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#1. THE IMITATION OF CHRIST by Thomas à Kempis

HE WHO follows Me, walks not in darkness,” says the Lord. (John 8:12.)

By these words of Christ we are advised to imitate His life and habits, if we wish to be truly enlightened and free from all blindness of heart. Let our chief effort, therefore, be to study the life of Jesus Christ. The teaching of Christ is more excellent than all the advice of the saints, and he who has His spirit will find in it a hidden manna.

 Now, there are many who hear the Gospel often but care little for it because they have not the spirit of Christ. Yet whoever wishes to understand fully the words of Christ must try to pattern his whole life on that of Christ. What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God?

Vanity of vanities and all is vanity, except to love God and serve Him alone. This is the greatest wisdom—to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the world. It is vanity, therefore, to seek and trust in riches that perish. It is vanity also to court honor and to be puffed up with pride. It is vanity to follow the lusts of the body and to desire things for which severe punishment later must come. It is vanity to wish for long life and to care little about a well-spent life. It is vanity to be concerned with the present only and not to make provision for things to come.

It is vanity to love what passes quickly and not to look ahead where eternal joy abides. Often recall the proverb: “The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor the ear filled with hearing.” (Eccles. 1:8.) Try, moreover, to turn your heart from the love of things visible and bring yourself to things invisible. For they who follow their own evil passions stain their consciences and lose the grace of God…

THE kingdom of God is within you,” says the Lord. (Luke 17:21.) Turn, then, to God with all your heart. Forsake this wretched world and your soul shall find rest. Learn to despise external things, to devote yourself to those that are within, and you will see the kingdom of God come unto you, that kingdom which is peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, gifts not given to the impious.

Christ will come to you offering His consolation, if you prepare a fit dwelling for Him in your heart, whose beauty and glory, wherein He takes delight, are all from within. His visits with the inward man are frequent, His communion sweet and full of consolation, His peace great, and His intimacy wonderful indeed. Therefore, faithful soul, prepare your heart for this Bridegroom that He may come and dwell within you; He Himself says: “If any one love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and will make Our abode with him.” (John 14:23.) Give place, then, to Christ, but deny entrance to all others, for when you have Christ you are rich and He is sufficient for you.

He will provide for you. He will supply your every want, so that you need not trust in frail, changeable men. Christ remains forever, standing firmly with us to the end. Do not place much confidence in weak and mortal man, helpful and friendly though he be; and do not grieve too much if he sometimes opposes and contradicts you. Those who are with us today may be against us tomorrow, and vice versa, for men change with the wind. Place all your trust in God; let Him be your fear and your love. He will answer for you; He will do what is best for you. You have here no lasting home. You are a stranger and a pilgrim wherever you may be, and you shall have no rest until you are wholly united with Christ. Why do you look about here when this is not the place of your repose?

Dwell rather upon heaven and give but a passing glance to all earthly things. They all pass away, and you together with them. Take care, then, that you do not cling to them lest you be entrapped and perish. Fix your mind on the Most High, and pray unceasingly to Christ. If you do not know how to meditate on heavenly things, direct your thoughts to Christ’s passion and willingly behold His sacred wounds. If you turn devoutly to the wounds and precious stigmata of Christ, you will find great comfort in suffering, you will mind but little the scorn of men, and you will easily bear their slanderous talk.

When Christ was in the world, He was despised by men; in the hour of need He was forsaken by acquaintances and left by friends to the depths of scorn. He was willing to suffer and to be despised; do you dare to complain of anything? He had enemies and defamers; do you want everyone to be your friend, your benefactor? How can your patience be rewarded if no adversity test it? How can you be a friend of Christ if you are not willing to suffer any hardship? Suffer with Christ and for Christ if you wish to reign with Him.

Had you but once entered into perfect communion with Jesus or tasted a little of His ardent love, you would care nothing at all for your own comfort or discomfort but would rejoice in the reproach you suffer; for love of Him makes a man despise himself. A man who is a lover of Jesus and of truth, a truly interior man who is free from uncontrolled affections, can turn to God at will and rise above himself to enjoy spiritual peace. He who tastes life as it really is, not as men say or think it is, is indeed wise with the wisdom of God rather than of men. He who learns to live the interior life and to take little account of outward things, does not seek special places or times to perform devout exercises.

A spiritual man quickly recollects himself because he has never wasted his attention upon externals. No outside work, no business that cannot wait stands in his way. He adjusts himself to things as they happen. He whose disposition is well ordered cares nothing about the strange, perverse behavior of others, for a man is upset and distracted only in proportion as he engrosses himself in externals.

If all were well with you, therefore, and if you were purified from all sin, everything would tend to your good and be to your profit. But because you are as yet neither entirely dead to self nor free from all earthly affection, there is much that often displeases and disturbs you. Nothing so mars and defiles the heart of man as impure attachment to created things. But if you refuse external consolation, you will be able to contemplate heavenly things and often to experience interior joy…

I WILL hear what the Lord God will speak in me.” (Ps. 85:8.) Blessed is the soul who hears the Lord speaking within her, who receives the word of consolation from His lips. Blessed are the ears that catch the accents of divine whispering, and pay no heed to the murmurings of this world.

 Blessed indeed are the ears that listen, not to the voice which sounds without, but to the truth which teaches within. Blessed are the eyes which are closed to exterior things and are fixed upon those which are interior. Blessed are they who penetrate inwardly, who try daily to prepare themselves more and more to understand mysteries. Blessed are they who long to give their time to God, and who cut themselves off from the hindrances of the world. Consider these things, my soul, and close the door of your senses, so that you can hear what the Lord your God speaks within you.

