Quote for Today
“The attractive power of sin increases as we approach it”
J. B. Marsden
“The attractive power of sin increases as we approach it”
J. B. Marsden
“If we do not abide in prayer, we will abide in temptation.”
“He will rest in his love”
We see and feel the unrest and turmoil in the world today as men seek to rule by the lust for power and the desire for pre-eminence. The sense of the growing disrespect for one another, the clamour of voices and mounting hatred eroding the last bit of civility left is the precursor of the things to come. The voices for calm and deference are being drowned out in the escalating animosity against all that is good and descent. The pride and arrogance of men and the vanity of the nations all seek to conspire against God and His Anointed. The conferences, peace treaties and all of the political scheming of our day will avail them nothing.
“Why do the nations rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed…”
Psalm 2:1-2, Acts 4:25-26
In the Book of Revelation, we read the fulfillment of this Psalmic prophecy.
“And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb…”
God’s response to these things?
“He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh:
the Lord shall have them in derision”
The Great I AM, sits enthroned in glory, majesty and power. The hand-breadth of the universe is merely the created marvel of the One who set man within its vast domain. He who rules all things and is the matrix of all things remains reposed within the power of the greatest of all powers… Love. Love cannot be conquered and it cannot be denied. It forbears the evil, wrath and blind rage of those who spend themselves beating upon its tender breast. It will outlast them all. Let the heathen rage, let men conjure up evil beyond imagination. The Eternal One will triumph in the end. The Cross of Christ still stands to declare its edict against the malice of wicked men and spiritual principalities in high places. It stands triumphant against their seeming victory and the Lamb’s resurrection exposes their weakness and their shame.
Even now in many places His own are hunted out, trampled and murdered for simply loving Him who is Love. These enemies mock and once again declare their seeming victory over the weak and helpless lambs of God. We can hear the taunts and the blasphemous cries of victory and feel the hatred of a world gone mad. Yet God will have His way. It is as we see and touch the eternal purposes of God that we too can rejoice; by the living faith of Christ we feel the certainty of His victory and the triumph of Good over evil. The eternal things of God remain unmoved. His promises are sure and the judgement of the wicked is as certain as the very resurrection of Christ.
God is at rest in His Love. His throne is immovable and so are those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Take comfort oh tossed ones; stay true in fervent love, hold fast to Him and His promises for the storm will pass and the expanse of His Kingdom will be seen. His Banner of Love will wave freely over all who remain true.
“For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle-dove is heard in our land; The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell, Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away”
Song of songs 2:11-13
“His banner over me was love”
Song of songs 2:4
“Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine,
and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof,
and slew him, and cut off his head therewith”
1 Samuel 17:51
God’s way of victory is to use the very things of the enemy to defeat and humiliate him. Throughout the history of mankind, we see the wisdom and stratagems of the prince of this world defeated by the higher wisdom of God. The greatest example was the seeming destruction of God’s own Son on the cross. The tactic of stirring up of the religious leaders to coerce Pilate into condemning the Son of God to death on the cross appeared to doom God’s purposes. The sealed tomb of Pilate’s arrogance and the stone of Satan’s apparent victory in His death were vanquished by the very means of that death. The power of the resurrection of Christ defeated His foes and put them to open shame.
“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory”
1 Corinthians 2:8
In the continual unfolding of the wisdom of God we are to grow in our trust and submission to His ways. His Wisdom is higher than ours, His ways are past our feeble attempts to comprehend. His end for each of our lives is glorious and certain if we but hold fast to the faith that has been given to each of us.
“Cast not away therefore your confidence,
which hath great recompense of reward”
The Lord’s promises are anchored in nothing less than the shed blood of the Lamb and the resplendent power of God as revealed in His resurrection. It is this surety whereby the pilgrims of faith can be certain of their victory over the world, sin and Satan himself! Cast not away your confidence! Do not give a moment to thoughts of doubt and despair. This same Jesus is even now at work on our behalf with prayers and intercession to His end in each of us; the fullness of victory in Christ Jesus our Lord!
“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen”
“And as it is appointed unto men once to die,
but after this the judgment”
“The practical bearings of this appointment to die. It teaches us our highest work in this life. We live that we may prepare to die. There are four lines of preparation.
(1) There is the discipline of resignation. It may seem hard to part with so many friends, so many interests, so much work, so many hopes, so many enthusiasms. But there is no help for it, and it is better, for our own sakes, and still more for the honour of our God, that we should bow to the inevitable.
(2) There is the discipline of repentance.
