August 1, 2001
Something More About His Ways
“When Jesus had made an end of commanding his disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.” ”
“He comes where He commands us to leave.”
If when God said “Go,” you stayed because you were so concerned about your people at home, you robbed them of the teaching and preaching of Jesus Christ Himself. When you obeyed and left all consequences to God, the Lord went into your city to teach; as long as you would not obey, you were in the way. Watch where you debate and to put what you call duty in competition with your Lord’s commands. “I know He told me to go, but they my duty was here;” that means you do not believe that Jesus means what He says.
He teaches where He instructs us not to.
“Master,…let us make three tabernacles.” Are we playing the spiritual amateur providence in other lives? Are we so noisy in our instruction of others that God cannot get anywhere near them? We have to keep our mouths shut and our spirits alert. God wants to instruct us in regard to His Son, He wants to turn our times of prayer into mounts of transfiguration, and we will not let Him. When we are certain of the way God is going to work, He will never work in that way any more.
He works where He sends us to wait.
“Tarry ye…until . . .” Wait on God and He will work, but don’t wait in spiritual sulks because you cannot see an inch in front of you! Are we detached enough from our own spiritual hysterics to wait on God? To wait is not to sit with folded hands, but to learn to do what we are told.
These are phases of His ways we rarely recognize.
August 2, 2001
The Discipline Of Difficulty
“In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
An average view of the Christian life is that it means deliverance from trouble. It is deliverance in trouble, which is very different. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High…there shall no evil befall thee” – no plague can come nigh the place where you are at one with God.
If you are a child of God, there certainly will be troubles to meet, but Jesus says do not be surprised when they come. “In the world yet shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world, there is nothing for you to fear.” Men who before they were saved would scorn to talk about troubles, often become “fushionless” ?????? after being born again because they have a wrong idea of a saint.
God does not give us overcoming life: He gives us life as we overcome. The strain is the strength. If there is no strain, there is no strength. Are you asking God to give you life and liberty and joy? He cannot, unless you will accept the strain. Immediately you face the strain, you will get the strength. Overcome your own timidity and take the step, and God will give you to eat of the tree of life and you will get nourishment. If you spend yourself out physically, you become exhausted; but spend yourself spiritually, and you get more strength. God never gives strength for to-morrow, or for the next hour, but only for the strain of the minute. The temptation is to face difficulties from a common-sense standpoint. The saint is hilarious when he is crushed with difficulties because the thing is so ludicrously impossible to anyone but God.
August 3, 2001
The Big Compelling Of God
“Behold, we go up to Jerusalem.”
Jerusalem stands in the life of Our Lord as the place where He reached the climax of His Father’s will. “I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me.” That was the one dominating interest all through our Lord’s life, and the things He met with on the way,sorrow or joy, success or failure, never deterred Him from His purpose. “He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.”
The great thing to remember is that we go up to Jerusalem to fulfil God’s purpose, not our own. Naturally, our ambitions are our own; in the Christian life we have no aim of our own. There is so much said to-day about our decision for Christ, our determination to be Christians, our decisions for this and that, but in the New Testament it is the aspect of God’s compelling that is brought out. “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you.” We are not taken up into conscious agreement with God’s purpose, we are taken up into God’s purpose without any consciousness at all. We have no conception of what God is aiming at, and as we go on it gets more and more vague. God’s aim looks like missing the mark because we are too short sighted to see what He is aiming at. At the beginning of the Christian life we have our own ideas as to what God’s purpose is – ‘I am meant to go here or there,’ ‘God has called me to do this special work’; and we go and do the thing, and still the big compelling of God remains. The work we do is of no account, it is so much scaffolding compared with the big compelling of God. “He took unto Him the twelve,” He takes us all the time. There is more than we have got at as yet.
August 4, 2001
The Brave Comradeship Of God
“Then He took unto Him the twelve.”
The bravery of God in trusting us! You say – “But He has been unwise to choose me, because there is nothing in me; I am not of any value.” That is why He chose you. As long as you think there is something in you, He cannot choose you because you have ends of your own to serve; but if you have let Him bring you to the end of your self-sufficiency then He can choose you to go with Him to Jerusalem, and that will mean the fulfilment of purposes which He does not discuss with you.