 “I am your salvation,” says your Beloved. “I am your peace and your life. Remain with Me and you will find peace. Dismiss all passing things and seek the eternal. What are all temporal things but snares? And what help will all creatures be able to give you if you are deserted by the Creator?” Leave all these things, therefore, and make yourself pleasing and faithful to your Creator so that you may attain to true happiness.

#2. THE TRUE VINE MEDITATIONS FOR A MONTH ON  JOHN 15:1-16 By Rev. Andrew Murray

Every Branch in me That Beareth Not Fruit, He Taketh It Away—John 15:2 Fruit.—This is the next great word we have: the Vine, the Husbandman, the branch, the fruit. What has our Lord to say to us of fruit? Simply this—that fruit is the one thing the branch is for, and that if it bear not fruit, the husbandman takes it away. The vine is the glory of the husbandman; the branch is the glory of the vine; the fruit is the glory of the branch; if the branch bring not forth fruit, there is no glory or worth in it; it is an offense and a hindrance; the husbandman takes it away.

The one reason for the existence of a branch, the one mark of being a true branch of the heavenly Vine, the one condition of being allowed by the divine Husbandman to share the life the Vine is—bearing fruit. And what is fruit? Something that the branch bears, not for itself, but for its owner; something that is to be gathered, and taken away.

The branch does indeed receive it from the vine sap for its own life, by which it grows thicker and stronger. But this supply for its own maintenance is entirely subordinate to its fulfillment of the purpose of its existence—bearing fruit. It is because Christians do not understand or accept of this truth, that they so fail in their efforts and prayers to live the branch life. They often desire it very earnestly; they read and meditate and pray, and yet they fail, they wonder why?

The reason is very simple: they do not know that fruit-bearing is the one thing they have been saved for. Just as entirely as Christ became the true Vine with the one object, you have been made a branch too, with the one object of bearing fruit for the salvation of men. The Vine and the branch are equally under the unchangeable law of fruit-bearing as the one reason of their being. Christ and the believer, the heavenly Vine and the branch, have equally their place in the world exclusively for one purpose, to carry God’s saving love to men. Hence the solemn word: Every branch that beareth not fruit, He taketh it away. Let us specially beware of one great mistake.

Many Christians think their own salvation is the first thing; their temporal life and prosperity, with the care of their family, the second; and what of time and interest is left may be devoted to fruit-bearing, to the saving of men. No wonder that in most cases very little time or interest can be found. No, Christian, the one object with which you have been made a member of Christ’s Body is that the Head may have you to carry out His saving work. The one object God had in making you a branch is that Christ may through you bring life to men. Your personal salvation, your business and care for your family, are entirely subordinate to this.

Your first aim in life, your first aim every day, should be to know how Christ desires to carry out His purpose in you. Let us begin to think as God thinks. Let us accept Christ’s teaching and respond to it. The one object of my being a branch, the one mark of my being a true branch, the one condition of my abiding and growing strong, is that I bear the fruit of the heavenly Vine for dying men to eat and live. And the one thing of which I can have the most perfect assurance is that, with Christ as my Vine, and the Father as my Husbandman, I can indeed be a fruitful branch. Our Father, Thou comest seeking fruit. Teach us, we pray Thee, to realize how truly this is the one object of our existence, and of our union to Christ.

Make it the one desire of our hearts to be branches, so filled with the Spirit of the Vine, as to bring forth fruit abundantly…

If Ye Abide in Me, and My Words, Abide in You, Ask Whatsoever Ye Will, and it Shall be Done Unto You—John 15:7

The reason the Vine and its branches are such a true parable of the Christian life is that all nature has one source and breathes one spirit. The plant world was created to be to man an object lesson teaching him his entire dependence upon God, and his security in that dependence. He that clothes the lilies will much more cloth us. He that gives the trees and the vines their beauty and their fruits, making each what He meant it to be, will much more certainly make us what He would have us to be.

The only difference is what God works in the trees is by a power of which they are not conscious. He wants to work in us with our consent. This is the nobility of man, that he has a will that can cooperate with God in understanding and approving and accepting what He offers to do. If ye abide—Here is the difference between the branch of the natural and the branch of the spiritual Vine.

The former abides by force of nature: the latter abides, not by force of will, but by a divine power given to the consent of the will. Such is the wonderful provision God has made that, what the power of nature does in the one case, the power of grace will do in the other. The branch can abide in the Vine.

If ye abide in me...ask whatsoever ye will—If we are to live a true prayer life, with the love and the power and the experience of prayer marking it, there must be no question about the abiding. And if we abide, there need be no question about the liberty of asking what we will, and the certainty of its being done. There is the one condition: “If ye abide in me.” There must be no hesitation about the possibility or the certainty of it. We must gaze on that little branch and its wonderful power of bearing such beautiful fruit until we truly learn to abide. And what is its secret? Be wholly occupied with Jesus. Sink the roots of your being in faith and love and obedience deep down into Him. Come away out of

every other place to abide here. Give up everything for the inconceivable privilege of being a branch on earth of the glorified Son of God in Heaven. Let Christ be first. Let Christ be all. Do not be occupied with the abiding—be occupied with Christ! He will hold you, He will keep you abiding in Him. He will abide in you. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you—This He gives as the equivalent of the other expression: “I in you. If my words abide in you”—that is, not only in meditation, in memory, in love, in faith—all these words enter into your will, your being, and constitute your life—if they transform your character into their own likeness, and you become and are what they speak and mean—ask what ye will; it shall be done unto you. Your words to God in prayer will be the fruit of Christ and His words living in you. Ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you—

Believe in the truth of this promise. Set yourself to be an intercessor for men; a fruit-bearing intercessor, ever calling down more blessing. Such faith and prayer will help you wonderfully to abide wholly and unceasingly. If ye abide. Yes, Lord, the power to pray and the power to prevail must depend on this abiding in Thee. As Thou art the Vine, Thou art the divine Intercessor, who breathest Thy spirit in us. Oh, for grace to abide simply and wholly in Thee, and ask great things!

