Can planning help me be a better steward of my finances?


Finance

Finance (Photo credit: Tax Credits)

When finances are tight, it’s essential that we get the most out of our resources. As believers know, God never allows us to face more than we can handle (Romans 8:28) and also that He has a good plan for us (Jeremiah 29:11). In fact, more than 90 passages in Scripture refer to planning. So let’s consider the following three blessings that come from good planning.

1). Planning helps you clarify what you’re doing. Good financial planning starts by answering the question, “How much _______?” Discover exactly how much is coming in (current income), how much is going out (current spending), how much you have saved (to spend or give in the future) and what is going on in the financial world (current conditions). Putting all these pieces together and you will have a plan that can lead you to a positive, productive future.
2). Planning helps you prioritize your expenses. Living on a fixed or reduced income makes planning a necessity. It gives you an objective way, in advance, to apply wisdom before spending. As Scripture teaches, “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5). Anything less than diligent planning sets you up for disappointment.
3). Planning brings conviction. You will always be more excited about and committed to keeping a plan that you developed. Staying involved in your planning also helps you evaluate the advice you may need on investments, financial strategy, tax laws, estate and planned giving options, and more. While it’s a good idea to enlist the help of godly, objective experts in these arenas, stay on guard to protect what you and the Lord have decided to do. This type of planning will empower you both now and in the future!

What are some good guidelines on dressing fashionably yet modestly?


Let’s turn to God’s Word for His counsel in the area of purity of appearance. Because we are His, we should dress to please Him regardless of whether we are single, widowed, divorced or married. God has called us to be beautiful and fearless daughters of promise. To remain free, we choose to live by the Spirit. Let’s gather some New Testament Scriptures that address the issue of clothing. The first is found in Paul’s instruction to Timothy:

I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God (1 Timothy 2:9,10, NIV).

First and foremost, a woman’s dress is to be modest; this means void of pride and without the intent of drawing attention to itself. Second, it is to be decent, which means pure, moral and virtuous. Sometimes I question the clothing I see on young girls and single women at church. I remember looking out of step when I first got saved, because I only had a “heathen” wardrobe, but this is not what I am talking about. There is an alarming lack of modesty in daughters who have been raised in the church. I often have mothers of young boys plead with me, “Tell the young girls that how they dress is really affecting the young men!” The third description of dress in this passage is the word propriety. This is best defined as being appropriate and respectful of its setting.

Paul goes from there to the contrast between outer accessories and the adornment of good deeds. He advises women to not spend their time and resources on earthly treasures. Instead, they are to lay up for themselves treasures in heaven by adorning themselves with charitable acts.

We find another group of instructions for a Christian woman’s wardrobe in 1 Peter:

Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves (1 Peter 3:3–5, NKJV).

Peter says to not let your adornment be merely external, especially to the neglect of your internal beauty. Then he lets us in on the beauty secret of the holy woman—that is, to cultivate a gentle and quiet spirit. A major factor in this adornment is learning to trust God. Paul encourages women to adorn themselves with good works, and Peter instructs them to focus on unseen treasure. If we develop our spirits like the holy women of old, we will put on garments of grace and praise.

Abstain from all appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22, KJV).

Our clothing should not even appear to be suggestive. Showing cleavage, navels or excessive leg is not appropriate for church services, youth groups or retreats. Neither are overly tight tops, pants or dresses that leave nothing to the imagination. Such clothing is not appropriate anywhere because it is not modest, and its whole intention is to call attention to breasts, navels, legs or bottoms. It is not polite because it can make others uncomfortable—especially hormone-driven, sight-oriented males. It is simply not appropriate for those who profess to belong to God.

Take a good hard look at your wardrobe and ask the Holy Spirit to be your fashion consultant. As you dress, ask yourself:

Is this modest?
Is it decent?
Is it appropriate for where I’m going?
Does it honor whose I am?
How am I affecting the males around me with my clothing?
Am I honoring them and encouraging them in their pursuit of purity?

The enemy of your soul wants to strip you, make sport of you, and merchandise your body, but your heavenly Father wants to clothe you with beauty, strength, dignity, and honor that will endure.

How can I begin to break the silence and be open about being sexually abused as a child?


Every time my stepfather touched me, I felt as if I was losing a small piece of me. As I got smaller and smaller, our secret seemed to grow bigger and bigger. The silence was cramming all the small, shattered pieces of me into some secret, shameful box that I hoped no one would ever open.

I am not alone. Every day I receive e-mails from people who have been sexually abused and have kept silent about it. Many survivors who have lived in silence falsely believe that talking about their abuse will not only do nothing to reduce their shame and isolation, but that it will actually make things worse.

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse long to be accepted for who we are. As children, we never felt accepted because we believed something was wrong with us. We thought something about us was bad and deserved punishment. Now, as adults, it doesn’t make sense that someone would accept us just because we’re not being abused anymore. So we decide to become someone else—someone others will accept and maybe even love.

But even though our façade helps win us the acceptance of others, we feel exactly the same inside. Contrary to what we believed, we do not feel better. We still can’t accept ourselves, for we don’t even know the real us. We long to know who we really are. But we find we fear it just as much as we long for it. It seems easier to just keep faking it.

When I decided to get real, I took small, quick breaths of fresh air. A little trust here. A little openness there. I kept the blanket off just long enough to know I was making progress. But as I kept working at getting real, I began to realize what I was looking for was a community where I could heal, where I could find acceptance, love, purpose and hope. I was looking for a circle of inspiration.

Creating your own circle can take a while. Most of the time, no one will know that you even need this kind of support until you speak up about it. Hence my passion and focus on empowering survivors to break the silence. It also takes time to build relationships by learning to trust again and allowing others to know you.

Your circle may seem small or even nonexistent at this point. You may still be holding your breath, too afraid to breathe. But just as Jesus got to choose the men He wanted in His circle, you get to choose the people you want in yours. You’re the only one who decides who will get to hear your story and have the high honor of getting to know the real you.

We need to find people we trust—or people we can begin to try to trust—and share our story with them. This is where our healing journey begins and where our circle of inspiration starts to grow. So to begin to form your circle, start with someone you feel you can trust. Chances are, this person will be caring and compassionate, someone who is willing to reach out to you in your pain.

(Help is out there, you dont have to tolerate or accept any nonsense because that is what sexual abuse is, please do not suffer in silence. No man has the right to Lord over another human being. It is not acceptable. Contact us or simple email us for counsel; Pastor Rebecca).

Why don’t women leave their abusers?


Grandville : Cent Proverbes

Grandville : Cent Proverbes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The fact is that many women do leave, and they risk their lives in doing so. A woman may leave an average of seven times—leaving and going back home—before she leaves for good. There are many reasons why a woman stays in an abusive relationship or returns home after leaving, but the primary motivation is fear.
Fear

The victim has every reason to be afraid. Many abusers threaten to take the children if she leaves—either by accusing her of being an incompetent parent and gaining custody or by kidnapping them. In extreme cases, he may kill them as the ultimate revenge against his wife.