(3) There is the training of prayer — I should speak more accurately — of worship. When we pray, really shutting out the things and thoughts of time, cleansing the inner temple of the soul; when we behold the realities over which death has no power, the realities which have no relation to time — the everlasting throne, the unceasing intercession — we are not only insensibly suffused with the light which streams down from that other world; we learn here upon earth how to behave ourselves in that majestic presence; we learn the manners of another climate, the habits of another society, before our time. And this worship is a training for death.
(4) There is the discipline of voluntary sacrifice. By sacrifice man does not merely learn to await death; he goes out to welcome it. He learns how to transfigure a stern necessity into the sublimest of virtues. His life is not simply to be taken from him: he will have the privilege of offering it to God; for each true act of sacrifice, each surrender, whether in will or in act, of self, carries with it the implied power of controlling the whole being, not merely on ordinary occasions, but at the crisis, at the trial time of destiny. Like his Lord, the Christian must, by many a free surrender of that which he desires, or of that which he loves, prepare himself for the last great act which awaits him when, anticipating, controlling the final struggle, the last agony, the rent, the pang of separation between his body and his soul, he will exclaim with the Redeemer, “Into Thy hands, O Father, I commend my spirit”; but he will add, because he is a sinner — a redeemed sinner — “for Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of Truth.”
“But my servant Caleb,
because he had another spirit with him,
and hath followed me fully,
him will I bring into the land whereinto he went;
and his seed shall possess it.”
What a testimony of God! Is not this the very purpose and wonder of Life; to please God by “fully” following Him, believing His promises and persistently standing true to His word and His ways. Caleb saw the same enemies (as the 10 other spies) and their great strength but he never took his eyes off his God! There are different faiths within the household of God; those who believe and rise up to follow and those who see the enemies within and without and are unable to believe God. It is in “following Him fully” that He will bring us in and cause us to possess the land of promise.
The question is what do we behold, or rather, whom do we behold? The majority of God’s people beheld the stature and the strength of the giants of the land, while Joshua and Caleb beheld their God. What do we see when we look into the depths of our hearts? Do we see envy, unforgiveness, jealously, anger, lust and a multitude of other things as unconquerable or do we see God? Do we allow these things to remain or do we know of His victory? His word declares that He has come to save us to the uttermost, that He is able to subdue all things unto Himself.
“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you” Romans 6:12-14
This is the Salvation of God and it is ours in Christ. Faith is the victory; not our own resolve or strength, but Faith. Actual, real, powerful and dynamic faith is able to take the fallen sons of Adam and make them stand in the strength and wonder of His Grace working within.
How is it that the church so readily concedes to the notion that the disobedience of Adam is of a greater consequence than the obedience of Christ! Is this called victory?
“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world:
and this is the victory that overcometh the world,
even our faith”
1 John 5:4
In which spirit do we walk?
In the faith of the ten unbelieving spies? Or in the faith of the two who beheld their God and declared:
“Only rebel not ye against the Lord,
neither fear ye the people of the land;
for they are bread for us… and the Lord is with us:
fear them not”
What is the reaction of the unbelieving ones of God’s people toward those who walk in the true spirit of faith?
“But all the congregation bade stone them with stones”
They do not want to hear of victory and conquest. They would rather remain in their unbelief and defeat. It is time to face our enemies and declare to all… HE IS ABLE!
God will always bear testimony to those who “fully follow Him” and ardently trust in His ability to complete that which He has begun in Christ Jesus our Lord (Philippians 1:6). To the unbelieving ones God declares:
“And the Lord said unto Moses,
How long will this people provoke me?
and how long will it be ere they believe me…”
What is the faith we hold within our hearts? It is to see the living Christ fully reigning in our lives. Do we walk in another spirit or do we resign ourselves to the futility of an impotent life devoid of His power and victory?
“…for I know whom I have believed,
and am persuaded that he is able to keep
that which I have committed unto him
against that day”
2 Timothy 1:12
“As for the Jebusites the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
the children of Judah could not drive them out:
but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah
at Jerusalem unto this day”
Though the Land of Promise had been given, it was the responsibility of His people to take the land and possess it. Within every promise given to us by God there remains a warfare and a battle of faith to make it our own.
“This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child,
in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you,
that by them you may wage the good warfare”
1 Timothy 1:18
It is in the receiving of God’s promises and embracing His call upon our lives that we contend in faith to see them come to pass. There is no victory without the battle, no crown without the fight and no overcoming without the exercising of our faith.
