ABIDING IN CHRIST

CHRIST AS MY WISDOM

“I the Preacher have…applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven.  It is an unhappy business…all is vanity and a striving after wind” (Eccl 1:12-14 ESV).

Woe is me who can never hold very long the easy yoke of CHRIST (Matt 11:29-30).  I lapse back to my own yoke—incomplete and unable t follow You, FATHER.  Using my yoke makes tasks impossible yet over and over I forget that fact.

“Why is it that the Holy Spirit cannot teach us more effectually?  No reason but this: the wisdom of man prevents it…” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p59).

“Surrender all your own wisdom…be as a docile learner…Remember that the teaching and guidance come not from without: it is by His life in us that the divine wisdom does His work….” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p54).

“…without…abiding in Christ the knowledge does not really profit, but is often most hurtful.  The soul satisfies itself with thoughts which are but the forms and images of truth, without receiving the truth itself in its power….Man seeks the knowledge first, and often, alas! never gets beyond it.  God gives us Christ, and in Him hid the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p51).

“…let us be content to possess Christ, to dwell in Him, to make Him our life, and only in a deeper searching into Him,…find the knowledge we desire” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p51).

“We often forget that the Author of our faith must also be the Preserver of it….He who built the world also upholds it….He who made us Christians must maintain us by His Spirit….it is His own work of grace that we ask Him to strengthen…” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Nov 15th PM).

“God has brought you out in conversion; it was God’s own life given you.  But you have defiled it with disobedience and unbelief.  Give it all up.  Give up all your own wisdom and thoughts about God’s work” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p59).

ABIDING IN CHRIST

ABIDING THROUGH AFFLICTION

“Every sifting comes by divine command and permission” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, June 20th AM).

“God gets us alone by affliction, heartbreak, or temptation, by disappointment, sickness, or by thwarted affection, by broken friendship, or by a new friendship” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, Jan 13th).

“Delight yourself in the assurance that closer union with Him, and more abundant fruit through Him, are sure to be the results of trial” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p127).

“…prosperity and enjoyment all too easily satisfy us, dull our spiritual perception, and unfit us for full communion…It is an unspeakable mercy that the Father comes with His chastisement…and for a time lose our joy in what was becoming so dangerous.  He does it in the hope that, when we have found our rest in Christ in time of trouble, we shall learn to choose abiding in Him as our only portion; and when the affliction is removed, have so grown more firmly into Him, that in prosperity He still shall be our only joy….Christian! pray for grace to see in every trouble, small or great, the Father’s finger pointing to Jesus, and saying, Abide in Him” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p124).

“Communion with Christ is a certain cure for every ill.  Whether it is bitter sorrow or excessive pleasure, close fellowship with the Lord Jesus will remove the pain from the one and the imbalance from the other” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, March 9th PM).

“It is your greatest happiness to be impotent” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p57).

PRAYER

GRATITUDE 

“Satan presses his agenda by sowing seeds of ingratitude….By focusing Eve’s eyes on the one thing God hadn’tgiven her, Satan was able to distract her attention from all He had given her” Carol J. Ruvolo (ref#228, p102-103).  This is disastrous.  We run into much trouble because we don’t take the time to give GOD our gratitude!

“When done well, prayer is a most powerful tool in God’s service.  For that very reason, it is a prime target of Satan.  As temporary Prince of This World, [I love that descriptive word for satan—‘temporary prince.’] he attacks prayer quite successfully by raining down discouragement and distraction on God’s children.  The timebelievers need to pray can be eroded by a flood of ‘essential’ activities.  And the still, small voice of the Spirit calling Christians to commune with their Father can easily be drowned out by the rushing cacophony of busy schedules.  And the hope that should draw us often to God’s throne in prayer can be immersed in anxieties produced by life’s pressures” Carol J. Ruvolo (ref#228, p100, brackets mine).

“His throne…is to be approached with devout joyfulness.  If I find myself favored by divine grace to stand among those favored ones who frequent His courts, shall I not feel glad?…Shall not my thankfulness ascend into joy, and shall I not feel that I am honored and that I am made the recipient of great favors when I am permitted to pray” Charles Spurgeon (ref#212, p29)?