She also fears for her own safety. She may get killed herself! A woman is at 75 percent greater risk of harm from her abuser when she leaves.1 One abuser threatened to kill his wife, saying, “If I can’t have you, nobody else will either.” In another incident the abuser disfigured his wife’s face with acid, proclaiming, “Now no one will ever want to look at you again.”
Guilt

Religious beliefs and guilt keep many women from leaving abusive situations. They fear the condescending and judgmental reactions of friends and family who believe she is responsible for breaking up the family by leaving. She may also fear offending God and her church family. Most women who have children try to protect them from the trauma of divorce by staying in an abusive marriage. They do not realize their children will suffer more long-lasting trauma by being in an abusive home than in a single-parent home. Women may not realize that leaving does not necessarily lead to divorce. In some cases, separation is the wake-up call that causes her husband to seek help.
Confusion

Confusion and “crazy making” keep many women off balance and unable to make rational decisions. One day he worships her and places her on a pedestal. The next day she doesn’t meet his expectations and falls from grace. The fall is a long one, and she can’t understand why he has changed from a loving, generous husband into a maniacal bully who delights in punishing her.
False Hope

False hope distorts a woman’s view of reality. Many women stay in an abusive home because they love their husbands and long to see their marriage succeed. They simply want the disrespect and violence to stop. She believes if she tries a little harder or waits a little longer, things will change. She believes him when he says the abuse will never happen again. Because he has been wounded in the past, she thinks he needs extra love and care, and she thinks that helping him become whole is her responsibility. Because she loves him, she denies the reality that he is capable of seriously hurting or killing her. False hope convinces her that she needs to protect her husband—even from himself.
Financial Instability

Financial dependence and fear of the unknown paralyze many women as they ponder how they will be able to support themselves and, in many cases, their children. Most women face financial, social, and emotional hardships when they leave, and they often find that assistance is limited or not available to them. Weak criminal justice systems offer no hope, and have failed victims again and again, causing women to be terrified of possibly losing custody of their children and become destitute financially. When a woman’s life is bound up in her family, she worries about continuing important relationships with stepchildren, grandchildren, in-laws, and friends. She believes her identity will be lost if she leaves.
Lack of Information

Ignorance of the facts and of the consequences of domestic violence causes women to view themselves as the problem rather than understanding the cause of violence is within the heart and mind of the abuser. They believe his violence is caused by temporary problems based on outside circumstances, such as stress at work. Having this mind-set, they believe that once the stress is relieved, the beatings will stop. In addition, some women are unaware that spousal abuse is spiritually and morally wrong.

(If you have been abused or in an abusive relationship, you dont have to suffer in silence feel free to contact us, there is help out there.)

The Removing of those things that are Shaken


Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber to be an example of a charismatic religious leader. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The letter to the Hebrews, chapter 12 at verse 26: “Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more will I make to tremble not the earth only, but also the heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that have been made, that those things which are not shaken may remain. Wherefore, receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us have grace, whereby we may offer service well-pleasing to God with reverence and awe.” Chapter 13 and verse 14: “For we have not here an abiding city, but we seek after the city which is to come.”

Now, into a very few minutes I want to put just a few things that are on my heart at this time, I believe as partly introductory to the conference which is ahead of us during this next week. You, most of you at least, know why this letter to the Hebrews (as it is called) was written. That is, from the Divine standpoint, why God had it written and preserved. And that undoubtedly was in the light of what we have just read: an imminent, great, shaking… for this letter was written a little before the end of the Jewish system and regime and dispensation. The year 70 was fast approaching when the Roman legions would throw their siege around Jerusalem and reduce it – as the capital and centre of the Jewish world – to rubble; literally fulfilling the words of the Lord Jesus, “They will not leave one stone upon another”. It was the end of that long, long Jewish era, and that was on the very near horizon when this letter was written. And we can see therefore, the infinite wisdom of God in bringing into view the heavenly and eternal counterpart of that whole system of earthly things. That system was to be shaken to its foundations and toppled to the earth. But after all, as the whole letter shows, at most and at best it was but an earthly representation of heavenly things and the earthly was passing now and it was therefore necessary for men and women of faith in the Lord Jesus to have their anchorage in the heavenly, and the abiding; the eternal. And that was the purpose of the letter.

But you can clearly see, even from the fragments which we have read, that that was not the end of the matter. For even here when that had happened, when it had happened, the whole earthly thing broken to pieces and passed away, there’s a pointing on. There’s still a future vision, and even these who looked beyond the figures and the types and the symbols and the earthly and the temporal, had in view a City which was never of this earth and of this world: “We look for a City, we have here no abiding City…”. That was very evident with the passing of Jerusalem, but: “…we seek one.”

Now, dear friends, of course that opens up far more than I can put into fifteen minutes but out of that and around that I want to gather one or two things a little on my heart very much in these days. If it is true that that shaking was only half of the great shaking and the other half will be the shaking not only of the earth but of the heavens also (that is, not only of the temporal but of the spiritual, not only of the local but of the universal) then to bring in the setting which is abiding… everything that is not abiding, that cannot stand has got to be shaken to its foundation.

When the Lord Jesus was speaking in many words about this very day of Jerusalem’s destruction and passing and Israel’s scattering, He gave many indications; signs which would clearly indicate that that day was at hand. He spoke about the “signs of the times” as we call them; spoke about a fig tree and other things which would clearly indicate that that day was at hand. But then He passed beyond that and carried us to the end of this dispensation and He gave many further signs of how we should know that this greater end than the end of Jerusalem and Jewry was at hand; given us many signs and I’m not going to try to gather up or even mention, but they are indeed very significant. I think, dear friends, this is the point: I think that we have today an almost overwhelming amount of evidence that we are on the point of this far greater shaking. In other words: that we are at the end of another dispensation.

I always hesitate in the realm of prophecy, you never hear me say very much about prophecy; I’ve had enough of the confusion of prophecy in fifty years of study of it. But at the same time, with all that, with all my carefulness about it, I cannot but feel that everything today is most portentous. I would not be surprised (if I may say it) if during this past week one of the most significant things has happened in relation to the end. There is a great system, the very heart and core of which is anti-God and anti-Christ. And one of the things which the Bible tells us will mark the manifestation of the man of sin who will put himself in the place of God is that he will be a tremendous showman, calling down fire from heaven. Everybody can see how easy that could be any day now, calling down fire from heaven! We are almost familiar with that aren’t we, and many other such things.

Now I could dwell on that side of the matter for a long time but I simply mention that, I think… indicative of so much more that points to our coming to the end of this dispensation very soon – the heading up of the final great shaking of heaven and earth. But what I want to touch upon at least this morning is what this means to believers. And that means you and me. What are we to expect? What will be the spiritual signs of the times? We are fascinated with the material, the temporal signs; tremendously impressed with the outward, but what will be the spiritual signs? I just mention it; you must take it away and think about it.

I believe that the Word of God makes very clear (we shall see that much more fully later) that as we get near to the end, as the end approaches, two or three things are going to happen where believers are concerned. One is, one is that they are going to be brought very definitely to the point of accountability for all that God has given them – accountability for all that God has given. God has given much: a great revelation, a great deposit in His Word and through His Word, in ministry, ministry which He Himself has given. I’m not speaking just here, but to His people; a tremendous amount of ministry that God has given through His Word. But there the foundation and substance of it is all preserved in a most marvelous way in the Scriptures and at the end you and I are going to be brought to our accountability to God for what He’s given us. I believe the church, the people of God, are really going to have to face up to what they’ve got; what they’ve received. There, I feel, and I could show you from the Word, that that is made perfectly clear in the Scriptures: that we are going to be brought face to face in very real and even drastic ways with what we’ve got, with what we’ve received; to answer for it and to it.

Let me carry that further. I believe the Word shows very clearly that the people of God will pass into a phase of spiritual experience where what they have is required to be their very life. What they have is required to be their very life and their very survival! That could be said in another way: that the things that you and I have received and think we know are going to be sifted right down of all mere teaching, interpretation, mental grasp; stripped of everything. Now then, what about that that you have taught, you have believed? Now then, what about the meaning of the Cross? Now then, what about the meaning of the Body of Christ, spiritual unity and fellowship? What about it? Now then, what about the sufficiency of Christ? See? I believe that that is going to happen. Reality! Downright reality is going to be the emphasis of the Holy Spirit at the end and you and I and the people of God will pass into such an intensity of spiritual experience under pressure, under stress, under trial and testing that we shall be found out as to what proportion of all that we have claimed to hold is really our being and our life. We’re going to be just stripped down to that.