We are apt to say that because a man has natural ability, therefore he will make a good Christian. It is not a question of our equipment but of our poverty, not of what we bring with us, but of what God puts into us; not a question of natural virtues of strength of character, knowledge, and experience – all that is of no avail in this matter. The only thing that avails is that we are taken up into the big compelling of God and made His comrades (cf. 1 Cor. 1:26-30). The comradeship of God is made up out of men who know their poverty. He can do nothing with the man who thinks that he is of use to God. As Christians we are not out for our own cause at all, we are out for the cause of God, which can never be our cause. We do not know what God is after, but we have to maintain our relationship with Him whatever happens. We must never allow anything to injure our relationship with God; if it does get injured we must take time and get it put right. The main thing about Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the atmosphere produced by that relationship. That is all God asks us to look after, and it is the one thing that is being continually assailed.
August 5, 2001
The Baffling Call Of God
“And all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished … And they understood none of these things.”
God called Jesus Christ to what seemed unmitigated disaster. Jesus Christ called His disciples to see Him put to death; He led every one of them to the place where their hearts would be broken. Jesus Christ’s life was an absolute failure from every standpoint but God’s. But what seemed failure from man’s standpoint was a tremendous triumph to God, because God’s purpose is never man’s purpose.
There comes the baffling call of God in our lives also. The call of God can never be stated explicitly; it is implicit. The call of God is like the call of the sea, no one hears it but the one who has the nature of the sea in him. It cannot be stated definitely what the call of God is to be, because His call is to be in comradeship with Himself for His own purposes, and the test is to believe that God knows what He is after. The things that happen do not happen by chance, they happen entirely in the decree of God. God is working out His purposes.
If we are in communion with God and recognize that He is taking us into His purposes, we shall no longer try to find out what His purposes are. As we go on in the Christian life it gets simpler, because we are less inclined to say – Now why did God allow this and that? Behind the whole thing lies the compelling of God. “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends.” A Christian is one who trusts the wits and the wisdom of God, and not his own wits. If we have a purpose of our own, it destroys the simplicity and the leisureliness which ought to characterize the children of God.
August 6, 2001
The Cross In Prayer
“At that day ye shall ask in My name.”
We are too much given to thinking of the Cross as something we have to get through; we get through it only in order to get into it. The Cross stands for one thing only for us – a complete and entire and absolute identification with the Lord Jesus Christ, and there is nothing in which this identification is realized more than in prayer.
“Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him.” Then why ask? The idea of prayer is not in order to get answers from God; prayer is perfect and complete oneness with God. If we pray because we want answers, we will get huffed with God. The answers come every time, but not always in the way we expect, and our spiritual huff shows a refusal to identify ourselves with Our Lord in prayer. We are not here to prove God answers prayer; we are here to be living monuments of God’s grace.
“I say not that I will pray the Father for you: for the Father Himself loveth you.” Have you reached such an intimacy with God that the Lord Jesus Christ’s life of prayer is the only explanation of your life of prayer? Has Our Lord’s vicarious life become your vital life? “At that day” you will be so identified with Jesus that there will be no distinction.
When prayer seems to be unanswered, beware of trying to fix the blame on someone else. That is always a snare of Satan. You will find that there is a reason which is a deep instruction to you, not to anyone else.
August 7, 2001
Prayer In The Father’s House
“Wist ye not that I must be in My Father’s house?” ”
Our Lord’s childhood was not immature man-hood; our Lord’s childhood is an eternal fact. Am I a holy innocent child of God by identification with my Lord and Saviour? Do I look upon life as being in my Father’s house? Is the Son of God living in His Father’s house in me?
The abiding Reality is God, and His order comes through the moments. Am I always in contact with Reality, or do I only pray when things have gone wrong, when there is a disturbance in the moments of my life? I have to learn to identify myself with my Lord in holy communion in ways some of us have not begun to learn as yet. “I must be about My Father’s business” – live the moments in My Father’s house.
Narrow it down to your individual circumstances – are you so identified with the Lord’s life that you are simply a child of God, continually talking to Him and realizing that all things come from His hands? Is the Eternal Child in you living in the Father’s house? Are the graces of His ministering life working out through you in your home, in your business, in your domestic circle? Have you been wondering why you are going through the things you are? It is not that you have to go through them, it is because of the relationship into which the Son of God has come in His Father’s providence in your particular sainthood. Let Him have His way, keep in perfect union with Him.