#3. PRACTICE OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD THE BEST RULE OF A HOLY LIFE by Brother Lawrence

SINCE you desire so earnestly that I should communicate to you the method by which I arrived at that habitual sense of GOD’s Presence, which our LORD, of His mercy, has been pleased to vouchsafe to me; I must tell you, that it is with great difficulty that I am prevailed on by your importunities; and now I do it only upon the terms, that you show my letter to nobody. If I knew that you would let it be seen, all the desire that I have for your advancement would not be able to determine me to it.

The account I can give you is: Having found in many books different methods of going to GOD, and divers practices of the spiritual life, I thought this would serve rather to puzzle me, than facilitate what I sought after, which was nothing but how to become wholly GOD’s. This made me resolve to give the all for the All: so after having given myself wholly to GOD, to make all the satisfaction I could for my sins, I renounced, for the love of Him, everything that was not He; and I began to live as if there was none but He and I in the world. Sometimes I considered myself before Him as a poor criminal at the feet of his judge; at other times I beheld Him in my heart as my FATHER, as my GOD:

I worshiped Him the oftenest that I could, keeping my mind in His holy Presence, and recalling it as often as I found it wandered from Him. I found no small pain in this exercise, and yet I continued it, notwithstanding all the difficulties that occurred, without troubling or disquieting myself when my mind had wandered involuntarily.

 I made this my business, as much all the day long as at the appointed times of prayer; for at all times, every hour, every minute, even in the height of my business, I drove away from my mind everything that was capable of interrupting my thought of GOD. Such has been my common practice ever since I entered into religion; and though I have done it very imperfectly, yet I have found great advantages by it. These, I well know, are to be imputed to the mere mercy and goodness of GOD, because we can do nothing without Him; and I still less than any.

But when we are faithful to keep ourselves in His holy Presence, and set Him always before us, this not only hinders our offending Him, and doing anything that may displease Him, at least wilfully, but it also begets in us a holy freedom, and if I may so speak, a familiarity with GOD, wherewith we ask, and that successfully, the graces we stand in need of. In fine, by often repeating these acts, they become habitual, and the presence of GOD is rendered as it were natural to us.

 Give Him thanks, if you please, with me, for His great goodness towards me, which I can never sufficiently admire, for the many favours He has done to so miserable a sinner as I am. May all things praise Him. Amen…

IF we were well accustomed to the exercise of the presence of GOD, all bodily diseases would be much alleviated thereby. GOD often permits that we should suffer a little, to purify our souls, and oblige us to continue with Him. Take courage, offer Him your pains incessantly, pray to Him for strength to endure them. Above all, get a habit of entertaining yourself often with GOD, and forget Him the least you can. Adore Him in your infirmities, offer yourself to Him from time to time; and, in the height of your sufferings, beseech Him humbly and affectionately (as a child his father) to make you conformable to His holy will.

I shall endeavour to assist you with my poor prayers. GOD has many ways of drawing us to Himself. He sometimes hides Himself from us: but faith alone, which will not fail us in time of need, ought to be our support, and the foundation of our confidence, which must be all in GOD. I know not how GOD will dispose of me: I am always happy: all the world suffer; and I, who deserve the severest discipline, feel joys so continual, and so great, that I can scarce contain them.

I would willingly ask of GOD a part of your sufferings, but that I know my weakness, which is so great, that if He left me one moment to myself, I should be the most wretched man alive. And yet I know not how He can leave me alone, because faith gives me as strong a conviction as sense can do, that He never forsakes us, till we have first forsaken Him. Let us fear to leave Him. Let us be always with Him. Let us live and die in His presence. Do you pray for me, as I for you.

#4. THE NEW LIFE: WORDS OF GOD FOR YOUNG DISCIPLES OF CHRIST By Rev. Andrew Murray

“As new-born babes, long for the spiritual milk that is without guile, that ye may grow thereby unto salvation”—1 Peter 2:2  Beloved young Christians, hear what your Father has to say in this word. You have just recently given yourselves to the Lord, and have believed that He has received you. You have thus received the new life from God. you are now as new-born infants: He would teach you in this word what is necessary that you may grow and wax strong. The first point is: you must know that you are God’s children. Hear how distinctly Peter says this to those just converted: (1 Pet. 1:23; 2:2, 10, 25) ‘You have been born again,’ ‘you are new-born infants,’ ‘you are now converted,’ ‘you are now the people of God.’

 A Christian, however young and weak he is, must know that he is God’s child. Then only can he have the courage to believe that he shall make progress, and the boldness to use the food of the children provided in the word. All Scripture teaches us that we must know and can know that we are children of God. (Rom 8:16; 1 Cor. 3:1, 16; Gal. 4:6, 7; 1 John 3:2, 14, 24; 4:13, 5:10, 13).

The assurance of faith is indispensable to a healthy powerful growth in the Lord. (Eph. 5:8; Col. 2:6; 1 Pet. 1:14, 19). The second point which this word teaches you is: you are still very weak, weak as new-bon children. The joy and the love which a young convert sometimes experiences do indeed make him think that he is very strong. He runs the risk of exalting himself, and of trusting in what he experiences. He must nevertheless learn much of how he must become strong in his Lord Jesus.