It has taken me years to appreciate that every obstacle in my life is for my own good and learning. It is in these things we discover the true value of Grace and Mercy. If the victory in these things were easy and within the realm of our own strength, then we would be a poor example of what HE has intended for us. If we do not engage in the warfare, our walk will never be able to show forth His victory in our lives and we will live a life of compromise with our enemies…
“By little and little I will drive them out from before thee,
until thou be increased, and inherit the land”
God has a purpose in the obstacles which stand between us and His promises… it is to the “increase’ of our faith and our strength. He has purposed us to become strong, He has intended us to be persistent and determined in the apprehending of the promises given to us. It is in these things we grow strong in our God for we have learned that our God is strong!
“For thou wilt light my candle:
the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.”
Darkness comes to all who walk in the light. “And the evening and the morning were the first day”. The days of God are all “evening and morning” until we reach the last Day in which there will be no darkness for eternity. Note that the Days of God begin with the evening; the darkness is only to bring us to a greater light. The ways of God are always progressive.
“But the path of the just is as the shining light,
that shineth more and more unto the perfect day”
The dark seasons of life are given to us for our good and our development. Adversity and resistance are designed to make us strong, unmovable and steadfast in spirit. There are hidden treasures and supplies within the dark places of our lives; resources to be found in the living Christ as we overcome. In adversity we are instructed to grow in the grace and beauty of our Lord. Let us not despise His ways but wait patiently and expectantly for those treasures that He will give!
“And I will give thee the treasures of darkness,
and hidden riches of secret places,
that thou mayest know that I, the Lord…”
Just as Samson found honey within the carcass of the lion that had attacked him His people find the table of His provision in the presence of their enemies. Caleb declared that the giants of the promised land would be bread for them; so are the trials and situations in which we find ourselves. It is here that the fruit of His Spirit grows and ripens to maturity.
The fruits of the Spirit are all interconnected. The patience (endurance) of the Spirit is the fruit of a living Hope; the Joy of the Spirit comes from the power of a Faith to believe in the midst of trials; the Peace of God comes from the power of a love which sends away all fear. These are the treasures of darkness which are found by those who walk and live in Him. Let us be assured that the darkness cannot overcome those who cling to the light of His Life within.
“But he knoweth the way that I take:
when he hath tried me,
I shall come forth as gold”
“To him that overcometh will I give…”
Revelation 2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 2:26-28, 3:5, 3:12, 3:21
His table is set for us in the midst of our perplexities and adversaries (Psalm 23:5). His bread is rich in the spiritual nutrients of grace and the fruits of His Spirit. It is not in the absence of trouble that we grow and develop; rather it is in the midst of the very things which seek to undermine us. It is in the very face of our adversities that we are outfitted to walk and apprehend his call.
Little did Joseph’s brothers know that in their treatment of Joseph they were in fact unwitting vessels setting in motion the fulfillment of God’s purpose. Saul did not comprehend that his pursuit and envy of David were the means through which God raised a man after His own heart. Whether it is apathy, envy or distrust of our brothers and sisters, the forgetful butler (Gen. 40:23) or the unfeeling jailers of God’s people, the vision stands sure. God will accomplish His ends if we hold fast to the faith He has placed within our hearts.
It is not simply those who have vision who will receive of God’s gracious hand. It is those who overcome through hope in God’s vision who receive the prize of the “high calling of God in Christ Jesus”. Doctrinal visions fade with the passing of time. However, a vision received in the heart, held by hope in the ONE who cannot lie, is an unassailable power which will persevere until the day dawns and His purpose is fulfilled.
Overcoming is simply the result of His Life beating within our breast. His Life is the resurrection from death itself. No grave or disappointment can withstand Him. So not only do we hold to His promises but with the passage of time is the realization that we are held by Him! Through the mountains and valleys of our journey the flame of hope lights our way even in the darkest of nights. The flicker of the eternal keeps us bound to the vision He has birthed. As Paul stood before Agrippa bound in chains, held fast within the Roman penal system, he declared with all boldness…
“Whereupon, O king Agrippa,
I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision”
True vision holds one to a life of obedience regardless of the circumstances. This was not a personal vision which held Paul; it was a “heavenly” one and as such it could not fade because of earthly circumstances. This vision supplies to the beholder faith, obedience and the wonder of Hope as an anchor to our soul. Those who let the vision fade become weary, pragmatic and compromised in a world which seeks to undermine the intense fire of all true pilgrims.
Overcomers are those who keep their feet moving forward, their hearts beating with the fervor of a love which cannot be quenched. In their times of discouragement and failure they rise because of a Hope that cannot be denied. True overcomers are those who follow the “heavenly vision”.
“So often we have a kind of vague,
wistful longing that the promises of Jesus should be true.