The vicarious life of your Lord is to become your vital simple life; the way He worked and lived among men must be the way He lives in you.
August 8, 2001
Prayer In The Father’s Honour
“That holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”
If the Son of God is born into my mortal flesh, is His holy innocence and simplicity and oneness with the Father getting a chance to manifest itself in me? What was true of the Virgin Mary in the historic introduction of God’s Son into this earth is true in every saint. The Son of God is born into me by the direct act of God; then I as a child of God have to exercise the right of a child, the right of being always face to face with my Father. Am I continually saying with amazement to my common-sense life – why do you want to turn me off here? Don’t you know that I must be about my Father’s business? Whatever the circumstances may be, that Holy Innocent Eternal Child must be in contact with His Father.
Am I simple enough to identify myself with my Lord in this way? Is He getting his wonderful way in me? Is God realizing that His Son is formed in me, or have I carefully put Him on one side? Oh, the clamour of these days! Everyone is clamouring – for what? For the Son of God to be put to death. There is no room here for the Son of God just now, no room for quiet holy communion with the Father.
Is the Son of God praying in me or am I dictating to Him? Is He ministering in me as He did in the days of His flesh? Is the Son of God in me going through His passion for His own purposes? The more one knows of the inner life of God’s ripest saints, the more we see what God’s purpose is – “filling up that which is behind of the affliction of Christ.” There is always something to be done in the sense of “filling up.”
August 9, 2001
Prayer In The Father’s Hearing
“Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me.”
When the Son of God prays, He has only one consciousness, and that consciousness is of His Father. God always hears the prayers of His Son, and if the Son of God is formed in me the Father will always hear my prayers. I have to see that the Son of God is manifested in my mortal flesh. “Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit,” i.e., the Bethlehem of the Son of God. Is the Son of God getting His chance in me? Is the direct simplicity of the life of God’s Son being worked out exactly as it was worked out in His historic life? When I come in contact with the occurrences of life as an ordinary human being, is the prayer of God’s Eternal Son to His Father being prayed in me? “In that day ye shall ask in My name. . . .” What day? The day when the Holy Spirit has come to me and made me effectually one with my Lord.
Is the Lord Jesus Christ being abundantly satisfied in your life or have you got a spiritual strut on? Never let common sense obtrude and push the Son of God on one side. Common sense is a gift which God gave to human nature; but common sense is not the gift of His Son. Supernatural sense is the gift of His Son; never enthrone common sense. The Son detects the Father; common sense never yet detected the Father and never will. Our ordinary wits never worship God unless they are transfigured by the indwelling Son of God. We have to see that this mortal flesh is kept in perfect subjection to Him and that He works through it moment by moment. Are we living in such human dependence upon Jesus Christ that His life is being manifested moment by moment?
August 10, 2001
The Sacrament Of The Saint
“Let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well-doing.”
1 Peter 4:19
To choose suffering means that there is something wrong; to choose God’s Will even if it means suffering is a very different thing. No healthy saint ever chooses suffering; he chooses God’s will, as Jesus did, whether it means suffering or not. No saint dare interfere with the discipline of suffering in another saint.
The saint who satisfies the heart of Jesus will make other saints strong and mature for God. The people who do us good are never those who sympathize with us, they always hinder, because sympathy enervates. No one understands a saint but the saint who is nearest to the Saviour. If we accept the sympathy of a saint, the reflex feeling is – Well, God is dealing hardly with me. That is why Jesus said self-pity was of the devil (see Matt. 16:23). Be merciful to God’s reputation. It is easy to blacken God’s character because God never answers back, He never vindicates Himself. Beware of the thought that Jesus needs sympathy in His earthly life; He refused sympathy from man because He knew far too wisely that no one on earth understood what He was after. He took sympathy from His Father only, and from the angels in heaven. (Cf. Luke 15:10.)
Notice God’s unutterable waste of saints, according to the judgment of the world. God plants His saints in the most useless places. We say – God intends me to be here because I am so useful. Jesus never estimated His life along the line of the greatest use. God puts His saints where they will glorify Him, and we are no judges at all of where that is.