Endeavour to feel deeply that you are still young and weak. (1 Cor. 3:1, 13; Heb. 5:13, 14). Out of this sense of weakness comes the humility which has nothing (Matt. 5:3; Rom 12:3, 10; Eph. 4:2; Phil. 2:3, 4; Col. 3:12) in itself, and therefore expects all from its Lord. (Matt. 8:8, 15, 27, 28). The third lesson is: the young Christian must not remain weak; he must grow and increase in grace; he must make progress and become strong. God lays it upon us as a command. His word gives us concerning this point the most glorious promises. It lies in the nature of the thing: a child of God must and can make progress. The new life is a life that is healthy and strong: when a disciple surrenders himself to it, the growth certainly comes. (Judg. 5:31; Ps. 84:8, 92:13, 14; Prov. 4:18; Isa. 40:31; Eph. 4:14; 1 Thess. 4:1; 2 Pet. 3:18). The fourth and principal lesson, the lesson which young disciples of Christ have most need of is: it is through the milk of the word that God’s new-born infants can grow.

The new life from the Spirit of God can be sustained only by the word from the mouth of God. Your life, my young brother, will largely depend on whether you learn to deal wisely and well with God’s word, or whether you learn to use the word from the beginning as your milk. (Ps. 19:8, 11; 119:97, 100; Isa. 55:2, 3; 1 Cor. 12:11). See what a charming parable the Lord has given us here in the mother’s milk. Out of her own life does the mother yield food and life to her child. The feeding of the child is the work of the tenderest love, in which the child is pressed to the breast, and is held in the closest fellowship with the mother. And the milk is just what the weak child requires, food gentle and yet strong. Even so is there in the word of God the very life and power of God. (John 6:63; 1 Thess. 2:13; Heb. 4:12).

His tender love will through the word receive us into the gentlest and most intimate fellowship with Himself. (John 10:4). His love will give us out of the word what is, like warm soft milk, just fitted for our weakness. Let no one suppose that the word is too high or too hard for him. For the disciple who receives the word, and trustfully relies on Jesus to teach him by the Spirit, the word of God shall practically prove to be gentle sweet milk for new-born infants. (Ps 119:18; John 14:26; Eph. 1:17-18).

Dear young Christian, would you continue standing, would you become strong, would you always live for the Lord? Then hear this day the voice of your Father: ‘As new-born babes, long for the spiritual milk that is without guile.’ Receive this word into your heart and hold it fast as the voice of your Father: on your use of the word of God will your spiritual life depend. Let the word of God be precious to you above everything. (Ps 119:14, 47, 48, 111, 127). Above all, forget not this: the word is the milk; the sucking or drinking on the part of the little child is the inner, living, blessed fellowship with the mother’s love. Through the Holy Spirit your use of the milk of the word can become warm, living fellowship with the Living Love of your God. O long then very eagerly for the milk. Do not take the word as something that is hard and troublesome to understand: in that way you lose all delight in it.

Receive it with trust in the love of the living God. With a tender motherly love will the Spirit of God teach and help you in your weakness. Believe always that the Spirit will make the word in you life and joy, a blessed fellowship with your God. Precious Saviour, Thou hast taught me to believe Thy word, and Thou hast made me by that faith a child of God. Through that word, as the milk of the new-born babes, wilt Thou also feed me. Lord, for this milk shall I be very eager: every day will I long after it. Teach me, through the Holy Spirit and the word, to walk and hold converse every day in living fellowship with the love of the Father. Teach me always to believe that the Spirit has been given me with the word. Amen.

  1. What texts do you consider the best for proving that the Scriptures teach us that we must know we are children of God?

 2. What are the three points in which the sucking child is to us a type of the young child in Christ in his dealing with the word?

3. What must a young Christian do when he has little blessing in the reading of God’s word? He must set himself through faith in fellowship with Jesus Himself: he must reckon that Jesus will teach him through the Spirit and so trustfully continue in the reading.

4. One verse chosen to meet our needs, read ten times and then laid up in the heart, is better than ten verses read once. Only so much of the word as I actually receive and inwardly appropriate for myself, is food for my soul.

 5. Choose out for yourselves what you consider one of the most glorious promises about making progress and becoming strong; learn it by heart, and repeat it continually as the language of your positive expectation. 6. Have you learned well to understand what the great means for growth in grace is?...

‘Like as He which called you is holy, be ye yourselves also holy in all manner of living: because it is written, Ye shall be holy; for I am holy.’—1 Pet. 1:15, 16 ‘But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who was made unto us from God, sanctification.’—1 Cor. 1:30 ‘God chose you from the beginning unto salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.’—2 Thess. 2:13  Not only salvation, but holiness—salvation in holiness: for this end has God chosen and called us. Not only safe in Christ, but holy in Christ, must the goal of the young Christian be. Safety and salvation are in the long run found only in holiness.

 The Christian who thinks that his salvation consists merely in safety and not in holiness, will find himself deceived. Young Christian, listen to the word of God: Be holy. And wherefore must I be holy? Because He who called you is holy, and summons you to fellowship and conformity with Himself. How should any one be saved in God, when he has not the same disposition as God? (Ex. 19:6; Lev. 11:44; 19:2; 20:6, 7).

God’s holiness is His highest glory. In His holiness His righteousness and love are united. His holiness is the flaming fire of His zeal against all that is sin, whereby He keeps Himself free from sin, and in love makes others also free from it. It is as the Holy One of Israel that He is the Redeemer, and that He dwells in the midst of His people. (Ex. 25:8; Isa. 2:6; 12:1-4; 43:15; 49:7; 57:15; Hos. 11:9). Redemption is given to bring us to Himself and to the fellowship of His holiness. We cannot possibly have part in the love and salvation of God if we are not holy as He is holy. (Isa. 10:18; Heb. 12:14).