The only way really to enter into them
is to believe them with the clutching intensity
of a drowning man”
God, in Christ having paid the price of our sins and remitted them forever from His presence, now proclaims us forgiven and justified in His sight. He now brings us into the workings of His Love, His Truth and His Spirit to complete His full plan of salvation. Having been declared righteous He now begins in earnest to make us His righteousness in truth. The experience of His joy in our hearts and the incomprehensible knowing we are freed from the penalty and the shame of our past sins is the sure sign of His truth in our hearts. However, we soon discover that the declared righteousness, as wonderful as it is, leaves lingering sins and issues. Even though much of the former sins have passed away we inherently recognize the need for a further work of God to complete that which He has begun.
“…being persuaded of this very thing,
that the One having begun a good work in you
will finish it until the day of Jesus Christ”
This is the point at which His people reveal their desire for religion or truth. Voices of the nominal church will tell the young believer to believe the work of God is done; that they have been forgiven and justified so go enjoy life in this world. These voices of reason speak the words of compromise and death. These are the voices of a thief that would rob His people of the truth and power of the Cross to which we have been called. It would steal from us the riches of the promises of God given to those who overcome. If there is no overcoming there will be no reaping of the rewards which God gives to those who live and overcome by faith.
“To him that overcometh
will I give to eat of the tree of life,
which is in the midst of the paradise of God”
“He that overcometh
shall not be hurt of the second death…”
“To him that overcometh
will I give to eat of the hidden manna,
and will give him a white stone,
and in the stone a new name written,
which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it”
“And he that overcometh,
and keepeth my works unto the end,
to him will I give power over the nations:
And he shall rule them with a rod of iron;
as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers:
even as I received of my Father.
And I will give him the morning star”
“He that overcometh,
the same shall be clothed in white raiment;
and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life,
but I will confess his name before my Father,
and before his angels”
“Him that overcometh
will I make a pillar in the temple of my God,
and he shall go no more out:
and I will write upon him the name of my God,
and the name of the city of my God,
which is new Jerusalem,
which cometh down out of heaven from my God:
and I will write upon him my new name”
“To him that overcometh
will I grant to sit with me in my throne,
even as I also overcame,
and am set down with my Father in his throne”
These promises are not ours because we were forgiven and justified; they are for those who overcome! These promises are to those who refuse to compromise with the enemies of their own hearts. These promises are to those who desire the true righteousness which is ours by the power of the faith, life and truth of Jesus beating in our hearts. These ones know the truth of “working out their own salvation”; not by the works of the law but because it is God who is at work in their hearts.
“Wherefore, my beloved,
as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only,
but now much more in my absence,
work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
For it is God which worketh in you
both to will and to do of his good pleasure”
Our working out of this great salvation is the result of God working in. This is not religious works but the works of faith. Faith cannot exist within an individual without producing these works. They who do little have little faith.
“For as the body without the spirit is dead,
so faith without works is dead also”
The voices of compromise and of a lukewarm spirit will cry out Ephesians 2:8-9
“For by grace are ye saved through faith;
and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast”
What they fail to quote is the verse that follows…
“For we are his workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus unto good works,
which God hath before ordained
that we should walk in them”
The working out of God’s salvation as a result of His working in brings us to the knowing this one thing: We are not saved by works; we are saved unto good works. Those good works are revealed in overcoming the obstacles of our hearts, our weaknesses, our thinking, and the lusts of this world, the pride of life and the accuser of the brethren. These are the works and victory of His faith in us.
Our part in the remission of sins is summed up in this scripture.
“John did baptize in the wilderness,
and preach the baptism of repentance
for* (unto) the remission of sins”
While much of the church would preach and believe in the remission of sins on God’s part, few would dare to preach or believe we are called to walk out the remission of sins in our own lives. We are to co-operate with God’s work of salvation in our lives. We also are called to “send away from ourselves” our sins. John the Baptist preached the baptism of repentance in which people would be convicted and brought by the power of the Holy Spirit to the place of repentance. Repentance is the power of God at work in lives to “turn” from their sins. John preached this repentance unto the remission of sins. This is the preaching of the Gospel whereby people are convicted in their minds of the horror and bondage their sins have brought upon them and in that sorrow they find in God divine enablement to remiss (turn away, send away) their own live sins. It is here we discover the power of God’s salvation working within the hearts of men to bring them to the point of action: the turning away from sin. How the truth and power of the Gospel has been polluted! It is here, by grace, we enter into a covenant with God. It is a covenant that He instituted by the death of His Son through the shedding of His Own Blood. How can we linger in sin any longer?
“What then? shall we sin,
because we are not under the law,
but under grace?
God forbid that we should compromise with sin because we are under grace. God forbid that the battle of faith within my own life should cease until everything within my heart is brought under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.