August 11, 2001
This Experience Must Come
“And he saw him no more.”
2 Kings 2:12
It is not wrong to depend upon Elijah as long as God gives him to you, but remember the time will come when he will have to go; when he stands no more to you as your guide and leader, because God does not intend he should. You say – “I cannot go on without Elijah.” God says you must.
Alone at your Jordan. 2 Kings 2:14 Jordan is the type of separation where there is no fellowship with anyone else, and where no one can take the responsibility for you. You have to put to the test now what you learned when you were with your Elijah. You have been to Jordan over and over again with Elijah, but now you are up against it alone. It is no use saying you cannot go; this experience has come, and. If you want to know whether God is the God you have faith to believe Him to be, then go through your Jordan alone.
Alone at your Jericho. 2 Kings 2:15 Jericho is the place where you have seen your Elijah do great things. When you come to your Jericho you have a strong disinclination to take the initiative and trust in God, you want someone else to take it for you. If you remain true to what you learned with Elijah, you will get the sign that God is with you.
Alone at your Bethel. 2 Kings 2:23 At your Bethel you will find yourself at your wits’ end and at the beginning of God’s wisdom. When you get to your wits’ end and feel inclined to succumb to panic, don’t; stand true to God and He will bring His truth out in a way that will make your life a sacrament. Put into practice what you learned with your Elijah, use his cloak and pray. Determine to trust in God and do not look for Elijah any more.
August 12, 2001
The Theology Of Rest
“Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?”
When we are in fear we can do nothing less than pray to God, but Our Lord has a right to expect that those who name His Name should have an understanding confidence in Him. God expects His children to be so confident in Him that in any crisis they are the reliable ones. Our trust is in God up to a certain point, then we go back to the elementary panic prayers of those who do not know God. We get to our wits’ end, showing that we have not the slightest confidence in Him and His government of the world; He seems to be asleep, and we see nothing but breakers ahead.
“O ye of little faith!” What a pang must have shot through the disciples – ‘Missed it again!’ And what a pang will go through us when we suddenly realize that we might have produced down right joy in the heart of Jesus by remaining absolutely confident in Him, no matter what was ahead.
There are stages in life when there is no storm, no crisis, when we do our human best; it is when a crisis arises that we instantly reveal upon whom we rely. If we have been learning to worship God and to trust Him, the crisis will reveal that we will go to the breaking point and not break in our confidence in Him.
We have been talking a great deal about sanctification – what is it all going to amount to? It should work out into rest in God which means oneness with God, a oneness which will make us not only blameless in His sight, but a deep joy to Him.
August 13, 2001
Quenching The Spirit
“Quench not the Spirit.”
1 Thessalonians 5:19
The voice of the Spirit is as gentle as a zephyr, so gentle that unless you are living in perfect communion with God, you never hear it. The checks of the Spirit come in the most extraordinarily gentle ways, and if you are not sensitive enough to detect His voice you will quench it, and your personal spiritual life will be impaired. His checks always come as a still small voice, so small that no one but the saint notices them.
Beware if in personal testimony you have to hark back and say – “Once, so many years ago, I was saved.” If you are walking in the light, there is no harking back, the past is transfused into the present wonder of communion with God. If you get out of the light you become a sentimental Christian and live on memories, your testimony has a hard, metallic note. Beware of trying to patch up a present refusal to walk in the light by recalling past experiences of when you did walk in the light. Whenever the Spirit checks, call a halt and get the thing right, or you will go on grieving Him without knowing it.
Suppose God has brought you up to a crisis and you nearly go through but not quite, He will engineer the crisis again, but it will not be so keen as it was before. There will be less discernment of God and more humiliation at not having obeyed; and if you go on grieving the Spirit, there will come a time when that crisis cannot be repeated, you have grieved Him away. But if you go through the crisis, there will be the praise of to God. Never sympathize with the thing that is stabbing God all the time. God has to hurt the thing that must go.
August 14, 2001
“Despise not the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him.”
It is very easy to quench the Spirit; we do it by despising the chastening of the Lord, by fainting when we are rebuked by Him. If we have only a shallow experience of sanctification, we mistake the shadow for the reality, and when the Spirit of God begins to check, we say – oh, that must be the devil.