I believe that is what is happening just now and may be the explanation. We have spoken of Christ as our Life. Very well then, the Holy Spirit says, “Let’s find out how true that is and how much there is.” It may be an explanation of the physical; something along that line – how much is Christ our Life physically? Have we proved Christ as our Life for our bodies as well as for our spirit? Have we? Because there is divine Life for the body dear friends, some of us would not be here today if that were not true. There is divine Life for the body to be had, if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead be in you… “He that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead shall quicken also your mortal body”. That’s not the dust that’s in the earth; that’s your body now “by His Spirit that dwelleth within”. Well what about it? That’s only one point, there’s many others.

We’re just going to be brought to this: is it real? Is the Cross real? Is the Life real? Is Christ real? How much so? That’s going to be sifted out at the end and there’s going to be a shaking of all that can be shaken. And does this not explain very much? Yes there’ll be a great falling away because the large measure of mere profession or claim that is not justified deep down in the very constitution of those people. Well, this is it. This letter, this whole letter, puts its emphasis here: the thing, the thing that matters is the eternal. All history… the Lord has built up a tremendous history around that, do you notice? And what a lot of light it throws upon things, although many problems associated with it.

Have you noticed that whenever, during the whole Christian era from apostolic times to this day, whenever anything that was raised up by God at its beginning became crystallized and static, fixed and set, the Lord had no further interest in preserving it? The explanation of why things have a wonderful beginning and their end… what? Well, you don’t see the Lord preserving it intact! It’s living on a past. It’s simply holding a tradition. The Lord doesn’t care about that. It’s become something fixed down here on this earth and God is only interested, in this dispensation, in the eternal! The City is not here, it’s there. “We are come unto the heavenly Jerusalem.” The Lord won’t let us, won’t let us! And we here have got to be as careful of this as any others have in their connection, that what we call or what is called “Honor Oak” never becomes a fixed system of things, a rigid, set, crystallized, boxed compass of teaching and truth: “That’s that! Finished! Complete!”. Never! God forbid that ever anything like that should happen to us. If so, the Lord won’t preserve it; He won’t! He will have no interest in our preservation for that is the history of things: something new from God (and we could put our finger upon so many couldn’t we?) down through the centuries. Yes, something from God; the reformation, and Wesley, and the Brethren, and all the rest; but… but! Has God founded something so dear to His heart that He would preserve it intact and never allow it to go to pieces and become confused and divided and mixed up? Not at all. Why? Because it became Protestantism; an ism. It became an ism you see. Something like that, fixed, set and rounded off. He’s not in that at all. This heavenly, eternal, spiritual is His interest and He won’t let it settle down here. No ambitions on this earth or in this world will be allowed by God in His people. Have anything like that and you’re in for a bad time, a really bad time.

Now, you see I’m defeated entirely trying to range this, but what I wanted to say, and what is really on my heart that I’m feeling so strongly, is just this: that if we can see anything that corresponds to this in the experience of the Lord’s people today, a sifting, shaking, stripping, getting down to roots and foundations and finding out where we are – that is a sign of the times. It’s a real sign of the times, an internal one. The day is far spent, the coming of the Lord is drawing near. And of course we agree that’s right. We say it’s right. It must be. Surely it’s the thing that must happen! The Lord mustn’t come and find us in a false position; mustn’t come and find us in a position where it’s make-believe, it’s not true; not at all.

So the end may be through much tribulation that we enter the kingdom, the Word says so: “receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken”. A part of the much tribulation through which we enter the kingdom is just this: finding out, oh by such drastic ways, in discipline and chastening and hammering and battering and pressure… finding out how much is real. How much is real? How much is true? Well, the Lord throw more light on that.

The Servant of God


First page of the Gospel of Mark, by Sargis Pi...

First page of the Gospel of Mark, by Sargis Pitsak, a Medieval Armenian scribe and miniaturist (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In choosing a model of a servant of Christ, we instinctively turn to St. Paul. He seems to us to be the most outstanding in every way, and from the greatness of his achievements, the success of his methods, the amazement of his endurance, and his dominating objective, we must get back to his own conception of himself as a worker.

He has given us that conception in many significant and suggestive phrases, some of which we select at once. Not once only, but frequently, he refers to himself as “the servant of Jesus Christ.”

Now I venture to say that a right understanding and apprehension of that word “servant” – as Paul used it – is calculated, without other designations, to revolutionize all of our work for the Master.
The actual word used by Paul was “bondslave,” and by it we are thrown back into the social conditions of the world in those days. Slavery was a part of the social life of that time, and the readers of Paul’s letters were all quite well acquainted with the ideas and customs connected with that system; indeed, some of those readers were slaves themselves. Paul looked upon himself as having been bought by Christ. He gloried in that ownership, and whenever opportunity presented itself he boasted that he was Christ’s. To him that ownership was permanent. The slave was bound for life, and there could be no termination of the relationship or obligations.

The transaction was permanently marked by branding (“I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus”). Professor Mahaffy says:
“In the numerous records of manumissions found at Delphi and at other shrines in Greece, we have learned the legal process by which a slave gained his liberty. He did not bring his master his earnings and obtain his freedom with his receipt for the money, but went to the temple of the god and there paid in his money to the priests; who then with the money bought the slave from his master on the part of the god, and he became for the rest of his life a slave of the god. If at any future time his master or his master’s heirs reclaimed him, he had the record of the transaction in the temple…. If he travelled from home and were seized as a runaway slave, what security could he have? Paul gives us the answer. When liberated at the temple, the priest branded him with the ‘stigmata’ of his new master, Apollo. Now Paul’s words acquire a new and striking application. He had been the slave of sin; but he had been purchased by Christ, and his new liberty consisted in his being the slave of Christ. Henceforth, he says, let no man attempt to reclaim me; I have been marked with the brand of my new master, Jesus Christ.”

On the one hand, this Pauline conception of the absolute and indelible proprietorship of Christ throws much of our modern “service” into striking contrast. Rather than being in willing, full, and free servitude, vassalage, and slavery to Christ, we often regard our service as a kind of religious holiday affair. We may be interested, we may be philanthropic, we may be condescending, or we may be dutiful, but we are certainly not under any compulsion. We can do pretty much as we like about it, and if things do not suit us, we can either “throw up” our work altogether or go where we shall be more appreciated or where things are smoother sailing.

So today, the “worker” too often makes the cause serve him or her instead of being the servant of the cause. Paul took his directions as to sphere, time, and kind of work from his Master, Christ, and relegated every concern to Him. He was not his own, and he could not use either his powers or his time as directed by the flesh.

But on the other hand, he was fully aware and convinced that this “slavery” to Christ was for him the greatest thing in the world. He had caught the true significance of the Master’s invitation to “Take my yoke… and you shall find rest unto your souls.” That, to Paul, meant control and direction for the most serviceable life.

The stream rushes aimlessly, frivolously, and noisily on until it is yoked by a water-wheel, and then – by its arrest – it grinds the grain to feed mankind. The wind blows wildly to no purpose on the sea until the mariner yokes it with his sail, and thus it is harnessed to bear the enriching cargoes from shore to shore. To capture the electricity which would otherwise be lost, we suspend our telegraph wires and direct it intelligently along them, bringing the whole world into an intimate association. And so, as in these and many other ways, the yoke is the symbol of useful control and serviceable direction. Paul knew that the yoke of Christ’s service and association would make his life more fruitful than his own independence. There is a liberty which leads to havoc, ruin, uselessness, and remorse.