“The umbrella of gratitude concentrates our attention on the goodness of God.  It fills our minds with His glory (adoration), humbles our souls with His grace (confession), and inspires our hope with His promises (supplication)” Carol J. Ruvolo (ref#228, p103).

“…receive all his benefits with true gratitude and thanksgiving…having obtained what we asked…we are led to long more earnestly for his favor…have greater pleasure in welcoming the blessings which we perceive to have been obtained by our prayers….” John Calvin (ref#113, p565).

“If our prayers are to function as God intended, they must be shielded from environmental bombardment that dilutes devotion and washes away hope.  The umbrella of gratitude serves that purpose well” Carol J. Ruvolo (ref#228, p100).

“…how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you….you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help….Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD” (Ps 31:19,22,24 ESV).

PRAYER

DISCERNMENT

“For everyone whose sole diet is milk, is inexperienced in a message which is righteous in quality…solid food belongs to…mature, to those who on account of long usage have their powers of perception exercised to the point where they are able to discriminate between both that which is good in character and that which is evil” Kenneth S. Wuest (ref#37, p521, [Heb 5:13-14]).

FATHER, Your Son warns me not to judge (Matt 7:1).  But Your SPIRIT will reveal what is wrong in others for the purpose of intercession (ref#118, p77).

I first ask that You, LORD, keep me from thinking rashly of others; I do not want my intention in prayer to be simply passing judgment—to be the product of my own jealously or ill nature (ref#18, [Matt 7:1-6]).

FATHER, in intercession I want to bear up the life of the one I pray for until You, put the person right.  May I so lay hold of You for them that You enable them to turn away from rebellion and come to You (ref#118, p77).

May I “…get to work and pray, and God will get His chance with other lives;…God has based the Christian life on Redemption, and as we pray on this basis God’s honour is at stake to answer prayer” Oswald Chambers (ref#8, Nov 19th).

Even though I cannot know the heart, I can be sensitive to Your SPIRIT.  It is possible for someone to imagine they are Christians when they are not—especially when they decide that being a Christian is desirable.

“Professing the Christian religion is of no avail whatever unless there is something more added to it…it is a change that is known…known by works of holiness” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, March 6th AM).

Give me a spirit of gentleness; give me a spirit of humbleness lest I be tempted in like manner as they (Gal 6:1).  Make me candid and charitable (ref#18, [Matt 7:1-6]).  And also give me discernment and the boldness to admonish them, (1 Thes 5:14) when they have a false notion that they are already Christians.

PRAYER

MY RESPONSIBILITY AND JOY 

FATHER, You were ready to let Your wrath burn hot and consume the Israelites when they built and worshipped the golden calf (Ex 32:1-14), but because You were pleased with Your mediator, Moses (Ex 32:11-13), You turned from Your burning anger and relented (Ex 32:14).

And, how pleased You are with Your ultimate Mediator, JESUS.  And, because of His obedience now I, LORD, have the ability to be a suitable mediator (Rev 1:6).

I am Your fellow worker, FATHER.  And, the yet-to-be regenerated people around me are Your field (1 Cor 3:9).  Just as You sent Paul to people who had not heard, You sent Apollos to build up Your church—both were Your servants, even though You gave each a different assignment (1 Cor 3:5).  Paul planted, Apollos watered—but both were Your servants (1 Cor 3:6).

FATHER, You and You only have the ability to grow to maturity each plant in Your field (1 Cor 3:6) but You commission me to tend to Your crop (1 Cor 3:8).  You have allowed me to be Your fellow worker (1 Cor 3:9).

You, LORD, surrender Your work into the hands of Your Church; so real is the power You give me, a member of CHRIST’s church, that the number of laborers and the amount of harvest actually depends upon what I do (ref#19, NINTH LESSON).

FATHER, You instruct me to persevere in prayer as You persevere with the Jews who have heard but are presently rejecting yet will someday accept Your CHRIST.

Make it my top priority to sow the Gospel seed, that I may find contentment and joy in watching You gather Your elect.