Never quench the Spirit, and do not despise Him when He says to you – “Don’t be blind on this point any more; you are not where you thought you were. Up to the present I have not been able to reveal it to you, but I reveal it now.” When the Lord chastens you like that, let Him have His way. Let Him relate you rightly to God.
“Nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him.” We get into sulks with God and say – “Oh, well, I can’t help it; I did pray and things did not turn out right, and I am going to give it all up.” Think what would happen if we talked like this in any other domain of life!
Am I prepared to let God grip me by His power and do a work in me that is worthy of Himself? Sanctification is not my idea of what I want God to do for me; sanctification is God’s idea of what He wants to do for me, and He has to get me into the attitude of mind and spirit where at any cost I will let Him sanctify me wholly.
August 15, 2001
Signs Of The New Birth
“Ye must be born again.”
The answer to the question “How can a man he born when he is old?” is – When he is old enough to die – to die right out to his “rag rights,” to his virtues, to his religion, to everything, and to receive into himself the life which never was there before. The new life manifests itself in conscious repentance and unconscious holiness.
“As many as received Him.” (John 1:12.) Is my knowledge of Jesus born of internal spiritual perception, or is it only what I have learned by listening to others? Have I something in my life that connects me with the Lord Jesus as my personal Saviour? All spiritual history must have a personal knowledge for its bedrock. To be born again means that I see Jesus.
“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3.) Do I seek for signs of the Kingdom, or do I perceive God’s rule? The new birth gives a new power of vision whereby I begin to discern God’s rule. His rule was there all the time, but true to His nature; now I have received His nature I can see His rule.
“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin.” (1 John 3:9.) Do I seek to stop sinning or have I stopped sinning? To be born of God means that I have the supernatural power of God to stop sinning. In the Bible it is never – Should a Christian sin? The Bible puts it emphatically – A Christian must not sin. The effective working of the new birth life in us is that we do not commit sin, not merely that we have the power not to sin, but that we have stopped sinning. 1 John 3:9 does not mean that we cannot sin; it means that if we obey the life of God in us, we need not sin.
August 16, 2001
Does He Know Me –
“He calleth … by name.”
When I have sadly misunderstood Him? (John 10:17.) It is possible to know all about doctrine and yet not know Jesus. The soul is in danger when knowledge of doctrine outsteps intimate touch with Jesus. Why was Mary weeping? Doctrine was no more to Mary than the grass under her feet. Any Pharisee could have made a fool of Mary doctrinally, but one thing they could not ridicule out of her was the fact that Jesus had cast seven demons out of her; yet His blessings were nothing in comparison to Himself. Mary “saw Jesus standing and knew not that it was Jesus . . ;” immediately she heard the voice, she knew she had a past history with the One who spoke. “Master!”
When I have stubbornly doubted? (John 10:27.) Have I been doubting something about Jesus – an experience to which others testify but which I have not had? The other disciples told Thomas that they had seen Jesus, but Thomas doubted – “Except I shall see . . , I will not believe.” Thomas needed the personal touch of Jesus. When His touches come, or how they come, we do not know; but when they do come they are in describably precious. “My Lord and my God!”
When I have selfishly denied Him? (John 21:15-17.) Peter had denied Jesus Christ with oaths and curses, and yet after the Resurrection Jesus appeared to Peter alone. He restored him in private, then He restored him before the others. “Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee.”
Have I a personal history with Jesus Christ? The one sign of discipleship is intimate connection with Him, a knowledge of Jesus Christ which nothing can shake.
August 17, 2001
Are You Discouraged In Devotion?
“Yet lackest thou one thing; sell all that thou hast . . and come, follow Me.”
“And when he heard this . . .” Have you ever heard the Master say a hard word? If you have not, I question whether you have heard Him say anything. Jesus Christ says a great deal that we listen to, but do not hear; when we do hear, His words are amazingly hard.
Jesus did not seem in the least solicitous that the man should do what He told him, He made no attempt to keep him with Him. He simply said – Sell all you have, and come, follow Me. Our Lord never pleaded, He never cajoled, He never entrapped; He simply spoke the sternest words mortal ears ever listened to, and then left it alone.
