essence of the testimony. Thus the whole question resolves itself into one of testimony in life, a testimony of life. It is not a testimony of doctrine in the first place, but a testimony of life. Is the flame burning as at the beginning, witnessing that Jesus lives and is triumphant, even over the dark, deadly background of this world? That is the question for the Lord’s people; the question for your life and for mine, and for every collective instrumentality.

I have not the slightest shadow of a doubt but that the issue of our day, of this hour in the Church’s history is, more than ever, the issue of life and death in a spiritual sense. There is a strange, deep, terrible sapping of vitality, mental and physical vitality as well as spiritual. Spiritual people, at least, know something of that. And lying at the back of it is the final conflict of this age. It is the spiritual issue of life and death.

Book Ministry Website

Book-Ministry eBay Store

Standard
Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

June 13

13 JUN – Our Ultimate Value Lies in our Knowledge of God

Our Lord makes the statement that “this is life eternal, that they should know Thee the only true God, and Him, Whom Thou didst send, even Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3). This does not mean merely that eternal life is given on the basis of this knowledge. There can be life with very limited knowledge. But life in fullness is closely related to that knowledge, and the increasing knowledge of Him manifests itself in increasing life. It works both ways; knowledge unto life and life unto knowledge.

While the refining of spirit, the development of the graces, the removing of the dross, are all purposes of the fires, yet above and through all is the one object – that we may know the Lord. There is only one way of really getting to know the Lord, and that is experimentally.

Our minds are so often occupied with service and work; we think that doing things for the Lord is the chief object of life. We are concerned about our lifework, our ministry. Soul-winning, or teaching believers, or setting people to work, are so much in the foreground. Bible study and knowledge of the Scriptures, with efficiency in the matter of leading in Christian service as the end in view, are matters of pressing importance with all. All well and good, for these are important matters; but, back of everything the Lord is more concerned about our knowing Him than about anything else. It is very possible to have a wonderful grasp of the Scriptures, a comprehensive and intimate familiarity with doctrine; to stand for cardinal verities of the faith; to be an unceasing worker in Christian service; to have a great devotion to the salvation of men, and yet, alas, to have a very inadequate and limited personal knowledge of God within. So often the Lord has to take away our work that we may discover Him. The ultimate value of everything is not the information which we give, not the soundness of our doctrine, not the amount of work that we do, not the measure of truth that we possess, but just the fact that we know the Lord in a deep and mighty way. This is the one thing that will remain when all else passes. It is this that will make for the permanence of our ministry after we are gone. While we may help others in many ways and by many means so far as their earthly life is concerned, our real service to them is based upon our knowledge of the Lord.

Book Ministry Website

Book-Ministry eBay Store

Standard
Austin Sparks, Christian Ministry, Christianity, Daily Devotional

June 12

12 JUN – The Governing End of All His Dealings

It is of the greatest importance for the Lord’s children to recognize fully that, above all other things, His object is that they should know Him. This is the all-governing end of all His dealings with us. This is the greatest of all our needs.

It is the secret of strength, steadfastness, and service. It determines the measure of our usefulness to Him. It was the one passion of the life of the apostle Paul for himself. It was the cause of his unceasing striving for the saints. It is the heart and pivot of the whole letter to the Hebrews. It was the secret of the life, service, endurance, confidence of the Lord Jesus as Son of Man.

All these facts need looking at more closely. We begin always with the Lord Jesus as God’s representative, the Man after His own mind. In His life on earth there was no part or aspect which did not have its strength and ability rooted in and drawn from His inward knowledge of His Father, God. We must never forget that His was a life of utter dependence upon God, voluntarily accepted. He attributed everything to the Father: word, wisdom, and works.

He is God manifest in the flesh; but He has accepted from the human and manward standpoint the limitations and dependence of man so that God might be God manifested. There is a subjection here because of which He is able to do nothing of Himself (John 5:19, etc.). The principle of His entire life in every phase and detail was His knowledge of God. He knows the Father in the matter of the words He speaks, the works He does, the men and women with whom He has to do; with regard to the times of speaking, acting, going, staying, surrendering, refusing, silence; with regard to the motives, pretensions, professions, enquiries, suggestions, of men and of Satan. He knows when He may not, and when He may, give His life. Yes, everything here is governed by that inward knowledge of God. There are numerous evidences in the Book of Acts as the practical, and in the Epistles as the doctrinal, revelation of God’s mind; that this principle is intended by God to be maintained as the basic law of the life of the Lord’s people through this age. This knowledge in the case of the Lord Jesus was the secret of His complete ascendancy and of His absolute authority.

Book Ministry Website

Book-Ministry eBay Store

Standard