But the supreme element in Paul’s abandonment to Christ was a strong, clear sense of what Christ had done for him… and a perpetual consciousness of what Christ was to him. There is nothing which makes slaves of us more than love, and it is an ecstatic and sublime slavery which never wants release, and only dreads that a breach might at some time come. In the captivity of Christ’s love, Paul would ever be found doing everything which would preserve it from suffering hunger in his life, and he would ever be found praying that the “marks” might be burnt more and more deeply into his soul.
“Who that one moment has the least descried Him, Dimly and faintly, hidden and afar, Doth not despise all excellence beside Him, Pleasures and powers that are not and that are.

“I am persuaded that nothing shall sunder Us from the love that saveth us from sin, Lift it or lose hereover or hereunder, Pluck it hereout or strangle it herein.”

For effectual Christian service and the more powerful corporate testimony of the Church, it must be realized that the Divine calling and equipment for the prophetic, or pastoral, or teaching, or evangelistic, or apostolic work is not centered in one man in any given community, but that these personal gifts are distributed over the whole Church. Every true disciple of Christ is called to be a “servant of the Lord,” and he should prayerfully seek to know in what specific capacity He calls him to serve – not taking up work at random, but having sought His guidance he should give himself earnestly, devotedly, and vigorously to his special ministry… and regard his calling as from God.

The “marks” of Christ must be seen upon His servants whether in the place where the Lord’s people assemble, the business, the home, or the social circle; and he must ever be proud to say of Him: “Whose I am, and Whom I serve.”
A vital relationship with Christ born of a deep personal appreciation of what He has done for… and daily is to… our souls, and a clear understanding with a profound conviction of what He wishes to do through our instrumentality – these, covered by a complete and utter abandonment to Him, are the only legitimate grounds for His service. Of such servants the world and the Church stand in tragic and pathetic need, and by such all problems of ineffectiveness and failure are solved. Such never take up the work lightly, and therefore never give it up easily – if at all.
Every Christian must conceive of himself or herself as being definitely called by God into the “fellowship of His Son,” and as “workers together with Him.” He must know that this calling is a solemn and irrevocable ordination to “the work of the ministry.”

To be Christ’s own purchased possession… and to be Christ’s own controlled, directed, and equipped servant… is to have the strength of a great assurance that nothing can separate you from Him; that you work under supreme authority; that all the resources of Christ are at your disposal; and that while doing His work there can be no ultimate failure – unless He is ultimately to fail, an eventuality which is impossible.

This is a service which is eternal and supreme; yet it is only the probation for “higher service” where and when “His servants shall serve Him… and they shall see His face.”

“Christ! I am Christ’s! And let the name suffice you; Ay, for me, too, He greatly hath sufficed. Lo, with no winning words I would entice you, Paul has no honor and no friend but Christ.

“Yea, through life, death, through sorrow and through sinning, He shall suffice me, for He hath sufficed: Christ is the end, for Christ is the beginning, Christ the beginning, for the end is Christ.”

It is so important, beloved, that we should be clear on this matter of service, and it will save us so much sorrow and heartbreak if we have this right as early as possible. We do not want to spend time in pointing out the tremendous mistakenness which prevails far and wide in this respect. “Christian service” has come to be a realm in which all the acquisitive, ambitious, obtrusive, assertive, self-seeking, and numerous other elements of the natural man have been vented and taken hold. It has created a system in which human distinctions are the order of the day. Yes, and much more which it is too painful to mention.

We need an adjustment of our minds by a true spiritual perception of the real nature of service, and it will be well for us ever to remember that all work for Christ is not service to Christ. A child may be very well-meaning and industrious in its “helping mother” (?), but poor mother may find rather more work created than done.

Now let us say right away… with emphasis… that the indispensable and basic thing to real service is THE SERVANT-SPIRIT AND THE SERVANT-MIND. The matter of service is infinitely more than busy-ness in religious causes, earthly activities in Christian interests; it is the accomplishment of a heavenly will and Divine purpose which registers its impact in the breaking of another, foreign will and destroying the works of the devil. This is the force of “obedience” and the “not my will” …and this is the servant-mind and servant-spirit.

When a slave in Israel had fulfilled his time and could claim his liberty but preferred to remain with his master, he was taken on to the threshold and his ear was bored with an awl. The blood fell on the threshold, and he and his master stepped across that blood; by so doing, a covenant of service – now the service of love – was entered upon. To have stepped UPON the blood and “trodden it under foot” would have been to have “counted it an unholy thing,” but passing over (“passover”) it hand in hand was a covenant too sacred ever to be broken. So we are reminded that “we are not our own; we are bought with a price, even the precious blood.”

The basic vision of all true service is that of “the Lord high and lifted up,” His train filling “the Temple,” resulting in ourselves being smitten to the ground with a realization of our own worthlessness. Such a vision makes us forever not masters but slaves… and necessitates an abiding application of blood-soaked, fire-impregnated coal from the altar if we are to be sent-ones – His servants.

Might it not be laid to our charge that our vision of service held ourselves high and lifted up and filling the frame as the goal… until we saw the Lord, and then – in that light – saw ourselves as worthless?
The Lord’s need is to have bond-servants – such as… even though the extreme pressure at some time might make them say that they would “no more speak in this Name” …find that they cannot forbear for long; but cost what it may, they must be in it and at it – the fire is in their bones and zeal of His House eats them up. May we be such, and may the true ground and motive of this fellowship in service be:
“I love, I love my Master, I will not go out free! For He is my Redeemer, He paid the price for me. I would not leave His service, It is so sweet and blest; And in the weariest moments He gives the truest rest.
“My Master shed His life-blood My vassal life to win, And save me from the bondage Of tyrant self and sin. He chose me for His service, And gave me power to choose That blessed, perfect freedom Which I shall never lose.
“I would not halve my service, His only it must be! His only, Who so loved me And gave Himself for me. Rejoicing and adoring, Henceforth my song shall be ‘I love, I love my Master, I will not go out free!'”

For the work of God a wisdom and a skill different from… and far transcending… that of man at his best is essential. A wisdom which is the gift of God. A wisdom, however, which is very often foolishness to men, and yet which – when the work is done – makes the wisdom of men look like foolishness.

Many things are being constructed to which the Name of the Lord is being affixed – things which appear fine and great and like “the Church,” but which are destined to collapse when God’s hurricane and fire test every man’s work. Good works – philanthropy, hospitality, reform, education, religion, relief, etc. – may be the products, or byproducts, of what is called “Christian civilization” …and things for which to be profoundly grateful… but let us not confuse these with “a new creation,” regeneration, a being “born from above.”

The Church is nothing which man can build by any resource in himself personally or collectively. The Church is an organism, not an organization: “Behold, I show you a mystery – we are members of His flesh and of His bones.” Build that, if you can! Launch that; organize that; “run” that! It cannot be done. It is the spontaneous outworking of spiritual forces released… in the acceptance by faith of tremendous facts concerning Christ – facts which are proclaimed out of experience in the power of the Holy Ghost. Not the theological Christ; not the doctrinal Christ; not the Christ of the letter; much less the Jesus of history; but the Christ of Eternity in all the meaning of His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension into the Throne of God revealed in the heart by the Holy Spirit – this alone is authority to preach, to serve, to occupy position, to “build” in relation to the House of God. It is folly to spend time and strength otherwise. It is wisdom to labor on this foundation.

Many inquiries have been set up as to the unsatisfactory situation which exists for so great an area in relation to the gospel and Christian life – questions concerning widespread indifference, gospel-hardening, wholesale backsliding, disappointing “converts,” ineffective Christians, low level of spiritual life, worldliness in the “Church,” the misleading of believers by false doctrine and deceiving spirits, spiritual immaturity, etc., etc.