Have I ever heard Jesus say a hard word? Has He said something personally to me to which I have deliberately listened? Not something I can expound or say this and that about, but something I have heard Him say to me? This man did understand what Jesus said, he heard it and he sized up what it meant, and it broke his heart. He did not go away defiant; he went away sorrowful, thoroughly discouraged. He had come to Jesus full of the fire of earnest desire, and the word of Jesus simply froze him; instead of producing an enthusiastic devotion, it produced a heart-breaking discouragement. And Jesus did not go after him, He let him go. Our Lord knows perfectly that when once His word is heard, it will bear fruit sooner or later. The terrible thing is that some of us prevent it bearing fruit in actual life. I wonder what we will say when we do make up our minds to be devoted to Him on that particular point? One thing is certain, He will never cast anything up at us.
August 18, 2001
Have You Ever Been Expressionless With Sorrow?
“And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.”
The rich young ruler went away expressionless with sorrow; he had not a word to say. He had no doubt as to what Jesus said, no debate as to what it meant, and it produced in him a sorrow that had not any words. Have you ever been there? Has God’s word come to you about something you are very rich in – temperament, personal affinity, relationships of heart and mind? Then you have often been expressionless with sorrow. The Lord will not go after you, He will not plead, but every time He meets you on that point He will simply repeat – If you mean what you say, those are the conditions.
“Sell all that thou hast,” undress yourself morally before God of everything that might be a possession until you are a mere conscious human being, and then give God that. That is where the battle is fought – in the domain of the will before God. Are you more devoted to your idea of what Jesus wants than to Himself? If so, you are likely to hear one of His hard sayings that will produce sorrow in you. What Jesus says is hard, it is only easy when it is heard by those who have His disposition. Beware of allowing anything to soften a hard word of Jesus Christ’s.
I can be so rich in poverty, so rich in the consciousness that I am nobody, that I shall never be a disciple of Jesus; and I can be so rich in the consciousness that I am somebody that I shall never be a disciple. Am I willing to be destitute of the sense that I am destitute? This is where discouragement comes in. Discouragement is disenchanted self-love, and self-love may be love of my devotion to Jesus.
August 19, 2001
“Come unto Me.” ”
God means us to live a fully-orbed life in Christ Jesus, but there are times when that life is attacked from the outside, and we tumble into a way of introspection which we thought had gone. Self-consciousness is the first thing that will upset the completeness of the life in God, and self-consciousness continually produces wrestling. Self-consciousness is not sin; it may be produced by a nervous temperament or by a sudden dumping down into new circumstances. It is never Gods will that we should be anything less than absolutely complete in Him. Anything that disturbs rest in Him must be cured at once, and it is not cured by being ignored, but by coming to Jesus Christ. If we come to Him and ask Him to produce Christ-consciousness, He will always do it until we learn to abide in Him.
Never allow the dividing up of your life in Christ to remain without facing it. Beware of leakage, of the dividing up of your life by the influence of friends or of circumstances; beware of anything that is going to split up your oneness with Him and make you see yourself separately. Nothing is so important as to keep right spiritually. The great solution is the simple one – “Come unto Me.” The depth of our reality, intellectually, morally and spiritually, is tested by these words. In every degree in which we are not real, we will dispute rather than come.
August 20, 2001
“And I will give you rest.”
Whenever anything begins to disintegrate your life with Jesus Christ, turn to Him at once and ask Him to establish rest. Never allow anything to remain which is making the dis-peace. Take every element of disintegration as something to wrestle against, and not to suffer. Say – Lord, prove Thy consciousness in me, and self-consciousness will go and He will be all in all. Beware of allowing self-consciousness to continue because by slow degrees it will awaken self-pity, and self-pity is Satanic. Well, I am not understood; this is a thing they ought to apologize for; that is a point I really must have cleared up. Leave others alone and ask the Lord to give you Christ-consciousness, and He will poise you until the completeness is absolute.
The complete life is the life of a child. When I am consciously conscious, there is something wrong. It is the sick man who knows what health is. The child of God is not conscious of the will of God because he is the will of God. When there has been the slightest deviation from the will of God, we begin to ask – What is Thy will? A child of God never prays to be conscious that God answers prayer, he is so restfully certain that God always does answer prayer.