“The great inspiration in Paul’s life was his view of Jesus Christ as his spiritual creditor.  Do I feel that sense of indebtedness to Christ in regard to every unsaved soul” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, July 15th)?

Help me be full of inventions if I can’t get sinners to CHRIST by ordinary means (ref#34, Sept 7th AM).  When my child is sick I use all my ingenuity to bring him back to health, disregarding the hazards.  I ask for boldness to use extraordinary means to bring the ones I pray for to faith.

PRAYER

PLAYING AT PRAYING

“…beware of playing at praying…If I am called upon to pray in public, I must not dare to use words that are intended to please the ears of my fellow-worshippers, but I must realize that I am speaking to God Himself and that I have business to transact with the great Lord….my very soul speaks unto the Most High.  Do you think that the King of heaven is delighted to hear you pronounce words with a frivolous tongue and a thoughtless mind” Charles Spurgeon (ref#212, p32)?

“…as only in so far as God permits….For not only do many without modesty, without reverence, presume to invoke God concerning their frivolities, but impudently bring forward their dreams, whatever they may be, before the tribunal of God” John Calvin (ref#20, section 5).

“…We hurl our own petitions at God’s throne and dictate to Him as to what we wish Him to do.  We do not worship God, nor do we seek to form the mind of Christ….” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, March 30th).

“…if prayer is a coming before the throne of God, it ought always to be conducted with deepest sincerity…If anywhere you dare repeat holy words without heart let it not be in Jehovah’s palace…” Charles Spurgeon (ref#212, p32).

“Prayer is…not…a means to some…end as a delightful and practical end in itself” Steve Brown (ref#228, p21).

PRAYER

NO PERSONAL AGENDAS

“You ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3 ESV).

“…petitions asked in ignorance may be most truly answered when they are not granted” Charles John Ellicott (ref#304).

“They do not cry to me from the heart, but they wail upon their beds…”(Hos 7:14 ESV).  “…when the pressure of sore trial comes upon us, we are concerned only with deliverance from it, and not that God may be glorified or that the trial may be sanctified to our souls.  Left for himself, man asks God for what would be curses rather than blessings, for what would prove to be snares rather than helps to him spiritually” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p146).

“…how often we attempt to make God the Servant of our carnal desires.  Shall we ask our heavenly Father for worldly success!  Shall we come to Him who was born in a stable and ask Him for temporal luxuries or even comforts” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p147)!

“It is quite useless knocking at the door of heaven for earthly comfort; it’s not the sort of comfort they supply there” C.S. Lewis (ref#31, p62).

“The desire that He writes on our hearts will move His heart and bring down a blessing; but the desires of the flesh have no power with Him….The true suppliant gathers force as he proceeds, and grows more fervent when God delays to answer….The longer…the more resolved he is that he will not let…go without receiving the blessing” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Oct 8th PM).

“’Ask’ means beg.  Some people are poor enough to be interested in their poverty, and some of us are like that spiritually.  We will never receive if we ask with an end in view; if we ask, not out of our poverty but out of our lust.  A pauper does not ask from any other reason than the abject panging condition of his poverty, he is not ashamed to beg.— Blessed are the paupers in spirit” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, June 9th).

FATHER, if my prayer requests are within Your will, I’ll have to beg, for I can obtain them no other way but by Your grace.  Everything spiritual comes from You.  And spiritual welfare is Your will and what I want for the people I pray for.

PRAYER

UNSTAGGERING CONFIDENCE

“…if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him” (1 John 5:15 ESV).

“…the burden is lightened by the sense of companionship.  Never disassociate yourself from the burden” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, Apr 13th).

“…the believer requires constant exhortation to the sweet and precious privilege of communion with his heavenly Father….Christians…without the exercise of prayer…cannot live…this is the breathing of the divine life…the spiritual nature requires constant supplies of spiritual nourishment; and…the only evidence of its healthy existence is its constant rising toward God….if they cease to pray, their grace withers, their vigor decays, and their comfort dies” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, July 8th).