To some extent such conditions existed from the beginning, even in the great apostolic days, but it was then much more the exception than now. It was then something in the midst of the greater and better conditions which made the apostolic Church so mighty in the world. Now it would seem to be the other way round. The genuine thing is the smaller company in the midst of the more general failure.

Far be it from us to join in the tirade against that which bears “His” name, but we are so constantly confronted with the heartbreaking story of the difficulties of service, the disappointment of workers, the despair of Christians, that we must enter the inquiry and seek to help.

Now without pressing it as our conviction – which it certainly is – we would present it as a question:
May not this state be largely due to an inadequate gospel?
Is the means used such as is calculated to achieve the tremendous end in view?
Have we an adequate conception of what that end is?
May it not be that such an inadequate conception has resulted in the eliminating or neglecting of essentials on the one hand, and the laboring of certain unworthy factors on the other?

With regard to the latter: Is fear of hell and gain of heaven really worthy of the “so great salvation”? Is the horror of being doomed to eternal punishment – giving rise to all the sensational means and methods by which fear is meant to be produced – really a sufficient motive? Is the personal going to heaven, with all the personal gains and pleasures associated therewith – producing all the sentimental appeals intended to capture by pathos, emotion, excitement, pleasure, etc. – really mighty enough to bring through the eternal purpose? The gospel of “escape from hell and going to heaven,” with all the cheap elements of its proclamation which has nauseated so many and turned them away in disgust – may it not be this gospel which prejudices the true and has become played out in the emotions of many who can no longer be appealed to along these lines, setting up a gospel deadlock?

It is absolutely essential that if all the great purpose of God with its vast inclusions is to be entered into, and if there is to be an adequate impact upon men, there must be the sufficient background of the New Testament evangel. It would be very salutary if every “Christian worker” were to sit down… or kneel down… and prayerfully consider the background of New Testament preaching, exhortation, admonition, entreaty, appeal, instruction.

It will be discovered that that background begins in eternity past, before times eternal, in the eternal counsels of God. It will reveal a conception and design with which every movement and gesture of God throughout the ages is related. It will explain the existence of the universe and the purpose of the whole creation. It will set the sovereignty of the Son at the center and make it also the circumference. It will reveal that each soul saved is a vindication of the wisdom of God in plan and creation… and the justification of the existence of the world.

Salvation – conversion – is never something in itself. An ultra-individualism in being saved or in seeking the salvation of others is contrary to the Scriptures… and is baneful. The “therefores” and the “wherefores” of the New Testament are pegs upon which hang vast ranges and mighty weights of spiritual significance and reason.

Why should men be saved? Why should I be utterly abandoned to Christ? Why should I accept the Cross of Christ in its total application to all the elements of my natural life? Why should I leave all for the Gospel’s sake? These and many other such questions must be answered in the light of that infinite background of “the eternal purpose” in the first place.
True it is that conversions take place from the preaching of the immediate issues of sin and hell… and salvation from these. But so often such remains for a long time with but the personal salvation and the immediate issue and a single note. Why should maturity be so long delayed – the nursery so long occupied? Why not the full compass of Divine Meaning from the beginning? Again we ask, may not the widespread failure of a certain evangelism be due to an inadequate motive?
Then in the next place there must be an ADEQUATE DYNAMIC. There is no subject which concerns the servants of the Lord more than that of spiritual power and effectiveness. We have prayed about this until we despaired. We have read books upon it until we were sick. Yes, we have spoken about it ourselves until shame has silenced us.

We see the apostolic example and demonstration. We know the Master’s promise. We know the doctrine and teaching basic to power. But what of the power itself?

Far be it from us to think that we can improve upon, or profitably add to, all that has been written. But if the Lord has taken us through an experience which has made possible an unfolding of His secrets, it will not be conceit on our part if we humbly place such at the service of His children.
It is not sufficient that we recognize the need for power and pray for it. Indeed, it might be very unsafe for the gospel and for the Name of the Lord if it were given. It is of primary importance that we should know the nature and the basis of power. It is equally important that we should recognize that it is that power which has as its object the building of the “House” – the “Temple” of God.

From Genesis to Revelation, resurrection is invariably the basis upon which the direct purpose of God is carried forward. Every instrument which is used in that direct purpose has to be wrought on to a basis of resurrection. The experimental spiritual ground upon which the Church stood at Pentecost was the Resurrection. Paul’s whole life and work rested upon his own experience of the Resurrection. The basis of power is Resurrection union with Christ. The principle of “the eternal purpose” is Resurrection Life in Christ. The Holy Spirit comes only upon Resurrection ground. Power is to “know Him and the power of His Resurrection….” By that Life the Holy Spirit constitutes the believer a personal demonstration of the Resurrection, and the word of testimony thereto is only a consequence… but it is a consequence.

In the meantime, “the eternal purpose” proceeds, but it proceeds only in those and through those who have firstly recognized the death of Jesus as their death… and then accepted it in one all-inclusive reckoning of faith, trusting God to make it actual. They have claimed and apprehended by faith their inheritance in the Risen Lord, even Resurrection Life. It becomes the exclusive basis of all the activities of God within and through His children relative to the eternal purpose. But it is Resurrection Life – mighty, unconquerable, indestructible, deathless. The Holy Spirit is the seal of the Resurrection, and the Holy Spirit’s law of operation is Divine Life.

The Riches of HIS Grace


“In whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7).
In his Letters the Apostle Paul uses the word ‘riches’ some thirteen times. Each occasion has a context which is deeply valuable. From these we take this one: “The riches of His grace”, and we are going to let David and Solomon be our example of this superlative grace. I would just like that you look at one or two fragments in the first book of the Chronicles, chapter 28, verses 1-6:

“And David assembled all the princes of Israel, the princes of the tribes, and the captains of the companies that served the king by course, and the captains of thousands, and the captains of hundreds, and the rulers over all the substance and possessions of the king, and of his sons, with the officers and the mighty men, even all the mighty men of valour, unto Jerusalem. Then David the king stood up upon his feet, and said, Hear me, my brethren, and my people: as for me, it was in mine heart to build an house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and for the footstool of our God; and I had made ready for the building. But God said unto me, Thou shalt not build an house for my name, because thou art a man of war, and hast shed blood. Howbeit the Lord, the God of Israel, chose me out of all the house of my father to be king over Israel for ever: for he hath chosen Judah to be prince; and in the house of Judah, the house of my father: and among the sons of my father he took pleasure in me to make me king over all Israel: and of all my sons, (for the Lord hath given me many sons) he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel. And he said unto me, Solomon thy son, he shall build my house and my courts: for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father.”
“Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 3:1).
“And Solomon the son of David was strengthened in his kingdom, and the Lord his God was with him, and magnified him exceedingly” (2 Chronicles 1:1).


We have said that the summit of Old Testament fullness was reached in Solomon, and we shall find that Solomon will lead us to Christ, and then Solomon will be eclipsed, as out of view, when the Greater than Solomon is here. Solomon’s wealth and wisdom and glory and heritage are proverbial and fabulous, renowned, and far famed. He does represent the summit of kingship and glory in the Old Testament. Jesus Himself acknowledged the greatness of Solomon on two occasions, you remember. He pointed to the flowers in the field and said: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Solomon in all his glory was proverbial, even in those days; Jesus Himself acknowledged it. On another occasion He said: “The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation and shall condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon,” acknowledging the great place that Solomon had in the world of wisdom. But then Jesus added after that, “Solomon in all his glory”, and ‘Solomon in all his wisdom’, that “a greater than Solomon is here”. Solomon fades when Jesus arrives. The unsearchable riches of Christ! We have, then, to consider how in various respects Jesus is greater than Solomon.