If we try to overcome self-consciousness by any common-sense method, we will develop it tremendously. Jesus says, “Come unto Me and I will give you rest,” i.e., Christ-consciousness will take the place of self-consciousness. Wherever Jesus comes He establishes rest, the rest of the perfection of activity that is never conscious of itself.
August 21, 2001
The Ministry Of The Unnoticed
“Blessed are the poor in spirit.”
The New Testament notices things which from our standards do not seem to count. “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” literally – Blessed are the paupers – an exceedingly commonplace thing! The preaching of to-day is apt to emphasize strength of will, beauty of character – the things that are easily noticed. The phrase we bear so often, Decide for Christ, is an emphasis on something Our Lord never trusted. He never asks us to decide for Him, but to yield to Him – a very different thing. At the basis of Jesus Christ’s Kingdom is the unaffected loveliness of the commonplace. The thing I am blessed in is my poverty. If I know I have no strength of will, no nobility of disposition, then Jesus says – Blessed are you, because it is through this poverty that I enter His Kingdom. I cannot enter His Kingdom as a good man or woman, I can only enter it as a complete pauper.
The true character of the loveliness that tells for God is always unconscious. Conscious influence is priggish and un-Christian. If I say – I wonder if I am of any use – I instantly lose the bloom of the touch of the Lord. “He that believeth in me, out of him shall flow rivers of living water.” If I examine the outflow, I lose the touch of the Lord.
Which are the people who have influenced us most? Not the ones who thought they did, but those who had not the remotest notion that they were influencing us. In the Christian life the implicit is never conscious, if it is conscious it ceases to have this unaffected loveliness which is the characteristic of the touch of Jesus. We always know when Jesus is at work because He produces in the commonplace something that is inspiring.
August 22, 2001
“I Indeed… But He”
“I indeed baptize you with water . . but He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” ”
Have I ever come to a place in my experience where I can say – “I indeed – but He”? Until that moment does come, I will never know what the baptism of the Holy Spirit means. I indeed am at an end, I cannot do a thing: but He begins just there – He does the things no one else can ever do. Am I prepared for His coming? Jesus cannot come as long as there is anything in the way either of goodness or badness. When He comes am I prepared for Him to drag into the light every wrong thing I have done? It is just there that He comes. Wherever I know I am unclean, He will put His feet; wherever I think I am clean, He will withdraw them.
Repentance does not bring a sense of sin, but a sense of unutterable unworthiness. When I repent, I realize that I am utterly helpless; I know all through me that I am not worthy even to bear His shoes. Have I repented like that? Or is there a lingering suggestion of standing up for myself? The reason God cannot come into my life is because I am not through into repentance.
“He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” John does not speak of the baptism of the Holy Spirit as an experience, but as a work performed by Jesus Christ. “He shall baptize you.” The only conscious experience those who are baptized with the Holy Spirit ever have is a sense of absolute unworthiness.
I indeed was this and that; but He came, and a marvellous thing happened. Get to the margin where He does everything.
Prayer Choice And Prayer Conflict
“When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and pray to thy Father which is in secret.”
Jesus did not say – Dream about thy Father in secret, but pray to thy Father in secret. Prayer is an effort of will. After we have entered our secret place and have shut the door, the most difficult thing to do is to pray; we cannot get our minds into working order, and the first thing that conflicts is wandering thoughts. The great battle in private prayer is the overcoming of mental wool-gathering. We have to discipline our minds and concentrate on wilful prayer.
We must have a selected place for prayer and when we get there the plague of flies begins – This must be done, and that. “Shut thy door.” A secret silence means to shut the door deliberately on emotions and remember God. God is in secret, and He sees us from the secret place; He does not see us as other people see us, or as we see ourselves. When we live in the secret place it becomes impossible for us to doubt God, we become more sure of Him than of anything else. Your Father, Jesus says, is in secret and nowhere else. Enter the secret place, and right in the centre of the common round you find God there all the time. Get into the habit of dealing with God about everything. Unless in the first waking moment of the day you learn to fling the door wide back and let God in, you will work on a wrong level all day; but swing the door wide open and pray to your Father in secret, and every public thing will be stamped with the presence of God.