“He provides in everything for the life of His redeemed ones by giving His own life in them: He cares for their life of prayer, by taking them up into His heavenly prayer-life, by giving and maintaining His prayer-life within them.  Let us each find out what the work is, and who the souls are entrusted to our special prayers; let us make our intercession for them our life of fellowship with God, and we shall not only find the promises of power in prayer made true to us, but we shall then first begin to realize how our abiding in Christ and His abiding in us makes us share in His own joy of blessing and saving men” Andrew Murray (ref#19, TWENTY-SIXTH LESSON).

“…the right spirit in which to approach the throne of grace is that of unstaggering confidence…With our God before us in all His glory sitting on the throne of grace, will our hearts dare to say we mistrust Him” Charles Spurgeon (ref#212, p31).

PRAYER

IMPORTUNITY IN PRAYER

“I tell you, although he will not get up and supply him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his shameless persistence…he will get up and give him as much as he needs.  So I say to you, Ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you.  For everyone who asks and keeps on asking receives; and he who seeks and keeps on seeking finds; and to him who knocks and keeps on knocking, the door shall be opened” (Luke 11:8-10 AMP).

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing” (1 Thes 5:16 ESV).  “…pray…day and night, continually.  Take no rest, all you who pray to the LORD” (Isa 62:6 NLT).

The definition of importunity in prayer is: “…the condition of being troublesome or persistent because of a deep sense of urgency” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, Nov 13th).  “…the earnest, persistent, believing prayer that will not take no for an answer…” Ruben Archer Torrey (ref#212, p89).  “…an importunity that persists and insists in spite of discouragement…with strong cries and tears” Samuel Chadwick (ref#4, p107).

“…it is very much for our interest to be constantly supplicating him; first, that our heart may always be inflamed with a serious and ardent desire of seeking, loving, and serving him…secondly, that no desires, no longing whatever, of which we are ashamed to make him the witness, may enter our minds, while we learn to place all our wishes in his sight, and thus pour out our heart before him…” John Calvin (ref#113, p564-565).

“Of all the mysteries of the prayer world, the need of persevering prayer is one of the greatest.  That the Lord, who is so loving and longing to bless, should have to be supplicated time after time, sometimes year after year, before the answer comes, we cannot easily understand.  When after persevering supplication, our prayer remains unanswered, it is often easiest for our slothful flesh…to think that we must now cease praying, because God may have His secret reason for withholding His answer to our request. It is by faith alone that the difficulty is overcome….When…faith has taken its stand upon God’s word, and the Name of Jesus…it need not be discouraged by delay” Andrew Murray (ref#19, SIXTEENTH LESSON).

“The things we ask for are precious, but we do not realize their preciousness until we have sought for them earnestly” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Feb 19th AM).

PRAYER

INTO THE PRESENCE OF GOD

“The wonder is not that God hears prayer, but that He is our Father” Samuel Chadwick (ref#4, p63).

“Though we have God’s promises in the Bible and full liberty to take them, the spiritual power is lacking unless God himself speaks them to us” Andrew Murray (ref#11, p72).

“Prayer that comes as holy fire from God, and that rises as holy incense to God; prayer that takes me, with every want and infirmity, with every sin and sorrow, to the arms of the Father through the smitten hands of the Son; prayer that sweetens my solitude, calms my agitated spirit, weakens the power of sin, nourishes the desire for holiness, and transports the soul through anticipation beyond the region of winds and storms and tempests into the presence of God, where all is sunshine and peace—oh, what a wondrous privilege is this” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, June 3rd)!

“…when we are in His immediate presence and behold Him in all the glory of His throne of grace.  There, surely is the place for the child to trust its Father…” Charles Spurgeon (ref#212, p32).

“There is nothing secret about communion with God.  If we live a holy life before God, broken of our pride and self-will, crying out for grace, then we will be in communion with God.  It is really that simple” Paul E. Miller (ref#62, p247).

FATHER, I think of being in communion with You only when I pray.  But, of course we are together every moment that I am working out my salvation by making the effort to allow You to work Yourself into my actions which takes broken pride, self-will and crying out for grace.  Thank You for initiating constant communion.

“Hearts must be pure and hands clean that dare shut the door and be alone with God” Samuel Chadwick (ref#4, p29).