One thing that we have been saying, and that is in our hearts in this time together, is our great need for a new apprehension of the Lord Jesus to adjust everything for us. But there are two preliminary considerations before we can proceed with this matter. Why did God magnify Solomon? For it says that “the Lord magnified Solomon above all that have been before him”. The Lord endowed Solomon with this fabulous, proverbial greatness of wealth, dominion and wisdom. Why did He do it? God from eternity has only one person in view, and that person was not Solomon, nor any other one but His Son, and if the Lord so magnified Solomon, it was to bring His Son, the still greater, into view. Through the greatest thing He could do here on this earth to lead on to the much greater of the heavenly. God had His Son in view, the other One, the Greater than Solomon, and that is why He did it. I wish Solomon had known that! It would have saved him a great deal of historic tragedy. If we really saw that, and this One, this only One, were ever filling our vision, all these tragedies, mistakes and blunders that we make – or that Solomon did later – would be obviated.

Oh, the wonderful things that God said seemingly about Solomon could never possibly have been fulfilled in Solomon himself. They were quite beyond him! God was reaching beyond this man in the things that He seemingly said about him, and to him, and you have to pick up your New Testament in order to discover to Whom they really applied. Well, we may come on that as we go on, but the point is that we must not see Solomon as just the end in himself. We must look through him to Another and see that God in His sovereignty magnified and glorified this Solomon only with another One in view, and in the long run we shall see the Greater than Solomon, the Greater than the greatest that God has ever done on this earth.

Another thing we must remember in this preliminary consideration is that Solomon was not really himself. I mean this: Solomon was his father, David. Solomon was the fullness of his father, David, and you can never see Solomon without seeing David. That is, it was not so much the person as the significance of the person that is present in contemplating Solomon. When you turn to the New Testament, Solomon is only referred to, at most a half a dozen times, almost in a casual way, but David is referred to in a very positive way over thirty times. That is a statement you must dwell upon, of course, to verify. When you open your New Testament at the first book, the Gospel by Matthew, you find that you have read but a few words and you are on David. He comes there, in that place of priority, right at the beginning of the New Testament. You go through the New Testament and, as I have said, you will find yourself with David more than thirty times. Right on the last page, in the twenty-second chapter of the book of the Revelation, David creeps up again. This man is something very wonderful, very full, and he has a very large place. There is one clause in Isaiah 55, and repeated in the New Testament, which defines this as “the sure mercies of David”. Oh, to be able to plumb the depth of that! This morning we shall see a little of it – “the sure mercies of David”.

All that pertained to Solomon was “the sure mercies of David”, and that brings us to the first of the greatnesses, the first of the “unsearchable riches of Christ”, the first in Ephesians, and everywhere and always: The riches of His grace. Have you seen the riches of His grace as conveyed to us by Solomon? Having seen the great eminence of glory, of wealth, of wisdom to which God brought this man Solomon, we have to look to see where it all began. Where did all that begin?

There is a very dark background indeed to Solomon’s birth and life. We have said that he was the fullness of his father, David. Solomon was the son of David’s old age. He was not the only son – we read: “God hath given me many sons”. We know some of them, and one in particular – Absalom. But Solomon was the son of David’s old age, and it was an old age full of shadows: the shadows of tragedies, of sorrows, and of great mistakes. Solomon was related to the darkest clouds in David’s life.

We know the story of David’s great sin with Bathsheba and her husband, Uriah. David, relaxing wrongly at the time when kings go out to battle, went up to the housetop (there are relaxations which are very dangerous!) and from the housetop he espied that beautiful woman, Bathsheba, and coveted her. His passions rose and he said: ‘I must have her.’ Passion is a very, very fertile thing in evil, and so he schemed to get her. You know the rest of the story – how he planned, plotted, to get her husband, Uriah, in the forefront of the battle, and then told the other fighters to retire and leave him alone to the enemy, which they did. Uriah was left and slain according to David’s precalculated plan, and they came back to David and told him: ‘It has succeeded. Uriah is dead.’ Then David sent to fetch Bathsheba, and he took her. The child born of that iniquitous union was smitten by God. He languished for days and then he died. Nathan, the prophet, went to David with a message from God and wrapped it up in a parable about something that happened in the city, and he painted it in such lurid pictures that David rose in anger, in wrath, and said: ‘The man who has done such a thing shall die.’ Nathan pointed at him and said: “Thou art the man!” Nathan brought home the accusation in a smashing, crushing blow, and then added: “Thou shalt not die.” We will see the point of that in a moment.

The depth and greatness of David’s sin is seen in those terrible confessions, heart-brokenness and sorrows. We have to look at the Psalms, for they are touched here and there with this. In Psalm 32: “I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord.” Psalm 38 verse 18: “For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.” And then a whole Psalm – Psalm 51 – one of the most terrible bits of literature in existence. Look at the heading of this Psalm: “A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him after he had gone in to Bathsheba.” … “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned and done that which is evil in thy sight.” So the whole Psalm, which we will not read, but one more fragment: “Deliver me, O God, from bloodguiltiness.” Here we are; broken-hearted, penitent, standing at God’s tribunal, pleading for mercy, full of self-condemnation, a conscience stained with iniquity, and God’s face turned away, a desolation of heart. He cries: “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, have mercy upon me.”

David had sinned the sin which put him beyond the pale of the virtue of all the Levitical sacrifices. If you read the sacrifices and the conditions, you will find that they do not cover this sin, they have no provision for this. Even the cities of refuge which provided for the man-slayer would not take in David, because the man-slayer who found refuge there was the man who had caused someone to die inadvertently, without premeditation, by accident. So there was no provision for him, a man who had premeditated, planned, schemed, and brought about a death; the city of refuge had no place for him. No sacrifice is provided for him, therefore. In this Psalm 51, David says: “Sacrifice and offering and burnt offering thou desirest not” – ‘It is no good. I have not any.’ He was out of the pale of all their sacrifices and their virtue by premeditation. Oh, how far this man had gone! No wonder his conscience made him cry out like this! Uriah’s death – murder – lies at David’s door, and the little innocent babe’s death lies at his door. What are you going to do with a man like that? What are you going to do with a sin like that? It is outside the pale of all God’s Mosaic prescribing. What answer have we got to this? How can this man escape? How can glory be the end of that? There is only one answer, and there is an answer: Grace! Grace goes beyond all Old Testament limits.

David is the greatest Old Testament example of pardon through Grace. Remember that! That is why he is brought into view so much. That is the meaning of “the sure mercies of David”. Why of David? Unsearchable riches of His grace! The son gathers into himself all that meaning of Divine grace, what grace can do in relation to a situation like that. How glorious! Glory can follow grace. “The glory of HIS grace” is a phrase in Ephesians. My, how deep!

You ask: Can there be anything greater, a greater demonstration of grace than that toward David represented in a temporal way in Solomon? (Underline that word ‘temporal’.) Can there be anything greater than that? Is there greater grace than that represented by Solomon? Oh, yes: “A greater than Solomon is here!” As Son of Man, God’s Son came into the inky darkness and blackness of the sin of the whole race, not of one man. He bore the judgment of that sin upon the whole race and brought God’s infinite grace to the world – to the world!