Young Christians, be holy. And what is this holiness that I must have? Answer: Of God are ye in Christ, who of God is made unto you sanctification. Christ is your sanctification; the life of Christ in you is your holiness. (1 Cor. 1:3; Eph. 5:27). In Christ you are sanctified; you are holy. In Christ you must still be sanctified; the glory of Christ must penetrate your whole life. Holiness is more than purity.

 In Scripture we see that cleansing precedes holiness. (2 Cor. 7:1; Eph. 5:26, 27; 2 Tim. 2:21). Cleansing is the taking away of that which is wrong; liberation from sin. Holiness is the filling with that which is good, divine, with the disposition of Jesus. Conformity to Him—this is holiness: separation from the spirit of the world; the being filled with the presence of the Holy God—this is holiness.

The tabernacle was holy because God dwelt there; we are holy, as God’s temple, after we have the indwelling of God. Christ’s life in us is our holiness. (Ex. 29:43, 45; 1 Cor. 1:2; 3:16, 17; 6:19). And how do we become holy? By the sanctification of the Spirit. The Spirit of God is named the Holy Spirit, because He makes us holy. He reveals and glorifies Christ in us. Through Him Christ dwells in us, and His holy power works in us. Through this Holy Spirit the workings of the flesh are mortified, and God works in us both the will and the accomplishment. (Rom. 1:4; 8:2, 13; 1 Pet. 1:2). And what is now the work that we have to do to receive this holiness of Christ through the Holy Spirit? ‘God chose you to salvation, in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.’ (2 Thess. 2:13).

The holiness of Christ becomes ours through faith. There must naturally first be the desire to become holy. We must cleanse ourselves from all pollutions of flesh and spirit by confessing them, giving them up to God, and having them cleansed away in the blood. Then, first, can we perfect holiness. (2 Cor. 7:1). Then, in belief of the truth that Christ Himself is our sanctification, we have to take and receive from Him what is prepared in His fulness for us. (John 1:14, 16; 1 Cor. 2:9, 10). We must be deeply convinced that Christ is wholly and alone our sanctification as He is our justification, and that He will actually and powerfully work in us that which is well-pleasing to God.

 In this faith we must know that we have sufficient power for holiness, and that our work is to receive this power from Him by faith every day. (Gal. 2:21; Eph. 2:10; Phil. 2:13; 4:13). He gives His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, in us; the Spirit communicates the holy life of Jesus to us. Young Christian, the Three-One God is the Thrice-Holy. (Isa. 6:3; Rev. 4:8; 15:3, 4). And this Three-One God is the God that sanctifies you: the Father, by giving Jesus to you, and confirming you in Jesus; the Son, by Himself becoming your sanctification and giving you the Spirit; the Spirit, by revealing the Son in you, preparing you as a temple for the indwelling of God, and making the Son dwell in you. O, be holy, for God is holy.

 Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, what thanks shall I render to Thee for the gift of Thy Son as my sanctification, and that I am sanctified in Him. And what thanks for the Spirit of sanctification to dwell in me, and transplant the holiness of Jesus into me. Lord, give me to understand this aright, and to long for the experience of it. Amen. 

1. What is the distinction betwixt forgiveness and cleansing, and betwixt cleansing and holiness?

2. What made the temple a sanctuary? The indwelling of God. What makes us holy? Nothing less than this: the indwelling of God in Christ by the Holy Spirit. Obedience and purity are the way to holiness; holiness itself is something higher.

3. In Psa. 51:1-7, there is a description of the man who will become holy. It is he who, in poverty of spirit, acknowledges that, even when he is living as a righteous man, he has nothing, and looks to God to come and dwell in Him.

4. No one is holy but the Lord. You have as much of holiness as you have of God in you.

5. The word ‘holy’ is one of the deepest words in the Bible, the deepest mystery of the Godhead. Do you desire to understand something of it, and to obtain part in it? Then take these two thoughts, ‘I am holy.’ ‘Be ye holy,’ and carry them in your heart as a seed of God that has life.

6. What is the connection betwixt the perseverance of the saints and perseverance in holiness?

#5. THE SCHOOL OF OBEDIENCE by Rev. Andrew Murray

I. Obedience: Its place In Holy Scripture. In undertaking the study of a Bible word, or of a truth of the Christian life, it is a great help to take a survey of the place it takes in Scripture. As we see where, and how often, and in what connections it is found, its relative importance may be apprehended as well as its bearing on the whole of revelation. Let me try in this first chapter to prepare the way for the study of what obedience is, by showing you where to go in God’s Word to find the mind of God concerning it.

1. Take Scripture As A Whole.

We begin with Paradise. In Gen. 2:16, we read: ‘And the Lord God commanded the man, saying.’

And later (Gen. 3:11), ‘Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?’

 Note how obedience to the command is the one virtue of Paradise, the one condition of man’s abiding there, the one thing his Creator asks of him. Nothing is said of faith, or humility, or love: obedience includes all. As supreme as is the claim and authority of God is the demand for obedience as the one thing that is to Decide His Destiny. In the life of man, to obey is the one thing needful.

Turn now from the beginning to the close of the Bible. In its last chapter you read (Rev. 22:14), ‘Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have a right to the tree of life.’ Or, if we accept the Revised Version, which gives another reading, we have the same thought in Revelation 12 and 14, where we read of the seed of the woman (Rev. 12:17), ‘which keep the commandments of God, and hold the testimony of Jesus’; and of the patience of the saints (Rev. 14:12), ‘Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.’

