For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;Ephesians 2:8(NASB)
Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. (John 15:4 NIV)
He has chosen us from the foundation of the world in Christ. He has selected One in whom we shall find Him, and in whom alone we shall find Him. All the forces of hell will be at work, in the first place, to keep us out of Christ. They rage to prevent people coming into Christ, and when once they have come in, these forces are unceasing and relentless in their efforts to get them off the ground of Christ, on to things possibly, on to any other ground. There is an immense meaning in Christ's words: "Abide in Me... except ye abide in Me..." (John 15:4). It is a warning, governing word. Where and how shall we find the Lord? Only on the line of Christ, where Christ's interests are the object of our being here, where it is true "For me to live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21). You find the Lord there. Get off that ground, be driven off, be allured off, and you lose the Lord. It is there, on that ground, that the very explanation of the Christian life is found. It is on that line that the very purpose for which we are created will have its out-working. It is on that line that we shall find Divine guidance.
This Divine law of God's way has many practical applications in the life of the Christian. How many spiritual tragedies we have known brought about by human selectiveness apart from the first and supreme interest of Christ. It might be the choice of residence, location, for instance, for reasons of convenience, pleasure, escape, or seeming necessity, as in the case of Abraham to which we have referred. And no less a question than having the Lord with us is bound up with such choices and decisions. We cannot move off the Lord's ground without the consequence of spiritual disaster. How costly it was in the case of Elimelech! If Christ is the Way, the Directive; then He is the Example. How meticulously careful He was never to move, or to be moved by any consideration but the directive of the Father! Many motives were put to Him for action and movement, but He abided in the Father, and, often at great cost, refused all other considerations.
All things are yours … And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. § Our … Savior Jesus Christ … gave Himself for us. § He … gave Him to be head over all things to the church. § Christ … loved the church and gave Himself for her … that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
My soul shall make its boast in the Lord. § I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness.
Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. § O my soul, you have said to the Lord, “You are my Lord.” … O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; yes, I have a good inheritance.
He who trusts in his own heart is a fool.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. § Concerning the works of men, by the word of Your lips, I have kept away from the paths of the destroyer.
If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, … saying, “Let us go after other gods”—which you have not known—“and let us serve them,” you shall not listen to the words of that prophet … for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. § I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.
That the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh" (2 Cor. 4:11, ASV.).
The love motive is not adequate to carry the believer through to fruitful walk and service. Few seem to be able to face up to this fact, possibly because they see no higher alternative. But there is one: the life motive. "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (Rom. 8:2).
"By the body of Christ on the Cross believers were made dead to the law (Rom. 7:4), in order righteously to be joined to Another, even the risen Lord Jesus Christ. The reason why we had to die to the law was, not at all because the law was bad (it, on the contrary, is holy, just and good'), but because we were bad.
"Our flesh was so powerless to do good and so ready to do evil, that the application to us of God's holy law only gave sin an occasion to involve our enslaved members in open rebellion against the law.
"So that even if a man loves God's law, as Paul did, he has no power to keep it; but sin only makes the law a constant means of working death to him, and the more a man tries to keep the law the more he comes under the power of sin. Hence there is only this left for us - to die to the law, and be joined to the risen Lord Jesus in a resurrection life absolutely beyond the sphere of the law." -W.R.N.
"The law is for the man who departed from God - that man has been removed from God's sight in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I rejoice that now by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus' I am free from the law of sin and death' (Rom. 8:2)."
"Not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life" (Heb. 7:16).
“Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Matthew 5:3
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.
Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favour rests.
It was an angelic throng who were the first evangels that proclaimed the good news of a Saviour, as they abruptly burst through the blackness of night with their joyful news – the Light of God was in the world to bring peace and life to all who would believe. The world needed to know that the Prince of Peace had come to earth to bring hope to a dying race and peace to men of goodwill… peace to all who trust Him as Saviour.
But the evangelistic baton was passed to a few shepherds who were abiding in the fields watching their flocks. They heard the news, believed the angelic message and in humble obedience, promptly followed the instructions and journeyed to Bethlehem.
The world was to know that the promised Messiah had arrived on earth. God could have chosen to send His angelic messengers to whomsoever He chose, but He ignored kings and religious leaders. He passed over wealthy and popular people and instead reached out to a few simple shepherds, with a simple sign, that dark winter’s night.
What an amazing sign was given to this little band of men… the Messiah of Israel and Saviour of the world was lying in a manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes. What lessons can be drawn from this beautiful story with which we are so familiar. What great examples of humility and obedience can be found in this little scene.
Christ’s own humility can be witnessed in His insignificant arrival on earth for He emptied Himself of the eternal glory He shared with the Father and came to earth as a helpless babe with nowhere to lay His head but a feeding trough in a borrowed cave. The shepherds instant obedience to the angelic message can be identified through the haste with which they sped to Bethlehem, to see the thing that had come to pass. But the gospelread more
I am afraid for you ...."
What are the things upon which your thoughts are focused? Are you a religious 'thinker' or are your thoughts concentrated on Christ? How easy it is to rely on denominational type doctrine for our spiritual thoughts, How undemanding to rest your eternal future on your own spiritual knowledge. How facile to rest your spiritual growth on a reservoir of religious facts. How easy to consider .. sanctification rests on the accumulation of past bible studies.
But this type of thinking causes a spiritual stupor to descend upon an individual. This type of thinking causes men to drift into a deep, spiritual sleep. The one that is devoted to doctrinal type thinking, has no need to think, and one that considers their own spirituality is sufficient, is sorely deceived. It is not more knowledge that is required - but a deeper concentration on Christ. It is not more spiritual activity that is needed - but Christo-Centric Concentration.
"Wake up!!" "Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain" Rev.3:2 "Repent!!" "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen." Rev.2:5 Rouse yourself and get eyeball to eyeball with the cross of Christ. There is no greater need than to truly and fully understand the meaning of the cross.
Oswald Chambers puts it this way:- "a devotee to doctrine does not need to 'think', but a man who is devoted to Christ is obliged to think, and to think every day of his life. He must allow nothing to dissipate his thinking. It is not courage that men lack today, but concentration on Jesus. We have to get out of our laziness and indifference and excuses, and rouse ourselves to face up to the cross of Christ."
We must return to a place where we are prepared to expose our inner souls to Christ. We must invite Him to examine the inner recesses of our ignoble, rebellious hearts. We must allow Him to remove every semblance of 'self' from the throne of our lives. Weread more