Look again at that cross on Calvary’s hill! Take another look, and listen. Listen to that bitter, heartbroken cry: “Eli, Eli, lama sabach-thani?” … “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The word embracing all time and eternity: “forsaken… forsaken”, David may have tasted something of that. Dear friends, when you look at that cross and hear that cry, you touch the deepest, deepest depth of human tragedy, that is, that the race, but for the grace of God, is God-forsaken eternally. If you have ever tasted a deep, deep sorrow within the compass of human capacity, you know that that hour of darkness is like an eternity. It is not momentary; it is like an eternity. It seems that an end of things for ever has been touched. In that moment when Jesus cried “forsaken, forsaken”, He touched the eternity of man’s destiny outside of God. That cry with that word “forsaken” is the measure of human depravity. We have yet to feel the tremendous impact of the Cross in this sense – that if Jesus had not gone there for us, we would be eternally forsaken of God. The face of God is turned away. The blackness and darkness of eternal doom rests upon the race – but for the Cross of Jesus Christ and what He has done there as forsaken.

Have you ever tasted the slightest drop of death? Oh, yes, it is possible, even in our Christian, spiritual life. I confess that there have been times when I wondered if the Lord had gone out of my universe, if He was really still alive and if He had not forgotten me. I cried: ‘Has the Lord forgotten to be gracious?’ It was as though the Lord had gone. I could not find Him. I would pray, but I could not touch Him. A little experience like that is not God forsaking us, thank God! It never is, for He said: “I will never forsake you”, but a little consciousness of the remoteness of the Lord from us is the worst experience of tragedy in our life. Oh, it is the most awful thing to have to go for a little while without the realization of the Lord, to be groping for the Lord and not finding Him, like Job, a righteous man: “I go on the right hand, he is not there; on the left, he is not there; I go forward, he is not there. Oh, that I knew where I might find him!” Have you had any experience at all like that? I do not want you to have it if you have not. Do not covet it. But some of you might just know a day, or a few days or more, of: ‘Oh, where is the Lord? Where is the Lord?’ It may be that the Lord lets us know something about that to bring us into that fellowship of His suffering and to make us understand how great a thing He has done for us, for He does not believe in theories and doctrines. The Lord is very practical. Experience is His school, and He will teach us in that heavy school of experience.

Yes, a greater than Solomon or David is here. He came, and He touched the deepest depth of human depravity which is found in that word “forsaken”. Anybody who does not believe in the depravity of human nature, and a total depravity, has not yet seen the Cross of the Lord Jesus, and seen us there, forsaken of God, on the one side. Yes, grace reaches the deepest point of human tragedy, and that is man’s forsakenness, but for Christ. Grace! What a word this is! If Solomon, in all his glory, was brought out of that terrible iniquity, judgment, outside of the pale of Levitical provision; if all his glory comes out of that, what can you say about it? What word is there to explain it? Only this one: Grace! We will go around that word for all time and all eternity.

Dr. J. H. Jowett, who was one of the greatest preachers of the last century, said this: “There is a word I have wrestled with so much. There is no word with which I have wrestled more than this one: Grace! It is like expressing a great American forest in a word. No phrase can express the meaning of grace. Grace is more than mercy, it is more than tender mercy, it is more than a multitude of tender mercies. Grace is more than love, it is more than innocent love. Grace is holy love, but it is holy love instantaneously going out in eager quest toward the unholy and the unlovely. It is the ministry of a great sacrifice, to redeem the unholy and unlovely into the beauty of God. The grace of God is holy love on the move to thee and to me and the like of me and thee. It is God’s unmerited, undeserved going out toward the children of man that He might bring them into the glory and brightness of His own likeness.” Well, that is an attempt to define this word.

Was not Paul right in speaking of the unsearchable riches of His grace? And Paul knew what he was talking about. There was a background to this man’s life. ‘I am not worthy,’ said he, ‘to be called an apostle. I persecuted the church.’ He was on his knees before the Lord, and the Lord was showing him His grace and His mercy. He said: ‘But, Lord, when Your servant Stephen was martyred, I was there, giving my consent. What ground have I for apostleship? What ground have I to be anything at all? My hands are stained with bloodguiltiness, all premeditated, designed and enacted with terrific force. How dare I look up into Thy face and be a disciple, a child of God, to say nothing about being an apostle!’ “But unto me, who am less than the least of all the saints, was this grace given to preach among the nations the unsearchable riches of Christ.”
If you cannot comprehend me, may the Lord register the impression upon us!

Prayer: How easily, with facile speech, we repeat: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!” Oh, Lord, challenge us with that word, lift us with that word, save us with that word. Can we dare to say, glorify us with that word? Oh, if all the words are forgotten, and our human efforts to convey it fail entirely, leave the impression! The grace of God is indeed the greatest thing in this universe for humans such as we are. We commit it to Thee; oh, give us to glory in Thy grace, for Thy Name’s sake. Amen.

Women


 Biblical Advice for Women’s Issues

Honest biblical advice for the toughest issues women face in crisis situations, personal and spiritual development, relationships, current events, and more. See the categories below for more information on each topic.


Biblical Guidelines for Helping

The experienced Christian counselor, H. NORMAN WRIGHT, author of Helping Those Who Hurt, says that many elements are involved in helping a friend:

  • look to the Word of God (Proverbs 3:5-6): if we try to help a friend within our own strength, we will make mistakes.
  • experience “genuine interest and love” for the individual we are helping. Wright suggests that if we don’t have this, we can’t fake it. Pray about your attitude, or point your friend to someone who could possibly be of more help to them.
  • know when to speak, and when not to: A knowledgeable person chooses words well.
  • ask for more information: this will allow your friend time to talk.
  • keep a confidence: if you are asked not to share information, then keep it to yourself.
  • show understanding: if you make inappropriate comments, your friend can feel the painful effects of your reactions.
  • give tentative (rather than concrete) suggestions to allow your friend to think of many solutions. 
  • use confrontation: Confront with grace and understanding, and to allow your friend “to make better decisions for herself, become more accepting of where she is in life, and to be less destructive and more productive,” Wright says.
Be ready to help and edify your friend, (Galatians 6:2, Romans 14:19), and give encouragement (Proverbs 12:25).

Finally,  “be able to get inside the other person, to look at the world through her perspective or frame of reference, and get a feeling for what her world is like.”

Check the categories on Women Issues for more guidance

Remain Blessed Virtuous One,

Rebecca Ajibola.

Oil for the Light


The book of Exodus, chapter 27 at verse 20:

“And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure olive oil beaten for the light, to cause a lamp to burn continually. In the tent of meeting, without the veil which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall keep it in order from evening to morning before the Lord: it shall be a statue for ever throughout their generations on behalf of the children of Israel.”
Oil for the light.

It is my growing conviction dear friends, that the greatest need of our time is a true knowledge and understanding of the Holy Spirit and His work. Such knowledge, if spiritually apprehended, would really solve by far the greater number of the problems which beset Christians and the church today. If only we really lived in the good of the indwelling Holy Spirit with all that means as a matter of light… how different everything would be.
So I say again, the pressing need of our time is for such knowledge, such understanding. And so, what follows this morning is just touching on the very fringe of that matter; not by any means an attempt to cover it or exhaust it.
This simple fragment: “thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring pure olive oil for the light…” You notice this is a command to the Lord’s people. This is an imperative. This is a necessity. This is indispensible, this is essential – a command. It is not optional, left to choice; this is an obligation: “Command the children of Israel that they bring oil for the light”.
Now, first of all note the place of the light. The lampstand, as you know, was in the holy place, between the outer court and the most holy place. It was in that place which in type is a between place, a place between heaven and earth, heaven and the world – there’s the outside and there’s the inside. There is all that is here in this world on the one side, on the other side there is all that which is essentially heaven – the very presence of God. And in between heaven and earth, this light was to be a place which united heaven and earth and yet divided them.