From beginning to end, from Paradise lost to Paradise regained, the law is unchangeable—it is only obedience that gives access to the tree of life and the favor of God. And if you ask how the change was effected out of the disobedience at the beginning that closed the way to the tree of life, to the obedience at the end that again gained entrance to it, turn to That Which Stands Midway between the beginning and the end—the cross of Christ. Read a passage like Rom. 5:19, ‘Through the obedience of the One shall the many be made righteous’; or Phil. 2:8, ‘He became obedient unto death, therefore God hath highly exalted Him’; or Heb. 5:8, 9, ‘He learned obedience and became the Author of salvation to them that obey Him,’ and you see how the whole redemption of Christ consists in restoring obedience to its place.

The beauty of His salvation consists in this, that He brings us back to the life of obedience, through which alone the creature can give the Creator the glory due to Him, or receive the glory of which his Creator desires to make him partaker. Paradise, Calvary, Heaven, all proclaim with one voice: ‘Child of God! the first and the last thing thy God asks of thee is simple, universal, unchanging obedience.’…

II. The Obedience of Christ.

 ‘Through the obedience of the One shall all the many be made righteous.… Know ye not that ye are servants of obedience unto righteousness?’—Rom. 5:19; 6:16. ‘Through the obedience of the One shall the many be made righteous.’

These words tell us what we owe to Christ. As in Adam we were made sinners, in Christ we are made righteous. The words tell us, too, to what in Christ it is we owe our righteousness. As Adam’s disobedience made us sinners, the obedience of Christ makes us righteous. To the obedience of Christ we owe everything. Among, the treasures of our inheritance in Christ this is one of the richest. How many have never studied it, so as to love it and delight in it, and get the full blessing of it! May God, by His Holy Spirit, reveal its glory, and make us partakers of its power. You are familiar with the blessed truth of justification by faith.

In the section of the Epistle to the Romans preceding our passage (Rom. 3:21–5:11) Paul had taught what its ever-blessed foundation was—the atonement of the blood of Christ; what its way and condition—faith in the free grace of a God who justifies the ungodly; and what its blessed fruits—the bestowment of the righteousness of Christ, with an immediate access into the favor of God, and the hope of glory. In our passage he now proceeds to unfold the deeper truth of the union with Christ by faith, in which justification has its root, and which makes it possible and right for God to accept us for His sake. Paul goes back to Adam and our union with him, with all the consequences that flowed from that union, to prove how reasonable, how perfectly natural (in the higher sense of the word) it is that those who receive Christ by faith, and are so united with Him, become partakers of His righteousness and His life.

It is in this argument that he specially emphasizes the contrast between the disobedience of Adam, with the condemnation and death it wrought, and the obedience of Christ, with the righteousness and life it brings. As we study the place the obedience of Christ takes in His work for our salvation, and see in it the very root of our redemption, we shall know what place to give it in our heart and life. ‘Through the one man’s disobedience many were made sinners.’ How was this? There was a twofold connection between Adam and his descendants—the judicial and the vital.

#6. MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST by Oswald Chambers

The Discipline of Hearing

“Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops” (Matthew 10:27). Sometimes God puts us through the experience and discipline of darkness to teach us to hear and obey Him. Song birds are taught to sing in the dark, and God puts us into “the shadow of His hand” until we learn to hear Him (Isaiah 49:2).

 “Whatever I tell you in the dark …”—pay attention when God puts you into darkness, and keep your mouth closed while you are there. Are you in the dark right now in your circumstances, or in your life with God? If so, then remain quiet. If you open your mouth in the dark, you will speak while in the wrong mood—darkness is the time to listen. Don’t talk to other people about it; don’t read books to find out the reason for the darkness; just listen and obey. If you talk to other people, you cannot hear what God is saying.

When you are in the dark, listen, and God will give you a very precious message for someone else once you are back in the light. After every time of darkness, we should experience a mixture of delight and humiliation. If there is only delight, I question whether we have really heard God at all. We should experience delight for having heard God speak, but mostly humiliation for having taken so long to hear Him! Then we will exclaim, “How slow I have been to listen and understand what God has been telling me!” And yet God has been saying it for days and even weeks. But once you hear Him, He gives you the gift of humiliation, which brings a softness of heart—a gift that will always cause you to listen to God now…

God’s Purpose or Mine?

“He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side …” (Mark 6:45).  He tend to think that if Jesus Christ compels us to do something and we are obedient to Him, He will lead us to great success. We should never have the thought that our dreams of success are God’s purpose for us.

In fact, His purpose may be exactly the opposite. We have the idea that God is leading us toward a particular end or a desired goal, but He is not. The question of whether or not we arrive at a particular goal is of little importance, and reaching it becomes merely an episode along the way.

What we see as only the process of reaching a particular end, God sees as the goal itself. What is my vision of God’s purpose for me? Whatever it may be, His purpose is for me to depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay calm, faithful, and unconfused while in the middle of the turmoil of life, the goal of the purpose of God is being accomplished in me. God is not working toward a particular finish—His purpose is the process itself. What He desires for me is that I see “Him walking on the sea” with no shore, no success, nor goal in sight, but simply having the absolute certainty that everything is all right because I see “Him walking on the sea” (6:49).

It is the process, not the outcome, that is glorifying to God. God’s training is for now, not later. His purpose is for this very minute, not for sometime in the future. We have nothing to do with what will follow our obedience, and we are wrong to concern ourselves with it. What people call preparation, God sees as the goal itself. God’s purpose is to enable me to see that He can walk on the storms of my life right now. If we have a further goal in mind, we are not paying enough attention to the present time. However, if we realize that moment-by-moment obedience is the goal, then each moment as it comes is precious…

Is God’s Will My Will?