I think the meaning is what our Lord meant in His great prayer. It seems to me that He was standing very much in this position when He prayed in John 17: “They are not of the world even as I am not of the world, and yet… and yet they are in the world, these are in the world. I come to Thee, they are not of the world.” It is so familiar a truth, almost a hackneyed phrase, “in the world but not of it”. Here is an in-between place which is the place of believers in this present dispensation at this present time. It is our place between heaven and earth in a very real sense. Well, we know that don’t we? We know that on the one hand we are here in this world, right enough and it’s very real. And yet it is just as real that we don’t belong to it, we are not of its life, we’re in an in-between place. We know that we’re not yet literally and actually in heaven, and yet and yet! Somehow or other we are deeply linked with heaven. The place between… that is where the light was to be or where the light was; a place which divides heaven and earth and yet brings them together.

There were no windows in that place. No windows in the holy place. No provision was made for natural light. Natural light was excluded. But for this lampstand, it would have been totally dark. All that was there represented in type and symbol, all the values and functions of that place were only possible, capable, of being effective by a light which was not the light of nature.

The Light of the Spirit

The light is produced by the oil. That is true and touches very closely upon my opening remark. This holy place, this in-between place was symbolic of the position in which Israel were just at that time, they were out of Egypt but they were not yet literally and altogether in the land of Canaan. They were in an in-between place and oh, how they needed the light of heaven for that wilderness journey!

There are two aspects of the Christian life. In Christ it is true we are seated in the heavenlies, but Peter will tell us that we are still pilgrims and strangers; we are sojourners – always the two aspects. And on this side, the peculiar, peculiar position of God’s people at the present time: the pilgrimage aspect.

And this is true to very positive teaching in the New Testament. In this life God has made no provision for natural light. If you and I are going on our way to reach God’s full end then natural light, for one thing, will be no good to us, but for another God has ruled it out. He has made no windows. That’s the argument of the first letter to the Corinthians isn’t it? “The natural man receives not the things of God and neither can he know them”. And the whole force of the chapter in which those words occurs, is: “God has made no windows for that – your reason doesn’t come in here, the light of your natural judgement is not allowed here. It is all excluded. The light that is here is the light from the oil. It’s the light of the Spirit.”

So the argument of the first letter to the Corinthians is the argument about the Spirit, isn’t it? And about what is spiritual for guidance, for judgement, for counsel, and for the knowledge of everything of the Lord. No place for natural light, yet God’s own provision for light which is better than that, it’s God’s own light.
Now look at the contents of this place, the holy place. Well, in addition to the lampstand, the golden lampstand, you know there was the golden altar of incense and then there was the golden table of bread, of the loaves. Simple symbols that help us to understand the meaning of the light, the functioning of the oil. Just this, dear friends, and of course we know the symbolism is that the oil is the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is our light for the things of God. But this light is not just unto itself. It is to throw its rays upon, to light up, to illumine this whole matter of prayer.

And I’m quite sure I carry you with me when I say what a tremendous need there is that the people of God should know how to pray in the Spirit. If only we knew how to pray in the Holy Ghost! That’s a New Testament phrase: “praying in the Holy Ghost”. We need that. We shall never really get very far without that. We’ll be going round in circles. And you see the Lord from time to time called a halt in this journey for the setting up of the tabernacle again, with everything that it contained. But right in the centre was this thing: the light in the holy place upon this matter of intercession and prayer – the altar of incense. It is as though the Lord was saying, “we can’t get any further until we have put a new emphasis upon this matter of prayer in the Spirit, praying in the Holy Ghost”.
Our future, our progress, our fresh stages will require that we get into the Spirit of prayer again and we get prayer in the Spirit. Now, it’s difficult for me to convey all that I am feeling about that, but dear friends, you will grasp the point. If in our prayers and in our own prayer life privately, and when we came together, we come together for prayer as the Lord’s people, we were really praying in the Spirit, how much further we should get! Instead of praying in our own judgements, our own feelings, our own impulses, our own ideas, our own reasoning – what ought to be, what we think should be and so on – and uttering a lot of things out of our own natural light. If the Holy Spirit got hold of our praying and we prayed in the Spirit even one thing, how much further we should get! See, I do not believe it is possible to pray a thing in the Holy Ghost without an issue, without something happening, without something being reached and some moving taking place.

Look again in the book of the Acts. That’s just what it was, you see, they prayed in the Spirit. And that does not mean that they just prayed in a kind of feeling, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of light, you see. And the Holy Spirit knows what God wants. He knows all the purposes of God, all the designs of God, all the ways of God, all the times of God. He knows when the time is due for such and such a thing. He knows exactly how that thing ought to be done. He knows it all, He’s the Spirit of light! Pray in the Holy Spirit and you pray right on to the things that God intends and they must be.

And I can do no more this morning than just make this appeal: that you and I seek the Lord yet more earnestly that our prayer life shall be in the Spirit, illumined by the Spirit, that we shall pray in the intelligence and the understanding of the Holy Spirit.

So the oil for the light has a relationship to prayer in the Holy Spirit. On the other hand this light was thrown upon the table and the bread. And that surely indicates that we must feed upon the Word of God in the illumination of the Holy Spirit. This is the extra factor that is so necessary, I feel perhaps more necessary today than ever, if that’s possible.

You can take this book, the Bible, and from the same book, using exactly the same Scriptures, get a hundred different positions, even every one of which is in conflict with the other. That is what has been done! That is what is being done. You see nearly all the different aspects and forms of Christianity today build themselves upon Scripture, support their position by Scripture, and very few of them can stand together. They are contradictory if not antagonistic to one another, they take one thing out of the Word of God and you get these different views which are absolutely in conflict with each other and yet built upon Scripture. And that can be extended over so many things, so many ways.

Well, what are we to do? How are we to know?

Not by leaving the Scripture and arriving at our own conclusions and judgements, but we need the Holy Spirit to tell us what the Scripture means. There’s something, you see, extra to the Word. The Spirit gave this Word and He knew what He meant by it. And He never meant two conflicting and contradictory things. He’s not like that. The Spirit’s mind is one mind. Always very consistent is the Holy Spirit, and there are no contradictions in the Bible where the Holy Spirit is concerned; there are in our natural light interpretations or apprehensions.

Do you not see how important it is to bring oil for the light? That in the Word of God upon which we have got to feed (it is our Bread) Christ has come to us as the Bread in the form of the Word, “man shall not live by bread alone but by every word…” every Word! Christ is the living Word as the living Bread. But oh! We need the Holy Spirit to illumine this Word and to interpret, and to convict, to save us from contradiction. Ah yes, but the Holy Spirit has no windows for our reasoning and our interpretations – natural light. Here everything is shut up to Him; shut up to Him – everything else excluded.

Well, our time is gone. I think you see what I meant, the tremendous importance in our day of the Holy Spirit – knowing the Holy Spirit. My last word is this: beaten. “Bring pure olive oil beaten for the light”. There’s got to be definite exercise about this matter of the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the illumination of the Holy Spirit. It just does not happen and come about. It does not just come about, we’ve got to get down to this matter in real exercise and energy and make, shall I say, a business of it: “Lord, Lord, rule out my judgement, rule out my feelings, rule out my likes and my dislikes. You come by Your Spirit and have absolute pre-eminence in my heart, in my mind as I pray, as I read Thy Word”. See? It’s business, beaten out, real exercise about the place and the work of the Holy Spirit in our personal life with the Lord and in our collective life.

Let us long to hear that note in our prayer gatherings, a real laying hold of the Lord, “Now Lord, tonight in this hour we must come into the mind of the Spirit about things…” A real laying hold of God, beating it out. “Command the children of Israel that they bring pure olive oil, beaten… for the light”.

First written by T Austin Sparks and recently modified for today’s reader.

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