 “This is the will of God, your sanctification …” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Sanctification is not a question of whether God is willing to sanctify me—is it my will? Am I willing to let God do in me everything that has been made possible through the atonement of the Cross of Christ? Am I willing to let Jesus become sanctification to me, and to let His life be exhibited in my human flesh? (see 1 Corinthians 1:30).

Beware of saying, “Oh, I am longing to be sanctified.” No, you are not. Recognize your need, but stop longing and make it a matter of action. Receive Jesus Christ to become sanctification for you by absolute, unquestioning faith, and the great miracle of the atonement of Jesus will become real in you.  All that Jesus made possible becomes mine through the free and loving gift of God on the basis of what Christ accomplished on the cross. And my attitude as a saved and sanctified soul is that of profound, humble holiness (there is no such thing as proud holiness).

It is a holiness based on agonizing repentance, a sense of inexpressible shame and degradation, and also on the amazing realization that the love of God demonstrated itself to me while I cared nothing about Him (see Romans 5:8). He completed everything for my salvation and sanctification. No wonder Paul said that nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39). Sanctification makes me one with Jesus Christ, and in Him one with God, and it is accomplished only through the magnificent atonement of Christ.

Never confuse the effect with the cause. The effect in me is obedience, service, and prayer, and is the outcome of inexpressible thanks and adoration for the miraculous sanctification that has been brought about in me because of the atonement through the Cross of Christ…

Worship

“He moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord” (Genesis 12:8).

 Worship is giving God the best that He has given you. Be careful what you do with the best you have. Whenever you get a blessing from God, give it back to Him as a love-gift. Take time to meditate before God and offer the blessing back to Him in a deliberate act of worship. If you hoard it for yourself, it will turn into spiritual dry rot, as the manna did when it was hoarded (see Exodus 16:20).

God will never allow you to keep a spiritual blessing completely for yourself. It must be given back to Him so that He can make it a blessing to others.  Bethel is the symbol of fellowship with God; Ai is the symbol of the world. Abram “pitched his tent” between the two. The lasting value of our public service for God is measured by the depth of the intimacy of our private times of fellowship and oneness with Him. Rushing in and out of worship is wrong every time—there is always plenty of time to worship God.

Days set apart for quiet can be a trap, detracting from the need to have daily quiet time with God. That is why we must “pitch our tents” where we will always have quiet times with Him, however noisy our times with the world may be. There are not three levels of spiritual life—worship, waiting, and work. Yet some of us seem to jump like spiritual frogs from worship to waiting, and from waiting to work. God’s idea is that the three should go together as one. They were always together in the life of our Lord and in perfect harmony. It is a discipline that must be developed; it will not happen overnight…

Yielding

“… you are that one’s slaves whom you obey …” (Romans 6:16).

The first thing I must be willing to admit when I begin to examine what controls and dominates me is that I am the one responsible for having yielded myself to whatever it may be. If I am a slave to myself, I am to blame because somewhere in the past I yielded to myself. Likewise, if I obey God I do so because at some point in my life I yielded myself to Him.

If a child gives in to selfishness, he will find it to be the most enslaving tyranny on earth. There is no power within the human soul itself that is capable of breaking the bondage of the nature created by yielding. For example, yield for one second to anything in the nature of lust, and although you may hate yourself for having yielded, you become enslaved to that thing. (Remember what lust is—“I must have it now,” whether it is the lust of the flesh or the lust of the mind.) No release or escape from it will ever come from any human power, but only through the power of redemption.

You must yield yourself in utter humiliation to the only One who can break the dominating power in your life, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ. “… He has anointed Me … to proclaim liberty to the captives …” (Luke 4:18 and Isaiah 61:1). When you yield to something, you will soon realize the tremendous control it has over you. Even though you say, “Oh, I can give up that habit whenever I like,” you will know you can’t. You will find that the habit absolutely dominates you because you willingly yielded to it. It is easy to sing, “He will break every fetter,” while at the same time living a life of obvious slavery to yourself. But yielding to Jesus will break every kind of slavery in any person’s life.

#7. THE TWO COVENANTS AND THE SECOND BLESSING BY ANDREW MURRAY D.D.

“Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments.”—Deut. 7:9.

MEN often make covenants. They know the advantages to be derived from them. As an end of enmity or uncertainty, as a statement of services and benefits to be rendered, as a security for their certain performance, as a bond of amity and goodwill, as a ground for perfect confidence and friendship, a covenant has often been of unspeakable value. In His infinite condescension to our human weakness and need, there is no possible way in which men pledge their faithfulness, that God has not sought to make use of, to give us perfect confidence in Him, and the full assurance of all that He, in His infinite riches and power as God, has promised to do to us. It is with this view He has consented to bind Himself by covenant, as if He could not be trusted. Blessed is the man who truly knows God as his Covenant God; who knows what the Covenant promises him; what unwavering confidence of expectation it secures, that all its terms will be fulfilled to him; what a claim and hold it gives him on the Covenant-keeping God Himself.

 To many a man, who has never thought much of the Covenant, a true and living faith in it would mean the transformation of his whole life. The full knowledge of what God wants to do for him; the assurance that it will be done by an Almighty Power; the being drawn to God Himself in personal surrender, and dependence, and waiting to have it done; all this would make the Covenant the very gate of heaven. May the Holy Spirit give us some vision of its glory. When God created man in His image and likeness, it was that he might have a life as like His own as it was possible for a creature to live.

This was to be by God Himself living and working all in man. For this man was to yield himself in loving dependence to the wonderful glory of being the recipient, the bearer, the manifestation of a Divine life. The one secret of man’s happiness was to be a trustful surrender of his whole being to the willing and the working of God.

When sin entered, this relation to God was destroyed; when man had disobeyed, he feared God and fled from Him. He no longer knew, or loved, or trusted God. Man could not save himself from the power of sin. If his redemption was to be effected, God must do it all. And if God was to do it in harmony with the law of man’s nature, man must be brought to desire it, to yield his willing consent, and entrust himself to God. All that God wanted man to do was, to believe in Him. What a man believes, moves and rules his whole being, enters into him, and becomes part of his very life.

Salvation could only be by faith: God restoring the life man had lost; man in faith yielding himself to God’s work and will. The first great work of God with man was to get him to believe. This work cost God more care and time and patience than we can easily conceive. All the dealings with individual men, and with the people of Israel, had just this one object, to teach men to trust Him. Where He found faith He could do anything. Nothing dishonoured and grieved Him so much as unbelief. Unbelief was the root of disobedience and every sin; it made it impossible for God to do His work. The one thing God sought to waken in men by promise and threatening, by mercy and judgment, was faith. Of the many devices of which God’s patient and condescending grace made use to stir up and strengthen faith, one of the chief was—the Covenant. In more than one way God sought to effect this by His Covenant.

First of all, His Covenant was always a revelation of His purposes, holding out, in definite promise, what God was willing to work in those with whom the Covenant was made. It was a Divine pattern of the work God intended to do in their behalf, that they might know what to desire and expect, that their faith might nourish itself with the very things, though as yet unseen, which God was working out. Then, the Covenant was meant to be a security and guarantee, as simple and plain and humanlike as the Divine glory could make it, that the very things which God had promised would indeed be brought to pass and wrought out in those with whom He had entered into covenant. Amid all delay and disappointment, and apparent failure of the Divine promises, the Covenant was to be the anchor of the soul, pledging the Divine veracity and faithfulness and unchangeableness for the certain performance of what had been promised.

 And so the Covenant was, above all, to give man a hold upon God, as the Covenant-keeping God, to link him to God Himself in expectation and hope, to bring him to make God Himself alone the portion and the strength of his soul. Oh that we knew how God longs that we should trust Him, and how surely His every promise must be fulfilled to those who do so! Oh that we knew how it is owing to nothing but our unbelief that we cannot enter into the possession of God’s promises, and that God cannot—yes, cannot—do His mighty works in us, and for us, and through us! Oh that we knew how one of the surest remedies for our unbelief-the divinely chosen cure for it—is the Covenant into which God has entered with us! The whole dispensation of the Spirit, the whole economy of grace in Christ Jesus, the whole of our spiritual life, the whole of the health and growth and strength of the Church, has been laid down and provided for, and secured in the New Covenant.

 No wonder that, where that Covenant, with its wonderful promises, is so little thought of, its plea for an abounding and unhesitating confidence in God so little understood, its claim upon the faithfulness of the Omnipotent God so little tested; no wonder that Christian life should miss the joy and the strength, the holiness and the heavenliness which God meant and so clearly promised that it should have. Let us listen to the words in which God’s Word calls us to know, and worship, and trust our Covenant-keeping God—it may be we shall find what we have been looking for: the deeper, the full experience of all God’s grace can do in us. In our text Moses says: “Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant with them that love Him.” Hear what God says in Isaiah:

“The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall My covenant of peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.” More sure than any mountain is the fulfilment of every Covenant promise. Of the New Covenant, in Jeremiah, God speaks: “I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from Me.”

The Covenant secures alike that God will not turn from us, nor we depart from Him: He undertakes both for Himself and us. Let us ask very earnestly whether the lack in our Christian life, and specially in our faith, is not owing to the neglect of the Covenant. We have not worshipped nor trusted the Covenant-keeping God. Our soul has not done what God called us to—“to take hold of His Covenant,” ” to remember the Covenant”; is it wonder that our faith has failed and come short of the blessing? God could not fulfil His promises in us. If we will begin to examine into the terms of the Covenant, as the title-deeds of our inheritance, and the riches we are to possess even here on earth; if we will think of the certainty of their fulfilment, more sure than the foundations of the everlasting mountains; if we will turn to the God who has engaged to do all for us, who keepeth covenant for ever, our life will become different from what it has been; it can, and will be, all that God would make it.

The great lack of our religion is—we need more of God. We accept salvation as His gift, and we do not know that the only object of salvation, its chief blessing, is to fit us for, and bring us back to, that close intercourse with God for which we were created, and in which our glory in eternity will be found. All that God has ever done for His people in making a covenant was always to bring them to Himself as their chief, their only good, to teach them to trust in Him, to delight in Him, to be one with Him.

It cannot be otherwise. If God indeed be nothing but a very fountain of goodness and glory, of beauty and blessedness, the more we can have of His presence, the more we conform to His will, the more we are engaged in His service, the more we have Him ruling and working all in us, the more truly happy shall we be. If God indeed be thereby Owner and Author of life and strength, of holiness and happiness, and can alone give and work it in us, the more we trust Him, and depend and wait on Him, the stronger and the holier and the happier we shall be. And that only is a true and good religious life, which brings us every day nearer to this God, which makes us give up everything to have more of Him.

No obedience can be too strict, no dependence too absolute, no submission too complete, no confidence too implicit, to a soul that is learning to count God Himself its chief good, its exceeding joy.

In entering into covenant with us, God’s one object is to draw us to Himself, to render us entirely dependent upon Himself, and so to bring us into the right position and disposition in which He can fill us with Himself, His love, and His blessedness. Let us undertake our study of the New Covenant, in which, if we are believers, God is at this moment living and walking with us, with the honest purpose and surrender, at any price, to know what God wishes to be to us, to do in us, and to have us be and do to Him. The New Covenant may become to us one of the windows of heaven through which we see into the face, into the very heart, of God.